Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Beginning 111

Thirty years had passed. The yearbook had been handled often, and not gently.

Luke stood in line at the copy store and drew the tattered book out of its plastic bag. He studied the soft cover with a warm feeling of nostalgia. A cartoon globe with eyes, hands and feet jogged across the cover's surface, with a toothy smile on its face. A baseball cap perched atop the North Pole and spindly legs supported a pair of oversized sneakers.

Rendered in freehand across the top of the cover were the words Globetrotter – Mallorca, Spain. Drawn beneath the image was the school year 1976-77.

The cover was frayed at the edges. A long rip almost severed it, and it was barely held together by yellowing cellophane tape. The creases and stains made it almost unrecognizable, but he figured it was worth saving.

He glanced at his watch for the fifth time. He examined the embossed leather band. It looked like alligator skin, though Luke was sure it wasn't. The Roman numerals on its face still made him grin after all these years. He liked the distinction they brought to the watch. The deep brown leather matched his eyes, or so Lisa had told him. There was even a small grease spot by the clasp, a souvenir from Luke's ill-fated attempt to change a tire.

On the back of the watch was the inscription he had memorized long ago: Good luck son. We love you. Mom and Dad. The second hand swept through its annular path. Beneath it, the other hands seemed not to move at all, so slowly did they progress.

Suddenly his attention was drawn, for the third time today, to the bandaid on his thumb.

Opening: Chumplet.....Continuation: Kathleen B.


former editor said...

OMG! That is just too funny. Great continuation.

anonymouse said...

Oh, dear, the continuation made me spit tea (no coffee for me today -- espresso machine is broken, sob sob).

Author: it's just a little too much detail about an old yearbook and not enough reason why we should care. I like the descriptions, especially the yellowing tape, but I just don't know why I'm being told this or why I should invest any emotion in it. Some dialogue would speed this up if you absolutely can't put in any action.

Chumplet said...

Touche, Kathleen.

Kate Thornton said...

Great continuation!!

acd said...

Oh, rofl on the continuation.

-c- said...

I agree with anonymouse. One detail will nail the yearbook. Pick the tape, then move on. We will all imagine our own yearbooks.

Does this guy have any issues or problems or worries or want anything? Or is he just standing in line thinking about the past. Warning--don't start a book that way. Reflection is boring if we don't already care about the characters and their lives.

pjd said...

I disagree about too much detail on the yearbook. I thought the detail was good and figured it set the mood for what was going to happen the rest of the way.

I wish the author used "was" and "had xxx" less often, though. The first paragraph, for example, might be less bland if it read something like, "Over thirty years, the yearbook...."

The second paragraph is great, though I have a hard time envisioning the globe jogging across the cover. Maybe something like "A smiling cartoon globe jogged across the cover, a baseball cap perched atop the North Pole and...."

Then, however, it gets yawnish. "were the words", "was the year", "was frayed", "was worth saving". The middle part improves with more active voice, but the simple, declarative structure and basic linking verbs slow everything down.

xiqay said...

Ouch to the continuation! Brilliant.

Author, the first two lines say it all. It seems as if you and Luke are both feeling nostalgic.

Details can bring a scene to life, but they can also be paralyzing, deadly dull.

I suspect Mallorca, Sapin might be important, but are any of the other details relevant to anything that happens in the story?

My opinion, lose them.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

ROFL...excellent continuation.


writtenwyrdd said...

The tape detail is great, ditch the rest. No emotion, no reason to want to save the yearbook, no real sense of anticipation. I am sure that you had an emotion in mind, but we aren't seeing it.

I do this same thing, which is to hyperfocus on something because it fascinates me; but then I end up having to cut most of it or edit it to make it more accessible to the readers.

Levi said...

That beginning has a lot of passive voice.

Chumplet said...

Passive voice going bye-bye...

Severe pruning of description of said yearbook shall occur...

That being said, he's gonna meet the chick who drew the yearbook cover in the next paragraph.

That's what pulls them together after thirty years. Maybe it's a stretch, but there you have it.

Oh yeah, and nobody's gonna walk into the copy shop with a gun. That's another book. :)

Anonymous said...

One quick quibble.
Books don't get beat up just because they're old.
What you've described is an obsessively studied, carefully treasured, old yearbook, handled so often that it's falling apart.
Is this, in fact, an often-revisited past?
Or is he looking at it now, for a reason, after a long hiatus?
If that is the case, you need to suggest age and neglect instead.
My own yearbook, circa 1969, might crack when I opened it, and glossy pages can stick. But I don't know, really, since no one's looked at it for decades.

Anonymous said...

Oops, my bad, it does show the handling you mention *in the first line* -- I think the yellowed tape threw me off.
(That, and the coffee hasn't hit.)

But to continue to niggle:
If he's still handling it, he got fresh tape there -- yellowing tape isn't good at holding stuff.
If it's coming apart, but frequently handled, this repaired area has been stressed.
Probably a couple generations of tape there, with residual sticky stuff from where the last lot gave up.