Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Beginning 152


It was one of those hot summer days where the sun bakes you in its little oven and then spits you out like a burned loaf of bread. Sweat poured off Mama’s brow and she wiped it away. She picked up a newspaper and started fanning herself, her head perched back on her neck, her mouth open like it needed to be cooled too.

In between the waves of air she fanned at her face, she looked at me. “Poppy’s going to die this summer.”

I stared at my mama, as those words came out of her mouth. She said them like they were just another bit of news like you read in the newspaper. No emotion. Just matter of fact.

“You talk about him like he’s nothing, Mama. Don’t you love Poppy?” Mama got up and walked over to the steps and ignored what I said.

I chased after her as she idled off the porch, her belly bulging with my little sister inside. "Mama! The boll weevils are all over the cotton this year. What'll we do without Poppy?"

Mama fixed her eyes on my tattered gingham dress that clung to my sweat covered body. "I don't know, Billie Sue, but I'm tired of being a character in depressing southern lit. If killing Poppy is what it takes to move to Chicago and sit in a Starbucks with my iBook and a frothy Frap while some doctoral student makes eyes at me, then Poppy's gonna meet his maker."

I watched a mosquito land on my arm and then squeezed the vein until the little bugger popped in an explosion of blood.

Mama had a point. Bye bye, Poppy; Chick Lit City, here we come.


Opening: Judy Gregerson.....Continuation: Pacatrue

14 comments:

judy said...

Pacatrue, that is hysterical. I don't think it could have been done better.

Cathy Writes Romance said...

I LOVE this continuation. Too cute.

Here are my suggestions for the opening, which is good. I think I like the the slow-drawl of these Southern/country novels.

It was one of those hot summer days in Georgia/Mobile/Hell?.

(cut to sweat poured off)

Sweat poured off Mama’s brow and she wiped it away. She picked up a newspaper and FANNED herself, her head perched back on her neck, her mouth open like it needed to be cooled too.

(This part is telling enough of the first sentence, without the popping burnt bread analogy)

acd said...

Whee pacatrue!

I thought the writing was some of the more competent that's come through. I'd argue that the sun's oven is the entire earth, and therefore not little. I also had an issue with the dialogue. If someone told me straight-up that Poppy was going to die, I'd say, "What?" rather than expounding on his relationship with Mama. It just seems to me like the narrator should be expressing some surprise here. As written it sounds like the narrator already knows Poppa's dying, in which case, why is Mama saying it?

Two nitpicks in the first 150 words, but I'd keep reading, if only on the hope that Poppy will be eaten by the cannibalistic plant in the backyard sometime in the next five pages, or possibly roasted in God's Easy-Bake Oven. Could you put this on Electra's Crapometer?

Sassy Sundry said...

I really want to hear this read aloud by Scarlet O'Hara. As God as my witness, I'll never be a character in a depressing Southern lit story again!

AttemptingFiction said...

This is good writing. It brings us right into the story. Nice realism and immediacy.

Only a couple of awkward sentences:
"her head perched back on her neck"
Maybe it's just me, but I found this phrase annoying. I think it's the use of "perched" in this context. Makes me picture the head bouncing around, looking for a chair to perch on.

"Mama got up and walked over to the steps and ignored what I said."
This sentence is much worse than the rest of the opening. I'd get rid of it.

Virginia Miss said...

I loved this author's voice, she made me feel the heat of the day and the protag's bewilderment at her mama's pronouncement.

And what a perfect continuation!

Anonymous said...

I think this is very good so far and would read more. I agree with virginia miss about the voice. -JTC

McKoala said...

I felt the heat, but I got caught up on the expression 'her head perched back on her neck' - I really couldn't picture that happening without hinges.

HawkOwl said...

Hey Judy! I knew that had to be you. Cool. You have a style. :)

Overall I liked it, except "You talk about him like he’s nothing, Mama. Don’t you love Poppy?" That's too "I'm aware of what's going on in my head and I'm telling you, the reader, so you'll know exactly where I'm coming from, too, so we're all on the same page." I don't think people talk like that, especially a child. Plus that wouldn't be my first question if someone told me someone was dying. I'd be like "um, what makes you think that?"

I'd totally read more. :)

writtenwyrdd said...

This opening has a clear and distinct voice. I was definitely curious why the woman would say something like that. And I definitely felt that sticky heat.

I would suggest that you drop "little" from "little oven," as the sun wouldn't have an Easy Bake, it would have a humongous pizza oven or something, lol.

judy said...

now,Hawk:

EE wrote that part. He changed my beginning to set it up more for a crazy ending.

Judy

Evil Editor said...

What?! I didn't write any of this. I did cut it off at 147 words, because the submission was 220.

judy said...

Sorry, EE. I really did believe that you changed the ending of my beginning. Maybe cutting off the part that you did just made it sound real different to me. Or maybe I changed it before I sent it to you. Hey, who knows? Not me.

Hawk: It's not EE's fault.

Rei said...

It was one of those hot summer days where the sun bakes you in its little oven and then spits you out like a burned loaf of bread.

My Use of Simile Sucks As Bad As The River Tide

I don't know where you live, but around here, little ovens don't spit out burned bread. ;) Toasters do. Did you mean a toaster?