Thursday, January 15, 2009
An Interview with Sherry Thompson and A Contest!
Please welcome Sherry Thompson to my blog today!
CONTEST: LEAVE A COMMENT FOR SHERRY AND YOU'LL BE ENTERED INTO A DRAWING FOR AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF SHERRY'S YOUNG ADULT FANTASY, SEABIRD!
Alisha: Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood? Favorite memories?
Sherry: I was born on an October 1 at about 2:30 in the afternoon in Baltimore MD. My mom was given two options for my birth date--the other being September 30--and she decided that a birthday on the first was more interesting. My expected birthday would have been close to my parent's anniversary in mid-November.
I've lived in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and finally Delaware, where I still make my home. Everyone in my family read voraciously. For my father, it was mysteries and suspense. My mother shunned all fiction, preferring biography and current events. My maternal grandmother enjoyed accounts of country life in New England. I believe her favorite works were creative nonfiction, and nonfiction about gardening and wildlife. My brother preferred anything to do with pop culture especially celebrity bios. We visited the library every week, everyone scattering to their favorite sections and meeting up later to check out. My great-aunt Dorothy would bring boxes of paperback books with her when she came to visit. My father and I would sort through them, he taking the mysteries, and the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies unless I could snatch one first.
I liked to sneak a copy of a Reader's Digest Condensed Book out of the living room, picking through it until I had read anything that interested me then trading it for another one. I know some of my early favorites were adult SF and supernatural fantasy. I read "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson when I was far to young to be doing so. I paid for it--I sat up all night for one and a half nights running, with my back pressed against a corner of the room staring alternately at each wall and the door. When no cannonballs boomed against the door, I found the other Jackson books and read them.
"Hill House" terrified me, but I got into trouble at school with Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" We were suppose to read a book and write a report on it for English, and I either didn't hear the teacher mention a reading list or chose to ignore it. At any rate, I read my report on Shute's apocalyptic tale and before I knew it my parents were informed of what I had done. The teacher advised them to keep me in the children's section of the library from then on. Under no circumstances was I to be allowed access to SF or anything remotely like it. Future book reports had to be for titles on the suggested list. My parents listened and then gave me my instructions--use the list for book reports. No more SF. Not a word about the children's section.
I switched to historical novels like those by Thomas Costain. While I read I envisioned being a time traveler working for the government, stationed in the time period of the book I was reading to fill in gaps in historical records. I asked for a typewriter for Christmas, and used it for school assignments and also for the first chapter of my time travel book. That was my first and last SpecFic writing before 1979when I started "Seabird".
I began writing, via daydream, before that--when I was in early elementary school. By sixth grade, I must have committed something else to paper because my teacher suggested that I read aloud from it a few minutes each day in homeroom. I don't remember anyone snoring.
Alisha: We share the same birthday! How cool! That's so wonderful you come from a reading family! Whoa...I bet you blew your teacher's mind. Tell us about the hero and heroine in your latest release.
Sherry: In “Seabird” my YA/Adult fantasy novel, Cara is world-napped to Narenta while on vacation at the beach the summer before her senior year in high school. Her displeasure at the interruption turns into alarm when she learns that every Narentan she meets believes that she’s there to protect them from three sorcerers. Efforts to find a way home prove disastrous and only attract the attention of the sorcerers.
Eventually, Cara is struck by the plight of the Narentans and gropes to discover what power she alone possesses that will aid her new friends.
“Seabird” has no single hero. Cara is befriended and mentored by Kataro, a learned seabird and by Halprin, an enchanter. Halfway through the story, she meets Harone with whom she shares a common grief. Moved by the desire for revenge, Harone leaves his studies at a throne-college to join her companions. They face a series of challenges together and slowly the bond between them deepens into love. However, Cara is required to return home after her role on Narenta is over.
Leaping ahead just for the fun of it, “Earthbow” follows some of Harone’s own adventures and, yes, Cara, returns to Narenta but not until the third book.
Alisha: If you were granted three wishes by a genie, what would they be?
Sherry: My first wish would be that I not mess up the other two wishes. Genies are sneaky!
Next, that I have all of the time I need to both write and read everything I want.
Third, well, you can’t really beat world peace, can you?
Alisha: Your first wish is a good one! Those genies are tricky! If you could go anywhere to tomorrow, where would you go?
Sherry: Define “anywhere”. My fiction world of Narenta would be at the top of the list, as long as I could visit a fairly safe place. Unfortunately, much of Narenta is at war.
If imaginary places are off the table, then I’d choose the Ancient Middle East or Greece or Rome, preferably in the first century.
Time travel is out? Then send me to Ocean City, New Jersey.
Alisha: If you could see anyone tomorrow (dead or alive), who would it be?
Sherry: My favorite person in the whole world – my maternal grandmother who died about 25 years ago. We shared a variety of interests and I still miss her.
Otherwise, I would love to have coffee and a chat with any number of authors, beginning with the Inklings – Tolkien, Lewis and Williams. Others include Tony Hillerman, Octavia Butler, Susan Cooper, Barbara Hambly, Lloyd Alexander, Diane Wynne Jones…
Alisha: If you could choose six people to spend one week on a desert island, who would it be and why?
Sherry: Quick question. Does it have to be a –desert- island?
Ooh! I’m torn between pleasure and fun. Wait! That’s the same thing. I mean I’m torn between fun and trying to be a dutiful author with a chance to learn stuff.
1. My best friend from my university days; 2. author friends from my local writers group; and 3. two or three writer friends I know only through email. Ooh! May I choose more than six? There’s a few filkers I’d like to “kidnap” and bring along. We would have a blast!
Alisha: What word or phrase tingles in all the right places for you?
Sherry: Way too many words to choose from! I love words! For the sheer sound of it: tintinnabulation.
For what they represent: Joy, awe, peace and love.
Alisha: Sigh...good choices. If you had one day to spoil yourself, what would you do?
Sherry: I would like to not be aware that I am an author for one day, so that I could have the pleasure of being solely a reader. The only problem is, what would I choose to read for just one day?
Getting away from the whole reader-writer thing, I’d love a day of utter self-indulgence at a spa, preferably near the ocean.
Alisha: If you could change one incident in your life, what would it be and how would you change it?
Sherry: Two incidents both involving men. In one case, I would not have accepted the invitation to our first date. In the other case, I would say yes or at the least that I’d think about it.
Alisha: *Groan* I have some of those regrets too. What’s the sexiest thing a man has ever done for you or said to you or both?
Sherry: Oh, that would be telling.
I belonged to a local group called the Welsh Tract Dancers about a million years ago. (Think lively folk dancing with rapid changes in partners.) One man used to stare directly into my eyes whenever we were dancing as partners. I don’t know that I can explain it even now, but I have rarely felt so attractive either before or since. That was a great 8 months!
Alisha: Oooooh! When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
Sherry: Decide? Never. I began making up stories to entertain myself when I was a preteen. It just kind of happened because it was something that I needed to do at the time.
As for seriously becoming an author in the hopes of having a book published, that would have been in 1979.
Alisha: Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Sherry: Ooh, I am so tempted to say, “Go read the entries on my website”.
“Seabird” is a fantasy novel for young adults and adults. The plot involves one of my personal favorites when it comes to speculative fiction scenarios – a person from Earth being whisked away to another world or planet, having adventures there and (usually) returning home changed.
As for what inspired me to write it, the short answer is that at the time I felt like I had run out of fantasy I wanted to read, so I wrote some. As far as the kind of fantasy that I prefer to read, think the Inklings like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, plus proto-Inklings like George MacDonald.
Now, Who inspired me to write “Seabird” is another story entirely.
Alisha: When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
Sherry: My best ideas are inspired in a variety of ways but dreams frequently provide me with unexpected imagery and even with occasional dialogue. I am not a lucid dreamer but I remember dreams with more ease than many people do. Walking whether on a path or on a meditation labyrinth is helpful. Prayer is helpful. News articles sometimes give me insight into interpersonal relationships.
Alisha: They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
Sherry: Define negative criticism.
I’m always eager, even begging for considered and thoughtful input especially when it is specific enough for me to act upon it. I have no problem at all with suggestions for bettering my craft.
I get bent out of shape when someone is evidently reviewing something other than what I’ve written.
Making this up as I go here, “This book is a romantic comedy.” (Me: Say what?) “The author breaks virtually every rule of the romantic comedy genre. For instance, the heroine should never ...” (Me: What a waste of time!)
Alisha: When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?
Sherry: Are you kidding? I am a super night owl! Unless I have to do otherwise, I go to bed at 4 am and get up 11 am.
Since I retired in 2000, I have been able to follow my body’s own natural biorhythms for the first time in my life. Even as a child, I always did my story creation after I was presumably in bed asleep. Creativity kicks in for me late in the evening—or rather everyone else’s evening.
Alisha: I'm a total night owl too. Do you have any unusual writing quirks?
Sherry: Uh, probably? Oh, I know! I like to rewrite the same scene from several characters’ points of view.
I need to know my characters thoroughly before I can be clear about my plot. I know all sorts of details about character back story that will never come out in my public writing.
Alisha: Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Sherry: "Earthbow" is the sequel to my first fantasy novel, "Seabird"
Like its predecessor, the world of Narenta is the setting for the story.
Like Seabird, an Outworlder comes to Narenta to aid its people in fighting a form of evil that they are not prepared to handle on their own.
Unlike Seabird, the story is told from the points of view of several characters. Telling a story from one point of view is, in my opinion, easier than telling it from multiple points of view. However, I knew as soon as I was inspired to write Earthbow it simply couldn't be told from any one person's POV.
Only parts of the essential plot and its subplots are witnessed directly by the second Outworlder. Other critical scenes in other plot threads involve the activities of a number of Narentans:
Two of them are chief antagonists;
A major POV character in this story is a young warrior;
One POV protagonist is an enchanter-in-training -- Harone who was introduced in Seabird;
Minor characters who have POV scenes scattered throughout the book include a Neroli or "Young One", and a stoah (pronounced "stow-hah") aka a sentient arboreal animal. Plus some aliens. Yes. Aliens.
I don't fill comfortable about offering a summary of Earthbow here. The tale has a number of plot twists plus one or two characters who slowly shift to "the other side" part of the way through the story. Any summary of the story would tend to give away some of these surprises.
In lieu of a summary, I suggest you follow the link
970,000 Words (More or Less)
where I say more about Earthbow in “SherryT Double-Speak”.
Seabird Part Two Chapter 1 "Stowaway"
by Sherry Thompson
Gryphonwood Press, 2008
Cara suspected that the traditional festival dinner was a bit damper than usual. With the exception of the nansi broth, the food was superb, though she had no idea what she was eating for the most part. Nearly everyone in the room was in good spirits--whether due to the Festival or to the sword matches, she didn’t know.
She did know that she felt strangely out of step with the others. First, she felt like a visitor who had never been to a soccer game, arriving in a town in the midst of a championship celebration. Second, she had trouble understanding the indifference shown by everyone to the rocking of the ship. She wasn’t prone to seasickness but then she had never been on a sailing ship at the height of a storm. The lamps above them swayed so violently she kept expecting flaming oil to spatter on the table, and she learned after her first full cup of verric that half cups were less messy.
Finally, with her mind less occupied, it again took up its burden of grief and self-reproach. She left the table before most of the others, hardly daring admit to herself that she didn’t want the seabirds trying to cheer her up again tonight, no matter how well meant their actions. They had been away most of the day fishing, according to Kalapa. The fish chowder served as the first course was the delicious result of their efforts.
As she walked down the empty hallway toward her berth, Cara reflected that she hadn’t felt this alone for some time now. She would have liked to talk to someone but she wasn’t sure whom.
Hathel had offered but she was more inclined to try Halprin. His expression at the table was back to morose, which reminded her of his participation in the ceremony that morning. For whom did he mourn? Those herbalists? Certainly not everyone in the Two Rivers area as his words implied.
As she reached the turn into her corridor, the bell back by the steps began ringing. It carried on alone but incessantly for a minute, then the pounding of feet and the raucous harmony of other bells joined it. Cara flattened herself against a bulkhead as several seamen raced past her. Once the way cleared, she headed back after them.
Those she had left at table were already out the door and clambering up the steps. Amongst those closest to her in the corridor stood Captain Foris and Officer Adreyia. The woman nodded and, turning from her superior, began working her way up the steps, growling at the seamen to let herself and their captain through.
Cara raced forward and followed a step behind them, then matched Adreyia step for step as they started across the drenched and pitching deck. She was soaked through in less than a minute and down on one skinned knee a couple minutes later. Frustrated and scared, Cara got back to her feet and tried to catch up. The only light came from a couple of torches chained fast to brackets on the lower masts, their dim flames sputtering in the sweeping rain. The deck felt like shifting ice floes beneath her. She managed to stay upright until she drew near the starboard railing just past the catapults. She called out Adreyia’s name but got no response.
Lightning spiked through ebony sky ripping it into electric blue shreds and lighting the deck of the ship briefly with nightmare violet. The following boom of thunder sounded like the doors of heaven slamming shut, leaving them all in darkness. Gripping the railing with both hands, Cara blinked at the blinding afterimage. Sight of her surroundings returned, reverting to isolated ovals of orange torch light on the deck. Then everything was swallowed in a flash of white, violet and intense blue. Thunder shuddered through her body.
The ship tipped forward as it rushed down into another furrow between waves. Cara stumbled forward. She felt like she was descending the side of a cliff. Her sight cleared again. Ahead but off to her right stood Halprin and Adreyia. Fania and Hathel were closer, both leaning over the railing in a manner suggesting a suicide pact. Cara launched herself toward the gap between the two pairs, with her hands stretched out to grab the railing. The deck dipped and the railing sprang forward to strike both palms a stinging blow.
Hathel and Fania were dragging someone over the side between them. Her left arm locked about the railing, Cara faced toward them. Hathel knelt by the person, while Fania immediately stretched out again and looked down. Then a hand gripped Cara’s shoulder and Halprin’s voice shouted over the echoes of thunder, “Cara! Go below! Now!”
Cara started to protest.
New forks of lightning coloring her face pale blue, Fania yelled, “Halprin! The boat!” She pointed over the side.
Halprin gripped Cara about the waist and lifted her past him until he stood where she had been standing. He called to Adreyia. The woman glanced up. A moment later, a seaman ran over and tied a rope about Cara’s waist. He shouted at her through a barrage of thunder but all she heard was “line”.
Halprin and Fania were invoking some kind of enchantment--its effects made Cara want to shed her skin. Each elbow locked around a slippery stanchion, Cara leaned forward and waited for the feeling to stop. It didn’t.
Stark blue flashed, providing her with her first glimpse of a foundering boat, its bow pointed up and away from the ship. A dark and jagged stain ran the length of its deck--dark water boiling up through the shattered wood. To either side of the massive crack she could just make out the movement of people--a half dozen perhaps. Seamen, attached to ropes, were descending toward the water. The lightning withdrew its illuminating flash before she could make out more. Another boom slammed against her ears.
A moment later someone lifted into sight, suspended on two ropes. He heaved himself over the railing far to her left with the help of two seamen, and then gripped one by the arm in what Cara guessed was a thank you. Asked something, the man shook his head. The seamen turned away, starting on their next rescue. He staggered past her, heading toward the waist of the ship. Could he possibly be a fisherman? The boat was too small to be this far out in the middle of a storm.
Just as the man stepped away from the light of the waist deck torch, he fell. Cara watched him sympathetically for a moment, then with increasing alarm. She glanced around her. Everyone was busy. All three enchanters stood side-by-side focusing all their attention downward. Her tormented skin warned her she didn’t dare distract them. One elbow locked about its stanchion, Cara unknotted the rope. Then she started the long journey toward the collapsed man. The storm appeared to be easing a bit but it had yet to tell the ocean that. Cara wished the lightning would return—she was terrified of losing sight of the fisherman before she reached him.
When Cara got to him, he was sprawled with one arm under him at such an awkward angle, it made her shoulder want to hurt. Just from that, she guessed he was unconscious or would be trying to shift positions. She knelt and gripped him by his other shoulder and his belt, fighting his weight and his drenched clothing with all her will to turn him face up. He showed no sign of returning to consciousness but he was definitely breathing.
Unconscious but breathing. No CPR. Now what do I do? Can’t call Hathel. They’re still driving my skin nuts, keeping the boat together. Okay, what’s wrong? Dislocated shoulder. She glimpsed a dark patch on his thigh. Reaching down cautiously, she felt her fingers slide into deep warm liquid then brush something with a rough edge. A chunk of the shattered deck maybe. Blood pulsed across her fingertips. Swearing to herself, she yanked her hand away.
Bleeding out. TV. Someone said ...
In spite of herself, Cara shouted, “Hathel!”
Tourniquet! I need… What can I use? Idiot! Your belt.
She removed it and tried to slide it under the man’s leg. She felt slow and clumsy, knowing seconds raced past as she fought his weight and the stickiness of the blood. At last, she drew the leather tight. Not too tight. What’s too tight? Have to loosen it occasionally. Is he still breathing?
“Hathel!” They’ll just have to stop the spell. The others can do it without him. Filling her lungs, she shrieked “Hathel!” one last time.
Someone’s coming. Nuts, that’s the wrong direction. Well, they can go get him. Harone. Cara drew a sharp breath and sat back a little, as the man dropped to his knees close by her.
“Is he alive?
“Yeah. He has a bad wound in his thigh. Can you-”
“What?” Cara asked, as she did so.
Slipping his arms under the unconscious fisherman, Harone muttered, “I’ll take him below deck with the others.” With a grunt, he lifted the man off the deck. “You should come down. Hopefully the worst is over.” Turning, Harone slowly carried his burden toward the door.
Cara scrambled up and after him. Had Harone just declared a truce? On the other hand, was he just too busy helping to bother with her?
A creative nonfiction piece, published in Stories from the Inkslingers, titled, "Baffled by the Green Door."
Baffled by the Green Door
by Sherry Thompson
The door closes, and I turn and walk down the steps. As I start walking in the direction Marcea’s mom pointed, I remember words unheeded or perhaps words I didn’t want to hear at the time. The Girl Scout troop was to meet here, and then bike over to the roller rink. Our troop leader said Marcea’s was the closest to the rink. I knew that. I should have known they were already gone.
Mrs. Brown knows I don’t have a bike. I told her when the troop was planning the trip to the roller rink. Maybe that’s why Marcea’s mom looked so disapproving. Or, was she angry? Impatient? I’m not sure. I spent the time she was talking to me trying to read her face, and I spend more time now trying to understand what I saw. I stick with my first guess. Mrs. Brown told us we would bike over to the rink, so I shouldn’t have knocked at the door and asked her where everyone was. That was why she looked like she did.
I stop and sit on the grass, and look for four-leafed clovers. My fingers explore the plants one by one, but I am still thinking about the situation. I want to be with the rest of my troop. Right now, they’re together in the bright magic place of “The Rink”. I’ve never been to a rink. I’ve heard about them. I conjure a picture of bright lights and laughter.
Then I remember the skating part, and I get confused. Why do I care? I don’t know how to skate. The skates I’ve dropped beside me are used, but not by me. They’re from Goodwill, the huge store up the steep hill in Wilmington. I’ve had my skates for a year maybe, but I can’t use them because I can’t keep my balance.
The same was true with the bike I got for my birthday. Training wheels were on it and Daddy was eager to raise them so I could balance. But I couldn’t balance. I tried every day after school for a week. I was scared and confused. Why couldn’t I balance? Everyone else did it.
At the end of the week, the bike was gone. Mommy and Daddy explained that the doctor had found out, and told them to take it back. I had rheumatic fever and German measles before I was one year old. I almost died of them. Now my heart is scarred and it murmurs. I know the words - have known them for years and can glibly pass them on to teachers. It means I can’t exercise hard because it hurts my heart. That’s why I don’t take gym.
But the doctor had said once -- I’d heard him say it --, “She could dig ditches. That was years ago, and she’s fine now. … Okay I’ll write a new note.”
The doctor must have changed his mind about my heart. Somehow he had found out about the bike, and then he’d changed his mind and warned my parents to take the bike back. I wonder briefly how he found out about it. I am almost relieved that he did. I couldn’t balance and, after a week, I’d grown tired of trying.
An old Packard is racing toward my corner, its radio blaring, "Don't know what they're doing, but they laugh a lot...wish they'd let me in." The tires screech as the sedan takes a wide loop to make it around the corner. The next line of “The Green Door” I hear is, "Door slammed, hospitality's thin there." I repeat the new lyrics carefully, until I’ve got them memorized. They makes me think of Marcea's mom.
I get up from the grassy spot with two new four-leafed clovers. We have lots in the neighborhood. Mr. McDaniel says we have experimental grass. I don’t care. I’m just glad to have two more four-leafed clovers for my grandfather’s New Testament. It is already stuffed and it’s getting hard to find empty pages. I put the tiny leaves in my rumpled handkerchief and slide it carefully back into my pocket.
Picking up the skates, I start toward home, then stop and walk toward the shopping center. At home, I’d have to explain why I’m not with the troop, but I’m not sure I know the answer. Besides, home would be someone arguing, or Uncle Dan smelling funny, or maybe Mommy would be having a headache. My spirits lift a little. I don’t need to be home right now. They don’t know everyone left without me.
As I walk, I try to understand. I spend a lot of time trying to understand why things happen differently for me. I already know one reason. Mommy has explained it to me many times. Our neighbors and my friends are OPs. - “other people”. They aren’t like us. That’s her explanation, but I don’t understand that either. They look like us. Of course, they have stuff and they go places. But they look like us. Why are their lives so different? Why am I different? Why didn’t the troop leader remember that I don’t have a bike? Why did Marcea’s mom look disapproving? Have I done something? I told the troop leader about not having a bike. I really did. The gleam of the rink fun disappears, swallowed by a surge of guilt and hurt.
It wouldn’t have been fun. Don’t I know that by now? It’s never fun with them. Even my best friends Mary and Diana aren’t fun when they are part of the troop. They are all the same, all OPs, all the same except for Hazel and me. That is why I am the one who sits with Hazel while they have the scout meetings. Hazel can’t talk properly and she hits. I wonder who is sitting with Hazel at the rink. Maybe … I’m lost for an answer. No one else ever sits with Hazel. She hurts, after all.
Brookside Boulevard brings my thoughts back to my feet. A horn blares as a car flashes by. I want to call out angrily that I was stopped, but it’s gone and other cars are taking its place. I try to decide what store I will go to after I cross. I have twenty cents and I need notebook paper, so I should go to the five and ten. But first, I want to look in some of the other stores. I find an opening in the traffic and hurry to the middle of the road, then dart forward again, nearly tripping on the curb as I jump up to it. I can feel the soft throb of my heart, and I wonder what part of the sound is the rheumatic fever murmur I’ve had since I was one.
Girl Scouts are still on my mind, though. I decide to go to the department store first, and peek at the things in the Girl Scout display. I push through the glass double doors, so heavy I can barely open them, then slip along the wall past the rows of clothing. Juniors and Misses look boring, with all the same colors on each rack. At Goodwill, the colors are all different on the racks. Everyone at school is wearing brown and tan and a funny green right now, just like the clothing I’m passing. I’m wearing red and a very dark purple. Yesterday I wore yellow...
Salesgirl. I slip around a rack of blouses and retreat toward the wall. I look for an opening to go to the escalator. Now. I hurry over and stand at the top, trying to get over the familiar terror. One foot lifts, but my mind says not now. I wait, as step after step glides away from me. I try again. I feel a nudge from behind and stumble onto a downward-drifting step, my heart racing. I’m scared and mad. That wasn’t nice. But now the bottom is approaching and I hastily ready myself, so I don’t get pushed again.
No one is at the Girl Scout display. The skinny, grouchy sales lady is with two women at the fancy food stuff. I squat down and look through the heavy glass at the badge display. When will my badges come? I love them. They are so beautiful - tiny miracles of satiny sewing. I’ve earned that one and that one, and that one over there.
The knot-tying one was my favorite. I used twine to tie all my knots and then glued each one to its own half sheet of notebook paper. Labeling them all carefully in my neatest cursive, I’d twisted the left corners of the pages to hold them together and given them to Mrs. White five months ago. She had made complimentary sounds, and I had smiled.
I wonder why mine are taking so long. Everyone else’s sashes are covered with five and six or more badges. I have my pin but that’s all. I wonder what badge to work on next. I’ve done just about all of the ones that I understand. Sewing stuff is out. No one in my family sews. Other badges mean going to other places to do them -- like the horse-riding. I stand up.
Horses. Someday I’ll have a horse. I’ll live in Ocean City and have a horse in a barn and I’ll teach math in junior high like Mr. Fenstermacher. He’s a nice man. He told my parents I should go to college, and that made everyone angry. I’ll grade my tests out on the music pier. I’ll get a big shell to weigh down the papers so they won’t fly away in the wind.
“May I help you?” Strange how the woman’s face seems to say instead, “What are -you- doing here?”
I stammer, “I’m just looking at my badges.”
“You’ll have to bring your mother and the troop leader’s paper if you want to buy them.”
I look at her in puzzlement but I don’t ask anything. She wants me to leave, and I want me to leave. I oblige us both. The badges will come - someday. I’ll be getting a bunch - all in little boxes and bits of tissue. In the meantime, the escalator is too close for comfort. I dodge away, letting several people speed up the silver stair, then creep carefully onto the bottom step. It’s easier going up - no gulf gaping below my feet.
I walk toward the five and ten, checking my money carefully on the way. Twenty cents. Two nickels and a dime. All I have left of my twenty-five cent allowance. I bought a Hershey bar with one nickel. It must be nice to get dollars like some kids do. Then you can get toys and stuff.
Cookie-selling season is coming soon. Maybe I’ll sell lots of cookies and win a prize. I’ve wanted one of the fortune-telling black balls ever since they showed us the prizes last year. But I only sold five boxes last spring. Some of the girls sold fifty or more. They said their mothers helped, and their fathers took boxes to work. It isn’t fair. Why don’t my parents help? Daddy works. Why doesn’t he sell boxes? But this year will be different. I’ll walk all over Brookside. I’ll stop at every door. Or, not. I hate trying to sell cookies. Everyone looks at me just like Marcea’s mom did. But I’ll do it. Maybe I’ll do it. By then, maybe I’ll be braver.
I open the door of the five and ten to the sound of “Green Door”. It’s just starting! Trying to crack the code, I listen to the words carefully.
“Green door. What’s that secret you’re keepin’?
Watching til the morning comes creeping...”
What -was- behind the green door? Maybe that’s where OPs live.
I find the notepaper and sigh. The icky paper with the wide-spaced lines is fifteen cents and the good paper is twenty-five. I shouldn’t have bought that candy bar. I don’t want the icky paper. Tears in my eyes, I pick up the icky paper and then put it down. I feel the coins in my pocket, feeling, hoping, wishing for another coin to appear. It doesn’t.
Someone is coming -- the old guy who owns the store. I don’t leave. He’s nice.
I blink back tears and shake my head.
He persists. ‘Something’s wrong. What is it?”
I force the words out, “I don’t have enough for the good paper.” I reach into my pocket, scattering the handkerchief and a clover to the ground, and bring out the three coins. The other clover comes out too, sitting on the base of my thumb.
“Yeah, but look! You’ve got a four-leaf clover there!”
I shrug. He might as well have said I was breathing.
“Tell you what. I’ll buy the clover from you for a nickel. Then you’ll have enough for the college-ruled.”
I stare a moment to make sure he’s serious. His warm brown eyes stare back from his crinkled face. Other thoughts flit and are dismissed. What will my grandfather say? I won’t tell. They’ll never know. Mommy will have a headache or something, and they’ll never know. Elation floods me, but I hold it in, taking care first that I’ve covered everything. I’ll come in through the carport. I’ll hide the bag when I come in the door. I’ll put the paper into my notebook when no one is looking. And it will be the good paper. I nod.
“Deal.” He smiles and waves me to the register by the wall.
As he rings up the sale, “Green Door” ends on the radio,
“-- someone laughed out loud behind the green door.
All I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the green door.”
I’d forgotten to listen to the rest of the words. I still don’t know what is behind the green door. The man hands me the slim brown bag and picks up the clover from the counter with a moist fingertip. As he studies it, I ask, “What’s behind the green door?”
He glances at me and shakes his head. Then, turning back, he rests his forearms on the countertop and studies me. His eyes are kindly still, and I don’t mind. “Kid, the boy in that song would be real disappointed if he ever got inside that door. It’s like the grass is greener, ya’know? Nothing special, except imagining.”
I nod, sort of getting it. He nods back and grins. “Good. Enjoy your paper!” Then he walks away.
I start for home, imagining how I’ll use the first sheet of paper. Probably I’ll draw a horse - the one I’ll have in Ocean City. And I can write down all the words I know from that song. Maybe I’ll see a clue. The five and ten guy is wrong. There is something special behind the green door. The singer knows this, and so do I. Someday, I’ll find out what it is, and why the door is shut.
http://khivasmommy.googlepages.com/authorintro The Scroll Chamber (main website)
http://tree-lady.livejournal.com/ "Scribblings" (blog)
Sherry Thompson Red Room Writer Profile Red Room
Posted by Alisha at 12:06 AM