My first attempt at a novel

My first attempt at a novel

I wrote the following story in the early 2000s. I’d started a new job and negotiated every other Friday off for my first summer so I could spend the day writing. It didn’t work out that way. I usually spent the day hiking in the mountains. I wrote a bit, the old-fashioned way, by hand in a notebook. Here’s the novel that I started. I realize now how much I did not know then. I had no idea how the story would end when I started it. I had no clue what happened between the first page and the last. I wrote by the seat of my pants. I did not know about balancing narrative, description and dialogue, much less structure, tense, or voice. Maybe a little research on the front end would have helped me prepare to take this through to the end. All the classes I took in college, and not one of them about novel writing. I should have at least visited the English department. I thought the journalism department would teach me all I needed to know about writing. I know otherwise, now. (Note: I am leaving this unedited so you may see an unaltered first draft.)

Ah that first kiss. Remember how your heart pounded in your ears and your palms got so sweaty? I was 15, kind o a late bloomer for my group of friends, but I was very protected by my parents. His name was David. M first love. So tall and cute. Dark brown hair. Sapphire eyes that melted many a-girl. He was a star basketball player and a member of the science club. Friendly to everyone, polite to adults, not afraid to stand up to anyone. Yet he stammered and turned as red a tomato when he asked me out for the first time. Standing by the lockers. He was a junior. I was a sophomore, but a year younger than my classmates because I skipped sixth grade. Boy, was I a nerd back then! Glasses and too skinny. Didn’t think a boy would ever like me, but I’d had a crush on David for months. Then he was there, stammering away, when it dawned on me what he wanted. And I was mortified. He wanted to take me on my first date, and I had to ask my parents. But it ended up alright in the end. More than all right. My parents said fine, just be home by 10.

“We went to the carnival, shared cotton candy, played in the funhouse, rode on the Ferris wheel. That was the summer of my life. Or so I thought then. It was also the summer of my first kiss.

“Ah, Rebecca. Those were the days. Seemed like there was some new-fangled device introduced daily that would change the world,” said Grandmama Helen, age 103 and still going strong. “Even today the advances aren’t as fast as they were then, but love. Ah love, it was still the same.

“Fifteen, and I got my first kiss on our fourth date. Back then, boys waited a bit longer than they do today. But I’d loved David for months. Little did we know it would be eight years and a world of change before we’d be together forever. Although it wasn’t exactly forever either, was it?” Helen asked rhetorically. She lost her husband, her love of her life, 10 years ago. Though devastated, she wasn’t the type to die of a broken heart, or even let it weaken her physically. But even with the advances in modern medicine, she felt her time was nearing now. It wouldn’t be tomorrow, or probably, not next year, but the was certain she had a limited time left to get her things in order, say her goodbyes and tell her story.

“That’s where Rebecca comes in. Her great-grand-daughter. Twenty-two years old, smart, pretty, funny, Rebecca takes after her great-granddad in more ways than anyone else in the family recognized. She felt a responsibility to her family, an incredible urge to learn about anything and everything, but especially about her grandmama’s past and experiences, and a yearning to travel.

Helen was allowing Rebecca the chance to indulge in all her wants while fulfilling her own desire to tell her story. Rebecca was recording her stories so she can write Helen’s memories during one last around-the-world sojourn.

“They’re sitting in Helen’s bedroom in her home in Lucky, Colorado, packing and preparing to depart for their journey on the morrow. They’ll use all of the old modes of transportation Helen used with David. Helen wants Rebecca to see a world that doesn’t exist much with today’s world of space and time travel and speed-of-light transportation, only fantasy in Helen’s younger years.

How can you see any of the world when you are going that fast, she often asked. You miss so much of the world.

Oh, Grandmama, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren say, you’re so funny. Why would we want to see this world when there’s so much out there to see and do?