I’ve joined another blogfest, folks! These are really fun, so head on over to In My Write Mind and join in!
As per the Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest guidelines, here’s the beginning of a new story I’m working on. Please let me know what you think!
The goal of this blogfest is simple (yeah, right): see if you have established the hook that agents and editors scream about.
So as you’re reading my little excerpt, ask yourself these:
Who is the character I am relating to?
Does he/she have a personality that I crave to read?
Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they are introduced?
Are there secondary characters to assist the hook along, with conflict or pace?
Lastly: do I love the character? Do I want to read more about him/her?
And P.S....I had to convert to using the Old way of composing in Blogger, so if this post looks/acts funny, my apologies!
So without further ado, here are my first 1k words!
I want to brand the cow’s hide so bad it hurts. I want to push the glowing-red “G” into the heifer’s large black-and-white rump and hear it sizzle and watch it smoke and hear the cow yell in protest. I want to see my Dad smile and be proud of me for once. But I can’t. I hold the branding iron like a knife, cocked and ready to stab, but my arm won’t move; something is holding it against my body, hard and tight and paralyzed. It’s fear. Fear that one day this cow might come back to haunt me for what I want-to-but-can’t do. Fear that afterward I won’t feel any better…and the cow won’t feel any worse. I drop the iron, its clang against the concrete floor of the barn loud in my ears. I’m a failure once again; my Dad won’t be surprised.
The nagging presence of tomorrow eats at my brain, constant and throbbing. Sixteen. The Day. My life changes tomorrow, for better or worse I don’t know. As I pet the cow’s hide instead of burning it, I wonder if the cameras will be here when I go. Of course they will be; they always are. I never get a break. The short, fine hairs on the cow’s rump are rough and standing on end beneath my hand. Guess she’s as scared as me. I want to move around and look her in the face and tell her I’m sorry for what I almost did, but I can’t. I stay next to her jutted-out hip bone and stick-like hind legs, petting her. I’m not cut out for farm work.
“Hanna Elaina, get your ass in here!” I hear Dad yelling from the house even with three-hundred plus yards and a thick rain between us. I’m actually glad it’s raining – it keeps people from lurking on my front lawn. I smack the heifer’s hind end one last time, say “I’m sorry about that”, and leave the barn. I don’t care about getting wet from the rain or muddy from the sludge sliding down our sloped yard; I stay dirty most of the time already. Even at fifteen, I like being outside more than anything else. That’s why I like Clay so much. He’s an outsider, too. And that doesn’t just mean out-of-doors. I feel like an outsider everywhere: at home, at school, at church. It doesn’t matter…if people are around, I don’t wanna be.
I slosh through the rain puddles and mud and open the rickety screen door of the back porch that sounds like a dying cat every time it moves. I stand there a minute and let most of the rain water run from my hair and face and into my clothes before going inside. The stagnant heat slaps me in the face.
“Yes daddy?” I can always sound sweet when I need to; people might call me trashy, but they’ll never call me rude. My Aunt Lucy taught me how to be nice. Before she got herself pregnant and died having my bitch of a cousin, Margret. I’ve never liked her, never could understand how something so mean could come from someone as nice as Lucy. But there Margret was, red-haired and white-skinned and evil. Even at only ten years old, Margret knows how to get what she wants – and that’s always pissed me off. Some would say I’m jealous, but I don’t think I am. I don’t like her – I’ll be the first to admit it – but we have that my-mama-died-having-me thing in common, so I tolerate her. But I did learn from her how to bat my eyes and smile and talk nice until whatever I liked at the time was mine: new bike, new shoes, Clay. If I wanted it, I always found a way to get it.
“You mind telling me why you had that boy in my house?” I watch as my dad’s head nearly grazes the low ceiling of our kitchen, his wispy hair rubbing the mildew-stained tiles like a thinning feather.
“He wasn’t here, Daddy. I swear.” I know my dad is all talk; he might not like Clay and me together, but he won’t do anything about it. Since my mom died, he kinda lets me do what I want…especially now that I’ve learned how to get my way.
“Don’t lie to me, girl. I know you had that boy here. You two screwin’ around?”
“God no, Daddy! No way.” I had to bite my bottom lip to keep from smiling. Clay and I have been having sex for almost a full year now and I love knowing that my dad has no idea. It’s my way of getting back at him for being so hateful to me. And we’ve done it all over the house – even in his bed and we didn’t change the sheets after – and we plan to keep on doing it every chance we get.
“I ain’t stupid.” My dad smiles a little and smirks and snatches a beer from the fridge, drinking half of it without stopping. “And don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, young lady.” Another large gulp. I don’t have to stand next to him to smell his alcohol stink. It hangs on him like a flashing neon sign that screams “look at me, I’m a lousy drunk”. I’ve never hated him more, but I’m too scared to tell him that. I’m too scared to do what I want to do: to run away and never come back and forget all about my daddy and my dead mama and the cows that always need milking and brushing and branding.
“I know you two are doing it.” My daddy’s voice again, dirty and gross in my ears like rotten wax. He’s finished off his first beer and already on to his second; I know he’ll be done with a six-pack in less than an hour, just like every other night, and I’ll have to lock myself in my room so he won’t hit me again. I’ve gotten used to it. “You’re a whore just like your mama was.”