Teaser Tuesday–more experimenting with first person present

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Feb 9, 2010 Under writing

Since I’ve skipped the past few Teasers, I decided I’d better post something today, even though I’m not really sure what that something is yet. It’s a bit of YA first person present I’ve been tinkering with. I sent some out to crit group this week (meep!) so I figured, what the heck? Maybe I’d be brave and post a snip on here, too! (double meep!)

Comments welcome, as always!

When I walk down the stairs, Mom’s smile is the same one she’s been wearing for the past four months—perky, wide. Strained.

Then she gives me a once over, and the smile fades. It’s not long before she’s hovering, which makes even our condo-sized kitchen feel claustrophobic, and I can see her biting her lip. She’s trying not to say anything about my new look. But I know her. Former Miss Chester County won’t be able to help herself.

Sure enough, one last graze of lasered-white teeth against perfectly applied Chanel lip-color later, she says, “Hon, are you sure that’s what you want to wear on your first day of school?”

I look down. I’m wearing a frayed t-shirt, an old pair of jeans that had probably worn out their coolness years ago, and a pair of scuffed up sneakers. Not as awful as I’d like, to be honest. I completely procrastinated on my mission to stock up on school clothes at the local discount store. But my blond hair is pulled back into a haphazard braid that makes me look about twelve, and instead of contacts, I’m wearing my ancient square glasses—the ones my brother used to tease me were only fit for one-hundred year old librarians. Or asexual men.

“Yes, this is exactly what I want to wear.”

Mom opens her mouth as if to protest, but appears to think the better of it. “Okay, hon. Just remember, everything will be fine.” She’s using that soft, soothing voice I hate, the one that says she thinks I’m a wild, injured animal that needs to be approached with extra care. And I know she’s not finished; we’ve been here before. Soothing voice is always followed by some false platitude about how I’m really such a nice girl.

Wait for it. Wait for it. “You’re a good person—whether you believe it or not.”

But she can’t hold my gaze when she says it, she never can; instead, she turns to fuss with the already perfect place setting.

We both know she’s lying.

I don’t reply, but my silence speaks volumes. I grab a single piece of toast off a plate groaning with pancakes, eggs, the works. Because it’s a universal mom fact that food will solve everything that’s wrong in the world. I sling my backpack over my shoulder.

“You have to eat more than that before your first day,” she frets.

“I’ll be fine. Thanks though,” I add, leaning down to give her a peck on the cheek. After all, it’s not her fault. “Besides, I need to get going if I’m going to walk.”

Mom frowns. “I still don’t know why you’re planning on walking. You have a perfectly good car.”

Too good—that was the problem. I didn’t want to show up for the first day at my new school in a Lexus convertible. “Haven’t you heard? Exercise is good for you.”

“Funny.”

I try to smile, but my mouth fumbles over how to form one. It feels like decades have passed since I’ve activated those particular muscles. In reality, it’s only been a few months. “See ya later.”

Then, I walk out the door to start the mile hike to school. This year will be different. It has to be.

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25 Responses to “Teaser Tuesday–more experimenting with first person present”

  1. sue Says:

    ooooh!
    Nice. You are so good at getting inside a teenager’s mind. I can see the conflict so easily without you having to shove it in the reader’s face. Great stuff and I really want to see where you go with this.

  2. sunna Says:

    Lovely, understated angst. Like Sue, I enjoy how you’ve made her unhappiness so plain without spelling it out. And you’ve got a damn good grip on present tense, lady.

  3. bclement412 Says:

    I love the description of what she’s wearing! And you do a great job with the YA voice– you pretty much nailed it in here.

  4. Kath Says:

    You had me at “perky, wide. Strained.”. Seriously love this whole snip.

  5. Dystophil Says:

    Great snippet! You should definitely do more with this. I love your character’s voice and the way she sees through her mom’s actions, makes me wonder who she will act around other people. Also, loved this part: “the ones my brother used to tease me were only fit for one-hundred year old librarians. Or asexual men” – only that it made me go: yay nerds! ;)

  6. Tracey Says:

    Ooh, taking a stab at present tense. Go you! Very nice angst here, understated but obviously strong. It comes through in all the details, like her clothes and car. Very cool! If this is about the idea you once mentioned, I really want to see where you take it!

  7. Raven Says:

    I love how angsty this is. The voice is very strong and I love your character already. Keep up with this!

  8. V Says:

    Why…WHY can’t I know what’s going on here? :-P Anyone who doesn’t drive to school in their Lexus is intriguing to me. More, please! Kthx.

  9. Laurie Says:

    Whoa, awesome voice here, hound! I’m so curious as to why both her and her mom think she’s not a good person. And as to why she wants to look so bad. I love this!

  10. Jill Wheeler Says:

    I really like your MC so far. You’ve done a great job of making me sympathize with her! She’s so different from her mom.

  11. ChristaCarol Says:

    You know, I really like this. It flows well. And I’m hooked, wanting to know what exactly happened that created this intensity between mom and daughter, even if it is subtle. And I love the voice. Especially the line about forgetting how to smile. Very nice!

  12. DH Kuypers Says:

    Intriguing. What’s going on with the girl, and why the iciness between the MC and her mom? I’d love to know more. First person present tense lends itself well to the tone of your story.

  13. Glen Says:

    Great voice and characterisation. I like how your MC’s voice perfectly captures how much she thinks her mum can be ridiculous sometimes lol lovely

  14. Lynkay Says:

    Love the interaction between the mom and daughter. It felt like I was peering through a window. Great Job!

  15. Gretchen Says:

    You’ll get my comments later… :P

  16. Kristin Says:

    Your MC’s mom and my MC’s mom would get along well, I think. :P Great snippet!

  17. Karla Nellenbach Says:

    Your MC is so intriguing and vividly portrayed. I also love the humor sprinkled in among the seriousness. Great snip! I’d love to read more!

  18. parametric Says:

    I love this! I wonder if the protagonist’s uglifying is a reaction against her mother’s beautifying.

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  20. Dee Says:

    I love how the mom and daughter see each other as such foreign creatures. I would love to see where this goes — you’ve dropped some great hints in there. :)

  21. JennW Says:

    I think the first person present really works well. It’s a tough tense to write in but I think you’ve done well. You do such a great teen voice. Love it!

  22. Mortem Twins Says:

    There’s so much angst in this. I love it!

  23. Kathy Says:

    Great snip. See, this is why I like school uniforms. None of the need to be cool… because everyone looks so uncool :) The MC’s voice is great.

  24. Kaitlin Says:

    I love your writing. You don’t seem to be having anyyy problem with present tense :)

  25. Kyva Says:

    Hound, I am so late to replying to this, but after the great news, I wanted to read some of your work ;) You have a wonderful way with words and looking at this mom-daughter relationship, it reminds e of me and my mum when I was in high school. Very fluid and something I enjoyed greatly.

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