*banging and clattering from backstage as I try to find the intro for 30 seconds before shouting, Aw, just give ’em the fanfare.*
Yes indeed, my friends. It’s time for another Quirk from Grandma Jem!
You know the drill. And if you don’t, it’s as simple as A, B, C
Agonize over what you should write based on the prompt
Chuckle to yourself because, ha, it turned angsty again
(and then post it and link to Jem’s post and read everyone else’s quirks and all that)
Here’s the Prompt:
A few things you don’t need to know before you read what I wrote:
- Oh man
- So here’s the thing
- I saw the prompt and thought, “Ah, this one won’t be angsty.” I had a vague-ish idea of what to write. (A non-angsty idea, mind you)
- Then I had a super angsty idea. I wrote the first page of it–
- Then I said NOPE, that’s going to take too long to write, and I don’t have time. Let’s write something short and not angsty
- Something fun and quirky
- So I went back to my original idea
- and WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT TOOK A TURN FOR THE ANGST
- And also got super long (it now holds the record for being my longest quirk). And took up way more time than I intended.
- *distant screaming*
- Oh, but I have MISSED the first person POV. (The book I’m working on right now is third person, but I LOVE first person, okay?)
Two weeks after getting home from the hospital, Allie started wearing the necklace.
It was something some aunt or cousin or grandma had given her for her 11th or 12th birthday—a choker with draping loops of fine chain and a milky white pendant. I hadn’t seen her wear it since getting it. Allie never wore necklaces (something the aunt or cousin or grandma had failed to notice about her). But suddenly, two or three years later, she started wearing the thing.
If she had worn it once or twice for a party or church or something, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. It was normal for girls to start caring more about jewelry as they got older, right? But she didn’t just wear it once or twice, and she didn’t just wear it for special occasions. She wore it to breakfast. She wore it to school. She wore it while she did her homework and helped me with the dishes and watched TV and everything else she did. As far as I could tell, once she put the thing on, she never took it off.
I didn’t know why it freaked me out so much. Maybe because it was really easy for me to freak out nowadays about anything that involved Allie.
Still, if that had been all, it wouldn’t have been so bad. What really started to scare me was what she said about it.
The first I heard of it was during my geography class on Tuesday. I was actually trying to pay attention today because the grade I had received on my last test was pretty sobering, but Michael wouldn’t leave me alone. “David. Hey, David.”
He wasn’t exactly whispering, but Mr. Jameson seemed to have long ago become resigned to the inattentive chatter of high school students. If anything less than a fire happened in the classroom in front of him, he just kept teaching.
I ignored Michael until he started to pull on the back of my stocking cap. I smacked his hand away without turning around. “Don’t touch my hat.”
“When are you going to lose the hat, man? It’s dorky.”
I tugged it down further. “I don’t care. I like it.”
“Okay, but seriously. David. David, are you listening?”
I tried to ignore Michael, but he kept poking me in the back of the head until I turned in my chair. “What?”
Michael wasn’t exactly a friend. He sat behind me in geography and we talked sometimes, but we didn’t ever hang out outside of school. I guess he sat with me at lunch sometimes. Maybe we were friends.
He folded his arms on his desk, leaning over them. “What’s with the whole moonstone thing?”
I frowned. “The what?”
“That necklace your sister wears all the time now.”
I shrugged stiffly. “I don’t know, I guess she likes it. Why are you calling it a moonstone?”
“That’s what she’s calling it. Savanna told me that Allie told her that it was a moonstone and that it had ‘special properties’.”
I was liking this conversation less and less. “What kind of special properties?”
Michael leaned forward even further, lowering his voice to a proper spooky whisper. “The ability to communicate with aliens.”
I stared at him. “Cut it out, Michael.”
“I’m not kidding. That’s what she said. And Savanna said she was dead serious about it too. She went on and on about it.”
“Savanna could be making it up.”
Michael shook his head. “Tanya was there too. And Jake said he saw her yesterday standing under the flagpole talking to herself in some weird made-up language.”
I shrugged again and started to turn back to face the front of the classroom, though I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on Mr. Jameson’s lecture now. Michael’s next words made me stop mid-turn.
“She’s completely lost it.”
I turned back to face him. “What did you say?”
Michael shrugged. “I’m sorry, man. But your sister has officially gone crazy.”
That day, I learned two things. Firstly, Michael was most definitely not my friend. Secondly, Mr. Jameson would stop teaching for something less than a fire. Apparently Michael’s nose spurting blood all over his desk was enough.
I’ll spare you the talking to I got from the principal. And my mom.
I said I was sorry, but I wasn’t. I mean, what big brother wouldn’t pop a guy on the nose for calling his sister crazy?
While we washed the dishes after dinner that evening, I asked Allie about the ‘moonstone’.
She looked surprised. “You know its name.”
“Somebody told me. Why do you call it that?”
She arched an eyebrow. “Because that’s what it’s called.”
“Do you really think it can communicate with aliens?”
She nodded without a moment of hesitation.
I stared at her. She scooped dishwater up with a glass and poured it over the same plate over and over again
“Allie,” I said finally, “you know that’s impossible, right?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Why do you say that?”
“It doesn’t make any sense.”
She dumped a handful of silverware into the dishwater. “I am under no obligation to make sense to you.”
She hiked her sleeves up higher, which seemed kind of pointless if it was supposed to keep them from getting wet since her hands were dripping. I caught a glimpse of one of the bruises, dark against her pale skin. She had been wearing long sleeves to cover them up, but I could never forget they were there. Even once they had faded away entirely, I wouldn’t be able to forget them.
I tugged my hat down further with one hand. “Allie—”
“They’re getting closer, you know,” she said suddenly, fingering the pendant with soapy fingers. “I can feel it.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. I went back to drying plates.
I got in three fights over the next week.
Okay, I started three fights. But what big brother wouldn’t want to shut up anyone who said something stupid about his sister?
I got really familiar with the principal’s office.
One evening, just as the sun was starting to set, Allie came downstairs, pulling on a sweater. Then she tugged on her shoes.
I watched her from the kitchen table where I was failing my geography homework abysmally. “Where are you going?”
She stopped with her hand on the door handle to look at me. “Are you coming?”
So I jumped up and jammed my shoes on. I had no idea where she was going, but I wasn’t going to let her go alone.
On the edge of town there was an empty field where we used to play as kids. There was a perpetual FOR SALE sign pounded into the ground on a stake. No one really knew who it belonged to, but we hadn’t been chased off it yet.
Allie walked into the middle of the field, then flopped down on the grass.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Waiting,” she said simply, her eyes fixed on the sky, one hand fingering the pendant of her necklace.
I lay down beside her. The sun had disappeared by now, the last of the color draining from the sky. It wasn’t fully dark yet, everything a cold gray.
“They’ll be here soon,” Allie said. I turned my head to look at her, grass tickling my ear. Her eyes were fixed on the sky.
“Who?” I asked.
I sighed. “What are they going to do? Land their spaceship in the middle of the field?”
She considered for a moment. “Maybe. Personally, I think they’ll just fly by.”
We lay there in silence for a long time. The ground beneath us was slightly damp. I shivered and wished I had brought a sweater.
“You’re looking at me aren’t you.”
I was. All I could see was the outline of her profile and a small glint of light that was her eye. She hadn’t turned away from the sky once.
“Don’t watch me. You’re supposed to help me watch the sky.”
I looked up. Maybe she had seen a shooting star. Maybe she just wanted to distract me. Whatever the case, I didn’t see anything. Well, there were stars. I guess that was something.
“Why do you keep getting in fights?” Allie asked suddenly.
I looked at her. She was still looking at the sky, her expression impossible to read in the dark. What was I supposed to say?
“It’s not like you,” she said quietly. “I don’t like it.”
I didn’t answer, turning back to the sky. A cloud drifted overhead, snuffing out half the stars.
“Do you really think aliens are coming?”
She was silent for so long I thought she wouldn’t answer. Then, finally, very quietly, “No, not really.”
I sat up. “Then why—”
Allie didn’t move. “Everyone’s talking about me, David.”
My hands curled into fists. I thought of all the stupid things I had heard people say, all the looks people gave Allie behind her back, and sometimes to her face.
“I’m not talking about the moonstone thing,” Allie said, seeming to read my thoughts. “They were talking about me before too.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean.”
And suddenly I realized that she was right. Of course people were talking about what had happened, why Allie had been absent from school. I felt like an idiot. Just because Michael and Jake and whoever else had the good sense not to bring it up when I was there, I assumed it wasn’t being discussed all over the school. I didn’t know how much they knew, but there had to be all kinds of rumors. They must know she had been in the hospital. Did they know who hurt her? Did Allie have to listen to people talking about it when they thought she wasn’t there?
“David?” Allie’s hand was on my arm. She wasn’t watching the sky anymore. “Are you okay? You’re shaking.”
In my head, I saw that moment—the one I could never get out of my head. Dad grabbing her by the arm, whipping her around. I’ve read books where people are described as being like ragdolls and I always thought that was pretty hyperbolic, but I swear that’s what she looked like. Her feet hardly touched the ground and he spun her around to face him like she didn’t weigh anything. Like he could pick her up, toss her across the room, shake her like a dog with a toy, and she couldn’t stop him.
And I thought, Oh my god, he could kill her.
“How’s your head?” Allie asked softly.
“Fine,” I said numbly.
But she sat up in the grass, scooted closer, and gently pulled my hat off. It was too dark to see, but she easily found the place they had shaved to put in the stitches. She ran her fingers gingerly along my scalp until I flinched away.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Sorry for what?”
“I should have stopped him.”
“You did, David.”
I shook my head. “No. I should have stopped him sooner.”
“You stopped him as soon as you could. I know you did.”
But why couldn’t I have been faster? Or fought back against Dad before she even got involved? If she hadn’t been worried about me, if I hadn’t been so pathetic…
“It’s not your fault,” Allie said very quietly.
But what kind of big brother would let someone hurt his sister like that?
Allie lay back down in the grass. I didn’t move, so she pulled me down beside her. The stars stared blankly down at us. I stared back.
“Does it really bother you when I talk about aliens and stuff?” Allie asked finally.
“No. As long as you know that kids at school are going to call you crazy.”
“I know they will,” Allie said. “But if people are going to talk about me, I’d rather it be for something I did, not for something that happened to me, you know?”
A satellite blinked overhead, an endless ellipses making its way across the sky.
“Yeah,” I said. “I get it.”
Many thanks to Jem Jones for the prompt! I always love participating
even if my characters don’t
ALSO, as you may have noticed from the title of this post, I am in fact going on hiatus. Something I have never done before. (You think I’m kidding, but it’s true. I’ve never officially gone on hiatus. I’ve just…disappeared for months with no warning. On many many occasions.) The plan is to go on hiatus for the month of May, and be back in June. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m just…really busy, guys.
And I want to dedicate the month of May to making some more progress on the book I’m writing at the moment (along with the six billion other things I’m trying to do. This is definitely going to work out).
I leave you with this snippet from the aforementioned novel in progress (which doesn’t exactly match the tone of the rest of the book, but eh):
There was Mistress Beckwith, tall and imposing with a hat large enough that a pair of geese could have built a nest on the brim (indeed, the spray of feathers encouraged one to believe that this—or some similar event—had in fact taken place).
Do you ever find that even your fun quirky ideas are turning angsty? (I can write happy things, I swear. Just….this ain’t one of them.) Would you attack someone for calling your little sibling crazy? Do you know anything about high school beyond what you’ve seen in movies and books? (Because I don’t. Just a homeschooler faking my way through.) Do you prefer to write first or third person? Do tell!