Friday, July 15, 2011

#FridayFlash: Freak of Nature

This is a sequel to last week’s story, Kate’s Wings. Sonia Lal opined, “this story needs To Be Continued,” and I immediately thought about that adolescent need to fit in. So we continue, nearly five years later…



Freak of Nature

The screen door slammed behind Kate as she stomped into the summer night, her frustrated growl trailing like a plume of noxious diesel exhaust. “Don’t you understand I just want to be left alone?” she muttered as she made her way to the treehouse, the gravity of the big oak pulling her in the right direction.

She put her hands on the ladder, then shrugged and pulled the back of her tank top down. Nobody could see out here, and it felt good to fly. Her wings, the source of her adolescent embarrassment, unfurled and she rose through the darkness and foliage into the tree house. She alit and sat cross-legged, looking teary-eyed over the endless rooftops; the new moon allowed a few stars to force themselves through suburbia’s glow.

After a minute, the screen door opened and closed again. Kate heard footsteps approach, pause, approach.

“Kate?” her dad’s voice carried up from below. “You okay?”

No, I’m not okay, I’m a freak of nature! she thought to herself. Aloud she said “Yeah.”

“Sweetie… listen. I know it’s rough on you. But… I’m here. If you ever want to talk about anything, and I mean anything. I promise, I’ll do my best to just listen. Okay?”

Kate heaved a dramatic sigh. “Yeah. Okay.” It must have been enough, because Dad turned and went back inside.

“That would be a conversation from Hell, daddy-oh,” she muttered. “You can’t possibly have a freeking clue what I have to deal with.”

“Maybe not, but he wants to understand,” a voice came from behind her.

Kate gasped and spun around, poised for flight. “Who’s that?” she rasped. “Mom?” That would be so unfair, Mom flying up here to continue the argument, but Kate wouldn’t put it past her. Then again, Mom hadn’t ever come up here that she knew of.

“Not Faye. She’s still inside. Trying to decide what to say.”

Aunt Morgan? When did you get here?”

“Just now, dear.” Aunt Morgan rarely visited, but Kate felt closer to her than her own immediate family these days anyway. “I understand you’re going through a tough time of life.”

Kate sighed and sat. “Oh God, Auntie, you have no idea…” then she stopped. Like Kate, her mom and aunt were both what they called Enchanted Ones, and what Kate called freaks of nature — with wings and the ability to fly — and they had to be going on thirteen once themselves, didn’t they?

“I do know,” said Aunt Morgan. “That’s why I came. Your mom and dad don’t know I’m here yet, and that’s fine because I came to see you.”

“Why?”

“I want to show you something. Will you come with me?”

“Sure. Where’s your car?”

“We don’t need a car for this. Just…” Aunt Morgan’s wings whirred for a moment.

“Fly? Here?”

“Oh, don’t worry. It’s a new moon night, and nobody will ever see us. Even if they do… well, people are good at not seeing things. Come.” Aunt Morgan took her hand and lifted out of the treehouse. Kate followed without thinking much about it; as much as she hated her otherness, it felt good to fly and she’d resisted it for so long.

After a few minutes, the ground below them opened up and Kate realized they were over the Balsam Grove golf course. Daddy liked to come here on weekends to, as he said with a laugh, “hit a few balls in the water.” Aunt Morgan flashed a light in her free hand, and Kate nearly fell when a response flickered from a copse off to their left. They veered that way and alit on the ground at the edge of the trees.

A woman approached, first shining the light upon herself and then the ground between them. Aunt Morgan did the same with her own light, and the woman looked surprised then bowed. “Lady Morgan,” she said, “it’s an honor. What brings you here to grace us with your presence?”

“This is my niece, Kate Parr,” said Aunt Morgan. “She’s one of us, and it’s long since time she was brought into the fold.”

“I bid you welcome, Kate Parr,” said the other.

“What is this place?”

“This is a grove of the Enchanted Ones,” said her aunt. “We gather on new moon nights to talk, play, and not hide our otherness.”

As the sounds of chatter and high-pitched laughter came from above, Kate turned to her aunt. “Why did Mom never tell me about this?”

“Your mother…” Aunt Morgan sighed. “She’s always looking for just the right moment, letting the good-enough moments slip by. That’s why you nearly gave your dad a heart attack when you flew out of the treehouse on your eighth birthday.” She giggled, a most un-Morgan sound. “I wish I’d been there to see it!”

“Kate?” She turned to the new voice — a light shone in her face, then turned on itself, and there was Heather Smith from school! “Ohmygod, Kate, I never knew — you seemed so normal at school!”

“Normal?”

Heather didn’t have a chance to respond — in moments, Kate was surrounded by girls, many of whom she knew from school. They clustered around her, chattering. “Is Lady Morgan really your aunt? That makes you royalty!” “Your wings are so beautiful!” “How did you hide so well?” “I thought you were normal!” “You must hang out with us when school starts back!”

That word, normal, rung in Kate’s ears, nearly drowning out the chatter of her new friends. She looked around — “Hey, aren’t there any boys here?”

A wave of giggles and laughs washed over her. “All the Enchanted Ones are girls!” one of them said. “Boys never are. With girls it’s fifty-fifty. We all got lucky!”

Kate startled, then smiled. “Lucky. Yeah.” Suddenly, normal didn’t seem all that attractive anymore.

Aunt Morgan always gave the best presents.

29 comments:

  1. And THIS part of the puzzle leads to yet another call for more. This would be a very, very cool YA novel. I hate to dump work in your lap but there is so much to explore with this idea and I can just SEE youngsters lapping it up. Sharpen your pen, FAR!!!

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  2. Somehow, you managed to provoke an emotional response from the most unsentimental person I know- me, lol. This is beautiful! Well done!

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  3. I love the idea that the thing that makes her stand out essentially makes her normal after all...so she gets to be popular AND be able to fly! I think a lot of 13 year old girls would love that.

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  4. The first half reminded me a little of Kiki's Delivery Service, and the witch's first flight away from home. Could certainly see its world spawning a YA novel, like Cathy said.

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  5. Great piece. You have dialogue beaten! My pleasure at reading it was a little marred with my envy :)

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  6. I'm with everyone else about the YA novel, FAR. It seems you've got gold in your hands. ;)

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  7. Hi all!

    Cathy, I'll have to read a couple YA stories before I even try to expand much more on this one. Fortunately, I have a couple waiting in my Kindle.

    Apple, thanks!

    Icy, I think you're right. If her circle of friends understands her because they're also Enchanted Ones, then I think it'll be easier to deal with the rest of the world.

    JohnW, I've never read that one. Is it on Kindle, or a blog-story?

    Squidsquirts, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! Dialogue is one of those things that come with practice. Easy test: read it aloud. If it doesn't sound right, you'll know it needs fixing. You'll always find something to improve… in my case, it was dialogue, then stronger female characters, then PoV switches, on & on. Feel free to poke around and see what else I've written!

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  8. Oops, hi Mari, I didn't refresh before I posted! Like I told Cathy, I need to brush up on YA before I really push much farther…

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  9. Brush up quick because I think it would make a pretty good YA novel.

    I loved it!

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  10. I like where you took the story. And I agree with John. Does have a Kiki's Delivery Service feel to it. Which is wonderful. One of my favourite movies.

    I also think it would make a great YA book. Girls love "Girls only" kind of stuff.

    In addition it makes me wonder if the boys may also have a secret power or ability they keep hidden?

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  11. Ok, the normal comment box :) Anyways I liked the continuation and it's nice to read a story every now and again that has the happy fairy tale ending. (This one literally). It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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  12. Good evening…

    Sonia, I'll do what I can. But I really do have to finish White Pickups.

    Craig, thanks… if the boys have a secret ability, they haven't told me yet!

    Thanks, Michael. I prefer writing happy endings (or comedies in the Shakespearean sense).

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  13. I really liked this, it explores that feeling that young people have when they feel different and yet they then find out that they are not so different from others after all. It's the difference that makes them an individual.

    It raises the whole question of what is normal?

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  14. Thank goodness you provided a link to last week's, which I missed. You write this with a lightness of touch which makes it flow and read so well. I especially liked "the new moon allowed a few stars to force themselves through suburbia’s glow."

    Good writing and there is certainly an opening for a longer (dare i say, commercail) piece.

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  15. Beautifully done, Far! I have to agree, this could be a novel or perhaps at least other installments. And what really is normal? ;-)

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  16. I agree with those who say this could be a whole novel. These two stories have been fantastic. (My daughter is 10 currently, so you have to hurry.) :)

    As a parent, I think my favorite part of this story was the comment about the "good enough moments". Isn't it so true that we wait around for "perfect moments" that never come? Great writing, FAR

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  17. Hiya FAR, I just read through "Kate's wings" then this sequel.
    The concept is really interesting.

    I know I'm echoing some of the other comments, but I do believe that this should be developed into something rather longer, then submitted for publication. Depending on the content it could be a YA novel, or for a slightly younger age group.

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  18. Hey all!

    Helen, that's pretty much what I was going with here. And like Boran says below, what is "normal"? Don't ask me, I don't think my life comes anywhere near it!

    Flyingscribbler, thanks much. I'm glad that sentence worked; I needed to point out it was a new moon somewhere.

    Boran, like I told Helen, I'd have less of a clue about normal than Kate's dad has about what she's going through (putting herself through?). Thanks much!

    Chuck, did your daughter like the stories? It *is* true about the good-enough moments. I wrote that in partially as a reminder to myself.

    Steve, I'm hearing it loud & clear. ;-) Morgan's revealing more of it to me now… but I really need to finish White Pickups before I tackle a second big project! If I only didn't have to work for a living. :-P

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  19. I especially liked, "… well, people are good at not seeing things." But I see you've done a fine job continuing this tale.

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  20. Thanks, Tim. Most people *are* good about not seeing things… but some of us see things that aren't there and write them down?

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  21. Nice final line. You have a gorgeous touch with YA themes. I liked "Even if they do… well, people are good at not seeing things." for its greater truth.

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  22. I just went and read the first story, and then read this one. One continuation observation: if Kate's mother has wings, wouldn't her dad have noticed them and thus would Kate's wings be less of a shock to him? Or can the wings be hidden somehow (not just by clothes I mean)? Apart from that, I loved the stories!

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  23. Hi Foregoreality! (I think I mentioned it already, but Lordy I love that handle)

    Very good observation. The wings appear when needed, mainly. That's something that will be brought out in the expanded story. (I've had several people, including YA writers, say this is good stuff and it's ballooning into a full-fledged project. When I get the White Pickups project finished!!!)

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  24. This is a brilliant story, I was totally hooked into it and I have to say I think you should take these characters and write a novel, it's wonderful.

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  25. You do have a good premise here to expand it into a novel. A lovely light touch and well told.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  26. Hi all…

    Rebecca, Adam, I've started taking notes (scroll down to see the mind map).

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  27. YES! That's right, the muched anticpiated sequel. It didn't dissapoint.
    I'd tottaly date an Enchanted One. Think about it, it would save on gas!

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  28. Thanks, WG. Hey, that's a thought about saving on gas — but if your girlfriend decided to drop you, it might be a long way down!

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