On this page, I will posting an excerpt from my upcoming story.
Title – Misspelled
Entry date: June 14, 2015
Rewrite number three (translation – at least a dozen rounds of editing) is now complete!
A high-pitched scream suddenly pierced through the mundane sounds of the usual lunch period chatter. A yelp so loud, it could be heard over the relentless thudding of the pep rally music that had been serenading us through the loudspeakers. I dropped the book that I was pretending to read onto my lap and peeked up through the long strands of my hair that I had been trying to hide behind. I’d been to schools where a scream here or there would barely cause anyone to flinch. Schools so rough that a fight breaking out during lunch was as common as a cigarette butt on the ground behind the football bleachers. Ryder High wasn’t one of those schools.
“Don’t forget to come out and cheer on your Ryder High Bulldogs tonight as they battle for the CIF San Diego Section Baseball Championship!” Principal Marquez’s pre-recorded voice announced over the excruciating band music. “Go Bulldogs! Woof, woof, woof!”
Is he serious?
Another blood-curdling screech echoed around the circular shaped courtyard. A group of girls huddled together near the flagpole looking around nervously. One of them gestured for help just as her friend, the screamer, let out yet another deafening cry. I rose to my feet, and like everyone else, I moved closer to get a better look. They were standing over the massive and motionless body of Carl Gibson. He looked dead. His limbs were splayed haphazardly on the grass, the front of his T-shirt drenched in blood.
A mob began to congregate around him. They were all staring. It’s not an everyday thing to see a guy lying there, looking all broken and mangled. Carl was six feet tall and had to weigh over two hundred pounds. He was the bully that usually did the pushing around. Seeing him so beaten and helpless must have been extra weird to them. He was laying face-up, one arm stretched above his head, the other across his torso. It was almost as if he fell backward in some sort of demented ballet pose. I got close enough to see the marble-sized bubbles of blood forming and popping through his left nostril with each crackly breath he took. Panic prickled at the back of my neck. I scanned the crowd, searching for Evan. Did he have brown hair or black hair? I couldn’t remember. Zack, would always say that those are the kinds of little details that I should pay more attention to. He’s right. I should know what my own client looks like.
I watched another air bubble burst from Carl’s nostril, splattering more little red dots of blood above his lip and across his cheek. Guilt mixed with the panic that was already starting to churn in my gut. Together they moved to flutter in my chest making it hard for me to breath. I looked down at Carl again. I fought the urge to reach down and heal him. Someone would probably notice something like that. Besides, I’d never used a healing spell on anyone other than Zack. With Carl as big as he was, I couldn’t guarantee it would work on him. The whispers multiplied, swelling into a humming sound that reminded me of a hive of bees Zack and I accidentally walked into a few summers ago. He must have had at least a dozen bee stings. That was one day when I was thankful to be a witch. If it weren’t for magic, he might not have made it. Funny though, I didn’t get stung once.
Dark red liquid pooled in the grass immediately below Carl’s face.
Did Evan do this? There was so much blood…Shit! Shit! Shit! Did my magic help Evan do this?
Another, more powerful urge charged through me. Run! The voice in my head hissed. It was a voice I heard often, and it always said the same thing. Run, run now! It screamed. My muscles tensed and my legs twitched in anticipation. It was always easier to run. The choice was usually clear—go back to Juvie for shoplifting a stupid soda, or run? Stay with a foster family where the dad spent each evening drinking beer and giving me the wrong kind of looks, or run. Be tricked into having a few drinks with a gang of misfit high school boys, or run. I chose run —every time. Looking at Carl’s wounded body now, it took everything in me not to listen that voice. The only thing really stopping me is the fact that running would be almost as risky as trying to heal him. Either option would attract attention. Instead, I slowly walked away, putting more distance between myself and the scene of the crime. I stopped a few yards back to stand under the towering cypress tree that shaded a good portion of the courtyard. I pressed myself against the trunk. It was a vain effort to blend into the tree bark since on that particular morning, I had decided to dawn my hot pink Rolling Stones teeshirt…the one with the big lips splashed across my chest.
Ms. Savage, the lucky teacher on yard duty, positioned herself over Carl in a wide stance with her elbows out, in an effort to keep everyone at bay. “Give him space!” she barked. She stood much larger than your average woman, with a loud and surprisingly shrill voice. I doubt she ever had to ask more than once to get her way. “Don’t get too close!”
Nate Thompson, the only person brave enough to ignore her warning, dropped to one knee next to Carl. “At least he didn’t crack his skull open,” Nate offered. “It’s probably a good thing he landed on the grass.”
“Don’t touch him!” she clucked like a mother hen reprimanding one of her chicks for straying too far from the chicken coop. “There’s an awful lot of blood. He might have been knifed…or shanked…or something.”
“Nah, I don’t think so.” Nate examined Carl’s face from every angle without actually putting a finger on him, careful not to further upset the overwrought woman looking over his shoulder. “Looks like his nose is busted, though.”
“A broken nose? There’s so much blood!”
“Yep, that’s where all the blood is coming from,” Nate answered.
A new wave of whispers rolled through the crowd.
“Hmph.” She grunted, letting her hands drop to rest on her waist. She seemed almost disappointed. She checked her watch. “Damn it, where’s the Principal?”
As if on cue, Principal Marquez scurried past me. He moved quickly for a stout man, pushing his way through the crowd like a bowling ball barreling down a frame of pins.
“What…uh…” he sputtered, bending over to place both hands against his kneecaps. He inhaled several times through his mouth before he straightened himself and finished, “…seems to be the problem?” Sweat clung to him, darkening his heavily starched dress shirt under his arms and around his collar. He blew one more distinct breath as he wiped his brow with his hairy forearm.
Without looking at him, Ms. Savage replied in a gruff voice, “He’s out.”
“Out?” He was at least a half a foot shorter that she was so Mr. Marquez craned his neck to look her in the face.
“Knocked out. As in out cold. Nate seems to think he’s got a broken nose,” she said stiffly before turning her back to him. Her interest had fallen off. A broken nose didn’t compare much to a knifing. “Looks like you’ve got things handled here. I’ll be in my office,” she added striding away leaving Mr. Marquez with his mouth dropped open.
“All that blood, from a broken nose?” he asked, swinging to Nate, who was still on the ground with Carl. Nate nodded.
“Alright, move aside son,” Mr. Marquez huffed, dismissing Nate with a wave of his fingers. He got down on all fours and leaned in close to Carl to get a better look. “What happened here?” When he didn’t get an answer, he pushed himself off the ground, laboring to balance himself on his feet. He scrutinized the crowd with his beady eyes. “Did anyone…anyone at all… see what happened?” Still, no one said anything.
Mr. Marquez raised one brow and made a quick smacking noise with his tongue. He peered again into the throng of curious spectators. I lowered my head, and tried to slip behind the tree I stood next to, only I was a tick too late. When he saw me, his other brow lifted and a weird, toothy smirk swept across his mouth.
“Ms. Adams!” he called with that ugly grin still plastered on his face. Mr. Marquez always distinguished kids that he considered difficult with courtesy titles so that they were Ms. This or Mr. That. “Can you step over here please?”
I should have pretended not to hear him, and walked away. Instead, I just stood there fidgeting. Mr. Marquez marched towards me.
“Do you know what happened here?” he asked. His voice pitched an octave higher giving an annoying nasal quality about it. Hearing it was like fingernails on a chalkboard.
“No.” It wasn’t a lie. I didn’t really know. I could only guess.
“Ms. Rose Ad-uh-ams,” he drawled, and then paused for dramatic effect, “tell me the truth. Did you have anything to do with this?”
Carl Gibson was humongous compared to me. I’m just over five feet three inches and tip the scale at a hundred and ten. Mr. Marquez just sees my face and thinks trouble for no good reason. Well, maybe one good reason…two tops. So I had a little problem with authority figures in my past. I don’t know why that’s such a big deal. What I do know is that, since the day I transferred here six months earlier, I had worked super hard to steer clear of trouble. I mean, I had been practically invisible. I never did anything to deserve this kind of unfair scrutiny…at least anything anyone knew about. At least I thought I’d been careful.
“I asked you a question, young lady,” he persisted.
Nate tried to step in. “I don’t think Rose—”
“Nate, don’t you need to get to baseball practice?” Mr. Marquez quipped at him, his eyes practically bulging out of his head. Nate took a step back. He was probably afraid Mr. Marquez would do something rash like push him or something.
Mr. Marquez turned to face me again. “Ms. Adams? I’m still waiting for your answer. Are you sure you didn’t have anything to do with this?” He tapped his foot impatiently.
“I’m positive.” That one was a lie. I had been lying all my life. Lies roll off my tongue as easily as marbles on glass. Another one now, was no skin off my back.
Mr. Marquez frowned. He was always waiting for me to crack. Waiting for me to make that first misstep so he could sign my transfer papers and get my potentially trouble-making butt out of his perfect little school. He had read my papers. He was aware of my background —long term delinquent orphan transferred again and again to different foster homes.
From the corner of my eye, I could see Nate watching me. I tried to focus on Mr. Marquez’s bulbous nose and bushy eyebrows—anything to distract me from the knowledge that Nate…no, scratch that…EVERYONE was staring at me. I glanced at Nate. Our eyes locked for a fraction of a second before he blinked and turned away. His eyes were strikingly blue. An unfamiliar heat rushed to my cheeks.
He was the student aid in my Chemistry class so, I guess technically, I knew him. We’ve never actually spoken to each other. He spent most of his time in class handing out tests, and tutoring the kids who actually cared about chemistry. I’ve also heard that he was the it guy in school. The hot guy, the smart guy, the guy you want to take home to meet the folks and the guy you want to spend hours with in the back seat of a car. Nate was one of the popular kids. I doubted that, until that day, he even knew I existed.
Mr. Marquez pointed his pudgy finger at me, readying to launch an onslaught of verbal intimidation. Luckily for me, this was the moment Carl chose to wake up from his unscheduled nap.
“He’s awake!” a girl with pink-colored braces yelped.
Mr. Marquez scurried back towards Carl, almost tripping on the edge of the grass. “Mr. Gibson, are you alright?”
“W-what’s going on?” Carl stammered, his eyes fluttering open.
“You were unconscious.” Mr. Marquez explained.
“I was un-what?”
The hushed whispers in the crowd morphed into a gale of giggles.
“Yo Carl! Looks like you were on the wrong side of an upper cut,” bellowed an unusually tall, freckled-face guy in a letterman jacket.
“Dude! You were pancaked!” shouted another boy.
Carl sat up, finally noticing the blood covering the front of his shirt.
“What the fu—” Carl froze mid-sentence. His eyes narrowed, filling with tears. “OW!” He screamed, bringing both hands to his face.
“D-don’t touch it!” Mr. Marquez yelped. “It’s broken. You’ll only make it worse than it already is.”
Carl released an even louder, agonizing screech triggering more muffled laughter.
That’s when I spotted Evan standing behind a group of preppy kids. He had a gash under his right eye, oozing dark red blood that smeared across his cheek as he wiped his face with his sleeve. I could see that one of the lenses of his glasses was cracked. Though Evan looked almost as damaged as Carl did, no one around him seemed to notice. He laughed along with the rest of the kids. Poking fun at the big bully that finally got what he deserved. Evan stood surrounded by a bunch of guys who were nudging him, patting him on the back and throwing their hands in the air to offer him hi-fives. In his left hand, he clutched the charmed river stone he had purchased from me.
“Ah shit!” I mumbled a little too loud. A few kids next to me turned to look at me. Another rush of heat filled my cheeks.
Mr. Marquez paced in front of Carl trying in vain to console him. Nate stood a couple of feet away from them, his face holding an expression of sincere concern —even though I could almost guarantee that Carl was not on his friends list either.
“You probably shouldn’t move…” he said to Carl.
“Shut up!” Carl wailed. “Just get the hell away from me. All of you get the hell away from me!”
Sounds of blaring sirens filled the air. A few minutes later, the paramedics carted Carl away. “We need to check for a concussion,” I heard one of them say, causing Mr. Marquez to fall back on his heels.
“W-What? Concussion? No, no, ah, I-I understand it’s just a broken nose. You know how these kids get when they’re monkeying around. Do you seriously think you need to go through all that trouble?” Mr. Marquez stammered as he followed them all the way to the ambulance. Forgetting, at least for the now, his vendetta against me.
A few moments later, lunch period was over, and kids began to disperse themselves in every direction. They headed to their classes as if nothing had happened. Like everything was back to normal. My gut was telling me that normal had left the building. And that it was probably my fault.
If you are interested in beta reading the entire manuscript, please contact me.