Writing 101 – Day Eighteen and Nineteen: Front Porch Exile

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I combined the assignments from today and yesterday.  From a 12-year-old’s POV, free writing, tried not to self-edit, though I couldn’t resist a few times.

Write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

Mom put me out of the house again.  Says I spend too much time on the computer and not enough time “in the real world,” whatever that means.  Before she started to regale me with stories about her many adventures running through the Pennsylvania countryside during her storied childhood, I stormed out of the front door, purposely letting the screen door slam behind me.  And what is there to do on this boring street?  I muse as I take a look around.  The across the street neighbor is cutting the grass with no shirt on, drinking a beer at the same time.  Doesn’t quite seem safe.  He waves at me and I nod, quickly turning away.  A woman is walking down the street dragging her screaming toddler to the bus stop on the corner – he wanted to stay inside and watch cartoons.  I feel his pain.

It’s so hot it’s almost as if I hear my skin sizzle as I accidentally brush against the metal railing.   Sitting on the front step, I take a sip of the sweating glass of icy lemonade and open my book, since all electronic devices have also been banned by my parents.  My tablet, phone and laptop are being held hostage.  My mom thinks I need to make friends.  I have friends, I always tell her.  Real friends, she emphasizes, as though the months-long friendships I’ve fostered online don’t count.  There’s Amelie in New York who shares my obsession with Pretty Little Liars – we watch and live-tweet it every week.  Then there’s Liam who lives in some small town in the UK, we have the exact same taste in books, we can talk for hours.  And finally there’s Kat in Florida, she’s an authority in all things pop culture, we can laugh about whatever ridiculousness is going on in Hollywood at any given moment.  They’re all my best friends.  My mother doesn’t recognize this kind of friendship, but I do.  If it weren’t for them, there’d be no one.  People who meet me in person can’t see past the outside.  Who I am on the inside is beautiful and promising and special, but no one bothers to ask.  I’m not hideous by any means, my mother says I might be pretty if I put forth a little effort.  I don’t want to be pretty.  Being pretty got me in trouble once.  A cute boy, older, that smelled sour, of alcohol, a party where I was too young to be.  Lured to an abandoned room with the promise of my first kiss.  Then pain, white hot and searing, then the dull ache inside that has never left, not since that winter night six months ago.

So I wear dark, shapeless clothing, old things I find in my mother’s closet, things I get at secondhand stores when my mom reluctantly gives me money to buy school clothes, I pull baseball hats down low over my unruly hair.  So I do the things I must do, then I come home, I go to my room, and I talk to my friends.  The ones who only know the parts of me I want them to see.

I see a girl coming down the street.  She’s wearing white short shorts and a t-shirt that says Gotta Secret – Can You Keep It?  She looks about my age, maybe a year or so younger.  She has the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen, big and voluminous with shiny red curls, skin turned golden by the Georgia summer sun.  I’ve never seen her before.  Her family must have just bought the house down the street that’s had a For Sale sign out front for nearly a year.  She stops on the sidewalk in front of our small yard.

“Hey,” she says shyly.

“Hey,” I respond, trying to sound confident.  She’s on my turf after all.  I sit up straighter,  channeling Spencer Hastings.  “You like PLL?”

She looks down at her shirt and smiles.  “Yep, I missed the last two episodes though. Was gonna watch today, I recorded them but my mom deleted them.  Said I need to meet my neighbors.”  She rolls her eyes.

I chuckle.  “My mom forced me out too.”  A pause.  “Well, I have all the episodes saved.  We can watch them if you want.”

Her face lights up.  “Really!”  She starts up the walk.

“Yep,” I stand and hold the screen door open for her.

My mom pokes her head out of the kitchen when she hears the door open.  “I said that you needed to…”  she starts to shout, stopping abruptly when she sees the new girl standing in our foyer.  “Okay if we watch some videos upstairs?”  I ask.

She smiles, I think I might see a tiny tear in the corner of her eye.  “Sure, that’s fine,” she says softly.

I look at my new friend and we both shake our heads as we head upstairs.  I know we’re thinking the same thing.  Our moms are such pains.

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