Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coming of Age: 13

The prompt for this upcoming week's [fiction friday] is "A coming of age tale."  The piece I'm working on is way too long for a simple fiction friday post, so I decided to post it day by day.  The story is titled Jenny and it's written in sections based on Jenny's age.  I'll post the first one here today and then continue until posting the thrust of the story on Friday as my fiction friday entry. Follow along if you like.  I would love any constructive criticism or comments.



Mom tucks Jenny and her older sister, Margot, into their twin beds.  She opens the book in her hands and begins to read,

Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. We’re moving today. I’m so scared. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please help me God.

Margot interrupts, “Mom, her name is Margaret, that’s almost like Margot, like me.” 
“Right, Margot.  Now I want you both to listen carefully. This is very important,” Mom says.

Jenny has trouble keeping her focus on the book.  She looks up at the ballet dancer hanging in the frame beside her bed.  The dancer stretches her leg on the bar while a small child plays with toe shoes on the hardwood floor.  Jenny imagines that the child is the dancer’s daughter.  In her mind the mother bends to pick up the small girl and dances with her across the floor, performing a series of pirouettes and ending with a grand jeté.  The child laughs and asks for another turn. 

Mom’s reading recaptures her attention,

Nancy gave me the creeps the way she sat on her bed and watched me.  I left my polo on until the last possible second.  I wasn’t about to let her see I wasn’t growing yet. That was my business.
“Oh, you’re still flat.” Nancy laughed.
“Not exactly,” I said, pretending to be very cool. “I’m small boned, is all.”
“I’m growing already,” Nancy said, sticking her chest way out. “In a few years I’m going to look like one of those girls in Playboy.”

“What’s this book all about, Mom,” Jenny asks.
“Girls, could you please stop interrupting,” Mom says.  She closes the book, leaving her finger between the pages to save her place.
“Just tell us why you’re reading to us.  You never read to us and we aren’t little girls anymore,” Margot says.
“You’re right, Margot.  You aren’t little girls anymore.  This book will help you understand the changes that are about to happen to you.”
“Mom,” Jenny whines, “how embarrassing.”

Jenny pulls the covers up over her head and tries to breathe in the dark, constricted space.  Mom pulls back the covers and laughs.

“Okay girls,” Mom says, “I know this is a little embarrassing, but it’s important.  You’re going to have questions, and this book will help us answer them.  Just relax and listen while I read.”

Jenny lets out a breath with a whoosh and Margot copies her.  The girls give each other a knowing look as Mom opens the book and continues to read.