Saturday, March 26, 2011

2 First Five Pages Workshop March - Final for Entry #4

Young Adult - Nicole Zoltack

Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since he confiscated a story I wrote during class last week. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

I guess I can't blame him, but wouldn't most English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? But no. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention.

I took my time walking to English class, seeing no need to rush. The crowded hallway slowly thinned out as kids ducked into their classrooms. The scent of mold and putrid gym clothes wafted toward me when a freshman slammed his puke-green locker shut, and I gagged.

"Riona?" someone called.

I turned and spotted Artex, the new guy. He smiled and waved a piece of paper in his hand. Wow, were his teeth white! "Hi." I smiled back, unsure why he was talking to me. After all, I was decidedly unpopular. I refrained from shuffling my feet. Good-looking boys always made me nervous.

He jogged down the hall to me, and a lock of dark hair fell across his forehead, giving him a messy but dreamy look. Oh, yeah, Artex was definitely attractive. "I think this is yours." He handed me the story I had started in Spanish class.

"Thanks." I shoved it into a notebook. "I guess I accidentally left it behind."

"You really wrote poor Roderick into a tight spot. Those bloody pirates are more than he can handle." He fell into step beside me.

My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?" Even though I dreamed of seeing my name, Riona Streaming, on the spine of a book, I didn't have the courage to allow someone else to read my writing.

He laughed and brushed back his hair. "How else did I know it was yours? Why don't you want people to read your stories?"

I frowned, and the floor suddenly grew very interesting. It was ugly, too, but mostly from all the sneaker scruff marks.

Artex shifted and cleared his throat. "You should finish it. It's really good. Maybe you should try to get it published.”

I wanted him to drop the issue. It was almost as if he was reading my thoughts. Or maybe he was just reading my face. I can't hide my emotions. "Maybe." Someday. Don't be rude, Riona. I didn't know Artex that well, but he liked my writing so how bad could he be? He might just want to encourage me.

We'd reached the door to my English classroom, and I stopped with my hand on the knob. "Class," I said.

Gah, why couldn't I ever talk to cute guys without sounding like a complete idiot?

Artex grinned. "I know. I have English with you." He waved his arm. "After you."

I blushed. I had known that. Boy was I making myself out to be an idiot. I stifled a sigh. The dangerously good-looking Artex was getting to me.

I walked into the small classroom and slid into my customary seat in the middle of the classroom. In the front, the teacher can see if you’re taking notes or not. In the back, the teacher assumes you’re a troublemaker. But in the middle, you can do anything.

Artex sat in the front.

Mr. McMichaels stood in front of the class. Short with a pot-belly, he really did resemble a goblin, at least to me he did. “Class, today I want to talk to you about the writing evil. You’ve all read the book A Wrinkle in Time. Did you know Madeleine L'Engle had a hard time publishing it because of the nature of evil in it?”

I furrowed my brow. Evil was a matter of fact within the world. Look at the evening news. Murders, shootings, war. Evil and mankind were inseparable throughout history.

“For the rest of class today, I want you to start a short story that shows evil in some way. You story must be completed by the end of the week. If you want, you may share your story with the class. You can begin.”

Permission to write during class? Fantastic! Evil… hm. What could be more evil than a necromancer? But that would be too contrite. Not all necromancers had to be evil. Slowly the idea formed, and I wrote about Zumar and his revenge against the people of Harrock. My pen raced across the paper.

The hairs on the back of my neck prickled. Someone was staring at me. Artex? I glanced up. Sure enough, Artex was turned around in his seat, looking at me. He tapped his forehead twice, faced forward, and returned to his own writing.

Toward the middle of the story, I stalled. What had been Zumar’s motivation for becoming a necromancer?

A few minutes later, Artex stood up and approached Mr. McMichaels. They exchanged whispers before Mr. McMichaels called out, “Class, you can finish your stories as homework. Artex already has a story he wishes to share.” He smiled at Artex as if he were a literary genius.

I, on the other hand, glared at Artex before blanching. If Artex had stolen my Roderick story…. I mean, what other story could he have finished in so short a time?

Artex walked to the front of the class. He cleared his throat and began, “Hatred coursed through Zumar as he stared at the city below him. The people of Harrock had done him a great injustice.”

I gasped. Those exact words graced the top of my page. Every word was the same. But how could Artex have know? He sat in front of me, not behind me. He couldn’t have copied it.

Artex had continued reading. Instead of looking at him, I held up my pages, my hand trembling. Word for word, every sentence was identical. “Despite his closed eyes, he saw a bright, raging fire, consuming a small building, his home, with his wife and only child trapped inside. Zumar watched in horror as the flames covered their clothes, and their loud shrieks filled his ears.”

Yes. I had determined Zumar’s his wife and daughter dying as his motivation — but I hadn’t written that far. I leaned forward, my elbow on the desk, my chin resting in my hand, daring Artex to finish reading his story, my story, but the bell rang.

Mr. McMichaels' chair squeaked as he pushed it back and stood. “You can finish sharing tomorrow, Artex. Thank you.”

I glowered at Mr. McMichaels. He never thanked me after all the times I offered to share a poem with the class. A poem I would share willingly, a story not so much.

“Of course.” Artex caught my eye, smiled a secret little smile, and practically ran out the door.

I grabbed my papers and hurried after him. The rest of my classmates reached the door at the same time, and I had to push my way through them. By the time I reached the hallway, Artex was nowhere in sight.

What the heck? How did that just happen? There was no way it was a coincidence. Deciding to write about a necromancer, maybe. But every single word? Impossible!

But people can’t read minds.

I paused in the middle of the hallway. People bumped into me, but I stood still. Artex pressing about people needing to read my stories immediately after I had thought about not being courageous enough….

No. Not possible.

But what else explained the identical stories?

Artex had some serious explaining to do.

See the original entry here from week one here.


  1. This feels like a different story from the one we saw at the beginning of the month. The revisions that you have done are incredible and you should be REALLY (it deserves an adverb) proud of yourself! I want to know what's going on! The only notes I'd even give would be little ones. Like look for repetition of the same word within a paragraph or two of each other. Like "people" and "but" and maybe you don't have to say Artex is gorgeous so many times, though I'm really glad you added it! ;D Awesome.

  2. Wonderful job with the revisions, Nicole. I've had such a great time with this work shop. Good luck! :D


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