Monday, October 3, 2011

7 1st Five Pages October Workshop - Entry #3

Name: Steph Schmidt
Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary

Having bangs is one of the lesser known impossibilities in golf. I should have known better than to let the person who normally cuts my hair talk me into bangs. Frame my face? Nah, they ended my life. Okay they didn’t end my life—just a promising junior golf career.

At first I flipped them under a baseball cap. Later I avoided any mirrors because those bangs punished me with the worst hat hair a gal could ever know. I tried pinning them back with clips. The bangs fell out in the middle of a sand trap costing me a ten-thousand dollar scholarship. The worst idea? Going to Wednesday summer practice, with bangs, in the rain.
That’s when those bangs did their worst. They took it upon themselves to send me on the awkwardest trip to the ER.

The ping that should have come from the golf ball hitting my iron instead came from two irons making contact. Someone else's iron had slipped out of their grip, again, because of the rain.
“Really, guys? Take off your gloves when-” I stopped. My right hand couldn't pick up the iron off the ground.

“We know, we know, hurry up Ace!” Becca hated teeing second. I hated that nickname.

Not good, the wet grip slipped out of my limp right hand a second time, back onto the puddle next to the white golf tee. Picking up the iron with my left hand I slammed it into my bag. Out came Coach, swatting the plastic rain shield aside, from the golf cart. Probably thought we’d gotten into another ‘disagreement’ and he’d cleverly resolve it with a change up in the tee order.
“Coach, I can’t grip my iron.” The moment I pulled my glove off he freaked.

“What did you do?” He tossed my glove at the plastic panel of the golf cart. “Get-get in the cart! Christ almighty! There’s the season!”

If anyone was allowed to be freaking out right now Coach, it really ought to have been me. I didn’t say that out loud because I’m ‘Ace’
Abby. I don’t throw fits and toss my irons at people, like Becca. I don’t score more than 80, like Courtney. If that wasn’t enough pressure, I’m the only serious golfer on the team. I’m Coach’s single chance at getting back on the professional circuit’s radar.

Or should I start saying I probably was his single chance. I haven’t heard Coach cuss this much since ever. Did my hand, being in incredible pain and weirdo swelling, mean that I was allowed to cuss during practice?

“Practice canceled,” Coach thundered. He fought the umbrella on my bag so he could load it onto the backseat of the cart. “Dry off, get your forms in order and meet for films during lunch tomorrow.”
Do you think anyone told me get well? Nope.

My so called teammates were walking back to the clubhouse with muddy water sloshing in their shoes as I sat in the humid golf cart trying not to move my hand. That’s why I hate playing on my high school golf team. No one likes anyone else. Half the members are looking to pad their college applications and the other half are just looking for a good time goofing around with the golf carts.

There’s one small problem with this scenario, aside from the fact my Coach should stop saying there’s the season under his breath every few minutes driving the cart back to the clubhouse. My hand is a really small matter compared to this problem. Both my parents are out of the country. Mom’s at some work thing for two weeks (at the most) in Spain. Dad’s in Australia to bail out his PhD candidates on an archeology dig.

I’m seventeen. I’ve no idea how ER works. I don’t know if my parents’
insurance can afford whatever is now wrong with my hand. I’m kinda the one who ought to be freaking out. But I’m not freaking out. All I can think is how Mom’s going to get really nervous when she finds out how much this will cost. Dad will have to teach extra classes at the junior college so we can afford it. Instead of freaking out about my hand, I’m ready to cry with guilt that I let this happen. Because I’m always in control of everything.

After the world’s longest trip back to the clubhouse, unlike the others drying off, I end up stuck in Coach’s dated luxury car as he drove me to the ER. Coach chucked hand towels to cover the slick leather seats on my side so that I could sit shotgun before he climbed into the driver’s seat. I sorta wish there had been time to grab my bag from the truck. The clubs would be fine wet, I just really needed some music to take my mind off the swelling around my palm slowly matching my black and purple nail polish hack job.

The talk station on the radio played looped traffic reports that I could barely hear. Music would have stopped me from twitching my foot as I thought about how much the ER would cost and who would drive my car back to my house. Wasn’t going to be anyone on the team, I had a nifty clutch. Oh and how was I going to get my good luck watch from the clubhouse locker? I needed it for the first day of school tomorrow. This day is screwing my entire year over.

Coach was gruff but I couldn’t believe how cold he acted. A whole summer of speculating about my career with the pros—obvious favoritism and specialty treatment—evaporated in one afternoon. He didn’t ask if I was ok, scared, or upset. Nope, he muttered under his breath and tapped the wheel at red lights. Did Coach honestly think I’d decided this morning I wanted to be done with golf? What a great blessing he was bestowing on me by walking in to the ER lobby with me! I half expected him to pull up to the ER doors and tell me to get out. He could call my emergency contact back from his office at school.

“Ace, fill out the paperwork while I find your emergency contact stuff.” Coach jabbed the clipboard in my lap and stalked out. No cellphone policy in the lobby. He’s lucky I’m a lefty or I’d be dropping the pen just like I did my iron. I should have told him about Spain and Australia. Shoulda, coulda, woulda had Coach been less of a jerk. Instead I’d let him enjoy the long distance charges on his cell phone bill. Really, I wish I had my noise canceling earbuds to drown out the baby shrieking at its mom three seats down.

I wasted the time till Coach came back filling out the obvious boxes on the form for age, weight, symptoms and what I was doing when the injury happened. Then I stopped, wondering if I really had to put my full legal name on the lines First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name.

Neither of my parents will fess up whose genius idea it was to name me Abigail. Thank you academia! I, in retaliation, refuse to own up to my full name and always go by Abby.
“Miss, may I have the clipboard? You’re next.” An accented voice and hospital scrubs overran shoes which interrupted my pen tapping. So much for getting my hopes up TV. Doctor Nurse Dude was not hot. Just a pale surfer type whose under eye bags were large enough to house my locker. He probably said dude and bro every other word when he was off duty. His accent sounded like he was from New England though like the neighbor my mom always calls a WASP. Can guys be WASPs? What did WASP actually stand for anyway?

My supposed emergency-emergency contact (because a regular emergency would have meant my parents) walked with Coach into the tiny room I was sitting with Doctor Nurse Dude: Mrs. Perry, my aforementioned eccentric neighbor of fourteen years.

“Ow!” I jerked my hand when Doctor Nurse Dude jabbed his thumb into the space between my thumb and index finger.

“I’m like to run some x-rays to get a better idea what your daughter has done to her wrist.” Doctor Nurse Dude looked awkwardly at Mrs.

I’d be uncomfortable too if I was being stared down with bored distain from a WASP in a houndstooth suit, three inch heels and katana earrings. This was as normal as you could get from Mrs. Perry. For the record, there is no way based on looks Doctor Nurse Dude should have assumed we’re related just because we’re both blondes. I have brown eyes! She has like these weird gray ones.

“Please splint the wrist for now. Thank you, Coach Mansfield, for the phone call.” What was the WASP thinking? I needed way more than a splint if Doctor Nurse Dude wanted to run more tests. My hope faded that Coach had given Mrs. Perry my stuff as we headed out of the ER and to her overly expensive imported sports car. That is after I signed a bunch of stuff saying I was leaving against medical advice.

“Uh, did you get my stuff from Coach?” I stared at the trunk thinking that was probably a no.

“As if I’m going to have some third rate resident waste my time.” Mrs.
Perry’s earrings looked dangerously close to cutting her chin if she kept shaking her head. Except they’re probably not sharp. That’d be cool but stupid. Wait, that is exactly something the WASP would do.

“Mrs. Perry, my wrist still hurts. And did you happen to get my gear from Coach?”

“We’re going to a specialist. Do you know the rates that misdiagnosis and malpractice lawsuits from sleep deprived residents incur?”


  1. Hi Steph,

    Okay, I LOVE the first line. Love it, love it, love it. But I also hate it, because later in the story, it becomes clear it is a device to get us hooked. Devices like that are fine, but they work best when they are truly intrinsic. Unfortunately, in this case, the mechanics don't make sense. So, I love the voice, love the character, love the situation and the setup you have going, but I think you have to do something to make the bangs a real part of the story instead of a bit of cheat.

    It isn't clear why the bangs would make your MC lose a scholarship -- If she can't see through them, why wouldn't she cut them again? And why didn't she tuck them in again before she took her swing? Unless the cap came off, which I don't buy. I get that you're trying to give us a sense of the stakes and her place on the team. But we need mroe information and a more organic reason.

    Similarly, how did what happened to send her to the ER have anything to do with her bangs?

    Overall, I have no idea what happened to her hand. I need that situation much more clear. I'd like to see more of the team dynamics through a scene instead of her narrative, and I'd like a better scene with the coach in place of quite so much narrative. Ditto Mrs. Perry. Slow things down.

    I have to say that you have us. You've hooked us. Your voice rocks. Trust yourself and slow down. Be confident that we're not going anywhere and take time to orient us into your mc's fascinating life. I don't mean a ton of slowing down, but enough to show us the action clearly and show us a little bit more of the characterization.

    We need a slightly stronger balance between showing and telling--that's all. Otherwise, this is truly wonderful.



  2. I love the voice too. That was what hooked me. I agree with slow down. It seems like she is rushing to get everything out. Maybe a little more dialogue would help?

  3. The situation has me hooked, but I agree that you need to lose the bangs as the opening. I also want her to be more focused on what's happening to her hand. Wouldn't she panic, at least internally? The WASP thing was confusing to me because it seemed to refer to both the nurse and the woman. I also noticed some tense issues. You need to stick to either present or past. Perhaps it has to do with internal thoughts and they aren't italicized because of formatting?
    I liked the voice, but still felt a disconnect to what was happening. So I would recommend thinking through exactly what you need to get across and using that as a road map of sorts.
    Can't wait for the revision. :D

  4. I like the voice for this story, but there seemed to be some tangents that could be tightened up so that you're directly the story more. It reminds me of a running horse with loose reins. I think this is why I felt lost in the ER. I think you were trying to establish the characters of Mrs. Perry and the doctor, but I felt like I was lost visually and was having trouble figuring out what was going on.

    Not to get into grammar, but all the tense switches back and forth were very confusing. You're going to have to choose one and stick with it, or no one will know what's going on. Also, there were punctuation issues that were confusing, so I had to go back and reread sections to figure out what was happening and what she was saying.

    It's got great potential, though, and I can't wait to see how your revisions go. : )

  5. The voice and writing are both great, but I had a hard time knowing what the focus was. Other than that, I just agree with what Martina said. Slow it down a bit.

    I wish I had more helpful info, but I think you've already done a good job with the opening.

  6. I would have like to feel this more, if that makes sense. How does her hand feel? Did she know she hurt it other than it not functioning right? How does she feel sitting in the ER? What are the seats like? The lighting? What kind of pen is she using? Those details could help us slow down and move with her instead of jumping around. But I think you have a good start and a great MC. I just want to be able to keep up with her!

  7. I agree with Jenny that more feeling would be good. The MC has a great voice, but I agree with other comments that you need to slow it down. I actually like the bangs and the first line, but you need to slow down and make the bangs more immediate to the situation. The repetition of the WASP acronym also got confusing and I had to reread that part a few times to follow.


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)