Today you might get sick of my voice, because I am posting something now, and a second something in a couple days (the second posting will be my usual type of post…and shorter than this one).
First, thank you soooooo much for the amazing and humbling support for my novel-in-progress (only a third of the way finished)! And, since you requested more, I’m posting the rest of Chapter 1.
And, I know your time is precious, but, what you find here could be very confusing if you’ve missed the Intro and beginning of Chapter 1…so, if you are so inclined, please see, (April 21/15) “Oh, Didn’t I Say?”
Also, when you come to the part that talks about the twins, you might notice that I don’t highlight one of them…I will…and you’ll see that she’s equally awesome…so, try not to let that distract you from the story… 🙂
And, please know that you feedback is more appreciated than I can say…it is really giving me the momentum to open my mind to the words that God is sending my way….I can feel the time coming when I will start adding more…
Also, if you do read the beginning of my novel-in-progress, please check out the blogs of the wonderful people who posted comments…I love their blogs/posts, and they are very kind, funny, sweet, caring, and generous souls…even if you don’t read my post, scroll down and check them out anyway! Seriously! 🙂
Chapter 1 continued…
Chapter 1: While Visions of Loveliness Danced On Their Beds
(“You spin me right round, baby, right round like a record, baby, right round, round, round…” Dead or Alive)
Back On Track, Straight Ahead…
Presently, convinced that her bed is a night owl in need of a day job, 12 year-old Alison Judith Snodgrass is bounding, determined that her mattress double as a trampoline. And, here’s another heads-up. In another month or so, sans segue, Ayjay will be struck by the notion that her surname sounds like a Dr. Seuss inspiration (… snodgrasslers and zoodlers, all dancing and swaying, chattering hobnoodlers, who knows what they’re saying?); and this will account for one of those gales of laughter that convinces the uninitiated observer that girls tend to laugh at everything and nothing at all.
Thankfully, this brand of cynicism (sour-puss-ness) can do nothing to stifle Ayjay’s joy: she is as warm and whimsy-spirited as her collection of novelty tee shirts, snuggly pom-pommed hoodies, Crayola-colored jeans, and signature woolly and wonderful cold-weather socks.
Speaking of which, when clothes are the topic of conversation, as they often are with females (of every age), Ayjay is likely to repeat that an added bonus of being African Amazian is that her complementary complexion makes bright colors ‘pop’—yellows shine sunnier, blues feel happier, and reds beam brighter.
And, just to give your imagination a better foothold, I need to mention that Ajay is a deep milk chocolate color…after all, how were you to know, given that black people—as with all people of color—come in a wonderful range of shades.
The same is true of Afro-Amazian hair—in terms of multiple variations, I mean. Which, if you will bear with me, brings me to my circuitous point…
This pit stop—a series of introductory anecdotes—features past game changers meant to increase your appreciation for how ‘human’ and how special our five darlings are…which will perhaps cause you to reflect kindly on your own loveable imperfections as well.
In—then—nine-year-old, Ajay’s world, it was her low opinion of her coils that became the catalyst for a fundamental teaching moment delivered by her mother; and it was the glue that cemented her best-friend status with Cheyenne—one of the other t’weens.
And, not to put too fine a point on it, but I would venture to guess that most, if not all, of us are intimately familiar with the expression ‘bad hair day’. So, it stands to reason that this dissatisfaction, to some degree or another, must be a shared experience no matter what our skin color may be. Agreed?
At any rate…
Ayjay has always admired her mother’s especially-voluminous hair. Strong as twine, it ambitiously anchors braided extensions in a myriad of coiffed configurations (she sports more styles than a centipede with a love of mismatched shoes). Conversely, Ayjay’s short locks—soft curves never given to a change of heart or fly-away fancies—are as composed as Mona Lisa’s smile.
However, when an impending costume party afforded Ajay the chance to make a reasoned argument for reinvention (temporary transformations her parents reserved for make-believe occasions only), Ayjay announced that she was going to be an African princess with an array of long and winding plaits.
So, while mustering all the discipline only heart-felt passion can inspire, our little lady-in-waiting sat for several hours (Cheyenne and the television providing entertainment) while her borrowed braids morphed and dwarfed any volume achieved by hair queens, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross…combined (think, doorway-blocking-huge!).
Ayjay was thrilled with the result, and—although her terms of negotiation were littered with assurances that this was her last ‘ask’ for a whole month—once the amnesiatic (say what?) properties of the next whim took root, all promises were binned as she implored her parents to—“Please! Please! Pleas!”—let her only sibling, Alexander, drive she and Cheyenne to the playground at the far end of town.
Now, there is a wonderland within walking-distance, but the appeal of the ‘away’ playground is it‘s rudimentary (stick figure) version of a horse-powered carousel. Do you know the type–all modesty and metal—a disk platform sporting nothing but a patina and jutting elbow handles?
Well, to appreciative nine year olds, this was a real treat! As Alexander vigorously spun the girls, everything melted into an intoxicating blur; and Ayjay’s braids were elevated to high-flying streamers that celebrated both her culture, and her identification with her mother.
However, the festivities were unceremoniously (party) crashed by the whirling winds that drafted Ayjay’s hair into a tug of war….and, sadly, her borrowed plaits lost. As the merry-go-round wound to a solemn stop, Ayjay’s eyes—inky, midnight-pools—reflected a panoramic far-and-wide-scattering of displaced hair…then, her sense of fair play began to wrestle with her heart…and her head lost that battle as well.
Consequently, in a short-lived pique of resentment, little Miss Alison Judith vowed not to speak to Alexander for the entire day (forgivable, since she cannot be expected to be perfect; and—just—given that her own capacity to forgive is as big as her eyes). And, while her mother’s promises that who we are (“princess” or otherwise) is not dictated by what we look like—and that the best similarities mother and daughter shared could be found in their hearts— Ayjay wasn’t exactly gracious when her new friend, Cheyenne, tried to soften the blow by pointing out that, if brushed upward and outward, Ayjay’s hair blossomed like a dandelion-seed afro.
“Easy for you to think that makes up for anything”, Ayjay protested, arms crossed in a stubborn pretzel. “My boring old hair only does two measly things. You got the coolest hair ever: it’s all loopy and springy; and you can do a bazillion things with it!”
Cheyenne’s soft smile and quick shrug communicated a, ‘makes-me-no-never-mind’ concession (whateves, no big woop)’. With hazel eyes twinkling, she responded, “Who has the time or the hankerin’ when my best pardner in the whole world has the best ideas ever, Pilgrim?”
Well, how clever! This was a well-timed invitation to resume ‘yesterday’s’ wild-riled-west adventure when Ayjay and Cheyenne fancied themselves prospectors, and “panned for gold” alongside a squat bog that was, in truth, little more than a big marshy puddle (safety before poetic licence).
Mercifully, this reminder did the trick, since—in Ayjay’s defence—learning to better-manage disappointments is an ongoing lesson that has no expiration date and no shortage of chances. So, when Ayjay’s hair-trigger smile mirrored Cheyenne’s ever-ready grin, the let-down was teased upward by their breezy optimism–after which, any vague memory of loss and defeat was swept away by the balancing winds of change.
You see, having untangled the great hair debate, our lovelies determined that their collection of lumpy rocks were ‘raw’ gold nuggets that simply needed a good polishing.
And, luckily, before they pulled an Aladdin (the results of which would have rubbed them the wrong way), the girls unwittingly (who-the-what-the?!) stumbled upon the joys of tadpoles.
(Hint: the t.p.’s were in the bog.J)
Here and now…and, then back again:
Three years later, twelve year old Cheyenne Trixie Kenney (AKA, Shy), is still issuing irresistible invitations. At this very moment, she is orchestrating an impromptu, whirling, twirling dosey-doe.
As she bounds and cavorts (does a happy dance) with her friends, Shy’s upswept locks are dizzily-waved conductors’ batons—leading a symphony of jostling, ginger corkscrews—tied high in a blooming crescendo of spirals.
Also, as with most everything (or anyone) uniquely different, her crowning glory confounds those who limit their imaginations, but trust their eyes. For, they are confused by what they deem to be an ‘improbable triumph’ (who would ‘a’ thunk it?!).
True, with the passing years, Shy’s riotous red hair has grown big beyond all mainstream proportion—and relies heavily on updos, hair bands, and/or braids—but, if you please, “improbable-triumph” is an oxymoron (like, ‘forever and a day’). Seemingly-quirky-happenstances, such as the appeal of Shy’s hair, are inevitable…always meant to be by virtue of the fact that they happen.
Those in the know also appreciate that Cheyenne’s high-flying locks—and random sprinkling of brown-sugar-freckles—perfectly reflect her free-spirited will. This endearing trait is balanced by a sensitivity that mirrors her fair skin and tender heart. And, here’s another ‘F.Y.I.’—as is true of any of us, Shy’s gifts don’t end there. For instance, somewhat tall and husky, she is well-muscled, and strong as an ox.
Now, granted, at first blush, this point of reference might not sound very flattering, and the term ‘tomboy’ might come to mind; but, farm girl, Shy, would observe that oxen are admirably hard workers.
Additionally, modelling her mother’s carefree attitude, she would laugh off the notion that there could be any such thing as a tom boy, given that boys do not have the lock on being strong, having a romping good time, and wearing clothes that can withstand the rigors of hard work and a lot of play.
Our dance-fevered diva also gets credit for making near-frequent-flyers of fraternal twin twisters, Drew and Bevverley Snow-Bell; and, while nothing more to do with Shy, here’s a segue-worthy turning point.
While the pet name, Bevvy, needs no explanation, Drew’s mini moniker is touchingly-illustrative of our universal need to belong; and also demonstrates how very well-suited loyalty, bravery, and compassion are.
This trio of blessings unfolded on the twins’ first day at their new school, Silverbrook Elementary, in the tiny town of Myersville.
Feeling as though she’d swallowed a troupe of fluttering Butterflights (or Butterflees—those nervous-tummy-taunters that tempt us to run away), five-and-a-half-year-old Drew was relieved when Bevvy reflexively (defined as, ‘knee-jerk reaction’) countered little Charlie Snider who announced, “Drew is the only oned of us who doesn’t have a tall and a short name!”
Although this happened right in front of the whole class, ever the quick-on-her-feet-thinker, Bevvy thought of her mother smiling away fledgling (“baby”) tears triggered by one of many reminiscences. Well, more accurately, what ran through Bevvy’s mind was, “Momma a’ways happy-cries ‘cause I use-ta mix up Drew’s name”.
“Drew does too have a showaat name”, Bevvy defended aloud. Then, after taking a moment to wrap her will around the word, she announced, “It’s, Do”.
Okay, sorry to interrupt the flow, yet again…but, you need to note that—very nearly brand new—youngster, Bevvy was still working on “speech impediment” (another oxymoron, since her ‘accent’ was totally adorable), and she had recently mastered the first word she ever said.
Struck by inspiration, Bevvy added, “It’s perfec’, ‘cause Drew’s so great at doin’ lots of stuff…bein’ he’pful; makin’ blanket fowats; doin’ maff and spellin’, takin’ care of our fambily pets—an old cat, two turdles, one rabbit and our puppy, Strawdberry Jell-O…and, best doin’ of all—being a fambulous big sister!”
At this, an impressed Charlie piped up, “Yeh, Drew—I mean, Do—‘cause yer four minutes oldered than Bevvy, right?”
Momentarily conflicted about the advisability of succumbing (oh, I give up) to the cuteness of it all, teacher, Miss Steckley, reflected that twins engender considerable fascination—especially social butterflies as captivating as these. So, she smiled encouragingly, and let the classroom bonding cure—comfortable with her rationale that, added to the excitement of having Shy Kenney also arrive today (which triggered the short/long name observation), there was no harm in giving recess a five-minute head start.
(Blogger friends, here’s where (in time) I will add Drew’s gift)
And, yes, those Clever Clara’s who are wondering, Charlie (AKA Charlotte Bose) is the fifth darling that rounds out the group of lovely lasses.
…Oh, and somewhere along the line, Do’s short name had a brief growth spurt and sprouted a second ‘o’.
Speaking of growth spurts, whereas, seven years later, the tiny twins are embodying (represent’n’) the good that comes in small packages, Charlie stands two and three quarter inches taller than the next-tallest child in the whole middle school (Mitchel Walker, 5 feet, 6 inches).
Proud of her lofty stature, Charlie attributes a recent and ‘hard won’ growth spurt to her consumption of boiled spinach, eaten twice per week since she was seven years old. Inspired by her father’s love of ‘old school’ cartoons, Charlie became convinced that if the bitter leafy greens allowed Popeye the Sailor Man to grow huge muscles and save the day, spinach would certainly work wonders for a little girl who led a relatively undemanding life.
However, hers is a sacrifice that hasn’t been mitigated (lessened/lessoned) by repetition; and, whenever she gobbles it down, her lopsided wince is as animated (cartoony) as it is comical. For her parents’ part, several experiences taught them it was best to pick their battles; so, they didn’t point out that Charlie comes from a long line of tall women.
“Best that we don’t try to disabuse her of this particular notion”, they agreed—“no harm done”.
As it turned out, their wisdom paid off when the repellent spinach proved to have magnetic properties after all—to wit, the triumph of distracting Charlie from a less desirable pull (influence).
What happened was this.
The house began to twitch, the wind to pitch, and all at once the hinges started to unhitch….
(Oops, that’s what’s known as a ‘Wizard of FlOz Moment’—when the insecurities of trying to say everything just the right way makes me want to use a classically-trained voice).
What I meant to say was—earnest entreaties (glorified begging) failed to convince Charlie of the inadvisability of emulating (copy-catting) cartoon buffoon, Daffy Duck. She was too young to see that his name gave every hint that, while delightfully silly, he was no rocket scientist.
So, gifted with great determination, our beautiful dreamer was temporarily deafened to all voices, save the call of the wild (you’re welcome, World Wildlife Federation). Consequently—a red beach-towel-cloak her only defence against the pull of gravity, and blind ambition—Charlie tried to launch into flight, plummeted off her picnic table, and twisted her ankle. After that, she decided that eating sour leaves, in the hopes of becoming the tallest girl in the world, was the better risk.
Oh, Daffy (AKA, Super Duck), how many such graceless falls have you inspired?
(On a bitter-sweet note, Charlie also determined that flying was a dream best put to sleep.)
On a happier note, adventurous Charlie is, also, as eagerly anticipated–and as pleasantly plump–as a Christmas pudding; and…
No…no! Alas and alack, my—I dare to hope—friend. I’ve vowed to be brave, authentic, and trust-wordy…my conscience will not allow me to continue until I confess something to you.
Have you ever been lucky enough to love another so much that you wanted everyone else to love them too? Well that is precisely how I feel about Charlie, Ajay, Shy, Bevvie, and Doo. And, as much as it is the highest honour to tell their stories, it comes with the weight of great responsibility.
Added to the pressure of doing the lovelies justice, and my tendency to sometimes worry more than is good for me, I must be careful not to favour my idealistic outlook at the expense of sidestepping certain harsh realities…there is no justification for a ‘writer’s block’.
For better and worse, things have changed since I was the age the girls are now, and the term ‘pleasantly plump’ seems to have gone the way of the dodo. But, the thought of characterizing Charlie by a current term such as “unapologetically plump” smacks of dignifying a bias that has no justification whatsoever…after all, lovely Charlie has nothing to apologize for!
However, while I agree that, in principal, my position is as undeniable as Charlie is sweet and deliciously wonderful—the reality is that we do live in a society that glorifies thinness. So, in good conscience, I had to step up to this soapbox moment, and make the point that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes…and colors and countries, too.
Okay, I think I have covered the girls’ introductions thoroughly….oh, wait, I don’t think I’ve said! So, alabaster (delicately-pale) lasses, Bevvy and Doo, look enough alike to pass for identical twins, have sleek flaxen hair (smooth and wheat colored), sky-blue eyes, and beauty marks to one side of their noses (Bevvy’s is on the left and Doo’s is on the right).
Dark-eyed Charlie has a lightly-toasted-coconut-complexion (courtesy of East Indian heritage), striking raven tresses (magnificent dark hair), and the most charming dimples that she displays with ease and regularity.
And, even if their distinguishing features were insufficient to make each of our lovelies stand out in a crowd, the fact that they are inseparable would certainly do the trick.