I’m doing a read-through a story I wrote when I was 13. Follow along for drama and angst, plus lots of humor–some of it even on purpose. Read the previous installment here.
At school, Sarah’s arch-rival is Whitney, who has a crush on Ronny. Sarah even pretends that her foot hurts again and asks Ronny to help her, to rescue him talking to the loathsome Whitney.
In related news, there was a seventh-grader at my school named Whitney, who said some mean things about me and I didn’t like her. “Do not anger the author. She will put you in a book and kill you.”
Sarah frequently interrupts her classes to shout at Whitney. Plus, one of Sarah’s teachers is from Perridale (Sarah’s former town) and had heard all about “the T.N.” (Three Neighborhoods, you know, the ones all in a row). In fact, he ignores the rest of the class to discuss with Sarah many of her escapades in previous stories—by title, no less. I could claim that I was homeschooled so had an unrealistic idea of what public school teachers were like… but I was still in public school when I wrote this. Apparently at Sarah’s school, it was all about her.
The rest of Sarah’s day is kind of boring, but for some reason we have to go through it with her. Every fifth paragraph or so, Whitney and her sidekick Delia show up to taunt Sarah somehow. Sarah’s always up for a fight.
Ronny and Bunny dragged Sarah down the hall before Delia got her head beat in. They shoved her into the after-lunch room.
“Let me get her!” Sarah cried.
… She had a short temper and didn’t think about what she was doing—whether it was tearing up something or hitting someone—while she was mad.
It’s pretty obvious why everyone likes her. Because the author likes her, that’s why.
The only purpose this chapter serves is the exchange at the end, when Bunny asks Ronny if his name will change now that his mother has remarried.
“No! I’m keeping Logan. Nothing else, even if Mom is Peggy Wallace now.”
“Wallace?” Sarah asked. “That’s Jeremy’s last name.”
“I know that,” Ronny scowled. “Any more encouraging thoughts?”
The chapter ends, but the reader is now wondering, Could it really be…?
After another rumble with Whitney and Delia, Sarah meets Jeremy to leave for Christmas vacation.
“What took you so long? I’m a human popsicle. At least, I was until I warmed my fist up.” She climbed into the car beside Amy, who was beside Daryl.
“You hit somebody again?” Jeremy sighed. Sarah had once given him a black eye.
“She deserved it,” Sarah muttered.
Jeremy probably deserved it too.
At this point Jeremy’s mother cuts in to complain about her ex-husband. Then she mentions that he has a new wife who has two sons. This is absolutely stunning news to Jeremy, but I think his reaction is unjustified. Pretty much everybody finds out about a new stepmom during carpool, right?
The more I learn about the Wallace family, the less I wonder that Jeremy is a sociopath moody.
“Her name is Peggy. I don’t remember what her last name was. Something like Loges or Lane or something.”
“Logan,” Sarah said softly. “It was Logan.”
Well, that was a bombshell. Jeremy, Daryl, and Amy immediately realize that the only Logan that Sarah could possibly mean is Ronny’s family. Sarah calmly explains that Ronny’s mother, Peggy, just got married to a Wallace and he has a new stepbrother. “It all fits,” she points out.
Then the conversation kind of derails as everybody discusses how many boyfriends Sarah has had, and how long Amy and Daryl have been going together, and the fact that Jeremy is Sarah’s ex-boyfriend and he shouldn’t forget that. Then she asks about news from Perridale, but Jeremy (being so moody) is still sulking about Ronny Logan being his stepbrother.
“He’s not that bad,” Sarah pouted.
“He is to me,” Jeremy snapped. “I’ll bet he’d rather eat a bowl of lunchroom spaghetti than talk to me.”
“No comment,” Sarah responded.
The last thing she needed in her life was two enemy stepbrothers.
Because it’s all about Sarah, people.
I’ve never been good at “painting a picture for the reader to see.” That’s true now, and it was even truer when I was thirteen. When our heroes pull up at Jeremy’s dad’s new house, I threw in a halfhearted description:
The house was impressive. It was a huge cedar and brick. It even had huge colums [sic] holding up the porch up above.
Whew, moving on now.
Jeremy’s dad, John, greets everybody and makes a slightly creepy comment about how pretty Sarah and Amy are. Then he sends them inside so he can fight with his ex-wife.
Inside, readers are treated to more of my deft skill at setting the scene:
Jeremy plopped down in the first chair he saw. Sarah sat on the arm of it. Amy and Daryl leaned up against the wall.
First we meet ten-year-old Skip Logan (I don’t know why I thought this was a viable name for a kid born in 1980). He asks who they are, and remember, I promised some quippy dialogue!
“I’m miserable,” Jeremy answered.
“I’m down in the dumps,” Sarah said.
“I’m down,” Amy said, taking the cue.
“And I’m blue,” Daryl finished.
“Pretty cheerful,” the boy said.
Turns out he has a crush on Sarah’s sister, Rachel—oh, hey, Sarah has a sister, her name is Rachel—so he realizes who she is. So he bolts off to get Ronny.
Ronny is glad to see Sarah, but not to see the others.
“What are they doing here?”
“Surprise,” Jeremy said scornfully. “I’m your new stepbrother.”
“You?” Ronny yelled.
“Glad you approve,” Daryl returned. “This is a double blow. I’m your new cousin.”
Ronny’s mother breezes through saying she’s glad he’s met his new brother, and could he show them where their rooms are, thanks honey! The parents in this story are about of equal importance with the house.
Ronny mutters stuff and Jeremy mutters stuff and they shoot each other looks of pure poison, and Sarah sighs because they are making her suffer.
One point in favor of this story is that the chapters are really short.
We learn a little more about this house when Sarah wakes up the next morning. She’s in a pink room in a pink canopy bed. Which raises all kinds of questions about whether Jeremy’s father bought it furnished, or actually bought a pink canopy bed to go in the room. Alas, these questions go unanswered.
Instead, this chapter is some comic relief from all the drama. To begin with, Sarah describes her dream after reading half her social studies book to get to sleep. It’s actually… not very funny.
“I dreamed Venezuela was fighting with the Carribean [sic] Sea. Then Cuba blew up California, and I got run over by Whitney, who was supposed to be Jamaica. And the U.S. and Russia—Jeremy and Ronny—kept yelling at each other. It was awful.”
The U.S.-Russia bit is, I admit, a some good vintage Cold War from someone who was a kid in the 80s. I still can’t spell Caribbean right the first time.
Her foot also hurts because she’d kicked Ronny last night. He and Jeremy had been fighting and Sarah barged in and stopped them.
She knew very well they had been fighting over her.
Of course it was over her, not about their new family connection or just general anger at their parents. I’m a little mortified at how Twilightish all this is. At least I had the excuse of being thirteen.
They head downstairs for breakfast. I didn’t waste any time explaining the layout of the house but surely it’s obvious that the girls are in a hallway outside the closed kitchen door.
“There went another! Can’t you break it in the pan?” Daryl was saying. Amy and Sarah exchanged glances.
“Tell me that didn’t come from the kitchen,” Amy said, looking at the kitchen warily.
“Darn it! Get another strip of bacon, Daryl. Ronny just grounded this one.” Jeremy was obviously frustrated.
“Let’s go see about our breakfast,” Sarah suggested. “Before the boys get any further.”
“Let’s,” Amy agreed.
When they walked into the kitchen, Amy yelled, “Oh my gosh! What the heck—” She broke off and covered her eyes.
Sarah took one look at the eggshells, bacon, grease, and half fried eggs on the floor and all over the counters and burst out laughing. The boys stopped throwing eggshells at each other.
I guess John and Peggy are enjoying their little Christmas honeymoon too much to get up and cook for their kids. Sarah and Amy take over and make pancakes and clean up the kitchen a little. Sarah also spills flour all over herself. She tries to hide when Daryl pokes his head in, but he sees her and offers the following witticisms:
“You’re pale. At my wedding, will you be my flower girl? Why don’t you put some nose on that powder?”
Close chapter with bouncy comic music.