I thought I would change things up with a bit of fiction that I wrote last year. This is a short story I wrote as a primer before starting the novel. Please let me know what you think.
Had the clock actually stopped ticking? "I think it has," Thomas thought. It read 1:30, which is what it had said for at least an hour and a half. The class was watching Charlotte's Web and munching on popcorn with soda chasers, courtesy of several volunteer moms. Thomas didn't know why he had to come to school at all today because this was almost fun, and fun was not something he associated with school. It was the last day of second grade and he was ready to get started with summer. He was glad school was letting out because he didn't care for school, and this year in particular, because some of the things learned that were not part of the lessons. He didn't care much for his teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, either because she had labeled him as somewhat of a discipline problem for often failing to finish all of his work. The lessons were so boring and there was so much more to focus attention on or do in the classroom.
Charlotte was spinning her web, touting Wilber's unique and special qualities, but Thomas didn't notice because he was reflecting on second grade. There was picture day when a kid, a fifth-grader he thought, pushed him down and, consequently, he was photographically immortalized with mussed hair and a cut lip. He thought of two classmates, Ryan Jones and Victor Flores, and how they seemed to always do the right things. They finished their schoolwork before anyone else and they got good grades. Thomas recalled the instance when Mrs. Abernathy allowed the two of them more time with the science experiment kits than she gave anyone else in the class. "We just have a little bit more to do," Ryan pleaded to Mrs. Abernathy. She allowed them the extra time. Thomas remembered that he thought the kits were fun, but lost interest quickly when he wasn’t allowed the extra time needed to do his experiments. All the helper moms always seemed to dote over those two as well, like right now one of the moms was bringing them more popcorn and soda. Thomas didn't necessarly hate the two of them, but he wouldn't feel bad if they both threw up, preferably on each other, on their way home from school today. The thought of this made Thomas smile.
Two o'clock. The big-hand finally made its agonizingly slow uphill climb to the top of the clock. One more hour. The gears in Thomas' mind shifted out of reverse and into forward as he envisioned the upcoming annual family picnic. Thoughts of Ryan and Victor melted into images of the forest as he pondered the event that signalled the official start of summer for Thomas. He looked forward to washing second grade off of his skin and enjoying the freedom summer brings. This year was different from past years because of the inequities he observed and registered for the first time in his short life, which made Thomas feel comparatively inadequate to his contemporaries somehow.
Buzzzzz…..the bell that buzzed, instead of ringing like bells are supposed to, which always made Thomas wonder why they called it a bell, buzzed, signifying the end of second grade and he start of summer. “Have a superfantastic summer!” Mrs. Abernathy said to the class as they gathered any items from their desks that had not been taken home already. She always used weird words like that. “Don’t forget to place your chairs on top of your desks,” she yelled above the din. However, Thomas heard it in the background because he was already out of the room and into summer’s freedom.
He waited impatiently for Abraham Zephyr, Thomas’ one and only friend. “Hurry up,” Thomas called to Abraham. The two had similar interests like cars, bikes, and pretty much anything with wheels. Abraham was more outgoing than Thomas, so he had other friends with whom he spent time. Not to mention numerous cousins who lived in town that he visited on many weekends. Frequently, the Monday morning walk-to-school conversations were consumed with the latest exploits of the Zephyr clan, which made Thomas a bit jealous because he likely had spent the weekend alone and didn’t have much activity to report to Abraham.
"Wilber is a pretty talented pig," Abraham said as they walked toward his house. "He's lucky he had Charlotte to do his advertising." He chuckled at his own wit.
"I wasn't really paying attention," Thomas confessed. "I'm just glad school is out for the summer. I'm ready to start having some fun." Thomas thought of the upcoming picnic, "I get to see my cousins pretty soon at our picnic." He liked when he was able to tell Abraham about visiting his cousins, because then Abraham was forced to find something else to do.
"When is your picnic?" Abraham probed. He didn't let Thomas answer. "I'm going to my gramma’s this weekend to get some more rabbits. Two of my cages are still empty." Abraham and his dad had built rabbit condominiums in their backyard with eight cages that could hold two rabbits per cage. Thomas didn't know what fascinated Abraham about the rabbits because they didn't do much, they had to be fed, and their crap needed cleaning up. None of which interested Thomas because they sounded like chores, which he despised.
"I'm not sure when the picnic is," Thomas admitted, "it's always at the beginning of summer. We go to my grandma's house and meet up with my cousins there for like a weekend or something." Abraham did not seem that interested since they had reached his house.
Abraham walked toward the door and called over his shoulder, "Later dude. Give me a holler."
"See ya," Thomas replied with a wave and he hurried home to let the second grade melt away in the southwest spring heat.
Thomas' mom met him at the door, “I have a surprise for you! I spoke with your uncle this morning and he told me this weekend is better for him and his family to have the picnic. We're leaving tonight!" She sounded as excited as she had just made him. Thomas' mom knew it had been a tough year for him even though he didn't say anything. Moms just have a way of knowing. She was excited for Thomas because she knew how much he looked forward to this event every year and what it meant to him. "Get in there and pack your bag," she motioned toward his room.
Thomas had priorities. He started with toys: Which ones had his cousins seen before? Which ones would they like best? Which would be the best to use in the forest where they picnic? Half an hour later, he hadn't gotten very far when his mom came to check on him. "What are you doing?" she asked while surveying the piles of toys. Thomas had divided his toys depending on priority of importance. "Do you think you should pack some clothes?"
Thomas confessed that it had not crossed his mind, but agreed that it was probably a good idea. "Will you help me?" he asked, which was really kid-code for 'will you do it for me?'
Mom knew this and she had already started setting clothes on his bed according to type. "We'll be staying until Tuesday and you will probably need extra because you don't stay very clean when you're with your cousins," she was half talking to Thomas but mostly verbalizing a list for herself. Ten minutes later, his clothes were packed and his bag was by the front door next to Alyssa's, or Ally, his sister. "Pick the toys you are taking and you are NOT taking all of them," she warned, "You need to be done in about twenty minutes so you can get cleaned up for the trip."