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*these are my favorite excerpts from the first couple chapters of my nano novel, infinite sky!! basically it's about a girl named Alya (senior in high school) who has social anxiety and family angst and depression and questioning sexuality crap and just generally a lot of things against her. and her parents are divorced and both very distant. but then she meets Jade (genderfluid, pronouns change depending on whether they're fem/masc/nb identifying) and the two kinda just connect, becoming friends over the summer and then starting school with this blooming friendship between them. eventually Alya falls in love with Jade. in the midst of this a bunch of other crap is going on in her life and my novel is mostly composed of her internal rants soooo have fun I guess :)) I'm gonna post more excerpts but for now here's the beginning, In Which Everything Is Going Perfectly and none of the aforementioned angst really crops up yet. haha enjoy* School's the one thing I look forward to. On the last day of my junior year, I was already wishing twelfth grade would start. My summers drag past in boredom and solitude, for the most part, until finally it's over. School means routine and organization. School means waking up every morning with a purpose. School means books and math and science and music and fixed answers. But most importantly, as of this year, school means Jade. Jade is the first person to really, truly care. And I mean that. My dad is distant, always has been -- there were no dad jokes or road trips or movie marathons when I was younger. My mom is even more so, in both a physical and emotional sense. She moved as far away as she could get while still keeping her job. And when it comes to friends, I’ve never been good. It’s always shy, stumbling, awkward words and long silences. When jr. high school started up, I was pretty much doomed and all my “friends” found better people to hang out with. And yet. Somehow, a wonderful person like Jade saw the good in me, saw how I say the things I wish I could tell them with my smile and my eyes. Somehow they saw me for who I wish I could be and accepted that as who I am now. There’s a few things one should know about Jade from the very start. They are genderfluid, which means they switch from male to female to anything else from day to day, sometimes by the hour. It suits them, the unpredictability and uniqueness of it, graceful and elegant and inimitable. Jade is a summer storm, refreshing and sudden and energetic in the most quietly beautiful sort of way. They moved here from further south in the state -- Arizona, we live in Arizona. This place has gorgeous sweeping deserts painted in beige and rust and cobalt. This place is home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and yet a lot of people take it for granted. I’ve seen it snow here even in sweltering heat -- because the upper atmosphere temperature is so much colder than what we feel on the ground. It’s enchanting. Really. Our state is enchanting and I don’t think many people realize that. Jade used to live further south, and their family had to move for work or something. Typical. Isn’t that always how it goes? Life revolving around a parent’s job? My own dad is hardly seen during the day because he’s buried in his office; meanwhile, my mom would probably be halfway across the country by now if her work didn’t keep her tied to this area. I don’t know much else about Jade’s family besides that. They have married parents and a twenty four year old brother who’s engaged. He has an apartment a couple miles away. I think he’s a teacher. The last thing one should know about Jade is that they are a contradiction. They are bursting with energy and yet so full of peace; a tornado of serenity. I love it. … A little bit of the unfamiliarity fell away that day, when I realized that no matter feminine, masculine, or otherwise, Jade will always be Jade and no one else. They'll always be my Shakespeare quoting, golden haired, quicksilver souled best friend, who I love to death and always will. Even though their identity changes every day, sometimes by the hour, they never seen like different people. They're just...Jade. I think that despite their unpredictable ways, they’re more together than I am -- Jade knows exactly who they are. That's a lot more than I can say for myself. … He climbs onto the bus and slides gracefully into the seat next to me -- if the word “gracefully” can be applied to any prosaic situation, this might be it. Or am I stupidly romanticizing anything Jade does? Am I too obsessed with his...beautiful Jade-ness? Or maybe that’s not a bad thing. I really hope it isn’t. “Hey Alya!” I beam at him. “Hi. Excited for senior year?” “Guess so,” Jade says, smiling back at me. “How are you?” I push a strand of hair out of my eyes. “Alright,” I reply, truthfully. “You? I was stuck at home with my dad all weekend, and he was locked up in his office and wanted nothing to do with me. How was yours?” He half sighs, half laughs. “Sorry. Ben came to visit with his girlfriend, Angelina, I told you that, right?” I nod. “Yeah, I really missed him. But guess what?” “What?” I say, feeling giddy from the elated look painting Jade’s face. “I’m going to have a sister in law!” His face breaks into a grin and so does mine. “Oh my God, they finally got engaged?” I exclaim, if a bit redundantly, and Jade nods. For everyone else on the bus, it's a little too early in the morning to be this awake, this excited. But Jade doesn't follow the laws of the universe. He never really has, and I think it's just magnificent. “It's about time!” I say, laughing, and he follows suit. “It's been five years now. They're both twenty four, can you believe that? He asked just last Thursday. The wedding’s gonna be in October, I think.” I look down at my lap, blushing for some reason. “That’s awesome. Say congrats for me.” “Thanks.” He braces a hand on the seat in front of us as the bus turns a corner. “I'm so happy for them. They're so in love with each other, it's beautiful.” And for some reason, this makes me blush even harder. Like always, though, I smile, and he knows exactly what I'm thinking. The stuff that shoots through my head and I can't say, the stuff I overanalyze to the point where it's too late to speak. It's cheesy but -- he knows me better than I know myself. It's like he speaks the language that is me. Shy smiles, tentative grins and awkward heys. Sudden quiet and overanalyzed responses. They okay stuff, the normal stuff, but most importantly the ugly stuff. The distances and silences that stem from irrational anxiety and overthinking. I see it in his face, right now, that he knows just what I mean to say. Even if I don't. Sometimes I simply marvel at us. Having a good friend is rare enough for me, let alone a best friend, let alone...what I have with Jade. We've only known each other for a few weeks but it feels like we have years of friendship. “Angelina wants me to be the flower girl,” Jade says suddenly, and it's so absurd right now that we both start giggling hysterically, and for a minute I don’t know if we’ll ever stop. … Jade and I exchange hurried goodbyes. So suddenly I’m alone in this giant swarming crowd of students, and the warm September air feels cold, and I’m left with the echo of a laugh and a glimpse of a retreating back and a memory I’ll play over in my head a million times today. To anyone else, that conversation would have been ordinary. Forgettable, maybe. But to me, it’s a glowing treasure I’ll hold close to my chest until I see Jade again. I didn't screw up. I didn't stutter. I wasn't too awkward. (Did Jade think I was?) Shut up. I'm fine. We are fine. I did it. I did it. I’m smiling at the ground as I walk into the school building. Why do the some of the smallest things make me happy now, like that short conversation, when I can go weeks feeling generally miserable? Why do I feel like my chest is about to burst when I talk to Jade even when that familiar clench is still there? I don’t know what this contradiction is, but I quite like it.