I’ve been working on the story, and I think I’m maybe two-thirds through the first draft. Sometimes I can blast through a rough draft, but usually I have to write slowly and carefully, sort of creeping up on it like some kind of creepy creeper.
Anyway, here’s the very first bit:
The One That Got Away – excerpt
by Marian Allen
It was summer when Tom drowned. He was four and thought he was one of the big boys. His cousin Tanner was ten, and just barely qualified. The big boys all went down to the creek that day, and Tommy ran after them when his Mom took her eye off him for a second.
The older boys had gone past the creek to tease Coby’s bull through the fence, but Tanner had stopped to hunt for crawdads in the shallows near the dam. Tommy sneaked up on him, planning a big BOO, but Tanner wasn’t alone, after all.
Another boy, dressed in baggy clothes and a brimless cap, stood motionless, watching Tanner. His eyes didn’t move, but Tommy had the feeling he was watching both of them.
Tanner, just because he was older, was Tommy’s hero, and this boy being with him sent a spike of jealousy through the toddler. He kicked some gravel into the water to scare off anything Tanner might have been stalking. Tanner turned on him, but Tommy glared back.
“Whozzat ully boy?” Ully being the way Tommy said “ugly” at that age.
And the boy was ugly: His forehead and chin slanted back and his cheeks and mouth jutted forward, as if someone had broken a small bowl in half, turned one half upside down over the other, and strapped them to his face beneath his nose.
“What boy? You’re the only ‘ully’ boy I see around here.” Tanner shoved Tommy, who flopped onto his behind and kept going until his head bounced off the creek bank.
Before Tanner’s anger had time to shift to fear, the ugly boy came between them. He grabbed each of them with one hand and pulled them into the water. He sank like a stone and slid, on his back, out of the shallows into the pool below the dam.
Tommy held his breath as he slipped through the water, down past flickering minnows to the muddy creek bottom. He tried to pull free, but the boy’s grip was unbreakable. Through the murk, Tanner mirrored Tommy’s struggles on the strange boy’s other side, teeth bared, feet and free arm flailing. Tanner brought his feet together and braced them against the boy, pushing with his legs, pulling with his arms.
The stranger snuggled closer to Tommy. No – the arm on Tommy’s side got shorter, pulling him closer, as if the boy’s arms were not connected to his body, but were one long tube that ran through a hole in his shoulders.
The next thing Tommy knew, he was clinging to the creek bank downstream from the pool, vomiting up foul water and mewling like a kitten, bone-cold and dizzy. Then he was in a tall bed with his mother and Tanner’s mother standing over him, crying.
They told him that he had fallen into the pool below the dam and Tanner had drowned trying to save him. Since that made more sense than what he remembered, he supposed they were right.
~ * ~
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Take a childhood memory and make it weird.