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First Page: Quiet noise-makers- YA

First Page: Quiet noise-makers- YA

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


‘Holy Head of the Unsleepers, no!’

I pull the sheets into my clenched fist as my eardrums pulsate from the squeaking sound. Today is the day I kill them.

Every morning I wake up to that thought. It’s like I made the extermination of Borebees my only life’s mission.

I hear a smash coming from downstairs and I know they’ve broken something again. It’s so loud I can almost feel the broken item’s pieces stabbing my eardrums.

After the smash they start screaming again. Their pitch is so inhumanly high I’m not even sure why anyone outside, well, deepest pits of hell can even register that frequency.

The squeaking makes itself comfortable in my ears like an uninvited guest, overstaying the welcome.
I realize it’s not the noise that unnerves me. It’s the contempt behind it. This is the Borebee laugh. I would take it more lightly if it were moaning, or an expression of pain. I would excuse it if they couldn’t help it- like an annoying cough in the middle of a class.

Half-awake, I stare at a cluttered bookshelf in what I wish was silence. I try to think of this morning’s strategy when a thick book catches my eye. Kzinta Spokorof’s Encyclopedia of Endangered Species.
That’s it! Today, I chase Borebees away with irony.

My bed creaks as I get up. It’s as if everything around me is after my eardrums. My room is small, and ceiling is very low. My friends nag about it all the time, but I myself am too short for my age and this is probably the only place I feel normal.
Few transparent balls hang from the ceiling on a thick, long rope, but they still don’t reach my head.

They are called dreambubbles. My mom says that in the old days they were used as dream catchers, but today they are dead and purposeless. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I try and listen to see if magick is alive inside, but nothing comes.

I never knew magick. I don’t even know what do live dreambubbles sound like, but I always imagined it as a heartbeat. Sometimes I think I feel it for a few seconds, but the feeling is gone as soon as I begin to process it.

Bubbles are currently pale blue, reflecting the paint on the walls. Not much can be seen of the walls though, since the room is almost completely wrapped in cluttered bookshelves. Sometimes I read books. But more often, I use them to scare away Borebees and bring about silence.

As I approach the bookshelf to pick up my weapon, strange sensation fills my ears. Something feels off and I freeze in place.
Out of nowhere, this thing happens. The most unnatural, unusual thing; that thing I don’t wake up to. That thing I haven’t woken up to in years. It can’t be…
Silence.

My grateful ears say it’s fine, but I distrust them. Borebees don’t simply stop screaming. They go away when I face them. When I… when I chase them away.

That’s strange. Someone else must have woken up before me, and got out. Until now, I was sure people just considered Borebees my job, since I am the alert one in the neighborhood. A single whisper can shock me awake but the lot in my street-they can slumber through wars.

I wish to continue sleeping for a few more hours now that it’s finally quiet, but a gut feeling informs me that something’s wrong. So I follow the feeling downstairs.

First Page: Unpublished manuscript Semi-literary, Southern

First Page: Unpublished manuscript Semi-literary, Southern

Welcome to First Page Sunday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


It was good to have people talking about you, but not when they said what on earth is wrong with Nadine Lee?

They were in the kitchen after dinner, on the night before Nadine was to go away to Oxford. Nadine’s mother, Vivette, sat at the table and polished the silver, glancing up at her daughter, who stood at the sink washing dishes. Nadine was just nineteen, and acknowledged to be the most beautiful girl in Hattiesburg: fair-complexioned with very dark hair and eyes, and fine features that gave her every expression a sharpened edge. Vivette was a narrow woman in her forties, shorter than her daughter and graying. It was good that Nadine was so attractive, thought Vivette, and that the girl had learned to cook and clean house. Those were part of what made a good wife. As for the rest – a mother could teach only so much. But that unteachable portion was just what Nadine would need to find a husband, and it was the very thing that she lacked – warmth, charm, or at least interest in the boys who buzzed around her.

The girl handled the dishes with a troubled expression, stopping every few minutes to sigh and cover her mouth to stop whatever words she was about to say. When there were no more dishes to wash, Nadine turned to her mother.

“I can’t do this, Momma.”

“Don’t bring that up again. It’s all decided.” Vivette rubbed the tines of a fork with a cloth held between her thumb and forefinger.

“I’m not saying I won’t go. I’m just saying it’s not going to work.”

Vivette had decided to send Nadine off to the University of Mississippi in Oxford to find a husband. The best sons of the Magnolia State would be gathered there, and Nadine would be a glamorous novelty. The arrangements were complete. Nadine’s bus ticket hung on the refrigerator door, held fast by a tooth-shaped magnet bearing the address and phone number of her father’s former dental office. As usual for these days, Oscar Lee was not to be found in the house.

“Of course it’s going to work.”

“What does Daddy say?”

“What do you think? He doesn’t say anything. He agrees with me.”

Nadine flailed one hand in a gesture of frustration. “There are boys here. I could marry one of them if it’s so important.”

“Who? Who would you marry?” Vivette put her fork down on the table with a sharp click. It was far too late for Nadine to start thinking about this.

“John Stuckey. He left all those flowers and poems, don’t you remember? He left them on the front porch, on the rocking chair?”

“John Stuckey?” Vivette shook her head in sadness, thinking about the boy whose father owned three grocery stores. The young man had an extensive morning paper route that included the Lee house, and for a time had left Nadine presents and admiring notes along with the Clarion-Ledger. “John Stuckey would have been a fine husband for you, Nadine. Just fine. Except, what did you say to him? I forget.”

Nadine chewed on the inside of her lip. “I asked him to stop leaving the notes. He’d been doing it for a while. I got tired of it.”

“You gave them all back to him and said, you must be stupid to think I want these. In front of everyone.” Vivette had noticed that Nadine collected the notes in a box in her room, and had mistaken that tidiness for sentiment. Instead, Nadine had waited for the box to fill up before delivering it to the boy at his desk at school. Vivette was crushed to learn of this after it happened, and now Gwendolyn Stuckey would not speak to her at church.