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First Page: Where the Wind Settles – YA (lgbt)

First Page: Where the Wind Settles – YA (lgbt)

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.


Chinook appeared one day behind one of the library info desks in a flurry of color.
Her real name was Jane, as one of the older librarians pointed out when she gave her the codes to the computer system, but her name tag, in warm, sprawling block letters read “CHINOOK”. The name alone kind of buoyed my imagination. It smacked of adventure, and she looked like it, too.

I watched her through the narrow gap between a row of books and the shelf above them, until she reached for her coat and pack of cigarettes and headed off towards the elevators. Even then, that first day, I thought she’d left a strange hole in the fabric of space-time around that desk. I squinted at it; and for a second or so I thought I could see its flickering edges, but then I blinked and it was gone.

I padded over into the dictionary aisle. They were heavy tomes that smelled of decaying paper you could burrow yourself into like a cave. Sitting Indian-style on the grayish green carpet, I started pouring over the infinite columns of words. I remember thinking how improbable a thing language was, caressing the print with my fingertip, word for word down the long list.

I couldn’t find it in the Longman, which swept straight from China, chinchilla and chinless to chinos and chintz. The Merriam-Webster was heavier, beautifully bound, and I grunted under its weight when I pulled it onto my lap. I loved the fluttery thin paper, butterfly wings with intricate markings – all those beautiful unfamiliar words like tiny flowers or poems: chinoiserie, chinoline, chinone, chinook.

My fingers rested on the entry as I copied it down into one of my notebooks. Then I compared it with the Chambers and the humongous Oxford English Dictionary (at this point it was a little gratuitous, I admit). By the time I was done, my notes extended over 3 pages, and they boiled down to two definitions:

1. A member of an American Indian people in the pacific north-west
2. A warm spring wind

A warm spring wind, I whispered to myself and then quickly looked around in case anyone had heard – but I was still alone in the aisle.

I stuffed the dictionaries back into the their shelves and pocketed my notebook. It was an old-fashioned one, paper instead of a screen. Sometimes, I had the energy to pretend to myself that this made me more sophisticated than others, that it hearkened back to a different time, that real observations, thoughts, ideas could only be captured by hand, but most days I was realistic enough to admit that the main factor in my loyalty to paper was money.
Ironic, that. Paper money, get it?

***

There are a few things you should probably know about me, before I go on. That just makes it easier for all of us, and you won’t have to wonder whether I’m trying to sound mysterious or speak in metaphor or something later on. Spoilers: I’m not.

The first thing is that I haven’t said more than a few words to anyone since my mom died six years go.

The second thing is that I am a collector, and an investigator.

The third thing is that I can turn myself invisible.

First Page: Envoys from the Stars Fiction

First Page: Envoys from the Stars Fiction

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.


Chapter One

The lucid deep blue eyes of the child held a constant gleam of anticipation as the train sped on through the English countryside towards London. His bubbling inner excitement was fanned constantly by the magical ebb and flow of this, his first journey into the greater outer world. To his boyish senses, a harmony, virtually lost to adult perception, blended together in sweet symphony the odours of steam, oil and burning coal with the rhythmic rocking of the time-worn wooden railway carriage.

Totally consumed by the sound of the labouring locomotive up ahead, the child’s gaze began to follow the telegraph wires that ran parallel to the track. They suddenly appeared as a living thing, whipping up and down, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It was as though someone was holding a giant pencil through the window to draw lines on the sky, he thought.

The illusion held his attention for several enchanted minutes before he at last turned his rosy cheeks towards the young woman seated beside him. A tiny lace handkerchief, that she’d been dabbing at her eyes with, was hurriedly returned to her handbag. The little boys gaze regarded her intently.

“Mummy, why are you crying?” he asked softly. Till then, her efforts to remain cheerful for the child’s sake would have been more than obvious to any casual observer. She squared her shapely shoulders and with an effort, glanced down affectionately at her fair-headed son.

“Mummy’s not crying, silly! Just a little soot in my eye from the locomotive!”

She stood up and pulled on the leather strap to lift the window a little and turned unsteadily to seat herself on the opposite side,

“Come, sit over here with me, darling. We should have our backs to the engine!” she said.

The boy slid obediently to the floor and clambered up beside his mother. They shared the compartment with one other passenger, an elderly gentleman who, after a polite nod to the mother and a friendly wink at the child had promptly fallen asleep after a rather hasty glance through the pages of his ‘Daily Express’ and a sorrowful shaking of his head.

The pleasant autumn weather on this Saturday, the 12th of September 1940, did nothing to subtract from the mounting gloom of Julie Ann Wade. Today she was en route to the south-eastern English county of Kent to place her eldest son in the care of an institution, namely, St James, a boarding school for boys.