Get to Know Your Characters Challenge — Responses
It’s Monday. Late Monday, though I planned on posting it earlier today, but as long as it’s before midnight, it’s not too terribly late, I suppose.
As those who read last Tuesday’s post know, this blog was the origin for a challenge: to write about your protagonist’s past from a list of ideas. Not many people participated this time around, but those who did made it worth it.
Emily Fisher – Posted Hers In the Comments of Tuesday’s Post.
Alyssa – Alyssa should post hers in the same place Emily did, on the comments of last Tuesday’s post.*
*These stories aren’t posted yet, but don’t fear. Watch. They will be seen.
I’m afraid what I wrote is not very good, and, indeed, might make “mediocre” look bad, had not a friend helped me with some editing. Read on, and do know that this is certainly not the best I’ve ever written. However, you get to meet two of my protagonists from my top-secret novel, IOTW. Nothing this detailed about them and their story has ever ended up on the internet before now.
I decided to mix these three prompts into the same story:
- Write about your protagonist celebrating a major holiday, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day.
- Write about a year before the adventure started.
- Write about interaction with a childhood friend–while in childhood, or what would happen when the two met again after several years of not seeing each other.
Clumps of snow clung to my hair, stinging my already burning face whenever I moved my head. My smile had become too big for my cheeks, my face told me, and now it hurt as a consequence. I slumped onto the ground, leaning against the wall of my house. Nathaniel sat next to me, a grin firmly on his face.
I took a breath slowly. His bombardment of snowball were more than my lungs had agreed to put up with. They decided to let only a small portion of the usual air in, intent on making me sit.
At least Nathaniel had suggested resting, not I.
Slowly, my breath returned and I pulled at my hair, dropping bits of snow onto the hard-packed ice beneath us. “Merry Christmas Eve,” I said. Bouncing, I added, “Papa said my cousins will be coming. Then everyone will be home.”
Nathaniel looked at me, his smile fading slightly. Drawing his knees up to his chest, he dipped his head in what might have been intended to look like a nod. “Merry Christmas Eve,” he said.
My forehead tied itself into small knots, and I leaned forward. “What’s wrong?”
Nathaniel blinked a few times, shaking his head. “Nothing.”
His answer came too quickly to be comforting, but I let it go. “Good.”
He smiled faintly, turning his gaze onto the snow beside his glove-clad hand. I watched him for a brief moment, then turned away and looked at the sun, dipping dangerously close to the horizon. “We’d better go inside.”
Nathaniel’s gaze stayed fixed on the invisible, fascinating thing on the snow. I sighed. “Nathaniel? Come on, it’s Christmas Eve. Let’s not do this today.”
Ever since I had known Nathaniel, he had moments where he seemed to be somewhere far away. Most of the time, it passed quickly. Every now and then, he would stay that way for hours.
He blinked, inhaling slowly. “I’m sorry. What were you saying?”
I let a smile break out over my face. “It’s okay. It’s going to be night soon, though.”
He let his gaze wonder to the Western sky, then got to his feet. “I’ll race you around the house again.”
I blinked, then lurched upright. “Okay, go!”
Mama called my name, and I glanced over to the door as she stepped out. I let my shoulders sag, though secretly I felt glad to avoid more running. “I guess we better go in now.”
Nathaniel nodded, brushing snow off of himself.
“We’re ready,” Mama called. I glanced at Nathaniel, then darted to the door. Nathaniel jogged after me.
Mama waited until we were both at the door before opening it, stepping back inside. I stepped in, followed by Nathaniel. He tugged the door shut after himself.
I had not realized how cold I was until I stepped into the warm house. Nathaniel grinned at me, sliding his coat off and brushing the snow onto the rug in front of the door.
“Just hang it up,” Mama said from across the room. “We’ll clean it up later.”
Nathaniel glanced at her and did as he was told.
I fumbled with my buckles with numb fingers. When Mama made me the coat, she thought it too big for an eleven year-old girl like me, but I had insisted I could manage.
Well, when I haven’t frozen my fingers, I can manage.
The buckle came loose, and I worked my way through all the others, finally removing my coat and hanging it on the peg on the wall. My scarf I left in my hair to keep it away from my face, but my shoes quickly found themselves on the floor beneath my coat.
Picking my way around the various things that lay scattered in my way, I moved to sit next to Papa, looking over his shoulder at the well-worn Bible in his hands.
Nathaniel sat next to me and Marshall took the opportunity to sit on him. “Hol’ me, ‘Than’il?”
Nathaniel looked at Mama, and she nodded. He shifted Marshall until he sat still, then wrapped his arms around him and looked at Papa.
Papa glanced around once, then started. “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”
The wind pushed against the ground, the cold from the snow and night air bothering it not a bit. Whooshing into the air and pushing against the faces of the boy and the girl’s father, the wind carried the cold with it in order to bother them.
The girl’s father slowed, and the wind dashed away, observing what held his interest. “Are you sure you won’t stay with us tonight?”
The wind pushed at the scrawny branches of nearby trees, then moved forward and entered the small house. Cold immediately greeted it, the house’s walls hardly held in place by now.
Turning attention back to the girl’s father and the boy, the wind slid back to the ground again. The boy gave it a look, but the wind knew that, though the boy could see and hear the wind like the girl’s father could not, the boy would never address the wind. “No,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I know it doesn’t look very good, but the inside is warm enough. Thank you for letting me come over for dinner.”
The girl’s father smiled, but the wind caught the doubtful look he cast the house. The wind’s amusement took the form of blown snow across the ground. The wind knew they had done this before, many times. “It was my pleasure, Nathaniel.”
The boy’s smile touched his face, but not, the wind noticed, his eyes. “Good night.”
The boy made his way toward the house, and the wind left the girl’s father in peace, moving after the boy as he opened the door and stepped inside.
He stopped, then smiled, inclining his head. “Lytton,” he said.
The wind whispered to itself. The man, again, was here. The wind had not expected him to come this year, though he came every year at Christmas. Of course, the wind felt no surprise.
The boy moved into the house, closing the door and moving to sit cross-legged before the man. The man sat on the floor, looking at the boy.
For a moment, a long silence passed, broken only by the wind against the floor and the trees outside. The man glanced at the wind, a small smile tugging at his lips, but he, like the boy, did not address it. Instead, he turned to the boy, slowly inhaling.
The boy up from the floor to meet the man’s gaze.
“I wish you would come home.”
The boy, the wind knew—for the wind knew a great many things—had not expected that. “I… I can’t.”
The man leaned back, and the disappointment the wind knew he held remained far from his face.
The silence stretched again until, finally, the boy leaned forward, dark eyes bright. “Tell me about it again?”
The man smiled—for real this time, the wind noted with much whooshing about the room. “The night had long since fallen, but the sky was lit up still. They slept while we were there, and He alone knows we were present.”
“You came to see Him?”
“Yes,” the man said softly, eyes lost in the memory. “And we did. After the shepherds had left, we saw Him sleeping as a baby.”
Well that is it. Now, I have a question for you: Did you enjoy this challenge, and do you like the idea of it? Would you be willing to participate if I did another? Would you like to see it return, or should this be a one-time thing? I need your comments now, more than ever.
This next part should get a prize for randomness. For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to post a link to a story I entered in the contest. Finally, I’ve decided that I should. You readers are getting the first look you’ve had into my writing, and I feel I ought to let you know that my writing isn’t always like the above bit. So, I present to you a story I wrote, which you can read here (mine is all the way at the bottom). I hope you enjoy it and the other stories… The others are so very good.