Growing up can be difficult enough for kids today but falling prey to a bully’s wiles makes it even harder as Wilhelmina Brooks finds out when her cousin, Bud comes to live with her. Bud’s amusement is at the expense of the others. Wilhelmina, who prefers begin called Wil, takes the brunt of his escapades as he insults her friends, takes ownership of her old sled and becomes the class terror in her second grade class. Even worse, he ruined her Christmas vacation by putting gum in her hair, taking her new sharpener and just being plain old MEAN! What can she do when her mother insists that she has to be nice to him, looks away from his pranks that are not funny and ignores the fact that he is angry at his present situation and more? Poor Wil! Is she going to survive living with Bud? Will he ever learn his lesson or will he become the terror of the second grade and the entire neighborhood? Author J.D. Holiday brings to light the issue of bullying and harassing other kids in her outstanding chapter book: “The Great Snowball Escape.”
To escape means to want to get away from it all. You might want to go on a vacation, trip or just take a walk to clear your head. But, poor Wil, wants to escape her house, her school and her life just to get away from Bud, her mean cousin whose pastime is picking on kids smaller and weaker than him and creating havoc in the second grade and more.
Snow days are every kids dream. A day off from school to play outside, building a snowman and even better throw snowfalls or snowball fights are every kids and even adults idea of fun. But, when Wil and her friends decide to build a snowman in front of her house, what happens disrupts everything and she gets sent to her room as once again she and Bud cannot work or play together.
Wil’s mother wants her to understand that Bud is going through a difficult time and needs understanding. But, how much can she endure and will she have to take before someone realizes that she is only 7 years old and cannot be expected to understand or withstand everything her cousin dishes out. So, when her mother insists they make peanut better cookies together, will they succeed or will they get into a flour and sugar throwing war? Will they be able to work together and finally go outside to play? This reviewer will not divulge that secret to you. You are going to have to read the book yourself.
But, what happens when one bully meets another bully? Who wins or who backs down? While sledding down the huge hill where her friends were, they encounter Drew and his mean dog. Drew thinks that he has the better of Bud and Wil and wants Bud’s sled. What happens next will definitely surprise the reader and one bully might learn a serious lesson from another and two cousins just might become friends.
But, there is more. On the way home Bud and Wil encounter her friends who are gathered around Suzy whose cat, Mimi is missing. Added to that someone destroyed his or her snowman and everyone thinks it was Bud. Just how this story ends and if they find Mimi will not only endear you more to Wil, but will teach children a lesson in loyalty, trust and friendship that every kid needs to understand and learn. Will they get the cat back? Who gets blamed and who really did take it? Who destroyed the snowman? Will Bud and Wil ever see eye to eye and become friends? Author J.D. Holiday has created two characters that are not so different. Wil just wants to be understood and have her mother understand that having Bud stay with her caused some major changes in her life. Bud, just feels like an outcast and might be using his outbursts, and pranks to get attention and tries to get sent home to live with his Dad. Both Bud and Wil need the adults to understand them. Wil’s mother makes one statement that I feel says it all: Treat people the way you want to be treated. Now, if everyone did that maybe there would be no wars, fights or hate in the world. Just what positive things can come out of snowdays: Read this great children’s book and learn for yourself as Wil and Bud teach not only themselves but adults so really important lessons in friendship, understanding, communication and teamwork. This is definitely a FIVE SNOWMAN BOOK! Let’s hope the author brings Wil and Bud and her friends back in another novel.
This book should be in every school library, guidance counselor’s office, public library, police youth groups, public libraries and of course my own.
I dreaded the coming of 2017. Long hours of painful work anticipated. Anxiety over payments owed or debts that would accumulate. Rollbacks of regulations and freedoms that were imagined to be permanent for our future collective good. But, nothing had braced me for the fears that did arise this last year.
In the past year, I have gone from devastation to thankful and grateful reprieve.
Let me preface this by saying that I am close to my mother. Very close. Early on in 2017, my mother was hospitalized with jaundice. That led to the discovery that she had a cancerous tumor blocking her pancreas.
Now, pancreatic cancer is one of the most pervasive and aggressive cancers. I know this because a dear friend of mine died just a few years ago after fighting pancreatic cancer for six years.
This news shook me to my core. I had to face the real possibility that my mother, the stable influence throughout my life, might not live past my fiftieth birthday this year. So many things raced into my mind of what my sister and I needed to decide on, from an estate and parental care point of view concerning our aging father and the house our parents owned. We suddenly found ourselves in the realm of having to deal with “what might happen after…”
And it was the After part that tore us to ribbons. We both love our mother more than words can say. She was our rock. She was our inspiration. We would both rather die than see her in pain. But, we both had already seen friends dealing with cancer, up close and personal. So, we dreaded having to see our mother in that position.
But, by the grace of all that is holy, her jaundice was a blessing in disguise. The cancer had not spread beyond her pancreas and she was able to be connected with the best surgeons in Florida.
It is the second week of December. It has been a long and emotional year for my family, but after chemo and surgery, my mother has been labeled as clear of cancer. I am beyond thankful to have her healing and still with us for this holiday season. I am thankful that she is celebrating the new year with us. And, through it all, I am thankful for the love and support that we have received from friends and relatives.
Politically and artistically, not much has been achieved in my personal life, but as far as my family life is concerned… 2017 was a win, because it helped my mother heal her body against a frightful foe.
Wow what a year and boy, did it go fast. I feel like I did a lot this year professionally and personally speaking, but lets just stick to writing and promoting.
OWL AND PUSSYCAT/OWL BRANCH PROMOTIONS:
My promotional business with Viv Drewa morphed into a partnership with Crystal Gauthier and we became part of The Owl Book Promotions. I met a lot of great new authors that have since become great Facebook friends if they already weren’t. However due to Health issues of one of the partners we went back to Owl and Pussycat Promotions.
WRITERS ROUNDTABLE saw a lot of new literary guests come to the show. In essence, my interviews were entertaining, to say the least and look forward to an exciting 4th year on the air.
WRITING, WRITING, AND MORE WRITING:
I had Dead Men Don’t Swing republished during the year through Southern Owl Publications, which is owned and run by Crystal Gauthier. I plan to do this more in 2018.
I also attempted to work on some WIP projects and get them done but alas they are still WIPS. Maybe next year! I won the NaNoWriMo this year for What the Heart Wants
I have tons of ideas for stories but again the muse is fickle.
When not doing writing related things I dabble in arts and crafts or I can be found reading and gaming.
Here’s Merry Christmas to everyone and a happy 2018
2017 is coming to an end; shocking, since it seems like the year was a blur. As I reflect upon the past twelve months, it feels as if I lost time (I didn’t), but the year that was filled with successes, regrets, and joy, indeed flew by. My oldest daughter, now a beautiful young lady, is about to jump into the next phase of her life. As she visits colleges, I’m terrified she’s unprepared, but surely I’m mistaken? She’s as ready as every other kid about to leave home, right?
My personal work, writing, suffered this year due to a lack of time dedicated to existing projects and for that, I have sincere regrets. I am thrilled that Bitter Betrayal released, and in time for TLA, that was a huge relief. Despite my lack of writing time our company is thriving, and that is a direct result of our (mine personally) and the commitment of others to ensure that we worked tirelessly on behalf of the authors that we represent. The company is in an excellent position and will start 2018 with the most robust first quarter that we’ve ever experienced to date. Starting off the year in such a way will allow me, as an author, to take back the time I need to commit to writing and finishing existing projects. Projects that mean a lot to me and that I’m passionate about such as finishing Captain Fin.
I believe 2017 was a fruitful year, but a year where I wished I’d spent more time with my family, and as I stated wanted to finish Captain Fin (which will be a priority in 2018). My daughter, the senior in high school, should have spent more time with me (not that she would have) but I wished I’d forced the issue a little more, though I was pleased I was able to attend most of her soccer games this year. She experienced her first real heartbreak; every young woman goes through such, but it was awful to witness, and my heart broke for her. She learned from that experience to never look backward and is now excited about her future and a new relationship.
My youngest daughter continually challenges me as a mom, but in the neatest way. Learning to drive, testing those around her, she still has the sweetest spirit of any child I know. Others would not understand this statement, one of the mysteries of this young girl. 2017 was a year in which she truly blossomed, and it was a beautiful thing to witness.
Watching my son work and grow is always a treat. Continually striving to be his best, a great father, husband, and son. Spending time with him is still a joy, and one of the greatest gifts of 2017 was going on vacation with him and his family. Our family (Mike, the girls), my dad, who I adore, and my sister who I appreciate more now than ever. Having us all together at the same time, in the same place for an entire week, was the highlight of my year.
As an author during 2017, my work The Greenlee Project, a book about bullying, won the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for YA-Social Issues. Because this book is so important to me, I was naturally thrilled about this, and the news brought me to tears. Bitter Betrayal was the Gold Recipient of The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) for YA and General Fiction. The Mom’s Choice Awards® evaluates products and services created for children, families, and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products, and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of items from more than 55 countries. It, Bitter Betrayal, also won the New Apple Literary Award for YA and General Fiction.
My goal for 2018: Finish Captain Fin and write the fourth installment of the Mischief series. And of course, continue my role as CEO of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.
2017 has been an eventful year, in one way or another. We witnessed the birth of our second granddaughter in July, and rode out a hurricane. (When I say rode out, I really mean that we retreated to Virginia and visited our daughter for nearly two weeks) The good thing about that trip was that I got some uninterrupted time with my beautiful granddaughters. (The eldest is 9 going on 90)
Hurricane Irma gifted Florida with something to which my body has strenuously objected. I’ve been sick on and off since she roared through. Whatever it is, I sincerely hope someone takes it back, because I’m tired of it.
On a professional note, I consider 2017 more of a success. A few years ago, after looking at the queue of unfinished work, I set myself a goal of finishing a book a month. In 2014, I finished 14 books. 2015 was even better, with 25. I reverted to 14 in 2016, but 5 of those were start to finish books: two at 9 days each, then 6, 4 and 2 days. To be fair, the 2 day one was a novella, but the rest are over 50,000 words each. Shortly after writing of this article, I finished a piece for December. Making a total of 14 once again. It’s a novella, but I’m still pleased with it. Not bad, considering how much time I spent on the road between here and Virginia, and how much of that time, I was sick.
I published several books this year. So Much It Hurts, a contemporary romance, was released by Tirgearr Publishing on November 1. I also released an adult coloring book, Doodle Your Stress Away. I re-released a new and improved version of Indian Summer, as well as publishing its sequel, Savage Heart. I also published The Maker – Book 3 in my sci-fi series. Now, if they would sell, I’d be ecstatic.
Looking toward 2018, I hope for better health, and the ability to release a few more books. I’m constantly writing, creating interesting blog posts, and enjoying my days in the literary universe. I call it that, because it’s much more than a world. Books set us free from the here and now, carrying us far away from the everyday. What a blessed release, to lose oneself in somewhere completely different, even if for a short time.
“Tori, honey? Could you come in here when you get a sec?”
My mom’s voice sounded strained and I had just walked in the door. What could it be so soon? The bittersweet smoke lingering in the air screamed to me of the presence of Derek, her cigarette-toting man-thing. By God, he had the worst taste in smokes.
I used to love the smell of my grandfather’s pipe, stuffed with the butt-ends of his cheap cigars, a sweet hickory scent that infused my grandparent’s log cabin with the trappings of comfort and acceptance. Not the same as Derek’s at all.
Clutching my backpack, I hurried to my room, briefly catching the sight of dark hair on curled toes peeking out of two Birkenstocks that had seen better days. Through the door to our living room, I could see his pajama clad legs as he sat in the same spot he had claimed the first day mom brought him home. What little sunlight that floated through the window draperies caught in the cloud of clove smoke and was prevented from intruding further.
“Did you hear your mother, Victoria?”
I dropped my backpack to the floor, my hand on the handle to my bedroom. So close. I almost went five seconds without Derek parenting me.
“Yes, Derek. I heard her. Can’t I just put my stuff up first?”
“You don’t have to backtalk.”
My eyes rolled out of sheer habit. Tossing my pack to my bed, I moved into the kitchen to see my mother, her walker against the counter, trying her best to reach up into a top cupboard. A stack of groceries covered the counter-top, the bags littering the floor, and the back door was standing open.
“Why doesn’t Derek help you with the groceries?” I asked for the millionth time as I lowered her off her tiptoes and placed the soup cans onto the shelf with ease. Perhaps I was born for the simple task of reaching high areas for my tiny, middle-aged mater. Seems as likely as any reason.
“He doesn’t come over to do chores, Tori. He works hard. Let him relax,” she mewed.
I sighed. It was the same line she used for my absent father who watched her body disintegrate until he had had enough of “taking care of a mooch” and decided to leave her.
“He could at least shut the door if your arms are full, couldn’t he? That wouldn’t take any of his precious energy.” I mumbled so she could not hear too much as I closed the wooden door.
“I’m perfectly capable of–”
“No, you’re not, Mom.” I heaved a sigh and grabbed the plastic handles of a floor-dwelling bag. “You have a freaking walker to deal with. You shouldn’t have to carry groceries from the car by yourself.”
“No, she shouldn’t.” Derek magically appeared at the arch to the dining room. It was like the click of the back door summoned him. His gravel choked voice continued to scold me as if I had been the one squatting in the other room listening to her struggles this whole time. “You should be more helpful for your mother.”
After the day I had just been dealt, something in me snapped. “You’re right, Derek. I should’ve known my mom was at the store and should’ve dashed home like The Flash to help her with the bags! Utterly brilliant!”
“Tori.” My mom admonished me with her tone. “Just put the things away for me, please? I need to lie down. Can you do that without yelling at anybody? Please?”
I wilted. “Sure, Mom.”
She shuffled to the arch where Derek ushered her to the hall with a waiting arm. He was such a freaking hero. I resumed sorting the items from the bags, muttering to myself. “I wasn’t yelling at just anybody. It was still a pretty stupid thing to say. How am I supposed to help when I’m not even home, Derek? Tell me that. Like you tell me everything else; you’re so smart and so wonderful. Why can’t you tell me that? Huh?”
Meaningless, pointless venting. Eventually my grumble petered off to silence and I was absorbed in organizing the shelves, the frig, and the small pantry closet near the back door.
An hour later, I realized Derek’s true genius. I had cleaned the kitchen without being asked. Pure evil, that’s what he was.
Bobby Mendoza: age 23 dark brown curly hair. Brown eyes 5’10” hundred 80 pounds with a slim physique and a defined six-pack Greek /Latino mixed heritage
KV: who are you?
Bobby: what’s it to you?
KV: drop the attitude, Bob!
Bobby: it’s Bobby, never Bob. Get it right or else!
KV: okay fine, be a jerk. What do you do for a living?
Bobby: I’m a pizza chef. I work for my dippy do-gooder uncle. I hate the job but I get to flirt with the cute ladies know what I mean?
KV: do they let you?
Bobby: mostly, I mean face it, I’m hot! Who could resist this real estate?
KV: what about Halle Greenwood?
KV: the woman you almost raped!
Bobby: oh her, she had it coming. I was being nice and she totally burned me. I had to let her know who was the boss.
KV: did your mom teach you to be this way?
Bobby: you leave my mama out of this!
KV: no Bobby, this is important.
Bobby: fine, she’s weak. She met my dad beat us. She never stood up for me sure she gives me what I want why not take advantage of that.
KV: I bet she’d be ashamed if she knew you were drugging women to have sex with them.
Bobby: I don’t care!
KV: so what are your plans?
Bobby: I’m in a finish what I started with Greenwood. Then I’m going to get the guy who interfered with my little party.
KV: how do you feel about Hollywood?
Bobby: everyone is so freaking phony, they all want something!
KV; sounds a lot like you!
Bobby: don’t ever compare me to them!
KV: or what, you’ll kill me?
Bobby: now there’s an idea I can get behind!
KV: are you prepared to pay the consequences should you get caught?
Bobby: I’m not going to get caught. And if I were you I would watch my back! I’m outta here. Sayonara sucker!
But, here they were. Lylith, Lady Pinne, Rachel and her new admirer, Hamlin, as well as the knight Trevalin and even Master Calbraum… all willing to help him merely because he had told the truth instead of trying to steal what he needed. He was amazed.
“These people don’t really exist, do they?” he muttered aloud as he felt the warm form of Gala slip into a spot beside him. She was his back up. Since the Journeymen had hired her, she was his best bet on finding them. Though, to be honest, neither of them knew exactly where to go. This whole force of magda and arms were only going to be applicable if the journeyman took the bait.
“Do people really do this much to help each other?” he marveled, but Gala brought in the touch of reality that he needed.
“No. They want to arrest the Journeyman and you are their best way of finding him. Otherwise, we’d be on our own, Keen,” she stated flatly.
“Thanks, Gala.” He snorted. “You always know how to make me feel special.”
I received an email yesterday from a friend, fellow author, who knew of a child who had killed themselves due to a cycle of bullying. I didn’t know the details, and I didn’t ask about them; I knew it never should have happened. It happens too often, and these days, with social media, anyone can be a victim.
This issue breaks my heart, kids being bullied at school or elsewhere, but being pushed to the point of a child taking their lives is gut-wrenching in the worst possible way. I often wonder what the child/ teen was thinking in those last moments. How disturbing that they’d be in that position at all. Did anyone, anyone, stop to think about their mental well being before push, push, pushing, them over the edge that one last time? And therein lies the problem; no one has a clue what someone else is going through or deals with on a daily basis in regards to mental health issues.
What is manageable for one kid, isn’t manageable for another at all. I have a child that has suffered from issues that no one knows about, and I wonder about the thousands upon thousands of kids that experience the same. They’re fragile. They’re beautiful. They’re undeserving of being pushed because they’re different. Until my child was stronger and could fend for themselves, if need be, I lived in fear on a daily basis of losing them to the world. I was fortunate, but even as an adult, their struggles are real.
This topic, bullying, is so near and dear to my heart I wrote a piece titled The Greenlee Project. It’s a book about the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying is a Gold Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards, the 2017 International Book Award Winner for YA Social Issues, and won the first place at the 16th annual North Texas Book Festival (NTBF) for YA and General Fiction. It showcases the all-too-common anonymous and cruel betrayals of others through social media, of such magnitude that it devastates a young teen, her friends, family, and the community.
Cyberbullying or bullying affects not just the victims, but everyone around them. After being the target of cyberbullying, what Greenlee does next is shocking. I sincerely hope you enjoy my work and if you have a tween or teen, you’ll share this book with them. If this book prevents one child from being hurt or causes kids to think twice about their actions, then I’ve done my job. Enjoy this excerpt.
All rights reserved. Published 2014 by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The bus pulled away from the curb slowly, but the shift in gear caused such a jolt that it shook Greenlee’s whole body and woke her up, leaving her dazed and confused. Her eyes tried to focus on the fabric pattern on the seats. It hadn’t registered to Greenlee that she was still on the bus until then. A stale odor wafted through the aisle and filled her nostrils. The smell was nauseating, but brought her back to reality quick enough . . . Greenlee stared out the window with no idea where she was. She didn’t recognize a thing. Hanging her head in her hands, she closed her eyes and thought back to the events that had taken place and brought her to this moment.
Cole’s laughter had rung in her ears and flashbacks of kids pointing fingers and laughing at her raced once again through her mind. Embarrassed, she sank down in her seat. Her heart burdened and heavy, she knew that she couldn’t stay there much longer.
Glancing out the window, Greenlee tried to recognize something, anything, but she realized without a doubt that she was lost. She panicked. Nervously she stood up and moved toward the front of the bus. As if she were invisible, she avoided eye contact and waited for the door to open.
The bus stopped and the doors swished open. Greenlee noticed that the bus driver was staring at her. The woman had an odd look on her face and her mouth opened as if she wanted to say something, but she didn’t. Greenlee couldn’t discern if the lady was concerned or if she owed her more money. As if purposely biting her tongue, the driver simply shook her head, clenched her mouth shut, and waited for Greenlee to step down. As soon as she did, the doors closed behind her and the bus pulled away.
Greenlee stood on the pavement, not sure which direction she should go. Her phone vibrated and it occurred to her that she hadn’t talked to a single person all day. Avoiding people forever was impossible and she knew that, but for now it seemed like a plan. She had twenty-eight missed calls, eleven voicemails and fifty-four texts. Greenlee deleted them all without listening or reading a single one of them. She couldn’t deal with it, not right then anyway, even knowing the consequences for what she’d just done. Marianne’s intentions were good, but she was becoming a problem with her nonstop calling. The phone vibrated again and against her will, Greenlee answered.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Are you kidding me? What’s up? That’s all you have to say?” Marianne said angrily.
Greenlee didn’t want to talk, let alone argue with her. She already felt like a piece of malleable meat, beat to a pulp for someone else’s enjoyment. Regardless of Marianne’s intention, being chewed out wasn’t her idea of a phone call. Her cell phone pressed against her ear, Greenlee heard the words, but her mind was a million miles away. For the first time, the saying in one ear and out the other made total sense to her. Marianne kept talking but Greenlee wasn’t listening . . . then dead silence. Finally, Marianne had caught on.
“Okay, I’m sorry, I admit it. I’m not thinking clearly. I’m worried about you. Are you all right?” Marianne asked softly.
What a stupid question! Of course, she wasn’t all right. Greenlee didn’t respond. Her throat felt as if it was closing up and she couldn’t breathe. Who was she kidding? She couldn’t have talked through the tears anyway. She wanted to scream into the phone, “No, you idiot; I’m not all right. I’m anything but all right. I’m a mess. How come you don’t know that?” Keeping her mouth shut, she just listened.
“Greenlee, where are you?”
Greenlee glanced at the street sign above her head and mumbled the name of the street written on the sign above her, adding, “I don’t really know where I am. I mean I’m not sure that I really care.”
“I can send someone to come and get you,” Marianne said quietly.
The comment both surprised and alerted Greenlee to the unusual situation that she now found herself in. She declined. She had mixed feelings about that, wanting to be safe but at the same time not wanting to see or talk to anyone, at least not yet. She knew she faced an impending confrontation with her parents and she was avoiding it. Not for her sake, but for theirs—the humiliation she believed that she had caused them was too much to bear and having not been able to handle it only infuriated her.
“No, thanks. I’ll use the GPS and go from there. If I need you, I’ll call,” Greenlee said calmly.
“Greenlee, I just don’t think that’s a good idea. Are you sure?”
Marianne was disappointed, realizing that she’d been dismissed.
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ll call. Okay?” Greenlee said, knowing that she wasn’t going to call her back.
Greenlee was dismissive and Marianne felt ditched. Hurt and disappointed that Greenlee hadn’t trusted her, she reminded herself it wasn’t about her. Once again she forced the idea of contacting Greenlee’s parents out of her head, but had resolved in her mind that if they called her, she’d tell them what she knew. For Greenlee’s sake, she wouldn’t leave her out there in her mental state by herself.
Greenlee pulled up the GPS on her phone. She was twenty-eight miles from home. How in the heck had that happened? Suddenly she felt fearful and started to panic. She hit speed dial D.
“Greenlee, where in the hell are you? We’ve been trying to call you all day!” Matt Granger said.
He didn’t wait for her to respond and kept firing questions at her one right after the other and immediately Greenlee felt that she’d made a mistake.
“What are you playing at? Where are you? What are you doing?” he asked with a slight hesitation. “Where have you been?” After a pause, he said, “We’ve been worried sick!” Breathing deeply, he continued, “Greenlee . . . Greenlee, where are you now?”
Greenlee blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Dad, I don’t really know,” she said. “And if you don’t mind, I really don’t want to talk about this right now!”
“You called me,” he snapped.
Her dad bit his lip, took another deep breath, and as calmly as he possibly could in that particular moment said, “Greenlee, we’re definitely going to talk about it; maybe not at this very second, but you can rest assured that we will talk about it!”
“Dad, please, could you just come and get me? Please.” Another slight pause and he could hear her exhale, “I don’t even know where I am . . . I know you’re mad and disappointed in me, but please, can you just come and get me?”
A combination of relief and fear swept over him with such magnitude that he was forced to bat away his own tears. The photo of Greenlee that sat on his desk didn’t help: all smiles, sparkling eyes, and freckles across her cute button nose. It took him back to the days when he’d lift her in his arms and swing her around and around until she begged him to stop. He took a deep breath and spoke as softly as he could without breaking down.
“I’m not mad at you, Greenlee,” he said softly, “or disappointed in you. Don’t say that. But we will talk about this and you know that we will!” He grabbed his jacket and his keys. “I’m on my way. Don’t move from that spot and text me the street address.”
“Don’t talk to strangers!” He slammed down the phone and left his office.
As the air chilled, Greenlee realized that she was starving and cold. She wondered if she should ask her dad to stop and grab her a bite to eat, but given the circumstances, she figured it wasn’t the best time to ask for a favor. She kept her head down, hoping to avoid eye contact with the people on the street. She wasn’t used to being in the city by herself, especially at that hour, and the hustle and bustle of people that spilled onto the concrete made her fearful. Fortunately, no one was paying much attention to her, and that brought her some comfort. She shivered as a gust of wind blew through her body. Her hands clambered to grab her sweatshirt and wrap it as tightly around herself as she could. She continued to wait for her dad, who seemed to be taking too long. In less than twenty-four hours she had gone from not wanting to see her dad at all, to feeling relieved that he was finally pulling up to the curb.
The car door opened and she slid into the front seat without saying a word. Her dad asked her if she was hungry and Greenlee nodded gratefully. He pulled into the first fast-food place they came to and he ordered a burger and a large coffee. Handing her the brown soggy bag, he continued driving home.
Greenlee spoke first. Her voice echoed with the sound of distress, her pitch inconsistent, and she frantically tried to compose herself to speak without trembling. It was impossible. Reaching over, he grasped her hand. He never took his eyes off the road and didn’t offer any kind words—his simple gesture was enough. It was heartfelt, meaningful, filled with love and compassion, and touched Greenlee beyond any words that he could have chosen anyway. Gently he squeezed her hand in his, and she tried to speak.
“I . . . I can’t go back there, Dad, I just can’t. I thought I could,” she said as the tears flowed uncontrollably down her cheeks. She swallowed, sucked in a gasp of air, exhaled, and tried to continue.
“The whole thing is just too unfreaking believable. I can’t wrap my head around it. I still feel so stupid.”
She wasn’t hungry anymore but took another bite from her half-eaten burger, chewed a moment too long, swallowed, and looked at him as he continued to drive.
“I’m begging you, Dad, please, please don’t make me go back there. I still need to do what I’m doing, just maybe somewhere new.”
Her words and the tone with which she said them broke his heart. He hurt for her. He was angry for her, angry at himself for not having known, and furious with the kids who were involved. His daughter! Terrible for anyone’s daughter, but it was his daughter. Swallowing hard, he struggled to find the right words. His voice sounded different than usual: shaky but soft, concerned, but definitely filled with anguish. Greenlee studied his face for a moment but was forced to turn away. Tears had filled her dad’s eyes, and though it would have killed him to know, Greenlee felt humiliation engulf her as she realized that she had inadvertently brought her father to tears and caused him such pain.
“It was cruel and I still want to kill him, hurt him, and the others for that matter,” Matt Granger said. “And of course I can’t kill him. I’m angry, no, make that furious! I’m disgusted and mad at myself for not protecting you.” He couldn’t look at her, but he had to ask, “Greenlee, how did I not know?”
Greenlee put down the burger and whispered, “It’s easy, Dad, I didn’t even know!”
He stopped at a red light, released his grip on her hand, and took a sip of coffee. Clearing his throat, he tried to speak again, but he couldn’t. The words simply would not come. Rage had taken over and fearful of scaring her, he put his foot on the gas pedal and moved forward into the flow of traffic again.
“If you don’t go back, you’ll have to transfer. If you transfer, they win. You can’t let them win. You are better than they will ever dream of being. I hope you know that. I hope, Greenlee, that you see just how amazing you are. I think you should return to school. I don’t know how hard this will be for you. I’d be lying if I said I did. But I do know this”—he hesitated, choosing his words carefully—“you have to do this; you have to do this for yourself.”
He never said another word and Greenlee didn’t offer any either, there was no point. The inevitable was around the corner, but how she’d deal with the situation once she went back to school, facing the people who had put her through hell, remained to be seen.
The principal had been calling their house all day long. He didn’t mention the calls the school had made to Greenlee.
“We assure you,” the principal had said, “if anything else has happened, anything at all, we will handle it appropriately. Any student that may have been involved in this dreadful situation, if it was brought up again, will be disciplined to the full extent that the district is able to.” He hesitated and added, “Mrs. Granger, you have to know that we do not under any circumstances approve of this behavior.”
The principal waited for any assurance that he was handling the situation appropriately, but that affirmation wasn’t about to come. Mrs. Granger was angry and her words were sharp and bitter.
“What am I supposed to tell her?” she asked. “That you’re handling it as best you can?” She wasn’t thinking, just spouting words. “How do I explain that you’re handling the situation to the best of your ability? Greenlee is devastated and rightfully so. She’ll never get over this.”
She despised the sarcasm in her own voice; she tried to bite her tongue, but the poison, the bitter tone toward him, continued to flow, her voice hissing as the words attacked on behalf of her daughter.
“Clearly I’m not thinking straight,” she muttered through gritted teeth. “My apologies to you for my tone, but not to those kids, and for that, I make no apologies. I can’t imagine, as I’m sure you can’t, how Greenlee must be feeling right now.”
She didn’t wait for an answer or say goodbye; she simply hung up the phone and burst into tears. Where was Greenlee? Why hadn’t she called? She glanced at the phone, but it still didn’t ring.
I used to have a snarky reply for every question. When I was a teen, my mother used to ask why I was so “smart-mouthed”. When I was college-aged and in a group of friends I considered to all be equally intelligent, I would let the sarcasm fly. I knew they would “get” it.
Looking back, I don’t know if I was eager for the laughter (even if it was only my own), or if I was guarding my emotions. Can’t get hurt if they think you don’t care, right?
But recently, I’ve noticed that I’m not as off the cuff as I used to be. The sarcasm comes out when I’m irritated or tired; it’s reserved for those special moments when I’ve been pushed too far.
When Dellani first spoke to the Cereal Authors about posting on sarcasm, I thought it would be easy. On the contrary, I’ve found myself at a loss lately. Thinking on it, I tried to trace back to where I had lost my everyday sarcasm. I believe I tempered it when I was raising my son. (There is only so much witty, sardonic banter one can throw at a five year old before it just sounds cruel.)
As my son developed into a teenager, I let it creep back and he seemed to take to it like a duck to water. Now, he’s the smart-mouthed one. (Maybe it’s a teen thing!)
In looking for examples of sarcasm in my writing, I’ve come across the conundrum of: Is this sarcasm or is it irony?
So, I thought I’d try and work that out this month, and in doing so, found that it is not a situation of Sarcasm vs. Irony. It is rather a hand in hand relationship.
Dictionary.com describes Sarcasm as “aformofironyinwhichapparentpraiseconcealsanother,scornfulmeaning…” and “mocking,contemptuous,orironiclanguageintendedtoconveyscornorinsult.”
It is usually delivered through dialogue or tone. Now, a person’s tone is somewhat difficult to convey in a literary piece without actually using a descriptive speech tag like “he said in a mocking tone.” (A bit subtle, don’t ya think?)
Irony has one definition that is just as vaguely symbiotic: “thehumorousormildlysarcasticuseofwordstoimplytheoppositeofwhattheynormallymean.”
However, irony can be more situational and punctuated by the use of sardonic, biting dialogue. And with its second definition: “an incongruitybetweenwhatisexpectedtobeandwhatactuallyis,orasituationorresultshowingsuchincongruity,” and “In Literature: atechniqueofindicating,asthroughcharacterorplotdevelopment,anintentionorattitudeoppositetothatwhichisactuallyorostensiblystated.”
There we go, as clear as day. A big, bright, sunshiny day.
For a crude example of the two, I came up with a situation in the blurry haze of the morning. Say that there are two characters riding an elevator together, and one guy passes gas. The other notices and remarks, “Nice. Thanks. We needed an air-freshener in here.”
Now, if that same gassy character is lying in bed, lets one fly, and then flips over in his covers and essentially Dutch Ovens himself. (That is not only karmic justice, but on the ironic side.)
I warned you it was crude. I’m not sure where I was going with this article, but it sprang out of a contemplation of myself. Like I said, I used to wield sarcasm in almost every social situation when I was young. I used it to not get too close or appear too vulnerable to those around me. One definition of irony rang true to me on this point. “(especiallyincontemporarywriting)amanneroforganizingaworksoastogivefullexpressiontocontradictoryorcomplementaryimpulses,attitudes,etc.,especiallyasameansofindicatingdetachmentfromasubject,theme,oremotion.”
Detachment from an emotion.
Yes, there it is.
That is what drives the sarcastic banter among several of my main characters. Especially those that have the most to lose by admitting their true feelings or having those feelings exposed. Sarcasm is their shield, as it was mine. (And still is on many occasions.) It is an essential element in them, their way of dealing with their world. I cannot picture them without it. And, I don’t think I would want to.
Just a musing for this month, as I approach the Half Century mark in my life, that I thought I would share.
As soon as he was done, she pointed languidly at his cheek and asked, “Those scars on your face. Where’d you get them?”
“Why?” he asked, noticing a different tone in her voice.
“They’re sexy looking,” she added playfully.
He sobered a bit, raised one sharp eyebrow, and said with a clever cock of the head, “A massive reaverbear slashed me with its two long claws right before I chopped its head off.”
“Really?” Her eyes were wide.
He couldn’t conceal his smile, confessing the lie in his eyes.
“Com’on! Really?” Rachel pushed his shoulder, a bit harder than she had intended.
They both laughed.
“No,” he admitted.
“Seriously then, where’d you get ‘em?”
“I can’t tell you.” He resisted, then added with a wicked grin. “Then I’d have to kill you.”
Rachel shoved him with a fumbling slap on his chest. “Hot! Got any others?”
“Nope,” he laughed, suddenly sorry that his fae flesh healed so well. “Sorry, those are the only ones.”
“Well, you showed me yours, I guess it’s only fair that I show you mine.” Even she could detect the slurring now from the ale, and she giggled again. Struggling with her tunic shirt tucked into a wide leather belt, Rachel pulled it until a short, thickly seamed scar on her abdomen could be seen just below her ribs.
Keinigan’s eyes were drawn to her soft light flesh there, and his mind uttered a grateful prayer to the gods. He glanced around to see if any other patrons might see this little display as he uttered, “Well, mine are on my face, that’s hardly fair.” Followed quickly by a breathy query, “Got any others?”
Leaning towards him, she caught his mouth in a playful kiss. “Shut up.” She smiled, now feeling much warmer and eager to share his tenderness. “Yes.”
“What kind of scars?” He looked her up and down as he smirked.
“Surgical,” she said. They were very close together now, his lips brushing hers temptingly.
“Really?” he whispered. “Where?”
She grinned, her eyes shining with the flirtatious glee. “They’re down there,” she said pointing to her hips as she watched his eyes flame. “One for an appendix and the other for a hernia.”
“And, how do they look?” He waited with bated breath for her answer.
“If we go someplace private, I might can show you.”
She snuggled in for another passionate kiss. As it ended, he practically overturned the table as he leapt to his feet.
High school locker rooms. Every kid’s favorite place. The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire.
I may not be the tallest girl in my class, but I’m gangling enough to pass as a teenage boy if I wanted. All shoulders and elbows. Stupid pseudo-ectomorph body type. My breasts popped out in seventh grade, but quickly gave up the fight against gravity. Now they are just two medium ski slopes dangling above a small paunch of “baby fat” that refuses to go away no matter how many sit-ups my coaches tell me to do. I don’t want a six-pack; I just want to be able to button my jeans without lying flat on my bed.
If having attention being called to my body’s disproportions during (not one, but two) gym classes each weekday and giggled about by my peers was not enough, I was sure to be reminded of my “budding womanhood” by my mom’s creepy-ass boyfriend when I get home.
Geez, why can’t we just be prepubescent one night and burst forth from a chrysalis two days later as a legal adult? Why must we suffer for eight to ten years like this?
I hate high school. So what? I’m sure everybody does. I’m not a whiner. It’s just that transitioning to a new school mid-semester because my old school burned to the ground puts me in unfamiliar territory. I’ve known some of these kids most of my life, we just went to different schools for a lot of that time. Now I’m in their world, uncertain and vulnerable. It takes every aspect of myself that I was comfortable with and sticks it under a new microscope to be poked and prodded by narrowed eyes that are less than impartial.
Gym is the worst and the best. The coaches push me to join after school athletics and I usually get picked right away for team sports. This is because of the way I look, not because of any proven skills. I’ve had to adapt over the years, so as to appear that I know what I’m doing. Example: I can hit a ball hard enough; I just don’t always know how to make it go in the right direction.
I would much prefer to be in an art class or computer lab. Thus, I suffer through my typical day.
Also, I’m the type of person to use the word ‘thus’. Enough said.