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TBT:The Middle-ish Ages excerpt

Today’s TBT is such for two reasons:  one, I wrote this about five years ago now; and two, this part is fairly close to how it actually happened to me when I was actually in middle school, not just in my fictionalized life as Drew. Here’s an early chapter from my first published book Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages.

School’s Out Forever?

Sixth grade ended with me telling the few people I actually spoke to goodbye. I was going to be in a new school next fall and would never see them again. So long, farewell, good riddance.

Belle and I spent as much time together as possible. We usually ended up at her house, since mine had to look perfect at all times, just in case the realtor called to show it. Every once in a while, the phone would ring, and a few minutes later, my mom became a cyclone, circling the house with a vacuum or worthless, pre-Swifferduster, yelling up the stairs for me to make sure my room was neat, and to hurry up so we could get out of there for a while. This usually meant we would go to a movie, or off to window-shop somewhere. I think my mom even saved certain errands for such occasions. It was easier to just not hang out at home too much, and Belle’s family didn’t mind if I was there. They always welcomed me in with open arms… another daughter almost.

Summer went on like this, and on and on. No bites on the house. It was a gorgeous, spacious home with more land than most places in the area, but homes weren’t selling. My parents were getting restless and their realtor wasn’t working hard enough for them. When my parents got restless with situations, strange events could happen, and their behavior became suspicious. Usually quiet whispering was the sign of something good to come. If it was a quiet whisper on a Saturday morning, we were about to get the world’s best maple doughnuts for breakfast. If there was a suspicious whispering, mixed with quiet moments of exchanged smiles and glances at us kids after finishing dinner, we were in for a trip to the ice cream parlor.

This morning was not a Saturday. It was a Tuesday. Not just any Tuesday. This Tuesday was the last Tuesday before Labor Day, which meant I was about to go back to school with all the people I had bragged to about moving away. I wasn’t thrilled about that. Once the idea of moving had time to settle, I was all for it, with the only regret being leaving Belle behind. I even had an understanding that I would need to move on from Jason and accept that it was not meant to be. But as I staggered down the stairs and shuffled into the kitchen that Tuesday morning, my parents were plotting something. They had smiles on their lips and stopped whispering as soon as they saw me.

I scratched my head and yawned. Mornings were a particularly hard time for me to focus and make sense of my surroundings, and something was not right here. Why were they looking at me like Cheshire cats? “Whaaat?” I questioned in another drawn out yawn, irritated by the situation. I pulled a glass out of the nearest cabinet and a spoon from the drawer below.

“We were thinking about taking a little vacation this weekend. Do you want to come?” my mom asked.

“A vacation? I start school next Tuesday. Where?” I pulled the milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup out of the refrigerator.

“We just wanted to go out to Virginia and check it out.”

“Uh-huh?” Their blank looks must have been in response to my confused look. I closed the fridge.

“We just want to look into our options.”

“Options for what? Isn’t Virginia on another planet or something?” Thick chocolate fell in a stream into my milk glass. I actually had a fairly educated knowledge of the geography of our country, and we had traveled quite a bit, but I’d never seen the East coast.

“It’s exactly across the United States from here. Anyway, we thought it would be interesting to see what it’s like there.”

“I’m sure it would be interesting, but why now?”

Their looks said it all.

I hope you don’t think I’m moving there!” As the last of my desired chocolate dangled and dripped into my glass, I stirred my milk with rage and large swirls of chocolate were desperate to mix in and avoid further abuse.

“So, you don’t want to come on the trip?” my mom asked, a somewhat hurt tone in her voice. Greeeeaaat… they wanted to uproot me from all things familiar, and I should feel guilty?

I slowly put the milk and chocolate away, halfway closing, halfway slamming the refrigerator door. “I’ll go,” I huffed. “It’s probably like traveling to a foreign country, which I’ve always wanted to do. But I am not moving there!”

“We’ll take a long weekend. We’ll leave Friday and come back Monday evening, so you make it to school on time.” At my father’s response, I trudged back up the stairs with my nearly black chocolate milk. Large chocolate swirls had already begun to comingle at the bottom of the glass. Virginia? Really?

“You might want to think about having some milk with your chocolate,” came the snotty taunt from Angela as we passed on the steps. I wondered if she knew yet, but I really didn’t feel like asking.

Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl…

Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages

By Terree Klaes

      Prologue (or Disclaimer)
If you don’t expect too much, you won’t be disappointed. This isn’t a “self-help” book to boost your friend and/or money making abilities. I’m not a famous star revealing shocking secrets about other celebrities.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever known anybody famous.  I wish I could say that you should read this book because it will turn your world upside down, but it probably won’t.  All I can tell you honestly is that I hope to entertain you.

Wait!  Don’t put the book down yet.  Admittedly, I am just an ordinary girl, with an extraordinarily ordinary life.  I could be the girl next door.  It’s just that I decided to put it all on paper. The people I have known are what have made my life interesting. These and the everyday, or not so everyday experiences I have had all make me what I am today.  And if these characters and experiences entertain or induce nostalgic feelings for others, then I am glad to play the bard… I mean part.

My name is Drew Hotchner.  Allow me to date myself here.  I was born in the year of the original Star Wars.  This is not the one where little Anakin races pods, but where he was already Darth Vader, building death stars and wreaking havoc on a galaxy far, far away.  What?  You don’t keep time and history by Star Wars?  Okay.  I will try to refrain from further allusions to one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, though you would notice that they surround you in your everyday life already, if you just took the time to watch the entire saga, with its amalgam of wonderful characters (sans Jar Jar Binks, and Ewoks for some).

For those of you who may be too young to understand my prior telling of my age, all you need to know is that I had one adolescent foot in the ‘80s (big hair, big make-up, big portable stereos, then called “boom boxes”), and then jumped into full adolescence during the big ‘90s grunge invasion.  Some of you may be thinking, “Whoa!  This woman is like really old!” If you still don’t know what any of this means, google it.

I’ve always heard that it’s best to write about what you know or what you have done, so I figured I could write about what I know I have done.  I have changed names and combined characters in order to protect the identities of my cohorts by jamming them into as few people as possible.  For these events to have happened to only this limited number of characters would seem, at times, impossible, though I vow that I was at least in some way involved (except for the really bad stuff, Mom).

      In the Beginning…
Some people say you can never go back.  I can’t imagine why anybody would want to anyway.  Still, there are ties in our lives that will bind us forever to our pasts, and I just knew I could never completely sever mine.

I was twelve when I moved to that dreadful little town.  Out of all the places we could have moved to, my parents chose an obscure town tucked in the foothills of Virginia.  It wasn’t really a bad town.  It just wasn’t me.  I had dreamt of a city to live in, or at least a suburb where I could peddle my bike up and down the road and go for walks around the neighborhood with my friends, up and down the sidewalk.  What did I get?  A house five miles outside of a town that seemed no bigger to me than a small village as seen only on TV… you know, the weird freaky towns on the Syfy network.  I was born and raised in California, only to experience the biggest culture shock of my entire existence.

We got rid of my bike.  There would be no smooth surfaces for riding where we moved.  And forget sidewalks.  When the roads weren’t even paved, what was the use of a sidewalk?  Nothing but gravel and steep hills from that point on.  How was I going to cope?

Hold on.  Let me back up.  You need to understand how this came to be.  Therefore, I believe I’ll start prior to the beginning of my sudden new life.  Still following?

Copyright Terri Klaes Harper 2011

This excerpt is part of my recently published book.  Check it out here!