Adelaide – Part 2

If you haven’t read the beginning of this story and would like to, you’ll find it here> Once Upon a Time

Adelaide had to admit, her life changed on that April morning when Rusty sat beside her on the bus. Still, every morning at exactly seven-ten, she said goodbye to her mother and began the long walk down the large hill. She waited beside the mailbox. The bus was never early, and hardly ever late. At exactly seven-twenty-five, Mr. Augustus stopped to pick her up.

Five rows back on the left, she sat next to the window. She and Paul left room for Rusty. Paul liked Rusty and often whispered to Adelaide, “He’s going to be our best friend.”

The other kids on the bus still giggled and whispered. Adelaide still heard herself referred to as, “Crazy Addy.” But it didn’t break her heart the way it used to, because now she had a friend.

And one day, Rusty made a stand.

It was the last week of school, which was always sad for Adelaide. School was the only time she was allowed around other children. Her mother would not allow Adelaide to go anywhere on her own because of danger lurking … everywhere. Adelaide understood that her mother feared losing the only child left to her, so she waited and hoped that when she was old enough, things would change.

On the first day of the last week of school, the other children on the bus cheered as Rusty climbed on and walked to his seat.

Adelaide watched and wondered, why were they cheering?

Rusty mussed his hair and gave her a sideways glance, like he was embarrassed.

Paul whispered in her ear, “Ask him.”

Adelaide took a breath, but before she could ask the question, Mason, the guy sitting behind Rusty, gripped Rusty’s shoulder.

“You’re a wonder, man. Just a wonder.”

Now Adelaide wondered, more than ever. “What did you do?”

Rusty shrugged. He turned to look at her. “Nothin’ much.”

“Nothin’ much,” Mason repeated in a loud voice. “Nothin’ but won the game, that’s all!”

Adelaide turned big eyes on Rusty. “You won the game?” She had known he played baseball on the school team, but of course, she was not allowed to attend. It was far too dangerous.

Rusty shrugged again. “I just hit a homer, that’s all.”

Mason laughed. “That’s all. Hit a homer with bases loaded. Won the game.” He threw his cap down like an exclamation point at the end of his proclamation.

Adelaide had watched baseball games on television with Paul and her father, so she understood what a good thing that was.

Rusty bent to pick up Mason’s cap. He handed it over his shoulder and Mason took it. Then Rusty eyed Adelaide. “It was a great game. We’re playing again on Saturday morning. You should come.”

Everyone hushed. There was not a sound to be heard on the bus while they all waited for Adelaide’s answer.

Adelaide noticed Mr. Augustus, eyeing her in the rearview mirror.

Mason laughed again. “She can’t go. Crazy Addy can’t do anything. Her momma is too scared.”

Then everyone laughed along with Mason.

Everyone except Rusty, that is. And Mr. Augustus—he didn’t laugh.

Rusty wouldn’t look at Adelaide. He just stared at his hands and held onto his books.

Adelaide’s stomach hurt, just like in the old days, before Rusty came.

Paul whispered, “At least he’s not laughing.”

Adelaide looked out the window and watched as Mr. Augustus pulled the bus into their spot in front of school.

When everyone stood, Rusty moved into the aisle and blocked the whole back of the bus. “Come on, Adelaide. Let’s go inside.”

No one said a word. They all stood and watched, as Adelaide, followed closely by Paul and Rusty, walked to the front.

Mr. Augustus grinned and nodded.

Adelaide smiled so big, her cheeks hurt.

Rusty had just hit another home run with bases loaded.

Once Upon a Time

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello! Happy Thursday morning! I’ve got my  cup of coffee, and I’m ready to work. So, what’s stopping me? The squirrels playing outside my window. The robins hopping around the yard, enjoying the springlike weather. Distraction is a writer’s worst enemy.

I know the phrase, “once upon a time” is clichéd, over-used and abused. But those words still get my imagination going. Like the castle and fireworks, along with Disney’s theme music. You settle in, prepared for a treat.

I used to tuck my little ones into bed and after prayers, I’d say, “Once upon a time, a long, time ago…” and make up a story, usually silly, but always sprinkled with characters who shared their names. It never failed to make them giggle.

The thing is, that little phrase never failed to conjure up a tale. It’s ancient, but it works. You can’t really use it in writing, unless you’re being sarcastic or ironic. An editor would view those words much as she would “a dark and stormy night.”

Backstory-effective. Once upon a time often sits in the back of my mind as I begin work on a new historical. It helps me slip quietly out of the here-and-now, into the “that was then.” [Click to tweet]

I close my eyes and let my imagination carry me places I once knew so well. Riding along in the back seat of my parents’ car, the windows are down, and it’s dark outside. I hear the croak of the bullfrog, peep of tree frogs, millions of insects. The call of the whippoorwill. The lowing of cattle.

The night air, heavy with the scent of freshly-turned earth, cools my cheek. My parents’ quiet voices lull me to sleep. What sweet memories I have of days gone by.

These are just the things to stir the juices of my imagination. My characters come alive as I recreate long-ago scenes. I need to get better at it. Too often, I forget to include enough to help my readers “see” the imaginary rooms where my characters live. I forget, because I’m so familiar with them.

Walking in the barn lot at Grandma’s, I almost always heard a sound as if a dog followed along behind. Yet, there was no dog. It may have been the echo of my own footsteps. It never frightened me, only intrigued me. Stirred my overly active imagination.

I pretended it was one of my grandparents’ old hound dogs, long ago turned to dust in the ground—a faithful old friend that just couldn’t leave—couldn’t be parted from his favorite people. I never told that story, but I might someday. If I do, those old memories will serve me well. Maybe I’ll even start it out with once upon a time.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite memory, or an intriguing thought from days gone by? I’d love to hear it!