Back to the Snowmobile Story, WITH sensory details this time!

The last echoes of the skidoos racing eastward faded. Adam had turned off his ignition, so the quiet was absolute. Even the wind had died down, and it was too cold even for the ravens to squawk. He opened the engine compartment, closing his eyes for a minute to appreciate the odours of gas and oil, and fiddled with some plugs. He kept checking over his shoulder as he listened for any signs of his friends coming back. Not that he really expected them to do that . . . well, maybe Danny would, if only to ride Adam’s butt about his old machine and his girlfriend.

The silence didn’t stop a bunch of thoughts from cycling through his head. In fact, it was hard to ignore them. He checked the oil, shoving the wire harder than necessary back into its slot, willing his brain to stop thinking.

His buddy never said it directly, but Adam knew Danny had the hots for his girlfriend. It was in his eyes when he watched her coming to sit down next to Adam in the cafeteria, the way he looked her up and down, his gaze settling on her chest until someone yelled at him to pay attention. It was in those stupid jokes

———-

Okay, so I know I’m breaking a cardinal rule here by going back through the draft before it’s done, and adding stuff. I’m wondering now, though, whether I should have more conversation earlier in the exposition, showing Danny’s attitude toward Penny. Hmmm . . . (glances back at the complete draft) — How about this? 

———–

Something in that shit-eating grin Danny had on his face just now really bothered him, when he’d said Adam should bring Penny to the party.

He could already predict what that party was going to be like. It would be the same as always: loud music that would get louder as people got drunker, a bonfire in a home-made fire pit that some fool would try jumping over and end up wiping out next to on the ice that formed from the melting snow (next to the fire, if he was lucky — more likely to wipe out on the fire pit), Danny hitting on every girl until he got one who was drunk or stupid enough to think he was actually funny. And if Danny scored with a girl who actually had a boyfriend, there would be a fight.

Come to think of it, Danny would probably focused on a girls with a boyfriends just so that he could get into a fight.

Adam and Danny had never been in a real fight. They’d goofed around, just being idiots and re-enacting MMA bouts, tossing each other off of docks in the summer and into snowbanks in the winter. Hell, they’d thrown each other off of any surface they could climb onto: the roof of the bottom story addition of his house (winter), the railing of Danny’s back deck (winter), the flat top of AJ’s boat house (summer), the flat top of AJ’s grandparents’ garage (winter) . . .

Of course, they didn’t need a bit of high ground to throw each other down. Back in grade five, Danny’d taught Adam how to sweep a leg out from under his opponent, passing on whatever he’d learned in the karate classes that Adam couldn’t afford. And then Adam had shown Danny how to pile-drive, what it took to do a decent sleeper hold that could really knock somebody out, and the pressure points that Adam’s dad had showed him. Danny loved finding out about those, just little sensitive spots between thumbs and forefingers that could keep a kid on the ground for as long as you wanted, if enough you pressed hard enough.

Good times.

But they’d never yet taken a swing at each other. Hadn’t had a reason to. Especially not over a girl.

And Adam honestly didn’t want to do that. Not that he’d ever tell anyone, out loud.

It wasn’t that he was scared. He could take Danny.

It was just . . .

Adam slammed the cover back down on his snowmobile. The bang startled a distant raven into cawing loudly as it flew away.

Guys fought, didn’t they? They fought and then they got over it. Fighting cleared the air. Girls, they snuck around and snarked at each other and sent nasty texts until they were ripping at each other’s hair and rolling around school hallways. Girl fights lasted for weeks, or even months.

When Danny went after some other guy’s chick, the guy would call him out either at the party where the thing happened, or at school the next day. Adam privately thought it was stupid to do it at school, but there had to be an audience. His mom once said, after she’d heard about one of these fights, that it had to do with something called ‘saving face’. Whether Danny and whoever went at it right away depended on the other guy’s temper — or fear.

Adam sat on the snowmobile and stared at the remains of Danny’s cigarette in the snow, his nostrils crinkling in the cold air. The grey ashes looked like dead snowflakes. Zombie snowflakes.

Sometimes, after Danny had a fight with a guy, and there was snow on the ground, there would be blood spattered on it. He only ever needed to fight a kid once and then the problem would be over. Nobody ever challenged him twice.

If Danny was going after Penny now, Adam would have to fight him. Guaranteed.

Damnit, why couldn’t all of this be as simple as gliding over drifts and along the edges of embankments? It wasn’t Penny’s fault that she was pretty and smart; he was lucky to have her as his girlfriend, and he knew it. How long would it be before someone better than him came along and they broke up?

It might as well be Danny as anyone else. Then he wouldn’t have to deal with wondering who she was with. Then again, he might have to stop being friends with the jerk.

The ticking of the engine as it cooled off brought Adam back to reality. It was too confusing to just sit there and think; easier to ride. Pivoting on his heel, he threw his other leg over the seat, rammed on his helmet and started the motor, leaning into the curve as he turned his snow machine around and headed back down the trail.

It felt better once he’d picked up speed, the dark trees whizzing past him on either side. He relaxed his body into the seat while tensing his shoulders and arms, his legs working to mould him against the machine. The heavy vibration blended into his muscles until he felt like he and the skidoo were almost connected, working together to virtually fly over the contours of the trail. All at once, like the driving was blowing cobwebs out of his brain, he saw clearly what he needed to do: warn Penny that Danny was going to hit on her, and then tell Danny to back off. It was as simple as that. He could even run their conversation through his head — his and Danny’s, not the one with Penny — and predict how it was going to go.

He never had trouble talking to Penny. With her, he just felt comfortable. But Danny had a way of twisting other people’s words that was fun to watch, when it was happening to other people.

Adam gunned the engine as he approached a hill, catching air over the crest and bracing himself right before the impact seconds later.

“Dan,” he’d say, keeping his voice serious and low to keep from attracting attention. “Lay off of Penny, okay? She doesn’t like you like that.”

“Lay her? Sure, I’ll lay her for you!” Danny would probably laugh, and he’d do it loudly too, making sure everyone could hear. “I know you’re still saving yourself for marriage.”

The trail forked just up ahead, with the main branch — the official path — leading off to the right and back to town by following the uneven shore of the lake. Adam bent his left elbow and knee to direct the snowmobile over the rough pile of snow toward the southeast, relishing the thrill of the machine diving into deeper powder. The shortcut over the lake would save him five, maybe ten minutes if he really pushed it. Just had to watch out for patrols, but he could just explain that he was running out of gas and needed to get home fast.

“Dan, I need to talk to you,” he’d say instead, so that his long-time friend would know he was serious. “It’s important. Penny wants you to leave her alone.”

“I’m sorry if I made her uncomfortable,” Danny would shrug, his eyes all innocent. “I was just joking around. Maybe you shouldn’t be with her if she can’t take a joke.”

Adam shook his head, gritting his teeth. The snowmobile shuddered over a patch of rough ice as he zoomed onto the lake. He had to come up with something to say that Danny couldn’t turn around on him, something that his friend would respect.

What if he told him that if he kept harassing his girlfriend, they couldn’t be buddies anymore?

Did guys even do that sort of thing?

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Snowmobile Story continued: trying to stay in a 16 year old boy’s head

The last echoes of the skidoos racing eastward faded. Adam had turned off his ignition, so the quiet was absolute. Even the wind had died down, and it was too cold even for the ravens to squawk. He opened the engine compartment and fiddled with some plugs, checking over his shoulder as he listened for any signs of his friends coming back. Not that he really expected them to do that . . . well, maybe Danny would, if only to ride Adam’s butt about his old machine and his girlfriend.

The silence didn’t stop a bunch of thoughts from cycling through his head. In fact, it was hard to ignore them. He checked the oil, shoving the wire harder than necessary back into its slot, willing his brain to stop thinking.

He could already predict what that party was going to be like. It would be the same as always: loud music that would get louder as people got drunker, a bonfire in a home-made fire pit that some fool would try jumping over and end up wiping out next to on the ice that formed from the melting snow (next to the fire, if he was lucky — more likely to wipe out on the fire pit), Danny hitting on every girl until he got one who was drunk or stupid enough to think he was actually funny. And if Danny scored with a girl who actually had a boyfriend, there would be a fight.

Come to think of it, Danny would probably focus on a girl with a boyfriend just so that he could get into a fight.

Adam and Danny had never been in a real fight. They’d goofed around, just being idiots and re-enacting MMA bouts, tossing each other off of docks in the summer and into snowbanks in the winter. Hell, they’d thrown each other off of any surface they could climb onto: the roof of the bottom story addition of his house (winter), the railing of Danny’s back deck (winter), the flat top of AJ’s boat house (summer), the flat top of AJ’s grandparents’ garage (winter) . . .

Of course, they didn’t need a bit of high ground to throw each other down. Back in grade five, Danny’d taught Adam how to sweep a leg out from under his opponent, passing on whatever he’d learned in the karate classes that Adam couldn’t afford. And then Adam had shown Danny how to pile-drive, what it took to do a decent sleeper hold that could really knock somebody out, and the pressure points that Adam’s dad had showed him. Danny loved finding out about those, just little sensitive spots between thumbs and forefingers that could keep a kid on the ground for as long as you wanted, if enough you pressed hard enough.

Good times.

But they’d never yet taken a swing at each other. Hadn’t had a reason to.

And Adam honestly didn’t want to do that. Not that he’d ever tell anyone, out loud.

It wasn’t that he was scared. He could take Danny.

It was just . . .

Adam slammed the cover back down on his snowmobile.

Guys fought, didn’t they? They fought and then they got over it. Fighting cleared the air. Girls, they snuck around and snarked at each other and sent nasty texts until they were ripping at each other’s hair and rolling around school hallways. Girl fights lasted for weeks, or even months.

When Danny went after some other guy’s chick, the guy would call him out either at the party where the thing happened, or at school the next day. Adam privately thought it was stupid to do it at school, but there had to be an audience. His mom once said, after she’d heard about one of these fights, that it had to do with something called ‘saving face’. Whether Danny and whoever went at it right away depended on the other guy’s temper — or fear.

Adam sat on the snowmobile and stared at the remains of Danny’s cigarette in the snow. The grey ashes looked like dead snowflakes. Zombie snowflakes.

Sometimes, after Danny had a fight with a guy, and there was snow on the ground, there would be blood spattered on it. He only ever needed to fight a kid once and then the problem would be over. Nobody ever challenged him twice.

——————————-

Okay, faithful readers — yes or no? Is this sounding like a 16 year old’s thought processes? 

Once again, night is defeating me, and it’s a bad one because we’re losing an hour of sleep with the stupid time change. I wish I could write through until I can’t form words anymore. I wish I could pound this story out in a whirlwind of writing, because tonight, at this moment, I’m convinced I could get it done in a week. Sadly, that’s not reality. 

But guess what? Tomorrow I’m testing my limits in a downhill ski race! So I’d better get some sleep. 

But do tell me what you think of this part of the story, please? I’d love the feedback.

To the WIP: The Snowmobiling Story continues!

“We’re heading to Rouyn, gonna pick up some two-fours and head back to AJ’s for a party,” Danny said. He exhaled a long puff of grey-white smoke mixed with the condensation of his breath.

“Seriously?” Adam adjusted the velcro belt on the wrist of his glove, pulling it back and pressing it down again in an awkward rhythm. “I got plans with Penny tonight.”

“Yeah, your plans include bringing her to AJ’s.” Danny jerked his chin and then glanced at the other guys, grinning.

————–

Do you ever find, fellow writers, that composing a story is like carving a sculpture out of a block of wood? Each word is a sliver or a curl shaved away from the whole, adding to the shape a little at a time. I’d like to use the analogy of stitches sewn into a stretched cloth, or maybe woven over and under the strands in a loom; I try to visualize a brush moving over a palette, with a picture slowly growing under a collection of strokes and dots of colour on canvas. But writing feels more like carving to me. Chipping the words out of blank space, marking them on a flat page which, virtual or tangible, has no real dimension, yet in my head and under my fingers those phrases and conversations feel as corporeal as the solid medium in an artist’s studio. The story is solid and whole, but it’s hiding behind the surface of the solid. When I type, I’m just revealing its form. The frustrating part is when the tools are dull or the surface knotted and the words won’t come. 

And sometimes, in some stories, the block I’m chipping away at isn’t even wood at all — it’s marble, and each burst of composition is a scattering of chips in the air. Maybe that’s more in my poetry than in my prose. Poetry suits marble. 

At any rate, this novella (not sure if it’s YA, based on the language it wants to have) on snowmobiling wants to take shape. It’s waiting for its image to come out of the block of wood, a chip and a scrape and a curl at a time. 

Maybe I should sit down and make a more direct plan of attack. I’ve been trying to seat-of-the-pants it, but without regularly spending time on it (sickness, work, life, etc.), there’s no movement. Do sculptors ever find themselves stuck in the movement? Is it terribly pretentious of me to compare writing (my writing) to the work of a sculptor? 

—————-

“Honestly, I don’t think she’ll want to go,” Adam said. The noise of the velcro on his gloves was hard to hear against the growling of the engines. He abruptly stopped playing with the straps and took off his helmet to mess around with the padding, pretending to fix the way it sat on his head. “Kind of off parties right now, you know?”

Steve laughed, swaggering over to bush half-covered in snow with his gloves held under one arm so he could unzip his suit. “What, you afraid she’s gonna check out the competition, see somebody better, and ditch your ass? Bro, just bring her to the party. Don’t be a pussy.” The thin yellow stream steamed and crackled in the hollow it made under the bush. “Shit, I think I might have gotten piss on my boots again . . .”

Danny neatly tossed his cigarette butt in the snow at his feet. “Listen, bring her or don’t bring her, but you’re coming out. You need to relax, buddy. Way too tense. Am I right, AJ?”

AJ shrugged, his face still obscured by the mirrored visor of his helmet. He revved his engine, turning to the east, then took off suddenly, leaving an impressive spray of white powder in his wake.

“Whoa, nice boondockin'” Steve shouted, waving one arm. He zipped up and strode back to his machine,  looking at Danny as he straddled the seat. “Let’s go, we’re wasting daylight. If he wants to wimp out, let him.”

Adam felt a hot glow deep in his chest, watching Steve slam his visor down and zoom off without another word. Why can’t I just tell them I haven’t got enough gas?”

“So you coming or not?” Danny asked. He checked to make sure his pocket flap was down over his cigarettes and lighter. “We can carry more booze with four machines.”

“Yeah, I’ll be right behind you,” Adam said, slowly. “I thought I heard a knock in the engine. Need to check it out first.”

“Hey, want me to stay and give you a hand?”

At least the kid actually sounded concerned. Adam took his gloves off, using them to make a flipping motion at his friend. “No, I got this. Like I said, I’ll catch up. See you in Rouyn, okay?”

“Okay. And remember what I said — bring Penny tonight!”

There was that look again, damnit. Danny was gone before Adam could ask him what the raised eyebrow and crooked grin was all about.

————————–

Okay, I think that’s enough for tonight. Know what sucks the most about being a teacher and a mom and a partner and a writer all at the same time? More often than not, you have to stop once the story gets really rolling. And the story tends to only get rolling when it’s quiet enough to concentrate, which for me is late at night. Still, it’s got momentum. I have to stop or else getting up for Bridget’s skating lesson tomorrow is going to be murder, and it’s already been a hell of a week in a lot of ways. Plus there’s skiing tomorrow afternoon — not sure how much I’m going to be up for that. I might bring my computer and/or marking to the lodge, let the kids have the fun while I nurse my sore nose and dwindling congestion, listening for more sledding slang and plot ideas . . .

Snowmobiling story, exposition continued. Still have to get the students’ opinions…

Case in point: Danny never stopped flirting with Penny, even when he knew it pissed Adam off. Or maybe he did it even more when Adam got mad. His gut twisted thinking about it, and his hands tightened on the handlebars of his Skidoo. Penny didn’t say that she minded it, but every now and then he’d seen a shady look on her face when she moved away from Danny’s hand on her shoulder, pushing him back when he was begging for a hug, or when she caught him staring at her as he sipped from his drink. Adam would shove him or give him a semi-playful smack on the shoulder and tell him to stay away from her, but the guy just laughed it off.

“I’m just kidding! Relax, man!”

Sometimes Adam wondered why they were friends. Or, rather, still friends. They’d known each other since they were two, been to each other’s birthdays every year since then, learned how to fish and shoot together, and Danny had helped Adam to build his snowmobile practically from scratch.

Adam could see his buddy up ahead, veering his 2016-model Summit X T3 880 up the drifted slopes and taking jumps that left wings of powder hanging in the air. What Danny wanted, he got, and therefore a lot of kids wanted to be in his circle.

It just sucked that being in this particular group meant you had to show you had balls. Turning around halfway through a run did not show anything but being a wuss. Adam sighed, anticipating the bad-mouthing he was about to get. But there was no help for it; the needle had already moved on the gas gauge, giving him about ten more minutes before he’d have to turn around.

The good news was Danny had already started slowing down, signalling a stop. If he was really lucky, he wouldn’t be getting back on fumes.

————-

Okay, readers, I’m stepping out of the story here. I honestly don’t know where it’s going right now. Not used to writing in this genre or style and I’m worried about sounding contrived. There are a few directions it seems to want to explore: the harassment of Penny by Danny, the peer pressure, Adam having to go back to town early. I can see the other boys wanting to make it all the way to Rouyn to buy beer before going to a party, and of course, giving Adam a hard time about leaving. I’m not sure how the dialogue should go, though. I’m thinking of maybe printing off what I’ve got so far and then asking the students I’m targeting to come up with the dialogue for me. Or deciding what should happen next. 

I’m fairly certain, though, that the inciting incident will be Adam taking a shortcut to save gas and going through the ice on a shallow lake, ending up alone in the dark and soaking wet. He’s got to get to a warm place before he freezes to death, plus based on Danny’s behaviour (and maybe some off-colour remarks) toward Penny, he’s going to feel a need to get to her to protect her. 

I also see Danny as being a smoker. But if I write the character like that, am I encouraging smoking? Or seeing the antagonist realistically? 

Last year, I made a list of slang that I heard being used regularly in school, but I know some of it’s changed by now. Smoking is often referred to as “bangin’ darts”, unattractive girls are “ratchet”, and something bad or frustrating is “burnt”. I’m caught up in a cycle of self-doubt on whether I should use these in the dialogue or not. Oh, what the hell . . . The worst that can happen is they tell me it sounds dumb and then I make them rewrite it! Or give me suggestions and I’ll do it.

————————-

Adam parked his machine in beside the other three and raised his helmet so he could speak clearly. ” ‘Sup, boys?”

“Smoke break,” Danny told him, grinning. “Want a dart?”

“Naw, you know I’m quitting.” Adam waved him off and looked away.

“Yeah, you keep saying that,” Steve said. “But I keep seeing you in the smokers’ pit at school.”

“That’s ’cause that’s where all you losers hang out, dumbass.” Adam propped one knee on his seat. “Listen, what’s the plan here?”

“We’re heading to Rouyn, gonna pick up some two-fours and head back to AJ’s for a party,” Danny said. He exhaled a long puff of grey-white smoke mixed with the condensation of his breath.

Throwing caution to the wind . . .

Okay — I am diving into the snowmobiling story for my students. I’ll try to do a bit on it every day, keep it to a novella, and see how they respond. Not enough time to do more exposition tonight, but at least it’s a start! 

———————-

Adam glanced down at the gas needle and wished he’d had enough money to fill the tank all the way before hitting the trails. He had a good half of a tank in his snowmachine, but his buddies weren’t following the plan they’d all agreed on, turning left at the fork behind Northern College instead of looping around the lake in one quick trip. Danny was in the lead, and Adam knew he had a habit of making changes on the fly. They might be going halfway to Rouyn for all he knew.

Danny kind of pissed him off when he did stuff like that, but it was exciting, too.

If he’d only filled up the tank all the way . . . Adam cursed under his breath, adjusting the speed of his vehicle while leaning into a curve on the track. He had stuff to do that afternoon, stuff that required money. His next paycheque wouldn’t come for another week, so he was trying to be good and make the cash last. Danny, Steve, and AJ didn’t have to worry about working; their dads all had good jobs and gave them money pretty much whenever they wanted. They didn’t have to think about budgeting. Maybe that explained why they could just change their minds at the last second and do whatever suited them.

He looked at the needle again and decided that as soon as they stopped for a break, or if he went down to a quarter of a tank, he’d turn back. No sense in being stupid.

His mind made up, Adam focused on keeping pace with his friends. It was a perfect day for snowmobiling, so no wonder they wanted to do more than a loop and back to town again. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, just an expanse of deep blue overhead that reached from one side of the snow-covered forest to the other. It was damned cold out, but thanks to his mom landing some good deals during Boxing Day sales, Adam’s new skidoo suit and gloves kept him from feeling the worst of the chill. -35 C was too cold for downhill skiing, which is what his girlfriend Penny would have liked to have done that afternoon, but it was perfect for hitting the trails: the Arctic temperatures made the snow sparkle in the sunlight, especially those crisp bits that flew away from the speeding vehicles’ tracks and blades. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Too bad Penny didn’t like hopping on the back of his machine and going with him. It was the one thing — well, maybe not the one thing, there were other things they didn’t have in common — but the main thing that they had different between them. He wished she was with him now, riding behind him, but he understood that he couldn’t force her to like it. Maybe, eventually, she’d want to try it out and he could take her for a ride.

Just not with Danny around. That guy was his friend, but also an idiot.

Fall into Romance chat at Coffee Time Romance’s Latte Lounge — Join Me!

I’m giving away a set of hand rolled candles, and a signed print copy of Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy. Plus, I’ve posted a naughty 18+ excerpt for your enjoyment. But I’m not the only author online today — you can also meet writers Tara Fox Hall, TD Jones, Lynette Sofras, Paula Martin, John Steiner, Mysti Parker, Jenny Twist, and Bev Haynes.

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/forumdisplay.php?f=2081

Enjoy!

This evening: I’m on WebbWeaver Books!

You’re invited to listen to the podcast when it airs at 5:30!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/webbweaverbooks/2013/09/27/webbweaver-books-proudly-presents-author-tori-l-ridgewood

My first ever live interview — squeee! Palms are sweating…

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