It's been a while since I've done a photo challenge. I've been busy with life's fun stuff, so it's hard to get back into the swing of writing, of creating. For those who haven't read one of my photo stories before, what I do is take a photo from my super talented friend Cliff and give myself a time limit and write a story. I'm trying to spur on creativity and get my mind focused on writing. A friend of mine issued another challenge for me this week. She wanted me to try and write a middle grade piece. (groan) I write adult so this was definately not my thing, but who could resist a double dog dare--not this girl. Just remember this is an exercise and what comes out is what you get. It isn't polished nor is it plotted. It is rough and unedited. Thanks for looking. Where do you find your inspiration??
Wanna check out some more great photos? Sure you do. click here
Wanna check out some more great photos? Sure you do. click here
Hobie Tucker didn’t believe in happy endings. He’d read about them, even dreamed of his own happily ever after with Macy Sullivan, but he was far too practical to trust in wishes. Besides, who wanted a girl who smelled like cherries anyway?
Hobie slipped his sweater vest over his head and glanced in the mirror. It was an important day—a day that just might change everything. That is, if he doesn’t choke on his words or feel the sudden urge to run to the bathroom. His pesky bladder problem was the last thing he needed. Especially in front of Brock Teegarden, the meanest kid in the entire sixth grade.
A smile curled Hobie’s lips as he stared at his reflection. Today was it. Pride surged through him. No one would laugh at him again. He’d be the coolest of the cool. The big gulp on campus. He was sure to get an A for effort, creativity, and originality.
“Hobie,” his sister yelled, “you’re going to be late.”
He slipped his project into his backpack and bounded down the stairs to breakfast. His sister, Emily, slapped a couple pancakes onto a plate and slid them over to him.
“I’m going to be late tonight,” she said. “Do you think you can start dinner?”
Hobie shoveled an oversized bite into his mouth and nodded. “Ramen, it is.”
Emily sipped her coffee and forced a smile. She had something on her mind. Hobie had seen that look a million times before. He’d learned to ignore it; pretend her pensiveness meant anything but the truth.
“I’m going to see Dad today.”
Hobie demolished the last of his breakfast and carried his plate to the sink. He didn’t want to go there. Not today.
“Did you hear me, Hobes?”
“Yeah, I heard you. Tell the jailbird hola from me.”
“You could come with me, you know.”
“Not a chance.” Hobie pushed by his sister toward the door.
“You need to make peace with it.”
Hobie gripped the knob and paused. “I don’t need to do anything. He made the choice. Not me. He can wrinkle up and die in there for all I care.” And with that, he slammed the door behind him.
He vowed not to think about his father on the ride to school, but for some reason Mr. Summitt, the bus driver, hit every pothole on Montgomery Rd. With each bounce, a new thought jumped into his brain and tore away from his excitement of the day.
Hobie bit his cheek and reeled from the sound of Brock’s voice.
“It’s Hobie, lamebrain.”
“That’s just as bad, lo-ser.” Brock collapsed into the seat behind Hobie and thumped him on the back of his head with his finger.
Hobie whipped around. “Knock it off, Brock.”
“Or what”—Brock forced a pout—“will you go postal on me. Like your dad. Huh, loser?”
Hobie turned back around and stared out the window. He hated to admit it but Brock Teegarden pressed every button Hobie had. Fear, shame, anger. He hated Brock, but more than anything he hated himself for letting the creep get away with it.
“Well, lookey lookey. I found a cookie.” Brock reached into Hobie’s bag and pulled out a tall mason jar.
Hobie dove, but Brock held the jar out of reach. It wasn’t hard to do. Brock was the size of an eighth grader, while Hobie remained the shortest boy in class.
“Give it back to me, cretin.”
Brock held the jar up and stared inside. “What the hell is it?”
Hobie lunged forward, stretching his arms. “Araneus gemmoides.”
“It looks like a spider to me. A big scary looking spider.”
A ginger-haired girl squealed as she caught sight of the large cat-face spider. A menacing laced smile filled Brock’s face and he began taunting the girls around him with the jar. The louder they screamed the more aggressive Brock became until one of the girls pushed the jar out of his hands, slamming the clear glass container to the floor. The girls’ piercing screams sent the bus of middle schoolers into a panic as the spider scurried down the aisle.
Hobie tried to move, tried to rescue his project—his friend—but before he knew what happened. Brock Teegarden slammed his size ten Nikes over the spider, crushing him.
Groans replaced screams, followed by the sound of slapping hands and cheers. Heat lit though Hobie, his breathing increased, he balled his fist and took a swing at Brock who countered the move and splayed Hobie onto the floor—right next to the smooshed corpse of his pet spider.
“Shouldn’t you be riding the short bus, Hobart?”
“Leave him alone, Brock,” Macy Sullivan said. “You’re such a jerk.”
Brock straightened up. All the boys in school stood taller when Macy walked by, and when her honey voice filled the air it was hard to breathe. Even as Hobie lay flattened on the floor, he didn't move.
“Ah, come on Macy. I’m just having some fun with Hobie, here. Right man?”
Hobie stood up and cinched his backpack in one hand and marched to the front just as the bus came to a stop in front of the school.
“Looks like those hearing aids don’t work so good.” Brock laughed.
Hobie hurried off the bus and into the woods behind the school. No point in going to class anymore. His project was dead anyway. He stepped through the overgrowth and settled behind a fallen log. Tears spilled down his cheeks while his anger boiled over. He gripped the long grass around him and screamed. He hated who he was, hated that he was different. He slipped his fingers into his ears and pulled out one hearing aid, then the other. The sounds around him muffled; he collapsed onto the forest floor and sobbed.
“If I were you, boy, I wouldn’t waste my time blubbering.”
Hobie lifted his head and looked around. He heard a distinct voice. Clear and specific. He settled onto his haunches and searched the ground for his hearing aids.
“Such foolish ways of a foolish race.”
Hobie shot to his feet and spun around. “Who said that?”
“Can you hear me, boy?”
Contemplation gripped Hobie's brow. He couldn’t hear squat without his hearing aids, even with them he struggled with the clarity of sounds. “I can . . . I can hear you. But I can’t see you.”
“In the web. Look in the web.”
Hobie looked down at a brilliant web at the base of fallen log. He dropped to his knees and gazed at the most glorious spider he’d ever seen. The two regarded one another.
“You can talk?” Hobie asked, swallowing back the shock of the situation.
The spider dropped down onto Hobie’s knee from a glistening strand of silk. It scurried onto his hand and Hobie lifted him to eye level. “You are a gangly boy,” the spider said.
Hobie smiled and for the first time, he believed he at last found his place in the world. Unless of course he woke up and it was all a dream. Either way, he wasn't alone--not anymore.