I found the original first page from three, or more, years ago when this story came bubbling up from my story root system. And after hundreds of rewrites I much prefer this original vision.
The opening pages were critiqued on open forums and much the "voice" was lost. I want it back! I may rewrite it again with this page in mind. Luckily, for the most part only the first chapter was over-worked. (Remember my mention in an earlier post about over-editing. Beware, it happens!)
But I sure learned a lot.
After school on Friday
Going to Stephanie’s apartment building helps me appreciate my home. But the smells always make me wish for more. In the evening it often smells like someone just baked a sweet potato casserole and stewed it for hours with extra butter and caramel sauce.
“Just a few things?” I ask Stephanie.
“Yeah, and Chris might be home,” she says, still teasing me about her brother who is preparing to leave for college.
We approach Stephanie’s building, which sits near the back lots of a shopping strip. The winds are picking up and tempest swirls seem to be following us. No one’s outside this late in the afternoon. But I do make out Mr. Miller feeding seeds to the pigeons. He’s an old air force veteran who talks a lot about the misconceptions of government. He’s really funny and goes off about “covert operations” no one knows about.
We pass to the left of the parking lot and he doesn’t see us. Besides I wouldn’t want him to scatter the birds. The sun is getting higher and warmer in the west. I drift toward it, and the heat presses against my cheeks. Stephanie is rambling on about something.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I ask her.
“Chris is going to ask me about that CD.”
“I’ll get it to you before he leaves.”
“I think you’re holding on to it on purpose,” she delivers in a singsong voice.
“Are your parents home?” I change the subject. I know I’ll have no protection, both her parents work day and night.
We get to the door of her building and Stephanie buzzes 2B, again and again.
“Hey, give me a minute, Phenny, where are your keys?” Chris’s voice trails from the speaker.
Stephanie pushes through the heavy metal door as the buzz sounds. And as we enter we hear a voice, “Stephanie is that your friend?” the voice whispers out of sight. Then there’s a thump . . . thump . . . thump.
I didn’t know anyone moved into the apartment by the front door. A tall lanky woman appears with dark inset eyes and hair pulled up on her head like a cameo broach. She’s wearing a floor length dress and has a tall walking stick that outstretches her hand above her waist.
“Hello Stephanie and Abegale, Stephanie has told me so much about you.” She has a warm mothering smile. “I’m Mrs. Egremony. How’s your cough, Stephanie?
Stephanie clears her throat. “Um, I guess it’s okay, I haven’t thought about it. I guess I’m feeling better.”
“Well, let me know if you’re still coughing at night. I spoke with your mom and she’ll be listening,” Mrs. Egremony finishes.
“All right.” Stephanie seems impatient to leave. “Thank you, Mrs. Egremony.” Stephanie’s walking backward up the steps.
Mrs. Egremony turns to her apartment but calls after us. “Drink fresh lemon juice, lemonade if you like, but lots of fresh lemon.”