Please bear with me as I’m not quite sure I know where I’m going with this yet.
I’ve been trying to weave a series of stories, recollections, and incidents from childhood into a coherant larger piece of fiction.
The protagonist who is also the narrator is a grown man recounting events mostly from his childhood, and exploring how those events shaped his life and turned him into the man he is today.
I’m still looking for a way to connect all of the pieces with a common theme that tells a central story with believable characters, and has tension and conflict as well as some sort of resolution.
Eventually I may just find that it works best as a collection of short stories, à la Alice Munro, and just leave it at that. In the meantime I’ve decided to put it out there in small chunks to get some much needed feedback.
Comments, ideas, and suggestions are more than welcome, so please let me know what you think:
Stephania (Part #1)
Ever since we were little Stephania had always been able to make me blush. One look from those sparkling green eyes and I’d turn into a human tomato.
I’ll always remember the first time she did that to me. I was seven. She was eight.
“You want to kiss me, don’t you?”
It was more of a matter of fact statement than a question really.
We guys? We’re not all that complicated. And girls, women, they know.
Years later over coffee we talked about that moment. She proudly let me in on a little secret; that a woman can often tell when a guy likes her even before HE knows that he does.
The school year had just started and we had only known each a few weeks. That summer her family had moved into the apartment block next to ours. When fall came we walked the few blocks to and from school together. It wasn’t planned or anything. We just happened to be going the same way at the same time twice a day, so we walked together.
I’m certain that she was the one who spoke to me first; I usually didn’t hang around with the girls and she was a grade ahead of me anyway. It was probably something about our kid brothers being the same age, but whatever it was it got the ball rolling.
She was different. Unlike the boys I hung around with, she rarely boasted or tried to impress. She asked a lot of questions and had a lot of opinions, but for someone so smart and self-confident she was still real easy to talk to.
As we got to know each other we’d talk about school, friends or family, and the things we liked to do. She liked to paint and draw. I liked to play baseball and hockey, and ride my bike.
I was fascinated by her from the first time I saw her. Up to then living in a predominantly white, working-class neighbourhood in east-end Montreal, Stephania’s family and their mixed Greek/Italian background was the most exotic inter-cultural experience I’d been exposed to.
Well there was that Haitian family that lived below us but they didn’t speak a word of English. And their French? Well it was so heavily accented and full of words we’d never heard before, and they talked so darn fast. We could never understand them. They were nice enough people I guess, but rather than look dumb by constantly asking them to repeat themselves over and over, we just sort of avoided them and saved ourselves the embarrassment of those awkward conversations.
Before Stephania I don’t think I ever noticed a girl for being pretty, but she was by far the prettiest girl I had ever met. She had silky smooth light-tanned, olive skin. A Mediterranean complexion my mother used to call it. Dark no check that; jet-black hair, and she smiled and laughed a lot.
And when she smiled those eyes lit up and just drew me in.
Then one day out of the blue on our morning walk to school this older, smarter, pretty girl dropped the hammer down on me with one little sentence.
“You want to kiss me, don’t you?”
Her words froze that shy little boy in his tracks.
Do you know what? She was right. Obviously I was too young to recognize what those feelings were, and back then I’d be damned if I’d admit it anyway, but looking back now, yes I did want to kiss her.
I felt flushed as the blood rushed to my face. I just knew that my lobster-boy look was in full swing, which only made my embarrassment that much more complete.
Her self-satisfied smirk turned into a full-blown amused grin when she saw how her words affected me. Or perhaps she was just proud of the fact that she had guessed correctly.
Either way, I was mortified.
I looked away, averting those eyes and did what any self-respecting seven-year-old boy would do to extricate himself from an embarrassing moment with a girl he liked. I slapped her lunch box out of her hand and yelled, “Race you,” while tearing off towards the end of the block.