Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I’m Marsha Ingrao from Always Write, a blog dedicated to promoting hobby bloggers.
Hugh Robert’s story, “The People Under the Stairs,” published on Always Write just before Halloween was a huge success.
I want to open up Story Chat to any writer who would like to submit a 750-1,000 word previously unpublished story. It might be a chapter of an unpublished book, like my sample below.
After publication on Always Write, reblog the story on your own site, and/or invite your friends to reblog to increase the dialogue. Anne Goodwin suggested using the story afterward as a newsletter enticement. Great idea Anne!
A few weeks after publication, I will summarize the commentary, interview you, the author, and publish a second post about the story.
Jenny’s Bumpy Start
Sandy Lassiter looked over at Jenny and mouthed the words, “Behind you,” then looked down at her paper as if her eyes were filled with iron filings, and her desk was a magnet.
Jenny looked around the room. The teacher had stepped out of the room. Jenny Hatfield did not need to look around to know that Sandy meant Jeremy Crawford. He had been poking her in the back with his pencil all morning. All of the kids quickly looked away as she tried to make eye contact.
Only one ally in this room, and Sandy was obviously not popular with the other kids. As usual, being the new kid at school was already off a bumpy start.
Jeremy stood and loomed over her staring down at her paper. “You think you are so smart, don’t you, Nerd?” He grabbed her paper, and stuck it in his math book.
“You’d better hope I’m smart, if you’re going to copy all my answers.” Jenny looked up but didn’t smile.
“What’s wrong with your mouth? Did your dad punch you in the face?” Jeremy whispered loudly enough that other students around her looked up, then buried their noses right back into their books. He started laughing loudly enough that the teacher looked back in the room.
“Jeremy, what are you doing out of your seat?” Mrs. Miller called from the door. “Sit down, and don’t let me see you get up until I tell you to.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” The thud when he sat down shook the floor.
“You’re ugly, new girl,” he whispered again leaning forward in his seat.
“That’s your opinion. You are a bully, Jeremy Crawford. Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to make friends?” she hissed without turning around.
Jenny knew she had to be strong. She couldn’t ignore him, threaten him, insult him back, or even tell the teacher. Many others before Jeremy had asked her that question about her face before. Sometimes she answered, and sometimes she didn’t.
“Like I would want to be friends with you, Freak. Here’s two cents. Go buy yourself a new smile. You need one.”
Jeremy threw two pennies on her desk and laughed as they slid to the floor. Jenny leaned over to pull out her binder from under her desk, ignoring Jeremy as best she could. Her grandmother always told her to be friendly if she wanted to have friends, but she didn’t want this misfit as a friend.
Jeremy’s thick hair rested on his shoulders and looked and smelled like he had not washed it all week. Like a mangy stray dog, his smile, chocked full of crooked yellow teeth, looked more menacing than friendly, and Jenny didn’t want to get close enough to smell his breath. She certainly did not feel like giving him a smile, even a crooked one.
She put the two pennies in her pants pocket and wished for the millionth time that she was back with her friends in Portland rather than god-forsaken Latham School in the middle of nowhere. She quietly placed her binder on her desk, opened it, took out a new piece of paper, and began redoing her homework. Jeremy poked her again.
“I’m not afraid of you,.” Jenny mouthed. She already had three problems finished. Glancing behind her as she spoke, she could see that Jeremy hadn’t even copied one of her problems yet.
Other kids stole glances at Jenny, but quickly looked away, whispering among themselves.
“Oooh, I’m scared,” Jeremy’s voice must have carried beyond the classroom.
Mrs. Miller returned to the room and stood between Jenny and Jeremy. Jeremy pretended to work on his math homework. Mrs. Miller was so close Jenny could smell soap on her hands.
“You’d better be scared of me, young man, and your homework better be started. You’ve only got three weeks before Christmas break to bring up that F in math,” Mrs. Miller said as she hammered a ruler on his desk near his fingers. “Now get to work.”
Mrs. Miller clicked to the front of the room, her just-brightened red lips in a straight line. Jenny wasn’t sure which one of them was the bigger bully as she heard the rivets on Jeremy’s jeans scrape the wooden seat of his desk as he slumped down in his seat. Miss Magnolia at Grandview would never have told the entire class someone’s bad grade no matter how awful they were.
Jenny felt a slight breeze as she heard Jereny’s book slap the formica top of the 1940s metal desk as he opened his book. Papers slid onto the floor and skittered towards her. Jeremy cursed. Mrs. Miller stood up as though she was going to come back over then turned and wrote Jeremy’s name on the board.
Jenny picked up the papers, kept hers and gave the rest back to Jeremy. As he grabbed them and growled, she thought of an abused dog. Jenny wondered if Jeremy’s parents were as mean to him as Mrs. Miller was.
What are your thoughts?
To submit your story email me at email@example.com or fill out the form below.
If you host or participate in blog challenges, and want to write a guest post or have an interview about the experience for my Blog Challenge Series, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.