The Friday Muse

The Friday Muse – NaNoWriMo Excerpt #3

Well, I crossed 33,000 words last night in my NaNoWriMo novel. I’m making pretty good progress, but I’m also skirting fate. I have my hand in a half dozen projects, almost all of which have to do with my publishing company, and NaNoWriMo is having to whine to gain my attention in the thick of it all.

That being said, I’ve never not won a NaNo in the past ten years that I’ve participated in it, so this year will be no different.

Today’s excerpt is from a story I have tentatively titled, “Carriers”. It’s actually the back story to Janet Doyle, the news reporter in my Expired Reality series. It’s about a sinister organization that actually sets out to destroy people’s dreams and passions while another organization tries to protect the dreamers and the goals and aspirations they go for.

This excerpt is a bit long – and it’s got a bit of school drama in it – but it’s also a NaNo excerpt, so no editing has been done on it and it’s giving me a good feel for Janet’s character and the characters around her.

Janet Doyle straightened her black skirt and smoothed out some of the wrinkles in her white blouse before she stepped out of her mother’s station wagon. The air outside was cold, and she hoped that the long black socks she had pulled over her knees would help keep her warm while at the same time helping her to look more sophisticated than her other colleagues.

“Goodbye, honey,” her mother chimed.

Janet stopped halfway out the door of the car and turned to her mother with a smile. “Love you, mom. I’ll see you after school.”

“Five, right?” her mother asked.

Janet nodded. “I just have to finish up this month’s paper and I’ll be done with my homework in time for the weekend.”

Her mother waved and Janet shut the door. The old station wagon shrieked as it sped away from the school. Normally, she would have been embarrassed to be seen coming out of a vehicle like that, but Janet was no ordinary girl. She simply didn’t care what anyone thought of her.

She adjusted the black fog hat that kept her head of blonde hair warm and adjusted the four large-sized books in her arms and headed up the stairs toward the school.

Students loitered in front of the building, most of them gossiping about what they’re weekend plans would entail: parties, nothing, and a lot of nothing. Janet’s plans involved a lot of reading. She wanted to brush up on her grammar before starting work on the next month’s school newspaper.
She approached the large doors of the school and went in. The smell of perfume hit her in the face, causing her to wince. A group of girls off to her left seemed to be the most obvious culprits. Each of the four female fatales were dressed in a different shade of short, slutty skirt and low cut top. If she had it in her to care, Janet would report their disgusting clothing to the school principal. Seeing how he gazed a little too longingly at them when he passed by them every day, Janet didn’t think her actions would go very far. Which is why she didn’t bother.

She walked past the herd of grazing buffalo – and their stench of Brittany Spears perfume – and made her way to class.

Math class was her least favorite subject. There was something about numbers that made Janet sick to her stomach. Maybe it was all the decimal points, but it could very well also have something to do with the obtuse, congruent, and asymmetrical angles.

Johnny made the class a bit bearable, but not by much. As cute as he was, he was the black sheep of the class because he never spoke. Never. Not a single word had left his mouth since the beginning of the year, and rumors confirmed that he had never been heard speaking outside of the school either. Something about his mother dying last year – or something along those lines.

Janet didn’t know anything about his mother dying, but she did notice a serene sadness in Johnny’s eyes whenever he looked up to pay her any attention. He aced all of his math tests, and also solved every equation Ms. Hebert put up on the board for him to solve. Albeit quietly. And with a certain black cloud lingering over him everywhere he went. Brooding. Maybe foreboding? Janet didn’t know, but she did care. Somewhat. Maybe she could get him to talk someday. Maybe not.

Ms. Hebert was dressed in her same old brown dress with the ugly purple irises printed all over it. She wore it every Friday, and wore a different ugly dress each day of the week and then repeated the cycle the next week. Friday’s dress was always the worst because it looked like she tore the drapes off an old lady’s window and wrapped them around her somewhat plump-in-strange-places body. Janet wanted to gag anytime she saw the dress, but she put on a fake smile so as not to get on Ms. Hebert’s bad side.

“Class,” Ms. Hebert started as she made her way to the front of the classroom, “today we are going to have a pop quiz.”

The entire class groaned in unison.

Rodney, the leather jacket wearing fiend in the corner of the room, groaned particularly louder than the rest of his classroom. “What the hell, Hebe? It’s Friday. Friday’s are no-test days.”

Ms. Hebert grimaced. “Watch your language, Mr. Clutch, or you’ll be spending your Friday in detention and take an F for the assignment.”
He crossed his arms and pouted. “Now,” Ms. Hebert continued, “this test will count as half of your semester’s grade. Before you all freak out about that, understand that this test is really quite simple – if you’ve been paying attention in my class.” She grabbed a stack of blank sheets of paper off her desk and began handing them out, one per student.

Janet took hers and wondered what awesome story she could write about this class using this one sheet of paper.

When she was finished handing out the paper, Ms. Hebert returned to the front of the class and, slapping her palms together, pointed to nowhere in particular. “Now, I want each of you to write out the numerical value for Pi without using your phones, computers, tablets, or any other ‘cheating’ device to do it. The person who reaches the furthest number from the decimal point will also receive a very special treat on top of their grade.”

Janet rested her forehead against her desk and moaned a bit before succumbing to the agonizing thought of dropping an entire letter grade because of one stupid test about a number nobody actually needed to know anything about and would never need to know anything about.

“Damnit, Ms. Hebe!” Rodney shouted.

Ms. Hebert pointed to him, daggers in her eyes. “Go. Detention. Now.”
He stumbled out of his desk and stormed out of the room. The scent of leather filled her nostrils as he passed Janet. She loved the scent of leather, especially on boys.

After he left the classroom, slamming the door shut as loudly as he could behind him, Ms. Hebert put on a fake smile and told the class to continue with their pop quiz.

Janet stared at the blank sheet of paper and wondered what numbers lay beyond 3.14. She didn’t even want to write out 3.14 because she knew she was going to fail the test anyway. So instead of writing out 3.14, she started writing a story about Rodney and the horrible math class that stole his freedom. It wasn’t really fiction, more like creative reporting. It would probably make for a good story for the school newspaper, but more-than-likely, Ms. Hebert was going to see it and dispose of it or make Janet read it aloud to the class to make an example out of her.

But Janet didn’t care. She had a story in her and she had to get it out. When events occurred – like Rodney’s storming outburst – stories were birthed inside of her. It made sense since her mother had at one point been the country’s greatest and most respected global journalist. She had written for major newspaper, reported on a dozen or so different news stations, and she had written a book, The World in Ten Lifetimes, which told the story of some of her worldwide journeys and the incredible things she saw along the way.

It ran in her blood. Janet knew that. Janet’s mother knew that. Her dad – if he had been alive to see it – would have known that. He died when she was only ten. He left for work and never came back when a psychopath stormed into his legal offices and shot up the place, including her dad. No rhyme. No reason. The killer took his own life in the end. Tragic.

But Janet was determined to not let that stop her. She felt an overwhelming passion to make him proud, as if he was always right there with her and her mother, watching over them like he did before he passed.

“Ms. Doyle?” Ms. Hebert said.

Janet looked up from her story and caught the look that told her she was about to be sent to detention with Rodney.

“What numbers do you have so far?”

Janet inconspicuously slid her hands over the writing on her paper and grinned. The rest of the class turned and stared at her.

“Three point one four.”

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