Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.
H Trope: meet someone “better than me”
Austin Ventura looked at his classic 2001 Fire Engine Red Jeep Cherokee and grimaced. Most likely if he drove out to the school, he’d speed; get a ticket; Mom or Dad would shout at him – and his car would be impounded. He shrugged and started forward.
So focused on himself, he didn’t even remember his best friend since kindergarten – Carlos Rodriguez Cruz. Where was he? Austin snorted – probable out joy-riding. Question there was, with WHO? Carlos didn’t have many friends. He’d told Austin late one sleepover night that he was afraid. Afraid of the Central American gangs that slimed through certain neighborhoods of Minneapolis – that might forcibly recruit him. He was afraid someone would hurt his sister or find out that while his mother was a registered alien, Dad was illegal. He was afraid of all kinds of things. “How’d we ever get to be friends?” Austin muttered and headed for the street. He’d get to the school not long after Paulina would because he’d use his feet – not the car Dad loathed and threatened to have towed away every other weekend.
By the time he reached the school it was a quarter to four and the sky to the east had started to brighten with false dawn. It was the deepest part of the night, quiet in almost every way; the streets empty. When he started jogging, his cell bouncing in his sweat pants pocket, the sound of his slapping Converses bounced off the uniform clapboard façades of the split-entry or brick-faced Cape Cods with multiple dormers.
A dome of light appeared over the roofs of a dozen suburban houses and when he finally turned the first left corner a mile later, he emerged into the parking lot’s brilliant illumination.
Squinting, he jogged past a couple of cars, recognizing both. “Mr. Stanton and Ms. Laxale? Whew! I knew they liked each other, but this…”
He hurdled a low chain fence whose intent to funnel students to cross at the cross walk – it failed miserably. He jogged up to the three-story school, red-tinged concrete in an ultramodern style intended to make institutional buildings look like art.
From a dark doorway, a voice suddenly said, “Took you long enough. No idea why Carlos is always on about your sprint times.”
A second voice added, “Carlos seems to think he’s in good shape, too.” Austin’s heart seemed to stop in his chest as a very shapely young lady stepped out from the shadows. Austin didn’t think he could breathe. He also felt like a seventh grader who’d just discovered sex. Carlos’ older sister – older by fourteen minutes – was not only the most amazing-looking senior at James Carter High School, but also held the highest GPA and had one of the toughest class loads of anyone he knew. And she held the state record in cross country – boys or girls.
Austin knew lots of things about himself – he’d been battling belittling since he was old enough to remember. He’d also been seeing a psych for almost as long. No matter how attractive, smart and successful people told him he was, he rarely saw all his assets and only his flaws. His perceptions about his place in the world and the things he told himself affected how he valued himself. He usually felt OK.
As she stepped further into the light, he felt himself shrink in the presence of Selita Ebanks twin despite the fact that Carmita Rodriguez Cruz was also deeply religious and easily won any argument against atheist, agnostic, Protestant or amorous teenager. As well as most teachers. Her toughest life decision at the moment was “Stanford, Harvard, or Princeton.” Fists on her hips, she said, “My baby sister tells me you can help us find Carlos.” Her eyes narrowed, “She’d better be right.”
Austin remembered then that she was also taking kickboxing lessons – and that his best friend was missing…
Names: ♂ American, ♂ Mexican, the rest are various…Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OCWXw6InF70/TKigMBk87NI/AAAAAAAAAy4/tL7MhIfL9CM/s1600/2212_1025142570.jpg