ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

The Beginning: What You Stand For

 

 

 

Here is the current beginning of What You Stand For.  I have edited and revised it considerably since the first draft, which I have posted below.  I’m calling this Opening Number 19.

 

Four kills. I’ve never done this well on patrol before.

I’m down flat behind a flower bed, but if I want another target I’ll have to come out of my cover. I raise my head, slowly. It’s dark enough now that I can hope the others don’t see me. The grass is getting up my nose and I stifle a sneeze. Any sound could give away my position.

Movement! Straight ahead, 30 yards, next to a tree. Is she catching lightning bugs? Sarah can be target number five.

I take a deep breath, and then another. It’s a risky move, but there’s no choice. I roll to my feet and sprint all out, but before I am in range I crash into something I couldn’t see in the semidarkness. Something that shouts, “What the hell?”

The resulting fall knocks the wind out of me, not to mention revealing my position. By the time I get up, my equipment is humming with hits while two perfectly groomed Zetas are watching me with matching frowns. “What are you people doing?”

It’s Valerie, the annoying redheaded one. Although “annoying” doesn’t narrow it down much, since they’re all annoying. “What difference does it make?” I snap. “It’s our space.” I look down pointedly at her Zeta feet in our Gamma yard.

“I think you ruined my Lilly Pulitzer,” the second girl says. Debbie Lake, who is also an art history major. She’s brushing imaginary grass from her dress.

“Well, cancel the Cotillion,” I tell her.

A cheer goes up from the side yard, so the game must be over. “Just stay clear of our house tonight. It’s our first pre-rush event,” Valerie says.

“You mean I’m not invited? Whatever shall I do with myself?”

“Didn’t we solve the problem of y’all crossing our yard?” It’s Sara, coming to find out what’s keeping me talking to these idiots. “Do we need to go to the Sorority Leadership Council again?”

“Trust me, we’ll stay far away from you. Aren’t you the girl went home with Miles Peterson last weekend? Who knows what you caught from that loser?”

“So what,” Sara says indifferently. “I didn’t see your name written on his…forehead.”

A shout comes from across the street. They’ve been drinking at the Phi house since early afternoon, even though it’s Thursday. I guess they’ve also been watching us play. “Ladies! Why don’t you all come over and have a drink and settle your differences?”

“See, Kit?” Sara says, beaming at me. “Campus full of boys and you’re —”

“I know,” I say. I really don’t want to have this conversation with her again.

“Finding boys around here is really not hard. Especially if you’re not terribly discerning,” Valerie says.

“Girl fight!” Comes another shout from across the street.

“Oh, my God. If they weren’t wearing shoes, they’d all float away,” I tell Sara, who laughs.

“Let’s go,” she says. “If I have to listen to Valerie anymore, I might fall asleep from boredom.” And we turn away from all of them toward the inviting light from inside the Gamma house.

 

This is the immediately previous beginning, Opening Number 18.

“Are you going to show us?” the voice comes from above us. “I have some nice shiny Mardi Gras beads!”

I’m all set for slinking past, but not Sara. “What is even wrong with you?” Sara calls back. “You think they’re worth seeing?” She’s out on the sidewalk in full view, hands on her hips.

I can’t believe she’s having a discussion with a guy who wants her to show her boobs.

“I know they’re worth seeing,” he yells back. “I can see a lot from here!”

She’s wearing a low-cut top today. “You think you can harass me because of what I’m wearing? Maybe you’re all perverts, did you ever think of that?”

From the sidewalk, I can see there are about six guys up on the roof. They’ve even got lawn chairs up there, and a cooler. About once a week someone falls off. The rumor is that the Delta Pi lawn is free of trees because they want to have a clear view of the women walking past their house.

“Sara. We’re late,” I say, grabbing her arm and trying to pull her with me. I’m standing behind a large shrub just past the house. “Why you’d waste time talking to a bunch of Delts anyway.”

“Come on, please?” another one is encouraging her.

“You do get that this isn’t a compliment, right? My body isn’t public property.”

“Who said anything about public? It’s just us,” the first one persuades her.

“You can’t win this,” I urge. “What, you think they’re just going to quit doing this and come down off the roof?” I step out onto the sidewalk so I can pull at her arm again.

“It’s fun to fight back,” Sara says. “Anyway, at least they weren’t mooing or something like that. Or mooning us.”

She has a point there. “Hey, girl with the legs! Want some beads?”

I knew the denim skirt was a mistake.

“He means you,” she says. “Go on, it’s fun. And you can’t let them act like that.”

“I’m not letting them do anything. And this is a lot of things, but fun isn’t one of them.” Sometimes I wonder how we have enough in common to be best friends. “It’s best to just ignore them.”

Running across the campus from the Gamma house to the library wasn’t part of my plan today, but our sorority president Sophia was insistent that she needed to talk to both of us. I’ve left JP at the lunch table with our sisters while I retrieved Sara, who wasn’t answering her phone. I found her sitting on the library steps, holding a cup of something I’m pretty sure was alcoholic. “I don’t know why you want to come out here and have a discussion with those losers,” I say. “They’re out on that roof all the time harassing passersby.”

At the dining hall, I grab a sandwich, not bothering with a tray.

“Did Sophia say what this meeting was about? Or why we have to have it now? We have a chapter meeting tonight,” Sara says, piling her plate with salad.

“Not really. She did say she was willing to discuss our room situation.”

“I don’t think you’re legally allowed to call a space that small a room,” Sara says. “It’s more like a large trunk.”

 

 

I’ve been through approximately 17 opening scenes for this project!  Including an ill-thought-out set of correspondence between the main character, Kit Matthews, and her best friend, Sara Carver.  Here’s the current one:

 

“Are you going to show us?” the voice comes from above us. “I have some nice shiny Mardi Gras beads!”

I’m all set for slinking past, but not Sara. “What is even wrong with you?” Sara calls back. “You think they’re not worth seeing?”

I can’t believe she’s having a discussion with a guy who wants her to show her boobs.

“I know they’re worth seeing,” he yells back. “Come on, my boys want to see them too!”

“Sara. We’re late,” I say, grabbing her arm and trying to pull her with me. “Why you’d waste time talking to a bunch of Delts anyway.”

“And we’re meeting JP there. All right, Kit, we’ll go.”

Running across the campus from the Gamma house to the library wasn’t part of my plan today. I’ve left JP at the table with our sorority sisters while I retrieved Sara, who wasn’t answering her phone. Sophia was insistent that she had to come to lunch today. “I don’t know why you want to come out here and have a discussion with those losers,” I say. “They’re out on that roof all the time harassing passersby.”

“It’s fun to fight back,” Sara says. “Anyway, at least they weren’t mooing or something like that. Or mooning us.”

She has a point there. “Hey, girl with the legs! Want some beads?”

I knew the denim skirt was a mistake.

“He means you,” she says. “Go on, it’s fun.”

“It’s a lot of things, but fun isn’t one of them.” Sometimes I wonder how we have enough in common to be best friends. “It’s best to just ignore them.”

At the dining hall, I grab a sandwich, not bothering with a tray. “Did Sophia say what this meeting was about? Or why we have to have it now? We have a chapter meeting tonight,” Sara says, piling her plate with salad.

“Not really. She did say she was willing to discuss our room situation.”

“I don’t think you’re legally allowed to call a space that small a room,” Sara says. “It’s more like a large trunk.”

 

What do you think?  Do you want to see more (but not boobs.  I’m definitely not up for that)


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