Okay, so for today's segment I thought I'd go for something completely different than we usually do. As many of you know, I have several books in progress to be dusted off and finished. This is one of them.
When I started this one, I wanted to reach in and do something out of my comfort zone. I'm more of an eclectic type of author who dabbles in different things, rather than sticking to one specific genre. In a way, I guess it would be smarter to stick to one genre and be known for a leader in that area, but I've never followed the pack in anything. I have decided, though, that most comfortable place is writing for youth and young adults. So although most of my audience is YA/NA, I try giving them different places to venture into as much as I can.
The focus of this series-to-be will still be on young/new adult, but the genre and content will be a bit different compared with other works I've done. I have share the Prologue for the first book previously. Today, I'm going to share a snippet from the first chapter (which might make more sense if you'd read the Prologue first...but it's okay).
So, here we go. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts. :)
Have a great Hump Day!
“Miss Campbell?” Mrs. Faulkner, the Grade Twelve History teacher said, peering over her reading glasses.
The teacher’s voice startled Malvina out of her catnap. She lifted her head up from her arms folded on her desk and squinted. “What?”
Mrs. Faulkner removed her glasses, then tossed them on her desk. She drew in a deep breath, then said, “Miss Campbell, although we’re most pleased that you decided to join our class today, it would be nice if you could try staying awake when you’re here,” she breathed out sharply, then continued. “Or, at the very least, refrain yourself from snoring so you aren’t bothering those around you who are actually here to learn.”
A few snickers hissed around Malvina, her cheeks warming. “I...I’m so sorry, Mrs. Faulkner. I guess I was up too late last night. If it means anything, I heard everything you said.”
“Mm hm,” the teacher muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. “If it weren’t for the fact you are somehow achieving straight ‘A’s’ in this class, though I have no idea why since you are never here nor pay attention when you are, I’d send you out to Principal Davies’ office to sort out your...sleeping issues.”
Malvina opened her mouth to politely tell Mrs. Faulkner where to go when the bell rang.
Probably for the best, she thought. God knows what would have come out once I got going.
“Alright, everyone,” Mrs. Faulkner shouted above the hustle and bustle of kids rushing out of the classroom. “Read, make notes on and do the study questions for chapter three in your European History text. We’re up to the Scots now. Perhaps, that will keep some of us awake.”
Malvina stood up so she could follow her row out the door, but Mrs. Faulkner had other plans for her. “Miss Campbell? A word, if you don’t mind?”
“Actually, I---" Malvina started to say.
“It’ll only take a few precious minutes of your time. I promise,” Mrs. Faulkner interrupted.
She motioned for Malvina to sit back down, and the teen dropped her butt dramatically into the front desk by the door.
Well, at least I’ll have a quick escape.
Malvina slumped back in the hard, plastic chair, twirling her curly dark auburn locks, watching all the students filing out into the hallway. Mrs. Faulkner gathered all the papers and books scattered across her desk and organized them into two piles—papers on the left, books on the right—positioned ever so perfectly.
Wow. I’ll be she could cut diamonds with her butt, Malvina repressed a yawn.
A bell clanged again, signaling the start of the next class and the business in the hall slowly quieted, then stopped. Mrs. Faulkner moved her hands behind her back as she sauntered over to close the door. She walked back to her desk with the same slow, deliberate pace, the heels of her shoes making a hard clicking noise that echoed around the room.
The urge to yell at the woman to get it over with was so overwhelming, Malvina had to put her hand over her mouth. She counted to ten in an attempt to cool down her hot Scottish temper rising in her chest as Mrs. Faulkner moved to the desk beside her and sat on top of it. Even though she didn’t look up at the teacher, she felt her stare.
“Miss Campbell…Malvina…I’m wondering how things are for you at home.”
Malvina frowned, shifting her eyes to a side-glance. “Um, what do you mean?”
“I mean is everything going okay for you at home? Are there any issues you’d like to talk about?”
Mrs. Faulkner released a sharp sigh, and leaned forward. “I mean, I understand that you are living with a guardian since your parents…”
“Died? You can say it, you know. I’m pretty much used to the idea. It happened a long time ago.”
Longer than you know.
“Yes. Well…” Mrs. Faulkner cleared her throat, then shifted her position. “What I mean is, are things going okay with your guardian? Are you happy at home? Are there any problems? Are you well taken care of?”
Malvina didn’t know whether to laugh or punch her. “What are you asking me? Do you want to know if Liam…Mr. Wallace…is perving on me or abusing me or something?”
“No. That’s not at all what I was---”
“Oh! You want to know if I’m being tucked in at night and getting enough hugs and kisses?”
Mrs. Faulkner released a slow breath through her nose.
“Look. Liam is the only family I’ve had since…well forever. He feeds me, he puts a roof over my head, he protects me and keeps me going straight. I’m tired because I have too many extracurricular activities and I have an evening job. I’ve missed a few classes because I’ve slept in. I’m sorry. I’ll just cut back on a few things and make sure I’m getting enough sleep, okay?”
“Are you finished?” Mrs. Faulkner finally said.
Malvina slouched, gripping the seat between her knees.
“Okay. I was asking out of concern because I’ve been trying to figure out how we can help you with your attendance. You see, I’ve done a bit of research and discovered you are doing well-above average in all of your classes, giftedly so. You’re probably well aware of the fact that your highest grades are in the areas of math, geography and this class. We have very few students who achieve the GPA status that you have. Your attendance, however, is less than acceptable.”
Malvina was relieved, but creeped out at the same time, knowing her teachers have been meeting about her behind her back. “Okay. So? I can make up for it somehow, right? If I have the grades then all I need to do is be here. I’ll just promise to come to class from now on.”
Mrs. Faulkner swung her legs around, and slid off the desk. “I’m afraid it’s not quite that simple. You see, in this month alone you have been here for less than half of the time. You can’t just make the missed time disappear. Those ‘Lates’ and ‘Absences’ are now on your permanent report. They can’t simply be erased. But the other teachers, Mr. Davies and I have come up with a possible solution.”
She walked behind her desk, flipped through a file sitting on top of the paper pile, and pulled a sheet out. “We’ve created a sort of sign in/sign out sheet for you. You will get this from Mr. Davies each morning, who will sign it first. Then each of your teachers has to sign it at the beginning and end of each class. You must also report to Mr. Davies before and after lunch, then again after school to sign out for the day. He'll keep the daily form in his file.”
It’s like a prison sentence! “Okay. So, if I’m a good girl and get all of this signing, you’ll clear my record?”
Mrs. Faulkner moved back around to the front of her desk, holding the paper out to Malvina. “No. The damage to this point has been done. But if you make sure to be here every day from now until Christmas Break, following the attendance rules, we may cut you some slack when you come back.”
Malvina turned to face her teacher straight on, squinting up at the woman’s dark chocolate brown eyes. “And if I refuse?”
“You’ll fail your Senior year and have to do it over again. Simple as that.” Since Malvina hadn’t taken the sign in/out sheet, the teacher slid it across the desk she was sitting in. Then she continued. “Look, there’s no need to get defensive here. We all see how gifted you are but your lack of effort in attendance is affecting your potential to graduate, possibly with Honors! We’ve all discussed this with Mr. Wallace too and he is in complete agreement.”
Malvina let her mouth fall open. That dirty traitor! She snatched the paper up, shoved it under the cover of her history text and slammed it shut. “Fine. It’s obvious I don’t have a choice in the situation anyway. Now, if there’s nothing else I have to get going. I have a spare and I’d like to eat something before going to my next class. Is there someone I need to report to for my spare?”
Mrs. Faulkner raised an eyebrow. “Your time is just that. Just make sure to get Mr. Franks to sign you in for Geography afterwards.”
Without another word, Malvina got up, grabbed her books and her canvas bag, then stormed toward door.
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Miss Campbell?”
With her back to her teacher, she cursed under her breath, then turned around. The corner of Mrs. Faulkner’s mouth was turned up into a smug half-smile. Malvina whipped the signing sheet out and handed it to her. The teacher signed the form in her perfect cursive, then held it out to Malvina. But when Malvina put her hand on it to take it back, the teacher held it tighter, then grabbed her wrist with her other hand. She put her face right in Malvina’s, their noses millimeters apart.
Even though she was looking right into Malvina’s eyes, the teacher’s focus seemed distant…spacey. And her voice was a much lower pitch. “I’m watching you, young lady. Believe me when I tell you that there are those whose eyes are on you for an entirely different purpose. Our actions are for your protection, not your seclusion. Do as we say and you will be protected from harm’s way.”
Then she let go of the paper, her regular stoic expression returned. “I believe that's all, Miss Campbell. I’ve signed your form and I think we’ve said all there is to say for now. See you tomorrow.”
Malvina walked backwards to the door, fumbled with the knob, then scrambled out into the empty hallway. She stood there for a few seconds, staring at Mrs. Faulkner through the window. She didn’t blink until her eyes prickled with dryness. Then she glared as her Scottish temper rose again.
She looked at her watch.
Half-an hour until next class.
She ran down to her locker at the end of the hallway to trade her history books for her geography ones, slammed and locked the door then ran down to the front door.
She wasn’t totally sure what had just happened, but she had an idea who might know.