November 6, 2014

What was I thinking? I signed up for BOTH NaBloPoMo, and NaNoWriMo, and during one of the busiest months of the year! What ever made me think I could pull that off? Well, determination, for one. I am serious about my writing career, but not very self-disciplined. I truly believe that by signing up for both of these would get me in the habit of writing, writing, writing. And, it seems to be working. Although I am dreadfully behind my writing for NaNoWriMo, I did manage to squeeze out about 3,000 words today. If I can keep that pace up, I will be caught up — even ahead — in no time!

I can’t believe how busy I am writing. It’s wonderful, something I’ve wanted to do all my life! So, I am posting the first chapter of my Great American Novel, which is going to be 50,000 more words on December 1, than it was on November 1. Happy reading!

The Difficult Path

Chapter One

The first day of ninth grade is frightening for almost everyone. The new school is so large, and there are so many people that you have never seen before. Elana stepped off the school bus, and her mouth went dry as she opened the double glass doors. She waited in line nervously as the students in front of her chatted quietly while passing through the metal detectors. She took a deep breath as she wondered if her house keys would set any alarms off.

“Excuse me, sorry, let me through please,” July’s familiar up-beat voice. “I know it’s not polite to cut, but my friend is up there, and she’s pretty shy. New to this school, you know.”

The crowd silently granted July’s request, and her smile broadened when she touched Elana on the shoulder. “Wow! Big school, huh?”

“July, you’re new to this school, too.”

“Yes, I am, but I am nowhere near as shy as you.” She put her book bag between her feet.

Elana nodded. “Do you think the floor is clean enough for your bag?”

“Today, sure. Tomorrow? Probably not, but I’ll have my locker by then, so it won’t be nearly so heavy. Besides, we probably won’t have such a wait.”

“You don’t think my house keys will set this thing off, do you?”

“No, it’s not airport security or anything. I think they’re just testing for weapons. Welcome to our future.”

“I hope we’re in the same homeroom at least.”

“We will be, they go alphabetically in High School, just like Junior High.” July scanned the line that was growing behind them. “Look at that boy over there, he’s cute.”

“Which one?”

“The tall one, with the football jersey.”

“Yeah, he’s okay.”

“You are going to be allowed to start dating this year,” Elana corrected her. “I still have to wait until I’m sixteen.” She tossed her book bag onto the conveyor belt then walked through the metal detector. “And that’s only if you get straight A’s.”

“Straight A’s are a cinch for me, especially since this school let us pick up all our books two weeks ago. I read through them, did most of the math problems already.”

“Yeah, I know, you are a study-aholic, but still.”

July groaned under the weight of her books as she hoisted the bag over her shoulders. “I have to get good grades, my parents can’t afford to send me to college, so I have to get a scholarship. If that means studying twenty-four, seven, so be it.”

Elana searched for their names on the lists that were hastily stapled on the cork board outside the principal’s office. “Here we are, room 3218.”

“Does it show where that room’s at?”

“Third floor, then left.”

“Oh great,” July deadpanned. “We have to walk up three flights of stairs every day.”

“Think positive, it’s free exercise. Think how good our legs will look next summer.”

“You know, I think I might try out for cheerleading this year,” July mentioned as the two friends trudged up the stairs. “That’s good exercise, too, and a chance at a sports scholarship.”

“You’d be a good cheerleader; you’re cute , athletic, and loud.”

“You going out for the stand up comic club?” July chuckled.

“Well, as a matter of fact, I was thinking about it,” Elana nodded in the direction of their assigned home room. “Here we are, let’s hope we get to sit beside each other.”

“Of course we will, there are fifteen people on the planet with the last name ‘Zyrbrenski,’ and we are two of them.” July found her name tag and tossed her book bag underneath her assigned desk. “Remember? We thought we were related when we first met.”

“Yeah, our moms studied all those ancestry websites for months, just convinced we were cousins or something down the line.”

“And we’ve spent the last five years telling everyone it’s just a bizarre coincidence.”

“It doesn’t matter, people are still going to think we’re sisters, we’ll never convince everyone.”

“That’s okay, Elana, we are sisters.” July watched as the boy who grabbed her attention in the line sauntered into the room. He sat in the first seat of the first row. “Sisters in Christ.”

“The best kind of sisters.”

The homeroom teacher walked in, closing the door behind her a second before the warning bell rang. The thirty seven high school freshman quieted down, each responding to their names with a sleepy variation of “here.”

The boy who had captured July’s attention was Jason Zimmerman, who answered “Yo,” when the teacher called his name.

“I think he’s cute,” July whispered to Elana.

“Yes, I know, you told me that in the line.”

“I wonder where he lives.”

“Ask him. Introduce yourself and ask him. Invite him to church or something.”

“Do you think he’s cute?”

Elana turned to look at Mr. Cutie Pie. Light brown hair that covered his ears, football jersey, blankly staring into space. “He’s okay, I guess.”

“Zyrbrenski, Elana.” Roll call ended their assessment.

“Here, Ma’am.”

“Zyrbrenski, Judy.”

“It’s July, Ma’am, and I’m here.”

The teacher looked up from her list. “Are you two sisters?”

“No, Ms. Fletcher, it’s just an odd coincidence.” July made a point of looking at Jason Zimmerman. They exchanged quick smiles.

“And it’s July, like month? Not Judy?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” July had answered that insensitive question too many times to count. I have a unique name, why can’t people get over it?

“I’ll be sure to have the office fix the typo, July.” She pushed the list aside, rose from her desk. “Welcome to the ninth grade, children. As you are already aware, my name is Ms. Fletcher, and I will be your homeroom teacher all year. I also teach social studies and advanced history, so some of you will have me in those classes. You will find me to be tough, but fair. I will expect each and every one of you to be on time for homeroom every day that school is open. I know that most children don’t find homeroom to be important, but it is, especially for taking attendance and hearing announcements. If you ever get to school late, please report to the principal’s office on the main floor before going to the appropriate class.” Her speech was interrupted by the dismissal bell. “If any of you need your class schedules, stop by my desk. I will have your locker assignments tomorrow. Dismissed.”

Elana and July gathered their belongings and scurried out to the hall. “I have English next,” July read her schedule. “Room 3224, just two doors down.”

“Lucky! My first class is on the first floor, I’m going to have to fly. See you at lunch?”

“Of course! Too bad we don’t have any classes together this quarter.”

“Yeah, but you are in so many of the advanced classes. Maybe I can sign up for some next quarter.”

“You’re as smart as me, you just need to study harder. You better go, no need to be late on your first day.”

“I think they’ll take it easy on us freshmen the first couple of days, don’t you?” Elana turned towards the stairs. “But, you’re right, see you at lunch.”

July walked into her English classroom and smiled widely when she spotted Jason Zimmerman sitting in the first seat of the first row.

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