Sunday’s Child Opening

After much ado, edits, re-reads, and word-spitting, I’ve got a permanent opening for my full-length book, Sunday’s Child (written in the voice of a little girl). I was at first adamant that the start I had was going to remain that way, but quite a number of people on Authonomy agreed that this beginning is better than the one I had before. This episode was originally towards the middle of the first chapter, but I was convinced it made a striking opening. What do you think?

SUNDAY’S CHILD (THE OPENING)

My usual shortcut through the building site for the new school seemed like a good idea, on account of it being so late and all. The evening sunlight glowed orange, signalling that dusk was crouching round the corner.

Piles of rubbish and concrete were scattered everywhere, but the men weren’t working anymore – something about shortage of materials or other. Even the grass had packed up and left the parched ground, leaving the entire site something of a mountain of brown and grey mess.

I mustn’t get home late, but with after-school lessons every day, I don’t know how I could help that. At least I only have one more year at primary school, after which . . .

A noise behind me snapped me out of my thoughts. It was coupled with panting – loud panting – and heavy, running footsteps on the hot, hard concrete.

The familiar, large hands of fear grabbed hold of my insides and squeezed them like play dough. It took me just one tiny instant to look behind me, but before I did I knew – I just knew I was in trouble.

When my head finally creaked around, the man’s eyes were dead set only on me.

That dreaded, unforgettable, dirty red cap!

Those blood shot eyes.

The mad stare.

I and all the other girls my age had seen him a hundred times before, slinking around the village.

Looking at us.

Looking for us.

Oh no!

My heart spilled over itself for one breathless moment. I took a hesitant intake of hot air before my whole body bulleted forward.

Please God, don’t let him catch me. Please don’t let him catch me.’

The pounding footsteps grew louder. I didn’t want to, but I had to take another glance – just a little one – over my shoulder.  He was not alone! There was now a second man.

I sprawled on the ground when my knees buckled under me, and as I clawed the crisp grass to try to scramble up, I took another look back but I still couldn’t get up for crippling fear. I started to crawl away. Getting up was no good. I couldn’t use my dead legs anymore. 

Dirty Red Cap, who was closer to me, turned, looking back when the second man yanked his belt off with a mighty swish.  The bald man behind him raised his hand above his head and swung his belt as Dirty Red Cap straightened his body and picked up his speed.

Swoosh! 

Dirty Red Cap stopped and grasped his whipped arm. His eyebrows shot up, as his mouth began to form an ‘o.’ Snarling, he barely ducked the second blow then darted back and ran away in the direction he came from.

He would live to fight another day,

And wait to catch me another way.

The other man looked in my direction then walked towards me, but the only message showing up in bright letters behind my eyes was, I should really go back to get my school bag.

Child!”  he shouted. “Yuh alright?”

“Yeah, Mister,” I whispered.

“Do you know who that is,” he asked, while picking up my old, green hand-bag-turned school sac.

“Yes, Mister.”

“He’s always hanging round here,” he said as he handed me my bag. “They can’t lock him up because he’s proved insane. Doan walk through here anymore. It not safe at all.  I doan want to think what couldda happened to yuh if I wasn’t ‘round here. Brush yuhself off and tell your parents what happened when you get home.  What’s yuh name, eh?”

“Ann.”

“You shaking real bad, Ann. Look, I’ll hold your bag and walk you out of the site, right?”

“Thanks, Mister.”

“Make sure you tell your parents when you get home,” he said again.

I had a feeling that if he had been looking at me when he said this instead of buckling his belt around the tyre in his belly, he would’ve seen through the emptiness in my words when I said, “Yes, Mister, I will.”

A minute later I was boring through the hole in the fence and walking away in the dry dust, legs still porridge-like. I was already making notes in my head of the details I would leave out when I did my nightly letters entitled, ‘Dear Aunty or Mister,’ to no one and everyone.

In the two minutes it took me to walk to the house I wished I didn’t live in, I tried to work out where the bald man had come from and why he was there.  He had to have been an angel. Maybe even children who get themselves attacked have angels to save them.

I was really sure of this, just like I was sure that I had to stand under the house until I stopped shaking. Today, Red Cap was not the only bolt that penetrated through to the insides of my senses. At least it was lighter on my chest than the message I was carrying which hung like a sandbag from my stomach. This bag had started to fill up at lunchtime over at Aunty Meena’s house with something I heard on the radio.

If you would like to read the first few chapters of Sunday’s Child, you can find them here: http://www.abloggersbooks.com (A Blogger’s Books).

~ by yearzerowriters on December 8, 2009.

6 Responses to “Sunday’s Child Opening”

  1. You’re right, Anne. This is a stunning opening – grabs us straightaway.
    Dan

  2. As an opening I think it conducts the reader very clearly and directly into the world you have established. The voice is clearly that of a child, though in just a couple of places you may want to just size up the consistency – eg the same girl who says/thinks ‘Oh no’ later uses a word like ‘penetrated’.

    I think you very economically get us into her mind and way of thinking and self-expression.

    marc

  3. Perfect, don’t change it!

  4. Thanks, Marc, Dan and Iris.

    Anne LG

  5. while i hadn’t seen the original opening and i tend to disagree on every level with authonomites on everything including the weather, this is a striking opening. i should take a lesson from it.

    ~jenn

  6. I know what you mean, Jenn. Most people there only read to get read, but I think this is one example where some good ideas are also knocked about.

    Anne LG

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