Friday, January 8, 2016

Return to Transient Suburbia

Happy 2016! I hope everyone had the best week ever getting back to work and school and whatever else you do. I thought I'd kick 2016 off with a new chapter from my novel Transient Suburbia. I mentioned in a recent post that my goal for this year is to finish the novel (I finished the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2014) and to publish it in some way. This is the second new chapter I've written but it's also just the start of the 4th grade letters. There's still a lot more to do including the 7th grade letters, more character development, a few additional scenes I've recently thought of, and the thing I'm most nervous/excited about, writing some songs for the band. 

This chapter picks up right after Harper and Ben begin their friendship as pen pals in the 4th grade. You'll have to imagine a poorly drawn Christmas tree towards the end. 

You can relive the magic of previous chapters HERE

Chapter Five

1988-1989, Fourth Grade

    Dear Ben,                        September 30, 1988
    I got your first letter after I sent my first letter so I couldn’t answer your questions. Hopefully, you’ve gotten my letter by now. How are you? How’s school? What kinds of music do you play?
    I don’t play sports either but it’s because I don’t like them. My older brother plays baseball. I guess he’s pretty good. I go to games and cheer for him with my parents. My sister goes with us but she always sits with her friends. I don’t play with Barbies but I do have Jem and the Holograms dolls. I mostly build stuff with Legos and read. My friends and I like to roller skate.
    Did you finish “James and the Giant Peach” yet? I read the end last night. My mother never should have bought me a reading light. I always stay up past bedtime reading. Miss Spider is my favorite character. I like the part where James rescues Centipede from the ocean - it was scary but exciting. I’m starting on “The Witches” next and some Judy Blume books. What else do you like to read?
    What’s your treehouse like? Do you get to sleep in it ever? We can’t have a treehouse because we move so much.
    Your friend,

    Dear Harper,                         October 9, 1988
    Wow we both just finished “James and the Giant Peach”! That's cool. I like the part with the sharks and when the aunts get in trouble at the end. Grasshopper is my favorite. I haven’t read “The Witches” but maybe I will soon. I mostly read comic books and stuff my older brother shares with me. He just gave me some books based on the “Star Wars” movies; they’re pretty cool.
    My dad makes me play classical music. It’s ok I guess. I want to learn rock songs on my guitar. I’ve been trying to listen and play along but it’s not that easy. My mom says I can take some guitar lessons for fun this year if I keep up my classical piano lessons. I told her I would but so far no guitar lessons. Maybe for my birthday in December. When is your birthday?
    You like Legos? I have a bunch of them too. My brother and I like to build tanks and planes. He got a castle set for his birthday and we’ve been working on it for a few weeks now. We keep it in the treehouse. What do you build? Sorry about the Barbies; a lot of girls I know have them.
    Why do you move so much? We’ve always lived here in the same house. Maybe you could get a treehouse that could some way be moved. I don’t know how that would work but I’m sure they make them. My treehouse kinda looks like my house. My dad had one of those treehouses from the back of a magazine when he was a kid. When we moved into our house, he built us a treehouse that was bigger and better than the one he had. Or at least that’s what he always tells us. It’s pretty big. My friends and me get to sleep in it in the summer. My mom always worries that I’ll fall out of it when I’m sleeping.

    Hi Ben,                             Oct. 21, 1988
    Sorry it’s taken me so long to write back. I got chickenpox from a kid in my class and was out of school for a week. I didn’t feel like doing much except sleeping and watching tv. I had a lot of work to make up too. Chickenpox is terrible. I had red spots everywhere and it’s so itchy. My mom made me take oatmeal baths. Oatmeal baths smell bad but it did help with the itch. My sister made fun of me the whole time. She told me I was always going to be spotty and no one would want to talk to me. She can be really mean sometimes.
    Your treehouse sounds cool. I never thought to ask if I could have a treehouse that could be taken apart and moved. Maybe those do exist. We had a swing set at our house in Ohio but we had to leave it behind when we moved. My dad works for the government (I think I spelled that right). He works with the Army but isn’t in the Army. I don’t really know what he does; grown-up stuff I guess. My dad told me the other day that we’re probably not going to move for a few years so maybe I can get a treehouse.
Bye for now,

Dear Ben,                             December 15, 1988
Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday! You never told me when your birthday actually was. Did you get guitar lessons like you hoped? We’re going to Michigan next week once school is out to see my grandparents for Christmas. I wanted to write before I left since I won’t get any mail while I’m there and may not have time to write.
We decorated outside of our house only this year since we’re going to be gone. Both of my grandmas said they’d leave some of their trees for me to decorate once we get to Michigan. I hope it snows while we’re there; my mom’s mom lives on top of a hill so if it snows we’ll get to go sledding. It doesn’t snow in Alabama!
You said in your last letter that you’ve never been anywhere but Milwaukee. Do you want to go other places? We travel all the time; my dad loves an adventure and my mom loves a road trip. The twins hate everything. I think what I like best is watching the trees and everything pass by. It’s like watching a movie.
What does your family do for the holidays? We baked cookies last night; my mom let me be in charge of the oven this year. Usually that’s my brother’s job but he wanted to decorate this year. His name is Walker. We all have weird first names.
Anyway, talk to you again in 1989!
Merry Christmas,

(Drawing of a sad Christmas tree.)

Hey Harper,                         January 6, 1989
Happy New Year! Hope you had fun in Michigan. Did you get to decorate the trees? Did it snow? How was the sledding?
We had a regular Christmas. We watch Christmas movies and always decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. My mom also lets us open one present when we’re done. It’s always pajamas so it’s not that much fun. We go to midnight mass too. I feel asleep this year (on accident). I did get guitar lessons. I can start in two weeks.
You never told me what you and your brother like to build with Legos. What’s your sister’s name if you all have weird names?
Also, do you listen to music? What do you like? Please don’t let it be New Kids on the Block.

P.S. - I liked your tree.

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