Who’s Your WIP?: Color Me Blue, by Amy Rolland
May 31, 2013 4 Comments
One of the things I like about doing this guest excerpt blog series is highlighting new authors I’ve met over social media, as well as writing friends that I hang with online. This month, I am proud to present to you YA author, and fellow #goatposse member Amy Rolland, with her excerpt from her WIP COLOR ME BLUE.
When Lanna found the blue rose, she assumed she was losing her mind. No one would be surprised. Insanity was a genetic misfortune in the Mason family, and after everything Lanna had been through, her classmates wagered actual bets on how long it would take for her to crack. Most assumed her walls would be padded by the time she was seventeen. Darren Lamberg, the school bookie, prepared to win or lose a lot of money that night, the eve of Lanna’s birthday.
The flower was unnerving for several reasons. For one, it was waiting for her on the top shelf of her school locker. The only other person who knew the combination to her locker took those numbers with him to the grave. Two, while Lanna’s mind was not closed to the idea of ghosts, when this particular boy was alive he was not in the habit of doing nice things for other people. Three, the rose was the saddest shade of blue, a color with which the same particular boy was obsessed. Four, that same boy had died one year ago today.
Lanna stuffed the flower into her bag so aggressively that petals sprinkled the floor like the pieces of her life she could never seem to pick up. She slid her bag over the shoulder of her new blue sweater, an early birthday gift from her mother.
She glanced at the tiny mirror taped to the interior of her locker. Framed by the chipped blue paint of the hallway behind her, even her silhouette appeared tinted . Had things always been this blue? She looked tired, but that was nothing new. Sleep was not a luxury she could afford anymore. In fact it had been nearly a year since she’d slept through a straight eight hour block. She swallowed her complaints, however, because her mother was always willing to recite the “you made your choice” speech. But staring at her reflection now, the girl in mirror seemed so worn. She was sixteen, nearly seventeen, going on thirty.
She poked at the dark pillows of fatigue cushioning her light green eyes, eyes which once upon a time had been described as fierce and cat-like. Now they just looked weathered. She sighed, slamming her locker and then falling into the moving tide of students drifting their way to class. Somehow amongst the steady stream of voices she heard a male voice singing no higher than an eerie whisper,
Nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Talking ‘bout worries and problems people,
Oh you know I’ve had my share
Every day now, every day I have the blues.
I have the blues.
The blues? What was going on?! She closed her eyes and literally saw blue. Perhaps she really would find herself in a straitjacket before her birthday. Fourteen hours and counting.
Lanna was never so happy to see her English classroom and its puke-yellow walls. No blue in sight. She ducked into her usual seat by the window where she could hide. The front of the classroom was teacher’s pet and IEP territory, and the back was the social zone. She wanted no part of either. The middle of the right-most row was always the safest bet. The majority of her teachers were right-handed, and thus when they faced the class they inadvertently turned slightly away from their dominant side. Their eyes were less likely to find someone sitting in their blind spot, and if they wanted to catch students who weren’t paying attention, by default they’d choose someone chattering in the back.
Lanna curled her feet under her and slouched behind a novel she’d plucked from her bookshelf that morning. The cover was blue which she ignored. As long as she could hide behind it, she didn’t care. She spent most of her time trying to blend into the crowd, trying very hard to keep her head above water without making waves. She wanted to be left alone.
Throughout the past year, she’d had enough attention for a lifetime.
Her mistake was glancing up as Danny Davidson slithered past her desk. The corners of his lips lifted into a grinchy grin as he curled over her, a canopy of cigarettes and cheap cologne. He hovered there for a moment before he snatched the book from her fingers. “I saw you checking me out.”
She offered an impassive half smile which surely looked more like a grimace. Unfortunately, it did not discourage him.
“When are you finally going to agree to go out with me?”
There was nothing sweet or honorable about the proposition. His condescending arrogance snaked its way through the rickety, wooden desks, alarming everyone it touched. He glanced around, aware of his audience.
Lanna shifted to avoid touching him. “Still not ready to date anyone, Danny.”
“Come on. It’s been a year.”
“Still not ready,” she repeated. Firm but polite which was more than he deserved.
“I want you to know that I’m alright with your…” he paused, trying to find the right word with his limited lexicon. “Obligation,” he finally finished.
Yes, she was sure he was.
“The offer stands,” he purred, and to Lanna’s relief, he straightened. The exchange was less painful than usual. Danny elbowed the boy to his right and gestured to Lanna. “The quiet girls are always the ones to look out for.” He winked and slunk to the back row.
Lanna shuddered and inadvertently made eye contact with the boy whom Danny had elbowed, the boy who was now watching her curiously. What could he be thinking now? Undoubtedly, he knew who she was. She might be quiet, but everyone knew her. Grayson Canterberry had made sure of that in more ways than one. But maybe this boy was now thinking that he too should be trying to get into her pants. Why should Danny Davidson have all the fun? Considering Lanna’s history it must be pretty easy, right? There was walking, talking proof. And as an added bonus, there was no longer anyone to answer to.
Grayson was dead now.
Yes, that was probably what this curious boy was thinking, but what he didn’t realize, what no one realized was that when he was alive, Grayson had actually been Lanna’s biggest threat, that a part of her was happy when he wrapped his car around a tree last year. A secret she kept tucked deeply inside her scarred heart.
Class began. She halfheartedly listened but did not contribute to the seminar on The Scarlet Letter. Lanna hated seminars. They were like clocking practice time with a driver’s ed instructor. The teacher had her own set of brakes, meaning if any student veered off in a direction she did not intend to navigate, the discussion would be rerouted. No insight would be shared that wasn’t written in the Themes and Motifs section of the Cliff Notes. Lanna wasn’t concerned about her participation grade. She would make up for her lack of input by turning in an essay summarizing the seminar and adding some of her own reflections. She would ace the class whether she chose to participate or not. Teachers loved her. She was quiet and followed the rules. Her mother wouldn’t accept a GPA lower than 3.5, and as a junior Lanna had yet to earn a B. No matter the number of personalities her mother exhibited within a given week, each of those personalities demanded progress reports with the intensity of a parole officer. Or a warden.
The lunch bell rang much too soon. English was comfortable and warm. The cold blue hallway lurked outside ready to close in on her. Most kids looked forward to lunch just like most kids looked forward to fire drills and homecoming pep rallies. Not Lanna. She just wanted to show up at school, get the work done, and go home. Deviations from her typical schedule were just another reminder that she no longer had friends. Everyone was friendly to her, mostly because they felt sorry for her, but she didn’t know anyone who really understood her life—what she’d been through and what she was still going through. With her mother. With Grayson. With Penny. She went through the motions of her life because she had to, because if she didn’t, there was no telling what she’d really find underneath all that monotony. She could only guess it was like lifting the shroud from a dead body.
Usually Lanna avoided the lunchroom and found refuge in the school library. She was not allowed to eat there, but she could sneak snacks in some of her classes, and those nibbles would sustain her until she went home. This year the school implemented a new rule that students needed a pass to be in the library without a teacher. God forbid she attempt to do something constructive during lunch like read a book. Did the administration really think that if some morons were ditching class they would spend their free hour in a media center with a bunch of bookworms?
Thankfully, even the librarians felt sorry for Lanna. They knew her story; the whole town knew. It had been all over the news last year, and she’d become a local celebrity. Lucky her. And although she hated pity, Lanna quickly discovered that despite the ridiculous new rule, the librarians allowed her to come and go without a pass. She was as unnoticed as a ghost. It was as though Grayson had taken her with him. He’d tried to, after all.
But during that blue afternoon, she realized she was actually hungry. She shouldn’t have pushed her luck on such a strange day, but if her stomach started growling in the middle of class it would be embarrassing. Would that be worse than choosing a place to sit in the lunchroom? Being forced to socialize? She was still deciding when she found herself being shuffled through the double doors. The scent of stale mop water and tater tots hit her in the face like a brick. No turning back now.
A. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, a picturesque town obsessed with boats and blue crabs. As a child she spent much of her free time compiling dramatic stories of tragic characters in a weathered notebook which she still keeps. She is a sports fanatic, a coffee addict, and a lover of Sauvignon Blanc, thunderstorms and autumn leaves.
She is a former high school English teacher and a mother of two who moonlights as a writing tutor and gymnastics instructor. When she isn’t chasing her two vivacious boys or arguing about football with her husband, she can be found hiding behind a laptop at her local bookstore. She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services. Of Breakable Things, her debut novel, will be released by Month9Books in the spring of 2014.