This is only an extract. I wanted to create a character and that's what I'm focussing on. There is a mix of genres and ideas, i put literary as the drop-down list genre because that seemed to encompass the most variety.
Here she is:
I stumble upon the hilltop and the view explodes below me like a burning canvass. England’s peaceful fields and quiet hedgerow communities for this moment take a pause and look up to the heavens as if hearing some secret thunder rumbling or some lazy god shifting his weight. The lush teeming ripples and whispers of the ancient earth murmur ever so much more loudly as if the next movement of the symphony is building up to a delicate crescendo. And now the clouds are moved into view by the colder winds. The blue reaches of the sky fold together and shrink before the might of the northern mists. Since I reached this place, Autumn has come upon us.
And in the middle of this changing world stands me. My name is Laura Mary Fox. I am the wildest of the Foxes. I am the only Fox cub. I am the hungriest and the loneliest of the Foxes. My hair has orangey red hue of the Fox’s coat and my face is the pale white of the Fox’s teeth. I have escaped the clean and tidy set (house) of the false Foxes (my parents) and I am out in the countryside where I belong. I am a vixen on a hilltop.
I wander my way down the meandering path. The snaking path is inferior to the living Fox as I tread my way along its spine.
I enter the darker and cooler woods and shiver with their gentle touch. I wrap my scarf tighter around my neck but it feels uncomfortable. I am trapped by my weaknesses. If I was a true Fox I would be warm in any weather; I would be nature’s friend. If I had a boyfriend he would wrap his arm around me and it would not be a restraint but it would be freedom.
Now comes the edge of the town. The town walls of tall garden fences and hedgerows stand in the way of the teeming masses of the mud and nests and burrows on the outside so the people behind them can forget they exist. My parents would tell me I should be doing something useful. But I don’t care. I wanted to escape. But now I’m going back. A neglected jitty (only used by dog walkers and me) takes me past washing lines and flower beds. The washing lines are like medieval displays of shackles and machines designed for torture, but suitable for the modern woman. One day maybe I will be chained to those same racks. The stories are always the same, the princess meets the wonderful prince, but after the marriage ceremony she finds herself spending her days upon her tapestry, watching her prince begin to stray with exotic foreign dignitaries as she stitches the same blood red stitches, but every stitch is that little bit rougher and painful. And she stitches herself to her life, so she can never leave it without undoing everything she has worked for.
Finally I arrive at our street, at our house. I don’t really need to look at it. Silent instincts born of familiarity guide me to the door and my keys to the lock and I spring up the steps knowing where each one will lie. I pause before opening my door. I push it. My room awaits me in sleep. I flick the lightswitch and it floods into life. I jump onto the bed and relax.
My mobile buzzes excitedly and I reach for it eagerly: “Hey Laura I found your new number. Andrew Drier.”
“Do you want to save this number?” (No.) But I do anyway so that I know when to hang up in future. (I’ll explain later.)
A long contented sigh escapes my lips. I have solved all the problems, passed by all the opportunities and now the armchair and biscuits have encapsulated me in their lethargic lull.
When you get to a point like this, you begin to realise that other people’s lives are much more interesting than your own and so I will tell you stories of other people’s exciting lives.
Those people in society had a grand perfect party, with attractive cheerful, funny people; this much I know. I see a couple of pictures, I think they went to a restaurant, or was it an egg and spoon race? It isn’t of much importance. They don’t care about us so we don’t care about them.
Clarissa has a new boyfriend called Malcolm and he’s from some private school in Newcastle, apparently he boards and actually lives here and actually, Newcastle is a great place to go to school and he is very articulate and intelligent like all of his many friends who go there who she never sees and also she wonders how many of them are women because if they were then it would show he could relate to them easily and if he didn’t then perhaps it meant she was especially special to him. I don’t actually know anything about Master Malcolm; I only know what Clarissa worries or hopes he is. She doesn’t talk about him often- at least not as often as a weatherman mentions rain.
The others seem to be slowly subsiding underneath all the little things they have put off to do later. The only way I could get them to do anything with me would be to get them all to forget all their troubles, only to let their troubles slip away, breed furiously and then return later as numerous as pebbles on the beaches. I’d rather we kept the post it notes and scrawled temporary tattoos in sight where they can be kept out of mischief.
As for me maybe I should get round to doing something useful or at least constructive. The way I see it, I’ve been given a great gift of freedom in between two herculean tasks, and I’d do well to either recover from the last one, or to learn a new skill to help me next time my life becomes exciting. Do you think boys would like me more or less if I started learning guitar?
It’s not a very good start but I haven’t even met a guy I could imagine myself enjoying time with. For now I’m trying to get all of them to like me because if ever I do become especially drunk or political or catch some other form of lunacy and happen to like one of them; then the freak accident would be ready prepared for the taking. Trouble is; I keep regretting the things that end up fancying me. For example let’s take Andrew Drier who can’t say no to anyone. I tell him to go away and then he does, but when some idiot tells him to “tell (me) how he feels about (me)”, he’ll come back and tell me. Now it’s become some sort of perverted tennis game because somebody thinks it’s funny to order him around to my expense: “Andrew, go and leave an onion in her bag; she’ll really like that.”
Or what about Pete Jeffries, otherwise known as PJ? The guy less like a pair of pyjamas than any I’ve ever known. He studies philosophy for fun, or he just makes the stuff up; either one. He will begin talking with me and I will give him the meaningless “Hello, I’m fine thanks, you?” because it would be rude not to wouldn’t it? The next thing I know he’s questioning the soundness of my judgement, explaining why I’ll never get curly hair if I don’t eat my crusts, and then casually disproving my existence. Either he does it for fun or it just comes to him as naturally as daydreaming in lessons or more naturally than brushing his teeth twice a day morning and evening. Also I have to explain that the crusts tasted like eggshell and that Pete’s “mushroom” hair is nothing to be envious of in a society where bird nests are not a status symbol.
Speaking of envy and eggs, there is a delicious smell of bacon from next door and I can see the plume of smoke of a distant barbeque on the horizon. It’s a warm bright eight o clock in summer and I’ve had no call to dinner. I assume I’m not getting any. I reach for the biscuits like a drunkard. I suppose my parents have developed some form of photosynthesis whilst I require a more primitive form of sugar.
I wonder if I should try and make friends with the neighbours in the hope that they might invite me round for food. I try to imagine what it would be like “Hello, my name’s Laura and I thought I’d come and say hello.” didn’t really sound me, neither did “I know I’ve never said hello to you before but…” forget it, I might as well have said “feed me?”
I wonder how biscuits are made. I suppose they come from the same sort of thing as bread, but then; where does chocolate come from? This question baffles me. It doesn’t matter; I believe chocolate loves me all the same. The rustling, uselessly plastic wrapper of the old biscuits crumples in my hand; it’s empty and throwing crumbs around my already contaminated room. I imagine the kitchen in my head, and search the cupboards of my imagination for something to eat. I realise some cereal might be around. I slowly plod downstairs. My family is watching something boring on television about gardens. The presenter has an optimistic high pitched voice “…and these lovely geraniums…” I reach the kitchen and begin to manoeuvre cheap copies of weetabix biscuits into a bowl; this wasn’t helped by the supermarket who had decided to make them rectangular and the bowl round. There isn’t any sugar. I find milk and then slop in a lump of strawberry jam instead. I eat whilst walking; putting the wrapper of the last cereal in the bin; squashing the empty box flat and trying to stuff it in the bin, eventually I just dump it on the floor.
“Laura, have you done your homework yet?” comes as a shout from the living room.
“These flowerbeds are nice and soft” comments the enthusiastic gardener from the TV.
I think I’ll stop writing now and get ready for bed. I hope I dream.
I was woken up in the middle of the night by a text from Pete about some poem he had been writing about cheddar (the town, not the cheese). After giving him the hopeful order not to send me a text message ever again I thought I might as well write a few more thoughts down.
I'm beginning to think this conversation is becoming quite surreal. It’s as if there comes eventually a time when you stop worrying if the person you are talking to has left the room, (as if such tedious matters like geography and chronology are irrelevant.) It’s not much different from talking to myself; only I will forever remember it afterwards.
The night is warm and dark in an unnatural way. Heavy blankets of clouds blockade the heavens.
I wonder what it would be like to be outside on a night like this. What would happen if I walked downstairs and opened the door; if I walked out into ocean of opportunity that is the nocturnal lane? Perhaps bats live out there, swooping around and screaming with laughter. Cute little rats with wings catching daddy longlegs would be a terrible and awesome sight.
Delia chose that moment to leap through my open window like a witch dismounting from a broomstick. Several ornaments and photos (which frequently prove themselves not built for standing upright) toppled from their windowsill with a sigh. She looked at me with her bright sexy eyes and I grabbed her round the tummy so she could be forcefully and methodically stroked. She dutifully relaxed and yawned with her understanding that this was one of the necessary pleasures which humans are compelled to supply in return for the right to live within the territory of the superior cat. I wish I had more normal hair. My mother says my hair is like a sunset on a summer’s evening but my friends say it looks like rusty iron wool, or carrot peelings, or sometimes just calling it ginger explained its eccentricity without any other adjective or simile. “You don’t bully ginger cats do you now Delia?” You might think it cruel of me to ask such a question of such beautiful creature but I know cats can become the world’s cruellest creatures- and they can get away with it too. “Because you’re so lovely!” I explain to her as if she were a kitten.
My exhaustion had been kept at bay till now by the small amount of goodness my previous burst of sleep had done me. Those blessings had run dry and now the final task of switching off my light seems like reaching for the moon.
I’m awake again; jolted into the land of the bland and real as if I fell into bed from a great height. I had dreamed after all: I had been in a house with some friends from school. One by one, things had started disappearing from the house, until it began to look emptier. Then, dust and dirt and rubbish began to fill up all the gaps where our possessions had been. Eventually my friends began to disappear until I was alone amongst the living, breathing mass that was the junk. Then they came for me; and I was whisked away over kneaded doughy hills and loose wet valleys through a fleshy dream world which could have been a part of someone’s brain. Something changed; I felt warm breath on my cheek and there was a beautiful man with wings like bed sheets sprouting from broad shoulders. He was carrying me. Then he dropped me. And that was how I ended up landing here; in an even stranger world of alarm clocks, bin men, orange juice, milkmen and without any brains at all.
I look at my floor and the horrible vision of the creeping, growing mess of the empty house takes power over my perception. No, those are the things Delia knocked over last night. I pick up the first, because it is shiniest: a necklace of blue and silver beads with a heart shaped locket. I carefully slip it around my neck.
There is a photo of a five year old me on the beach with a disgusting pink bucket and spade. I put it back on the windowsill.
Through the next window of dusty glass I am sitting on a bench next to Gemma. She’s much prettier than me. Gemma is the only normal friend I have. She doesn’t do her homework, doesn’t get out of bed before midday on a weekend and watches TV zealously. Oh, and she’s going out with Lydia. Those two girls are the happiest couple I know. I suppose it must be because they understand each other. I always watch Gemma carefully, I’m sure that somewhere she has a small eccentricity or oddness about her I haven’t noticed yet; she is friends with me after all and so there must be something strange about her. One day, when she’s eating a cheese sandwich, or doing her makeup; her little secret will come out. Actually, perhaps her weird little vice is simply just being friends with me at all; that could be the little bit of craziness that allows her to have such crazy friends.
Now that’s me in Australia with Gemma, Lydia, Katie and Elsie. You don’t know about Katie and do you? Well Katie is the clever one; she wants to be a scientist when she leaves education, or an anthropologist (none of us know why.) Elsie is the girly one, she has a pink room, perfectly straight blonde hair and she’s never without a guy to be flirting with. Lydia has cousins in Australia and invited us to come along to visit. I never saw a kangaroo which was disappointing. Seeing the Sun so bright and hot after living in England for so long was like going abroad and seeing busses fly, nest, and raise minibuses from eggs.
The long armistice of summer is rolling to an end. Already September’s grey threats loom over us and leaves begin to fall from trees under the weight of the dark humid clouds.
Soon we shall return to the battlefields that are the grounds of Treeworthy boarding school. I live there during the week and feel as my parents feel it is proper to send me to sleep in the labyrinth.
I usually have my friends. We will stick together this year. I promise you that.
I don’t feel the hope that I should. Last night I went to a party at Verity’s house. She has a lovely house; a nutshell of spacious Victorian corridors and cosy rooms; yesterday stuffed with the modern plagues of drink and angst. I see so many people lose their souls as they lose their innocence. Is it always like that? Sarah was brilliant; she was popular, she was pretty, she was bold and no-one could ever dream over breaking her. Now, she has been eaten up with guilt and fear from the inside. She is loved by the world, but she hates herself.
No it’s not always like that. Elsie is still cheerful and loves her life and she’s let flocks of boys in.
What do I think of myself? I don’t know where to begin. There are times when I discover things about myself I had never knew existed. Sometimes I become so used to looking through my eyes that I forget my eyes are more than windows and I cease to imagine anything of life’s sparkling brilliance. I imagine that I should look at myself from the inside and from the outside. If I pour my thoughts into digital code and preserve them within the lightning currents of the computer’s archives then I may return again in a few years time and commune with a younger me. If I can link the Lauras of every age as one, speaking, living and breathing throughout the ages together, then I should never feel alone.
No ghosts for those who die by change. So many people must lose themselves as they race to grow up too fast. I can’t help looking back on myself and feeling ashamed and embarrassed at what I was once like.