Author – Science, Environment, Travel, Children's Books
This text is the first page or two of the young adult novel I’ve started. Feedback is appreciated.
“Are you going to get here in time for dinner?”
“I don’t think so, Dad. I didn’t leave until noon.”
Ted’s Dad sighed into the receiver.
“ Is this how it’s going to be all summer? A day late and a dollar short? Are you going to get a job?”
“Dad, I’m not talking about this now. It took forever to pack everything and I’m exhausted and… I can’t even see out the back window! I need to drive. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m only home two months, anyway.”
‘Alright, son. But you think about it. You have a long drive ahead, you have time to come up with a plan. I’m not paying for your room and board all summer, you’re a grown man now.”
Ted didn’t wait for a “goodbye”. He hit “end” and tossed the cell phone into the passenger seat. There weren’t any jobs in Hamlin. His old man hadn’t held a steady job in as long as he could remember.
Out the window the plains rolled by, patches of gold and green, familiar and beautiful. He did miss this living in town. The land had always appealed to him. Andy, one of his roommates, didn’t get it.
“This is retarded.”
“That’s pretty offensive, man.”
“Get off it, Ted. I’m not recycling my damn beer cans.”
Ted always resented having to look up from his books to deal with these conversations.
“Not suppose to be drinkin’ in here anyway, Andy. Ya know, whatever. I don’t give a shit, do what you want, but leave me alone. This meteorology test is tomorrow.”
Andy laughed like that was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
“Yeah, and if you fail you’ll never be on the Wichita news…”
“I don’t want to be a TV mete…”
“Besides, we’re going out tonight.”
”Can’t afford it,” Ted spat. He also resented having to constantly remind them of his limited finances.
”You need to lighten up. You’re not having any fun. This is our first year and you’re a boring asshole.”
Andy really didn’t get it. Ted didn’t always want to study. But the science classes in his high school had been a joke. He knew more science than the teachers had. There was no library in town. They couldn’t afford books or magazines. When his dad managed to pay the phone bill, they had dial-up internet. Most websites wouldn’t even load, but he could read some science news.
He just wanted to understand what was going on around him. He wanted to know why giant, dark thunderstorms would barrel over the prairie, lightning flashing, billowing tops reaching higher and higher… only to blast his face with a rush of wind and energy just as it reached the ridge he stood on. A long, low roll of thin clouds would nearly touch the ground, dust and birds lifting from the grass, and that would be it. The storm would fall apart right over his head. How was that possible?!
Ted wanted to know why there wasn’t any water. Where was it coming from and where did go? Why did they need to irrigate the corn if there was water in the ground? How deep was it? He was a smart guy. He started to realize on his own and from a little reading that the failing corn crop from the past summer was inevitable. There had been no rain. He had also read that this was to be the new norm. What were they going to do in his home town?
So Ted wanted to study. This was a gateway to a world he’d never known. Each word of each lecture was information that had been denied to him growing up. The few books he brought to college with him were dog-eared copies of bargain books about weather and saving the Earth. He’d loved them and knew every word but came to college and learned that they were woefully inaccurate and out of date. Within the first week, he’d stashed them out of view, deep in a box.
© Katie Bieker, 2013.