jayellebee's Blog

March 4, 2010

Imagine That

Filed under: Middle Grade Manuscripts — Joanne @ 11:58 pm

When his big brother is injured during a hike, eleven-year-old Keith’s imagination empowers him to battle fear and exhaustion in order to summon rescuers.  Imagine That, a Middle Grade adventure story, chronicles one day in a boy’s life that shapes the very essence of the man he is destined to become.  I hope you enjoy this opening scene….

Chapter One – The Brothers

I teetered between hating my big brother and wanting to be his best friend.  Ryan was thirteen, I was eleven.  He didn’t share my confusion.  Our parents’ oldest son had one big disappointment in life – he wished he was an only child.

So when Ryan asked me to go for a hike with him, I should have been suspicious.  Any other day I would’ve been.  Looking back, if Ryan had gone up there alone, we wouldn’t be the men we are today.  Life is strange.

Mom, Dad, Ryan, our little brother Nicky and I went to our grandparents’ house.  They lived in the East Bay hills, about 30 miles from San Francisco.  Ryan and I liked to go there because sometimes Gramps took us exploring.

“Look,” Gramps might whisper, pointing at a shadowy pile of rocks behind some bushes.  “A UFO.”

I’d drop to my knees, hold imaginary binoculars to my eyes, and study the spaceship.  Gramps would toss a few blades of grass in the air to check wind direction.

“Whew,” he’d say, “we’re downwind.  If we’re lucky, the aliens’ smell-o-meters won’t pick up our scent.”

Ryan might play along, or he might not, depending on his mood.  Funny.  Sometimes my brother was too grown up for pretending, but our grandfather never was.

But on that one visit, we knew there would be no exploring with Gramps.

Nona, that’s what we called our great-grandmother, was ninety-something and lived with Grandma and Gramps.  She hadn’g gotten out of bed for a week.  I remember wondering what she’d done to get so tired.

That morning, even with all of us there, Nona didn’t wake up at all.  Loud voices usually shook our grandparents’ house.  That day the silence made my ears ring.

Gramps sat on the sofa holding an open magazine.  His reading glasses stared at him from the coffee table.  Dad wandered out on the deck.  His strong hands gripped the railing.  An ancient oak commanded my father’s full attention.  Mom and Grandma sat across the kitchen table from each other.  A yellow teapot and two flowered mugs brightened the space between them.  Nicky watched Saturday cartoons in the den.  He was too young to notice something wasn’t right.

I was bored out of my mind.

“Mom,” Ryan asked, “OK if Keith and I go for a hike?”

Mom looked out the window at Dad’s back.  “Sure,” she said.  “Go ahead.”

No warnings about sticking together.  No reminders to watch out for cars.  Not even a deadline to get back.  The day just got stranger and stranger.

Ryan and I tore out the door and down the street before anyone had time to second guess us.  He led the way.  I hurried to keep up.  If I close my eyes right now I can still see the path we followed.  Dry leaves shatter with a satisfying crunch under our shoes.  A building breeze, spiced with the approach of rain, tickles the back of my neck, re-parting my hair.

People always said Ryan looked like our father did when he was a kid.  Made me wonder how old Dad was when he stopped looking like a dork.  My brother was tall with all his height in his legs.  “Gamba Longa,” Nona called him.  “Long Legs.”  Thick, straight, dark brown hair hung over this ears.  Droopy eye lids made him look like he was always sleepy.  Ryan’s arms and hands were too big for his narrow chest and shoulders.  I can see now that his build at thirteen hinted at the lean, angular man he would become.

I don’t know who I looked like.  No one ever said.  I was short for my age with wavy, sandy brown hair.  I fought my curls with a comb several times a day and asked to get a haircut once a month.  There were lots of things in my life I couldn’t control.  No way I’d let my hair be one of them.

Ryan and I hurried away from Gramps’ house.  I thought we would slow down once we were out of sight.  What was the hurry?  Sure as heck didn’t want to get back any time soon.  A question was the only thing I took with me that day.



  1. Joanne,
    More! I’m hooked on your story!

    Comment by Nannette Rundle Carroll — March 5, 2010 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

  2. Great story, Joanne. Thanks for letting CWC members know about it.

    Take care,

    Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

    Comment by Lynn — March 6, 2010 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

  3. Great opening scene! Loved the sentence, “That day the silence made my ears ring.” Looking forward to reading more. Liz

    Comment by Liz — March 6, 2010 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

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