A new beginning for GZ

      No Comments on A new beginning for GZ

A short time ago I wrote a new first chapter for Gray Zone, the young adult novel I hope to have published soon. Here it is:

Who knew a few words on a screen could cause so much trouble?
Sure, there were a few nice comments thrown in here and there. Ones like “Pretty but shy,” and “Cute, but too quiet for my taste.”
Those I did not mind so much. The ones that got me said things like, “I’ve never heard this girl talk. I don’t think she knows how,” and “If I looked like her I’d keep my mouth shut too. Or better yet, I’d go live in a cave with the rest of my bat family.”
But the worst ones, the worst ones were downright threatening. They said things like, “What a dog! She’d better be quiet or I’ll kick her until she stops her yapping,” and “I like the quiet ones, they don’t scream.”
It was comments like the last one that convinced my parents that I needed to change schools, and once they made their decision nothing I said or did could shake it. I tried every weapon in my arsenal, I pleaded, yelled, whined, and debated. But deep in my heart I knew I didn’t stand a chance since the police had not been able to trace the most threatening messages back to their sources.
“Isn’t there anything you can do?” Sophie Rose had asked. “We had our whole high school career planned out! If you go to another school, all our plans will be ruined.”
“I know, but there’s nothing I can do. My parents have decided and that’s that.”
“Did you try everything? I mean really try?”
“Oh, I tried all right. But they won’t budge.”
“Where are you going to go?”
“Roosevelt.”
“What about the rest of this year? We still have two weeks left.”
“I’m having my finals early. I’ve already cleaned out my locker. I won’t be back to Nathan Hale at all. My mom and dad think it might be too dangerous.”
“Dangerous? It was a website. Just a silly website!”
“Sophie, my picture, name, address, and phone number were posted! Before I even knew the website existed I had gotten a zillion calls and had to change my number.”
“So, problem solved.”
“Not really. The police suggested that I move schools since too much information was posted about me on the Internet. They said anyone might know all about me now. It really scared my parents.”
“Isn’t that overkill. After all, I had heard that they had posted the picture of every girl in our school on the site? Including me, and you don’t see me moving to a different school!”
“Did you ever see the site?”
“No. My parents block pretty much everything at my house.”
“Well, pictures of all the girls may have been there, but that was it. All the personal information, the stuff that freaked my parents, that stuff was only added to the girls who made the Top Ten lists.”
“What kind of list?”
“I made the Top Ten Fly but Shy List. So someone went in and added my name, address, phone number, and class schedule.”
“So, are the other nine girls on the list changing schools too?”
“Maybe. And there another list of girls too, the Top Ten Cool Cutie List.”
“Really! You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Well, to be perfectly honest I don’t know what any of the other girls are doing, I just know I’m transferring. The police think it’s nothing to mess around with. Every girl on both the Top Ten Lists had threatening comments. Until they find out who posted them…”
“I know, I know. Better safe than sorry.”
“Right. So a bunch of us will probably not be at school the last two weeks, and who knows how many transferring.”
“I still say you shouldn’t be punished for something someone else did. You didn’t do anything wrong!”
“I know. But it is out of my hands. My parents say it is for my own protection.”
“Some protection. When you start a new school you won’t have any of your old friends around. Your friends are your real protection. At Roosevelt you’ll be all alone.”
“I know.”
“Autumn, why don’t you tell your parents that you’ll—”
“Stop it Sophie. It’s done. I’m transferring and that’s that. My parents—”
“Your parents! Your parents are way too overprotective! It was just a stupid website! Nobody took it seriously.”
“My parents did. And so did the principal. And the police. If they ever find out who wrote those comments—”
“Can’t they all just be satisfied with suspending the boys who put up the site? I mean, they figured out who they were and punished them. Isn’t that enough?”
“No, not with those comments. They still don’t know who made those comments.”
“I wonder what made them do it.”
“Post the comments?”
“No, most of those comments were probably made by people trying to be funny. I meant why put up the website in the first place? What was the purpose?”
“I can tell you what my parents were told.”
“Which is?”
“That the boys got into an argument about whether quiet or talkative girls made better dates. The group was split half and half, so they decided to get input from a broader audience.”
“So they built the website.”
“Yes, and then sent the link to every boy they knew in school.”
“Right. To all the boys.”
“So that makes it harder to figure out which boy posted which comment.”
“I see. Still Autumn, I think everyone is worrying too much. It was just a stupid website with stupid people posting to it. No one meant anything by it!”
“You’re probably right Sophie, but that doesn’t change anything. Next year I’ll be at Roosevelt and you and all my old friends will be here. So I might as well make the best of it.”
“Best of it? What do you mean?”
“If I’m going to start over, I’m going to do it right! Just watch me, at Roosevelt, no one will ever think of me as the quiet girl!”
“Autumn—”
“No Sophie, just listen. This is my chance to change how people think of me.”
“But Autumn—”
“I can do it, all I have to do is prepare myself ahead of time. I have all summer.”
“But what about the lake house? Aren’t you coming with us this summer?”
“I’m counting on it! And so are my parents, we talked it over and they think that the lake house will be the safest place for me this summer. And while we’re there, you can help me practice being outgoing. Help me come up with things to say when I first meet people, that kind of thing.”
“Autumn I think I should tell you—”
“Don’t try to talk me out of it. I’ve made up my mind. Next year, I’m coming out of my shell. I’ll talk to everyone and make loads of friends. This new start is just what I need. Just wait and see.”
For a minute, Sophie just sat there looking at me. Then she reached over and gave me a big hug.
“You’re going to be the most popular girl in school,” my best friend said with a smile.

What do you think?