This writing prompt was an unusual one, mainly for what it turned into once I started writing: A kid from your class that you don’t know very well shows up at your door. This post turned into an exercise in voice, and although I ended up writing my first short story in almost five years, I’m not sure I hit the mark. However, in the interest of writing and getting stuff out to use my creative writing muscles again, I’m posting what I consider a good attempt at a first draft.
I would say that writing in a kid’s voice is difficult, but I’m finding any and all voices difficult to write at the moment. I’m taking this draft for what it is – an exercise, and exercises are meant to build up your strength and tone up your muscles.
Happy reading! This prompt also came from the very handy 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Let me know your thoughts on the draft in the comments.
He runs through the wooden door to the balcony. The sun is just starting to set and will provide the perfect cover soon. If he could only make it down to the forest below, he could run and hide under the cover of twilight.
He looks over the edge of the balcony. The fall is too high but he can make it – everything is possible in this land. His legs have but to respond to a command and he will leap over the stone edge and drop down. He takes a few steps back to get a good jump, but the guards have caught up to him. With swords in hand, they prepare to slice him, so he takes out his own knife and takes a few swings to drive them back.
He decides to chance it and takes a running start. Knife still in his hand, he leaps over the edge and begins the drop to the forest below when –
“Milo! Get out here please!”
The pirate had just made it down to the forest when Mom knocked on the door. He pressed the Save command and exited the game. Milo hopped off the chair and went to open the door.
“Milo, what have I told you about locking this door?”
“It was an accident! I wanted to concentrate, so I closed the door and it must have locked itself. I was close to finishing that map.”
Mom rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes. “Your friend is at the door. Please come down and let him into the living room.”
“He says his name is Kenny.”
Milo came out of his bedroom and walked down the hallway toward the front door. “He’s not my friend. We’re in the same class, but he’s kind of weird.”
“Well, he came to see you, so you be nice.” Milo groaned but kept walking.
Kenny stood in the doorway, looking in Milo’s direction. Kenny’s jacket was draped over one shoulder, and the t-shirt underneath was red. The porchlight showed just a bit of the dirt on his jeans, right on the knees – Mom wouldn’t like that. Dirt would get on the couch.
“Kenny? What are you doing here? How did you find my house?”
“Hi, Milo!” Kenny looked at his hands and took a small step inside the house. “Do you, uh, wanna play?”
“It’s dark out,” Milo said. “Why are you here?”
“Does your mom know where you are, honey?” Mom asked. “Come in and wait for her here.”
“No, please don’t call my mom!” Kenny said and came inside. His clothes were really dirty, and his shoelaces were untied. Milo was pretty sure he hadn’t worn those same clothes to school that day. Under better lighting, he saw a bit of the picture on Kenny’s t-shirt – the same pirate that had jumped the balcony.
“You play Sword Escape too?”
Kenny smiled and stepped further in. Mom went to close the door. “Yeah! It’s awesome. But my computer broke and I can’t play anymore. Wanna play now?”
“Honey, it’s really late. Do you know your mom’s phone number so she can come get you?”
“Please don’t call my mom!” Kenny yelled. Mom really wouldn’t like that. Kenny broke the no screaming rule.
“Milo, please take your friend to the kitchen while I make a couple of phone calls. Pour yourselves some grape juice – carefully, please.”
“He’s not my friend,” Milo said. Kenny looked down at his hands and pulled at his t-shirt. Milo felt bad, but Mom had said they could have grape juice. It was after dinner and almost bath time – this never happened!
“Come on, Kenny,” Milo waved over and walked to the kitchen. “Do you like grape juice?”
“I’ve never had grape juice.”
“Are you joking me?!” Milo stood on his tiptoes and grabbed two cups that were drying from dinner on the dishrack. He put them on the breakfast bar and walked over to the fridge. He opened the left door, but there was no juice there.
“Dang it, I did it again.” Milo closed the left door and opened the right door.
“Why does your fridge have two doors?” Kenny asked.
“That’s the freezer. We keep meat and ice cream in there, but I always mess up right and left.”
“I don’t think we have a freezer.”
Milo stood on his tiptoes again, reached for the juice and saw half a chocolate cheesecake. Mom said there wasn’t any left! “Where do you store you meat and ice cream then?”
“We eat McDonald’s for dinner and Randy sometimes brings us McFlurries.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had McDonald’s.”
“Where do you eat chicken nuggets from then?”
Milo put the juice bottle on the breakfast bar and climbed up on a barstool. “Can you push the cups over? My mom makes chicken nuggets in the oven, but we only have them on Friday nights.”
Kenny climbed onto the other barstool and pushed the cups next to the bottle of juice. He leaned on the table and held the cups as Milo poured. A few drops fell on the table between the two cups, but Kenny wiped them with his sleeve.
“Thanks. Cheers!” Milo touched his cup to Kenny’s and took a sip.
“Why did you do that?” Kenny asked and took a sip of juice. He smiled and said, “This is really good!” He gulped the rest of it and wiped his mouth with the same sleeve.
“I don’t know. My dad does that when we have juice. His juice comes from a glass bottle though, and he says it’s adult grape juice.”
“Where is your dad?” Kenny asked, turning the cup over his mouth.
“He’s on a business trip,” Milo said. The juice was nice and cool, and very sweet. “He gets back in two more sleeps.”
“Here, you can have mine,” Milo said and pushed his cup toward Kenny.
“Thanks!” Kenny grabbed the cup and smiled. He gulped it down as fast as the first. “Can we have more?”
Milo frowned and looked at the big bottle. “I don’t know. I’m not usually allowed to have anything after dinner. Better not chance it.”
“Okay,” Kenny said and started running his finger over the one drop of juice on the table.
“Why are you here?” Milo asked.
Kenny sighed and kept running his finger over the table, tugging a bit when it got sticky. “I ran away.”
“My mom and Randy started arguing again. He was in a bad mood after I came in from the playground with my jeans dirty – I fell off the monkey bars when I tried to jump. I think he said something about getting the couch dirty.”
“My mom’s boyfriend.”
“Where’s your dad?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t met him.”
Milo thought about not knowing his dad. He thought about the video game he helped set up and the dance he taught him for the talent show – Milo could never do the robot arms like he could. Milo really missed his dad when he went on business trips, and if he never came back one day? His chest felt funny like when he’d cried the other day.
“That sucks,” Milo said.
“Randy is better than her last boyfriend, though. Clyde used to eat all our good food and buy only that gross bread with seeds in it.”
“I like that bread! My mom lets me have it with jam for breakfast sometimes.”
“I don’t like seeds!” Kenny said and looked up for his sticky finger on the table. “What if a tree grows in my stomach?!”
Milo laughed, and after a quick second Kenny laughed too.
“Do you want to sit on my table at lunch tomorrow?” Milo asked.
Kenny smiled really wide and Milo saw he had a tooth missing. “Sure!”
Mom came into the kitchen with her cellphone in her hand. “Kenny, it’s too late for you to go home and I can’t get a hold of your mom. It’s safer if you stay here tonight and I’ll take you both to school tomorrow.”
A sleepover on a school night? What a treat!