Monday, June 27, 2011

Jayson and the Giant Beach: First Three Chapters


Up until Jayson was 10 years old, he lived with his mum and dad in a colourful house by the sea. Hermit crabs would waddle by his porch, and he would observe them with a magnifying glass. Soft, green glass pieces would wash up in the waves, and he would collect them in a small burlap knapsack. Seaweed rope would lie on the sand, and he would use it to decorate his sand castles. He played by himself at the beach every day, and it was the perfect life for a quiet boy like himself.

Then one day, Jayson’s father went to work (he was a fisherman) in the deep sea and he never came back. It was a terrible accident, caused by a terrible storm, and the only things that were ever recovered were pieces of his small schooner, the Maritime.

As you can imagine, Jayson’s mum was soul-searchingly distraught. She hired a boat to go looking for her husband herself, and only came back a week later when they had run out of food and fresh water. She cried for days and days, and when she ran out of Kleenex, she just let the tears run down her face and fall, all heavy and wet, onto the plaid couch in the living room. Soon, her bright, peachy skin turned a scabby shade of gray.

While Jayson was almost equally sad in the days immediately after his dad had disappeared, he soon became far more concerned about his mum, who had taken to sitting indoors and watching the telly on mute, her eyes glazed over the screen. “I have to do something about her mood,” Jayson thought. He proceeded to do all manner of Good Deeds to cheer her up: cooking her soft-boiled eggs sprinkled with cinnamon (her favorite), collecting fresh chrysanthemums for the kitchen room table, even emptying his piggybank to buy her a new set of crochet needles and a brilliant ball of yarn. Every time, mum would look at Jayson with loving eyes and tell him he didn’t need to be doing this, but her compliments were hollow. The twinkle in her eye was still missing; whatever Jayson did, she was never quite as happy as he wanted her to be. It wasn’t long until she  sold the cozy seaside house and moved across the country to live with Jayson’s grandparents.


Their names were Grandma Lucy and Grandpa George, and while they were nice – they always called Jayson “sweetie” or “darling” or, on occasion, “you little squirt,” they were getting a bit long in the tooth. Both had supper at 5 p.m. and watched the telly until 8 p.m., then curled up in bed with a thick book before falling asleep thirty minutes later.

While mum settled into their routine almost instantly, Jayson became antsy. He wasn’t hungry at all at 5 p.m., didn’t like the talk shows that were on the telly, and simply didn’t know how to calm his body down to sleep so early. Every night, he spent 4 hours tossing and turning, picking up and stretching and dropping the wisps of thought that floated into his head.

They lived – Grandma Lucy, Grandpa George, and now mum and Jayson – in a weathered wooden cabin in on the edge of a dark, swarthy pine forest, hundreds of yards away from their nearest neighbors. The forest was a shade of emerald green, and was so thick and knotted Jayson couldn’t see 20 feet into the thicket. Even on a sunny day, the forest seemed to absorb all the light, turning even darker and more brilliant.

“See this forest, Jayson?” his Grandpa had said to him one night after dinner, two weeks after he had moved in. “Legend has the trees here are made stronger than anything humans can handle. This patch of forest has been here for over 1,000 years. Loggers have tried multiple times to build a city here, but this patch is as far as they’ve ever gotten – the forest was too thick, even for their machines.”

“Have you been inside before?” Jayson asked.

“Yes, but only as a child. And I’ve been lost many times!” Grandpa looked Jayson in the eye. “Promise me you won’t go in there alone. I’ll take you one day, but only when the sun is out.”

“Yes, Grandpa.”

Of course, there weren’t many sunny days. It seemed to Jayson that it would never stop raining: one day, there would be torrential rainstorm; another, light foggy drizzling. Even when the sun was out, gray clouds would buttress its rays and sprinkle down raindrops. Jayson wanted to hold Grandpa George to his promise, but he was getting old, and the rain made Grandpa prone to catching colds.

Jayson hated the rain. At least when he was living near the sea, the water was tucked away along the shore, the sand absorbing the excess. Here, the water made the land vomit, turning solid ground into black mud and slushy puddles. Because of the rain, it was no more fun for Jayson to play outside.

After a particularly boring evening, with a dinner of spaghetti with clam sauce, Jason tucked into bed. Would life always be this drab? All he wanted was a crack of pure sunlight. 


It started on one of those sleepless nights, when Jayson was in bed still wide awake. He was thinking about the earthworms that had crawled onto the front porch, all shiny and spastic, and was about to move on to the next thought queued up in his brain when he heard a “croak” through his window. It was an ugly, nasally sound, full of dents and phlegm, and it cut through the pitter-patter of rain through his window. Jayson tried to shut it out of his head, but it came like clockwork: croak, croak, croakkkk. croak, croak, croackkkk. While it seemed harmless – Jayson assumed it was an old bullfrog – the sound went on for what seemed like hours, until finally, Jayson crawled out of bed, unlatched the rusty crank for the window, and pulled it open.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” Jayson was immediately stricken with how foolish he was. “It’s definitely not a person,” he thought. So why was he saying that?

Then, suddenly, a the same nasally, pungent voice creaked out: “I’m right here! What took you so long? Come out immediately!”

Jayson stumbled back. He looked around at his room: there was his desk, pencils and papers and his piggybank on top. He looked at his closet: his clothes, all four sets of them, were hanging somberly. His bed was as he left it, the sheets rumpled up from when he got up. Everything was completely, absolutely, normal. He was definitely awake. So why was that—

“Did you hear me? You’re already late!”

It was that voice again!

“Hullo? Who are you?” he asked, pushing his nose against the window screen, trying to peer out into the darkness.

“No time for questions!” The voice, despite being low and croaky, was growing desperately more adamant. It seemed to be coming right underneath his window. “Hurry up before the rain stops!”

“Why? What’s going on?” Jayson asked. He waited, but there was only silence. Quickly, he grabbed his flashlight from the closet, but the window screen prevented him from shining it onto the creature. All he saw were puddles, and more earthworms.

“Hold on, I’m coming,” Jayson whispered. “Stay where you are.”

He slipped on his rainboots (without his socks), and strung his flashlight’s carrying loop around his left wrist. There was usually a purple and white umbrella by the front door, but he couldn’t find it, so he grabbed his grandpa’s oversized blue raincoat instead, and rolled up the sleeves.

Before he walked out, he looked back into the house. Nobody else had woken up or had made a sound, and he could hear his grandpa’s deep breathing coming from the bedroom down the hall. Never once had Jayson snuck out of the house, or had ever wanted to. But tonight, he was going to do it. Little did he know he wasn’t coming back for the next 10 years. 

Notes for future:

Ok, so I have to make the characters all mean. They have to hate Jayson. Damn. But can’t dwell. At a certain point, have to stop iterating and just write a draft, because I know it’s going to change.

passing out notes about invisible people – writng the note will make them come alive!

Always a question: is it gripping / bombastic enough?
Which age group am I tackling?
More character development. Why is he studious? What makes him going out alone so special? Why isn’t he scared of the dark?
Read the sister’s grimm – is my story exactly like this?
More grandpa instilling wisdom/ Do we need that scene?
Do we have to put more dad in it? Not sure if he misses his dad or not – is it the reason for his quest? Hmm. We need a reason for his quest. Like James – giant peach. Peter Nimble – escape with the eyes.
does Jayson read books? does he believe in fairy tales?
her mum loved playing hopscotch with him
scene with dad – jayson is dreaming about dad. maybe in beginning more of dad and him playing. we need to have a slave master character that Jayson escapes from? More detail about the people involved in the story?
super mischievious sidekick – stop that! maybe playing tricks is good after all!
Superpowers: bag to create water anywhere. seed to make forests sprout up anywhere. and a piece of coal to create fire.

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