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Nov 032012
 

The first chapter of the novel I am writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Let me know if you like it. It just my first draft and hasn’t been edited yet.

Henry walked back and forth across the end of playground, alone. He held a long stick, which in his mind was a light saber. He moved it rapidly back and forth, in imaginary combat with a sith. The other students stayed away. They weren’t interested in imaginary Star Wars fights anymore. His friends from the earlier years had changed. They were now interested in football, basketball and even girls. Henry hated sports. He wasn’t well coordinated and he also wasn’t very interested in them. The other kids always teased him about how poorly he played, and groaned in PE if he was put on their team. He had started out just not liking sports and preferring other things instead, but over time he had learned to hate sports and he did everything he could to avoid playing, including feigning illness in PE or saying his ankle hurt.

Henry didn’t understand why his old friends didn’t like to play Star Wars anymore. Henry hadn’t changed. He still enjoyed the same video games although he did have a few news ones he liked, like MineCraft.  He liked Lego’s and Bionicles, and watching Star Wars movies. He still liked his old friends, and was loyal to them, even though they now ignored him, and were always too busy to come over to his house to play on the weekends. He heard them talking at school, and knew that sometimes they got together amongst themselves on the weekend, even on those weekends they told him they were too busy to play or that they were grounded. It was confusing to Henry. He believed them when they said they were too busy, so why would he hear them later talking about going to the movies together or trying to meet up with the girls’ group. It didn’t make sense. Henry always said what he meant. Dr. D had been teaching him about sarcasm, and how sometimes people meant the opposite of what they said as a joke, and that the only way you could tell if they were being sarcastic was to look for clues in their tone of voice or body language, or that you could straight out ask someone if they were being serious or joking. Henry decided the next time Adam or Jack said they were busy on the weekend, he would ask them if they were joking or if they were serious. Dr. D said a good friend would give a true answer to that question, especially if you told the friend that you had trouble understanding sarcasm. They had rehearsed how he could say to someone that he suspected might be being sarcastic: “I don’t understand sarcasm very well. Are you joking or being serious?” Henry practiced saying this in his mind to Jack or Adam, just like Dr. D had suggested, so he could remember what to say. He felt relieved to have a plan, and realized that probably they had been being sarcastic all along, and that he just hadn’t read the clues correctly. That would mean they were joking when they said they couldn’t play, but that Henry just hadn’t understood the joke and had taken them literally instead, which he often made the mistake of doing. It would be so fun to have Jack and Adam over again, so they could go back to their old routines of playing Lego’s and having light saber fights in the back yard. He had extra light sabers at his house for his friends. Back in third and fourth grade they had played the same games almost every weekend. Last year in fifth grade, Jack and Adam had come over a few times, but not every weekend, and usually just one of them had come instead of both. Then this year, in sixth grade, neither one had come at all. Now that he had figured out what was going on, he was excited to start planning their next weekend.

The bell rang, and the sixth grade students started to line up outside the south door to go back inside the school. Jack and Adam were standing together, talking to Chantelle, who was laughing. Henry was excited and walked over to them smiling. He saw Jack and Adam look at him, then they smiled. That’s a great sign thought Henry. Smiling is one of those small friendly actions Dr. D had been teaching him about so he knew this was a good start. “Hi!” he began. “I have a new Star Wars Lego video game. Want to come over this weekend and hang out and play the new game?” He knew that he should say: “hang out”  instead of “play” now that he was in sixth grade. His mother had been talking to him about this. Adam and Jack smiled at each other, which Henry knew was a good thing. “Well,” said Jack “We’re really busy this weekend, right Adam? We have a lot of homework to do.” “That’s right” said Adam, who was smiling such a big smile he was almost laughing. “We have a lots of studying to do.” Henry smiled too, now that he had figured out what was going on. “I don’t understand sarcasm very well,” he announced, looking back and forth from Jack to Adam to Chantelle, trying to make appropriate eye contact instead of looking down at the ground, which he usually did. “Are you being serious or joking?” Adam started to laugh now, which made Henry really feel relieved. Henry knew now that he had figured it out, they really did want to hang out with him.  He just hadn’t realized before that they were joking, and now he had caught on. He couldn’t wait to tell Dr. D that their plan about sarcasm had worked.

Adam, continuing to laugh said, “Now Henry. Why would you say that? We’re not being sarcastic. I have so much homework to do, and my mother said I have to clean the whole house and mow the lawn. Jack’s mom said the same thing so we are going to busy every minute. Otherwise we would love to play the new Star Wars Lego’s game with you. We keep talking every day about how much we want to play that.”

Chantelle looked at Adam, frowned and said, “Adam, stop being mean.” Adam replied “Chantelle, what are you thinking? We would never be mean to Henry. He’s like the coolest kid in the whole class. Everyone wants to be his friend and play with light sabers in his back yard. Right Jack?”

Jack frowned and inexplicably, to Henry, walked away. Henry was sad that he had been wrong about the sarcasm, since this meant they really couldn’t come over once again. But he was relieved to know that Adam and Jack still thought he was one of the coolest kids in the class, and that they had told him that everyone wanted to be his friend and play light sabers with him. Maybe sixth grade was going to be good year after all. He could try asking some of the other kids in his class over now that he knew that.

Henry thought he’d start with Jimmy, who was standing just a few feet away, and had likely heard the conversation. Jimmy was smiling, which encouraged Henry. “Hey Jimmy!” he said. “Want to come over this weekend and play my new Lego’s Star Wars game with me on my PS3?” Jimmy shook his head and laughed. Henry, seeing the clue for sarcasm, responded “Ha! I knew it! You’re being sarcastic right? I don’t understand sarcasm very well, but I know it means that people say the opposite of what they mean. You shook your head no, and laughed, so that means that you really mean yes, right Jimmy? You want to come over don’t you Jimmy? You’re just teasing me, but in a fun way, right Jimmy?”

Jimmy walked over close to Henry and said, “Shut up you retard!” and then walked away. Henry looked at Chantelle, who looked away. She was not smiling. Henry knew that retard was a bad word, and that his teacher had told him that when other students called him this again, he was supposed to tell her. “I’m telling Mrs. Kingston” he yelled at Jimmy. “You’re not supposed to say that word.” “Go ahead and tell her you retard! It just goes to show what a total retard you are,” retorted Jimmy. “What do you think that we are still in second grade or something? Why don’t you go find some little kids and see if they want to play light sabers with you, you retard? Just stay away from me or next time I won’t just call you a retard, I’ll knock you on your butt.” “He’s bullying me!” yelled Henry in Mrs. Kingston’s direction, who had just come out onto the playground to bring the sixth grade kids in from recess. “Jimmy just called me names and threatened to hurt me, Mrs. Kingston. Jimmy is a bully. You told me to tell if I was getting bullied and he’s a bully Mrs Kingston. He’s getting in trouble, right Mrs Kingston, because he broke the rules. He’s not allowed to talk like that is he?”

Mrs. Kingston told him to take a break and go down to Dr. D’s office and calm down, and that she would take care of Jimmy. “Jimmy is a bully” he yelled to the rest of the class, feeling triumphant, knowing they all liked him now and that Jimmy was in the wrong. “I know you all might want to come over this weekend but my mother said I could only have two people over at once, so maybe we could do a sign up or something to choose who is going to come over.” The other students looked at each other and started laughing, and Henry was so happy to see this good reaction. “Just go see Dr. D” said Mrs. Kingston sighing. “I’ll call down and tell her you are on your way.” “OK, Mrs. Kingston, just make sure to get the paper out so the kids can sign up for coming over to my house this weekend.” He felt so happy as he exited the class, hearing his classmates laughing. He started thinking about what he would plan for the activities this weekend. Maybe Dr. D would let him call his mother so he could tell her. She had been reminding him every week to ask someone over and now it was finally going to come true.

  3 Responses to “Henry: Chapter One”

  1. Awesome Barbara! Definitely keep writing! I love the shout out to Kingston!

  2. This is terrific. Makes my heart break. Thank you.

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