February 22, 2009

Sample chapter in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GABE


I haven't been blogging much in the past few weeks because of a looming deadline on the GO ASK MOM series. Books two (and three) are written completely, book two is completely designed and illustrated and I am happy to announce that Gabriel Peters and his friends have been very busy and the new book is scheduled to be out by mid-March! I thought you might enjoy a sneak preview:


PROLOGUE

In the last week of summer, Mom and Dad walked out of my room with the saddest looks on their faces. I could tell they felt almost as bad as I did.
My brother Carl stood in my doorway with a look of astonishment on his face, having overheard our conversation. He then just shook his head and crept back to his room.
“WHAT??” I screamed after my departing folks. “WHAT? NO WAY! I cannot repeat fourth grade! I cannot, I cannot! You promised that I was going to change schools!” THIS ISN'T FAIR AT ALL!
I then screamed into my pillow at the top of my lungs. It was bad enough to think about being a repeater and all the kids who would make fun of me, but the worse part was that I was going to have to repeat classes with Sister Mary Claire. Mom had talked to me about repeating fourth grade at Pioneer Ridge Elementary School instead, the same public school everyone else in Skyview, our neighborhood, goes to, and that was bad enough, but now it was the worst news ever, repeating in my old school AND in the same class with the same dumb old teacher! That was simply more than I could take. Even though Mom had explained over and over that I would graduate from High School several years younger than all of the other kids and then it would really matter to me, I didn't care. IT JUST ISN'T FAIR AT ALL!
My first fourth-grade year had been a nightmare in many ways. At least my eye patch was coming off before school began and my leg was a lot better that it used to be. But how could they promise me that I was going to get out of St. Joseph's and then go back on their word?

As I said, Mom and Dad had tried to explain that there were real reasons that I was going to stay at St. Joe's. Maybe their reasons made sense to them, but I was the one who had to stay. Since I didn't want to hear their reasons, I didn't really listen to them; after all, they had promised me that I would be going to Pioneer Ridge Elementary School and now it wasn't going to happen.
I wanted to run away from home.
My friends went to the normal school, the public school with the big yellow bus that squeaked loudly in the early morning as it rounded the corner and headed up Venus Avenue toward my house to pick the kids up at the bus stop. I always wanted to ride that bus with the other kids, including my big brother, but instead I rode in the carpool of misfits, us kids who for a bunch of reasons didn't fit into the normal scheme of things and didn't go to the same school as all of the other kids in the neighborhood.
My carpool had these twin sisters with poodle-puff blond hair and breath that always smelled like raspberry Kool-Aid, and a boy named Ike who never talked to anyone in the car but stared out his window, singing to himself and ignoring everyone else in the car. Sometimes this other boy named Bhasin with really dark skin who came from India rode with us when his mom couldn't take him to St. Joe's because she had to take care of his sick sister. I always felt sorry for that kid, because he never got any attention on account of his sister. He seemed really sad. Then there was of course me, the clown of the car as Mrs. Abernathy called me, but everyone knew I went to the Catholic school because I was smart and needed a challenge.
It seemed to me like just going to the school and surviving the day was the real challenge!
The moms took turns driving us back and forth downtown to the school. I didn't like it when the little Indian kid's mom drove because she had this rickety old brown station wagon that barely made it every time (we broke down on the side of the road two times already in the first month of my fourth-grade year), and she smoked like a train.
Whenever I hear that saying, “…smokes like a train,” it always makes me think of The Little Engine That Could and how if he smoked he couldn't have gotten up that hill because he would be all out of breath and really blue in the face. Come to think of it, he was blue in the face, and blue all over for that matter.
I was always doing stuff like that, daydreaming and thinking about stuff in a weird way. My dad just said it was because I live in my head, in my imagination, and that it is a good thing. Everyone else just seems to think I am strange.
As I said before, I wanted to ride the big yellow school bus with the other kids from my neighborhood. It got so bad that one day I just hopped on the bus after my brother got on. It was kind of sad, because my mom got really scared and called the police when I wasn't around to get in the carpool. I hid under a seat all the way to the public school, that I only got to go to when my brother's class had a play or the annual school carnival.
My mom and dad told me that they had imagined all kinds of crazy stuff happening to me while I was missing. It was like I was one of those kids on the posters who show up every so often in the post office or on the side of a milk carton: HAVE YOU SEEN ME?
Geez, I wasn't ever really missing! My brother was only three feet away from me the whole time, but no one saw me get on the bus because the bus driver was on the tetherball court flirting with the weird divorced lady who had no kids at the school, but was always standing out there near the bus stop in a fancy dress and tons of makeup. I guess she liked the bus driver or something.
When all of the kids went to their classes I wandered into the library and started reading one of The Happy Hollisters mystery books. The librarian finally saw me sitting on the floor in the back and then took me to the office, where my mom was called.

I was sent home in the janitor's car. He told me all kinds of funny stories about pranks he pulled on other people when he was a boy. He had gone to a Catholic school too, and had some funny stories about it.
When I got home my mom hugged me so hard that I thought my brain was going to pop out. She then drove me over to St. Joe's and walked me into my fourth grade class. That's kind of embarrassing in a way, but it made me feel kind of special, too.
When I got home later that day, the kids at the bus stop were talking about my stunt.
Well, all of this to say that going to the Catholic school in a uniform every day, when almost all of the other kids in my neighborhood are in the yellow school bus in their jeans and t-shirts, has singled me out. When we all play hide-n-seek or some other game and they started talk about stuff that happened at their school, I always feel left out. I like the summers best, because no one goes to school, and after just a few weeks they all stop talking about stuff at school and we are all the same for a little while.
One thing I did this past year, that my brother said was sissy, was to keep a diary. I liked it. I liked having an imaginary friend who heard all of my stories, shared all of my inner secrets. Something about writing it all down for me was like getting it all out. Like throwing up when you feel really lousy. My diary was a place to go throw it all up. I have a lot to throw up too, because for a little kid, I have already been through a ton of rough stuff.
So, the bottom line is there is nothing I can do about repeating fourth grade again. Besides, if I don't I will barely be a teenager when I graduate from high school because I skipped both second and third grades, no lie, and that will make me even more of a misfit than I am now. So, like it or not, as my big brother Carl and his friends will say over and over, “Gabriel Peters is going to fourth grade AGAIN! GABRIEL PETERS IS A REPEATER!” This year is going to be a waste! I already learned everything there was to know in fourth grade last year. I thought they said I was so smart. Maybe they had it all wrong?
Now I only have a few more weeks of freedom left to do all the things kids like to do before I am back in the Batwoman's torture chamber. I just cannot believe I am going to have to repeat Sister Mary Claire. Trust me, repeating any grade is bad enough without having to repeat her! DANG! DANG! DANG!
So, the stuff you are about to read is from my diaries. I like telling stories, and keeping the diaries helps me to remember details. Stories about your life and junk always seem to be better when you tell them later, after it has happened and having some of the nitty-gritty details makes a story so much better! I really only want to tell you about the summertime, because summertime is the best time of the whole year, but some interesting things happened in my second fourth grade year that made me look forward to the next summer even more, so here goes….

1 comment:

Alex said...

I like that little nik bhasin is making an appearance! you should write about his grandmother, too!