acerbic |əˈsərbik|adjective1 (esp. of a comment or style of speaking) sharp and forthright: his acerbic wit.2 archaic or technical tasting sour or bitter.
“Riiight, to be thankful because III was old enough to survive. Because I wasn’t born after January 27th three years before.
fourth-nine children massacred in the Great Day of Sorrow. Like my little sister. Because I lived, when she died. Isn’t that right, Mom?”
Her mother just tsk’d and grabbed her chin, inspecting her nose, and the new piercings therein.
“Really? Because a simple piercing on the side of your nose wasn’t enough? You had to go and pierce the other side and the in-between, too?”
“Septum, Mom. It’s from Latin, a scientific term. Means “a partition separating two chambers, such as–“
“Jesus, Caroline. I was expecting an apology, not a science lesson.”
Well. “Who does all these piercings for you?”
Those still in the womb would be between 10 and 11. Those killed would be 11, 12, 13, or 14.
ages between 11 and 13. Bitter Girl is 15, barely.
Turd is 11.
Bitter Girl is curious about her sister, who would be 12. Nobody really knows whether she was saved or not.
the fake-cheer of the yellow walls.
You might recall (Luke more than Michelle, as I had the good fortune to discuss this with him during a study hall last week), that the story is only /kind of/ about ghosts.
It initially began as I was trying to think of ways I could put my whole I’ve-Grown-Up-In-Two-Houses/I-Don’T-Really-Belong-In-Any-One-Place perspective into story.
Also, I had Jesus and Moses on my mind. Wondering about the Other Kids–the ones who were killed when the Men In Authority issued the killing. For Moses, all the little kids killed to avoid the Hebrew Uprising the Egyptians so feared; for Jesus, all the children under the age of two Herod ordered to be killed when he received word that the Messiah had been born.
Moses was hidden, then raised in safety; Jesus and his parents fled to another county. I want to talk about /those/ characters, sure, the Ones Who Survive. But I REALLY want to talk about those who were killed. (….she said, ominously.)
This is all… Set in some Dystopian “Utopia,” by the way. That’s important to know. And the government issued the killing. I have several theories behind their motives, etc, but… I’m giving it time. No need to rush these things, now.
But, regardless of why these kids were killed and all that, I figure… There are three types of kids.
1) The Survivors. These are the living. The kids who were above the Age of Being Killed, or below if; the kids whose parents fled for free lands, or who were raised in secret; the kids who did not die. When the story opens, those Above the Age are at least 15: those below are 10.
2) The Killed. These are the ghosts, and shrouded in mystery for much of the book. I’m not even sure how much I want to disclose here. These kids were alive when the Orders to Kill All Children Ages Three And Younger was issued. Now, they would be between 12 and 14. Are between 12 and 14. They are, of all the groups, the most vindictive.
3) The Gamins. It’s a French word, ‘Gamin,’ meaning ‘street child.’ I refer to these kids as gamins in a metaphorical sense. See, these are the Kids Who Never Lived. When the government issued the Kill Orders, they were sill in heir mothers’ wombs; the mothers were given a choice: abort the baby, or be killed themselves. (Semicolon AND a colon in the same sentence. Win.) These kids, regardless of how they were killed, did survive. But differently than the Ghosts. I’m still working through the kinks, but here’s what I do know: they can be ‘seen,’ where the ghosts cannot. They’re my ‘neither-here-nor-there/always wandering/stuck in the middle/ gypsy/ Hebrew characters. Which is to say, they’re my favorite. They also, oddly enough, open the story up for discussions of pro-life, Jewish-Promised-Land?, childlike innocence?, and Street Kid Problems. I’m kind of stoked. And a little intimidated. They, like Gavroche in a way, are the most pure, the most pitiable. They have not “lived” ever. But because they also do not sleep, they “live” in a way, more than anyone. In Les Mis, Victor Hugo calls such Gamines/Street Urchins, the “cherub of the gutter, and describes them as perpetually cheerful in manner; slightly academic; being a child, naturally “pure;” intrepid; cautions and clever. They are he tie between the Survivors and the Dead. They are so alone, and uncared for. But they’re also the ones you root for the most.
SO. All that to tell you…..
I have a few characters.
The first is A Survivor, too old to be killed among the rest, and about 15 when we open. She is kind of based on my manager’s descriptions of her sister. Or was, initially. Her name’s Nova, like the scientific term for when a star explodes, burning extra-brightly for a little while. The temporary explosion stars do sometimes. There re two important thugs about her. One, she is extremely bitter. Like Mary in much of ‘A Little Princess,’ she cannot cry. Her mother refused to abort Nova’s younger sister, and both were executed. Nova, only four at the time, buried that resentment so deeply into her soul that all other emotion was evicted. She never properly mourned over he loss, and to this day wonders why she, too, was not killed. The second thing? Is that she is /desperate/ to feel again. To feel anything. The skin of her arms, abdomen, and thighs are all thick with self-wielded razor scars. Trouble is, she has such a high pain tolerance, even that failed. She’s tried everything, from drugs to promiscuity to attempted suicide: her body refuses (to a degree-the suicide attempts weren’t exactly…foolproof.) to let her go. And her heart refuses to pump anything but the toxic sludge of resentment and vengeance.
Less important details: she has short, pixie-cropped, bleached-angel-white hair. She shoplifts most things she wears/owns. This includes her 7 sets of earrings, nose ring, and two lip rings. All self-pierced, mind you. She might attain more as the story unfolds. At any rate, she steals to get a thrill, right? But it doesn’t last. There should be some mention to a superb heist that she pulled off, like finding her school superintendent’s medical records and proving once and for all he was once a she, or something like that. Something cooler. Anyway, one thing she has not stolen lately is new shoes. Her sneakers are falling to pieces, worn in the toes and all nasty. She could buy new ones, even. But she’s waiting.
As far as stealing for thrill- that’s all it is. She has a job, some money… But she prefers to stash it.
She lives, with her heartbroken father (ideally, I’d like to paint him as an Andrew-Jones-After-Losing-His-Wife… Like, /that/ level of heartbroken… But we’ll see), live above their hole-in-the-wall restaurant. She works there often, so you see her camaraderie with the Resident Mexican who’s been employed there since forever… And maybe some other employees. Also, her dad is included.
On the street corner across from her bedroom window is a 24-hour convenience store of sorts. Like Walgreens, but with more. That ‘s where she normally shoplifts. Also, the ever-glowing, sterile, reminiscent-of-hospital, lights shine through her blinds every night. She could read, that’s how bright they are.
She and her dad, living over their restaurant, are in a rather run-down, crumbling portion of the city. It used to be the hub of historic downtown, but now sits at the outskirts of a massive city. The metropolic citizens has long since moved elsewhere, leaving only the remnant of happy cwindow-shoppers.
Also, she eats tomatoes. With salt. And she doesn’t have her own phone.
I want the No-Strings Girl from Jones’s short sketch by the same name to have a small cameo: There was a girl who was watching the windows of an anti
Then there’s Mezzanine Mustard. She’s a gamin, so she’s been raised kind of ‘on the streets,’ of sorts… no parents, no real upbringing… and she’s awesome. I’m trying to go about creating her in a way that doesn’t make her out to be this super-awesome incarnation of All Things Good. But, in a way, that is what the Gamins are. Anyway, because she has never slept, she has had a lot more time ‘awake,’ and has read extensively, and knows a good deal of several languages. She knows the most, but is also the most pure, the most innocent.
I’ve obviously spent a great more deal of time on Nova, but here’s what I have for Mezzanine…. They call her “Turd,” by the way, the other gamins. She’s the first to ‘reveal’ herself to the ‘other characters.’ Muahaha.
There’s some line that I want her to quote from a book about zombies…
“We are… Oh, how did he put it? ‘Trapped in the gap between the cradle and the grave, no longer able to fit in either.'”
“Mmm. Who said that?” I ask.
“A zombie, once.” She pours herself more apple juice.
That’s another thing: she LOVES apple juice. It’s like, a child-like-innocent thing… There’s another line, when she speaks of something good, using the metaphor, “[if there was more of this around], the world would be a whole lot less like bilge water, and a whole lot more like apple juice.”
She’s small, a bit fragile. Longish light brown hair. An 11-year-old Lily Glennon, in her build. She’s “wise beyond her years,” and quite funny—but often mistaken over things.
And her purity is more of an intrinsically-wholesome sort, versus in an untainted way.
She has big, brown eyes.
She’s the most innocent. But she knows the most.
She has the child-like impulse to collect things, but nowhere to really put them.
Furthermore, she is the initial ‘bridge’ between the Ghosts and the Living. Because they have never lived, many Living have no idea they exist. I’m not sure if I could pull it off, but I’d like to create a lot more mystery around Gamins in history… like in Les Mis, Oliver Twist, other street kids throughout literature. Like, as if all children that were either miscarried or aborted or killed while in the womb still lived, only “showing themselves” when aligning with some force of people for the cause of freedom.
But I don’t know.
Soooo… I need to come up with more characters and situations and such. The Ghosts will remain unmentioned for a good portion of the story, only being revealed in some dramatic way. Sorry to ruin it for you.