Hey everyone! As I briefly mentioned in my Best of June post, I’m on a missions trip this week! Since I wasn’t around to write a long formal blog post this week, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some of my personal writing with you guys.
I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve been working on a novella titled Summertime. In the Beautiful People posts I’ve done the last two months, I introduced you to the two main characters, Riley and Leslie. What I’m sharing now is the first chapter in the story, which has been through numerous rounds of editing.
I… Don’t really have much else to say about it, so without further ado, here’s chapter one!
The sun had just begun to sink behind the buildings of Satterfield, Pennsylvania, casting long shadows over the skate park. The June air was still, the silence only broken by a passing car or a mother telling her children to come inside.
Leslie sat down on the wall and set her skateboard on her lap, brushing her bangs out of her eyes. Her shoulder length hair was dark and messy, just the way she liked it.
“You got an allen wrench?” she asked, examining her skateboard in the dim light.
Riley skidded to a stop and rested his foot on his board to keep it from rolling away. “I might have one here…” he said, turning out the pockets of his jeans. “This should do it,” he said, tossing the tool to Leslie.
She caught it with ease. “Thanks.”
He grinned and got back on his own board, heading towards the grinding rail that was set up nearby.
Riley stood at six feet tall, just a few inches taller than Leslie, but she would deny it if you asked her. He wore a red t-shirt that proudly proclaimed his love for some punk rock band, and skinny jeans despite the fact it was the middle of summer.
Riley ollied onto the railing, barely managing to land the two skateboard trucks on it. Unfortunately, he could only stay balanced for a few seconds before falling off.
Leslie looked up from her board again. “You alright?” she asked.
He stood up and dusted off his jeans. “Yeah, I’m fine. Nothing ripped.”
“Oh, right, because I’m so concerned about your jeans.” She rolled her eyes. “You didn’t injure yourself, did you?”
“Nah,” Riley replied with a grin. “You worried?”
Leslie scoffed. “I just don’t want to drive you to the emergency room.”
“You keep telling yourself that,” he teased, attempting the trick again.
“You’re putting too much weight on your back foot,” Leslie said as Riley stumbled away from the rail once again. “That’s why your board keeps slipping out from under you.”
Riley picked up his board and looked at her. “Fine, you show me how you do it,” he challenged.
Leslie grinned. “My pleasure.” She finished adjusting her skateboard, and set it on the pavement, pushing off with her foot. She ollied onto the rail, but instead of falling off right away like Riley had, Leslie stayed on the rail to the end, where she finished with a 180 degree spin and landed back on the ground.
“You’re pretty good at that,” Riley said, though Leslie could hear the jealousy in his voice.
“Thanks. Learned it myself.”
They skated in silence for a little longer until Leslie had to stop and tighten the trucks on her skateboard again.
“They’re a bad brand,” she said, sitting down near the wall. “Aiden said he got some better ones from a friend and he’s gonna bring them this weekend when he visits so I can try ‘em out.”
Riley nodded and rode up a ramp, landing a kickflip. “I didn’t know he was coming here.”
“Yeah, he’s bringing his fiancée with him.”
“He has a fiancée?”
Leslie sighed and slumped against the wall. “It happened real fast,” she explained, “Supposedly they’ve known each other for a while and then they started dating and then he proposed and now they’re getting married in a month. No one’s even met her yet.” She paused for a moment. “Wait, my dad did. But that’s it.”
“You sound upset,” Riley said.
“Of course I’m upset! I’m his sister, and I need to approve of his girlfriends before he goes and marries them! I mean, what if she’s no good?” Leslie groaned. “Anyway, he wants me to go with them to that amusement park near Morrison on Saturday. I think Aiden’s trying to bribe me into liking her.”
Riley looked up. “Is it working?”
She rolled her eyes. “My brother is asking me to third wheel his date, how do you think it’s working?”
“Sheesh, sorry I asked.”
Leslie stood and walked over to the half-pipe where Riley was skating. “Sorry. Just frustrating, y’know?”
She didn’t seem to hear him. “You could come with, if you want.” Leslie shifted her skateboard to her other arm and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I mean, it’d be nice.”
Riley slid to a stop and smirked. “Leslie Summers, did you just ask me on a date?”
She snorted. “As if,” she said. “I’m asking if you would help me out. Aiden knows you and he’s pretty chill about this sort of thing. It’d be fine.”
“Sounds an awful lot like a date…”
“Then don’t come!” she snapped, finally reaching the top of the ramp.
Riley rolled his eyes. “C’mon, don’t be so dramatic. You sound like a bad soap opera actor.”
“I do not,” she grumbled before riding down the half-pipe and stalling on the top edge of the other side. “Have you ever even watched a soap opera?”
“No, unless you count that one Psych episode-”
“Then no.” Riley picked up his skateboard and watched as Leslie released herself from the edge of the ramp and rode to the bottom, where she slid to a stop.
“I’ll come. My weekends are usually free,” Riley continued.
Leslie sighed with relief. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“No, I mean that,” she insisted. “It’s a huge relief for me.”
“Well, y’know I-”
Riley was cut off by music blaring from his phone. “I gotta take this, sorry,” he said before answering the call.”
“Who is it?” Leslie asked.
Riley mouthed the name Chey, and Leslie sighed, not at all surprised. Chey, their friend since high school, seemed to have a tendency to find herself in tight situations.
He hung up the phone and turned to Leslie. “She’s stranded downtown with a flat tire, so I’m gonna go pick her up. That all right with you?”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Leslie replied. “I’ll text you the details about Saturday when I get them from Aiden. Tell Chey I say hi.”
“I’ll try to remember that. You okay getting home?”
She nodded. “It’s not that dark yet, and I’m only about a fifteen minute walk from here. Don’t worry about me.”
“I wasn’t. I know you can take care of yourself.”
Leslie picked up her board and headed out towards the street. “See you around, Riley.”
“Yep, see ya,” he replied, grabbing his skateboard and walking to his car.
An hour later, Riley unlocked the door to his apartment tossed his keys into the basket.
“I’m home!” he shouted. There was no response.
Riley sighed, although he’d been expecting the silence. Only one other person lived in the apartment besides him – his father, Jason. However, they hardly crossed paths. Between a full-time job at a truck manufacturing plant and a part-time position at a restaurant, Jason was barely home. When he was, he was either working on his Associate’s degree or sleeping.
The apartment had been lonely for over a decade, actually. Riley’s mother had abandoned them when he was five years old, too young to remember anything except that she made chocolate chip pancakes on Saturday mornings.
Morrison Area Community College was where both Riley and Leslie currently attended school. MACC had some dorms for its students, but they were limited and expensive. The father and son had worked out an agreement where, in exchange for room and board, Riley would contribute to the rent. It was an forty-minute commute every morning, but well worth the saved money.
Riley opened the fridge and pulled out his sandwich from lunch. Well, it was supposed to have been for lunch, but he’d lost track of time and left for work in a rush.
He took a bite of the sandwich and sat down at the kitchen table, opening his laptop. It had been a high school graduation gift from his father, but Riley still had no idea how he’d been able to pay for it. He didn’t want to know – all that mattered was that he didn’t have to use the old desktop in the living room anymore.
A few minutes later, the apartment door opened and Jason entered.
“Hey,” Riley said, glancing up from the screen, “How was work?”
“Fine,” his father replied, dropping his keys in the basket and hanging his jacket on the hook. “What about you?”
“Same as usual,” Riley replied, closing the laptop, “That collector came in and gave me a hard time about the vinyl records again. He doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not 1970 anymore.” The music store where Riley worked specialized in vintage records and as a result, it was only visited by hipsters, retired rockers, and arrogant collectors. It was frustrating, but it wasn’t the worst job in the world.
Jason nodded and began to head for the living room.
“By the way, I’m gonna be in Morrison with Leslie on Saturday. That okay with you?”
His father paused and turned around in the doorway. “Leslie?”
“We were in the same graduating class,” Riley explained. The two had never been formally introduced, but Jason had been at his graduation, and Leslie… well, she was hard to miss.
“Right,” Jason replied, clearly not remembering. “You know you don’t have to check in with me about these things.”
“I know. But I feel like you should know what I’m doing.” Riley grabbed his computer and got up from the table. “I’m going to bed. Night, Dad.”
And that’s the end of chapter one! I hope you enjoyed it and it wasn’t too bad of a replacement for a “regular” blog post. It’s still in the editing/revising stages right now, but it’s certainly come a long way from my first draft.
I’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to comment! Talk to you next week!