Works in Progress…First Pages

Obliged (Working Title)

Marly pushed her shoulders flat, melting into the wall of stone behind the door that opened into Director Johnson’s office. Footsteps, heavy and slow, sounded to her right. “Please don’t close the door, please don’t close the door,” she prayed. Her blood pulsed through her veins, ocean waves pounding. Surely he could hear them. For the first time she doubted. Getting caught would mean going back. Was it worth the risk?

Then, he spoke.


Cringing, she held her breath, the hot, captive air scorched as intensely as the shame searing her resolve. If she confessed her sins, if she begged mercy, she might be forgiven. She brought her foot forward from the shadows, but he continued.

“It’s eight o’clock. What couldn’t wait until morning?”

His deep sigh wheezed frustration.

She worked to ignore beads of sweat clinging to the curve of her spine. The fabric of her required dress molded against her so that even her ankles sought freedom from the oppressive oven of the cassock.

“Excellent. One down, two to go.” The pleasure left his voice as he continued, “Make a note that next year I will not be available to them after seven, no matter what the emergency. Good night.”

Papers shuffled and she willed whatever he was looking for to be different from the object of her quest. The report on Leland would be devastating to his future if it found its way to the High Council. If she could destroy it before the director read it, there was a chance they could hide the whole incident from Superior Renault. There had been no announcement of a penance hearing so she felt certain the news hadn’t made its was up the chain of command.

Jangling keys signaled Johnson’s exit.

“Useless, pathetic, selfish,” he muttered under his breath and yanked the door closed, throwing her off balance. The hardwood stung her tailbone and she groaned, pushing her way up through mounds of pea green, scratchy fabric.

She reached the desk and moved to turn on the screen but the rattle of the doorknob startled her. Calculating the distance from where she stood to her previous hiding place, she instead threw herself under the large wooden monstrosity.

There was a quiet click, followed by footsteps. She made a wish but didn’t pray again. Asking to be saved a second time might be more than what she was worth.

“If I were an incident report where would I be?” Asked a familiar voice.

Irritation and anger warred in her gut, but it was the anger that rose to her chest and launched her forward.    A high-pitched shriek broke the silence.

“Lee! Shut up! You’re going to get us both thrown out of training.”

She watched his normally animated face take on a serious look and he raised a finger to his lips, letting her know he would try.

“What are you doing in here?” He asked.

She lifted her arms trying to find her hands under the loose, long sleeves and after succeeding, started paging through the manila file folders on Director Johnson’s desk.

“What do you think? I’m trying to keep my best friend from ending up exiled.”

Henry and the Girls

My best friend was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. He’d been expelled. You might think that was the worst thing that happened to me yesterday, but you’d be wrong. The worst thing was that when Derek walked out of our 6th grade classroom at St. Cecilia’s Catholic School, I was the only boy left.

My school is small anyways, there are only thirteen kids in my class. Well…now twelve. It was OK when my friend was still here, but without him I wasn’t sure I’d make it out of 6th grade alive. Everyday, all day, all girls…all the time.

“Henry,” Mrs. Lewis’ scratchy grandma voice broke through my zombie depression state. “The capitol of China?”

Crap. I thought she’d already asked a few times. I had no idea. Studying wasn’t high on my priority list. Derek and I managed to spend most of our time in the principal’s office anyway, so why study? Without my partner in crime I may have to participate in class.

“Henry,” Mrs. Lewis repeated.

“Hong Kong?”

My paper whooshed from my desk to the floor as tornado force winds flew from girls rising hands waiting to correct my mistake. Yes, this was going to be a great three months. As I bent to retrieve my notes I heard the voice of Natalie Jackson.

“The capital of China is Beijing, Mrs. Lewis.” She looked right at me when she said it, taunting me, basically calling me a moron in front of all of her “sisters”.

I really didn’t like the girl, so I did what any self respecting 6th grade boy would do. As soon as Mrs. Lewis turned her head, I sent a spitball straight at her face. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it through. With no Derek sitting next to me, there was no doubt in Mrs. Lewis’ mind who the culprit was.

“Henry! Mr. Shannon’s office. Now.”

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