Monday, November 16, 2015

Cast Out of Eden (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

Comfort means different things to different people in the real world, and it should mean different things to different fictional characters, too.

For Roger Pierce, my protagonist in Roger and the Meteor Mass, nothing is so much a comfort and refuge as a challenging book, with a quiet place to read it. 

Roger is the kind of reader who devoured Dumas in second grade, fell in love with Heinlein and Blish in third grade, and discovered algebra by reading his father's college textbooks when his classmates were struggling with long division and fractions. 

Roger's book-centric comfort zone informs my piece for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge this week:

November 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a place of comfort that is a refuge. Have fun with it, like a pillow fight between best friends at a slumber party or newlyweds in search of the perfect mattress. Or you can go dark and write about unusual comforts, like a bad habit or a padded cell. Play with the idea of comfort and refuge.

The flash will go into my NaNovel as a description, a snapshot of why Roger is the "stranger child." 

I have written before about why Roger is such a familiar persona for me. He is based in some part on what I have learned in helping Kenneth Cummings write his memoirs. This fictional flash is rolled together from two incidents in Cummings' real history. In one, he was actually barred from reading in the library during recess at his grade school. The other comes from a separate conversation with a high school counselor about what constituted his "peer group."

Word Count: 1952 Day 16 and 35059 Total

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Cast Out of Eden

Roger was accustomed to sparse selections in school libraries, where "Wind in the Willows" and "Onion John" were considered challenging reads.

In Meteor, donated college textbooks and novels, plus a set of "Great Books of the Western World," filled one whole stack. They could be read in-library, but never checked out. For a month, he was in paradise, reading during every free period.

One day as he lunched with Newton's Principia Mathematica, he was rousted by the principal. "You should spend your time socializing with your peers!"

"But I was!" His protests ignored, he was barred from the library.