A Prologue by Any Other Name

Friends, readers, countrymen…

I’m posting this because I want to know what you think. Not from an editing standpoint, or from a literary standpoint, or from any other standpoint really, but from wherever it is you stand. I suppose what I’m really asking is HOW does this make you feel? Are you anxious? Excited? Sad? Disinterested? Do you want to know more? Or does this small window into the past (of a story about a character you’ve never read about) leave you wanting more?

Inquiring writers want to know.

So here it is:


Sixteen years ago…

            Eight year old Emma sat hunched over a battered department issue desk, her little jaw clenched in determination. Shabby, secondhand clothes hung loosely from the many angles of her painfully thin body, and her mousy brown hair hung in dirty, tangled curls over a face that would’ve been angelic had it not been for the bruises. Behind the curls, large silver eyes sparkled with intelligence and a hint of defiance.
            “Dear Santa,” she wrote painstakingly, making each letter neat and symmetrical. “My teacher says I have to write you this stupid letter to tell you what I want for Christmas, even though I don’t think you’re real.” She paused for a moment and looked up to make sure no one was watching. “But just in case you are real,” she continued, “and you already know where I live like Mrs. Garth says, then you know if you give me a toy or a jump rope or something it will just get stolen. So here’s what I want. I want my own house, where I can live all by myself and not have to share a room with five other kids. I want some shoes that fit me, and clean clothes to wear to school. I want to live somewhere clean, where its warm all year and the street doesn’t smell like pee. I want the big kids to stop selling drugs to kids at my school, and beating them up all the time. And I want my foster mom to not drink so much.”
            A giggle from the next row over made Emma stop writing, but she didn’t look over. She knew the other kids were probably laughing at her like they always did, because she smelled bad and was dirty. A tear started to form in her left eye, but she sniffled and it went back in. It didn’t matter what the other girls thought, because they only ever tried to hurt her with words. Words were nothing compared to what she got back home.
            Shifting slightly in her orange plastic chair, Emma went back to writing her make believe letter to Santa. “But most of all,” she wrote. “I want my own gun.”
            Then she signed it. “Sincerely, Emma Sang.”

***Go ahead and give me a play by play if you’ve got the time. I’d really appreciate it!

One thought on “A Prologue by Any Other Name

  1. It seems to try too hard to drum up sympathy. I’d rather see Emma as she sees herself and then given an outsider’s perspective rather than jumping in with the neglected, abused description.

    I do believe, however, that the gun line has the shock and curiosity factor you’re intending. It makes me want to know more about her teacher – apathetic? ignorant? mousy? stupid? corrupt? It makes me want to know if she actually submits that as her actual copy. It makes me wonder if she still believes in figures like Santa Clause, the tooth fairy, or any form of deity. It makes me wonder what her experiences with guns are – does she think she can handle one? Does she have the strength to hold it up? Is she in a zero-tolerance school district where saying such a thing once will get her suspended and twice will get her expelled. It seems the girl has grit, so why does she shy away rather than attack those who giggle at her? How long has she been with this foster family? When will she be transfered, why hasn’t the CPS noticed the problems she’s subjected to? What happened to her birth family? Does she have birth- or foster- siblings? etc etc etc

    It must be said that this is an excellent first-release (and surely 50-billionth draft).

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