Today my computer crashed, and I had a web conference I was trying to pay attention to. As such I didn’t get as much written. On the bright side, my novel is full of characters that aren’t me. One of them needed to tell another one a story, so today you get an excerpt from the first draft of the novel.
When Your Character Is Not Like You
Today we’re turning yesterday’s prompt inside out.
Write a story about a character as unlike you as you can manage
<— Write Below This Line —>
“Right. We were talking about how you shouldn’t turn down help when life offers it to you.”
“No.” Bridget rushed to keep him from starting a story she didn’t care about. “The one about a dog saving your life.”
Grandpa smiled. “Who said they were different? After all, getting your life saved would be a big help wouldn’t it?”
“I get it, I get it. I’ll be quiet and listen to the story.” Why did people Grandpa’s age want to tell stories so much anyhow? “Oh, before I forget. Mr. Livington says ‘Hi’.”
“I’ll have to stop by and visit him soon. Maybe after lunch?”
“Grandpa, the dog?”
“Hey, you’re the one changing the subject when I’m about to start. Don’t go blaming me when the story gets delayed.”
“Sorry Grandpa. I really do want to hear it though.”
“Alright, so I was going to tell you about the time a dog saved my life? That was a long time ago. I had to be about your age. I was riding my new bike and on my own a lot.”
“Why is it all of your stories for the last few years happen at about my age? Why not when you were 16 or something?”
“I guess I don’t remember those stories when we’re together. Maybe in four or five years? Anyhow, where was I? Right, it was the summer after I got my new mountain bike. I spent a lot of time exploring the trails running through the woods near my house that summer. Sometimes I had Johnny and Zack along, sometimes it was just me. It was a weekday morning that I was on my own that you’re interested in.”
“The woods were part of a larger national park. If you went deep enough in them you could start seeing rustic cabins and campsites scattered around. We lived pretty far from there and young me had no idea though. My friends and I never saw any other people while we were exploring. In hindsight that’s probably due to luck as much as anything.”
“So was it like the that park on the edge of town here Grandpa?”
“Oh no Bridget, it was much larger. It was the kind of park people would go on week-long hiking trips in, camping at sites that were little more than grassy clearings along the way. I was deeper into the woods than I had been before. My new bike combined with being alone meant I could cover much more ground than I was used to on those trails.”
“I had brought a backpack with lunch so I didn’t have to get home so soon. I was starting to get hungry and thinking of stopping for lunch when I mis-judged a curve. Unfortunately that curve was to go around a small ravine. Instead I went down it.”
“As you might expect I didn’t last long going down the hill. Luckily I managed to avoid hitting any rocks; bike helmets weren’t very common in that day you see. The pine tree was too big for me to miss though. On the bright side it was a lot softer than a rock would have been.”
Bridget winced just thinking about it.
“I don’t know how long I was in that tree, but I eventually had the energy to peel myself out. I hurt. A lot. Even if I hadn’t gotten hurt nobody was riding my bike until it had some serious repairs done. There weren’t cell phones back then, so I was on my own. It must have taken me an hour just to get back up to the trail. I started back and made no more than a few hundred feet before stopping at a clearing to rest.”
“While I was there a guy came by wearing full hiking gear. He saw me and stopped. Asked if I needed help. He wasn’t scary looking or anything, but I made like I had just stopped for lunch anyhow. Told him I was fine. He obviously didn’t believe me as he walked away. I didn’t believe me either, but I was a stupid kid in many ways.”
“Eventually I started back down the trail again. It was slow going. It also started to get dark. Had I been out in the neighborhoods it wouldn’t have seemed to be getting dark, but in the woods it gets dark faster. I started to wonder if I was going the right way. Things didn’t look familiar to me as I was going along.”
“Let me guess, no GPS beck then either?”
Grandpa Mark smiled, “No, no GPS either. If you came in at the park you could pick up a trail map though. I didn’t have one and probably wouldn’t have been able to read it if I did. I just kept plodding slowly along in the direction I hoped was home. As I was going I started to hear barking in the distance. To me barking meant one thing, neighborhoods. Realizing it was no fun being on my own I started to follow the noise. I don’t know what that dog’s beef was but him barking for over an hour is the reason I made it out that afternoon.”
“Seriously Grandpa? You heard barking and decided a dog saved your life?”
“Take from the story what you will. The way I see it the dog saved my life. I never did hear it go crazy like that again. I like to think he knew I needed help.” Grandpa Mark stood up to clear the dishes.
“I’m gonna go finish in the shed quick.”
“Would you like some help?”
“You can come out and help, unless I’m done before you finish cleaning up.” With that Bridget rushed out the back door.