Dude! Today at the carnival we’re posting 4/20 excerpts. Here’s one from TRANSFER STUDENT, an intergalactic tale of beauty and the geek. Here we meet Ashley, a surfer from Beverly Hills who’s always held a grudge against the yellow stars she never learned how to draw in kindergarten. While on The Field Trip from Hell to the Griffith Observatory, Ashley realizes the person she’s allowed herself to become and wants to make a change, but doesn’t know how. Ashley’s whole life will change in ways she never imagined…
My teacher, Miss Carmicheal, thinks today’s a big deal because this yellow-star mecca has been closed for five years.
“Gather around the obelisk!” Miss C. says, clapping her hands. The class swarms in the creepy shadow of the statue, a black sword slicing the popular kids from the rest.
Six astronomer statues stand in a circle with their backs to each other and look down on my friends and me like all brainiacs do. The statues’ dead-eyed gaze melts my manicured, blow-dried heart. I’m just as trapped, just as lame as them.
The class clip-clops around me.
“Let’s ditch these losers and blaze.” Tiffany puts a couple fingers to her mouth and takes a phantom toke of an invisible joint.
I collect friends. Get high when I can. Drink to get drunk. Do whatever to stay on top. I wear the right clothes, the right make-up. Hook up with the right guys. I’m a fake. A yellow star. But nobody knows. Nobody, but me.
Tiff tugs my arm and points to a hill with a view of the city. “Come on,” she says.
Normally, I’d be right with Tiff, wanting to flee a gum-chewing, screaming crowd of yellow-star drawers. But I don’t now. I’m not even sure why, exactly. “Let’s wait a while,” I say, shrugging Tiff off, knowing she won’t go without me.
I walk in a circle around the obelisk and read the names of the astronomers sculpted in stone: Hipparchus of Rhodes [190-120 B.C.], Nicolaus Copernicus [1473-1543], (Johannes) Kepler [1571-1630], Galileo (Galilei) [1564-1642], Sir Isaac Newton [1642-1727], and William Herschel [1738-1822].
I wonder if people got high in 190 B.C.
“Whatever,” Tiffany says with a sideways glance, like I robbed her of something. “This is beyond boring.”
I examine the brainiacs’ chiseled faces and stare into the eyes of Galileo. His stare over the LA basin draws me in. I take a step closer to his statue. What I read as trapped before fascinates me now. The power of answering the questions of a lifetime.
“Ash, come on.” Tiffany puts her hand on the door to the entrance of the observatory. I almost take out a few yellow-star drawers when I finally open the heavy bronze door and step inside. I’m not used to the end of the line, but from my spot here, the clunky metal monstrosity of a telescope casts a kind of spell over me.
I wring my hands.
“Let’s go,” Tiffany whispers.
I fix my gaze on the telescope.
“Come on! Miss C.’s clueless,” Tiffany whispers even quieter. She tugs on my elbow and eyes the door we came in.
Blazing, getting high, used to sound so much more exciting than being straight or sober… myself. Someone I don’t even know how to be anymore.
“I want to look through the telescope,” I say.
“It’s daytime. What are you gonna see through that stupid telescope?” Tiffany says, rolling her eyes.
“I want to see what the brainiacs saw,” I say.
“The astronomers, the ones carved in the stone,” I say.
“You sure you’re not stoned?” Tiff says.
“Just. Chill,” I say.
“I can’t chill when my BFF takes a tragic turn toward the lame.” Tiffany nods to a group of smiling girls at the front of the line.
“Maybe this will be golden,” I say, knowing the irreversible damage a cross into geekdom will do to my carefully crafted reputation. “Don’t judge me.”
Tiffany scoots to the front of the line, taking cuts where she can, smiling at the people behind her like a recently crowned homecoming queen.
Tiffany & Co. snake their way around the hall and out the observatory doors.
The line goes so slow it feels like I’m getting farther and farther behind. I shift my feet and lean up against the wall. A poster hanging there kills the boredom––the moon has mountains, craters and seas that aren’t really seas. Some named Tranquility, Clouds, and Serenity. Others named Storms, Cold, and Crises.
I’m like the moon.
To celebrate TRANSFER STUDENT on SMASHWORDS I’m giving away one signed paperback. All you need to do is tweet:
I want to win a signed paperback of TRANSFER STUDENT! “spell-binding” “intergalactic tale of beauty & the geek” http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/152382
Every tweet is an entry, more tweets=more entries! Good luck and thanks for helping to spread the word. Now readers can download & sample TRANSFER STUDENT in any format! Squueeee:)
Check out the other awesome 4/20 posts by the carnis this week! Thanks for stopping by:)