Let's Make a Novel

Let’s Make a Novel Entry #4

Words this week: belly button lint
Submitted by: Robin Hawrish

Part 3: 1500 – 2000 words (or so)


I kick the newspaper across the yard, angry enough for a field goal from fifty yards away. The newspaper clears the fence and disappears from view. Jessica has one hand over her eyes like she’s at a golf tournament, it’s sunny out, and she’s trying to track the ball through the air.

“Wow,” she says. I can tell she wants to say more but my mood kills our usual banter. “So where are we off to?”

“I don’t know. Let’s walk.”

I brush the pebbles off my knee and grab the handle of my suitcase so fiercely it flops over, and I struggle to get it back under control. “Stupid bag,” I yell, ready to make the suitcase chase the newspaper, but I need clothes, so I storm off with the suitcase trailing behind me.

The sky is jet black, which is a terrible omen in the middle of the day. Only then do I notice it’s still drizzling and my shirt is getting soaked. I hadn’t bothered to grab a jacket from home and I can’t remember if I stuffed one in my suitcase—it’s been weeks since I prepared my emergency pissed off and must run away suitcase. If the storm picks up again, the rain will drench me and I’ll have nowhere to go. Mom’s house would take days to walk to and Jessica’s parents don’t allow people to sleep over. Jessica is a few feet behind me kicking at stones.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Trying to kick like you,” she says.

That’s easy: have your dad come home from the war, mom abandon the family, and then dad become solely reliant on you until you’d rather die than stay with him, I think but don’t say.

I march another block before my thoughts get the better of me and I sit on the curb with my head buried in my knees and cry. I can’t help but imagine Dad finding a gun somewhere in the house and ending it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I can hear the gunshot go off. My eyes dart down the road, looking for birds taking flight above my house.

I look up at Jessica and find her picking at her stomach.

“Now what are you doing?” I ask dumbfounded.

“There’s belly button lint I can’t get out of my bellybutton. It’s frustrating.”

I burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all. Even if she doesn’t realize it, she knows what to do when I’m having a hard time. She frowns, wondering why I’m laughing, and joins me after she gets a mental picture of our situation.

I take advantage of my distracted thoughts and walk down the road, destination unknown. For no explainable reason the newspaper article jumps back in my mind. It said something about stock traders selling stocks long before the market crashed. There was a picture of a soldier saluting the Canadian Flag captured with the article—it reminded me of Dad. What did the military have to do with a sudden decline in stocks?

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