Friday, July 11, 2008

Entry #9

GPS
by Sheri Perl-Oshins


She was practically born on the back of her father’s motorcycle, learning to navigate with the wind in her face at 60 mph. Her father’s broad back kept her somewhat sheltered.

She learned to position the map the way they were headed on the road so she wouldn’t accidentally say, “turn left,” when she meant “turn right” and they’d end up in Toledo.

This time they were headed to the Amish Country, PA. “Which way,” he yelled over the roar of the wind.

“Make a left onto Bird in Hand Road and then a right at the fork.”

He knew he could trust her directions, after all he had taught her. And no daughter of his would read a map like a girl. It was the same with driving a stick too. “My daughters drive like men, aggressive behind the wheel, smooth with the gears, and hugging the inside of curves.”

But how could she tell him this summer things had changed, despite map reading and driving a stick. She had unwillingly become a woman. He wouldn’t want to know but fear buzzed like an electric wire in her brain. “This is why daughters need mothers,” she thought to herself.

As the darkness engulfed her, she convinced herself she was still a virgin and no one would ever need to know.

She studied the map in-between whizzing streetlamps and wished it could help navigate her through this slippery world of sex for a motherless girl.

51 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Absolutely wonderful start. I think this one needs a bit more than 250 words to come to it's strongest conclusion. You should develop this one further. Expand it.

Just my opinon.

Charles Gramlich said...

An absolutely great start. Beautifully introduced. I think you should expand this one. 250 words isnt' enough to do it justice.

sandra said...

I agree with Charles, this is a great start to a much longer story. I hope you take the time to develop this.

Sheri said...

Thanks Charles and Sandra! I am actually stuck presently on page 85 of my WIP, a MG novel. Chris suggested this contest to get my juices flowing again and it worked (Thanks Chris!). This will be the next novel I work on after I am done with my current one, but it will most likely be YA.

Thanks again! You both made me smile on a day I was starting to really question myself.

Sarah Hina said...

Powerful, Sheri! :)

I love how all this is transpiring behind his back, so to speak. She's there, but really a million miles away. Her love, guilt and loneliness really leaped off the page. I really empathized with this character.

Beautiful storytelling. I, too, would love to read more.

BernardL said...

Leaves me wishing for more. :)

Sheri said...

Thanks you guys!

LEEZY said...

Great hook, great start and yes, this should totally become a novel - how couldn't it? I was also left wanting more, and as I read it I had all these burning questions... oooooooo!

A fabdabby, compelling concept, which I am sure has all the right ingredietnts to take the reader from 0 to 60 just like THAT!

Bravo and excellent work Sheri!

Kristine said...

I love your use of details like the map and directions. You bring so much to play in a short amount of words.

Mark said...

Love it, Sheri. An interesting appeal to both sexes; I was drawn in by reflections of dad wanting his girl to drive like a man, yet empathized with the female main character's plight.
Tell me more!!! Do hope you develop this one!
Mark HCCWG

J.C. Montgomery said...

Way to get the juices flowing again! Like the dichotomy in the undercurrent. Great way to develop it.

Diana Patton said...

Sheri! You can't finish this book fast enough for me---the main character is immediately three-dimensional, the problems are there, the action is already in place, and on a motorcycle yet! Excellent! Ride on....er...write on, Sheri!
Diana Patton HCCWIG

PJ Hoover said...

This is such a gripped start. It leaves me totally wanting to know about the girl. What happened. And what will happen?
!!!

JaneyV said...

Ditto what everyone else said. I would love to know more too. Fab writing Sheri. Nothing wrong with those creative juices.

ChrisEldin said...

Ditto everyone's ditto!!
This is powerful---I can't wait to read more.

Sheri said...

WOW! I am gushing everyone! Truly gushing! Thanks so much for all your support and great words of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Sheri,

Courageous and quite evocative...You've given yourself a great challenge.

Just keep writing!!

Beth said...

Agreeing with Charles. This is my favorite thus far. Feels truly authentic.

David said...

Awesome use of words. I would love to read more. Go Sheri Go!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

As everyone else said, you should develop this. I got to love the characters in a few words...you have truly created. Good skills.

The Anti-Wife said...

This is a great beginning, Sheri. Well done.

September said...

Wow, Sheri. This is so powerful.
Several words really stood out for me. At first, I thought, "no longer Daddy's little girl" and then I saw the words "unwilling" and "darkness" and she was trying to convince herself it never happened and that she was still a virgin.
This story could go several ways and I would love to read more.

Good job.

Sheri said...

Thank you so much everyone! These encouraging words couldn't have come at a better time!

Patricia Koelmel said...

Sheri, your character pulled me in immediately. What a heavy burden for this very alone, young girl. Will she keep her secret? Or will a pregnancy reveal it for her? I can't wait to see what turns you take with this already complex story. Bravo on a great opening!

Lena said...

250 words were definitely not enough. I wish you would continue it because it is really great :)
If ever you decide to write a novel on this, let us know ;)

Parabolist said...

I can't disagree with the other comments. This is a great start to something more. Hopefully, we'll be able to read that something more later on ;)

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

The beginning of a great love story? :)

I could relate a lot to her character.

Beautiful piece.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Hold on!"Unwillingly" become a woman?

Was her virginity taken away by force? :(

24crayons said...

I liked this a lot - I wanted to know more about the characters even... which to me is always a good sign that I truly enjoyed what I was reading!

Sheri said...

Sameera, sadly, yes it was taken by force... Sorry to be so dark. I just think unfortunately, this is a story, a lot of women can relate with - like i said unfortunately...

I'm so glad you are all hungry for more and want to know more about the characters. I couldn't be happier! Can you all see me smiling???

I will visit all of your sites. Please visit mine too.

Thanks again for all the support! I'm off to bed with a smile on my face...

JR's Thumbprints said...

Excellent main character. You really conveyed her conflict in the end, the difficulty she'll endure as life goes on.

Wannabe Writer said...

Wow! At first I thought she was talking about her menstral cycle. Good job and leaves so much open for further writing. -Rita

Jeanne said...

You go, Sheri! See - not meeting with our group is doing you good! (Heyyyyy...)
This is really a terrific beginning. I get the scene, the mood and the characters even in so short a piece. And I want to learn more. Make room, Tristan - there's somebody comin' in on a bike!

Sheri said...

JR - thanks! and yes you're right, this will be a life long conflich she will have to overcome.

Wannabe (AKA Rita) - At first I, too, thought it was her menstrual cycle too (haha) but then I wanted to make a stronger choice and more life altering.

Jeanne - you are too funny! I will always need our group - not to worry! And yes, I suppose Tristan will have to share some brain space with this MC. Funny -"somebody comin' in on a bike" cracked me up.

Sheri said...

sorry - typo - conflict - not conflich. =)

Scott said...

I'm so dense! I thought the concept of "unwillingly became woman" was a sex change operation and it took the comments to straighten that out for me. It's a beautiful piece, but I need to get my head examined.

And don't apologize for being dark in your writing. You should dig deep and write about whatever inspires you.

Sheri said...

OMG Scott you made me literally LOL!!! I'm still laughing! That would be quite an interesting turn of events, wouldn't it? The dad says, "Mike, what's up with your voice?" and turns to see his son, now a woman. "Call me Michelle now dad..."

Oh I will be laughing all day from this. Thanks! I needed a good chuckle...

Rebecca said...

Sheri,

This stirred up an emotional response in me--and in so few words! Great job, it got me hooked.

Sheri said...

Thanks Rebecca, I DO like to stir up emotions in readers...


GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

September said...

I'm using my day off to come back and read all these stories...and comments. And I can not stop laughing too over Scott's comment. Made re reading so worthwhile. (my kids asked what was so funny and they laughed too)
sorry to laugh at your expense Scott.

Don't you all love these contests?

Sheri said...

Oh September (really cool name btw) I know I laughed out loud too. It made me giggle all day. It put a very different scene in my head. I could see some guy in a really bad drag costume on the back of his dad's bike. It just cracked me up.

Vesper said...

This is a great story - you captured so well that subtle moment when suddenly a child is not a child anymore. I remember the feeling. It's especially hard to deal with it in the presence of one's parents...
Excellent work!

Linda said...

You did a great job of developing the main character so quickly. I'm totally rooting for this tough, smart and sensitive, mother-less girl.

Aerin said...

Hey Sheri! I'm gonna be picky, but only because you've got an excellent piece. And yes, I'm voting for you, so please don't hear me being negative. I really just thought I'd throw my two cents in as you develop this into your novel!!!

I thought the best characterization was of the dad. I'm a little less clear about who the girl is. Then again, that could be intentional, since right now she's not sure who she is.

What caught me most of all is that he says - my daughters drive like men. Plural. In my life, my sister and I are like glue, even with a mom. So I got to the end of this wondering why she couldn't talk to her sister. That's a huge unraveling thread, that you could take in a bunch of directions, but for a short piece, it needs a word or two of explanation, I think.

I also felt that making her the victim of rape - yes, is strong, but casts her as the victim of both the rape and of her father's expectations. Couldn't she be just as strong, wondering how to talk to her dad about having sex for the first time, and being more empowered?

I'm not saying women aren't raped - I know the statistics. I just wonder how the two pieces intersect - she was raised to be so stoic -

I'm sorry if I sound critical. I'm so fascinated by your take on this, I just had to put in my opinion (which is my way of saying....DAMN. I wish I'd written this.)

laughingwolf said...

sheri, i too absolutely want to know more of this tale!

Sheri said...

I've been away from my computer all weekend, and was pretty sure there wouldn't be any new comments... but much to my pleasant surprise...

Vesper, Thanks so much for your comments. I am trying to capture that and more.

Linda, Thank you so much as well!

Aerin, Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate all the time and thought you put into my piece. I have to say flash fiction is totally new, and I didn’t really think of it in those terms. I just thought of it as writing the first page of a novel and wanting people to want to turn the page to find out more. So I guess that is why there are loose threads dangling and much unanswered.

I think you're right, I did definitely focus on the dad and not the MC. And there is a sister, but again, I didn't think in terms of flash fiction which is why I didn't come back to her.

And I hear what you're saying about her being strong and not, perhaps, needing the rape in there, but this was a conscious choice. I always wanted to write a story on this subject to show that even in such a tragedy, it is possible to eventually overcome and triumph. And that is what I want for the MC. She's not just triumphing over growing up or sex. She's triumphing over a heinous act. And the fact that the father has raised his daughters to be strong like sons, is what will create the tension between them. She will be very scared to tell him the truth, afraid that he will think it was her fault. But of course he would not think this. He is her father and loves her.

You did not sound too critical at all. It needs more pages to spread its wings and be properly developed. This was a lot of fun. I am so glad I got involved and thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment on not only my piece for everyone else's as well!

Aine said...

I'm fascinated by father-daughter relationships and this story distills it beautifully. Definitely worth expanding!

BTW-- since I live very near Lancaster, Pa, I chuckled at the thought of other possible towns they could ride through: Intercourse, Paradise....

Sheri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheri said...

Sorry, (computer glitch) let me try this again...

Thank you, Aine, for reading my entry and your encouraging comments of it being worth expanding. Being that I write novels and have never written flash fiction, I think maybe that came through here... perhaps leaving too much unresolved. It's all new to me and there is still so much to learn...

And LOL, why is it that the towns of such a religious group have been given such sexual names... I have always wondered this myself. I live on the "other side" of the bridge from Bucks County and Solebury. But every summer my family and I would go to Lancaster to the Amish Country. Oh what fun... (can you hear my sarcasm. I mean, as a teenager, the Amish Country was not my idea of fun.). I hear it is quite sad what it has become nowadays and as an adult, I would love to visit the way it used to be - all the cornfields and farmhouses, antique shops and buggies... It's interesting to me that as we get older we crave the things we took for granted in our youth (not that I am soooooo old! ;))

jason evans said...

As Aine said, we live close to Amish country and Bird in Hand! We drive through often.

I especially like how sure the father is, but no matter what he wishes, she will be her own person. Good sense of character here. Good marks overall. (But watch the apparent POV shift in the 5th paragraph.)

Sheri said...

So strange that of all the places I chose a place near where you live. What are the odds of that?

Thanks for the insight. I will surely keep that in mind when I rewrite this for a novel.