by 💙 Carly
Arlynn's Way (continued)
|Oct. 05: - CONTEST ROUND: Protagonist Background Story ▼
Write a story about your protagonist that takes place outside of your novel. Make your readers relate to him or her in such a way that we would be devastated if he or she were to experience conflict (which, ultimately, sometime in November, he/she will.) The object of the contest is to make your judges root for your protagonist! Simply put: the character we like best wins. If your protagonist is a drug dealer or someone similarly "unlikeable" (a.k.a, an "anti-hero"), never fear! I love Vlad Taltos, the professional assassin. You can make us love your character, too.
*Contest Round entries may be any rating. Submit your ITEM or ENTRY number by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday to compete. WDC time is New York City time and can be found at the top of the IM Console. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you must still log the assignment complete (without linking your work) for the grand prize, per the standard Prep guidelines.
In a flash; a blink of time and Arlynn found herself orphaned at the age of thirteen. A January snow storm had taken her parents as they traveled home from a party one evening. Since then everything had been a blur, mottled with dark blotches and scrapings. Life held together with twigs and brambles. Arlynn's grandparents had come from the farm to stay with her during the long cold months of January through to March. They had taken the spare room, leaving her parent's room untouched. They had waded through the anguishing paperwork that separated their lives from that of their daughter and son-in-law, Arlynn's mother and father.
In April, Arlynn moved with them back to their farm. The comforts of a home in town lost, as the work to maintain a life pushed her outside herself to bring in wood and help stoke the wood stove.
She'd bunked in with her grandmother as it was still too cold to take the room upstairs. The spring still so cold in the mornings. She'd done her homework by kerosene lamp and walked the mile out to the highway to catch the school bus each weekday morning.
Letters arrived from her aunt and discussions ensued. Where was she to live? Her aunt wanted her to join them in Guelph and start high school in the fall. Her grandparents, who had been adamant that she stay with them until the end of grade eight had relented. Arlynn had no say, nor did she really want to contribute to their discussions. She let her family make the decisions for her. She was far too lost to make much of it all.
When school ended in June, she boarded a bus with her grandparents and headed for Cottage Country. Her aunt and uncle had bought a cottage there. One right on the lake. It wasn't much, but they would build it up. Enlarge the cabin and winterize it. It was only miles out of town where they had vacationed as an extended family since she had been little.
Her aunt had picked them up in her Jeep. Arlynn had slipped into the back letting her grandparents argue with her aunt over the impracticality of getting a extremely arthritic woman into the back seat versus her grandfather with his long legs in the front. As always, her grandfather won his place and her grandmother shifted and heaved herself into the Jeep's backseat beside Arlynn. The girl reached over to take her grandmother's hand knowing the old woman was in deep pain at having made herself fit into such a space. The old woman smiled over at her granddaughter, giving the girl's hand a squeeze.
They rode in a cacophony of her aunt's plans. Plans for the cottage. Plans for Arlynn's schooling. Plans for the baby, who had stayed behind with his father at the cottage. Arlynn heard little of it. Lost in her world of pain and grimness.
It was seeing baby Nicky's sweet, cherub-like face that brought a rarely seen smile to Arlynn's lips. The little guy was smitten. Even at only a few months, he seemed to curl into his young cousin's embrace and she soaked it up.
Being with Nicky, made her own darkness shift. She could see the wonder of the wee lad and it seemed to give her hope. Her grandmother, though sad to relinquish her beloved granddaughter, knew it was in Arlynn's best interest to let her stay with her aunt and uncle and wee Nicky.
Arlynn's Aunt Stephanie worried about her niece. Arlynn was so quiet, pulled into herself. Sadness seemed to cling to her. When she wasn't playing with wee Nicky, she was reading or drawing. Thirteen was a tough age, but thirteen and having just lost her parents.... that had Stephanie worried. Would her dynamic little Arlynn come back? She wondered what she could do to help Arlynn find that spark again.
On the Tuesday, after the long Canada Day weekend, she took Arlynn into town. They went just the two of them. She needed a few groceries and she also wanted to see if Arlynn would want to take some summer art classes like she usually did each summer. She hoped the art classes would help her niece find that place in herself that was usually so settled.
They met her friend, the owner of the Gallery and Studio, Miranda, on the street just outside the coffee shop, Java Heaven.
"Hello, Miss Arlynn." Miranda had said in her soothing tones. "I am so hoping to see you in my art classes this summer."
Arlynn had only given a polite smile. It was tinged with sadness and Miranda had wanted to scoop the child up and carry her off, away from her pain. Instead she glanced at Stephanie who gave her a soft, sad smile of her own.
"Are you still drawing?" Miranda asked as she looked back at Arlynn.
"Can I see?" she asked kindly.
Arlynn hesitated a moment, then pulled the backpack from her shoulders and pulled a small sketchbook from within. She handed it over to Miranda with a look so vulnerable Miranda had to blink back her own emotions. She slowly turned the pages of Arlynn's book and smiled. The girl had such exquisite talent. Her emotions, the ones she bottled up, the ones she was unable to speak, flowed on the page. "oh Arlynn.... these are divine." Miranda said with breathy awe.
Arlynn seemed to relax at Miranda's attention. A genuine smile tipped the edge of her lips.
As she handed the book back too Arlynn, she said, "Emily has been asking if you are going to come back this summer. She has missed you."
Arlynn bit her lips, pressing them together taking a moment to consider. Her aunt looked at her expectantly, not wanting to push too hard, but knowing that this was something her niece needed. When Arlynn nodded her acceptance, Stephanie released the breath she had been holding.
"You can start whenever you like... even today if you want." Miranda told her.
Arlynn looked up at her aunt silently asking permission and Stephanie smiled. "Of course." she said.
They walked to the Studio entrance and just as Stephanie told her she'd be back at four o'clock to get her, a squeal erupted from the open door. Moments later Arlynn was engulfed in a hug.
The hugger was a blond girl slightly shorter than Arlynn. Her eyes danced with merriment as she gushed her hello and pulled Arlynn up the steps into the Studio. Her excited chatter buzzing on the breeze.
Stephanie watched the girls disappeared into the building and then glanced over at Miranda who was smiling broadly.
"I think she is going to be just fine Stephanie, don't you worry. I don't think Emily will let her get to melancholy." They both laughed.
Things were looking promising. Dark clouds were beginning to move off and the sun was poking through. Stephanie smiled kindly at her friend as they parted.