Antagonist Backstory for my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel
|Ryan arrived at the lake on his bike. His fishing pole and gear strapped on as well as a twelve year old could manage. Luckily none of it had toppled off as he went up over the ridge or down through Gover’s gully at full, breakneck speed. He could hear the rest of his buddies before he could see them. Eric and his brother, Danny had a great place to fish. They had invited him, Gabe and Connor on the last day of school.
“We can celebrate no more school and my sister’s friend is arriving that day so she won’t be trying to tag along or cause her usual annoying stuff,” Danny had promised.
Ryan didn’t care so much about sisterly intrusions. His own sister didn’t really bug him too much, but then again she was older. He was probably the more annoying one. Still, he appreciated the no girls idea. Girls made him nervous. Especially the ones in his class. Darla McAdams was always pestering him and trying to get his attention. So was Penny Campbell. Though from what Danny and Eric told him, they weren’t as bad as a having a younger sister. He’d have to take their word for it.
All the rest of the guys had arrived before him because he had had to help with some chores before he was allowed to head out. ‘Building responsibility’ his father had called it. More a pain in the butt, but still he’d done it, knowing it was easier to do it, do it decently and then get out on his way. Unlike his older brother who was having to redo the stuff because he had done such a poor job of it in the first place.
He’d heard his father grumbling about sending them all off to his uncle’s farm to learn how to be more upstanding kids and he’d not liked the sound of that. He figured that wouldn’t happen. His father had been grumbling about it for a couple of years now and nothing had come of it.
Still, unlike last summer. his father was grumbling more and more and his brother, John, was the main target. John was the oldest at sixteen. He was more interested in girls and liked the ones that came up with the summer cottage crowd. He was always doing stuff in a rush, so he could go hang around with the summer girls. Lately, he’d been getting into some trouble and his father was talking about laying down the law. Sending them all off to do some good, hard work. Away from the temptations of the summer trouble makers who were just spoiled city kids.
Ryan didn’t want to be sent away. He liked hanging out with his friends and fishing the days away... or even just cooing off in the lake. His uncle’s farm was out in Saskatchewan... not a lake in sight.
He dumped his bike beside his friend’s bikes and grabbed his gear. Hiking up over the slight incline before following the trail back down to a secluded little area where his friends had gathered. They all had set their fishing poles up and were perched on the ledge of rock over the lake.
After greetings, he fixed up his fishing line and cast it out into the calmness of the lake. He breathed in the smell of warm earth and clean air. He loved days like this. Free and open. Full of possibility.
“Oh oh,” he heard Danny groan and looked over to see two little girls emerge from the edge of the bush. “Great. Just great.” Danny grumbled before yelling at them to leave.
“You don’t own this spot, Danny Stone.” the blond girl yelled back. It was clearly the sister.
Ryan’s eyes slipped to the other girl beside her. That girl had hair that was a shimmering fire. It held his gaze. As they moved closer, he found he was unable to take his eyes off her. When she glanced at him, he was struck by the blue rimed silver colour of her eyes. It was as if someone had hit him with a two by four. Stunned awe.
“What are you doing here, Emily?” Danny yelled over at the girls. The girl stuck her tongue out at him.
“We can go anywhere we like. It’s a free world,” the girl called back. “besides this place is a nice spot to paint and draw.”
“Paint,” Eric sneered, “that’s stupid.”
“Is not,” she blustered back.
“Who’s your friend?” Connor asked. Ryan found he was curious about that too, but said nothing.
“None of your business, Connor Kennedy,” she scoffed over at him. “Come on, Arlynn, let’s find a better spot. One without any stupid boys,”
Connor began to laugh, “Arlynn. What kind of name is that?”
The girl’s face turned a shade of pink tinged with crimson on her cheeks. Ryan felt a warmth flood through him.
“Connor Kennedy. Don’t you be a stupid boy or I’ll have to...”
“You’ll have to what?” he grinned over at her, clearly liking the fact that he was annoying her.
Emily huffed as she stuck her tongue out at him too.
“I think it’s a nice name,” Ryan heard himself say, then realized his buddies were all looking at him like he had grown two heads. He cleared his throat and glanced away, but not before catching a look at the girl who smiled shyly at him. “Different, is all,” he added trying to back pedal so that the guys would not strip him of his dignity for the rest of the day. It seemed to work, though her smile disappeared and he felt its loss.
The girls disappeared back into the bush.
A couple of hours later, he and the guys heard their laughter as they made their way back to Eric and Danny’s place. Hunger had them returning to civilization to see if they could wrangle some kind of sustenance.
He glanced over to see the girls stretched out over the rock’s surface. Both of them had blank books open in front of them and coloured pencils scattered around them. Curious he craned his neck to see what they were doing. He saw colour and images over the page. One little picture of a dog on Arlynn’s page had him smiling.
“Those two are weird,” Danny said loud enough for the girls to hear.
“Drawing and painting like dweebs,” Eric added just as loudly.
“Shut up stupid heads,” Emily called back.
Ryan said nothing as both girls looked over at them. Again he was struck by Arlynn’s clear blue gaze. It seemed to capture and hold him transfixed. The feeling unnerved him.
He was torn between wanting to stay and wanting to move away. The feeling made him feel awkward and self conscious, as if those eyes could see into him; know him like no other. It was both a shuddering thought and one that baffled him as he also longed to stay and talk to her. What they heck he’d say, he had no clue, but he wanted to hear her voice... see if it matched the look. Whatever that meant.
The girl looked over at her friend and smiled. It was a radiant smile; he wouldn’t mind it aimed at him, though that thought had come out of nowhere and almost knocked him over.
“Ignore them, Em,” she said in a calm lilt that seemed to stroke something inside him. He didn’t want to be ignored, but he also did not want to draw too much attention to himself. He longed to see what kind of pictures she’d drawn in her book.
Clearing his throat he asked, “what're you drawing?”
“Who cares,” Danny muttered already heading for the house with the other boys in tow.
Ryan kept his place. Arlynn’s eyes looked back at him as if scrutinizing him for some kind of genuine response, as if seeing his true intent, she smiled. It was that smile that captivated his young heart. It pierced and held him, even when Eric called for him to come. He ignored it and kept his gaze on her, waiting for her response with bated breath.
“Anything really,” she said her cheeks taking on a rosy glow as he moved forward to get a better look.
She flipped a few pages. Even with a young boy's discrimination, he could see both girls were beyond the typical ten year old scribblers. One scene had him smiling. It was the one with five boys sketched out over the rocks, each with a fishing pole. It was a snapshot moment. He felt both captured and exposed at the same time. He pressed his lips together not wanting to let something stupid slip out. She flipped a few more pages and his feeling flitted like the turning of the pages.
“Come on, lover boy,” Eric called and the boys laughter drew him back.
“Nice,” he said, clearly impressed, but keeping his reactions as neutral as possible. He moved back figuring it was safer to follow the crowd than get heckled all afternoon for having indulged his curiosity about a girl - especially a girl who was a friend of Eric and Danny’s younger sister. He smiled at her and she returned her own radiant one. It was a smile that lingered and held onto his imagination long after he returned to the fray of boys.
It a smile that lingered and stayed with him even when he returned to find his father yelling at his brother. Apparently John had crossed some line and his father had had enough. It was a comforting bubble amid the chaos and turmoil that had his father’s words take on a new reality. Within the week they were all headed for Saskatchewan and the family farm. Days of summer sun by the lake became a memory. A memory tied to a radiant smile and glorious freedom.
Words = 1660.