For the month of February, I will be posting to my blog excerpts from my young adult novel "Norma's Revenge" as I work on character development. Your comments, critiques, and suggestions are welcome. Today more character development of Luci Trinity.
From Chapter 3 – The Arrival of Aria
Luci, Catherine, and Malcolm had beaten the moving trucks to their new house and had some time to wander through its empty rooms. Malcolm held a notepad and drew a floor plan as they walked, making notes of what furnishings should be delivered where, what was the most efficient staging of the boxes, and what type of cosmetic repairs might be needed once they were settled. Catherine on the other hand was trying to reconcile how she was going to combine her modern sensibilities with such a historic looking house. The house was originally built in 1928, but it had been expanded once in 1954 and remodeled five years ago. The floors still featured the hardwood planks of the original house although you could see where the new additions had been added and the tongue and groove wood paneling in many of the rooms had been painted white to bring a lightness to the rooms.
“Color, how about we add some color to these walls,” Catherine mused.
“I like white. White is a fine color.” Malcolm liked simplicity and function.
“That’s so boring, don’t you feel the need to make this home ours?”
“What you mean is I’m so boring, and you feel the need to make this home yours.”
Luci could see where this conversation was going and made her way up the stairway to the second floor. They wouldn’t even notice she was gone. When her parents began this way, it always ended up in a bickering argument with her mother accusing her father of not listening or participating. Her father would call Catherine stubborn and domineering and refuse to discuss the matter further. He simply stopped talking and stopped listening; not only to Catherine, but to Luci as well. They both became invisible; a tactic guaranteed to drive Catherine crazy. Luci didn’t need to stick around for the inevitable argument; she knew where it was going and how it would end.
At the top of the stairs, Luci turned left and found the door to what would be her new bedroom. In their old house, she had chosen the color for her bedroom -- a bright minty green – a great backdrop for any setting she could dream up. She had helped paint it and they had lined an entire wall with bookshelves to hold her ever-growing library. In this house, her options were limited. The upstairs floor had three bedrooms, a large master suite that would be her parents’ room, a bright sunny room next to her parents, with a wall of windows that looked out onto the back lawn, and the room she had chosen. Her motivation for her choice was twofold. First, it was far enough away from her parents’ room that she would have more privacy and less supervision, and second, it was the only room with a windowless wall that could hold her library of books. The walls were the same wood paneling found throughout the house, but they had been left unpainted and were still in their natural state. As Luci stepped through the doorway, she ran her hand along the wood following the grain and the occasional knots with her finger. “I wonder what type of wood this is?” She pressed her nose close to the wood and inhaled, searching for a clue. Her father would know; it was the type of detail that would showcase his expertise. He would describe how she could tell for herself in the future, describing the clues found in the grain and marveling over the amazing science of nature that gives each element its own identity. Luci could not bring herself to even consider the idea of painting over it. It would have to stay the way it was.
Luci heard the large rumble of the moving trucks backing into the driveway and the growing hubbub that was ensuing below. Catherine popped her head into the doorway. “Luci, the moving trucks are here. Try to stay out of the way, I would hate for you to get hurt.” Before Luci could protest, her mother had sprinted down the stairs as Malcolm called her name. They treated her as if she was a small child. ‘Luci, don’t get in the way. Luci, don’t get hurt. Luci, let the adults handle the important stuff.’ It was exasperating. Slowly, she pressed her back against the cool wooden wall and slid down to the floor. She examined her room carefully and began making plans.
The long wall would hold her books, her bed would fit nicely in the corner that held two large paned windows and had a nice view of what could have been a garden in the past. She rose to see if the windows would open. After some difficulty, she loosened the latch, released it and slid the window up. She repeated it for the adjoining window. Upon careful observation, Luci determined that the roof was rather gently sloped from the window base to the edge. To her delight, the edge of the roof sported a white ornamental railing. As she examined the window and slid her hands from her waist to her hips, she determined that she would surely fit. All she would need is a bed to raise her to a level so that she could reach the sill of the window more easily. So far, her room held nothing. Furtively, she made her way down the stairs in search for a ladder, a chair, even a stool. She dodged the movers as they carried blanketed pieces of furnishings into the downstairs rooms. She saw a stack of boxes lined up in the dining room that Malcolm had designated as the staging area. All boxes arrived through the front door and into the dining room to be checked by Malcolm before being sent to their next destination. Luci spotted a box labeled ‘Luci’s Books.’
“Perfect,” she whispered to herself. It was about the right height. She bent down to pick it up. It didn’t move. It was as if it was cemented to the floor.
“Hey, Luce. What are you doing? You’ll hurt yourself doing that. Why don’t you go out and play and stay out of the way?”
She hated it when he called her ‘Luce.’ “It’s Luci, Dad.” She dodged another mover bringing in an entire stack of boxes labeled “Luci’s Books” on a moving dolly. She quickly ducked out of his way and squeezed through the front door before being overrun by the next team carrying in their sofa. Once outside, she walked around the side of the house and made her way to the back lawn. If she walked far enough away from the house, she could see the sloped landing just outside of her bedroom window. She was determined to find a way. As she scoured the house and the shed behind the garage, she spied a stack of plastic five-gallon paint buckets. She ran over to expect them. The first bucket on top of the stack was dirty, held an inch or two of rancid rainwater, perfect for a science experiment, but not for what she was looking for. Carefully she pulled the top bucket away, as several large Wolf spiders scurried down its side. Luci let out a shriek; the bucket flew into the air and the smelly, bacteria-infested algae water took flight landing in one slimy splash on Luci’s head. The water reeked of decomposed plant matter as it soaked into her black hair and filled her nostrils with such a disgusting and acrid smell that for a minute she thought she would vomit.
Her first instinct was to cry and find solace with her mother, but then she thought about it. She was supposed to stay out of trouble, not get hurt, and not be in the way. Well she wasn’t hurt, but she and her new aroma certainly would hurt even the most stoic person’s nostrils. The mess she had made of herself would certainly be a distraction and she could hear the lecture already. ‘Luci, how could you? Luci, we really don’t have time for this? Luci, we told you to stay out of trouble.’ Well, she would just have to take matters into her own, hands. She swallowed hard, wiped the slime from her cheek and looked down to see a completely clean, dry plastic bucket that had been freed once she pulled the top bucket off the stack. This time, Luci pulled the bucket from the stack slowly and carefully, and braced herself for any number of spiders or bugs to come crawling out. No surprises, no insects and no slime! The white bucket was light and easy to carry. She carefully stole into the house, now a mayhem of movers, boxes, and misplaced furniture. Hiding her head behind the white paint bucket she quickly made her way up the stairs, heading for her room. Fear struck her when she heard the sound of her mother’s voice from below.
“Malcolm . . . do you smell that putrid odor? Malcolm . . . it smells like a dead rat! Check to see if there’s a dead animal or something in the basement.” Luci sprinted into her room and closed the door. She could hear her father below saying he didn’t smell anything and her mother arguing that it wasn’t her imagination. They were soon distracted by another onslaught of moving boxes and Luci breathed a sigh of relief. She took the white bucket to the corner window, turned it over and carefully stepped on top. Perfect, it held her weight and she was now at just the right height to hoist her body through the open window. After a bit of kicking and wriggling, she knocked the bucket over, but still managed to pull herself through the window. She would worry how to get down later. She folded her left leg under her and stepped onto the roof. Standing on the roof, it seemed much steeper than when she was just looking at it from the safety of her room. She carefully crouched down and sat on the sloped landing, leaning her back against the window sill. She almost felt peaceful, if it wasn’t for that horrible smell of decaying slime that was now a part of her every move. As she sat there she surveyed what was her new landscape. Two large black oak trees framed the back lawn, and a few stray apple trees lined the property line where the lawn had gone back to meadowland with a few wild daisies showing their cheery faces. Two large evergreens towered above the oaks and between them swung a new rope hammock. Dad’s been busy she mused to herself. As the summer sun’s heat reflected off the roof, Luci could feel her hair drying into a semi-solid, smelly helmet. Feeling lazy, she decided that she would just sit on the roof until a better plan came to her. As she sat there she heard what sounded like a cross between a giant bumblebee and a growl. The sound was almost continuous except that the tone shifted ever so slightly up and then down again, almost resembling the cadence of breathing.