Beginnings are tough.
I’ve been battling MARKED’s beginning for a couple of months now. It waged war on me when I picked up The 90-Day Rewrite; which is nothing new to you, readers. I’ve ranted about this for quite some time now. But finally, (maybe), I’m beginning to win the battle. My biggest change? Oliver’s dilemma. I realized he needed a more definite struggle. I had him lost, confused, frustrated. But why? And soon, he told me why. (What a difference it makes when you actually listen to your characters.) Normalcy. It’s what he wants. What he’s always wanted. And what he’s never felt. He’ll do just about anything for it. All he needed from me was to up the stakes. So here we go. Rough draft and all. The (new) beginning. Part I.
* * *
“Look. It’s him.”
Oliver kept his head down, his hands in his pockets. He sat on a cold bench, staring hard at the gravel below his feet and doing his best to ignore the conversation behind him. Though, he knew it was meant for him to hear.
“He’s actually outside,” said one kid. Newman, probably. He always stated the obvious. “Wonder if he knows anything yet.”
“Doubt it.” Snickers followed.
A burning grew in Oliver’s stomach, but he refused to turn around. He took his shoe and ground a small pebble into the ground, twisting it until it practically disappeared.
Eventually they’d leave. They always did. No one wanted to approach him. They only wanted to gossip.
Part of him didn’t blame them. And he hated himself for thinking that because it meant he believed them. But some of it was true. He hated that it was true.
Truth. Oliver Pastorius was born with a mark on his left palm. Every Marked had one. But unlike the rest, he had no idea what his did. Or what it was called. Or how it worked. All he knew was he’d find out one day. All he knew was he had to keep it hidden.
All he knew was it labeled him a freak.
“Hey doofus,” said Newman, and Oliver felt something hit the back of his head.
He ignored it. But another rock hit his head again, and this time, he turned around. “What, Newman? Lose your brain again?”
Newman’s large face slackened at the insult. But he quickly chucked another rock at Oliver, who ducked this time. He stood and faced Newman and his gang. Five kids from the neighborhood. Two girls and three boys–each with a mark Oliver knew by heart. They seemed to read his mind for each one slowly waved their palm at him. He looked away, not wanting to give them the joy of bothering him. But he suddenly felt his mind invaded by one of them — Chloe. Her strategy mark was strong at just 10 years-old.
“Why don’t you let Newman hit you again with a rock?” she said, and powerless, Oliver stood still, while Newman chucked another small rock at his foot this time. Oliver felt his body shake, his palm burn. At how easily he was manipulated by her mark.
How powerless he was without knowing what his did.
“Come on, freak. Don’t you know yet how yours works?”
“Maybe he doesn’t even have one. Maybe he’s a runaway from the Unmarked World,” said Peter. Newman’s best friend.
The other girl, the one Oliver didn’t know, laughed. She produced a glowing ball of light all Markeds could produce and threw it up and down in her hand. “A double freak!”
Oliver balled his hands into fists. He couldn’t take this anymore. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” he said, as calmly as he could.
“What’s that mean,” asked Newman.
“I learned how to use my mark.”
“Yeah right, freak. What’s it do, make you cry?” And the group laughed.
His body felt like it was ready to explode with anger. If he could just make it work, Something work, he pleaded with his hand. But it ignored him. Like it had for the past nine years. All he felt was red hot anger rushing through his body. And the feeling like he wanted to rip their heads off.
All he heard was deafening laughter.
* * *
It’s a start. A new start. One I think both Oliver and I needed.
Part II – Soon.