The Year Of our Discontent


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  1. #1

    The Year Of our Discontent

    This is an excerpt from a finished story. Does anybody think it is suitable for young adults? If so what age bracket?

    The Year of Our Discontent



    I was full of vip and vinegar when old Mrs. Shoebottom caught me and Lindy Lou down in the root cellar making out.

    That was her name, Lindy Lou Shoebottom. We had just come from the creek where we netted a haul of three frogs plus a tadpole, and we went to the root cellar to get a jar to put them in. While we were down there Lindy Lou mentioned as an aside about seeing her Ma and Pa kissing quite a lot, and we decided it was worth a try. Just about time we was getting into it, old Mrs. Shoebottom decided she wanted a jar of green beans to cook for dinner, and that’s when she walked in.

    Needless to say it weren’t my fault as Lindy Lou had a bulldog grip and was sucking my face, and I couldn’t get loose. Old Mrs. Shoebottom hit me with a stick hard as she was able and told me to get on back to the orphanage where kids like me belonged. Well, the truth of the matter, I didn’t feel like I much belonged there neither.

    As the orphanage was only two blocks away, I knew there weren’t no need to try and slick out of going back, so I went. When I got back there, old Mr. Blumstock hit me with a stick again and sort of set my teeth on edge, and that was when the trouble started.

    I was fed up with getting hit with a stick and made up my mind to leave that night. I climbed down the elm tree that night real quiet and skedaddled into the darkest alley I could find, which was the exact one that Lindy Lou Shoebottom had skedaddled to.

    I was feeling my way along and we bumped into each other. After we got over the frights, she said, “What you doin’ here, James Lee? I thought you was goin’ back to the orphanage.” I told her as to how I just might not ever go back to that orphanage, and she said she allowed she would not be going back home neither. Well… the upshot of it was that we decided to light out for more friendly territory.

    At first light, we took off up the main road like a cat with his tail afire. We walked along that morning when all of a sudden she asked me a question, “James Lee,” says she, “do you love me?”

    “Well… what does love feel like?” says I.

    She thought about it a minute. “It feels sort of squshy like you had stepped on a frog.”

    “But I ain’t never stepped on no frog; they always jump out of the way.”

    “Yeah, but if you was to!”

    It sort of hurt my head to imagine something that seemed nigh onto impossible.

    “When am I stepping on this here frog?”

    “It was when we kissed.”

    “Oh, that frog. Yeah, I reckon I felt just a tad squshy.”

    She then asked the next dumb question. “Where will we sleep?” she says.

    I says, “Girl, don’t you know nothing? We got to sleep in the woods, or somebody’s haystack, or a barn. Adventurers sleep like that; they just drop wherever they are at.”

    “But what will we eat?” She says.

    And there went one of them headaches again.
    “I don’t know! Sort of accidental like! That’s just the way people do it what’s on a adventure!”

    The grass was just starting to turn golden the summer that we both turned nine years old. It was one of those days that kinda made you lazy feeling. It just weren’t a day to rush things. Lindy Lou started skipping along and it threw my walk out of kilter, but she skipped along in spite of what I could do.

    “Cain’t you walk right? What are you skipping for anyhow?”

    Then she said something that surprised me a little.

    “I’m skipping because I’m happy we are going to be married,” she says.

    Those were things I didn’t know too much about, nor had I studied on them, so I had no opinion on it.

    “Can we stop over there by that oak tree?”

    I said as how I reckoned we could.

    The big oak tree by the side of the road in that field looked mighty inviting as we approached the shade and sat down. She set down close to me and seeing as how I wanted to cool off I poked her in the ribs and told her to scoot over. She looked sort of miffed at me but she scooted.

    “James Lee, will we always be together?”

    “Why no, Lindy. We got to separate to gather firewood and stuff.

    “No, I don’t mean that, I mean together like…”

    A big old tear started down her face what looked like dew dropping off the end of a willow leaf and that made me feel awful bad.

    “I reckon we can do that if it means that much too you.”

    Then she reaches over, grabs me, and kisses me right square on the mouth again. I reckon I felt like I had stepped on another frog, and I decided it was really getting into frog season what with stepping on so many of them.

    As we left the shade of the oak, I suggested that we catch a grasshopper, so we caught some.

    I decided to step on mine to see the color of the grasshopper juice, and Lindy Lou objected when I done that.

    “James Lee, why did you kill that poor grasshopper? He weren’t doing you no harm!”

    “Well, what is the difference in stomping one and sticking him on a fishhook?”

    “Well, I don’t know, but there is!” Then she went to bawling again.

    I says, “Girl, what is wrong with you? It twarn’t nothing but a grasshopper!”

    “I don’t know, I feel all tore up and squshy inside.” She snuffled and wiped her nose on the back of her hand, then wiped it on her gingham dress. Then she took off walking faster, her yellow curls bouncing on the back of her dress, just like that! There just weren’t no figuring her out. I reckon she had stepped on another frog.

    By the time we got on up the road apiece we got the walking squared away, and Lindy Lou got off of that frog and my life was once more taking on balance.

    I heard the unmistakable clatter of the tinker’s wagon coming up the road behind us. We had just rounded a bend, but there ain’t no mistaking a tinker’s wagon what with all them pots and pans rattling around. We stopped and waited and sure enough, here comes old Mr. McGillacuty with his wagon load of junk.

  2. #2
    Member Cody's Avatar
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    This is sounds like something I would have enjoyed at a young age. When I was a teenage I was not interested in reading period pieces so much. I was into more contemporary stuff. When I was seven and eight I was all about pretending I was best friends with Huck Finn, or that I was Farmer heading west on the Oregon trail. I loved to read those historical fiction diaries of young men in different eras of American History.

    I can't tell what time period this is meant to be, but it doesn't sound like these kids have access to the internet.

    Also the kids who do a lot of kissing for a piece of thins length, seem pretty young to be doing kissing. I wasn't interested in kissing when I was eight and nine and neither were any of my friends. The way the characters talk to each other and the way the boy doesn't know what love feels like makes them sound under 12. IMO Kissing happens upwards of 12, but maybe this town has something in the water ~.^

    Kid's feel unempowered in an adult focused world so they love to read about people their own age having adventures. That being said these days eight and nine year old children are reading things the length of harry potter and the twilight series.

  3. #3
    I enjoyed it. I have 5 kids ranging from 5-17, and I think this would appeal most to my 9 yr old. I recently read that in children's fiction, children like to read about characters that are a couple years older than themselves. Just a thought.

    One thing I would suggest...I found it a little confusing and triggering disbelief that the narrator would talk like a hilly-billy one moment and then say things like "as an aside".

  4. #4
    I see them more as eleven year olds back in the day - I find the mix of innocence and knowledge of things like "making out" to be confusing as well. To be experimental and copying their elders is one thing, to be dipping one's toe into sensuality at nine years old is quite another. The countrified thing seems a bit corny - as in, I'm not believing it, unlike the countrified southern lingo found To Kill a Mockingbird (def recommend your reading it for that flavor of down south/west childhood).

  5. #5
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    I have heard the word vim (A healthy capacity for vigorous activity) in association as in vim and vigour, but not vip and vinegar...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  6. #6
    see I thought that too, but then again I thought, well, vip would be reflective of the ignorance a yokel would have... maybe that the author's purpose?

  7. #7
    I enjoyed it very much. It captures two adventurous youths and makes their ignorance have a cutesy appeal. The prose flows very well and I hope to read it when it is finished. I would margin the ages from 10-14. This would depend on how the stories carries out, but the literature is good enough to entertain all ages.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by IgorS View Post
    I enjoyed it very much. It captures two adventurous youths and makes their ignorance have a cutesy appeal. The prose flows very well and I hope to read it when it is finished. I would margin the ages from 10-14. This would depend on how the stories carries out, but the literature is good enough to entertain all ages.
    Igors, the story has been finished for some years, you can read it in its entirety here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/62768

    The story is free to download. The reason I asked what age bracket it might fit in was because a lady who has connections with publishers read several of my stories and sent several of them to her publisher friends whom she is in contact with.

    The word that came back was that the publishers were interested and they wanted to know if their editors would be free to do some small changes. The publishers thought they might use this particular story aimed at some age bracket.

    My thoughts are the same as yours, I don't think it should be bracketed and I am hesitant to turn any of my work over to a publishers editors just so they can make money off me and I could care less about their money.

    The thing is though that book publishers might relieve me of work that I don't have much time for.

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