Below is an excerpt from my novel, The Fourth World, for which I am looking to finish up soon. I wanted to introduce to you, another one of the next main protagonists in the story. A young woman that goes by the name of Ivy.
Soon in the days, I will introduce you to another main character, Calvin in my novel.
I am about twenty-thousand words into my novel and hope to get to forty thousand by mid-January if not sooner. Hope you enjoy this little bit here of it. Please keep in mind this is a rough cut introduction to her in the story and will definitely be reworked and tweaked a few more times before the novel is all said and done I’m sure. Let me know what you think of it.
Chapter 4 – Ivy’s Long Walk
Ivy kicked at a small rock on the dirt road she walked that led up to her new home off the main highway. She had started to love the walks from where the bus dropped her off daily after school to home. The walk gave her a small reprieve between both worlds, the first being school and all the people there, the other of her home and the people there as well.
Where it would take most people ten minutes to walk the drive, she took at least double that. She had refused her parents offer of having her taken to and from school by their driver. She already stood out enough in school as it was. She just wanted to fade into the back ground while there as much as she could. A rich, imposing dark sedan pulling up at the school everyday would do exactly the opposite of not reminding the kids there, that she was just like them. Yeah, right.
She had even tried to dress down as to not make the rest of the students, especially the girls, think she was a snob for coming to school in the latest expensive fashions. No such luck; the first morning of school she had walked down stairs wearing just a jeans and t-shirt, her mom about had an epileptic attack at the breakfast table. Apparently if the ensemble cost less than two-hundred dollars, and that was not including the shoes, it wasn’t fit to wear except for laying around the house; when no one was else around mind you. At first, Ivy had fought it every school morning, but it ended up being a draining knock down fight with her every time she went to school. She didn’t want to stand out, couldn’t they see that? They never saw the big picture, she thought bitterly.
Ivy outsmarted them though. She layered up. She started picking out all her clothes the night before. Laying first, her mom’s ensemble on the bed. Then her own ensemble she wanted to wear at school. She mostly wore her things under her “approved apparel”, at other times she would just carefully fold up her stuff in her book bag and change on the road going out or discreetly on the bus as she was one of the first ones to be picked up in the morning. Many a time in the early morning if you had happened to be a bird sitting in a tree on that road you would see a girl doing a quick change routine, flinging off one thing then putting on another. She had it down to an art form already. Where most girls wanted to stand out and wear the nicest clothes and make-up and have there hair perfect before leaving the house. She ran from it as much as she could get away with.
These walks in their own small way were meditative. Each way, coming or going cleansed her of the previous nights or days encounters at home or school and prepared her for the transition into either.
On both sides she was flanked by tall pines, and spruce. The air smelled of them and assailed her nose fully as the wind blew through them. The sun sat low in the west this late in the fall season, but still shone brightly through the tangled mass of trees upon its track towards the horizon. Soon, day-light saving times would come, and time would fall back for them an hour, what a weird concept, almost laughable, like you could control time in such a way. She worried though, these walks might be taken from her, at least the mornings. The time-change would make the road dark for her morning walk to her bus stop. She feared her parents would insist on having their driver take her the distance to at least where the bus picked her up at the end of the road where it met the highway.
They can’t, she thought viciously. They just can’t take it from me. She found she needed it now. She kicked violently at another rock and bit her lip at the pain it inflicted. Serves you right, a negative for a negative as her old math teacher used to say.
Thinking of negatives, Omar, the rude boy from her English class and unfortunately her Science as well, came suddenly to mind. She tried to push him out, but he wouldn’t budge from her thoughts no matter how she tried.
“What an ass!” she yelled at the trees as she continued to walk the road.
Calling me a bitch! Where did he get the nerve. She didn’t think she had been that rude.
But even so. She had seen his type before. Arrogant, surly, bad news walking as her mom would have aptly put it. For the briefest of moments she had been afraid of him. She had thought she had conquered her fears. Her therapist had warned there could be triggers she might not be aware until it happened. The word “bitch” had been it for sure. She wrapped her head around the word.
“Bitch.” she said it aloud. Her therapists said to take the power back by embracing the very thing that held it. So, she walked the road saying the word bitch over and over and over again like a mantra. She lost herself in the rhythm of the words unconsciously timing her own footsteps to the beat of the word. Left (Bitch), Right, Left (Bitch) all the way down the road until she reached the very where dirt turned to asphalt and curved its way around to her house.
She would be ready next time if Omar or anyone said that word again. She would not show weakness ever again. She was in control of her destiny, no one dictated her course. Feelings or otherwise.
As she walked the curve of the drive to her home weight slowly lifted from her chest she knew had been there but couldn’t really define. Now she had realized what it was. Yes, the walks helped in such small ways. Her own private personal therapy. She couldn’t lose them, coming or going.
“Don’t you look determined Ms. Knight?” a grizzled voice followed by much more grizzled looking face popped up from behind the dark car sitting at the top of the drive as she approached it.
She smiled involuntarily at the old man, he was the only one who could catch her off guard like that and bring that out of her. He was also what made the house bearable to come home.
“Hello Max, shining up the car for the seventh time to day I see?” she said with a sly grin that wasn’t forced like with most others she talked with.
“Aha, you cheeky monkey. If I was actually allowed to drive the Misses around I might not have to putz around this car like a car wash jockey on a daily basis now would I.” He returned the grin playfully with crinkled twinkle in his eyes for her.
“You’re to tall to be a jockey and a little to round around the middle Max,” she said. “But don’t despair mon ami, I will need your grand chariot tonight” she said walking by and up the steps to the house.
“Or did you forget it was Thursday?” she said pausing at the door looking back at him smiling.
“Oh, I never forget an appointment Ms. Knight.” He tipped his cap at her like he always did and smiled squinting in the sun which peeked at them both across the vast yard that was their property that the house sat on. She did like the view. Especially from her bedroom she could see forever a sea of trees as far as her green eyes could carry to the north.
“Good. Because tonight’s a special night you know. Did my parents say if they were going to make it there tonight Max?” Ivy looked at Max intently for an answer.
“I do know its a special night for more than one reason,” He smiled up at her still squinting. “Last I heard, they said their flight was on time. They should make it darlin’. I didn’t think you cared one way or other if they showed.” All smiles gone from his face his voice suddenly serious. Ivy knew Max was upset at what she had said to them before she had left.
She had grew to be upset with herself as well these last two days since they had left. Time and distance does funny things to feelings, she thought.
“Even I can admit to being an idiot sometimes.” she smiled shyly at him, not used to be called out by him. They usually got along so great at most times.
“Whoa, stop the presses, what’s that I be hearing? Ms. Ivy just shook the earth with that bit of news. I wish I had thought to bring a witness for that admission.” this time his smile returned in full force. And it warmed her deeply.
“Now be about your way lassie, oh, I almost forget. I scrimped up my pennies and bought you something. It’ll be on your bed. It’s nothing really. Just a token. Now don’t look at me that way. A girl doesn’t turn sixteen but once ya know and I’m an old man who can spend his money on anyone I please.” he said stammering almost at the end.
Ivy smiled fondly at him. “Thank you.” she simply said and went inside not wanting to embarrass him further.
She ran up the two flights of stairs to her room. Every night was a hike to get to her room. What she wouldn’t give to live in a one room shack sometimes. Wealth, money, things, made her feel uncomfortable. For some reason, ever since she could remember she had felt this way. Like she didn’t deserve to have them. And today, on her sixteenth birthday, she felt no different. Except, she was excited. Max had given her a present! He had never given anyone a present. She could only imagine what it could be….
Ivy dropped her book bag next to her bedroom door inside her room as she always did. She slowly approached her bed, a big four poster queen sized bed which she had always thought of as too soft. It was covered by a big white comforter with bits of yellow petaled flowers adorned across the fabric with no discernible pattern. As she looked to the bed for her Max’s present she didn’t see it. What she did see, was one fluffy gray haired cat with olive green eyes staring at her as it lay sprawled out in seeming decadent contentment. Ah, to be a cat.
“Well, well mister. I see you’re in about the same place I left you this morning.” Ivy walked over and crawled up on her bed. The cat didn’t move an inch in it’s leisurely pose, but only continued to stare at her approach as she laid down next to him on the bed.
Ivy reached out her hand and stroked the cats fur. No sooner than had she finished her second stroke did he decide to start purring loudly and flip over her on his back stretching his front and and legs out in one long stretch.
“Ah, what do we have here?” She said grabbing at a very thin box underneath her cat’s languishing body.
“Why do cat’s always choose to find the one place on the bed that’s different than all the rest, hmmm Willy?” she asked him. He of course did not answer. He did stand and walk across the bed to stare at her as if in question of his resting place being so disturbed as he proceeded to plomp down on her pillow for probably his tenth nap of the day.
Ivy looked at the box she held in her hands. It measured approximately three by three inches square and only about half inch thick or so. Plain white wrapping paper covered it, tied with crisscrossing gold ribbons, along with a crushed gold bow (thanks to Willy) affixed in the center of it.
She removed the bow throwing it at her cat, who reached out with a lightening grab with one of his paws to trap it beneath him and the bed.
“Hmm, your fast when you want to be little boy.” she smiled.
Ivy delicately pulled apart the ribbons removing each. She carefully pulled at the tape and the paper surrounding the box underneath.
A black velvety box revealed itself. She ran her hands over it’s surface just enjoying the texture under her fingertips. She eagerly pulled at the edges of the box.
Her breath caught in her throat when she saw what it contained, a Hidari Gomon.
It was beautiful. She picked it up in her hands and noticed the heaviness of the piece. It must be made of bronze, she surmised. It was a perfectly round disc made of a yellowy dull metal about an eighth of an inch thick. The front was engraved with what looked like three black commas encircling the each other, interlocking and forming what was called a triskelion or a motif that looked like three bent curved legs. The top of the symbol was punched through with a hole for the leather cord that held it to wear as a necklace.
Her finger felt something on the back of the disc. More etching?
She flipped it over to read three words lightly engraved on its surface.
“Courage, Loyalty, Spirit.” she read out softly.
“It’s perfect.” She whispered to herself….