The Middle Grade Character Intro I Actually Used

Remember how I mentioned being dissatisfied with my work on Wednesday?  As you might gather from the title, I wrote another 500 word piece rather than use either of those two.  I am, as ever, somewhat dissatisfied, but I still like this one.  It’s… fun.  And somewhat painfully reminiscent of my childhood.  Enjoy.

***

I am D’Artagnan.  My blade swishes fearsomely as it whips through the air, and I drive my enemies before me.  The crowd behind me erupts in cheers as I subdue another foe, and I pause for a moment to take a bow and accept their praise.

“Sally Maynair, put down that stick this instant!”

I’m not D’Artagnan.  Mr. Priosec isn’t Cardinal Richelieu, and I really shouldn’t stab him with my stick that isn’t a sword.  Mr. Priosec teaches Social Studies, and his sense of humor is like a snake’s shed skin: lifeless, transparent, and more than a little scary.  I want to stab him anyway.  His voice tore my imagination to shreds.

“I said,” Mr. Priosec is walking towards me, “Put. Down. That. Stick.”

The cheers weren’t for me.  The Foursquare King just lost, and someone new has taken his place.  I regather the shreds of my world around me and drop my sword, turning my back on my foe.  If I’m to be killed, I’d rather not see it coming.  Only Richelieu would be so dishonorable as to kill an unarmed man.

“Sally, this is your last warning.”  My world crumbles again.  “You can’t run around swinging sticks like that on school property.”

I nod, like he expects me to.  But if I can’t be D’Artagnan, who can I be?  I can feel my cheeks heating up, and I know I’m about to cry even though I don’t want to.  There, by the side of the school and within an easy sprint, are the bushes I’ve hidden in so often.  I run for them, and a little part of me says, “Now you’re Robin Hood, off to lead your Merry Men.”  But that’s stupid.  I can’t be Robin Hood any more than I can be D’Artagnan.

***

I don’t know who I want to be.  I just know that I don’t want to be Sally Maynair.  She’s boring, dull, stupid, and she’s stuck with adults who always tell her to sit still and not think and do whatever work they give her and follow the rules and… the other kids aren’t much better.  Most of them seem to get along just fine with the teachers.  They don’t run around and play pretend, and they look at me funny when I do, which is why I try to ignore them.  They call it “kids’ stuff,” like they didn’t want to join me in it last year and the year before, like they didn’t love it just as much.

I sniff and wipe tears and snot on my sleeve.

“Sally?”

I jump, surprised by the voice.  It’s Robert, the Foursquare King.  We used to be friends.  We used to rule the world.

“Yeah?”  I try to hide my crying, but my voice comes out funny.

“Are you—,” he avoids my puffy snotty face, “um, could you help me?”

“What do you need me for?”  I frown at him.

“Would you help me regain my rightful place as King?”

A quest.  Purpose.  “Yes.”

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