You were still Annie back then, huh? At least to friends. Family. Angela to the teachers. Never Angie.
I knew I’d find you here today, locked in the teacher’s private bathroom trying to scrub bright yellow egg-slime off your cream pants, bawling your eyes out. The whole school, all one hundred students, is in shock. You never cry—not here, where people can see.
You save tears for your bedroom behind a locked door. You cried plenty when you got voted out as cheerleader. Tears didn’t dare slip out of your eyeballs when your guy fell hard for the new girl. No broken heart here, people. Move along. They’re perfect together and you’re not. Right? You didn’t let yourself feel anything at all when that creep groped you on the bus. A stupid dare. Everybody knew—and no one shouted a warning or said anything—not even you. But you’re sobbing now. Waterworks galore. Good. Get it all out. You need it bad.
Here, I brought some super soft tissues with lotion in them. Blow your nose. Wipe your face. Give up on the pants, hon. You’re just making it worse. You need to go out in the hall now and wipe the slime off your books and locker. Take these damp paper towels. I’ll bring dry ones.
Deep breath. Steady. Unlock the door. I’m here. There’s your locker right across the hall. Nope. This isn’t the time to discuss the pros and cons of the school’s no-lock policy. Small town trust. Nobody steals stuff here, but that doesn’t stop guys from stacking your locker and mixing your kidnapped egg baby family living assignment into the cascading chaos. I doubt the guys engineered it so the egg would fall first and your physics text would smash it at the total perfect angle for spraying the contents all over. Luck. Locker stacking isn’t that scientific. Wipe off the books. They’re fine.
They got your story.
Pick it up. Soak the egg off the first page. Let me do it while you get control again? I know you’re leaving tomorrow morning, but you can retype it. A couple pages in the middle can be salvaged. The bell’s going to ring. Stand your ground. Keep working. They’re staring. So what? You’re not sobbing that loud. Here’s more tissue.
Sure you can type crying. (Some day your kids—yes, you have great kids—will tease you over typewriters.) Go hang out in the back of the typing room. The biz teacher is cool. He’ll let your use the Selectric. His son probably helped stack your locker, so he owes you. Your other teachers don’t expect you in class. News travels sonic.
I’m sorry you feel rejected. Get used to it, girl. If you’re going to be a writer, rejection never goes away. Don’t let it slaughter you. Use it. Grow from it. You can get to the end of this endless day, and then you’re out of here for a whole week. Tuck your freshly-typed story safe in your backpack, hop on the bus, go home and pack. Tomorrow your life is going to change.
Greyhound bus ride across the state, Spokane to Seattle, with a sweet, brainiac boy and a larger-than-life-suede-leather-wrapped-hippy-throw-back chick who’ll make a great character in your debut novel. Ferry from Seattle to Port Townsend. Out to Fort Warden in a funky black London cab imported from England to a mystical place called CENTRUM. Your first writing workshop. Heaven on earth.
You meet Deb, a soul-mate through the rest of high school even if she does live in Tacoma, real live authors who tell you to keep writing, sixty other kids who feel just like you, and a way cute blonde guy who gives you a rough-hewn Pacific Northwest beach shell he found and kisses you good-bye at the end of the week.
Excuse me? Are you listening? I said he kisses you! Can you still hear me? Maybe it’s better if you can’t. Go experience the wonder of your first steps into writerness free from any prescient prejudice. Those kids will be part of your soul forever.
This is your moment. Take up the call. Be a writer. Fall in love with Puget Sound, waves, lighthouses, and a way cute blonde guy. Forget egg baby slime all over your world. Take lots of notes, though. For me. I’ll need them.
All my love, Angela
P.S. Get Frank Herbert to sign your copy of DUNE. What were you thinking?
Angela Morrison is the author of SING ME TO SLEEP, a 2010 Goodreads Choice Award nominee for YA fiction, TAKEN BY STORM (Books 1-3), and AN OCEAN ATWEEN US. She hopes to bring FIREUG, a middle grade inspired by her mother's childhood in Rexburg, Idaho, post World War II. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA in English from BYU. Angela used her high school, hometown and the farm where she grew up for TAKEN BY STORM’s setting. Like her hero in STORM, she is an avid scuba diver. After over a decade abroad in Canada, Switzerland and Singapore, she and her family are happily settled on the edge of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. She has four grown up children and the most amazing grandkids in the universe.
EGG BABY WARS, inspired by her high school egg baby’s untimely demise, is a work in progress. Her week-long CENTRUM romances inspired Beth and Derek’s meeting in SING ME TO SLEEP. s.
Jennifer Wolf says: March 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm Love this Angela! Crazy cool that one high school moment can provide so much pain and inspiration, motivation for the future. May we all overcome the egg-slime/rejection moments in life and use them to propel us towards the the first kiss/first publication moments!
Angela Morrison says: March 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm I think angst is required for growing up. Heavy doses. It hurts, but how else can we learn compassion? (Especially for the teens we are blessed to love, mentor, and write for!)
NanaMolly says: March 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm Totally cool Annie!!! I will try this sometime. I could have used a letter like this myself. I would have never guessed how great my life was going to be. I had many yolk moments myself, none quite so public. I also never imagined one of the worst popular girls from my high school would be my sister-in-law who I now adore (she still teases me though).
Kellie Coffey says: March 10, 2011 at 2:53 am Teen Angela was a way cool kid and she was the best dancer out of all 100 kids in our school! If you think the top Annie made (in her senior picture) is elaborate, you should have seen the outfit she created and entered in our county fair. It was beautiful, I can still picture it…she modeled it at the fair and I believe it won first place and she took it on to the state fair.