Writing a book is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Since I was about 11 (I’m 20 now, if you need to do the math). It’s something I’ve tried, time and time again. A book is something I’ve felt this need to create. I formed story after story in my head. But none, so far, have come through. No story clear, no characters so beloved they needed to be shared.
Until I was a sophomore or junior in high school.
That was when I crafted a 20 page short story. It was full of characters I loved, full of a story I wanted to dive into. But this short story wasn’t book worthy. It was nowhere near publication ready.
So it sat and sat, until I tried to add to it. I tried to add chapters to make it a whole book, add details to make those chapters longer. But it wasn’t what I wanted. The story wasn’t something I loved anymore. Not that version. But I’d crafted characters I wanted, and still need to, share. I’ve come up with a story I have to put out there for the world to read. It might be a while before the entire story is there. It might be a while before the entire book is finished.
But today, I thought I’d share with you the start to that story. The start to the adventure I’ve lived only in my head. One I’ve spent years crafting and trying to perfect. I thought I’d give you a taste of the characters I know so intimately in my head, they’re almost friends.
Today I thought I share with you what that short story evolved into.
Today, I give you a sneak peek of No Words for Laney.
(Excerpt from Chapter One: Homecoming)
THE RIDE TO THE BEACH GOT LONGER EVERY YEAR. The older my cousins and I got – the more anxious we were to get to the beach – the more the highway seemed to extend. Each stop in the backwoods towns – where we all would spend some time shopping and stretching our legs – seemed like we’d spent eternity and a half.
This year was no exception to that rule – but for a very different reason.
There were intruders to our little summer getaway.
Aunt Kay was ten years older than my mother. Greying and cranky, she was one of the most judgmental people I’ve ever met. Her children, Caine and Kent, the two heinous boys I called cousins, were bratty and bullies. – And would also be my housemates for the next two months.
If they turned up murdered, it wasn’t my fault.
We were taking two separate cars – since Aunt Kay didn’t trust Aunt Cass’ driving – from our bungalow in Cincinnati down to Black Rock. Black Rock was the beach town in the south that we’d been spending summers at for as long as I could remember.
Aunt Kay followed us, a bit too close for comfort, the whole way. She kept calling, and Caine kept honking her horn from the back seat. I could see the urge to break-check her in Aunt Cass’ eyes in the rear-view mirror.
When we stopped for lunch somewhere in Maryland, Jenny begged to ditch them. Aunt Cass and Aunt Sophie were all for it. However, my mom was the level headed one – she always had to be the level-headed one. This was the one time I wish she hadn’t been. Mom shook her head, saying that we’d never hear the end of it if we left them behind.
Jenny pouted for all of twenty minutes. And then a song came on the radio, which she and Alexi couldn’t resist singing obnoxiously and dancing to. Alice laughed at them in her own quiet way. I had to watch for Alexi’s flailing arms, since I was in the middle seat, squished between her and Aunt Sophie – like every year. Why Aunt Sophie didn’t sit in the back with Alice and Jenny – her children – I didn’t know.
For a short while, everything seemed normal. It seemed like any other year. There were a few songs everybody got into, the entire car shaking as we danced. Snacks were passed, and spilled, from front to back to front. We itched to get the beach and go surfing. Surprisingly, Black Rock had good waves for an East Coast town.
We got to Black Rock early that night. The sun was low and bright, casting a warm yellow and pink haze over the sun baked buildings. Every year was nostalgic, the anticipation growing as we drove the streets that brought us closer to the house. You could practically see the tension as all of us kids (although we weren’t kids anymore) quieted, and stared intently out the windows.
Alexi rolled down the back window when we were at the only stop light in town, and shouted a ‘hello’ to a group of our friends who were on the corner. The recognition was slow, but then their faces twisted – some into smiles, most into smirks, knowing what was to come now that we were there. My fingers tingled, feet going numb, as I thought about the coming events.
I didn’t have much time to dwell though. The light turned green and Alexi rolled up the window. I knew they wouldn’t be here, not in this part of town. Not right now. The time wasn’t right yet. But a small part of me wished I could see them. Just for a little reassurance. I already knew Alice wanted the same thing – but for an entirely different reason.
The house seemed to smile as we pulled in the drive. The wide, deep, white porch grinning at us. The dark windows gleaming like hopeful eyes out from their balcony glasses, on the second and third story. Groaning when Aunt Kay harshly tore into the driveway next to us. The last time more than one car came along, it was a bad summer.
Caine and Kent leapt out of the car, darting towards the house. They stopped when Aunt Kay yelled them to grab suitcases – they had packed enough for a year. All of us piled out of Aunt Cass’ van, and grabbed our things from the trunk. We were headed towards the house by the time Aunt Kay and the boys managed to get one case out of their Janga tower.
The three spent ten minutes arguing before they joined us. Our group claimed our usual spots. Much to the dismay of Kent and Caine.
“You guys got the best rooms!” they spat, standing stupidly in the hallway with their abundance of bags.
“These are our rooms,” Alexi snapped, pointing to names on the doors; we were all standing in the hallway. Alice and Jenny had already denied their requests for room changes. As well as their request to change the music playing over the speakers, that Jenny had her phone plugged into. “It’s the same every. Year. Don’t think that you being here makes you special. None of us are trading.”
They were about to refute when Aunt Kay called up the steps. “Are you two done unpacking yet? – Well?!”
“No, mom,” spat Caine, still sneering at Alexi.
“Quit yapping,” Aunt Kay snapped, “and get to it.”
“Bitch,” Kent mumbled under his breath, glaring at the staircase.
Caine turned his back to us, knocking his brother’s arm with his elbow. “Let’s go, idiot. Those rooms aren’t that good anyway. They’re painted girly colours.”
Kent grunted out in agreement, then turned and stalked to the rooms down the hall. If the boys had put up that much of a fight with us, I could only imagine how Aunt Kay felt about the spare room in our parents’ wing of the house. Alice and Jenny disappeared back into their respective rooms. Alexi let her glare linger on the door guys’ rooms.
“Lex,” I said, the redhead turned to me, her gaze softening. The look I gave her was all she needed. She dropped her head, nodding, the tension visibly relaxing in her shoulders, as she chuckled softly.
“You’re just like Aunt Lily – you know that, Laney?” Alexi smirked at me, winking before going back into her room, and shutting the door behind her with a soft click.
I stood in the hallway a minute longer, staring at the baby pink, wooden letters screwed to her door, spelling out “ALEXI.” On the next door, “JENNY” was spelled out in mint green. These letters had been on the door since we were children. These rooms had always been ours. Alice’s room was next to mine, across from Jenny’s, her name spelled out in pale blue. Mine finishing the circle in a lilac purple.
It was – strange – standing here at nineteen (my twentieth birthday to come in October). The hall felt smaller now; the blonde wood flooring was now worn and scuffed, softened by 17 years of sandy feet. The two rooms at the end of the hall only ever having been occupied one other summer. Although the wide, glass walled sitting room on the third floor was frequently used.
There were cracks in the paint on the ceiling now. Wear marks on all the door handles. Although I don’t know how, considering we hardly stay inside in the summer. This place held the best memories of my life. I lived for summer, the salt water was my summer oxygen.
We were away from our brothers and fathers. In a different town, with people who didn’t really know us. We’d laughed here, found our first loves here, had our first kisses and heart breaks here. This town – it had so much history to it.
It felt more home than Cincinnati ever did.
I just sighed, going back into my room. I didn’t feel like unpacking. I just wanted to go out and find them. Our Summer Boys – their names were Jack Jones and Darius Wyatt. A duo that gave you a run for your money, when it came to proving true friendships. The two were blood brothers – proven by matching star scars, and tribal-style dragon tattoos, on their wrists. There’d never been such a close set of friends, not that I’d ever seen.
Then again – my best friends were family.
This story is near and dear to my heart. It’s been in the back of my mind for years. I’m so glad I’ve finally found a version of it that I love. This is the third time I’ve started it, and I love the direction it’s going in.
Aunt Kay has had many names over the years. Alexi has had many lovers. Until recently, Caine and Kent didn’t exist. And Les the Plastic Pelican has been there for it all. But this story has evolved with me, as I’ve grown as a story teller. I hope to, one day, have this out in publication for everyone.
Maybe it isn’t your cup of tea, and that’s okay! I was inspired to reboot it after reading The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han, and not a lot of people seem to like that. No Words for Laney (the original title, which will be changed in the future) is nothing like that, though I was inspired by Ms Han.
I secretly hope Laney doesn’t end up as whiny as Belly…
I really hope that you all liked the start to No Words for Laney! It’s my book baby, lol
Tell me what you thought in the comments! Would you buy it? What would you change?
Thanks for Reading!
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