“She pulled a gun on me,” R. said. He was talking about his aunt. He lived with her and his grandmother. “She waved it in my face.”
His life was like that. I asked him what I could do–me on the other side of the phone, pass orange groves, a country club on the other side of a lake and 16 years old. We’d been friends for a long time–in that high school sort of way–and I’d never been to R’s house except to drop him off out front. Not even in the driveway, but on the sidewalk.
He came to my house often and talked to me on the phone for hours. Our history teacher stopped me after class once to ask me about him. The teacher wanted to comment that R. and I spent a lot of time together. What did my parents think about that? The teacher advised me to make sure I was careful. Careful? What on earth was he talking about?
When R. and I went out, a few people kept their eye on us as if we might cause trouble. But we were friends and only friends. He kissed me on the cheek once in front of a bunch of girls giving him grief about spending time with me.
R. wasn’t allowed to see his father. His mother was in the hospital too often, too fragile from too many beatings they told him, to take care of him and his brother.
So I called child services. There had to be grown ups to take care of him. Of course, they got him into more trouble and he didn’t speak to me for weeks. How he screamed and cursed me.
Writing a novel is nowhere near having to face your aunt pointing a gun at you. Seems foolish at best to complain when paying attention to real news. But writers do complain, and world chaos aside, they’ve got plenty to complain about. Have you been listening to the news about the publishing industry? That we keep writing may prove we are not mentally well.
But it also never ceases to surprise me how many writers refuse help. They want to be published but they don’t want to rewrite. They certainly don’t want to be critiqued. What? Cut? But it really happened that way! Well, cutting hurts. I should know.
How much editing are you willing to do?