Sunday, March 8, 2009

Character Scenes (almost): Pietr's POV

I did this snippet (the opening scene, really) from Pietr's POV. I mentioned in an earlier post that I wouldn't include Pietr's POV in the novel, but here's how it came out (a while ago):

I knew the heartbeat even before I met the girl whose whims it ruled. Even among heartbeats this one was distinct. My family and I had been told someone would come to start me on my way and so I listened, intent, for a door, footsteps—a hopeful heart. Hers was far from what I expected.

I heard her pause on the door’s far side. She hauled in a ragged breath, as if steadying herself before she twisted the door’s knob. Her heart leapt-- racing as the doorknob squeaked, racing like it couldn’t decide whether to tell her to fight or flee. She yanked the door open, determination in the suddenness of the move. A fighter, then, I thought.

Framed by the doorway, she stared at us. I couldn’t help it. I stared back. She was average height with medium length brown hair and matching eyes. Thin, but not skinny, she was pretty but not beautiful. She seemed so utterly average in appearance… But I knew her heart by its tone. She was far beyond any understandable average.

Relieved at whom she didn’t find there, she sighed. Her heartbeat slowed. The stony expression that hardened her eyes softened a little, though the wariness remained. And the wariness grew when the school counselor addressed her.

“Jessica.” Mr. Maloy motioned to us. “These are the Roos-a-kohv-ahs,” he said as slowly as he said it loudly. I doubted it was meant for her benefit. “This,” he pointed to me, “is Peter. Pe-ter.” I half-expected him to start some Tarzan-inspired routine. I may be from a family of recently immigrated Russians, but that certainly doesn’t equate to stupidity. Or deafness. “He’s a soph-omore--just like--” he pointed to Jessica “--you.”

Her jaw set. She knew then that I was to become her special project. I could hear her heart speed up the smallest bit, but she did well, hiding her frustration at the unexpected assignment. “Hello, Peter.”

Thank God. She didn’t shout it at me or go totally slow motion with the words. She was evidently brighter than the counselor with the sizable comb-over. Of course, how hard would that be?

I nodded acknowledgment at her brief greeting. I was frustrated, too. Already I’d been saddled with a misspelled nametag. I would have hoped a guidance counselor was more apt at reading and transferring information.

She—Jessica--appeared absolutely unimpressed by the whole situation. Perhaps she was equally unimpressed with me.

Mr. Maloy handed her a slip of paper. My schedule? I wouldn’t have minded seeing it myself, but it seemed I had no right to it. “Here is Peter’s schedule.” He looked back at me. “Schedule.” He gave Jessica a look that was too easily read. Don’t disappoint me. I wondered why she’d been stuck with this assignment. “Show him around,” Maloy was instructing, “And make sure he’s not late.”

"Okay," she said, heading out the conference room door. "We're both in Ashton's Lit class, so let's head in that direction for starters."

She looked at me like she was trying to make up her mind about something. I simply nodded, agreeing with what she thought was best.

As soon as we were in the hall her heartbeat steadied, relaxed. She began pointing out every classroom, bathroom and water fountain within eyesight, and even some beyond. I kept my mouth shut, letting her ramble. This was her school—her domain. Besides, while her attention was on tour-guiding, I could steal glances at her.

She was attractive, that much was certain. Not glamorous, not perfect, but somehow—just right.