I wrote the first chapter today and thought I'd post the first five hundred here--mostly to keep myself honest. You'll have to wait until it's finished to read the rest of it. For the uninformed: it's a bad policy to post work you want to publish on a blog or webpage, but an excerpt or two shouldn't hurt anything. (Language warning by the way).
And then I'm going to bed. Somehow I've acquired an orphaned kitten (somewhere between three and four weeks old) and was up all night with it-either worrying about rolling over on it, or listening to it cry in its kennel. Today was much better. She's getting the hang of eating on her own and is learning to lap water and formula.
The woman in red on the other side of the playground wasn't anybody's mother. And the blonde haired girl she was watching wasn't anybody's child.
The four other children on the playground were engrossed in playing on climbing equipment, slides, tunnels, and playhouses. They were oblivious to those around them, almost climbing over each other in their eagerness to reach tiered platforms where there were more toys to play with.
The little girl climbed up to the second tier and sat down near a small boy who was staring at the horizon, his arm extended, outlining and painting a sunset of blues and greens and oranges.
The girl pressed on her own horizon, bringing up a blank canvas and a pallet. She touched her finger to yellow and painted a primitive sun with the end of her finger. Pressed red and drew the crude outline of a house, a green dog and a stick woman with curling pink hair.
"Like the hair," the little Van Gogh said.
"Thanks. I was thinking of trying it out in real life."
"What does your boyfriend think of that?"
The little girl added a stick man with brown hair. "I think he'll get used to it."
Another child entered the playground, wandered around the grounds for a minute, scanning the children who were playing there. After just a second or so, he clambered up the steps into a windowed playhouse.
The little girl waved her hand across the horizon and climbed down the steps as her picture melted.
"Need help?" called Van Gogh.
"No thanks. Just checking something out."
She descended the steps from the platform and followed the path the other little boy had taken into the playhouse, waving at the woman as she passed.
He was seated next to a little girl in pink.
"So do you come here every day?"
"Yes," answered the girl. They were playing tic-tac-toe and she was winning.
"Are your mom and dad watching?"
"They're at work. My sister is babysitting me and she said I could play here if I don't bother her."
"Hey you won! You're good at this," said the boy pointing at the tic-tac-toe board.
"Want to play a different game?"
"Sure. What's it called?"
"It's called I've got a secret."
"Mom says I shouldn't keep secrets."
"This isn't real secrets. This is a game silly."
"Okay. How do we play?"
"I'll show you. I have a secret place. It's in my house. My house is in . . . Now you say everything I said and say the town you live in. Then I'll go."
"Oh! I know that game. Okay, "I've got a secret place . . ."
"Can I play too?" interrupted the little blond girl.
"Maybe later," replied the boy.
"But I want to play too," she whined.
"Come on. Let's go play someplace else." The little boy shoved the blonde girl aside and began to climb back down the steps.
The girl in pink looked at the other little girl. "I knew I'd find you here."
"Making the world safe from online monsters of all shapes and sizes?"
The blond girl didn't speak.
"There's never a pair of chopsticks around when you need them, is there?"
"Who are you?"
"Nobody. I'm nobody."
The little girl melted into the walls of the playhouse as the program hissed and crackled behind her.
"Who the fuck was that?" asked Van Gogh from the bottom of the steps.
On the far side of the play ground the woman in red had collared the little boy who seemed frozen in mid-air, his form slowly changing to a series of numbers and letters. The rest of the children were exiting the play area a quickly as their Avatars could move.
The blond girl joined him at the bottom of the steps. She stared at the place the girl in pink had been sitting in. "Geez Cap, there are real kids behind those avatars."