to celebrate national novel writing month (or the unfortunately nicknamed "NaNoWriMo") this year i will spare myself the white-hair-inducing effects of writing 50,000 words in the month of November by writing a story a day.
these stories will be of any length and veer into any territory i wish. the idea is for me to write one a day for every day of november. these will be first drafts with minimal editing.
if you are into any of it. please comment below! perhaps you can help me figure out if there's ANYthing in these stories worth adapting or polishing into something awesome.
story 13. snail races. (by jenny yang. friday, november 15, 2013)
“what are you doing? come inside! you’ll catch a cold!”
mom thought it was strange that i was sitting on a stool outside our front yard in the rain. well, i was using an umbrella for shelter. she paused at the door for a second before another gust of wind came through and she had to give up.
i was staying put. i loved the rain. when it rained in los angeles it always felt special. my favorite part was the smell of the fresh rain on hot concrete. the mineral scent always made me happy. it meant the rain was here and i could hunt for snails.
this afternoon day, the rain came and i already spotted two snails who started their journey from my neighbors lawn to our lawn. i pulled up dad’s little wooden stool and sat in the driveway while they squished their way forward.
i watched the two of them, carrying their own homes on their backs, taking their sweet time and i thought, “why would they want to move when it rained? it seems so hard for them to travel.” if it was for feeling a little grossed out by the thought of touching them, i would’ve carried them to the lawn myself.
i was eight years old and played by myself a lot. my brothers were much older than me, they were eighteen and seventeen at the time. they were busy with high school and playing video games. eight years old was about the time that i stopped snuggling with my older brothers. they were getting bigger and so was i. i started to mourn the fact that it felt uncomfortable to be such “a baby” around them anymore. that’s when i discovered snails in our front yard and playing basketball by myself in our backyard.
i was obsessed with lakers basketball and more importantly, the legendary lakers’ sports announcer chick hearn who did the play by play for every game. from as young as i could remember chick hearn narrated the yang family event that was watching the lakers game. i knew even back then that chick was an incredible communicator and entertainer. he often used colorful catchphrases that explained exactly what was happening on screen. for away games, we’d turn on the television, put it on mute, then turn up the radio just to hear chick.
“he put him in the popcorn maker” was a favorite. but the best was at the end of the game. we’d wait for chick to call the victory for the lakers.
“the game is in the refrigerator, folks. the door is closed. lights are out. the eggs are cooling. the butter’s getting hard. and the jell-o’s jiggling.”
chick was the best.
when i stopped playing with my older brothers, i got into the habit of playing halfcourt basketball by myself in our backyard. i’d often narrate my own little game as if i was chick hearn.
“there’s jenny at the top of the paint. she fakes left. dribble drives to the basket no ones stopping her...finger roll it’s in!”
i’d say this out loud to myself and mimic the crowd cheering.
but when it came to the snails, i gave my own color commentary. it wasn’t chick hearn. it was in my head.
“look at this little one. his skin is so moist. it’s a little bumpy. will he make it? his friend seems to be moving just a little bit faster. but this first guy doesn’t seem to be so concerned. he seems pretty happy to be moving so easily on the wet concrete.”
i’m not sure this was color commentary or just my own little observations. i really like how they would leave little circular butt water glops behind them. just a faint trail of where they were on the driveway that was getting showered with large raindrops.
“does it hurt when the rain hits your house?”
suddenly, i feel a wad of water hit my umbrella.
it was my brother tom.
i guess in southern california the best you can do without snow or snowballs was gather your hand underneath the rain gutter spout on your house and throw a handful of water on your little sister.
“what?” i turned to see him standing over me.
“what are you doing? mom wants me to get you to come inside. it’s getting cold.”
he peers over my umbrella and notices the two little snails.
“oh. snails? hahahah. that’s what you’ve been staring at this whole time?” tom runs back into the house.
a few seconds later he comes back with an umbrella in his right hand a big round canister of morton’s salt in his left hand. the canister was dark navy blue with a young girl in a yellow dress holding an umbrella in the rain. i always thought it looked like a sad picture for selling a bunch of salt.
“what’s that for?” i asked, confused. he was moving so quickly.
he flips up the metal opening with his thumb and smiles with glee.
“check this out.” tom kneels down next to me and starts pouring the salt on top of the first, slower snail.
“hey! what are you doing to them?!” i didn’t know what was happening but i could tell it wasn’t good. the snail started shrink up and flip over and he looked like he was writhing in pain.
“what’s happening? did you hurt them?! why’d you do that?” i started yelling at my brother. then the hot tears started streaming down my cheeks.
“stop it!” i was yelling at him and beside myself with anger.
tom stood up and just laughed. “see. this is science. you should learn it. the salt shrivels them up. hahahah. come on. let’s go inside.”
as quickly as he came, my brother left.
there i was, sitting there in the rain by myself with my umbrella and stool. and now the salted snail had slowed down with its writhing. it was on its side and i could hear it screaming.
“auuughhh….it burns...it burns...what is this? why did this happen to me?! oh noooo.”
the other snail started talking to him but he wouldn’t stop walking. he probably felt a few little sprinkles that weren’t meant for him.
“just breathe. it’ll be okay. i’m so sorry.” that’s all he could say.
the faster second snail never looked back.