Teachers Write 7/17/14 – Thursday Quick-Write

Good morning!

It’s time for your Thursday Quick-Write, so let me introduce your guest author for the day, Sarah Darer Littman. 

Sarah is the author of WANT TO GO PRIVATE? – an edgy YA novel that offers a terrifying glimpse into the world of an internet predator – and other terrific books for kids & teens.

No reader likes a boring bad guy, so Sarah’s topic today is a great one…

Creating Interesting Antagonists

Writers tend to focus on the main character. That’s usually who we identify with most. That’s whom we hope our readers will bond with, and whose journey and struggles will keep them turning the pages, captivated and rooting for our MC until both character and reader reach “The End.”

 As I tell my creative writing workshop students, the intersection of character and plot is when we force our character to make choices. The consequences resulting from those choices drive the plot forward.

 My favorite example of this, ever, is the show Breaking Bad. If you haven’t watched it ( it gets gory, I warn you) get out a notebook and a pen and do so. Here’s the premise. A sad sack high school chemistry teacher (who had formerly contributed to Nobel prize worthy research) is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer just as he finds out his wife is unexpectedly pregnant. He spots a former student while on riding along on a raid with his brother in law, a DEA officer, and decides that fabricating high quality crystal meth is the way to ensure his family’s financial security once he is gone.

 His first choice – to do something illegal, but arguably (this is why he is such an endlessly fascinating character) for “good” motives – to ensure his family is financially secure when he is gone.

 This choice has consequences, of course. He has to lie to his family about his whereabouts when he is out producing meth in an RV. He steals lab equipment from the school where he works.

 And those consequences lead to other choices – which drive the plot forward, over five seasons of incredible writing and acting.

 The consequences of our main character’s initial choices will lead them to situations where they have to confront the antagonist – and make more choices, with new consequences.

 Having a fully fleshed-out antagonist doesn’t just make your book more interesting –it makes it more realistic. We are all born with the capacity for both good and evil, and it is rare to find a person that is one hundred percent of either. A main character who’s one hundred percent good would be as boring to me as a bad guy who is one hundred percent bad. The books that keep me thinking about them for weeks afterward are the ones that look at the gray areas.

 My upcoming book, BACKLASH (Scholastic, April 2015) tells the story of a cyberbullying incident that spins wildly out of control. It’s told from four points of view, and one of the most challenging parts of writing it was to ensure that I’d fully explored those gray areas.

Here’s one of exercises I do with my creative writing kids, to help get started.


What did you learn about your antagonist from that exercise? How can you expand on that to create more depth in your story?

Note from Kate:  If you don’t have a fictional work-in-progress right now, choose a scene from your favorite novel and rewrite it from the antagonist’s point of view. It will give you the same kind of experience!

Feel free to share a snippet of today’s writing in the comments! I know Sarah will be popping in to read, and I will, too, but please remember that we won’t be able to comment on every post every day, so it’s important that you support one another, too. Thanks!

58 Replies on “Teachers Write 7/17/14 – Thursday Quick-Write

  1. Thank you Sarah. What a great prompt! I haven’t actually written a confrontational scene in my WIP yet (it’s still in the early stages), but I did this exercise and now I’m thinking of writing my novel from alternating POVs. We’ll see. Anyway, here it is:

    The girl stood before me, face red and tear-stained. “I want to see my Momma!”
    “You can’t. I don’t know where she is.” I felt terrible telling her this lie, but it was for her own good. Her mother can’t support both of them.
    “But she was just here! I heard her. Call her back!” She made this demand of me while clutching her rag doll to her chest, a mixture of defeat and defiance. It was hard to resist her request.
    “I’m sorry Lily. That’s not possible. She made it very clear that she won’t try to see you again.” Another lie, but necessary. I couldn’t have parents of half-orphans constantly showing up to see their abandoned children. It wasn’t good for their well-being. I silently asked God for his forgiveness.
    “I don’t believe you.” The girl’s face fell as did the volume in her voice. She nearly broke my heart. But I remembered Mother Superior’s guidance, Stand firm.
    “I’m very sorry. Now go back to your room. You’re still weak from the flu.” I turned away from her because I could not bear to watch her reaction anymore. It was like she was being abandoned all over again.
    “Yes, Sister.” Weakly. And then a shuffle of feet, and a quiet closing of the door. My shoulders slumped and I sank to my chair.
    “I pray you know what you’re doing, Lord.”

    1. Wendy – this is beautiful! It might even be more moving because of this perspective. Additionally, I want desperately to know what happens to Lily.

    2. Wendy,
      I’m blown away by your ability to get into the voice of the antagonist. I’m viewing myself as the little girl, and seeing how seemingly heartless the Sister is, yet you give the side otherwise unseen. To reveal her velvet heart, which may be covered by a steely exterior, is a terrific execution of today’s challenge. Loved it!

  2. Thank you! This was fun to do. I\’d been trying to make sure I gave this character some rationale, but this was even better. Now I know she just wants to have some of her summer back! – I think I\’ll do this again with one of the final scenes to understand how it shakes out from her perspective.

    Principal Eleanor Donner had been in meetings all spring long. She was sick to death of parents who thought that their child was more special than every other child in her school. She was sick to death of listening to detailed and painful progress reports on individual children. She was sick to death of working twelve hour days, and weekends. She hadn’t been able to take time off to visit her newborn grandson in California, and now he wasn’t even newborn any more.

    The school board had been nagging her to improve school scores. Her teachers had been begging her for more classroom support for their struggling students. The roof was leaking in the cafeteria and the computers in the lab hadn’t been updated in ten years, which might as well be a lifetime in technology.

    \”Mr. and Mrs. Redding, I\’m sure you understand.\” Eleanor leaned forward at the conference table. She was flanked by the social worker and school psychologist. \”The children cannot handle this kind of disruption regularly. It\’s traumatizing.\” She desperately hoped these parents would be reasonable. She hated scenes.

    1. Principals have such a hard job! I like the way you have captured the busyness, the unrelenting busyness, of a principals life. I think “desperate hope” is probably a feeling principals feel often.

    2. Terry,Your writing reminded me of the need to walk in another person’s shoes before I assume things about them. I can easily see things from the needy teacher’s perspective, but you have helped me catch a glimpse of the thankless job of the principal.

      1. I have a great principal. Once in a while I get a glimpse of all the directions he’s pulled in. I’m not sure why anyone would want the job.

    3. I’m so glad this was helpful – and it’s a great idea to do it with the final scene, because hopefully both your protagonist and your antagonist have experienced some growth and change. Doing the exercise will help you figure out how.

  3. “We’ve been working with you and your daughter all school year, and honestly there has been no improvement in her behavior. We are strongly suggesting that she seek professional help, some kind of therapy or she will not be able to return here.” I said crisply.
    Sophia Wrixton gasped audibly. “But she never had these issues before she came to this school. Don’t you think part of it could be your unbending rules? Could you try to empathize with her? She needs to be able to express her individuality.”
    I tapped my pen on the desk thoughtfully. “Hmmm, I see your point.” There were a few moments of painful silence. Then I sat forward. “But no! She needs to line up just like everyone else. Why should things be different for her? Why should she get special treatment when the others have to follow procedures? She must learn to follow the rules and conform. That’s the bottom line.”

    1. I felt like I was back sitting in one of my child’s PPT’s again reading that. And it wasn’t a pleasant feeling! *shudders at painful memories* On a completely separate note…have you read Stephen King’s “On Writing”? I read it after I wrote my first book, CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC, and shortly after I’d read it, I was at an author event and a girl asked me a fantastic question – if I could change anything about the book, what would it be. I told her I would go through and strip out all the adverbs. After having read On Writing, and also having read the book aloud to my son after it was published, I realized how unnecessary they were. Food for thought! Even if you don’t, I suggest reading King’s chapter on Adverbs, because it’s a great rant. I do so love a good rant.

      1. Ooooh! I love a good rant too. I will have to check it out. Thanks for the feedback!

        1. The adverb comment is really funny to me. At my job we have to assess various things our preschoolers can do (or actually do) as they’re heading off to kindergarden. We actually have to refer to a list of adverbs to figure out whether our kids use them. The answer is that most of the time, kids communicate really well with very few adverbs. (And some of the words on the list crack us up too. Eg: wetly. She wetly licked her lips.)

          I’ll have to find that rant and watch my own writing.

  4. Thanks you so much for sharing. I read WANT TO GO PRIVATE in one sitting. I recommend it to all my high school students. I will have our librarian order BACKLASH. I look forward to another great read.

  5. I just finished a new release titled, California by Edan Lepucki . Her character Michah is one of the best antagonists I’ve come across. I spend several mini-lessons on antagonists during our WW Fairy Tale unit. Students love developing these characters.

  6. My turn work on my antagonist. This is a piece of creative non-fiction. I was actually writing this piece as the photo arrived. This is an honest to goodness quickwrite-no editing. It is a crazy day. Heading out of town for my nieces surgery- Teachers Write! Is a needed distraction today.

    I am not sure where to start here I keep thinking of the stench. He wasn’t always there for us but when he was the stench was there too, helping him cope. The stench at birthdays and my sisters’ graduation. The stench funerals and weddings. My wedding. The stench on his breath the last time I rode as a passenger in his car. He rescuing me from a newlywed’s quarrel at the mall. I fled when we got to the first red light after many greens. The stench when he didn’t understand that his birthday was not the great day for my nephew to be born, as he announced. It was 24 weeks too early. But he was always there and today, right now as I write this, the day before his seventeen year old grand-daughter has open heart surgery, 12 years after he’s been gone, my sister texts me a photo of the coke bottle she randomly grabbed before heading to the hospital. It’s one of those new ones with the friends names on it- there he was, KEN, on his favorite mixer. I’m sure there’s Jack Daniels in heaven.

    1. I like that it took a little bit for me to register what the stench indicated – and I’m grateful that my insight is intellectual rather than experience.

      Thank you for sharing this piece – it feels wry and honest and gives me the desire to know what happens, without the fear that the narrator cannot climb out of the hole that the stench creates in her life.

    2. A brave, raw piece. I hope you’ll revise and work on this more. I’m teaching an essay writing workshop this week, and one of my students is writing about random drug testing in schools. He expressed the view that it’s much worse to be the child of a drug addict than the child of an alcoholic. I told him that I didn’t think that was a fair assumption – and he probably feels that way because alcohol is legal and drugs aren’t. I told him my friends whose parents were alcoholics would beg to differ.

    1. Interesting, names on Coke bottles now! This paragraph got my attention and set up the character well-we all have a good idea of his story and the issues he caused.

  7. Loved this exercise! First is the rewritten version and then since it’s short, I also put the original. Thanks for looking at it.

    “Look,” I nudged my friends and pointed. “Susan is getting in trouble.” Mary Beth’s friends looked and giggled. “I’m going to go see what’s going on.”
    I took my time walking to the trash can and made sure I was listening as Wart-face Williams laid into Susan. It didn’t take too much to set the art teacher off and I’m glad it wasn’t me this time.
    “Excuse me young lady, you better care. Who’s going to pay for all this paint you wasted. No one will want to use this ugly color.”
    I couldn’t help but look directly at Susan and let her know that I was happy it was her. “Yeah Susan, that is real-ly ugly.”
    “Go back to your table Mary Beth and get back to work,” said Mrs. Williams.
    “Yes, ma’am.”
    I couldn’t wait to share my discovery. “She’s in trouble big time. Do you see that awful color she mixed? What could she possible make with that? She’s going to get an F for sure.”
    Linda and Angie looked back at Susan as she started carrying her pot of color back to her table.

    “I don’t care!” I stared at the ugly, old teacher who had her face right in mine.
    “Excuse me young lady, you better care. Who’s going to pay for all this paint you wasted. No one will want to use this ugly color.”
    “Yeah Susan, that is real-ly ugly,” taunted Mary Beth.
    “Go back to your table Mary Beth and get back to work.”
    Mary Beth smirked at me and then sauntered back to the table with all the cool kids. Or at least those who thought they were.
    “I will use it and it will be the prettiest painting you ever saw.” I grabbed the container with the ugliest gray and went back to my table with the totally un-cool kids.
    “What are you going to do with that mess?” Carl asked sympathetically.
    “I have no idea, but I better come up with something fast before wart-face tells my mom.”

    1. I love your rewrite! The terrific exception to the ‘the enemy of your enemy is my friend’ rule always applies with teachers, doesn’t it?

      I was wondering if you felt as I did, that there was something freer about writing from the antagonist’s POV? I don’t have to like my antagonist, so I was happy to make her selfish, if overworked, and lash out in her grumpiness. There’s a deliciousness in villains that I have often heard of, but never really felt before.

      1. It’s interesting, the more I wrote chapters from the POV of my antagonist, the more I wanted people to understand her. Not approve of the things she did, because clearly they were wrong, but at least to understand the reasons why she might have made a bad choice in a moment of pique – as teenagers, and yes, even adults, are wont to do.

    2. I love the rewrite too! One thing – I got confused by “Mary Beth’s friends looked and giggled.” Because isn’t it Mary Beth’s POV in the rewritten paragraph? So I think that would be “MY friends looked and giggled” no?

  8. Ah ha! I need an antagonist! I’m at a conference right now with a few minutes…..so thinking about what my bad guy/gal is…hey, it’s a start!
    Bad guys
    Interfere with curiosity
    Impose will
    Break rules
    Make rules
    Don’t respect
    Don’t listen
    Don’t grow
    Hold grudges
    Talk behind hands
    Kick under the table
    Don’t remember what’s important
    Small minded

    Now to create a bad guy!

  9. I took Kate’s suggestion of lifting a scene from a book I recently read and rewrote it from the POV of the two brothers who are constantly beating up their younger half brother. There were two challenges I faced as I did this. First, the original is written in 3rd person and I assumed that to accomplish this properly that I needed to do 1st person. The other challenge is I wasn’t sure if it was okay to “lift” the dialogue from the original exactly as it appears. I hope so since that is what I did. Anyway, here’s my “rewrite.” Sorry if it’s kind of long.

    Igor and I crept stealthily toward Joey’s bedroom being careful to not make a sound. Once Dad went to bed he was a rock until his alarm went off, but Joey’s mom on the other hand, it didn’t take much more than a creaky floorboard to rouse her. We definitely didn’t want to have to explain to either of them why we were sneaking around the house at 2 a.m. carrying a pillowcase, rope, and a roll of duct tape.

    As we entered the room Joey was slumbering peacefully, but that was about to change. Making full use of the advantage we had I pounced, landing hard on his chest.

    “Grab his arms,” Igor yelled.

    Joey tried to fight me off but I just pressed all the harder, forcing air out of his lungs in the process. Before he could scream and rouse the entire household Igor placed duct tape over his mouth and a pillowcase over his head. Meanwhile I quickly tied his hands together, then his feet. Finally we had him right where we wanted him, muffled, and trussed like a Thanksgiving turkey.

    As we lifted him, Joey’s head banged against the bed frame, certain to leave him with a headache but that’d be the least of his worries by the time we got done with him. As we slowly half-dragged, half-carried him across the room, we made certain to not make any unnecessary noise in the process. As we proceeded down the stairs, Igor let out a grunt of exertion while trying not to drop him.

    “Quiet,” I said. “You’ll wake the whole family.”

    Then, in an instant our world changed. We went from our upscale home to what can only be described as one’s worst nightmare. We were surrounded by cat and mouse skeletons clawing at our clothes as jack-o-lanterns burned in a pitch black sky and the smell of rotten eggs permeated the air.

    As we turned to look at Joey he smiled and said “So long brothers. Enjoy this little world I’ve cooked up for you,” as he vanished into thin air.

    1. Dan,
      I promise to never mess with Joey!
      You’ve certainly penned a frightful picture of vengeance! And well done, I might add! I’m glad I’m not reading this before bed, because I need to sleep and this image would keep me up long into the night!

    2. Fabulous! I want to read the other perspective and see which I like more. This one is ripe with suspense and the unexpected.

  10. Thank you so much for this prompt! My fledgling WIP has a violent act as a backdrop. Thus far, I have only seen the protagonist as a means for moving the action forward. This will take my writing in new directions. The following is rough:

    Emile eased the car to the curb a block from our destination.

    “Remember, the target will return sometime after 10 pm. You must stay hidden until the exact moment or we will have lost our chance,” he admonished me as I reluctantly stepped out of the car.

    So many people are depending on me. Mother and father back home grieving for our fallen brothers. Emile trusting me with the task. But, what do I really know of this man I am going to meet? Does he deserve this fate?

    I walk slowly, head down as the evening sky begins to light with fireflies. The street is quiet. A small rabbit lifts its head from the flower bed, curious about my presence.

    The families are inside enjoying dinner. How I wish I could walk up to one of these doors and enter. In my mind, I would be welcomed with a plate and a pat on the back.

    “Pull up a chair. Roast chicken for dinner tonight. Don’t forget to add potatoes and green beans. The rolls are fresh, mother just took them from the oven,” my host would say.

    But, I am not expected here tonight. No one knows I am coming. No one knows I will punctuate their calm with a violent clash.

    1. Beth,
      I want more. Not because I find this lacking, but rather, because I find this so intriguing. Engaging. Like you’ve let me in behind the scenes and I get to interview the bad guy, who isn’t all that he seems. He has his own story to tell. One you are beautifully crafting. One I can’t wait to hear more of.

    2. Beth, I agree with Greg. I love this. I want to read more. You had my full attention the whole way through the piece and the last sentence has me wanting more. Thank you for sharing.

    3. Beth,
      This scene is very intriguing and a bit scary. You can feel the character’s trepidation in approaching his task, like his days of family dinners are far behind him, and he can almost relate to his intended target. I’m nervous for him. Nice work.

    4. Beth-
      I love this narrator. I want to hug him and tell him not to do it. To walk into that house and take refuge. I want to know his story and I hope that there will be redemption for him, yet I fear there won’t be, and oh, crap, is this wonderful writing.

    5. Ah…I love the glimpse of backstory you’ve given us from this – a longing for family, companionship and normality in the moments before this character is about to commit what sounds like some kind of atrocity. Also, it seems like a bit of ambivalence, but also not wanting to let others down. Great job!

  11. Sarah,
    Thank you for challenging us to write a scene from the antagonist’s POV. This was a good tool to help me go deeper into my story, and look at it though the eyes of each of the characters.
    Here is what my antogonist gave me today:

    Every trophy he ever won.
    Why would he smash all those hard-earned symbols of recognition and accomplishment? And now he is trashing his future, saying he wants to quit football completely.
    Should I have seen this coming? Did I push him too hard? I thought bringing in competition would make him dig deeper. I thought he’d rise to the challenge. My own son. A quitter. What will the other coaches think? What about my players? Am I a terrible coach? Father? His mother won’t help me talk him out of it. She always said football had to be his decision. But now he is throwing away his future, and he doesn’t seem to want to listen to anything I have to say to him. He hates me. If he doesn’t play anymore, how will we connect?
    It isn’t just the trophies that were shattered.
    It is my heart as well.

    1. Greg,
      I feel sympathy and disappointment in your protagonist at the same time. You take the reader on a true emotional ride in such a short span or writing. Great job!

      Who cares what the other coaches think? Who are you doing this for?! I want to shake him! But, at the same time my heart breaks for him and his son. You have me hooked…keep writing and keep sharing.

    2. Greg –
      I love seeing the evolution of your novel. Your teenager’s voice feels so authentic to me: resentful, hurt, defiant, and vulnerable. And here, I love how his father is not so different: hurt, humiliated, concerned, heartbroken. Reminds me that as hard as it is to figure out who you are as a person, it’s also hard to accept when our children are transforming into people we don’t recognize.


    3. Ah….very powerful. And it reminds me of when, during my daughter’s freshman year of high school, they showed the film Race To Nowhere. During the discussion afterward, a parent got up and complained that there was so much pressure on parents if their kid wasn’t apply to an Ivy. I was like “????” I wanted to get up and tell that parent that they should go get some therapy, but I tried to be diplomatic (it was hard) and instead said that “Isn’t the process supposed to be about find the right school for OUR individual child?” But the reality is that so many parents try to live vicariously through the child’s accomplishments. I’ve just been teaching an essay writing workshop this week, and one of the kids was writing about pressure on teens and how it leads to drug use. The line that really stood out to me in the essay was: “In our society, all adolescents face problems, but there is one that you can never beat, your parents.”

      1. Sarah,
        Thank you for the strategy given today, as well as your time to give helpful feedback. This really pushed me to have a different perspective, and hopefully add more dimension to my characters.

  12. For some reason I cannot get wordpress to accept my post today. It doesn’t seem that anyone else is having trouble. It says I need to modify but nothing seems to help. It seems to be ok until I try to put in my writing sample. Hmmmm maybe it is trying to tell me something….. 🙁

    1. I think it is telling you that tech is sometimes fickle. If it doesn’t work, email it to me and I’ll try to post it for you. (Attributed your name, of course).

        1. It claimed I was posting spam the other day. I found removing numbered sections helped. It’s a quirky little format. Good luck!

  13. “Is everybody ready? He should be coming down the trail any second,” I say.
    “Tommy, are you sure about this? It’s six on one.”
    “Shut up, Marco. This kid and his grandmother are jerks. They nosed into our firework fun on the beach the other night. They ratted us out for being in the dunes. And now he has the balls to go after my girl.”
    “Is she your girl, Tom? You really have it out for this kid,” says Bryce.
    “Shut up and get in your places. Don’t let him see you.”
    This kid has been nothing but trouble since he has gotten to the beach. He and his grandmother think they are high and all mighty. It is time for him to go down. I crawl under the last bush closest to the railing of the stairs. I see him coming up the trail.
    He slowly pedals to the end of the trail and starts to get off his bike. As he steps for the first step, I hurl myself from behind the bush and knock him backwards into the bushes on the other side of the trail. The look of shock on his face is awesome. I pull him up by his shirt before he even has time to speak.
    “Hey, Stevie Boy, remember us?” is all I say. I realize now that I have at least six inches on him. This is going to be so easy.
    “What do you guys want?” he stammers like a little girl.
    I answer him by putting my knee in his stomach. He slumps to the ground with his head in his chest.
    “You know what we want. We want revenge. Revenge for you and your grandma wrecking our beach party last week.”
    He begins to stand and put his head up, but at the same time I give him a full round house punch to the face. My right hand is stinging but it feels so good. Now Tommy and Bryce are pulling him up off the trail for more. Time to finish him off.

    Thank you very much for today’s writing prompt. I have been joining late each day, but it has been a great way to finish each night. I start the day with a workout and end it with writing. I love summer. Thank you again, Ms. Littman.

    PS – I didn’t realize that my antagonist was so “bad to the bone”.

    1. Now I’m going to have George Thorogood in my head for the read of the day : ) (Not that that’s a bad thing…) The one thing I would say about Tommy (other than that six on one and then you have the nerve to say the other dude is stammering like a girl? DUDE! C’MON!) is that he needs a “save the cat” moment – see the reference. In other words, at the moment he seems to me like a serious DB, and I’d like to understand something about him that doesn’t make me hate him so much. Something that makes him a little more sympathetic. Okay so Stevie and his grandma broke up the party, but that’s not a reason to be six on one beating the bejesus out of someone. Maybe if Stevie killed his DOG or something. Do you see what I mean? Now if I’d seen that Tommy’s dad was an alcoholic and was violent to him at home and the party was his escape and Stevie and his grandma broke it up, THAT would make me feel more sympathetic toward him. Not enough to forgive him for the 6 on one beating, but at least I’d be a bit more understanding of his motives. Do you see where I’m coming from?

  14. Andy-
    I\’ve never been much of a punching kind of fighter, even as a kid (maybe because the reaction on my older brother\’s face made me fear for my life the one time I tried it), but I have to say that your excerpt makes me suspect there\’s a lot of physical joy in it. I\’m glad you got some insight to your antagonist. Do you think it\’ll change your approach to your ms to know Tom is bad to the bone? Thanks for sharing!

    Minor detail – toward the end I think you used \’Tommy\’ when you mean Marco (Tommy is the narrator here, right?)

  15. Janet,
    Your character absolutely terrifies me. I can only imagine what he is capable of. I’d like to see you explore him even more, with a little back story. I’m not sure if you plan to incorporate his POV in your story, but that would be interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    Tech question: Are you logged into WordPress when you’re trying to post here? I found that helped me the first few times (or maybe that was Gae’s blog, I’m not sure).

  16. Sarah, Your exercise for Thursday’s Quick Write is stretching my thoughts. I believe in learning and growing every day. Do hope I am on the *right page,* as I attempt to catch up and give this writing prompt a try. Thank you.

    Knowing she needs to keep her eyes on the road as the wind and snow blew across her path, Mom attempted to keep her composure. A few minutes passed, until she could no longer hold back.

    “Seriously, Sue! You are so selfish. You just do no understand how sick Dad really is!”

    There was no turning back. The family caravan was headed South. The family station wagon continued to follow the U Haul closely, as Mom anxiously steered the car, swerving on the icy roads every now and then.

    Mom continued to express her disapproval of Sue and her sassy attitude. “Grow up! You are almost eighteen! You know the reason for our move to Texas. And not until then, can you even . . .”

    Mom just would not let up. Burying her head in her favorite pillow, that she and Grandma sewed together, she began to weep. Even though Mom’s lecturing and scolding persisted, Sue chose not to listen to a single word. Attempts to plead with Mom, for understanding, served no relief. Mom’s words offered no compassion for Sue. There were no words. There was no explanation. There was nothing that could comfort Sue. She was devastated about this move. Warm tears began to roll down her cheeks as the snow and sleet begin to pound on the windshield of the slow moving station wagon. Finally, Mom ceased her sermon to focus on the treacherous driving. Exhausted from such an emotional first day of travel, Sue finally fell asleep.
    ~Suzy Leopold