Cornelia Tisdale is on a mission to learn how to love. All this is disrupted by her parent’s divorce, but at least she got to live with Shepherd, her father. Of all the people in her world, she was closest to him. At least she was. Then he asks her to lie for him and gets angry when she begins to investigate the very thing he hates the most.
Below is a scene from the novel. This scene was very fun to write, although I spent more than two days researching the language for it. It’d been a long time since my teen years when I’d used some of this benign slang on a regular basis.
For the first time, thirteen year old Cori sneaks out of her house to investigate the skater park/library courtyard at the local university. She comes on the pretense that she’ll ask questions of boys for her psychology paper. Then she meets Reuel.
Reuel. Something about him captivated me. It wasn’t his brown cords and a plain button-up shirt, or the red, green and yellow beanie with his curly black afro spilling out the sides. It wasn’t his face, since there were a few boys there who were more classically handsome. It was his eyes. Warm brown eyes which lit up whenever he smiled. It was his easy body language, how comfortable he was in his element. He just seemed so…approachable.
Why did it seem like my life would change drastically if I spoke to him? “Why does everyone call me Betty?”
“’Cause you’re pretty, Shorty, and we don’t know your name yet,” he replied.
“Oh. My name’s Cori.” I tried to maintain eye contact and not blush. I didn’t succeed.
“So, how can we help you, Cori?” He jumped off his board and flipped it to his hand.
Straight up honesty always worked best for me before, so I tried it again. “Shepherd Tisdale, that’s my father, won’t let me talk to boys at all, and I need to for a research project, so I figured I’d come here.”
“Your father won’t let you talk to boys, eh? You Christians or something?”
I laughed caustically. “About as far from it as you can get.”
Something like disappointment flickered in Reuel’s eyes, then they flashed to eagerness again. “Jewish?”
“’Fraid not. My father hates religion. He says it’s religion that’s got the world in the mess we’re in today.”
“So it’s because you’re such a Betty that he won’t let you out of his sight.” He gave a half smile.
“What’s she on about?” one of the boys behind me asked Reuel.
“I think she wants to talk to some boys for a school project, but her daddy won’t let her out of his sight.” He turned toward me, and winked again. “That’s my bro, Pete.”
I scrunched my eyebrows, confused by who he was referencing, then nodded my head with a smile when I saw him. Pete was tall and thin, but looked stronger than most of the others. “Hi,” I said with a wave.
“She ain’t gonna gnar our session, is she?” another asked.
“I won’t.” I had no idea what ’gnar’ meant, but I’d promise anyway just for a few more minutes in Reuel’s presence. “I just have a question or two, and I’ll be on my way.”
“Looks like Betty’s a little reporter,” Pete commented.
“It’s Cori,” Reuel defended.
“A’righ’, a’righ’ bro, don’t get all on the heavy on us,” Pete said. “She’s still a Betty if you ask me.”
“Looks like Reuel’s found himself a girlfriend on the lonely,” Garrett said as he skated by.
“I’d say you’d be hittin’ close to the mark with that, Gar,” another said.
Reuel frowned at him. "Mellow, Frankie, and let Shorty ask her questions."
Precarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their mastiff. When she's not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.