Monday, January 13, 2014

A Screaming Story: Scarlet, by A.C. Gaughen



I’m not the kind of person people expect to be particularly loud or crazy.

For example, in Chemistry last Friday I spent class amongst five or six of my peers, finishing up a lab involving the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen combinations. I enjoyed it, not just because we blew things up but also because I liked the company. They were my kind of people: intelligent, funny, and unopposed to me switching the lighter on and off while we worked.

That’s the nice thing about Chem. You can do stuff like that and no one looks twice.

They, of course, were simply astonished that I would even think of holding a lighter, much less play with one. I assured them it wasn’t anything new; I’ve sent plenty of things on fire before. I’m not sure if they believed me.

Because, as one of my peers said, “You’re usually just all calm and collected and PERFECT!”

But it is not so. I told him that too.

What I did not tell him is the list of every heinous thing I’ve ever done. Because, like, that would take forever, I think. So that poor dear soul has no understanding of the hearts I have bruised or the cookies I have stolen or the day I screamed really loudly at church.

It was this book:

A.C. Gaughen's Website (where I took this picture from)

I got this book from the library for completing the summer reading program. You get a free book for doing it, and I picked this one because from where I stood all of the books looked dumb anyway. So I picked up something that didn’t look completely miserable and stuck it in my book pile for a few months. Found it again, lazily looked over the back, rolled my eyes, whatever.

Better get it over with now.

So I opened it. Bunkered down. Let my eyes wander onto the first page.

And I fell.

Hard.

I mean, it was just GOOD. The main character sucked me in with her premise—a young lady known as Will Scarlet secreting about within Robin Hood’s gang, seeking to fight just as hard as any other hoodlum. She talked tough, she romped and spat and bled with the boys, and yet she showed her own brand of compassion, concern, and femininity within the world of an outlaw. I’m not sure if I related to her (I think I wish I did), but she captured my heart and soul so that there was no force on God’s green earth which could keep me from finding out what happened next.

 More than that, the book is written the way Scarlet speaks, which is to say, not exactly “grammatically correct.” It vaults you into the story, which means that while I read, I was there.

Unfortunately it turns out that there’s this unfamiliar concept I only have a chance at tasting on weekends. It’s this thing called “the sleep,” and it usually prevents one from absorbing a text in the traditional manner. And so, it was with great reluctance I closed the book that Saturday night, and with great eagerness reentered the realm on Sunday morning in my church’s basement, waiting for Sunday School to start. We got there half an hour early, tops. Ample time to have an adventure.

In close succession three of my peers joined us in our room and took their seats in the black leather chairs that feel more suitable for a council of villains than a gang of high school students. There’s not much to do in that room, so the youngest of my companions took to one of his favorite games: Hassle the Heather. Which involved, on this day, trying to snap my book shut. I was too good for him, keeping my fingers where I left off, and pushed him away. With his devious plan foiled, I scooted away to a point near the door where I could read untouched. The other two boys decided it was donut time.

For a minute, the world was silent.

I was into it. Tears tempted my eyes and my heart lay wrenched in tatters.

I didn’t listen to the priest speak. I’d heard wedding masses before, a few, and they general made me think of things I didn’t like to think none about, like Gisbourne and how I near had to marry him. I heard Ravenna say she’d honor the sheriff and obey him, and I fair wondered if that were anything he’d ever do for her.

Before I got to the guarded wheel the Mass were finished, and the priest stepped down as the sheriff kissed Ravenna, pulling off her veil to do it. She looked scared, but she took his kiss, and she left her face unmasked.

I saw Gisbourne signaling guards to surround the dais before I knew what happened. The sheriff were holding Ravenna still, but then her shoulders drew up like she were trying to push him off. I saw his dagger flash over her neck—

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

The snap of the book closing only just registered in my mind, and I realized how loud I screamed. Like, I probably should have saved that one for the next time someone tried to murder me. Regardless, I snatched the book back immediately and started digging desperately for my spot.

“What happened?” The two boys who had left to get donuts returned, bewildered expressions on their faces. The dirty culprit chuckled to himself.

“I took her book and she screamed!” I scowled at the way he was nearly bent double with laughter.

The others simply exchanged astonished looks, and frowned, turning once more to get donuts.

In retrospect it is probably the best experience I’ve ever had with a book. Needless to say, Scarlet now sits proudly on my Favorite Book Shelf.

And there it will stay.

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