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Stones Of Potestatem

by MaybeAndrew


This, for the record, is my first ever chapter. It is the first chapter of a 50 thousand word novel I wrote with my best friend between the ages of 10-13. It went through countless drafts before I realized I needed to move on, I still look back at it warmly sometimes, it's not very well written, but I poured my entire heart into it at the time, and for that I'm proud. 

*

April fifth was the last day of school before spring break, so we were having a party and then going on a field trip. I woke up to the beeping of my alarm clock. Put my clothes on, and then I walked downstairs and ate some breakfast. I walked outside. Unusually, my parents weren't here to say goodbye. They had probably been up late packing. My friend was waiting outside. How shall I describe him? He had blonde hair, green eyes and a constant stuffy nose. His name was Ben. We walked together everyday to school.

“Hey Sam,” he said.

“Hey, what's up?” I said.

“So what do you think there will be inside the mansion?” Ben was going to Mexico, so he had to leave a little early from school. Therefore, he would not get to go on the field trip.

“I don’t know.” I shrugged.

“Well, there might be a treasure,“ he said rather quickly. I sighed. Ben had said many such random untrue things before, such as the time he thought the school teacher was a monster or that the janitor's closet could lead to a hidden city. (The first turned out to be close to correct, she was certainly as nasty as a monster.)

“I doubt it. Where did you get that idea from?” I asked.

“Will said he overheard the teachers talking about a valuable object hidden inside the mansion.“

Will was a kid one year older than us, and a little bit of a prankster. Once he had told me that he invented a drink that would make you fly. I didn’t believe anything he said, but Ben did. So I had to deal with this nonsense. We walked the rest of the way in silence.

When we reached the school my teacher was already lining up the students. I ran for it and barely made it to the line when the teacher started ushering us inside. My class was the smallest. So our classroom had a lot of extra, unused room. My teacher was a middle-aged woman who had only been teaching for the last three years.

“As you all know, today is the spring break party, so everyone was assigned to bring a snack. Bring it up to this table.” I slapped myself in the face. I had forgotten my snack! I had been assigned to bring the potato chips! I got up and walked to the table empty-handed. It felt like a firework show had begun in my stomach. When I reached the table and my teacher looked at me... it felt like one of the fireworks hit a large building, filled with innocent people.

“Did you forget your snack again, Sam?” Mrs. Oswald asked. I nodded trying not to look at her or anyone. It wasn't that what I did was hugely embarrassing it was that this was one of many.

Then I ran back to my desk, trying to get the attention off me as soon as possible. I saw a foot and, with no time to stop, I tripped over Cody’s leg. Presumably, Cody was mad that we had no potato chips, and he had tripped me for it. The anger and embarrassment felt hotter than the pain in my scraped knees.

“Who did that?” The teacher asked angrily scanning the class. I slowly got up. I wished I could punch Cody, but I had no proof and ‘Mr. Goody Two Shoes’ seemed to be able to avoid all trouble, even when (which happened a lot) he wasn't a ‘goody two shoes’.

I walked over to my desk.The teacher glared at everyone for a moment longer then began to speak.

“So as you know, today is the end of school party, and it has been decided that we will play games before we eat lunch. After we eat, we will watch the movie, ‘Robert and the Dog.’”

***

“Time for lunch,” Mrs. Oswald said, seeming happy to leave us.

The school always had ice cream and sub sandwiches before spring break. I met Ben and Carson (Carson was my best friend since preschool) and took our secret shortcut around through the boy's bathroom. Thanks to the shortcut, we ended up at the front of the line. I made my sandwich and grabbed a large cone of ice cream.

Carson and I sat down at our table and started to gobble it down, when we finally took a breath I said, “It's annoying how Cody tripped me but didn’t get in trouble,” l said angrily.

“I mean, he doesn't know you, so maybe he thought you forgot it on purpose, and anyway you dont even know its him, maybe you just don't like him and blame all of your problems on him” he said, playing devil's avocet like always

“Man, you ever heard of not succumbing to peer pressure?” I asked.

As soon as we finished our ice cream I got up and walked over to the double doors that led to the playground. The extra tall girl was holding open the door. What was her name? Maybe Linda? I was horrible with names, she was even in my class. She seemed to possess an amazing power of being able to remember everyone's name.

“Hello George, hello Charlotte, hello Sam,” she said.

“Hello, and thank you...”, I wanted to say Linda but it would be even more awkward to get her name wrong. Instead, I just said nothing. I smiled hoping that would make up for the fact. Man, I should know her name! She held the door for me every day!

At my school as soon as you’re out of the door you’re on asphalt. Most of the older and “cooler” boys would be playing wall ball. Today was no different.

“Hey Mr. Forgetful, are you missing a part of your brain?” Cody yelled over as he threw the ball at the wall. Most of the kids laughed for some reason, and some kids who weren't even in my class laughed. They don't even know why I am “Mr. Forgetful”. I guess news spreads fast.

I turned toward them, my teeth clenched.

“Are those your minions? Do they even have original thoughts?” I asked, gritting my teeth.

"Yes, and unlike you, they still have a memory." Cody retorted.

The ball came soaring towards Cody, he turned and ran to get it. Perfect timing! I ran to my favorite hiding place at the end of the baseball diamond, right next to the woods. (Yes I hid, that's what I do, at least if no one's watching.) For some reason it was reassuring that if I jumped the fence I could run through those woods and end up in my backyard. And though it would take a very long time, I had this option. Some may say that hiding is cowardice, but I say it is smart. I imagined coming to school the next day and having Cody try to punch me. I would catch his fist and throw him across the room, and then everyone would cheer.

I decided that it was a waste of time to daydream so I went to the playset. When I reached it, Ben and Carson were in a game of snake tag, something of my own invention, so I joined them smugly, happy that the game was so successful. After a while, the bell rang. We all filed into our classroom where the lights were dimmed, only the one above my teachers desk was still on. We walked to our seats as the teacher walked to the front of our class and said, “As you know we will be watching a movie. During the beginning trailers, you can get food. Please whisper and do not walk in front of the screen.”

The last light turned off, and the movie began. I stacked my plate with food and grabbed my favorite soda and sat down. Carson came to me since we planned to make mean comments about the movie. That is the only thing I love about horrid movies.

“Once there was a boy and his name was Robert. His dog…”

***

“Anyone who is going on the field trip, please get in a single file line right here,” the teacher said, pointing at the corner of the classroom. We all lined up. Then she led the way. We walked to one of the buses and filed in. Luckily each class had a bus, so Carson and I got to sit alone. We talked and talked. The main topic of our conversation was how we both planned to wake up very early, then meet at a tree between our house all summer. He said that they had a bunch of cans of root beer we could use to drink every morning. I said I could make sandwiches to eat for breakfast. Then we talked about ways we could make money over the summer break.

When we reached the mansion there was a lot oohing and awing. Imagine the oldest, but well kept, largest mansion you have ever seen. Now multiply that by about fifty, both in proportion and age.

We walked up to the front door. There was an old man waiting for us. He had a beard down to the middle of his shirt and big thick glasses.

“Nice beard,” I whispered to Carson.

“Welcome to the Captoise mansion. It is the third largest house in the USA. It consists of a hundred and twenty rooms. Some parts of it are still in use, but the majority is open to visitors. The house is over a hundred years old and was one of the first homes with electricity, it has been passed on for generations. The cost to build it consumed the majority of the Captors’ fortune. If it were to go for sale today the house is estimated to be worth nearly 50 million dollars.” There was a massive surge of gasps. The man smiled, apparently happy by our reaction. “Any questions?” he had an oddly lively voice for his age.

“What was Mr. Captoise’s job?” A girl asked. She was short and had really red springy hair. I couldn't remember her name either.

“The family owned a successful coal mining company; They had a monopoly in the coal industry for a while. During the gold rush they also had a very successful gold mining company,” he answered.

He showed us inside. We were in a large entryway complemented with a diamond chandelier framed by two pillars.

“This is the entryway. Mr. Captoise wanted the feeling of being in the open, so he made his entry look like the forest.”

Indeed it felt like the woods. The pillars looked like trees, the floor had a brown rug, and the walls were painted like the forest. I even saw an elk that looked very realistic. It looked like it might ram me. He continued to talk about the history of the home. We soon walked to the dining room.

“This room is very historical!” He went on rambling about history.

“Well, onto the bedrooms,” said the guide. We walked to another room. The guide began to talk about how the blankets were imported from Africa, but I really couldn’t care less about African blankets.

****

***

Hehe somehow literally no plot happens... though this mansion does become important later, so I guess that is an okay way to introduce it. 

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Sun Oct 03, 2021 6:38 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MaybeAndrew,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I suppose it's quite difficult to review something that's so old and you've changed so much. So I think I'll try to give you more of my impressions and maybe comment a little on whether there are any stylistic similarities with your works today. Let's start! :D

Your first paragraph is quite short and yet the pace here quickly reaches upwards. I notice when I read it that it has a similar structure to my stories when I first started writing. It seems as if you have written so much because so much input has come in, without paying attention to what should happen now and how you should write it. I find that exciting, that I have already found some kind of common ground with my own old style. :D

Another commonality I've found is the narration. I think a first-person narrative perspective always gives you that hold, that everything happens in the here and now and you only have to tell what the character experiences himself. That's how I started. In terms of the plot, I like how a kind of tension builds up that can pass over to the reader quite quickly.

I also like the inclusion of minor side information, like Will's age. I also like how you try to start the story with a "key" ("the mansion") first and then let the story move in a bit before going to the "door" (the actual plot). I think that's definitely a good way to present it, and it's also reminiscent of the structure of many essays I read when I was a tutor. You start to create a kind of "odd" path quite early on, which is meant to drive the story forward and is fuelled with mystery.

What I liked here in the writing was this friendly yet real aura that surrounded it. I like these "normal" scenes because they often give a lot of insight into a character and so can give the reader a better understanding.

I think from then to now, you have improved a lot in many ways. I think if this was your way of writing today, for example your current story, it would become extremely complex, especially with the theme of time travel, and there would certainly be a lot more mistakes.

But I think it's nice that you're showing your progress, because you've shown your starting point here, where you begin as a writer, and you've already reached a first milestone since then. After all, you're still writing and working on improving yourself.

In summary, I found the story very entertaining. It's still a bit raw, of course, and needs polishing, but no one was perfect to begin with. I can't give you any advice on how to improve, you're on a good course at the moment!
:D
Have fun writing!

Mailice




MaybeAndrew says...


haha, thanks for the review malice! I was interested to see what you'd say, having seen my current novel.
I agree with everything you said, and yeah, as you can see, I can't escape writing 1st person narrators who overthink things XD
Thanks again!



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Fri Oct 01, 2021 9:21 pm
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GoodieGoat wrote a review...



Hello MaybeAndrew, my name is GoodieGoat.

The thing that impressed me the most and really drove into my memory was the point of view and the mannerisms with which you narrator, Sam, speaks. All the dialogue accumulated on me and made me reminisce of elementary school and brought me back to that time, which was about a decade ago. The way in which Sam was embarrassed about forgetting the chips I'm sure is an experience most everyone can relate to. For me personally I though of the time in fourth grade when we were copying down vocabulary and I was always the last one to finish and it made me feel singled out. Our school was build in the 1910s so like Sam and Ben people often wondered about the hidden places outside the access of students. Meeting up and making banter with friends, getting into scuffles, cavorting along during field trips, it all connected with me a drug me into your setting.

The only thing I have to offer as feedback is advocate is misspelled as 'avocet'.

Also as a nonliterary fun fact I was curious what the third largest home in the USA is and its called 'The One'. Recently build in Bel Air, Los Angeles by a director/real estate investor. It is 105,000 sq ft., about 73,000 sq ft. less than the largest house in America the Biltmore Estate. I though that was cool and I hope it is also to you.

I hope of been of encouragement and feedback! Thank you and have a lovely day!
GoodieGoat




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much for the review on my ooooold piece, I'm glad it brought back memories of elementary school
Say what you will about elementary school students writing, but hey, at least they can write a narrator who sounds like one of them... so many adult authors write very unrealistic child narrators.




pain is that feeling when you are feeling hurt, but it never goes away leaving me hurt. oh it hurts.
— Dragonthorn