Monday, July 2, 2012
The Ordinary Offspring - Prologue & Chapter 1
Here's the beginning of something I attempted to write in college. Am trying to revise and edit it and you, my dear readers, should you choose to be, are going to be my beta audience. Please feel free to share all your thoughts on "The Ordinary Offspring"
Cheryl saw her father slip out of the room. She burrowed her face in her mother’s arms.
The marriage of a reigning beauty queen is generally of some interest in the media. So, it was natural that when Angela Cromwell, Miss Universe, decided to get married immediately after fulfilling her year long contractual obligations, it created quite a stir. The stir turned into a media frenzy when the name of the groom was discovered - Daniel Woods.
A child prodigy, Daniel had performed his first surgery two months shy of his sixteenth birthday. His feats evinced even greater interest when some reporter discovered that his parents never went to college. He was the kind of son who made his parents not just proud but also famous. That he was good looking and photogenic made his courtship to Angela look more and more like a fairytale.
The marriage ceremony managed to remain private despite some very innovative paparazzi.
Angela continued modelling for several years, taking breaks to give birth to her three children. When it became clear that her film career was not likely to ever really take off, she gracefully withdrew from the world of glamour and settled in the small town of Paraliena with Daniel and their children.
The three Woods’ children were born at a gap of almost one year each.
Chris, the oldest, turned out to be the replica of his father and the more he grew, the more striking the resemblance became. He had the same shade of brown hair and a pair of deep brown eyes, same as his father’s. He too turned out to be a child prodigy and by the time he was sixteen, he was working alongside his brilliant father. He had a very good idea of how extraordinary his own achievements were. Impatient with those not equally gifted, Chris quickly earned a reputation of being arrogant and insensitive.
Bertha, the middle child, inherited her mother’s beauty and her father’s prodigious talent – the proverbial ‘beauty with brains’. Her gorgeous blue eyes sparkled with wit and humour, Bertha was an ardent believer in the philosophy of Carpe Diem. Life was an endless party to her. Not irresponsible but not responsible either, Bertha lived only for today and couldn’t care less for what was to come.
Cheryl, the youngest, always saw herself as standing a little apart from the lovely tableau that her parents and siblings presented. Sometimes, she wondered if this was her real family. Not because she was not loved. Not because she saw herself as the ill-treated Cinderella. Simply because she was so different from them. And they were as aware of it as she herself. She was pretty, not glamorously beautiful. She was intelligent but not a student extraordinaire. She was special in a way that everyone is – just not like her family. She was different from them because she was like everyone else. She was ordinary.
By the time Cheryl turned eighteen, Chris had been a practising surgeon for more than three years and the nineteen year old Bertha Woods was already a supermodel. Cheryl’s siblings always had the spotlight trained on them. She never tried to attract attention herself for the fear of being found lacking, but she became an object of interest by default. Her being a Woods was enough. And she hated being dissected in public, being an object of curiosity. Nobody ever said it outright yet it was always implied whenever her siblings were discussed in media. When would Cheryl Woods shows signs of genius or turn into a great beauty or may be both? After all she did have superior genes – the best, some claimed. How could she remain ordinary all her life?
Cheryl grew to despise the intense scrutiny that surrounded her family and the limelight that spilled over to her. She only waited to escape.
Cheryl was happy – no, not happy – but relieved. The papers were still there. She could feel their outline through the thin material of her handbag. She smiled and walked into her parents’ kitchen. Her parents were having coffee at the kitchen table.
She stopped for a moment and watched her parents. Her mother was relaying the latest wardrobe malfunction that had happened in one of Bertha’s shows. “I keep telling Bertha that modelling should be classy. Clothes slipping off on the catwalk, when they should be on, is definitely not classy. Not even hot. I am just glad it has not happened with Bertha. Yet.”
Daniel listened with a smile. Interested but amused, Cheryl was sure. She walked up to them.
“Hey, Mom. Hi Dad.”
“Hi sweetheart”. Daniel pulled her down for a kiss.
“Where have you been the whole day?” Angela asked.
Cheryl slid into a chair next to her father. “At the university. They have accepted my application.” She smiled. And waited.
“Congratulations, darling. I am happy for you” Angela hugged her daughter.
“Me too”, Daniel said smilingly. “The lab at the university is one of the best in this part of the world.”
Here goes, Cheryl thought. “I am sure. I would not be seeing too much of it, though. Actually not at all.”
“Of course you would”, Daniel assured her, though he was faintly puzzled. “All students with science subjects do.”
“True. But I do not have any science subjects.” Cheryl closed her eyes for a moment before continuing. “I am taking up English Literature as my major with History and Philosophy as my minors.”
“Did we”, Angela responded, “not decide that you would pursue Science with the option of choosing a branch of your interest for specialization later? That is what…”
“That’s right, Mom. That’s what you decided. Not me. I do not want to study Science. I like reading. And I would like to write someday. Be published.” She turned to her father. Desperately hoping that he would understand. That the fleeting expression of disappointment she had seen only a moment ago in his now inscrutable eyes, was not real.
Daniel put a hand over Angela’s. “When do your classes start?” he asked.
“In September. Dad, Mom, I know that you…”
Daniel raised his hand to interrupt. “You do not have to explain yourself, Cher. We only want you to be happy. So, if this is what you choose, then this is what we want for you.” He got up, smiled, kissed her and walked towards the living room.
“There’s one more thing,” Cheryl said. Daniel stopped in his tracks and turned to look at her. “I will be moving to the university hostel.” She rushed on. “I know since it is only an hour’s drive away, you wanted me to stay here with you. But it would suit my schedule to stay there. And it’s time I moved out anyway.”
“Cher. It’s okay. Relax. You are welcome here if you change your mind. Anytime.” Angela opened her arms and hugged her daughter.