She Rode Into My Life on a Tricycle


A five-minute free writing sample I rediscovered from one of Kathy Stinson’s classes.

She rode into my life on a tricycle. I still have the tire tracks to prove it.

Dead Man’s Hill is aptly named. Nobody goes up and down it at more than ten miles per hour. Going up, you can’t. Going down, you won’t, not if you know what’s good for you. Squealing brakes can be heard throughout our neighbourhood because of Dead Man’s Hill. You can travel fifty feet in order to move forward ten.

Kid heaven with tricycles, let me tell you.

The only place in the in the city where you didn’t plod along, wheels squeaking, bell ringing, is here, where you perch yourself on top of Dead Man’s Hill, take your feet off the pedals and just… let… yourself… go.

One safety tip: don’t try to stop. Crack-knee McGuinty tried putting his feet back on the madly twirling pedals and got his nickname. We really caught it from his parents that afternoon. Nobody tried Dead Man’s Hill for a week afterward.

Safety tip number two: the sidewalks of Dead Man’s Hill are narrow, and lined with hedges. To prevent yourself from running into someone coming out of their gate, you’re supposed to yell — scream, actually — so people can hear you coming. Sort of like ambulances: “a a a a a aa aa aaaAAAAAAAAAaaa aa aa a a a a a thud.

Which is how I met Sandy, the new kid. It was her first time on Dead Man’s Hill, and nobody had taught her safety tip number two.

I am told that this past Monday, as well as being Columbus Day and the Canadian Thanksgiving, was Beta Appreciation Day. Personally, I think every day should be Beta Appreciation Day for beta readers (or proofreaders and test readers as I prefer to call them) provide an invaluable service. As your story’s first readers, these people give you your earliest sign of whether or not a story will work, and they catch the most embarrassing typos and misprints that always escape your attention.

The best beta readers are honest to the point of cruelty, one step down from editors, but others serve the important task of soothing your bruised ego. Most importantly, these people want to read your work, which for an author just starting out, is something of a premium.

So, a big thank you to Imogen, Natasha, Lisa, Cameron, my workshop friends, Erin (but of course!) and many more. I look forward to reading your further comments.

I enjoyed yesterday’s episode of :Angel:. It’s been a while since we’ve dealt with werewolves, and I half expected Seth Green to put in a cameo (if I were Angel, Oz would be the first person I’d contact about introducing a newfound werewolf to the world), but it was not to be. The episode was the most workmanlike in tone that we’ve seen in a while — indeed, I don’t think we’ve seen a proper stand alone episode on :Angel: since the LA crew rescued Lorne from Vegas. The writers still took the time to remind viewers of the pressing questions of the series, and Spike is still a fifth wheel (I suspect we won’t see an episode that puts Spike’s predicament front and centre until week six or seven), but overall the episode just concentrated in its own ideas, and I think it worked.

Please be warned that spoilers follow.

The story kept me guessing throughout. I had thought that this would turn out to be just a simple werewolf introduction story, like the episode where we saw Oz become one. The moment she’s taken by the restauranteur and served up as an endangered species meal, however, made the episode for me. I was not expecting that, and this was such a nifty twist on the werewolf story. People can still be the worst monsters of the world sometimes, can’t they?

Is it my imagination, though, or is Angel becoming more violent and callous? In the first episode, he shows the special ops leader no mercy, in the second he kills the shaolin butler with a spoon. This episode, he kills a werewolf with a pen, and then sells out the guest star (a nice cameo by Enterprise’s Dr. Flox). I realize that, in the climax, Angel and the restaurateur are in a Mexican standoff, and I realize that the good doctor sold Angel out, but to offer him up as a trade once it’s clear that he’s a werewolf, to walk away while the guy is being hauled away as next month’s special entree? Yikes.

I suspect that this is a sign of Wolfram & Hart’s corruption of Angel: he still wants to do good in the world, but the presence of Wolfram & Hart’s influence is slowly convincing him that the ends justify the means.

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