First Page Blog Hop

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First Page Blog Hop

This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question for each participant. After reading your first 1,000 words, would a person continue reading it?

If you are so inclined, you can comment about why you would or wouldn’t continue reading–in fact, that would be wonderful.

Here are the first 997 words of my work-in-progress, The Unicornologist.7. The Unicorn in Captivity

After her father dropped her off at school on the morning of the day that would change her life forever, Hillary scanned the students assembled next to the charter bus. Her eyes zeroed in on her best friend’s newly shorn blond hair.

“Allie, your hair looks so cute. You look just like a model.”

“Just like Twiggy, to be precise.” Allie struck a pose as if on a photo shoot, showing off her apple green A-line dress with a white stripe down the front, and white go-go boots. Then she gave her friend the once over, nodding her approval of Hillary’s new floral print dress, but frowning at her sneakers. “What the heck, Hill? Keds?”

“Hey, we’re going to be doing a lot of walking at the museum—”

Allie shook her head. “It’s just like you to wear sensible shoes on a field trip. We’re going to New York City, for goodness’ sake. You could’ve upped your style for one day.”

“I think Hillary looks great,” interrupted Robin, the new boy in their class.

Hillary shot Robin a smile and then looked down, her cheeks glowing like a neon sign. She knew Allie had a crush on Robin, and out of loyalty, she tried to remain in her pretty friend’s shadow.

“And what about me?” asked Allie, batting her eyelashes.

“Spectacular, as always,” said Robin.

Their western civilizations teacher, Mr. Petersen, strode up to the door of the bus with his clipboard and began to explain the procedure for getting on board.

“He’s going alphabetically,” Allie whispered to her friends. “Since Fletcher comes before Graziano and Noone, I’ll save seats for you guys.”

By the time Hillary climbed into the bus, Robin had already taken the seat next to Allie. Hillary had to sit across the aisle from her. Just as well, thought Hillary. I’ll be able to read my book.

The bus driver turned on the radio. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me… Teenage voices joined in.

“I love that song,” Allie said to Robin.

Hillary pulled her copy of The Outsiders out of her fringed suede shoulder bag and immersed herself in Ponyboy’s world.

~~~

Much later, Hillary sensed the bus climbing up an incline. Curious, she looked up from her book. The tree-lined road seemed rural, yet she knew their destination lay near the northern tip of Manhattan, in Fort Tryon Park.

Winding ever upward, the bus rounded the final curve and pulled into a parking lot. Hillary caught her breath at her first glimpse of The Cloisters, its stone and block walls and tower rising above terraced gardens like a fairy tale castle.

“Where the heck are we?” Allie asked from across the aisle.

“I’d say medieval Europe,” Hillary replied.

The bus’s doors screeched open and Allie squeezed her way down the aisle.

“Allie, wait up,” called Robin. Hillary chuckled and shook her head. Allie loves to be first.

Once outside, Hillary savored the sweet, moist air on her skin, the first freshness she’d felt in nearly two hours. The drive from New Jersey had been a cacophony of teenage voices and snatches of rock and roll from transistor radios. Now the voices were muffled, their sound absorbed by the trees, an insignificant harmony to the symphony of birdsong. The towering trees screened the museum and blocked out the city. Except for the distant purr of New York City traffic, the students could almost be lost in virgin forest. Indeed, except for the cars and busses parked in the asphalt lot, it could be a time long past.

Worksheet and pen clutched in her hand, Hillary straggled after her classmates as they entered The Cloisters. “A treasure,” Mr. Petersen proclaimed. “You couldn’t build something like this today. It would be outrageously expensive, and this level of craftsmanship is rare anymore.”

Hillary read the introduction on her purple-printed worksheet:

The Cloisters is a collection of rooms and gardens that suggest, rather than duplicate, actual European medieval structures. The building was assembled from twelfth through fifteenth century architectural elements collected by American sculptor George Gray Barnard before 1914, when he lived in France. In western European monasteries the most important buildings were grouped around a central cloister, an open courtyard with a covered and arcaded passageway along the sides. . .*

Hillary traveled from room to room, taking her time along the route mapped out on her worksheet. Each was more beautiful than the last, with wonderful surprises to discover: paintings, carvings, stained glass windows, enclosed gardens with fountains. She wished she could have devoted the entire day just to studying the columns, each topped with its uniquely carved capital. She answered the questions on her sheet as completely as she could, sketching what she saw so she wouldn’t forget.

Apparently, her classmates didn’t find this assignment nearly as compelling as she did. Even artistic Allie had already wandered on after making fun of headless statues and frayed wall hangings.

Alone in the Hall of the Nine Heroes, Hillary glimpsed a flash of color through a doorway. She stepped closer, and spotted a tapestry of a unicorn goring a dog with its horn. Wanting to examine it, she entered the room filled with tapestries of unicorn scenes. She turned slowly in a circle, perusing the four walls. The tapestries apparently told a story, and she struggled to make sense of it.

Unicorn 1

1. The Start of the Hunt

In the first tapestry, a group of men assembled, carrying spears and restraining dogs on leashes. They appeared to be a hunting party.

The second tapestry showed a stream flowing from a fountain. Wild animals waited to drink from it. A unicorn lowered its horn into the water. Why? The hunters approached. One pointed at the unicorn. Another blew his horn.

In the next tapestry, the unicorn attempted to leap out of the spring, hunters waiting on the shore with their spears drawn.

Next, the unicorn managed to get on land. Yapping dogs surrounded it.

Sorry to end so abruptly.

*The description of The Cloisters from Hillary’s worksheet is from A Walk through the Cloisters by Bonnie Young, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978, 1988.

So, what do you think? Would you read further? Why or why not? Please comment below. And if you liked it, please click the Like button. Thanks!

12 responses »

  1. “It’s just like you to wear sensible shoes on a field trip. We’re going to New York City, for goodness’ sake. You could’ve upped your style for one day.”-Sensible shoes are definitely practical, lol. Especially in NY. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Having grown up in NYC I found your descriptions of the Cloisters and area so well done that it pulled me way back into my youth. It seems that there is an air of mystery here and if so I would certainly want to keep reading. Very nicely done. (btw, my mom NEVER wanted me to wear sneakers into the city, lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you, Chelle. I was hoping to write it so that it would resonate with people who have been there–and make others want to experience it. The Cloisters is such a treasure.

      Like

  3. I have a very soft spot for unicorns, and although I live in the UK and have never visited the Cloisters, I am familiar with pictures of the tapestries. I am definitely intrigued and would certainly read on. My only suggestion is perhaps to start with Hillary arriving at the Cloisters (the description of it was lovely and I could picture it perfectly) you could then filter details of her shoes etc and bring out details like this that reveal her character, gradually through the narrative. Just a suggestion, but I think it might be good to start with the arrival and dispense with the journey 🙂 Just ignore the idea if you don’t agree!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the suggestion, Hywela. I’ve had the same idea in the back of my mind. I’ve already cut a whole chapter that used to be before the first scene. The part of me that is fighting it says we have to establish the “normal world” before we take a step into the enchanted world (which happens a few moments later in the story). But I am thinking about it.

      Like

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