In classic Tasha fashion, as soon as I announced that I wanted to deliver this short to you mid-January, my schedule filled up in way that made it damn near impossible to write. I expected to be much further along that 10k words at this point, but the good news is, I’m really pleased with what I’ve written. Ava Marie is shaping up to be just as amazing of a main character as Yves and I love the way she’s making me stretch myself.
Anyway, here are the opening five hundred or so words. I hope that For However Long helps my readers understand why and how Yves and Ava’s friendship is so deep and why Ava is so damn abrasive sometimes.
The neighborhood wavered somewhere between desolate and dangerous. Narrow, paintless houses flanked either side of the street like rows of bad teeth. Sidewalks buckled and cracked over the roots of gnarled and sickly looking trees. On the walk over me and Yves were chased into the street more than once by mangy, vicious dogs growling and barking territorially in overgrown alleyways. All of that to arrive at some place that looked like it hadn’t had an active purpose since the late 1800’s.
I stepped back and looked up at the building. “This can’t be the right place,” I murmured.
“Nah…this is it,” Yves said confidently.
Across the street a group of young men loitered in front of a corner liquor store.
“Say, you ladies lost or sumthin’?”
“Nah, we’re good,” Yves answered. “Thanks,” she added, turning toward the building again.
“Where the hell are we, roomie?” I asked, eyes sweeping left to right, hyper vigilant. North Philly wasn’t a place to play around…which was saying a lot for this Camden, New Jersey girl.
“I told you. I got the invite from this dude in my creative writing class. I’ve kicked it with them before. They’re cool.”
I scoffed. “If you say so.”
The group of young men pointed and snickered at us—pretty college girls clearly too far off the campus of Temple University, standing outside of what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. A faded sign painted on the side of the building’s crumbling facade boasted that it once housed the Steinberg Carriage service. From the outside the place looked uninhabitable, but apparently, Yves thought we were exactly where we were supposed to be.
We approached the front door cautiously. A faded and yellowed note on the door instructed us to walk around back so that’s what we did.
“Come on,” she coaxed, grabbing my hand when I seemed to hesitate and dragged me down the narrow walkway along the side of the building. Two fences, one chain linked and one six foot tall and wood, were the only barrier between us and what sounded like at least three fighting pitbulls. I hugged the outside wall until the walkway opened onto the backyard…which was a term to be used lightly.
A crumbling patio lead to a crab grass yard and beyond that sat a group of scrawny kids. Percussive sound circled around the small space paired with a halting sort of indie rap delivered by a white guy with dreads because…who else would do that to this accompaniment? But as we approached the verse fell away and a sweet, soaring violin drowned out the other bad demo bullshit and filled the space in a way that made me draw up short.
Outside of electric and acoustic guitar, I didn’t know how good strings sounded. All I knew was that these soaring notes and complicated finger exchanges made me want to curl up next to who ever was making this music and listen for days.
Yves hooked her arm around my waist, drawing my attention. “That’s Rashaad. He’s a music major. He plays three instruments,” she said into my ear as he played a note that soared so high I went up on my tip toes. “See?” she said, giving me a smack on my ass. “I told you we were in the right place.
This Ava Marie…so much more than what I bargained for.
P.S. FEBRUARY 11-13 I will be at Bronner Brothers Hair Show for the LITERARY EXPERIENCE!!! This is a debut author event hosted by #AAMBC LITERARY AWARDS. I’ll have paperback copies of books 1-3 of #THELUSTDIARIES available for purchase! Plus your purchase enters you in a contest to win a $50 #AMAZON gift card! Hope to see you there!!!