Monday, May 21, 2012

Upside Down ~ Helen's Story {Part I}

 Hi everyone!  Today I'll be starting a story, as my mama has been encouraging me to do for some time...and believe me, it'll be a series type-story.  Because I tend to get long-winded when I start a story.  :)  So...on with Part I!


To brief you: The main character in this story is 13 year old Helen Cooper.  This story is set in the early 1940's, during World War II.

 Helen slumped lower in her desk and sighed.  This old hand-me-down dress of her sister's wasn't very comfortable, and certainly not stylish.  Even at that moment, she could feel a pair of eyes piercing her, mockingly, rudely.  That pair of eyes belonged to Margaret Anne Mason, the banker's daughter.  Two more pairs of eyes were added when Margaret nudged her two best friends, Irene Hemmings and Edith Hammon.  Soft whispering and even giggles abounded.  Helen tried to focus on the history lesson Ms. Barker was teaching, but somehow Columbus' journey was being drowned out by the antagonizing whispers, stares, and giggling.  Oh, how she loathed those girls and their rich backgrounds, complete with big houses, two automobiles (or more), and tons of store-bought dresses, each one unique and beautiful--no old hand-me-down dresses included!  Why, Margaret's family even had a maid!  When she contrasted their lives to hers, Helen became even more angry.  Her life had been turned upside down with the coming of this second World War.

 Her father had felt obligated to enlist a year and a half ago, and since then her mother had, out of necessity, begun working as a housekeeper, then as a nurse, then as a factory worker.  Now she did all three.  Housekeeping was failing, however--who had the time or money to hire someone to clean their house and watch their children?  The war was sapping everyone's finances.  However, factory workers were much needed.  Chicago, where Helen and her family lived in their little tiny-tiny house, was a main city for the making of military parts.  The medical field was also in need, as soldiers who weren't in shape to stay in a makeshift hospital overseas were sent to the big cities like New York and Chicago to be taken care of.  Helen scoffed at the thought.  Those make-shift hospitals overseas were hardly fit to house the performance of a mere checkup--much less vaccinations, amputations, and other operations.  Helen's mother, Diane Cooper, had gone briefly to a medical school as a girl and was, therefore, accepted as a nurse.  The hospitals would take just about anyone who qualified in the least way.  All these jobs kept Diane busy.  She left each morning, including Saturdays, at 5:00 AM and didn't return home until 7:30 or 8:00 PM.  Helen's older sister, Eleanor, was 17 and able to take care of her three younger siblings while her mother was at work.  And take care she did.

 Each morning, Eleanor woke first when she heard her mother bustling around in the kitchen.  She never was able to go to sleep again after that.  No one in that house seemed to get much sleep now days.  Eleanor would wait until a few minutes after her mother had left, and then she would get up, get herself ready, and begin quietly getting breakfast ready for the rest of the kids.  She prepared the same thing every morning for each child: a piece of toast cut in half the normal size and a bowl of cereal with milk.  Soon, Helen would wake up, followed by her eight year old sister Katherine and her six year old little brother, Jamie.  Eleanor would hear them down the hall, looking for lost articles of clothing, trying to hunt down a hairbrush, occasionally arguing over whose turn it was to use the bathroom first.  And then a steady stream would come flowing into the kitchen where she was waiting; Jamie needing help with shoestrings, Katherine wanting her hair braided, Helen asking to borrow a ring that belonged to Eleanor.  And then they'd all crowd around the table, eat, and set off for their school.

 "Helen...Helen Cooper...Helen!"

Helen awoke from her thoughts.  "I'm sorry, Ms. Barker," said Helen apologetically among giggles from the entire classroom.

"Well, are you going to answer my question?"

"I...I'm afraid I didn't hear the question, ma'am."

Ms. Barker frowned.
"I asked you what year Columbus sailed to America."

Helen racked her brain...history wasn't her strongest subject, but Eleanor, sweet sister that she was, had often tried to help her with it.  What was that cunning saying she used to remember the year Columbus sailed?  In [blank], Columbus sailed to America?  No...nothing really rhymed with America.  in [blank], He sailed across the ocean?  No, that wasn't it either.

"Helen?  Are you going to answer me or do you need to visit Principal Fisher?"

Aha!  In...1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue!  She had it!

"1492, ma'am.  I'm sorry."

"You are correct.  However, Helen, I expect more from you."

"Yes ma'am."

Just then the bell rang.

                                                   ~*~

I thought I'd leave you there...for now.  :)  Do you like it so far?  I'd love to hear your feedback!

3 comments:

Emma said...

Hey Joy!
I like your story! The mystery I'll be starting on my blog is et during World War II aswell!

Tammy ~ Country Girl at Home ~ said...

Joy,

Okay, I'm totally engrossed in it now....and I had a sneak peek at part 2 and it is getting even better! I love the time period and love the names you picked....so appropriate for that time period! Keep it coming! I'm your biggest fan! :)

Love you! 10!
MOM

Samantha S. said...

Glad to see I'm not the only WWII-fiction teenage writer out there! :)

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