Tales from a Broken Fence by Alysse Gerardi
The Setting: New England, mid 1990's.
1. Me and Erica – We meet Lorelei Stucco and get a self-narrated, reflective tour of her relationship with a friend she believes she's had since, "the day she was born," Erica Bots. We follow them through an average play date involving wood witches, dressing-up, hiding from a wise old automobile, a newborn bird, and a sad, broken, old fence.
2. The Old Man and his Dog – Every day since forever and ever, a kind old man and his dog would shuffle by the Stucco house at exactly 3 pm and wave to the girls as they played, saying, "Why hullo there Miss Stucco! Lovely day, isn' it?" Erica comes up with this game one day where the man is really an elf who keeps gold hidden in his shed, and they follow him home. Then on the one day the old man and his dog don't shuffle on by, Lorelei's mom tells them some terrible news…
3. Mary Janes – In preschool, Lorelei realizes just how badly she needs her own pair of Mary Janes to feel accepted by the other girls. Erica doesn't like Mary Janes, (mostly because her mom won't buy them for her) and it takes Lorelei almost a whole day to convince her stubborn friend to go out and find some with her. How many adventures can two preschool girls have hunting for a pair of Mary Janes? The answer may surprise you!
4. Fish Head Fort – While adventuring in the woods behind the Stucco family house, Lorelei and Erica find what appears to be the fleshless head of a piranha. Only encouraged by the "good luck" oddity, Erica insists the girls build their fort at the sight. Named "Fish Head Fort" in honor of their late fishy friend (they did have funeral for the poor fellow in which he was respectfully buried in the fort's foundation), the spot, now heavily furnished with two lawn chairs, a rotting piece of plywood flooring, and a curtain of old shower curtains, became the center of the girls' world.
5. Our Song – Here we have our first formal meeting with Lorelei's dad. Apparently, he's the one who picked the name Lorelei for his only daughter, and she imparts to us how before she goes to sleep, he always sings their song. Naturally, the song he sings is Styx's "Lorelei," but Lorelei the girl is positive that her daddy wrote it for her. Here we get a nice, intimate picture of a loving daddy-daughter relationship. Too bad he's away so much…
6. Micheal – Erica and Lorelei have their first real fight on the first day of Kindergarten over a boy named Micheal. Both girls believe that they are each deeply in love with him. Erica caused the fight, but finally it's Lorelei who breaks it off for, "forever and six days."
7. Goodbye Erica – Weirdly enough, Lorelei begins to notice that whenever Michael's around, or whenever anyone's around for that matter, Erica never seems to be. After a while, Lorelei becomes convinced that Erica hates her, and eventually forgets about her, too engaged in her happy new Kindergarten lifestyle.
8. Daddy and the Night-Blooming Fairy – Lorelei's father is killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. This chapter occurs at the funeral, which her stricken but traditional mother insists on having at home. Lorelei won't go inside. Instead, she takes off to Fish Head Fort, and tries to hide from the cold hard truth that what was will never be again. She is only six years old. However, she is not alone. When she gets to the fort, who does she find curled up in a ball on one of the lawn chairs but Erica, fast asleep. She looks much dirtier now, like she'd been living in a haystack these past few months, but Lorelei was so happy to see her that she didn't notice. Lorelei now has a shoulder to cry on. Although they're both too sad (Erica didn't even know about her friend's dad's death until Lorelei told her) to do anything fun, Erica spends the day comforting her friend as they explored the mystery of the pretty and kind, "Night-Blooming Fairy," who grants wishes and protects sad children. She told Lorelei that that's where her Daddy is staying, with the Fairy, and that the two of them were always walking two steps behind her, wherever she went, just in case they were ever needed. Lorelei is greatly comforted by this.
9. The Broken Fence – A month has passed since the last chapter, and Erica comes out with some more bad news; she's leaving again, and this time, she hopes, for good. They happen to be sitting by the broken fence that they used to play by and that Lorelei described with insight beyond her years in the first chapter. Lorelei couldn't get much sadder than she already was, so, she became angry. But Erica, who, from nowhere has pulled out a small pink Barbie suitcase, tells her friend not to worry, that the worst part is now over and that she doesn't need her help anymore. By this point, if not in the previous two chapters, it should be shockingly clear to the reader that Erica is Lorelei's imaginary friend.
10. Memories – Or perhaps Erica was more of a guardian angel? An older Lorelei gives a retrospective commentary about this and many other odd questions that come up surrounding Erica's sudden reappearance and the coincidence of her father's death in this final chapter, aptly entitled, "Memories." While she does manage to clarify several points, the older Lorelei has barely begun to dissipate the mass of clouds that has long since settled like dust on her pre-K world. Although the reader's questions are all but eliminated, the mood at the end of the story is a very hopeful one. Maybe Lorelei was just a lonely little girl in a big house on a big yard… but then, if Erica was really just an imaginary friend, how could she have had such a profound healing affect on her maker? Even simpler than that, how could she have a crush on the same human boy as Lorelei? Maybe she didn't make her up… Maybe Erica was the Nigh-blooming Fairy… Maybe, maybe maybe. No matter what your opinion is, not having lived through it, Lorelei Stucco's conclusion will always be this: "Maybe we're not alone. Maybe 'they' just want to help... And maybe her daddy was watching out for her after all."
While I'm very pleased with the story board I've got here, I'm under a lot of emotional pressure right now (not to mention that I'm smack in the middle of writing two other novels for your enjoyment) and therefore I'm afraid I must confess that unless popular demand says otherwise, I'm probably not going to bother to write this story out full-length. It just isn't worth it right now if no one's going to read it. So basically, as Gwen says, "hollaback" if you want to hear this story become, well, storylike. Basically, please R&R so I'll know if this could actually work as a novel.
Much love always,