I've arrived at New Year's Eve Eve, and the novel is not coming to a close as yet. However, instead of wallowing in self-loathing, I think that this would be a good time to post a short extract to distract you all from the fact that I haven't finished... Hope your New Years celebrations are fun and frivolous!
Adin’s feet were hanging over the edge, knocking against the bottom of the sofa, shaking dried mud from her purple Mary-Janes on the carpet. Mum was going to be angry, but Adin didn’t care. She was late again, too late to cook dinner, too late to pick her up from school.
Adin knocked her feet harder; she was dressed and ready to leave. The spring carnival was waiting for her. In an insulated town like hers, this was the most thrilling thing to have happened since Mr Stanton had run down Blakely Street in his Y-fronts yelling, “I am Zeus” and throwing imaginary lightning bolts at people. Both of the police cars at the local station had been dispatched to collect him that day. The funniest part was seeing the policemen duck to avoid being struck by Mr Stanton’s flying lightning bolts, which he flung with incredible force. It struck her then that the ratio of crazy people to normal people in this town was quite high.
She was the only kid in her entire school that had not yet been to the carnival. It had been running for two weeks and day after day the stories came flooding in from the others. Butt-face Brian had been on the Spinning Wheel of Death seventeen times. Mandy Man-pants had eaten so much candy-floss that she threw up pink spew, twice. Then there was Toe-nails Tay, who was the only kid tall enough to get onto the Big rollercoaster ride, after which he barfed up half a bucket.
There was a competition going to see who had barfed the most. She strongly suspected that most of the children were exaggerating the exact quantity, particularly as there were no judges hanging around to weigh it and report back to the others. She found that most of the children were really bad at lying. Their eyes would open too wide, or they would avoid eye contact. Some unconsciously scratched at their scabs. Of course no-one cared if she believed them or not. Most of the time no-one even noticed she was there, on the outskirts of the circle, sitting alone, pretending to eat her sawdust sandwiches. No-one asked if she had been.
She could always lie and wow them with her own elaborate story of the rides she’d been on, the toys she’d won and her own rainbow coloured barf. But she didn’t want to lie this time. She would feel the exhilaration of the Little rollercoaster, she would savour the rejection by the angry carnie man measuring kids for the Big rollercoaster. She would eat her weight in toffee apples and cream soda and she would tell them all about it. She would finally talk to someone other than Pig-nose Pamela, who lived in the library, reading and re-reading the two books available on flesh eating insects. She was plagued with a fear that a bug would crawl into her ear one night, and eat her brain. The worn, yellow woollen ear-muffs she wore everyday – rain, hail or sunshine – made her look pretty crazy. The story of Adin’s Uncle who died of a brain haemorrhage because a baby locust had found its way into his ear came back to her as it often did when she looked at those ear-muffs. She always felt a little guilty about that lie. That was probably half the reason she often joined Pamela in the library.
Even Pig-face, worm ears Pamela had been to the carnival! Adin used to think her mother hated her. But as she got older she started to realise it was something more subtle and stinging than that. Sometimes mum barely seemed to register her presence, as though she simply forgot Adin existed.
She jumped off the sofa, stomping the mud deeper into the carpet. She pulled on her black gumboots and her old mustard coloured raincoat. This was one thing she would not let her mother ruin. She would go to that carnival no matter what.