Alright, so I’ve promised some of you some more A Stiff Kiss deleted scenes. Last time we got to meet Landon for the first time. Or rather, what would have been the first time if it wasn’t for improving the novel through rounds and rounds of edits. So, this was the original first chapter of A Stiff Kiss, with Xylia Morana. I won’t give you much of a intro aside from what I’ve already said, and one more thing: The original time line for the novel was quite different from the time line that ended up happening in the published version. This shows us that School is almost out, whereas in the published version school has only just begun, and Xylia and Landon were heading into Christmas Break. Now, without further ado... I give you...
When I was twelve, I found my mother hanging lifeless from a tree. It was Christmas day. Since then, I’ve always found death fascinating. My father thinks I’m still coping, trying to understand why my mom wanted to leave, and hopes it’s a stage that I’ll grow out of. But I’m not so sure it is.
* * *
“Now, once everyone has their frogs in place, you can pick up the scalpel and make a lateral incision on both lymph nodes,” Mr. Wagner says, taking his scalpel into his hand. A large white pull down screen is playing it like a movie, in real time, as he takes the sharp end of the blade and punctures the frog. “Now remember class, the lymph nodes are found on either side of the jaw of your Kermit.”
Concentrating on the frog, I am already a few steps ahead. I might not have done this before, but I have read up on it. I’ve already made the cut through the bone and muscle, down the length, from throat to hind. I’ve even released the sternum by cutting the shoulder bones. This has been something I have been waiting for all year. Hell, this was the only reason I decided to suffer through an entire semester of biology. The final project. Not only does this mean I get to play with something dead; take it apart and learn from it, but it also means that school is almost over. This is the icing on the cake.
Just as I had imagined, once my other classmates cut open their specimens, “Ewes and Awes,” escape their lips. Girls can be heard gagging.
A loud high pitched sound then comes from the front of the class. “Um... Mr. Wagner... I think I need the pass.”
Mr. Wagner audibly sighs. “Charity, really, could you not have done your business before class?”
“Well no, I couldn’t, the washrooms were all taken up, please, I gotta go,” Charity whines.
He sets down his scalpel and walks over to his desk, pulling open a drawer. Mr. Wagner produces a blue card with a bright yellow P on it. Charity quickly grabs the pass from his outstretched hand as she flies towards the door.
“Although we should probably wait to continue, I have a feeling she won’t mind at all if we don’t,” Mr. Wagner says.
The class collectively chuckles and nods.
I have it on good authority that Charity, will in fact take her time in the washroom. If that’s even where she went, of course.
“Can someone tell me how you know if your specimen is male or female?” He looks up from his dead frog and eyes the room. “Anyone... Anyone?”
The class is silent; you can hear scalpels slice through bone and tendons. Looking at my fingernails, black polish chipped, nails chewed down to the nub, I roll my eyes. I know the answer, but don’t want to raise my hand. I like to blend into the background. The less people realize I’m around, the easier school is. I know what people think of me, and although I know I shouldn’t be ashamed of it, about being myself, I still can’t help being bothered by what they say.
“There are tiny black eggs in the... Anyone, anyone? Abdomen... That you’ll need to remove.”
Mr. Wagner is the spitting image of the teacher from Ferris Bueller, that movie, where the kid pretends he’s sick, then has the best day of his life. Gray and white hair combed straight back. Round spectacles on his nose and boring brown suits on his back. The voice is what gets me. It’s so painfully monotone, no emotion, you’ll want to stick the scalpel in your eye just to make it stop. But then again, it comes with its advantages as well. He’s so much like that teacher, I think he knows it too, because he steals that line from the movie and uses it all the time. “Anyone? Anyone?” He’ll stand at the front of the class. “Morana?... Morana?... Xylia Morana?... ZYE-lee-ah Morana?...” Until I decide to raise my hand and acknowledge that I’m here. Then he’ll move on... “Morton?.... Morton?...” Collectively, I think it’s a game, see how long it will take him to do roll call, or how many times you can get him to say your name before he marks down you’re absent.
But as I stare down my frog, the slight hum of death filling the air around me with its wavering of unknown, the thought, that this will be my last project, that this will be the last time I sit in this chair, at this table, is exhilarating. A few more hours, a few more tests, and the rest of my life will finally start. Though I have no idea where I’m going, I’m thankful that I can leave this chapter of my life behind. There will be so much more for me out there, so much more for me to discover. I know, however that for some people, high school might just be it for them. That these will always be the best days of their lives, and nothing will ever compare. They will be trapped here, in these halls and never succeed past the person they were when they were here.
Also, don’t forget to check out the A Stiff Kiss 1st Anniversary Contest happening now until February 28th! There are TONS of prizes to be won!