Work in Progress: Magicland — June Gloom

I’ve been working on this one since last summer. I blew it up once, and I’m in the middle of blowing it up again. A smaller blow-up, not like the first one when I removed the main character. After that blow-up, I finished a draft in the fall. It was fine, but it didn’t click. It felt like something I’d be proud to have written in high school, maybe early college.

I let it sit like that until a couple months ago. Then I went over that first draft for the first time, really, as a reader. I cared for the writer only insofar as I wanted the writer to have written something better for both of us. I marked the shit out of that draft.

Since then I’ve been trying to flesh out the story, writing new scenes to sketch out the story and dialogues to learn the characters. I’m narrowing in on the story, though it’s really more like penciling a sketch to be painted over and over into a texture.

Anyway I’m thinking this is the opening scene. At least it is chronologically, even if I just started writing it yesterday. I’ll share more soon.

June Gloom gone astray, Isa thought she heard someone say as they boarded the tram to the park. Dee must have heard the same because they started saying something about clouds, though Isa only half heard.

June Gloom, she loved to hear her mom say the words. Her accent bent the j into a y to make the words sound like two slugs of water, the dun-dun of a verdict sung without sentence. The sun is still behind the clouds, she would say. You’ll see it later.

Isa almost said the words herself to quiet Dee, who was still bitching about clouds as they pulled up to the park.

“What are you expecting anyone to do about the clouds?” Wendy said instead.

“Well,” Dee began in one of their mock-huffs that maddened Wendy but delighted Isa, “they could put a dome over it all.”

“But wouldn’t they have to close the park for a long time to do that?” said Jane, who was still getting to know Dee and many times missed their point.

“You’re dumb,” said Wendy. “If they put in a dome, they would have to pipe in A/C, and it’d smell like an office building in there.”

“Have you ever even been in an office building?” said Dee in a sneer sprinkled with eagerness that Wendy was in a mood to play along.

“You mean like a dentist’s office? Yah.”

Dee pretended to be affronted, dropping their mouth into a low O to sound a weakened gasp. Walking before them, little boy with a clear Winnie the Pooh backpack with red straps turned to ogle Dee, who ballooned their cheeks and trumpeted an elephant blow that nearly bowled over the boy but, as the boy twisted over his feet to fully face Dee, his parent picked him up from the ground and turned him around without looking for the source of the sound.

“They’d have to get rid of the birds,” said Isa. “And no fireworks.”

“Fine fine. No dome, no fun,” said Dee. “But is it even the happiest place on earth without sun?”

“Maybe there’ll be sun later,” said Isa.

“And if not?”

“Then I’ll buy you a blanket, little baby,” Wendy interjected. She was the only one of them tall enough to level with Dee.

“Deal,” said Dee. “I can wear it as a cape.”

“You better not make it smell like ass. I’m gonna be borrowing it tonight,” Wendy said.

“Why?” said Jane. This would be her first summer out west after moving in the middle of the school year. Also she still wasn’t sure what kind of more than friends Dee and Wendy were.

“Because it gets cold once the sun goes away,” said Isa. “But at night is the best time to be here. All the lights. It’s like a movie.”

“That’s because you can’t see all of it,” needled Dee. Turning to Jane, “they use the lights to pick out what they want you to see and hide the rest,” and back to Isa, “it’s basically photoshop.”

“Well, it works,” said Wendy, back to Isa’s defense.

“I know,” moaned Dee. “Relax. I’m not trashing Disneyland.” Nodding to the Jane he came to calling New Jane to her face, “it’s good to be aware of.”

“Jane’s never been here. Just let it her enjoy first,” said Isa. What she had wanted to say was, It’s my birthday, shut up please. But she didn’t want to be that person. “Look. They’re opening the gates.”