Last week, I talked about how I should have listened to Emma Edsel. This week, I'm going to share the new beginning of Acktorek now that I am listening to her. I posted the beginning of a previous draft last year while I was editing my NaNo draft. It covers basically the same material, only obviously in Emma's voice and with the added benefit of worldbuilding. So enjoy the snippet, and if you want, compare it to the old version and let me know what you think!
Fact: He wasn’t like any of the other kids in school.He seemed, not exactly older, but…the only way I could describe it was more experienced. Not because he was sure of himself, somehow I was sure he was not, but because he had seen things. Things none of the rest of us had. Except perhaps me. For who, other than my family, in this quiet, peaceful Pacific town, knew anything other than a perfectly happy, ordinary life?He sat next to me in math class, his muscular form making me shrink away from his aura. Everyone except Grace knew better than to sit within a yard’s distance of me, and even that was because after twelve years of styling herself my best friend, I had given up trying to instill boundaries with her. I tried to keep my focus on my math assignment, to tune out Mr. Willman’s droning that we all knew was primarily directed at Chloe, to ignore Ella and Hayley’s gossipy giggles, to ignore this young man with a peculiar aura about him I couldn’t quite define. Who was unknowingly invading my personal space.I felt his eyes on me, the girl who did all she could to remain invisible. When so many other girls would more than willingly vie for his attention. My body tensed involuntarily, and I hung my head further forward to allow my hair to obscure my face. But still I could feel his eyes. Feel his presence beside me with a strange, prickling sensation.Ten minutes of that was all I could take. I whipped my head up, tossing my hair angrily over my shoulder, bitter accusations clawing their way up my throat. My eyes met his, a clear, calm blue that seemed to see deep into my soul, though the idea was beyond ridiculous. It still sent a shiver down my spine, the way his attention fixated on me, the way he wasn’t cowed by the fire I knew I sent his way the way nearly everyone else was.He nodded slightly towards the paper on my desk, a lock of blond hair falling over his forehead, though not far enough to obscure that placid blue gaze. “Emma, is it not?” His words were clipped in a peculiar manner, his accent nothing I’d ever heard.My jaw clenched and I wrapped my arm protectively around my paper. “None of your business.”“My name iss Mitchell Banks. I am new to Gondora Heights and I am staying with my aunt.”Something about the way every “s” came out soft and he ignored the existence of contractions made me cringe and draw back from him. Though if I was honest, my reaction was more likely simply because he was a human being other than my sister who insisted on directing attention at me.I shook my head in small, but rapid, motions. “We’re in math class. We’re supposed to be doing math.”He twirled a pencil through his fingers, his eyes never leaving me. “You appear to already know the concepts.”I dropped my gaze back to my math paper, letting my dark hair curtain me once more, shut him out. He wasn’t wrong. Math and science were full of facts. Solid, dependable facts. Unlike the other facts that ruled my life. That was why I already knew them well, because in my life, I needed something to depend on. Something I knew would never change.A pencil scratched the paper beside me, and though I was glad Mitchell had stopped speaking to me, I couldn’t help peeking through my curtain to see just what was taking shape on his assignment. It wasn’t the formula Mr. Willman had presented to the class. In fact, it not only wasn’t a formula I recognized, but the characters were strange. Ordinary Arabic numbers punctuated his writing, but in between were symbols and structures I’d never seen, even in my father’s calculus books, or in the strings of code I’d see flash across the computer screen when I used to watch him work. I couldn’t pretend to know everything, but I knew more than the average high school student in these areas, and this wasn’t normal.A moment later, he looked back at me, searching through my hair for my face. “I wass wondering if you could introduce me to our classmates.”I snorted, parting my curtain with my fingers, but only just. “No.”“Why not?” The question seemed genuine, as if he was truly confused as to why the solitary girl everyone ignored was unwilling to introduce him around, and his brow wrinkled to reaffirm his confusion.“They don’t talk to me,” I said in a small voice. Though likely it was more accurate to say I didn’t talk to them. Either way, I was not the avenue for him to make friends. And judging by his willingness to speak to me, in the middle of math class, no less, he wouldn’t have any trouble making friends on his own. A much better chance if he didn’t associate with me.“I think that is a mistake on their part.”I flushed and dropped my hair to hide it. If Ella or Hayley got any whiff of this conversation, I would never hear the end of it.