Writing About Sex Without Actually Writing about Sex

So it’s been a while since I posted (I blame the government), so I decided to return with a topic that will certainly attract viewers: sex! I’ll try to keep this PG, but I think we all know I’m setting myself up to fail.

As most writers and regular people know, sexuality and whatnot is one of the biggest topics floating through a person’s mind, especially from puberty onward. So in order to write a non-asexual character’s mind authentically, you’re going to have to include some sort of hint of the, uh, you know, the . . .

*starts to make hand gestures, but decides against it.*

The problem for many writers throughout history is that people tend to be squeamish about the whole topic, and it’s not considered appropriate for certain ages. Which, okay, that makes sense. I don’t think there’s any sane person who thinks including graphic sex scenes in a children’s novel is an okay thing to do. But as a result, writers have found clever ways to get around that cultural taboo, by using things like metaphors, similes, and euphemisms.

Even non authors do this all the time. Example, I’m 70% sure that whenever my friends and I are talking at any given time, some sort of authority figure is listening in without my consent. So I have to find clever ways to word my questions. If one of my friends just went on a date last night, I’ll be all like:

  • “Yo, did you seal the deal?”
  • “Did you sheath the sword?”
  • “Did you snuffle her curnufflegus?
  • “Did you huffle her puff?”
  • “Did you dehoney the flower?”
  • “Did you deflower the garden?”
  • “Did you dance to the song of love?”
  • “Did you put your USB cord into her laptop?”
  • “Did you put your pillow into her pillowcase?”
  • “Did you tie the shoe?”
  • “Did you unlock the door?”
  • “Did you slay the mighty dragon?”
  • “Did you use the back side of your hammer to pull out that nail that was stuck in your wall for like, three years?”

Some of them don’t really work too well, I’ll admit, but whatever. The point still got across.

Writers do this all time as well, for different reasons.

When writing for children (such as middle grade books and kids’ shows) writers avoid sexual content, because well, come on, these are kids we’re talking about here.

The young adult genre will often feature sex, but because of fear of censorship and whatnot, you’ll rarely get an actual depiction, and if you do, the ultimate lesson of the scene will probably be that sex is bad, and that you should wait until you’re married, or something. (I don’t actually read a lot of YA these days, so I might be way off here.)

The adult section is the one area where writers are allowed to get away with pretty much anything they want, providing they’re a guy. A female author certainly is allowed to include sex scenes in their novels, but because of reasons that totally don’t have anything to do with sexism, their work isn’t likely to be quite as well respected.

(Theory Time: if a woman had written A Song of Ice and Fire, you could bet your ass it would’ve been labeled “erotica” as at least the sub-genre.)

So how do these authors overcome these restrictions?

My favorite is the technique used when writing for children: including obvious sexual references that would fly straight over a child’s head. These are awesome because it’s harmless to the child and yet hilarious for the adult.

Example: On the show Victorious, which is one of those shows I watch whenever there’s nothing else on, has several moments in which it’s heavily implied that the main characters’ mom is totally having an affair with her husband’s friend, and it is the funniest running gag I can remember seeing on Nickelodeon.

You could also try the young adult genre technique, in which you describe sex scenes so vaguely that it’s damn near impossible to tell if the characters actually did the deed or not. Perfect example being The Fault in Our Stars. Did they really have sex? I know Hazel wrote a venn diagram confirming it afterward, but I’m not too good with diagrams so I can’t be sure.

If you’re writing for adults, there really aren’t a whole lot of limits for what you could write about in terms of sexual content, profanity and/or gore, at least none that I’m aware of. I used to think there were limits in adult books, but then I read Stephen King’s It and quickly realized my mistake. (Not even HBO could adapt that book faithfully.) Still, you should probably use sex scenes sparingly, if at all. I’m not saying this due to squeamishness on my part, but only because sex scenes in general are hard to write well, and aren’t particularly interesting on their own. For example, here’s a deleted scene from one of my Doctor Who erotica fan fiction short stories:

[Scene has been removed by the federal government due to its disturbing content.]

“What should I use instead?” you ask.

Well, I say. I think you should just use lots and lots of dopey, nonsensical euphemisms. Think back to all those horrible sex scenes you’ve read in the past. How much better would they have been if they’d simply read something like, “James snarsnidioused her har-har, if you know what I mean.”

Before I end this post, I should clarify that neither ‘snarsnidious’ or ‘har-har’ are actually words, although I’m sure you could guess their definitions considering the context.

_____

Hopefully I have just helped my readers write better works of fiction. I probably haven’t, of course, but at least you’ve all learned a few new euphemisms to use. Feel free to make them popular.

(Note: This post was published about three hours before it was actually intended to be published. Apologies for any typos.)

More Than I Can Chew: Chapter 10

More Than I Can Chew is an interactive story revolving around two identical twins and the gum-related problems they have to deal with. Except it’s much more interesting than how I just made it sound. Click here for the last nine chapters. 

Wyatt

Sean and I stopped by Nick’s house at around 1:25. In seventeen minutes, my final period class would officially end. “You sure about this?” Sean asked as we got out of the car. He gestured towards the van in the driveway.

“Yeah, I said. “That van’s always here. His dad’s a carpenter or something like that.” We walked into the backyard and I opened up the back door. “No one’s home during the school day.” After taking off our shoes, I told Sean to keep watch while I went into Nick’s mess of a room. I opened up the closet and took out the box, along with the BB gun and the bottle labeled, “0.177 Precision Steel BBs.”

Nick had made the mistake of bragging about his BB gun a few years back and teaching me how to load, shoot, and reload the gun with reasonable ease, so he sort of brought this on himself. Besides, I planned return everything when all this was over. I even left a note back on the box, saying “I’ll pay you back for any possible damages.” 

The best news was, it could actually be confused with a real gun, at least from the perspective of someone with little knowledge of them. The only thing giving it away was the childish orange color of the muzzle.

“Do you have any spray paint?” I asked Sean as we got back into his car.

“What? No.”

“Any black paint?”

“Nope.”

“A marker of any kind?”

“Not on me, no.”

I sighed. “Okay, what about duct tape? Do you have tape in this car?”

“I don’t know; check the drawer.” So I opened the passenger seat drawer and went through all of Sean’s trash, pulling out empty water bottles, scratched CDs and wrappers of gum he probably bought from me, and finally I found a piece of pitch black electrical tape that was perfect for what I needed.

I taped the empty water bottle to the muzzle and looked at it from all angles. You could barely see the orange.

Connor’s house was our first destination, mostly because it had no security system and because I deemed Connor the weakest of the three.

Five minutes before getting there, Kathy called. I answered, reluctantly.

“Why the hell aren’t you home?” she yelled. “Mom and Dad are gonna be here any minute now.”

“So? I’m supposed to be at school, remember?”

She sighed. “They know you’re suspended.” The words hung in the air for a while, taunting me. Finally I replied, keeping my voice steady.

“How?”

“Mrs. Romero was there and ruined everything.” She told me the rest of what happened, from the moment Mom got to the hospital to the moment Kathy left, and finished it off with: “Are you selling drugs?” This again.

“No,” I said. “I just want to make some money, not ruin my entire life.”

“Then how do you make so much money?”

“I don’t know, my natural salesmanship skills? My smart business decisions? The two add up, I suppose.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I, mostly. Why are you doubting me now?

“Apparently, some detective spoke to Adrien, who figured ten thousand dollars was way too much money to make from selling gum twenty cents a piece.”

“Twenty-five cents a piece.” I could almost hear her rolling her eyes. “What was the detective’s name?”

“Adrien didn’t say—” Of course he didn’t. Personally I’m surprised Adrien didn’t rat me out. First he sent the photograph to Mrs. Romero, then I inadvertently caused him to be kidnapped and violently interrogated for information he didn’t even have. Top that off with the fact that he didn’t even like me to begin with, and I was all but sure he’d betray me again. “—but I bumped into him as I was leaving the hospital. Detective Roy Thompson, his name is.”

I looked him up on my phone, and found a picture of him. He had a sort of weaselly look about him; he almost reminded me of a con artist.

We got to Connor’s house at 1:40. My final class of the day would be ending in just two minutes. Connor had a large house and strict parents, and I knew he was at least telling the truth about the first part. One of his parents was a highly successful lawyer and the other was some sort of brain surgeon. Forgot which one was which. They both had high expectations for him, which I guess ticked of his rebellious side or something.

No one was home. Connor was an only child and his parents both had busy schedules. So we snuck into the back and decided to hide in Connor’s bedroom, as I tried to recall everything useful I knew about him.

First off, I figured he’d try to get back before school ended, in case his parents called or came home early. Then I remembered, almost facepalming, that he was only in middle school. In our district, the middle school students were let out an hour after the high school students, which would give him an extra hour to celebrate with Diesel and James and whoever the fourth guy was.

Even still, I figured, he should be home any minute now. After they took my money and all, there couldn’t have been much for them to talk about, what with Diesel being almost inhumanly quiet and James being batshit crazy. They probably shared their money and went their separate ways.

We spent a little while talking and joking around. Sean almost stole a bottle of pills inside Connor’s desk before I stopped him. “Why would you want it, anyway?” I asked, reading the label—Xanax. I remembered buying this for him last year. He didn’t want his parents to know.

“Anxiety medication,” Sean said.

“Why would you need anxiety medication?” When Sean wasn’t messing around in class, he was either getting drunk, getting high, or just messing around in general. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

“Honors chemistry. It’s very stressful.” He said it like he was half-serious.

“What do you have in that class?”

“An 88.”

“How the hell are you doing better than me?” He shrugged. I kept forgetting that Sean was only stupid when it came to decision making.

Just then we heard the door open downstairs and both of us stayed silent. I gently placed the bottle of Xanax back inside the desk. We waited a while not certain what it was we listening to, and soon the footsteps made their way to the door.

When Connor opened the door, he first looked towards his desk—then he noticed me, pointing a gun at his face.

“What the—”

“Shut up and don’t scream,” said Sean, who looked nearly a foot taller than him, and more than a little intimidating. He shut the door and shoved Connor in a position so he was stuck between me and Sean.

“Is that a real gun?” was his first question.

“Yes,” I said, pleased to find he thought it was real.

“Why is there a water bottle taped to it?”

“It works as a silencer,” I said, “and I’m certainly not above testing it out.” In case he didn’t believe me, I added. “You know, you three gave my brother a concussion. He’s in a coma now.”

“No, th–that wasn’t my idea!” he was stammering and tearing up at this point. “We weren’t planning to pick up your brother.”

“Oh, so you were going to put me in a coma, is that what you’re saying?”

“No! I swear, that was an accident. We didn’t mean to—”

“Listen,” I interrupted him, pressing the end of the water bottle against his chin, one half of me furious and the other half feeling guilty for doing this to him “You will answer every question I ask, and if you don’t I swear to God I will pull this trigger.”

It dawned on me that I could’ve actually killed him, if I wanted to.

Click here for chapter 11.

More Than I Can Chew: Chapter 6

Here is the sixth chapter of The New York Times Bestseller: More Than I Can Chew. I’m not sure if this story will make it to twenty chapters, because I feel like this part has a sort of midpoint feel to it. Perhaps they’ll be only twelve or fourteen chapters in this whole thing. Either way, I hope to finish this before Camp NaNoWriMo starts, which shouldn’t be hard.

To read the last five chapters, click here.

Wyatt

“DO YOU WANT YOUR TWIN BROTHER, OR NOT?” James shouted, cutting me off, rudely.

The reason for my delayed answer was that I’d just noticed Diesel and Connor standing by James’ side, and that stung. They were both my distributors, and were two of my favorite salesmen, so it hurt so much more to see them.

Connor Leung was one of my employees in the junior high, who I picked because according to my cousin in sixth grade, he was “the shit.” Sure, he was useless under pressure, and always wore a dopey red hat, but he was a friendly and loyal guy. Well, at least I thought he was.

Diesel was a different story. We had a met after a hockey game at his school in December of freshman year. I was sitting with the seniors in the back of the bleachers, which was a huge honor. Apparently, I was the only freshman they didn’t hate.

Anyway, the main reason they liked me was because of the chants I came up with. I put a lot of effort into them; I researched the school’s sports teams and statistics, I stalked the players’ twitter accounts, and I found any type of pressure point I could use against them in the game. I also snuck in a loudspeaker, a couple vuvuzelas and those noise sticks you’re supposed to bang against each other, and encouraged others to do the same. This effectively made our student section the most obnoxious group of students in the history of the varsity hockey league.

The other school’s students didn’t like this, and so a couple of them decided to jump me in the parking lot after the game. I lasted about ten seconds before slipping on the ice, but then Diesel, who I could’ve sworn was at least twenty-five years old, swooped in and told them to knock it off. All it took was a threatening glare and they all gave up and walked away.

Despite hating me for my rather immature chants, he intervened because he didn’t think it was right for five people to take on one all at once. He called it cowardly, and I’d have to agree. I almost asked him if he was a teacher here when he told me he was only sixteen, and a freshman (started school late, held back once). He agreed to be a part of my gum business, provided I never attend a hockey game at his school again.

These memories all went through my head in about 1.5 seconds, and then I answered, making sure to sound like I didn’t care about them or Adrien. “Yeah, that was… one of the things I came here for.”

“WELL THEN SHUT UP, AND LISTEN TO ME!” he shouted. The fury in his voice startled me a bit. I noticed Connor was avoiding eye contact with me and was rubbing the back of his neck. Good, at least one of them felt guilty. Diesel’s face, however, showed no signs of whatever was going on inside his head.

As James read out his plans to me, I almost felt like laughing. I would die before I let James take control of my business. Of course I also didn’t want to leave Adrien to whatever they had in store for him. I decided to go with option three.

“I’m calling the cops.”

This whole day was worth it just to see the look on Connor’s face. “Wait, what?” You can’t do that.”

Gum-dealers weren’t much different from drug-dealers, at least in one area. A drug-dealer could do all types of shit to another dealer, and the last thing he’d expect the other guy do in retaliation was to call the cops. By the look on Connor’s face, you could tell he had not even considered the possibility of me pulling this card.

“Why not?” I asked, sharply. “I’ve just been betrayed by my two favorite employees, had my brother kidnapped, and I myself have just been suspended. Not only am I very, very pissed off at all of you, but both my brother and I are completely innocent in this situation, at least in the eyes of the law.”

“Well, we could say we did this all for you,” said Connor, grasping at straws. And to think I was actually planning to leave him in charge when I left for college. “After all, you are technically our boss.”

“I was your boss. And even if they believed you, which isn’t likely, you’re still going to jail.” I took my phone out and started dialing the numbers.

“Oh, come on, Wyatt,” said Diesel, showing some actual emotion for once, “Don’t do this.”

“Shut up, Diesel. I thought you were cool.” I pressed call and put the phone on speaker for everyone to hear.

“This is 911, what is your emergency?”

I put on my best scared voice and answered, “Hi, uh, I’m calling about Adrien Mellonsky, the kid who just went missing today.”

“Do you have any news on his current location?”

“Yeah, he’s been taken to Bedford Park in a black van.” While I was saying this, Connor and James were arguing while Diesel opened the van doors and begrudgingly threw Adrien onto the ground.

“A police dispatch has been sent to your location. Is there any more information? Do you know who the kidnappers are?”

“OKAY, WE’RE GIVING HIM TO YOU!” shouted Connor, almost in tears. And it was true. Adrien had been uncuffed and Diesel had jumped into the back of the van. I covered the phone’s speaker, and told them, “If I were you, I’d get out of here as fast as I could.”

Connor got back into the passenger seat and James got into the driver’s. Before James drove away he gave me a look that told me, It’s not over. I shook it off. For now at least, I had outsmarted them, and they wouldn’t dare do anything for the next few days, what with police supposedly after them and all.

“Nice work, Kathy,” I said into the phone. Kathy had parked the car backwards so they wouldn’t see her in the front seat. “You make a wonderful 911 operator. Hell, that should be your profession.” But by this point Kathy had hung up and ran towards Adrien, who was just standing up, taking his blindfold off.

“Are you okay?” Adrien managed a weak nod. He wouldn’t even look at me.

“Uh, hi, Adrien.”

“Shut up,” he said, walking towards the car. “Let’s go home.” I noticed he was limping.

“What did they do to you?” Kathy asked, horrified.

“Oh, just suffocated me with a bag, beat me up a couple times, nothing major.” He got into the back seat and lied down.

Kathy gave me a worried look. Not only that, but an accusing one as well, like this was all my fault my friends stabbed me in the back. The two of us got in the car.

“I’m taking him to the emergency room,” Kathy said as she started driving out the park entrance.

“No,” I said, “If he goes, Mom and Dad will find out and they’ll have to ask me for questions—”

“OF COURSE they’ll find out!” she shouted. “How could they not? Adrien’s probably all over the news right now, the police are looking all over for him. He can’t just show up to school on Monday after all this and expect no one to ask questions!”

I almost argued, but she was right. One way or another, the police had to know Adrien was found, and not at the bottom of a lake somewhere. “But that doesn’t mean they need to know about us.”

“Oh, so after everything you just put him through you’re still worried about yourself.” It wasn’t a question.

“I’m worried about you, too.” It felt like a lie, coming out of my mouth, and she clearly didn’t believe it.

“Why? I did nothing wrong here.” This was the worst mood I’ve seen her in months. “What do I have to hide?”

“You and I purposely withheld valuable information from the police. If we just drop him off at the emergency room, they are going to ask questions. And I think we both want to avoid any possible blame.”

“Okay, and so the kids who kidnapped and practically tortured Adrien get to walk free with no punishment at all?” I couldn’t answer that.

“They’ll be punished,” said Adrien in the back. He didn’t sound particularly threatening at the moment. “One way or another.”

“Okay, how about this?” I proposed. “We drop Adrien off near the ER and let him walk in by himself, where he claims to have just escaped the van on a street nearby. It’s a fairly simple lie, something not even Adrien could mess up, and everything else he says could be true. Just as long as he doesn’t mention anything that could draw suspicion to us.”

Her brow creased, and I could see her stubbornly trying to see a flaw in my plan. “Fine.”

We dropped Adrien off about fifty yards away from the hospital, made sure he knew exactly what to say, and drove home. “I get that they need to know about what happened to him,” I told her, “but they don’t need to know about the suspension, or my part in Adrien’s kidnapping. No one gains anything from that.”

“Fine,” she said, and neither of us said a word the rest of the ride home.

As I walked through the front door I got a text. From James.

I knew you weren’t actually calling the cops.

I froze, reading the text again, then twice more. But that didn’t make any sense. Why would he just leave if he knew I was playing him? Unless…

I sprinted to the basement, almost knocking Kathy down on my way down. I reached the bottom of the stairs and saw my worst nightmare come true.

The ceiling tiles. Half of them were ripped out and left scattered on the floor. That was where my hiding spot was; inside the basement ceiling where no one would ever think to look.

“Wyatt?” shouted Kathy, from the top of the stairs. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

I didn’t answer. I walked across the room, stepping on broken tiles, grabbed a chair and placed it below the torn-up ceiling. I barely heard Kathy’s gasp as I stood on it and looked through the inside of the ceiling, finding nothing but wood and dust.

“They’ve taken my stuff,” I said, not to anyone in particular. I don’t think I was even aware of what I was saying.  “All my notes, my gum, my plans… my money… all gone.”

It was just a distraction. In that one moment of clarity I realized just how obvious it was: they planned to kidnap me and make me give up all the gum, the list of all my distributors, the left-over money, all my future business ideas, and sneak into my house and take them while I was still captive. When they kidnapped the wrong twin, all they did was improvise.

I remembered what Mrs. Romero told us. Three people had dragged Adrien into the van, but that didn’t include the driver. At Bedford park I hadn’t even questioned where the fourth one had gone. I thought I was being clever, but no. I was so, so stupid…

I stepped down, picked up the chair, and swung it against the wall. The front legs shattered. I swung it again. And again, and again. Kathy’s yells must’ve been a mile away. After the fifth time I chucked the legless chair on the floor and kicked it across the room, shattering a glass table and I didn’t even care.

Kathy’s voice seemed closer now. “Just let it go. The gum’s not worth the trouble.”

But it wasn’t just the gum I was mad about.

Click here for Chapter 7.

Gum and War: Chapter 3

Here lies the third chapter in my gum-related twin story. For the first two chapters, click here for the first one and here for the second. They’re basically the equivalent of reading three to four pages of a book, so if you hate the first few chapters, it’s not like you’ve wasted a large section of your life.

In this chapter, Adrien has an encounters James, a crazy, violent gum-dealer who might end up being the main antagonist, depending on the polls. I’m so glad most of you didn’t pick the boring “Nothing happens in the bathroom” option. I’m not sure what I would have done then.

Adrien

I was just finishing washing my hands when someone else walked in, who I’d never seen before in my life. “Hey, Wyatt,” he said, smiling. I was going to respond with the usual “Actually, it’s Adrien,” but I stopped at the first word when I noticed two things.

First, his eyes. Nothing was wrong with them, per se; they just didn’t match the rest of his face. His mouth was smiling but his eyes were completely humorless.

Secondly, he was locking the bathroom door. “What are you doing?” I asked, but he didn’t seem to hear.

First he looked behind me, towards the open window above the furnace (we were on the first floor) and then clicked a button on his expensive-looking watch, and started talking fast, “Okay, 10:25. We have five minutes so make this quick. What’s your counter-offer?” I didn’t know how to respond.

“What?” I studied him, trying to figure out who he was and what he wanted. He dressed in flannel and had taped together the rim of his glasses with scotch tape. Apart from his eyes, he had a mostly harmless appearance.

“I said,” the bottom half of his face smiling, the top half looking furiously demented, “What is the counter-offer?” He said it slowly, as if I would have trouble understanding.

When I responded with a very intelligent “What?” he began to explain, irritated, “I called you last night asking you to raise our commission to eighty percent, and you said to meet me here so we could properly discuss it. Well?”

“Look,” I explained, watching him like he was some sort of rabid animal, “I’m not Wyatt. I’m his identical twin brother.” Only after saying it did I realize how much of a lie that sounded like; this guy—whoever he was—must’ve thought the same thing.

In fact, he found it hysterical, and only stopped laughing once I tried to move past him towards the exit. He shoved me to the floor with an amount of force that didn’t seem possible for his stick-like body. “NO MORE JOKES!” he yelled, while I stumbled back to my feet.

“What the fuck, man?” I shouted at him. “That was not a joke!”

“Oh, so Wyatt just happens to have an identical twin brother he never mentioned before, who ends up in the bathroom at the the exact time I’m supposed to meet him? You expect me to believe that?”

Yeah.

He chuckled at this, although his eyes were still furious. I knew Wyatt was stupid, but I didn’t think he was dumb enough to be making business deals with Satan’s nephew. I needed to get out of there as fast as possible.

“I can prove it,” I said, pulling out my phone. “Call Wyatt’s number, and I guarantee this phone won’t ring.”

Looking at the time on the phone, he shrugged and said, “How about a counter-offer?” He snatched my phone and chucked it full force into one of the urinals. I stared at him for a few seconds in disbelief.

Then I punched him in the face.

The rest was all a blur. I remember the guy grinning at me, like he was glad I’d struck him, and then someone was knocking on the door—I heard Mr. Donahue talking—and as I was about to shout back for help, someone pulled a bag over my head. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe. All I could do was blindly shield my body with my hands from the punches and kicks landing everywhere, all while suffocating to death.

The light-headedness started kicking in as the banging on the door grew louder. Eventually I blacked out.

 ***

I woke up in the back of a van with my mouth taped shut and my hands cuffed behind my back. I tried screaming, but of course it just came out muffled. Whoever was driving made a sudden sharp turn, causing my already bruised body to roll into the side of the van, face first.

I heard laughter in the front seats and grinded my teeth. Wyatt is probably behind all this, I thought. Wyatt was an idiot, but he wasn’t stupid enough to do business with this psychopath. For a second I thought this might just be some messed up, really late April Fools joke.

But this was way too far, even for him. And there’s no way he could have known I was going to go to the bathroom at that exact time.

I tried reaching into my pocket with my handcuffed hands, to call Wyatt, or Kathy, or the cops, and remembered it being thrown into a urinal. I wanted to kill this kid, but I was in no position to do that.

I lifted up my head and looked at the doors, every inch of my body working against me. The doors were probably locked, but I figured I could kick my way through them. Of course, if the escape plan failed, God knew what they would do to me.

Click here for chapter 4.

Also, on the last poll, someone came up with the title “More Than I Can Chew,” which I think is extremely clever. So kudos to whoever came up it. And since I want it to have a fair chance, I created a new poll.

I realized I should also give credit to the people who came up with the titles in the last poll.

The Legendary Miko: Gum and War and The Chewing Tales.

The Mathmaster: The Doublement Twins

Unknown Clever Person: More Than I Can Chew

The Not-Yet Titled Interactive Story: Chapter 2

This is the second chapter of my fancy interactive story where the plot is decided by the readers, and it’s still unnamed. There’s another poll at the end of this chapter with all the previously suggested titles. Feel free to vote for one.

Also, I decided they’ll be about twenty chapters, ten for each character. That is, unless I die or get a severe case of writer’s block. Enjoy.

Wyatt

I thought about bribing the student teacher with a pack of gum, but I figured it wasn’t worth the risk. The penalty for chewing gum was lunch detention, the penalty for trying to bribe a student teacher with a full pack would probably get me suspended. Only an idiot would risk suspension for a pack of gum.

So instead I tried bribing him with two packs of gum.

“Are you kidding me?” As anyone who had lunch detention with him knew, Mr. Donahue was a completely different person when authority figures weren’t around. “I’m not risking my future career for two packs of gum. I could get them at a gas station for a dollar.”

“No you can’t. Any place in this town you could buy gum, I went there and emptied it out. It’s a great investment,” I told him. “All I want to do is go to the bathroom for now until 10:30 AM. That is all,” I checked my phone. It was 10:24. If I waited any longer I’d miss the meeting. James was mad at me enough already.

“That’s an oddly specific time,” he said, immediately making me regret saying anything. “What are you planning to do that can’t wait until after? And by the way, you pretty much just admitted you sell gum to me.” Shit.

“You know what? Forget I said anything.” Just missing the meeting could put a large hole in my ever-expanding gum empire; getting suspended could tear it all down.

“Okay, I will,” said Mr. Donahue, grinning. “For two packs of gum.”

After bribing him, he walked me into the principal’s office. Mrs. Romero and I had gotten to know each other well over Freshman year. “Hi,” I said, waving to her as if she was far away. She didn’t smile. On her desk lay a couple packs of mentos chewing gum.

“Sit down.” As I took the chair in front of her desk, her eyes moved towards Mr. Donahue, looking a bit more friendly. “Thank you for escorting him over here.”

“No problem,” he said casually, and then: “He wanted to go to the bathroom first for some reason. Said he wasn’t going to leave until exactly 10:30.”

I gave him a disgusted look. “I trusted you.” He just shrugged.

“Why’d you need to go to the bathroom for that specific time?” Mrs. Romero me.

“I have a very specific bathroom schedule.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen him ask to go the bathroom since I got here,” said Mr. Donahue, further twisting his giant knife into my back. At least he didn’t tell her about the gum bribe.

“That’s not even important,” I said, changing the subject with a question I already knew the answer to. “Why was I called down here?”

She picked up a couple packs and held it in front of me. “Do you know anything about these?” I shook my head no. “Well, I’ve been told from numerous sources that you’ve made a profitable business out of selling them. Over ten thousand dollars. A total that high suggests you’re selling something other than gum.”

She was wrong about one thing: I only sold gum, nothing else. I had three distributors located in every other middle and high school in the district. I supplied the gum, they sold it and kept thirty percent of the profit. With twenty-five cents per piece and fourteen pieces per pack, I gained around  a dollar and forty-five cents for each pack of gum sold. Each distributor sold at least ten packs a day.

I didn’t tell her this, though. Instead I laughed, as if the whole idea were completely insane. “I don’t sell anything. Not even gum.” Of course, that’s when Mr. Donahue spoke up.

“He tried to bribe me with gum on the way here.” My hand went to my forehead as I imagined myself stabbing him in the eye with Mrs. Romero’s ballpoint pen.

“Is this true?” There was no point in lying. I was never very good at it anyway.

“Yeah, but he took the bribe!” I pointed at him as he shrugged innocently. “You have some corrupt student teachers on school grounds, Mrs. Romero. I suggest you take a look into that, instead of accusing innocent students of committing completely made-up crimes.” While I was talking, the principal was typing something on her laptop.

“You should know, we have definite proof that you’ve been selling.” She turned the laptop around so the screen faced me. “An anonymous source sent this in.” The picture showed me in the middle of study hall, selling twenty-five cents a piece to a group of kids I barely knew. Judging from the length of the hair, it could only have been taken from the beginning of the school year (two weeks ago) to Monday, (four days ago), when I got my haircut. Judging from the photo’s angle, I had a good idea who was the photographer is.

Adrien. Of course. He asked to join my gum-business, I turned him down, and now he was probably upset that I was getting all the attention. And so the selfish prick was sabotaging my high school life’s work as a way of what? Revenge? Well, two could play at that game.

“You do know I have an identical twin, right? Well, when it comes to breaking the rules, he has a much worse record than me. He got into two fights in middle school and was caught shoplifting once (and God knows how many times he got away with it). He’s much more likely than me to be causing trouble.”

“Nice try,” she said, “but we know it’s not him in the picture.”

Well, that’s proof. “Because he sent it?”

“No, this picture was sent in anonymously,” she said, probably lying. “We know it’s you here because you’re wearing your JV hockey jacket from last year. Adrien was never on the hockey team.” I cursed under my breath, more mad at Adrien than I’ve been in years.

“Okay,” I admitted, “you got me. But I only do what I do for the benefit of the school. Because apparently, student teachers like gum too.” I shot Mr. Donahue a dirty look.

“You think what you do is for the good of the school?” she said, her nostrils flaring. “The desks are covered in chewed-up gum. Every day after school, the janitors have to come in and scrape it all off. It takes them hours. Meanwhile, people keep complaining about gum on their shoes because apparently, high school students like to spit out their gum on the floor without any regard for other people. And you’re also taking money away from charities and school clubs that sell candy to raise money, because students are giving all their money over to you.”

“Okay, it has some… slight negative effects,” I said, using my hands to imitate a scale, “But I suppose if you weigh out the pros and cons, the pros would win.” I watched for her reaction, sort of like how I’d imagine a bomb defuser watching the wire he just cut.

I had no idea what she’d say next.

Click here for Chapter 3

An Interactive Story: It has to do With Gum

I have a theory: You could make any story work, as long as the main characters are complex and three-dimensional. Sure, it won’t be as good as if the plot and characters are perfectly balanced, but if I had to choose between a story with a bad plot but well-written characters or one with a great plot but badly-written characters, I’d choose the former any day of the week. (Except Tuesdays.)

So I created two characters, Adrien and Wyatt Melonsky: identical twins who hate being twins (one more than the other). Each chapter alternates between the two points of view. At the end of each chapter, there’s a poll asking the audience what they want to happen next. I sort of cheated in this one, since it’s obvious which one people will pick, but afterwards the polls get more interesting.

After the second chapter, I have absolutely no idea where the story’s going. That’s all up to you.

Adrien

“I hate Wyatt,” I said, watching as he passed out a piece of gum to everyone in the front of the room. Fiona raised an eyebrow.

“But he’s your brother! You’re twin brother, no less,” Fiona said.

“That is exactly why I hate him.” I’ve had this conversation a hundred times before with a hundred different people. I knew what she was going to say before she even said it.

“I’d love to have an identical twin,” she said. No, you don’t, I almost responded. “It’ll be like having a clone best friend that I could always hang out with.”

“You’d get sick of her after a few years or so.” I said.

Fiona shrugged. “It’s still cool, having someone who looks just like you. Have you ever—”

“Tried to switch classes with him to see if the teacher notices? No.” I saw her surprised face and explained, “Everyone asks me that.”

I turned around and watched Wyatt again. He was chewing gum in his loud, sorta cow-like way, but none of his friends seemed to mind. This was first period study hall in the school cafeteria, and the teachers were too tired to discipline the students correctly. Wyatt and his friends took advantage of this.

“Have you ever thought about getting in on his gum-selling business?” asked Fiona. I first noticed she was chewing gum, and a tiny flash of annoyance swept over me.

“I don’t chew gum,” I told her. “I haven’t chewed in over eight months, and I’m not planning to anytime soon.”

“Eight months?!” she asked, eyes widened. “I could never go eight months without chewing. You have a lot of will-power, my friend. But you could still sell it.”

“I’m not risking it,” My school had a strict anti-gum policy. If you were caught giving out gum, let alone selling it, you risked a referral. And if you were selling the amount of gum Wyatt was selling, there was a good chance of a suspension.

“I heard last year he made over ten thousand dollars,” It was true. Wyatt’s illegal gum-selling business had reached seemingly impossibly high heights near the end of Freshman year. He was now officially known as the “Gum Guy” among the student body.

“Well, I don’t want to,” I said. The truth was, Wyatt wouldn’t let me anywhere near his gum. He didn’t trust me, especially after the shoplifting incident, and besides, he would no longer be the center of the attention if I started selling, and Wyatt couldn’t have that.

For the next two periods I found myself constantly being mistaken for my brother, more so than usual. Wyatt’s fault, of course; so people could tell us apart, we got our hair cut at different times. When my hair was short, his was long, and vice versa. We had mostly the same hair style and wore mostly similar clothes, so it was actually difficult to tell us apart without the hair difference. Wyatt messed everything up by getting it cut a month early.

Wyatt and I shared fourth period together, so I knew the mistakes would stop for a while. However, I would still have to deal with Wyatt, and all the stupid questions people ask twins.

When Wyatt walked in late, one kid named Sean asked, “How could one twin be on time, but not the other?” as if this was an intelligent question.

“Oh, well you see, we’re not the same person,” said Wyatt, followed by the usual laughter that followed anything Wyatt said.

At around 10:23 AM, Wyatt was called down to the principal’s office. He looked at the time and groaned. “Um… Could I go to the bathroom first?” he asked.

“Um… no,” mocked our math teacher. “You go to the principal’s office, then the bathroom. Room 121’s just right down the hall, I’m sure you could hold it in.”

“Okay, I’ll go after,” Wyatt said, not making eye contact with the teacher.

“Are you really going to go after, or are you just saying that?”

“No—I mean, yes, I’m really going to go after.”

“You are a horrible liar, Wyatt,” she said, then looked over to the student teacher. “Could you do me a favor and walk him over to the principal’s office? Just to make sure he actually goes.” The student teacher, a meek young man who hadn’t said a word since he first showed up almost a week ago, nodded and escorted Wyatt out of the classroom.

A minute later, I realized that I also had to go to the bathroom. Knowing someone would probably make an obnoxious comment, I asked anyway.

“Looks like the Melonsky twins have similar bathroom schedules,” said the kid in the back—Sean Lee, the same kid who made the comment earlier. I made a mental note as I walked past him.

Click here for Chapter 2

*If anyone would like to help me come up with a clever title for this, that would be helpful.