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51

7

Drum

This class helped me by seeing that, while my story followed the 7 steps, I didn't realize it and it's good to recognize what I did right. I got good advice with replacing the bicycle (which didn't really have any symbolic importance) with a hat. 

Here are the 7 steps for the story:

Once upon a time there was a boy named Warren.

And every day he'd sit alone at lunch, too shy to make friends.

Until one day he found an old Civil War hat in a field which enabled him to see a drummer boy ghost named Jim who insisted on being his friend because he was lonely too.

And because of this they became close friends.

And because of this Warren wanted to help Jim cross over into the afterlife to see his parents again.

Until finally Warren does just that by finding Jim's lost drum.

Ever since that day Warren remembers and thanks Jim for helping him come out of his shell and enabling him to make friends with the living.

Setting: 1967, Virginia in an old neighborhood with big trees lining the street.

A boy named Warren has a bad family life with arguing, drinking parents who constantly uproot the family moving place to place. They have just moved to Virginia. 

Mom: "...I'm trying Bill but you're always changing jobs, it's no wonder he has no friends! We're never in the same town for more than a couple months."

Dad: "He's a hermit because he's just like you, moping around the house all day, smoking pot..."

Mom: "Oh, like you can talk when you get drunk every weekend and then you ask me where that hole in the wall came from the next day. You're half-drunk already!"

Dad: "I work, Jackie, I'm the only reason we're living in this house. But you wouldn't understand..."

Dad: "...Neither of you understand..."

Jim: "Hi!"

Warren: "Aah!!!"

Warren: "Wh... what? Where did..."

Jim: "You can actually see me?"

Warren: "Hey! What is this?"

Jim: "That's my hat you've got there."

Warren: "I don't get it, how did you disappear like that?"

Jim: "I dunno, how can you see me?"

Warren: "Are you... a gh--nooo. Well..."

Warren: "The souless black eyes..."

Warren: "The weird uniform..."

Warren: "Wait, are you in the school band?"

Jim: "No. But I do, or did, play an instrument."

Draft 1:

Setting: 1967, Virginia in an old neighborhood with big trees lining the street.

A boy named Warren has a bad family life with arguing, drinking parents who constantly uproot the family moving place to place. They have just moved to Virginia. 

It's dusk. Sitting on the front porch to avoid his arguing parents inside, he sees a white bike in the front yard he hasn't seen before. He looks around and sees noone close by. Deciding to take a breather and come back once his parents cool down, he goes on a bike ride down the street.

While riding down the street he almost hits a kid who looked like he appeared out of nowhere. He falls off the bike and crashes; when he looks up he sees the kid has vanished! But once he touches the bike the kid appears again. "You can see me?" the kid says. Warren yelps, lets go, and the kid vanishes. He touches it again and the kid reappears once more. "Hi!"

Warren, unnerved, takes off down the street on the bike but the kid keeps appearing before him and he can't escape. He eventually stops and asks him what he wants. The kid explains that he's the first person to see him and that he wants to be friends. He says his name is Jim; he looks about 10 with yellow hair and he's dressed like a drummer boy from the Civil War. Warren, seeing that Jim presents no obvious threat, decides to keep talking to him. Warren asks if Jim's a ghost to which Jim replies, "I don't like ghosts. They scare me!" They both laugh and start to become friends as they walk back to Warren's house. 

They both figure out that somehow the bike is what allows Warren to see Jim. Warren decides to take the bell off the bike and keep it in his pocket so they can see eachother without having to have the bike around. 

Their friendship grows as they learn more about eachother and as Warren becomes happier, he starts to come out of his shell and finally make friends at school, much to the delight of his parents.

Some time later, Jim asks Warren why they think the bike was here. Warren doesn't have a clue but Jim starts to ponder that it may be a sign, or an opportunity. "An opportunity for what?"
"...to finally meet my family again." Warren asks him what he needs to do. They both think for a bit. Warren finally has an idea. "Well, you were a drummer boy, maybe you need your drum!"
"Hmm, it was my last duty on the field before everything went white. I just forget where the field was."

They both go to the library and look up Civil War battles in Virginia. There they find where a local battle took place and go to that field. Jim remembers a lone oak tree at the top of a hill as being the last place he could remember being. The two of them scour the field and find it. Then Warren starts digging holes in the general area, finding various Civil War debris until he finds the drum.

With great emotion Jim touches the drum and becomes ecstatic that he can pick it up, something he could not do with any other object. He begins tapping on the drum and jumping around, laughing. Then he starts to slowly dissappear and Warren calls out to him. Jim looks up, smiles, and says, "Thanks you." Then he fully dissappears. 

As the sun sets, Warren stands there for a moment when he hears footsteps behind him. He turns around and sees his new friends coming up the hill, "We saw you head towards the old battle field by yourself and were wondering what you're doing out here." 
"I... was just looking for artifacts. Souvenirs." Warren shows them the other stuff he found while digging and they're impressed.

They start to leave. Warren reaches for the bicycle bell in his pocket, only to find that it has dissappeared. He wants to go back and look for but, seeing his new friends, decides to keep walking forward. He takes one last look at the oak tree on the hill and smiles. 

End.

Main idea of the story:

A kid learns to overcome his insecurities and open up to other people

I was going for an almost '80s Amblin-type feel with some Casper and Where The Wild Things Are thrown in.

Warren is based mostly on my father as a kid who grew up in a poor, troubled household and was picked on at school. I have an urge to resolve Warren's family conflicts in the story but I also feel like it would be neglecting the reality of that situation (my grandparents ended up getting divorced when my dad was a kid). My father really relied on his friends to get through his adolesence which is sort of the sentiment I'm going for.

I also like the idea that Warren has moved around so much that he's afraid to make close friends for fear of just moving away again. It's Jim's role to get him to see that even if he does move away (or in this case Jim moves away), it's the fond memories that he's left with that make it all worthwhile. 

Plus I know what it's like to move to a new place knowing no one but your parents and how it can make you clam up big-time. 

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