This is the first chapter of FOREVER GOTHIC: Witchery and Rivalry, the first book in the creepily delightful FOREVER GOTHIC series by me, Joslyn Corvis.I welcome any and all feedback, so post a comment, or leave a message here or on facebook.This chapter is intended to give some insight into the personality of Marnie. I have been told by one critic that the character of Marnie was “darling”, and that the book itself, especially the first chapter, really captures that essence of teen angst and that socially awkward time everyone experiences at some point or another.Marnie and her best friend Willis set out on a journey to find out whether or not the most popular girl in school is just your average, prissy cheerleader, or if she’s really a witch.
FOREVER GOTHIC: Witchery and Rivalry
by Joslyn Corvis
“I’m gonna be late because of you!” shouted Marnie Deegan. “Why won’t you ever do what I want?” She furiously shook her brush as she scolded her hair.
Any other day her unruly hair wouldn’t have been a big deal, but today, however, it was a different story. Today everything had to be just right. Because today was her first day of high school.
Marnie didn’t consider herself to be the prettiest girl, or the most popular, or the tallest, the thinnest, or even the most athletic. She didn’t think she was a spectacular or even an interesting person. She was just an average girl with above average intelligence, though she never really thought of herself as smart. And she just happened to be goth. She wanted to make a good impression, but she didn’t have much to work with.
“Why can’t I just be perfect like…?” she trailed off, gazing into the mirror.
Overall she was pretty happy with herself. But she secretly wished she could be like Rhonda Drake, the most popular girl in school. She was the head cheerleader and had been since junior high. If she just had long blonde hair and clear blue eyes like Rhonda, everything would be perfect. She resented her plain brown eyes and brown hair that she kept dyed black, sometimes with streaks or tinges of blue, red, or pink. Rhonda had it all.
It wasn’t the expectation of harder classes that intimidated Marnie. Teachers always remembered her as she had no problem making the grade. Her peers, however, would often mistake her for a new student. There wasn’t anything special or memorable about her. Thoughts of school years past flooded her mind.
What can I do differently this time? she wondered. What will make people remember me?
She was sure that Rhonda wasn’t having this dilemma right now. She was going to walk right into the front doors of Morning View High without a worry in the world, and before lunchtime, everyone, even the upperclassmen, were going to know the name Rhonda Drake. And every single hair on her head would be perfectly in place! Just the thought of it annoyed Marnie.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at her bedroom door.
“Honey, I made breakfast,” her mother said, poking her head inside. “Oh, you look like an angel!”
Marnie rolled her eyes and smiled. “You have to say that. You’re my mom!”
Downstairs, she prodded her breakfast as she and her mom talked about the day to come.
“Just be yourself. Everyone will love you. You’ll do just fine.”
Marnie knew her mom was trying to be helpful, but it didn’t relieve her anxiety. When her mother offered to drive her to school, she nearly had a full on panic attack.
“I won’t do anything to embarrass you. No hugs, kisses, or embarrassing nicknames. I promise.”
There was no way that Marnie could decline the offer and the next thing she knew, her mother was pulling up in front of the school. Marnie sat in the car for a moment, summoning some courage.
“I promised not to embarrass you, so all I’ll say is you’ll be just fine.”
She leaned over and gave her mom a big hug.
“Thanks,” Marnie said drawing in a deep breath. She slowly made her way to the school. She didn’t dare turn around; she didn’t think she could bear to see her mother drive away.
Once inside the building, a wave of optimism struck her like a bolt of lightening. She smiled as she walked past the other students who stood in small clusters, catching up on the latest summer gossip. As she glanced at her schedule she felt a little lost. There was an upperclassman with a blue mohawk, so she approached him to ask where her first class was. He pointed the way, told her his name was Frank and wished her luck.
It wasn’t a huge school, but she got a little turned around. By the time she found her first class, the seats were almost full. She was beginning to feel right at home by the time second period came, which had been cut a little short to make time for a special freshmen class orientation.
Rhonda walked to her locker, followed by three of her closest friends. The girls were engaging in the latest gossip about their fellow cheerleaders.
“I saw the whole thing! I thought she was going to start crying!” said Cindi with a ruthless laugh. “He just broke up with her right there in front of everyone! What a way to start off the first day of school!”
“I would just die if that happened to me!” said Kristi, “But I doubt it ever will!” She began to laugh, loudly and obnoxiously.
Kristi and Cindi could have passed for twins, but they were actually cousins. It wasn’t until the seventh grade that they went from “Kristy and Cindy” to the trendier “Kristi and Cindi”, with an “i”. The main difference between the two was that Kristi was slightly taller, but when they weren’t together it was hard to tell them apart. Marnie had always thought of them as androids from the sci-fi movies she so loved; they were near-perfect annoying carbon-copies of each other.
“Are any of you guys going to sign up to help out with the dance? Everyone is going to meet up in the gym on Saturday to discuss decorations and stuff,” said Rhonda, but her friends ignored her when they noticed Marnie walking by. They were like vultures, standing and staring silently, waiting to make their move. Marnie found her locker and began to twist the numbers on her lock until it popped open. Due to a very unfortunate coincidence, she was assigned the locker right beside Rhonda’s, and wherever Rhonda went, the flock was never far behind.
As usual, Marnie was decked out in all of the latest goth gear: Combat boots, fishnet stockings, knee-length ruffled skirt and a Victorian blouse, all in black and complete with a cameo choker. Only a couple of days before school started, she had touched up her hair with black dye and refreshed her bright red streaks. She was feeling pretty good—until Miranda started in on her.
“Nice costume,” said Miranda, the red-haired-green-eyed Irish beauty, “but isn’t it a little early for Halloween?”
“Yeah, you should really think about taking off that mask,” Marnie replied.
The girls stood there stunned for a moment, and then in true android style, Cindi and Kristi bellowed, “Ooooh,” in unison. Miranda looked less than pleased and threw her hair back.
Cindi and Kristi, laughing, followed Miranda as she stormed off unamused.
Rhonda waved goodbye.
“Catch up with you guys later!” she promised.
One of Rhonda’s books toppled out of her locker while she was trying to get organized. She was wearing strange crystal at the end of a velvety black thread that caught Marnie’s eye when they both bent down to pick up the book, nearly bumping heads.
“Thanks,” said Rhonda faking sincerity as Marnie handed the book to her.
“No problem. By the way, I like your necklace. In fact, I’ve seen the same necklace in Witch’s Coven Magazine, a replica of the very one Grace Faulkner wore during her witch trial in Salem! They say that everyone gathered around her to watch as she burned at the stake, and several of the jurors and the judge all fell dead on the spot. On the first full moon after she died, the courthouse mysteriously burned to the ground as a cackle rang through the air, and bad luck struck the whole village for years to come. I haven’t had the money to buy it yet but I’m saving up!” Marnie’s feeble attempt at conversation didn’t go over as well as she had hoped.
“This isn’t one of those cheap, generic necklaces from your stupid magazine.” Rhonda accented the insult with a flip of her hair and narrowed eyes. She then took the necklace off, stroked the stone, and gently polished it on her blouse before she tucked it away into the safety of her locker. After the assembly, the cheerleaders were to attend a meeting during study hall to get organized and practice some moves. She usually took the necklace off before practice so as not to ruin it, but she was really making a show of it before disappearing from view as she headed off to the auditorium.
Marnie stood there, tears nearly welling in her eyes. This year will be different, she’d promised herself just as she had each new school year before, but of course, things never changed. She wanted to start fresh and make new friends; she would have even settled for just one. So far, things weren’t looking too bright but she still had an ounce of hope, if only an ounce. People either teased her or ignored her completely. She wasn’t sure which was worse—Being bumped into accidentally without an apology or being pushed on purpose and having her books scatter onto the floor, which was sometimes accompanied by a sarcastic “Sorry”. It didn’t really matter, because either way she felt invisible to the world. No one seemed to care about her or how they made her feel. She figured that she had better toughen up since it looked like Rhonda and her friends would be a part of her daily life unless she requested a locker change, but Marnie, being a bit stubborn, refused to let them get to her.
As she struggled to keep an optimistic outlook, she was hit by a sudden thought—This year would be different, but only because her best friend Willis Bradford was going to a private school now. She would be completely alone, but this wasn’t the kind of change she had in mind. Sadly and quietly she put her things into her backpack, which was black with spider zipper-pulls that she had put on herself, and though she felt like crying, she fought back the urge. If she cried, her thick layers of black eyeliner would smear and everyone would know, which would only cause the taunting to worsen. Freshmen aren’t supposed to cry.
Marnie made her way through the back doors of the stage in the auditorium where she met up with Mr. Higgins, the principal. He was one of those people who worry over the tiniest of things and it was apparent that he was now worrying over Marnie’s special appearance. He walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder, rushing her towards the stage. All of her sadness soon subsided with all of the excitement that surrounded her.
“Marnie! You have less than five minutes until you’re up! Is your speech prepared?”
He patted the perspiration from his forehead with a white handkerchief which he folded up and put back into his suit pocket, but he was so nervous that the sweat continued to bead and glisten on the top of his bald head. He was short and stout and as he spoke to Marnie, she couldn’t help but notice his resemblance to a beardless lawn gnome.
“Yes, Sir, I’ve been working on it all summer to get it just right!”
“Good! Now wait until your name is announced, and then you can go out there and give your speech! Knock ’em dead!” Knowing her speech was prepared apparently eased his mind as he smiled and sat down to watch the rest of the assembly. He had already made his speech to welcome the new freshmen class, so at least he didn’t have to worry about that.
Marnie was the ideal student. She never made less than an A and had never been in any trouble, so when Mr. Higgins contacted the junior high to find a student to make a speech at the freshmen orientation, there was no doubt that it would be any other than Marnie Deegan. He had only met with her once before the end of the last school year. He explained to her how it wouldn’t have to be lengthy, as long as it inspired her classmates to take school more seriously and look at different options for a better future.
As Miss Donovan, a science teacher, spoke about the many career choices in the field of science one could pursue, Marnie began to daydream. She was hoping this speech would help her to gain popularity and respect from her peers, but the daydream was cut short as she caught her name being said on the microphone, followed by a feeble applause that bubbled through the crowd. Miss Donovan moved away from the podium and handed over the mike, which squeaked horribly as Marnie adjusted it to her height. There were several annoyed groans from the audience.
“Fellow freshmen…We are still young and have the rest of our high school years to figure out where we want to be and what we want to do after graduation, but now is the time to contemplate it very seriously.” Here, a paper airplane swirled over the crowd as a few giggles rose and fell. Marnie continued.
“As you all know, this is the most important time in our lives; some of us are planning to head off to college after high school; others are still deciding which college to attend; some of us still have no idea what we want to do at all. We have a lot of decisions to make, but keep in mind that we are paving the roads to one of the most important highways—Our future! It’s our first year here at Morning View High and we all have clean slates, so make the most of it!” Marnie paused and smiled as excited cheers rose up in the audience.
“These next four years will be gone before we know it, so study hard, and have a great time at the Back to School Dance; it’s only two weeks away!”
There was an even louder cheer from the audience at the mention of the dance. She felt quite satisfied with herself as she walked across the stage and sat in a chair behind the curtain to watch the rest of the speakers. Yes, this year will definitely be different, she thought optimistically as the applause died down.
Maybe they’ll remember my name!
I’m a big believer in names. There is strength in a name. Sometimes weakness. And sometimes we give attributes to people just judging them by their names. Before I get into my favorite character’s name, I would like to illustrate the point to show why this character’s name is so special to me.
Brett Davis. What would someone with a name like Brett Davis be like? Athletic, favoring baseball and maybe NASCAR over other sports, loves pizza and fries and working on cars with his dad. The All-American type of guy that you can rely upon to be there when you need someone, especially if whether it’s to be there at the time help you when you need a hand or a shoulder to cry on when on. He would be strong and pride himself in his strength, maybe to a point where he is so afraid to show his weaknesses. He’s masculine and does not often show his sensitive side, unless it’s to someone he cares about.
Mortimer Abbernathey. Yes, I can see this poor child’s future. Loves math, science, and reading, but is quite the introvert, mainly because his peers don’t want anything to do with him unless they’re picking on him. Loafers with trouser socks and high-waters. A plaid shirt with a pocket protector. And a bookbag so full he has to slouch over just to balance himself!
Cheryl – Whether or not she has a last name, Cheryl is a very down-to-earth person. Even if she did have a last name, she’d tell you to just call her “Cheryl”. Someone that you would bring up in conversation quite a bit. “Me and Cheryl…Cheryl and me….Cheryl said…Just the other day, Cheryl told me ….” Cheryl would be a great character, and better yet, you would never have to even introduce her into the story personally, nor would she ever have to say a word to be the star of the story!
Burt Goldchester would definitely be a used car salesman. The moustache, the cheesy 1970s suit. The beat up 1970-something Pinto that he’s either driving or trying to sell you. And the fakest gold watch you’ve ever seen! (I know fakest isn’t a word, but there’s no other way to describe such a watch!)
When it comes to characters, there are some names that can depict a certain age. A certain disposition. A certain ethnicity. As a fun little game, jot down a few names and give them personality traits and see if you can visualize them as real people. It’s something that is quite helpful as a writer when naming your characters.
Jimmy would be a young child who wants to be called “Jim” as he gets older, but no one can break the habit! Gertrude would be a very stern person, possibly a teacher well past the age of retirement. Emily and Maggie would not be over the age of three, maybe four. And Salvatore would be an exotic dark-haired, dark-eyed hunk of a man!
A name can paint a picture. It tells us gender, ethnicity, age, and disposition. Imagine everyone you know, including yourself, being known by a different name. It’s equally as important as what we look like on the outside. I’m not saying we should judge people on how they look, but that’s what makes us all individually unique, and a name is an extention of who we are! I don’t think any other name would suit Dolly Parton. Marky Mark sounds so perfectly ’90s, and now that his image has matured, Mark Wahlberg is more suitable. Even though ‘The Fonz’ was a nickname, it’s hard to picture him as an “Arthur”; the only one who could get away with calling him that was Mrs. C! The list goes on!
And that is why I needed a very special name for my characters, especially the one character in particular. I know it might seem distasteful to consider my character’s name to be my favorite, especially since it’s not even published. It’s just that naming her, I felt, was as important to my story as the story itself.
I had thought about naming her Josh to give an interesting spin on a because I myself like boys’ names for girls. But it would have complicated things. “Josh was wearing a long black dress and a pretty black ribbon in her hair.” No, she couldn’t be a Josh. Then I thought of Starla, but that name sounds ever-so imaginary. It captured this outer essence of glamour and glitz. But it was too glammy for my character. And then I decided upon the perfect name:
Sounds so plain. So one-dimensional. Nothing special about it. It’s a name that might be easily overlooked. But Marnie is quite the opposite! And once you get to know her, you might find that she would never be “Marnie” by any other name. Sometimes a name gives us an idea of what someone might be like. But in this instance, she gives the name an identity.
Marnie Deegan is a freshman in high school. She’s gothic, dresses as if every day is Halloween, and happens to be a bit of a nerd. All of those things cause her to be targeted by bullies. She is condemned because she’s different. She’s a bit of a goody-two-shoes in some aspects. Teacher’s pet. She makes good grades. And she suffers because of it.
There are times when someone says something hurtful to Marnie, bringing her to the brink of tears. And there are times when she puts them in their place, rendering them speechless!
Marnie is not shy and usually speaks her mind, spouting sassy, yet quirky, good-natured remarks. Even though she seems so confident, so put-together, in her mind she wishes she could be more than what she is. She is merely content with herself and has yet to be happy with who she is. She’s the daughter every parent would love to have. She is a loyal and true friend. She’s there when someone needs her. She’s extremely bright, funny, pretty, and all of the things she wants to be. She just has to realize it for herself.
In Marnie’s spare time, she loves to hang out with her two best friends, watch scary movies, and read books about the supernatural. But Marnie rarely has spare time since she started high school. Especially since she and her friends serendipitously gained the responsibility of keeping the streets of their sleepy little town monster-free!