Excerpt: (Be)Longing

Excerpt: (Be)Longing

This is the first scene from the new book I’m working on. It’s not in its polished form yet!


Dylan first got the idea while he and his brother were waiting in line to audition for American Idol. It was cold outside, so he had the sleeves of his coat pulled down over his knuckles as he played Tetris on his phone. David, his younger brother, was chatting with the people around them in line. A circle had been formed, since they hadn’t started moving yet. Dylan smiled to himself, down towards his lap, as he overheard David making friends with everyone.

“My grandmother used to just love my voice and she said I should do something with it, you know? When she passed, I knew I had to come here,” one young man was telling David.

The girl beside him said, “I’ve been taking singing lessons since I was two and a half. My mom knew I was going to be a star from the day I was born.”

“What about you?” someone said. “What brings you here?”

Dylan glanced at them from the corner of his eye. David laughed and said, “Aw nah, man. I’m here with my brother. He’s the singer.” David slapped him on the back and Dylan looked up with a tight smile, meeting startled faces.  After a long moment of silence the guy said, “Oh, that’s cool. That’s real cool.” But Dylan could see the closed off look in his eyes. There was no way this guy believed that someone in a wheelchair was getting into this competition.

He went back to his game. David started everyone singing in a round to get their voices warmed up, but Dylan ignored him.

Soon the cameras found them. Everyone began to sing louder to get the attention of the crew. When the song finally wound down, the TV cameras went straight for David. It was clear that David and Dylan were here together. They looked very alike, both with shaggy brown hair tinted with natural gold and thin lips.

“Is this your inspiration today?” a man with a microphone asked David, touching Dylan’s head. Dylan raised an eyebrow and turned his chair to face the group. The man with the microphone had a huge grin on his face and seemed much too cheery for the cold, gray morning.

“This is my brother, Dylan,” David said. “He’s auditioning today.” Dylan couldn’t help smiling at the look of confusion on David’s face. His brother really didn’t seem to understand why everyone thought he was the one auditioning.

The man’s eyes lit up even more and he turned to the camera man behind him. They whispered for a moment, then the man had his microphone in Dylan’s face instead. “It must have really taken a lot for you to come out today,” he said, trying to hide his shivers of cold and pressing the hand not holding the microphone deep in his pocket.  “I admire your dedication.”

“Thanks,” Dylan said, though he couldn’t figure out why getting to the studio would be any more difficult for him than anyone else.

“Why don’t you tell us about what it’s like to be trying to pursue your dreams from a wheelchair?” the man prompted, his eyebrows lifting hopefully.

Dylan stammered for a moment. “I just want my chance,” he said. “My chance to use my talent.”

The man nodded vigerously and waited for him to continue, but Dylan didn’t. Eventually the man said, “I bet people told you you couldn’t do this, right? What was that like?”

“Yeah, I guess people think that. I haven’t really told anyone that we’re here.”

The man with the microphone pinched the bridge of his nose and David broke in with his huge smile to say, “You’ve got to know about my brother, that he’s super humble, but he’s got the talent in our family. He’s going to wow them.”

The line began to shuffle forward and the camera crew moved on to a pair of people hoola-hooping farther up in the line.

Once they finally got inside the building, Dylan peeled off to use the bathroom. When he came back David was again surrounded with people. Dylan sat just outside the group, their backs to him, until they were called into different rooms. In the rooms there was more waiting. People brought out guitars and banjos, leaned against the walls and played. Other people danced or jumped rope. Anything to stave off the boredom of being trapped in the building for hour after hour after hour.

It was a long day of sitting around before Dylan and the other hopefuls finally made it to auditioning in front of the first round of judges. David waited outside the door and Dylan rolled out onto the stage alone. It felt so right: the smooth wood against his tires, the swish of the heavy red curtains as he rolled by, and the smell of wax and dust.

The judges were looking at each other and around them, like they were trying to figure out if this were a joke. Dylan knew he didn’t look the part for this dream. His body was small and his legs misshappen. They were small and unmoving on his footplate. His face was as handsome as David’s, but he had no other physical appeal. David had the looks and Dylan looked like a leftover next to him.

Dylan gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the tensing in his upper stomach, the area just above where he had no sensation. He pushed himself up against his chair to get his back as straight as possible. He closed his eyes, felt the emotion of the song coursing through him and opened his mouth.


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  1. EJ
    Apr 15, 2012

    Oh wow Ruth, I can NOT wait until you are finished with this one! This little teaser was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it 🙂 Happy writing!

    • RuthMadison
      Apr 16, 2012

      That’s great to hear! You help keep me moving forward!


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