When you see this, post a little weensy excerpt from as many random works-in-progress as you can find lying around. Who knows? Maybe inspiration will burst forth and do something, um, inspiration-y.
From All About Family
He stopped at the hood of the car and faced his brother. “I don’t give her enough credit sometimes. She is after all, the one who scored higher than me on the SATs and —“
Ryan cut Seth off. “And she’s playing your game, but better than you.”
“Yes!” Seth slammed the flat of his hand on the hood of the car. “Yes. She’s doing it better than me.” Looking around surreptitiously to make sure they were alone, Seth leaned over the hood of the car so that he was closer to Ryan. “If I can’t figure something out soon,” he said in a hushed voice, “I’m going to have to inform the parents about the impending nuptials.” Seth scratched the back of his head. “I don’t think they’re going to be fans of the idea.”
“On the bright side, they might just be distracted enough by this morning to let this one go over their head.”
Seth shifted, so that most of his weight was on the hood of the car. “What do you mean? Because of your dad being back in town?”
Putting his elbows on the hood of the car, Ryan shook his head. “No. But that too. This morning Taylor followed me in the kitchen from the pool house. The Kirsten was definitely displeased.”
Trey leaned against the black Range Rover, his legs crossed at the ankles, and tossed some loose change into the air. He was hot and sweaty, with large round wet spots under his armpits, a result of dragging and schlepping two years of his brother’s junk out of the dorm.
Gratefully, Trey accepted the cold soda Ryan offered. “You don’t pack light anymore.” He popped the top of the car and the cola made a hissing sound as the gas escaped from the opening.
“Thirsty much?” Ryan teased as he watched Trey greedily gulp down the soda.
“No.” Trey caught his breathe, tossing the empty can into a nearby trash can. “It’s just the closest thing I can use to get a high.”
Ryan lightly punched Trey in the arm.
“What?” Trey threw up his hands. “Now that I got me a little nephew to look out for, I need to set a good example.”
Ryan’s grin swallowed his face at the mention of J.T. “He’s a good kid.”
“For a brat.” At Ryan’s murderous expression, Trey burst out laughing. “He’s four. He’s a brat. I remember you at four. You were a brat too.”
“Thanks,” Ryan quipped. “But in my defense, it was my job as a younger brother. You know, being around you is just so heartwarming.”
They laughed together and Ryan realized it felt good to be around his brother. It gave him a little bit more sense of self when he was around people from his life before Newport. It somehow made him more able to reconcile the two parts of himself, Atwood and Cohen – Chino and Newport.
“Are you two slacking off again?” Seth ambled towards them, holding a large brown box in his arms. Ryan stood on his tiptoes, trying to peer inside, certain that if it was full and heavy, Seth wouldn’t be carrying it himself. “Really, now.” Seth turned to Summer, who was standing next to him, empty handed. “These Atwoods don’t know the meaning of manual labor.”
Trey tilted his head to the side and cocked his brow in a look that rivaled Ryan’s best “look.”
“What about you?” Trey jutted his chin out towards Summer. “You’re not carrying much.”
“For your information,” Summer patted her stomach, “I’m with child. It’s not safe for a woman in my condition to schlep.”
“Tell that to Pearl S. Buck and The Good Earth.”
They all stopped moving and stared at Trey.
“You read the Good Earth?” Ryan asked incredulously.
Trey shrugged. “It was in the prison library. The librarian, Ms. Hendon suggested I read it. What, did you think I read comic books all day?”
“I wasn’t sure you read,” Summer muttered while Seth simultaneously shouted, “Hey. They’re graphic novels and some graphic novels are —“
But Ryan cut him off. “Don’t get started, Seth. We know they can be quite literary.” He glanced at his watch. “Let’s finish this up. Theresa’s dropping J.T. off in a couple of hours.”
“Is it okay if I hang out with the two of you?” asked Trey, turning to Ryan and ignoring Seth and Summer behind them.
Ryan could see his brother was afraid of being shot down.
“Yeah. I’d like that.”
They finished loading the rest of the stuff into the Rover and Summer’s car. Seth was going to drive back with his wife and Trey would ride back with Ryan. He figured the job of unloading would have to wait until J.T. was in bed. Ryan didn’t want to waste the short time he had with his son.
He and Theresa had finally started to iron out the details of a custody agreement. It was now in the hands of the lawyers, who needed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Instead of feeling relaxed and relieved that things were settling into a routine, Ryan felt his stomach was always on a roller coaster ride and his jaw was constantly tense. He was pretty sure he had started grinding his teeth at night. It was as if the reality of parenthood was finally hitting him full force.
“Arturo tells me that Theresa isn’t so happy with how things are working out.”
Ryan glanced at Trey, who had made himself comfortable in the passenger seat of the Rover. He had his heavy scuffed work boots on the dash, and he had leaned his seat back, so that he was in a semi-reclined position.
“I think she’s mad about having to share time with J.T.”
Ryan snorted. “You know, I really don’t give a damn. She had no right to lie to me all these years. I know she meant well, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Trey arched his brow. “Settle down, little brother. I’m on your side and so’s Arturo. They all know this day was coming and they all knew that you would have the weight of the Cohens behind you. And that’s not a bad thing. I see that. Arturo sees that. Theresa knows it, she just resents it some.” Trey put his feet down, so he could fiddle with the radio. He wanted something loud and with a beat. He could never take Ryan’s pansy taste in music. “What sort of agreement did you set up?”
The rest are bits from stories I never finished or posted. No titles, no clear idea where I was going. Probably just working out the misery that was S3.
This one is a missing scene of sorts I started from S3 – The Perfect Storm – where Ryan punches the Dean. It starts from Seth’s POV.
Seth’s mouth hangs open from atop the Ferris wheel as he watches the events below him unfold. He’s stuck, swinging back and forth, his stomach queasy, but it’s no longer from the dim sum or the last ride he was on. His stomach is rebelling because he sees what’s going to happen. He can feel it, but he has no way to stop it.
Summer is sitting beside him, her thigh pressing against his. He’s grateful for the comfort she’s offering. He’d never met the new dean, Mr. Hess, but Ryan had described the man. Pompous. Self absorbed. Slick. It’s obvious the man on the ground, who from his height, doesn’t look very tall, but has blonde hair and is wearing a poor choice of a light blue vest and pink tie, must be him. Also, Taylor’s self-satisfied expression as she stands behind him, arms crossed, chin jutted to the sky, reveals all.
Seth doesn’t think Summer realizes how events are going to develop. She doesn’t know Ryan like he does. She didn’t hear Ryan in the kitchen earlier that day declare that he had wanted to deck Mr. Hess.
Marissa holds up her hands. “Fine I’m leaving.”
“No,” Ryan shouts. He gets up from the car of the seat of the swaying Ferris wheel car. “No. You aren’t going anywhere. She worked on this carnival every year at Harbor.”
“Thanks for the trip down memory lane,” the Dean says. “But that’s not my problem. Now get out of here.” He grabs Marissa by the arm and pulls her towards the gate.
Seth’s stomach drops to his toes. Even in the dark, he can see Ryan’s muscles tense. Ryan takes a giant step forward as Marissa is being hastened off the carnival ground, swings Mr. Hess around and slugs the teacher.
Everything stops. Or so it seems. The chatter is at a standstill. The music takes on a surreal sound as if it was a damaged record or like a funhouse mirror. No one moves and to Seth it seems like Mr. Hess falls to the pavement in slow motion.
“Oh my G-d,” Summer cries beside him.
“This is not good,” Seth mutters. He watches Ryan’s horrified expression. They both know what is coming and here he is trapped, feet swinging a hundred feet up in the air.
“Here I thought I would have to work to throw you out of this school. But you did it yourself,” Mr. Hess says. “Get out of here. If either one of you ever set foot in this school again, I will call the police.”
Seth thinks Ryan looks as if the world has crashed in around him. Ryan hadn’t been in this much trouble since the Oliver debacle and at least then he’d been right. What would his dad say? He knew his parents wouldn’t kick Ryan out, though at the time of the Oliver debacle he had his doubts. But now Ryan was as much their son as he was, even if he was the less related one.
Its Ryan who breaks the stillness by brushing passed the dean and the crowds followed by Marissa. He stops just outside the chain linked fence and stares longingly at the student body of Harbor. Seth knows his brother isn’t regretting the friends he never had, but rather that Ryan is contemplating the lost opportunities that Harbor had offered.
“Ryan was provoked,” Seth tells Summer angrily as he watches him walk away. “That bastard down there goaded him into that punch.”
“Seth.” Summer puts a hand on Seth. His body is stiff and taut, as if his bones and muscles are ready to jump out of his skin.
She doesn’t know that for the first time ever, Seth feels like throwing a punch himself.
The Ferris wheel starts to move again, slowly creaking, the gears grinding, bringing them back down to the ground. When his feet touch the concrete the cacophony of voices resumes and the music is loud and brash, pulsating through the night air. Mr. Hess is off to the side, wiping the blood from his nose and talking to Taylor in hushed tones.
Seth stalks up to the dean. He can sense Summer trailing behind him. He just stands there staring at the self satisfied asshole that has just provoked Ryan into giving up his life. He doesn’t think about what he’s doing. He just lets his brain take over his body, common sense left somewhere atop the Ferris wheel. Seth lifts his foot and brings it down hard and fast on Jack Hess’s toes. The crunch feels good under Seth’s heel.
“Ouch,” the battered dean cries. He whirls around to see who the next person to assault “Who the hell are you?”
Seth freezes in his place. His eyes flit around, taking in his surroundings, but seeing it as if it were on fast forward. His dad would absolutely flip if both he and Ryan were thrown out of Harbor. But he won’t apologize. He will not pretend that he stomped on this man’s foot by accident.
“I asked who the hell you are.” demanded the dean.
Seth’s voice quavers. “Seth. Seth Cohen.”
Jack Hess’s eyes narrow. “Cohen? I know that name.”
“Well watch where you’re going,” the man grouses.
Another Missing scene of sorts or what if from S3 – after Ryan doesn’t go to the lockin.
And another one from S3 – having to do with Sadie
He knew better than to put the music on too loud, because it seemed to draw Kirsten out of the kitchen and into the pool house to talk. But Ryan had a lot of pent up energy since he had started dating Sadie. The good kind. For a change, he was using the punching bag to let out his excitement, his happiness, his giddiness, instead of using it to release his frustration, anger, and general irritation with his life and Newport and well his drama of the day.
At least Kirsten waited for him to build up a good sweat before skulking around his door, waiting for him to notice her. His shoulders were already aching and his knuckles were starting to scrape, but he pretended not to see her. When the sweat started to drip in his eyes so the burned, he knew he would have to stop to wipe his face down and nod to Kirsten.
“Things okay with Sadie?” Kirsten asked as soon as he turned down the music and said hello.
“Yeah. Fine.” Real fine, he thought.
And this one that I labeled WIPs…
“Listen,” Sandy says as he spreads cream cheese on his bagel. “I’m going to see your mother in a few hours. Is there anything you want me to pass her along?” He glances at Ryan and then quickly to Seth, letting his gaze linger on his son. He knows that Ryan hasn’t sent any direct messages to Kirsten since she left to rehab.
Seth leans forward on his arms, bracing his weight against the counters. “Can you ask her if she’s ever coming home?”
Sandy slides his eyes to the corner and says, “You know if we push her too hard and it doesn’t work out we’ll only have ourselves to blame.”
“Yeah, well,” Seth mutters half under his breathe. “Maybe, if we don’t push at all we may never see her again.”
Sandy walks around the counter and snaps, “You know the situation is just too complicated for those snide comment.” He walks out the door, leaving Seth and Ryan alone.
“Maybe I took that a bit too far.”
Ryan looks down at his bowl of cereal and says nothing. He’d purposely stayed quiet during the interchange, afraid that his voice would betray him. He doesn’t think Seth said anything wrong. He has been wondering the same thing. He figures Sandy was crumbling under the pressure, taking it out on Seth instead of Kirsten, who was refusing to come home. Ryan wonders if Kirsten ever plans on coming home. Most people who left him didn’t have a great track record when it came to coming back.
Ryan thinks of the last time he’s had any contact with his mother. Aside from the wave at the pool house door that early morning in August, the only time he’s heard from Dawn in the last two years is the gifts she had sent him at Christmas time his first year with the Cohens. He had even tried to seek her out that summer he had spent the summer in Chino when Theresa had been pregnant, but he couldn’t find her. She hadn’t wanted to be found.
Lindsay had left him too. Despite the familial relationship, she didn’t put a great effort in keeping in touch. Not even after Caleb died. She had sent a wreath of flowers with a short note to Kirsten saying that she was unable to attend the funeral, but hoped that Kirsten found comfort in her father’s love for her. Ryan knew Lindsay had no way of knowing that Kirsten had fought with Caleb just hours before his heart attack or know that Kirsten had fallen into the depths of alcohol, but who’s fault was that? He understood her need to get away and to make a fresh start, but to Ryan it was just another person who had left him behind.
Trey’s leaving was still fresh on his mind. He knew his brother was never coming back. The cops had come by questioning Ryan if he knew his brother’s whereabouts. Sandy had been there, hand firmly on his shoulder and despite the desire to protect Trey he had told the truth.
“The last time I saw him, he was on a greyhound at the Newport bus station.”
“Where was he headed?”the cop asked.
Ryan had looked up at Sandy. He knitted his brows together in deep concentration. “I didn’t have time to look. I just ran up and found him. Did you see Sandy?”
Sandy shook his head. “Sorry officers. We can tell you it was about eight thirty p.m. If that helps you narrow it down a little.”
The officer had pursed his lips as if to say he didn’t believe them, but he had simply nodded his head, thanked them and showed himself out.
So there was no way his brother could come back to town or else he’d be in jail.
Now Marissa was leaving him. Another person he can’t hold onto. Ryan wonders what it is about him that makes people leave. What is it about him that is so unlovable? What is it that makes him so easy to leave behind and never look back?
The thoughts invade Ryan’s mind, take over his entire demeanor, so his shoulders slouch and his chin hangs down low. He doesn’t tell Seth that he has been wondering if Kirsten would ever come home.
The next afternoon, he and Seth are coming down the stairs, planning to raid the kitchen for some snacks. Sandy had left a message about a family dinner. Neither Ryan nor Seth were eager to sit with the volatile Sandy, who was ready to snap and bark at them any minute, but the consequences of not listening would be a lot worse.
“So it sucks that I got two weeks detention.” Seth hops down the last few steps.
“I thought you said it was two months.”
“That does suck. But the point is that for the first time ever, I stood up for someone.”
“It’s like you became a man,” Ryan grins.
The front door opens and Sandy walks in holding a brown sack bulging with groceries. He stops when he spots the boys and moves aside when Kirsten walks in behind him.
For a moment, everyone freezes. Ryan thinks he’s seeing a mirage, because no one who has ever left him has come back. But he can tell by the way Sandy is beaming and Seth is stunned into silence that Kirsten is real.
He moves around Seth, careful not to knock his shoulder. The slightest touch will probably knock over his less related brother. He envelopes Kirsten in his arms and hugs her tightly. He doesn’t want to let go, afraid she may disappear, but knows Seth needs to take his turn. Seth comes forward, breaks into a grin, and mutters something quietly to his mother. She says something back and finally they break apart.
“Who’s hungry?” Sandy asks.
They all agree that a meal sounds good and head into the kitchen. Seth is actually carrying the groceries. Ryan takes Kirsten by the hand. He wants to touch her again, make sure he isn’t dreaming. He feels the cool downy sin in his own rough hands, still worn from the days he worked construction.
“So, your Grandpa’s broke,” Kirsten started, trying to bring normalcy back to her kitchen.
“Ryan and Marissa don’t go to school anymore.” Seth jumped right in, knowing what his mother was trying to do, but ready to do with her.
“Jimmy Cooper sailed out of town again.” Ryan dug into the brown paper sack. Could things be all right again?
“I got two months of detention.” Seth thought this would be the wisest way to let his parents about his little bit of trouble. Hopefully they wouldn’t notice and forget about it. He saw his mother half-smile and half-frown at him, but she let the revelation slide.
Instead Sandy throws up his hands and says, “That’s the great thing about this place. Nothing ever happens.”
A day later, Ryan is still checking that Kirsten is there at every turn. He hopes he isn’t too obvious, but is afraid not to keep looking in case, she disappears again. He knows that this is irrational and almost childlike, but he loves having Kirsten home.
Seth is happier. It’s hard to point to the differences, because except for that first week, when Ryan was in the hospital and Kirsten was in rehab, Seth hadn’t stopped joking or talking or laughing. But Ryan has noticed that Seth’s step is lighter. That in the past twenty-four hours he has smiled more than he has in the last three months.
It’s easy to tell that Sandy is over the moon. He hasn’t let go of Kirsten for more than a moment. The night before, Sandy had held Kirsten’s hand throughout dinner. His shoulders now sag, relaxed. His back isn’t so rigid. His orders aren’t short and clipped as they have been for most of the summers, and especially the last few days since Ryan got thrown out of school.
Having Kirsten home has changed the whole atmosphere in the house. It’s no longer charged with electricity. It no longer feels like if someone throws a match that everything will explode. It just feels right and safe and like home again.
On Sunday, Ryan, skulking around the patio overhears Kirsten talking to Sandy. The door to their bedroom, the one that leads to the patio is wide open, letting in the cool autumn air. Ryan pretends to read one of Seth’s graphic novels, a science fiction adventure, while really trying to overhear the adults’ conversation. He can’t see her from his vantage point, but just the sound of Kirsten’ voice, nearby, can calm his churning stomach.
“Sandy, after everything,” she says, “I know this is a bit to ask, but could you please stay on at the Newport Group for a little while longer.” Her voice is hesitant. So unlike the confident sassy Kirsten recalls from the pre-Suriak days.
“Why?” Sandy’s voice is low and gravely. He doesn’t sound upset, just curious.
“I want to stay home for a while. I wan to focus on the boys. I promise it’s temporary. They’ll get sick of me soon enough.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?”
“I’ve never been more certain of anything.”
“Then I’ll keep the Newport Group afloat for now. And you whip this house back in shape.”
Ryan can hear the soft murmuring, the kissing as their lips smack against each other, the groaning and the desire. He gets up, realizing that there’s only so much he wants to witness, and starts to head back to the pool house. He doesn’t realize that they’ve pulled apart and that Kirsten has stepped out onto the patio.
“Ryan,” she calls. “Don’t run off.”
He stops. Turns and waves with a shy smile.
“Come. Sit.” She pats one of the lounge chairs. “Let’s talk.”
He takes a few hesitant steps and wonders if this is how Kirsten is going to start ‘whipping the house back in shape.’ He hates to be the first victim. Though he knows he’s the one who’s caused the most trouble these past few months. These past few years, really. He knows the Cohens had led an ordinary quiet life before he had come to Newport.
Kirsten is still patting the lounge chair and Ryan sits down, his back straight, unable to relax. Kirsten leans back in her chair and smiles at him.
“I won’t bite.”
“I just want to talk.”
“There’s a lot to cover. I know this summer has probably been hardest on you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to support you and I’m sorry that the last taste I left in your mouth was one that indicated that I didn’t care.”
He opens his mouth to protest, but she doesn’t let him talk.
“I know I hurt you. When you moved in with us, I promised you a better life.”
This time he doesn’t let her stop him. “You gave me one. You always did right by me.”
“I’m no better than your mother.”
He shakes his furiously. “My mother never tried to get better. When she left me, she never came back. You got better. You came home.” He reaches for her hand and holds them. “I wasn’t always sure if you’d come back, but you did.”
“I would never leave you or Seth or Sandy.”
“That’s why you are better than my mother.”