For an online English course that I’m helping to develop, I’m now taking the Student role to do some careful usability and functionality testing.
This is one of my assignments.
Novel, Lesson 3: Activity 1 – Informal Presentation
In Defense of the Character of Sal Paradise
Over the backyard, grey clouds thickened and threatened to rain. Two crows fought raucously over a chicken bone near the garbage cans, and two sets of shoulders propped themselves on opposite sides of a common fence.
“So, that nephew of yours took off again, did he?” Cora Wilkes never did much to hide her disapproval of Sally’s young charge.
Sally Morgan wasn’t having it. “The boy’s only taking his journey – doing what he needs to do, that’s all.”
Cora snorted a little. “Don’t you worry about him? What’s he going to do? Running off and bumming around like that? What about school?”
“Well, Sal’s taking his own path. He’s…”
The dispute between the crows became louder and more heated. One grabbed the chicken bone and flew off, drawing shrieks of protest from the other crow on the ground.
“He’s being a bum!” Cora hadn’t expected to blurt it out like that, but there it was, how she felt, plain as day and she couldn’t take it back now.
Sally squinted and held Cora’s face in narrow, squinty contempt for a long three seconds before breathing out and letting a calm understanding smile take her face. “He’s not being a bum, Clara, and he’s not running away from anything. Why, it wasn’t that long ago that my folks and I had to move around from place to place to find work. My uncle rode trains and trucks from one side of the country to the other looking for work! A little travel’s not the end of the world.”
“That was different,” Clara retorted. “Folks had to move – to live! To find a new start!”
“Sure – a new start. They did it to pay the rent, and feed their families. Sal’s doing it to pay his dues, and feed his mind and soul.”
Cora mumbled something about her laundry, and turned away, not willing to meet Sally half way in Sal’s defense. Sally felt a loss, but knew that some people just need to experience the world face first to learn anything. That was something Cora and her nephew actually had in common, although Cora would never see it.
Farther down the sidewalk, a small bone fell from the sky, and a young crow swooped down from a branch where he’d been watching his peers fight. He picked up the bone and took off easily, heading into the wind with new rain in his face.