Monday, May 15, 2017

An excerpt from Hike Your Own Hike

Yesterday, I spent a few hours completely revamping a short story I wrote 15 years ago and included in a self-published book of Appalachian Trail-themed short stories. I wasn't satisfied with it then. Some of the dialogue was clunky and I wanted to reveal more background about the main character, Manna.

The following is an excerpt from Hike Your Own Hike:

Manna came from a strict Pentecostal family. When she was 16, her parents put her into an inpatient drug treatment program when her mother found a joint in her purse. She ran away from home, hurt and unprepared for independent living, at age 18, within a week of high school graduation.  She lit out with Lydia, from church, who was also tired of living under parental and religious oppression. Lydia's boyfriend knew of a place to crash out in Seattle. That first summer on the road, within the space of a month, she'd lost her virginity, dropped acid for the first time, and fell in with Dobbins at a Rainbow Gathering. By September, Lydia was in San Jose (or was it San Francisco?), and Manna and Dobbins hitched their way to Missouri to join the commune.  

Manna was now 21 and it had been over three years away from home. At least she talked to her mother a few times a year. They knew about the hike, but were not supportive because they knew Dobbins would be with her and they'd be “living in sin.” The last time she was home, Manna’s parents insisted she go to church and had a laying on of  hands ceremony for her, replete with loud yelling, flailing, speaking in tongues, and demands she return home, return to the faith, to leave the wilderness of sin and degradation.

Manna realized something on this hike. Her whole life she'd been a follower. From her parents to the Rainbow Kids, to the commune, to the dominating influence of Dobbins. The long hike, the hours of walking, of living in her own head alone on the trail, had caused her to do some soul searching. She was tired of following, of just going along with the flow, the whim of others. At some point she was striking out on her own. To do what, she did not know. Not yet, at least. But she was determined to be the master of her own fate.

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