Good Narrative Principles

Harriet the Spy


DSC04487The doors of the Irvington Library parted and out stepped Melinda, proudly clutching Harriet the Spy. Instead of returning home as she had promised Arlene, the sullen babysitter, Melinda headed to the water. She studied the inky black sky, the roiling white caps of the Hudson and her one lone book. Would it be enough? Would it hold her? Right before she lit off for the library, she turned on the TV. Sure enough, there was the Weatherman with a “we interrupt this broadcast” bulletin predicting a long stretch of snow. There was to Melinda’s ear a hint of delight in the Weatherman’s voice. She watched his hand trace long arcs over an electronic map as if daring these strange and mercurial forces to collide. She listened closely for words like “storm of the century” or “record breaking” because there’s nothing worse than not having the next book close at hand.

Standing at the wild edge of the Hudson, Melinda played with the dorky knit cap her Mom insisted was cute. Finally, it caught the wind and sailed in the vague direction of Matthiessen Park. She’d tell her Mom it was an accident, inventing details that Harriet would think sounded credible. Maybe it was the way she felt facing the mighty Hudson or just her general impatience with growing up, but Melinda, now back at the library, headed straight to adult fiction. Intrigued by the title, she checked out Great Expectations.

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