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Author Topic: Church Morgan--FF  (Read 1252 times)
ejmccay
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« on: May 13, 2017, 02:24:11 PM »

Super nervous to do this, but here goes....


“Eleanor, you can’t just send him away. Not now.”

Church peeked around the doorframe of the kitchen, straining to hear the conversation as his Aunt Camille tried to reason with his grandmother. A grandmother he didn’t even know existed until three days ago.

“He has to go, Camille.” Grandmother’s tone was stern.

Church could only see the back of her head, but he pictured her lips in a tight, straight line, the wrinkles around her eyes deepening as she narrowed them. The same look he’d received when she’d arrived just a few hours after...

“But, why? Why does he need to go? He’s not…” Aunt Camille stopped short, and she looked around the room.

Church pulled back. This was his life. He deserved to know what was going on.

Aunt Camille began again, her voice lowered. “He’s not fifteen yet. He’s just lost his parents. That’s a lot for a kid. Don’t you think he needs to be around family? He could even stay with me.”

He peeked again. Desperation peppered his aunt’s tone and face. Staying with her didn’t seem like a great option since he didn’t know her either, but at least she’d tried to be friendly with him.

“No, Camille. Church can’t stay here right now. He needs to go. It will be good for him.” His grandmother’s tone was cold and firm.

His eyes watered as he pulled back. He felt childish for crying. From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Army green trousers attached to polished shoes and slid down against the wall with his head down. The legs stopped in front of him and then squatted down.

“I’m sorry, Church. I loved your parents.” A man with a deep voice and a hint of military to it.

Church didn’t bother to look up. The solemn words melted together and blended in with other sorries, just words. Why did they have to keep coming by? There were at least a hundred people still hanging around, most of whom he didn’t know, talking about his parents like they’d been best friends, trying to ease their grief. All the while, no one’s eyes ever quite meeting his.

Just a week ago he was with his parents, fishing in the Cheyenne Mountains in Colorado. His lips trembled. Church swiped a tear that ran down his cheek. He could still smell the crisp air burning his lungs. Mom laughing when a fished slapped dad in the face.

Church pulled out his phone and looked at the time. It had been less than seventy-two hours since his parents had rushed out the door. A last-minute errand before dinner. His mom and dad smiling back at him as they left.

When the doorbell rang, he’d peeked out the window framing the door expecting it to be his mom, but instead, it was two police officers.

“We’re sorry, son. There’s been an accident…” The policeman’s voice blurred into white noise and Church’s world had shifted overnight. His grandmother had flown in from Denver, and taken care of everything…everything except Church. She’d barely spoken to him since she’d arrived.

“Church,” his grandmother said quietly.

How long had he been sitting there and when had the house gone quiet? He looked up. The stern face he’d seen the last three days came into focus through tears he wished would stop.

“Everyone’s gone now. Would you mind coming into the living room? I’d like to have a word with you.”

He pushed with his legs and slid up the wall. As he entered the room, she motioned to the accent chairs in front of the couch. He couldn’t think of a reason not to so, Church did as she asked.

“Church, I realize this might be difficult for you to understand right now.” She paused.

He suspected she was waiting for him to get angry or disagree, but she didn’t know him. Instead, he braced himself for what was coming.
Church stared at her blankly until she continued.

“It might seem rushed, but your parents were sending you to a boarding school next year. I called and they have space available starting tomorrow.”

Church jerked his head up, furrowing his brows at her. “What?” His parents never mentioned anything about a boarding school. He’d have been ready to be sent away, but hearing his parents had arranged it made his head spin. No, not my parents, her.

His grandmother’s face showed no feelings. How could she be…so empty? Her daughter, his mother, had just died. Couldn’t she at least pretend to hurt a little?

“You didn’t know?”

Church shook his head. His thoughts were jumbled and erratic. “No.”

“I found the information when I got here. It’s a boarding school for gifted children. From what I’ve read, it’s something you’ll enjoy, and right now, I think it’s the best thing for you.”

“I graduated high school four years ago. I don’t need or want to go to a boarding school. My parents just died. Can’t you just stay here? Just a little while?” Church hated that his voice sounded so pathetic.

“No, you have to go.” Her voice was cold and distant.

Church’s stomach twisted. He was a reasonable guy. The aptitude test he’d taken six months ago showed he was a problem solver. He tried to think of a way out of going, but fell short.

Boarding school? How could my parents have been planning to send me to boarding school without telling me?

But, what other choice did he have? He nodded without looking at her. “Okay.”

His grandmother patted his knee, but it felt condescending rather than comforting.

Church pushed out of the chair and scowled. “I’ll go pack.”

She smiled thinly. “Thank you.”

0111001101110000011000010110001101100101

“General, I think this is a bad idea.” Colonel Grant Hai stood as he looked down at his new commanding officer.

At sixty years of age, General Martin Weathersby was a fit, impressive-looking man. On the wall, punctuating his decades of service in the Army, hung various awards and medals. Grant took note of his brown, spiky hair, and buzzed sides.

The General’s gaze remained on the computer screen, not even sparing a glance for the Colonel. “I don’t care what you think, Colonel. This plan is thirteen years in the making and to stop now would be a waste of tax payer’s money.”

Colonel Hai’s reservations were nothing new, the General thought. Of the ten people he’d picked for this project, Colonel Hai had given him the most trouble so far. The computer analyst by day, hacker by night seemed to have a conscience. That made him difficult to deal with now, but easy to manipulate later when the General would need that conscience to make his plan work.

“But sir, I’ve watched the files. Studied his test scores. The kid is unbelievably observant. He’ll figure it out.” Colonel Hai watched as the General didn’t bat an eye when questioned.

“Colonel Hai. I know this kid as if he were my own. I’ve known him since he was born. I know more than anyone what he’s capable of.”

“What if he finds out? What if he gets into trouble?”

“He’s not going to get into trouble. No one knows anything.”

Colonel Hai swore under his breath. “I’m not concerned about our people talking. I’m concerned for the kid and getting caught in a place with no one to help him.”

“He’s not alone.” General Weathersby looked up from his screen locking gazes with Colonel Hai.

“What do you mean?” Hai frowned. He’d read the file. There was no mention of a second asset in the school.

“I mean exactly what I said.”

“But the file–“

“Is missing details that I felt were need to know and you do not need to know. When I started this project, Jan and Abram wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone.” The General looked up and down his nose at Colonel Hai.

Hai started pacing. “It won’t take long for him to adjust. I give him a month at that school before he’s figured out everything.” He stopped pacing and looked at the General again.

The man was a stone. Unreadable. “Do we have anything in place to get him out quickly if something goes wrong? Just for my peace of mind?”

“Colonel Hai.” General Weathersby’s tone softened. “I understand your concern for the boy. I care about Church. Jan and Abram were two of my closest friends. I know firsthand his emotional state and I can assure you Church’s safety is foremost on my mind.” The General tipped his head in the direction of the door. “Dismissed, Colonel and shut the door on your way out.”

Colonel Hai took one last, defeated look at the General and walked out the door, not quite slamming it, but hard enough the General knew the man was brimming with unspoken anger.

With the door shut, The General opened a drawer of his large mahogany desk, one of the few luxuries he allowed himself, and pulled out a photograph of Church Morgan. He’d watched Church grow from a baby into a tall, fit teenager. The kid was the spitting image of his dad with his expressive brown eyes, olive skin tone, and head of dark-brown curly hair.

He skimmed the reports again eventually landing back on the photo. There was something about the kid, whether it was the flashy smile or the simple way he carried himself, that made most people like him. Too bad I’m not one of those people, Weathersby thought.
Logged

With enough duct tape and rum, you can fix anything.
miawinter
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2017, 06:23:44 PM »

I didn't do a lot of line editing in this because I don't see any major typos, but I added some comments below. Your biggest issue is there's a lot of telling. There's also repetition in word choice. The scene being cut from Church to the General is a little jarring. Ask yourself, is this the latest point I can start my story? I think an author on Twitter mentioned that you should start your story at the latest point possible. Right now, the two scenes feel very much like framework and info dumps. From a reader's perspective, it would be more interesting to start with Church at school, and learn all this information through parceled out backstory.

Also, a program like ProWritingAid is really helpful for checking sentence structure and word repetition. Before querying, you should carefully line edit your entire manuscript, or pass it off to critique partners or beta readers if you haven't already. Sometimes these mistakes can be hard to catch on our own.

Super nervous to do this, but here goes....


“Eleanor, you can’t just send him away. Not now.”

Church peeked around the doorframe of the kitchen, straining to hear the conversation as his Aunt Camille tried to reason with his grandmother. A grandmother he didn’t even know existed until three days ago.

“He has to go, Camille.” Grandmother’s tone was stern.

Church could only see the back of her head, but he pictured her lips in a tight, straight line, the wrinkles around her eyes deepening as she narrowed them. The same look he’d received when she’d arrived just a few hours after... This whole scene is already reading like one info dump.

“But, why? Why does he need to go? He’s not…” Aunt Camille stopped short, and she looked around the room.

Church pulled back. This was his life. He deserved to know what was going on.

Aunt Camille began again, her voice lowered. “He’s not fifteen yet. He’s just lost his parents. That’s a lot for a kid. Don’t you think he needs to be around family? He could even stay with me.”

He peeked again. Desperation peppered his aunt’s tone and face. Staying with her didn’t seem like a great option since he didn’t know her either, but at least she’d tried to be friendly with him.

“No, Camille. Church can’t stay here right now. He needs to go. It will be good for him.” His grandmother’s tone was cold and firm.

His eyes watered as he pulled back. He felt childish for crying. From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Army green trousers attached to polished shoes and slid down against the wall with his head down. The legs stopped in front of him and then squatted down. This imagery is odd, of pants attached to shoes, the disembodied legs.

“I’m sorry, Church. I loved your parents.” A man with a deep voice and a hint of military to it.

Church didn’t bother to look up. The solemn words melted together and blended in with other sorries, just words. Why did they have to keep coming by? There were at least a hundred people still hanging around, most of whom he didn’t know, talking about his parents like they’d been best friends, trying to ease their grief. All the while, no one’s eyes ever quite meeting his.

Just a week ago he was with his parents, fishing in the Cheyenne Mountains in Colorado. His lips trembled. Church swiped a tear that ran down his cheek. He could still smell the crisp air burning his lungs. Mom laughing when a fished slapped dad in the face.

Church pulled out his phone and looked at the time. It had been less than seventy-two hours since his parents had rushed out the door. A last-minute errand before dinner. His mom and dad smiling back at him as they left.

When the doorbell rang, he’d peeked out the window framing the door expecting it to be his mom, but instead, it was two police officers.

“We’re sorry, son. There’s been an accident…” The policeman’s voice blurred into white noise and Church’s world had shifted overnight. His grandmother had flown in from Denver, and taken care of everything…everything except Church. She’d barely spoken to him since she’d arrived. This in-scene flash back is unnecessary, an info-dump.

“Church,” his grandmother said quietly.

How long had he been sitting there and when had the house gone quiet? Italics aren't necessary here. He looked up. The stern face he’d seen the last three days came into focus through tears he wished would stop.

“Everyone’s gone now. Would you mind coming into the living room? I’d like to have a word with you.”

He pushed with his legs and slid up the wall. As he entered the room, she motioned to the accent chairs in front of the couch. He couldn’t think of a reason not to so, Church did as she asked.

“Church, I realize this might be difficult for you to understand right now.” She paused.

He suspected she was waiting for him to get angry or disagree, Get angry or disagree at what? All she's said is "this might be difficult for you to understand"--if anything, shouldn't she be expecting him to be grieving? but she didn’t know him. Instead, he braced himself for what was coming.
Church stared at her blankly until she continued.

“It might seem rushed, but your parents were sending you to a boarding school next year. I called and they have space available starting tomorrow.”

Church jerked his head up, furrowing his brows at her. “What?” His parents never mentioned anything about a boarding school. He’d have been ready to be sent away, but hearing his parents had arranged it made his head spin. No, not my parents, her. The italics work here, but the inner-dialogue isn't necessary.

His grandmother’s face showed no feelings. How could she be…so empty? Her daughter, his mother, had just died. Couldn’t she at least pretend to hurt a little?

“You didn’t know?”

Church shook his head. His thoughts were jumbled and erratic. This is another example of telling. “No.”

“I found the information when I got here. It’s a boarding school for gifted children. From what I’ve read, it’s something you’ll enjoy, and right now, I think it’s the best thing for you.”

“I graduated high school four years ago. I don’t need or want to go to a boarding school. My parents just died. Can’t you just stay here? Just a little while?” Church hated that his voice sounded so pathetic. This sentence gave me pause, just from a logical standpoint. So, he graduated high school when he was ten? If that's the route you're going (kid genius and all) maybe say he passed an exit exam for whatever state he's living in. Graduating high school leads me to believe he attended high school at ten.

“No, you have to go.” Her voice was cold and distant.

Church’s stomach twisted. He was a reasonable guy. The aptitude test he’d taken six months ago showed he was a problem solver. He tried to think of a way out of going, but fell short.

Boarding school? How could my parents have been planning to send me to boarding school without telling me?

But, what other choice did he have? He nodded without looking at her. “Okay.”

His grandmother patted his knee, but it felt condescending rather than comforting.

Church pushed out of the chair and scowled. “I’ll go pack.”

She smiled thinly. “Thank you.”

0111001101110000011000010110001101100101

“General, I think this is a bad idea.” Colonel Grant Hai stood as he looked down at his new commanding officer. The "stood as he looked down at" is a messy sentence. You could just say Hai looked down at his commanding officer.

At sixty years of age, General Martin Weathersby was a fit, impressive-looking man. On the wall, punctuating his decades of service in the Army, hung various awards and medals. Grant took note of his brown, spiky hair, and buzzed sides. Is Grant taking note of Weathersby's old photographs, or how he looks now? Is this pertinent for the scene?

The General’s gaze remained on the computer screen, not even sparing a glance for the Colonel. “I don’t care what you think, Colonel. This plan is thirteen years in the making and to stop now would be a waste of tax payer’s money.”

Colonel Hai’s reservations were nothing new, the General thought. Of the ten people he’d picked for this project, Colonel Hai had given him the most trouble so far. The computer analyst by day, hacker by night seemed to have a conscience. That made him difficult to deal with now, but easy to manipulate later when the General would need that conscience to make his plan work.

“But sir, I’ve watched the files. Studied his test scores. The kid is unbelievably observant. He’ll figure it out.” Colonel Hai watched as the General didn’t bat an eye when questioned.

“Colonel Hai. I know this kid as if he were my own. I’ve known him since he was born. I know more than anyone what he’s capable of.”

“What if he finds out? What if he gets into trouble?”

“He’s not going to get into trouble. No one knows anything.”

Colonel Hai swore under his breath. “I’m not concerned about our people talking. I’m concerned for the kid and getting caught in a place with no one to help him.”

“He’s not alone.” General Weathersby looked up from his screen locking gazes with Colonel Hai.

“What do you mean?” Hai frowned. He’d read the file. There was no mention of a second asset in the school.

“I mean exactly what I said.”

“But the file–“

“Is missing details that I felt were need to know and you do not need to know. When I started this project, Jan and Abram wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone.” The General looked up and down his nose at Colonel Hai.

Hai started pacing. “It won’t take long for him to adjust. I give him a month at that school before he’s figured out everything.” He stopped pacing and looked at the General again.

The man was a stone. Unreadable. “Do we have anything in place to get him out quickly if something goes wrong? Just for my peace of mind?”

“Colonel Hai.” General Weathersby’s tone softened. “I understand your concern for the boy. I care about Church. Jan and Abram were two of my closest friends. I know firsthand his emotional state and I can assure you Church’s safety is foremost on my mind.” The General tipped his head in the direction of the door. “Dismissed, Colonel and shut the door on your way out.”

Colonel Hai took one last, defeated look at the General and walked out the door, not quite slamming it, but hard enough the General knew the man was brimming with unspoken anger.

With the door shut, The General opened a drawer of his large mahogany desk, one of the few luxuries he allowed himself, and pulled out a photograph of Church Morgan. He’d watched Church grow from a baby into a tall, fit teenager. The kid was the spitting image of his dad with his expressive brown eyes, olive skin tone, and head of dark-brown curly hair. Again, this seems like an excuse to describe what one of the main characters looks like. Wouldn't he have a file on Church with a current photograph? Why keep on hidden in his desk?

He skimmed the reports again I don't think you mention him skimming the reports the first time, so maybe "He skimmed the reports and returned to the photo." eventually landing back on the photo. There was something about the kid, whether it was the flashy smile or the simple way he carried himself, that made most people like him. Too bad I’m not one of those people, Weathersby thought.
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ejmccay
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« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2017, 05:11:22 PM »

I'm not ignoring your suggestions. I'm currently working on it.
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Bronxwriter
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 02:03:53 PM »

The suggestions and edits from miawinter are on the mark. I have very little to add other than encouragement. Your descriptions of a young person's experience of his own parents death is authentic: the police coming to the door, the adults not meeting his eye, the cold distant grandmother. I agree that perhaps this could come later. I like the suggestion to start from the school setting and encourage you to play with the timeline but you have solid writing as your foundation.  Good luck!



“Eleanor, you can’t just send him away. Not now.”

Church peeked around the doorframe of the kitchen, straining to hear the conversation as his Aunt Camille tried to reason with his grandmother. A grandmother he didn’t even know existed until three days ago.

“He has to go, Camille.” Grandmother’s tone was stern.

Church could only see the back of her head, but he pictured her lips in a tight, straight line, the wrinkles around her eyes deepening as she narrowed them. The same look he’d received when she’d arrived just a few hours after... This whole scene is already reading like one info dump.

“But, why? Why does he need to go? He’s not…” Aunt Camille stopped short, and she looked around the room.

Church pulled back. This was his life. He deserved to know what was going on.

Aunt Camille began again, her voice lowered. “He’s not fifteen yet. He’s just lost his parents. That’s a lot for a kid. Don’t you think he needs to be around family? He could even stay with me.”

He peeked again. Desperation peppered his aunt’s tone and face. Staying with her didn’t seem like a great option since he didn’t know her either, but at least she’d tried to be friendly with him.

“No, Camille. Church can’t stay here right now. He needs to go. It will be good for him.” His grandmother’s tone was cold and firm.

His eyes watered as he pulled back. He felt childish for crying. From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Army green trousers attached to polished shoes and slid down against the wall with his head down. The legs stopped in front of him and then squatted down. This imagery is odd, of pants attached to shoes, the disembodied legs.

“I’m sorry, Church. I loved your parents.” A man with a deep voice and a hint of military to it.

Church didn’t bother to look up. The solemn words melted together and blended in with other sorries, just words. Why did they have to keep coming by? There were at least a hundred people still hanging around, most of whom he didn’t know, talking about his parents like they’d been best friends, trying to ease their grief. All the while, no one’s eyes ever quite meeting his.

Just a week ago he was with his parents, fishing in the Cheyenne Mountains in Colorado. His lips trembled. Church swiped a tear that ran down his cheek. He could still smell the crisp air burning his lungs. Mom laughing when a fished slapped dad in the face.

Church pulled out his phone and looked at the time. It had been less than seventy-two hours since his parents had rushed out the door. A last-minute errand before dinner. His mom and dad smiling back at him as they left.

When the doorbell rang, he’d peeked out the window framing the door expecting it to be his mom, but instead, it was two police officers.

“We’re sorry, son. There’s been an accident…” The policeman’s voice blurred into white noise and Church’s world had shifted overnight. His grandmother had flown in from Denver, and taken care of everything…everything except Church. She’d barely spoken to him since she’d arrived. This in-scene flash back is unnecessary, an info-dump.

“Church,” his grandmother said quietly.

How long had he been sitting there and when had the house gone quiet? Italics aren't necessary here. He looked up. The stern face he’d seen the last three days came into focus through tears he wished would stop.

“Everyone’s gone now. Would you mind coming into the living room? I’d like to have a word with you.”

He pushed with his legs and slid up the wall. As he entered the room, she motioned to the accent chairs in front of the couch. He couldn’t think of a reason not to so, Church did as she asked.

“Church, I realize this might be difficult for you to understand right now.” She paused.

He suspected she was waiting for him to get angry or disagree, Get angry or disagree at what? All she's said is "this might be difficult for you to understand"--if anything, shouldn't she be expecting him to be grieving? but she didn’t know him. Instead, he braced himself for what was coming.
Church stared at her blankly until she continued.

“It might seem rushed, but your parents were sending you to a boarding school next year. I called and they have space available starting tomorrow.”

Church jerked his head up, furrowing his brows at her. “What?” His parents never mentioned anything about a boarding school. He’d have been ready to be sent away, but hearing his parents had arranged it made his head spin. No, not my parents, her. The italics work here, but the inner-dialogue isn't necessary.

His grandmother’s face showed no feelings. How could she be…so empty? Her daughter, his mother, had just died. Couldn’t she at least pretend to hurt a little?

“You didn’t know?”

Church shook his head. His thoughts were jumbled and erratic. This is another example of telling. “No.”

“I found the information when I got here. It’s a boarding school for gifted children. From what I’ve read, it’s something you’ll enjoy, and right now, I think it’s the best thing for you.”

“I graduated high school four years ago. I don’t need or want to go to a boarding school. My parents just died. Can’t you just stay here? Just a little while?” Church hated that his voice sounded so pathetic. This sentence gave me pause, just from a logical standpoint. So, he graduated high school when he was ten? If that's the route you're going (kid genius and all) maybe say he passed an exit exam for whatever state he's living in. Graduating high school leads me to believe he attended high school at ten.

“No, you have to go.” Her voice was cold and distant.

Church’s stomach twisted. He was a reasonable guy. The aptitude test he’d taken six months ago showed he was a problem solver. He tried to think of a way out of going, but fell short.

Boarding school? How could my parents have been planning to send me to boarding school without telling me?

But, what other choice did he have? He nodded without looking at her. “Okay.”

His grandmother patted his knee, but it felt condescending rather than comforting.

Church pushed out of the chair and scowled. “I’ll go pack.”

She smiled thinly. “Thank you.”

0111001101110000011000010110001101100101

“General, I think this is a bad idea.” Colonel Grant Hai stood as he looked down at his new commanding officer. The "stood as he looked down at" is a messy sentence. You could just say Hai looked down at his commanding officer.

At sixty years of age, General Martin Weathersby was a fit, impressive-looking man. On the wall, punctuating his decades of service in the Army, hung various awards and medals. Grant took note of his brown, spiky hair, and buzzed sides. Is Grant taking note of Weathersby's old photographs, or how he looks now? Is this pertinent for the scene?

The General’s gaze remained on the computer screen, not even sparing a glance for the Colonel. “I don’t care what you think, Colonel. This plan is thirteen years in the making and to stop now would be a waste of tax payer’s money.”

Colonel Hai’s reservations were nothing new, the General thought. Of the ten people he’d picked for this project, Colonel Hai had given him the most trouble so far. The computer analyst by day, hacker by night seemed to have a conscience. That made him difficult to deal with now, but easy to manipulate later when the General would need that conscience to make his plan work.

“But sir, I’ve watched the files. Studied his test scores. The kid is unbelievably observant. He’ll figure it out.” Colonel Hai watched as the General didn’t bat an eye when questioned.

“Colonel Hai. I know this kid as if he were my own. I’ve known him since he was born. I know more than anyone what he’s capable of.”

“What if he finds out? What if he gets into trouble?”

“He’s not going to get into trouble. No one knows anything.”

Colonel Hai swore under his breath. “I’m not concerned about our people talking. I’m concerned for the kid and getting caught in a place with no one to help him.”

“He’s not alone.” General Weathersby looked up from his screen locking gazes with Colonel Hai.

“What do you mean?” Hai frowned. He’d read the file. There was no mention of a second asset in the school.

“I mean exactly what I said.”

“But the file–“

“Is missing details that I felt were need to know and you do not need to know. When I started this project, Jan and Abram wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone.” The General looked up and down his nose at Colonel Hai.

Hai started pacing. “It won’t take long for him to adjust. I give him a month at that school before he’s figured out everything.” He stopped pacing and looked at the General again.

The man was a stone. Unreadable. “Do we have anything in place to get him out quickly if something goes wrong? Just for my peace of mind?”

“Colonel Hai.” General Weathersby’s tone softened. “I understand your concern for the boy. I care about Church. Jan and Abram were two of my closest friends. I know firsthand his emotional state and I can assure you Church’s safety is foremost on my mind.” The General tipped his head in the direction of the door. “Dismissed, Colonel and shut the door on your way out.”

Colonel Hai took one last, defeated look at the General and walked out the door, not quite slamming it, but hard enough the General knew the man was brimming with unspoken anger.

With the door shut, The General opened a drawer of his large mahogany desk, one of the few luxuries he allowed himself, and pulled out a photograph of Church Morgan. He’d watched Church grow from a baby into a tall, fit teenager. The kid was the spitting image of his dad with his expressive brown eyes, olive skin tone, and head of dark-brown curly hair. Again, this seems like an excuse to describe what one of the main characters looks like. Wouldn't he have a file on Church with a current photograph? Why keep on hidden in his desk?

He skimmed the reports again I don't think you mention him skimming the reports the first time, so maybe "He skimmed the reports and returned to the photo." eventually landing back on the photo. There was something about the kid, whether it was the flashy smile or the simple way he carried himself, that made most people like him. Too bad I’m not one of those people, Weathersby thought.
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