When I sat down to write Schooled I started with a prologue narrated by Callie Caldwell–the murder victim. In the end I didn’t use it , but it was a good exercise to help me figure out how others saw Lexy and what the relationship was between the two women. Mostly, though, it gave me some insight into Callie’s personality that shaped the story. It helped jump-start the process. I woke up one night, turned on the bedside lamp and scribbled this on scrap paper between 2 and 2:45 am. The next morning, filled with a new enthusiasm for the story, I began writing 500 words per day until I had a novel. So here it is: The deleted prologue–Callie’s voice from beyond the grave.
I used to know this girl named Lexy Cooper. I mean I knew her when I was alive. Before I was murdered. Now that I’m dead I know her even better. Because now I can see and hear everything, everywhere. I know all the horrible, mysterious and wonderful things that human beings do to each other. The only thing I don’t know is who killed me. I didn’t see it coming.
But let’s backtrack a bit. The living, breathing me met Lexy at employee orientation at Xenon Inc—yes that big company in Redmond, Washington that makes the video game console Xenon24/7 and the gaming service Xenonline. We sought each other out because we were two of a mere handful of women in the auditorium on campus that day. I was headed to the public relations department and Lexy to Xenon.com’s editorial team.
We were roughly the same age—though she looked younger than she was. She was cute too. Not as cute as me, but still a passable hottie in the games industry. In the larger, non-gaming world Lexy would probably be a 7. Here at Xenon she was a 9. When I had a body, I was an undeniable 10.
I spotted Lexy when we were all milling around collecting paperwork and ID badges. Because I’m a super social girl I introduced myself and told her to sit with me for the indoctrination. She smiled and said all the right words, but she had that hesitant under-expression that women get when they’re around me. It’s jealousy that doesn’t want to be jealous. An intimation of potential future jealousy. Like “Yeah I’ll be friendly, but come within 5 feet of my boyfriend and I’ll rip your lips off.” Of course Lexy didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. She’s the kind of girl that chooses men for their sense of humor or dimples or timbre of their voice. I always kept my eyes on the prize. Lexy could hang with artists and programmers all she wanted; it was strictly the executive suite for me.
After orientation, Lexy and I saw each other around campus, sent each other scandalous emails, gossiped in the cafeteria and so on, but we rarely hung out after hours. We were work friends. Were we BFFs? No we were not. Not until I died anyway. Now she’s my best friend because she’s the only one trying to find out what happened to me. She doesn’t know I’m here. She thinks I’m gone. This isn’t one of those stories where she sees a mist shaped like a Victoria’s Secret model out of the corner of her eye, or I send her urgent messages from beyond. I can’t do anything but watch what happens.
So I’m going to sit back and watch this unfold. I’ll keep my opinions and my secrets to myself.