My contemporary YA/Adult novel MYOPIA explores the theme of teenage bullying. Jerry is picked on for wearing glasses and he beings to realise that being short-sighted (myopic) is not a disability at all – it just gives him a new way of seeing the world around him. He creates some very creative and non-violent ways of standing up to his aggressors. Unfortunately he starts to believe his own hype and fantasy. Does he have super-powers and is Myopia more than just a state of mind?
In the following extract Jerry is in a Science lesson; day-dreaming...
In Science they watched an uninspiring film about photosynthesis and in the darkness he took off his glasses to rub his sore eyes. Jerry welcomed the blurred haze around him – felt a desire to be enveloped by it as if embraced by a loved one. The fact that he could no longer see the film, the other pupils or even much of the classroom lab made him feel happy and content. This was his own place; a world he could escape to where nobody else existed. Around him lay an undiscovered country to explore. This new space or dimension was a private island just for him together with his thoughts and feelings. Gazing about him, Jerry watched the strange flickering of lights that must be the film, but he could no longer hear the droning of the narrator except as a faint hum in the background.
Jerry became aware of some familiar shapes and movements about him. But this time he didn’t feel in the least bit scared. To his right a discernible blob of darkness was billowing like a sheet or cloud, but which somehow no longer felt threatening. Then as his mind continued to wander he felt a ripple beneath him that forced him to suddenly grab his desk. Luckily nobody seemed to notice.
The stool he sat on became unexpectedly soft and then began to undulate making him rock to and fro. Looking around he worried that the others would see him and laugh but they were all too absorbed in the film or in their own dreams or whispering to their neighbour. Nobody seemed to see his strange movements. Nobody was even aware of him. Then without warning his stool began to pull away from the work bench until there was such a distance between them that he was no longer part of the class. In fact the wall of the room appeared to have stretched beyond all limits until the science lesson seemed so remote that he no longer felt himself part of it any more. Nobody seemed to be missing him. He could just see the teacher looking round to check her pupils were watching and she seemed content that nothing was amiss. That was when it occurred to him that he could see into the distance without his glasses; a new experience for Jerry. Had his eyesight righted itself?
Jerry knew something odd was going on. Perhaps he found himself in the middle of a waking dream; a reverie of sorts. Yet he felt perfectly self-aware and more alert and awake than usual. Invigorated: that was the word. No, something else was happening to him. Something, or someone, seemed to be messing about with his sense of reality.
When the stool bucked, almost throwing him from its soft warm seat, Jerry looked down to inspect it. What he saw startled him beyond belief. The thin metal legs of the stool had transformed into black, long legs; muscular at the top and tapering into silver hooves. Without warning two of the legs reared up causing Jerry to grab on to his stool. But what had been a wooden seat under his legs and backside now felt soft and leathery. He managed to balance well as if it had always been the most natural thing in the world to him. He seemed to know how to counter-balance and when to shift his weight to and fro so as to stay perfectly balanced whatever happened beneath him. He leaned forward to stroke the mane and long, spiralling horn of his black unicorn.
Jerry laughed. He dug his spurs into the flanks of his trusty mount.
‘I am the knight of Myopia. Beware of me, mine enemies. Look into my eyes and know ye fear.’
Then he galloped off for a million miles beyond stars and galaxies, through pasts and futures as if he never cared to return …
… Except he did. With a bump.
At first Jerry thought he was being regaled with cheers and whoops of admiration. But he quickly realised they were taunts and jeers and that he lay prone on the floor, having fallen off his stool. The film still ran and the teacher jumped up to help him to his feet.
‘Serves you right, Jerry. I keep telling you lot not to lean back on your chair and that’s exactly why I do so, but you never listen. Perhaps this’ll make you sit properly in the future. Now let’s be quiet and watch the rest of this film or else the whole class will be in detention.’
(from Myopia by Jeff Gardiner, Crooked Cat Publishing)
What some of the reviewers on Amazon have said about MYOPIA:
· “A really enjoyable read with charming characters that stay with you long after you finish the book.”
· “a realistic portrayal of teenage life.”
· “I loved how Jeff Gardiner showed that being a loser doesn't mean there's no room for redemption.”
· “Brilliant book. I couldn't put it down.”
· “Although this book is written for teenagers it is also an excellent read for adults.”
· “compelling and challenging; a lovely read.”
· “It would make a good starting point for a discussion about bullying either in a family or the classroom.”
· “Don't be short sighted, buy this book!”Author Bio
Jeff Gardiner is a UK writer whose collection of short stories, A Glimpse of the Numinous, was published last year by Eibonvale Press. A.J. Kirby of The Short Review commented on: “Gardiner’s excellence as a writer”.
His contemporary novel, Myopia, explores bullying and prejudice – recently published by Crooked Cat Books. The novel was described by The Little Reader Library as: “an intelligent, skilful and well-written treatment of a serious subject”.
Both are available as paperbacks and e-books. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, journals and webzines. His non-fiction work The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock is due to be published later this year by Headpress.
Posted by Sarah England.