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Flying Machines

by G-man 

Posted: 17 October 2008
Word Count: 10672
Summary: Maz is a child in England, obsessed with a girl called Tanya, who he loves. He battles for her with others, and himself.The summer seems endless, and Maz wants nothing more than to be there with Tanya in the sunshine. This is the 1st 3 chapters of a novel.As the story unfolds we see Maz trying to cope with adulthood,and urban gang culture. He still loves Tanya, and looks back on this time in his childhood with happiness and melancholy.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

‘Ah… ah no. Oh fuck. Mate! You alright mate?’ a girl called Manny asked, the weakness of her voice adding to the absurdity, the surrealness, of everything around her.
Manny swung her head one way, and then the other; looking for something, someone, frantic; she looked at the sky for a moment and then looked back down. A man walking down the road stopped, understanding immediately that something wasn’t right.
‘Is he-?’ The man stopped short. ‘What happened?? Call an ambulance or somein’, innit!’ The man fumbled in his pocket for his phone, and started pressing buttons. ‘Fuck!’
Slowly, people drifting down the street started being pulled towards them, as though the pavement had been tilted gently in their direction. The general murmur of voices grew louder; snippets of it telling stories, words shedding light to new arrivals: saw some guy running off, didn’t I?… ‘eard it from down there… he’s still breathing… thought it was an explosion, innit…

On a raised platform in the grounds of Reading College, a few short feet from King’s Road, Maz Taylor had some sense of the distant noises around him. He had some sense of people staring. He had some sense of the earth, of the road, of the sky, all being connected…
His casket was a small, neat oblong of grass. It encompassed his sprawled shape, from his feet to his head. From his right arm to his left. It was the only hint of green in the urban landscape. But Maz could see only the sky above him, and the birds drifting by. He could feel only the grass beneath him, and it smelled somehow of summer. For those last few moments it were as thought the different shades of grey had simply drained from his vision, for there was only blue, and it stretched out to the smooth edges of the world.
Maz breathed in and breathed out, very slowly. He was amazed by the wind, and the peace in his mind. He felt no pain.
Even Tanya, for all he had wanted to be angry, felt to Maz like a sister. He knew she would be ok, in this world. And if she wasn’t, if she followed him, then he knew they would be ok.
Images of Tanya shone through his mind with a clarity that was unbelievable. He felt a sense of childhood so strong that when he closed his eyes he was pulled irrisistably towards it. He remembered how much he had needed to talk to her; how hard he had made it for the two of them… how easy it had really been. He hoped he would see her again.
Maz clutched the grass beneath his fingers, driving them down into the soft earth, and feeling every grain and every molecule. The ground seemed to vibrate very softly beneath him – it seemed to move with every breath he took, to find the contours of his flesh and fill them…
Hot blood dripped onto his hand and Maz knew, with assurance, different things. He knew that he was still alive. He knew that he was going to die.
But he felt no malice towards his aggressor. Even as he had glimpsed the dull, blank metal of the automatic pistol, so dismally misplaced amongst the chewing-gum on the pavement, and the Asian women at the bus-stop, he felt no malice. Adrenaline shooting through him had fuelled certainty – that this is the only way it could have ended.
That moment had seemed the elusive answer to the questions Maz had been pondering his whole life.
Maz breathed in.
Sirens might have played in the background, shadows might have moved back and forth above him, but all the while there was a space between them that grew smaller and larger, where the still, blue sky burst through like an idea.

Chapter 1.

‘Really?’ Maz asked.
‘Yeah, seriously, they do,’ came the earnest reply. ‘They sell ‘em at Toys R’ Us.’
Maz wasn’t sure. He studied the face of Richard, and Mark his accomplice, scanning for weakness and guilt. The realisation that they could be lying to him bumbled around in his mind like a fly; something that made its presence known by the glimpses that it would allow you, but something that was impossible to catch, to hold.
‘Have you got one?’ Maz asked, narrowing his eyes. If they did, then he could see it! But if they didn’t then they wouldn’t let him, they’d make an excuse… But, a flying machine! Just imagine! The idea warmed the inside of him, above his stomach and below his heart. He desperately hoped for it to be true.
‘Yeah… we both have’, came the lazy reply.
Maz looked sceptical. But then… Why shouldn’t they? It seemed as though that was the kind of thing that somebody would have invented. After all, loads of kids would want one. And on that thin rationale assurance reigned again. Adults would have made one; of course they would. It was decided.
Maz buzzed with adrenaline, elated at the possibilities flickering through his mind, extinguishing the flame of his suspicion. He forgot that if they really had one they would let him see it… But a flying machine! It was a wonderful, hazy notion in his mind that had taken on the appearance of a pod; with one seat and a domed, clear windscreen. It was a gleaming amalgamation of the cartoon worlds that had framed his life - it was a craft from The Jetsons and Thunderbird One, adorned with every advancement of which his mind could conceive: a joystick to make it fly, and a compact form so he could fit it in his bedroom. Maz could picture it now, floating in the sky with a greenish tinge, transparent but brilliant.
With his heart beating fast inside him, Maz ventured as to the cost.
‘Hundred quid?’ Mark decided, the inflection in his voice betraying him; making a question of what was, surely, unyielding truth.
A hundred quid! It was as difficult for Maz to conceive of as a one-man flying machine had been yesterday. His insides churned, and he had tears in his eyes before he could help it. A hundred quid! It was crushing, impossible.
Maz sighed, and felt the tears tease him, threatening to overcome him. He hid his face, and tried to regain some kind of composure. He tried to convince himself there was no flying machine; that he had been lied to… But he just couldn’t do it. A wave of emotion threatened to incapacitate him once again, but he forced himself to hold on, striving for some strand of reason in this unpredictable world, an existence where flying and lollipops were on a level par (both good) – an existence where reason had no business. All that Maz knew was that he wanted something that he could not have, and the only perfect solution would be if it had never existed; never could.
But Maz remembered Tanya, suddenly, and with a swelling of excitement. He thought maybe she would know. He would trust her view until he could get home and check with Mum – until he could be sure.
With his resolution in mind, the pressure lifted. Maz looked back to find that his friends had left. He was relieved to have escaped the awkward situation without anyone thinking any-the-less of him. He wasn’t a baby, after all.


Later that day queuing up for the dinner hall with his friend Didi, Maz stared at the people going past him. David Lane, in front of him in the queue, was calling Didi gay. Didi said that he was a Gaylord in reply, or rather, he added, with an air of finality, the lord of the gays. The subtle difference between the two was a mystery to Maz, but in his mind vague thoughts of sandwiches turned to thoughts of Lords, (who they were, what they did) and Ladies in turn (their wives, he supposed).
If Maz were to become a Lord he hoped that Tanya would be his Lady. Better Tanya than Stacey Harrland, he thought, looking at her as she stood in front of him in the queue, his mind drifting on.
Stacey Harrland annoyed him because of her overbite, her flat nose and her squinty, irritating, soulless eyes. These qualities, though slight, were amplified through her character, which seemed to match Maz’s fledgling impressions. She seemed soulless, and was irritating undoubtedly.
Maz’s gaze wondered on. Hannah Pleasants noticed him looking at her, staring with the wanton openness of someone lost in thought, and she stuck her tongue into her bottom lip, mocking him, for Maz was, on some level, still auditioning girls for the role of his Lady,
(it would be Tanya)
gazing at the children in the queue around him, who moved closer to the dinner hall in an ambling procession.
Tanya Johnson, his mind skipped on with delight, was quite beautiful. (Maz had relished the prospect, for the last few seconds, of acknowledging Tanya formally in his mind. He understood secretly that perhaps this entire exercise had been for this purpose, lining up lesser candidates, so that he might think of Tanya; concentrate of every aspect of her round, dark eyes; her white, white teeth). Even at nine years old she was striking. Her eyes shone fiercely with all the force that was in her, surely the same thing (Maz realised at that moment with triumph) that drove the goose-pimples to his arms and legs whenever he was cold. For the two of them shared something like this, Maz thought, something strong and old, something he could not explain; some feeling and energy that he had never doubted for a second.
Maz was captivated by Tanya.
Her dad, Maz knew, had been missing for her whole life. Maz’s mum had told him that he had been a white man, that he had failed Tanya and her mum – taken no responsibility, and Maz recalled these empty words now with no real sense of their meaning. He thought perhaps he had failed some audition, some test to be a father…
Maz had questioned his mum about Tanya’s dad, but she had become sterner than he had ever seen her. "That's not for you to know, don't be nosy", was a stock reply or "when you're older" was another, each answer dimmed with the sense that Maz would never know where Tanya's father might have gone. On his absence alone, though, Maz felt some surging anger to him; to fathers, the outline of which was formed in his mind from different aspects of Didi’s dad (grumpiness, sullenness) and an array of unlikely figures on television, Homer Simpson the most prominent in his mind.
Maz wanted to ask Mrs Johnson what had happened to Tanya’s dad (he had never even seen her angry) but he felt that asking her about this was unwise. The subject had the air of some great truth, one that Maz might someday discover and know the secrets of the world. But some instinct told him that he was too young to ask anybody except his own mum... And so the information had remained unknown, lying somewhere in that infinite expanse of space and time between grass-fights and going to work – between playtimes and lifetimes.
Maz’s curiosity had eventually given way to resignation, and the resignation to sadness. There were things that he would never know, he supposed. Things that would forever be in that elusive category for grown ups. Tanya’s father. Fathers.
Maz sighed. Thinking about it made him feel sad all over again. But from that low place his mind had strived to find some positivity, and it had been Didi, and Tanya. Maz knew them comfortably, and he always would. He knew all the secret things about them.
But his mum, his family, always instilled in Maz a sense of rigid deceit – unintended, but prevailing. At the heart of it was his father. A sense of him was always there. He lurked in the silences that stretched out between his mum and him; he was in the whisperings, quickly silenced, when Maz entered a room at Christmas time… His father affected their lives, even now. He agitated his mum at even the mention of his name… And yet he would remain unknown.
Maz sighed. Sometimes he wished Mrs Johnson was his mum. She was a fussy Jamaican woman. Tanya had her skin; and it was a gift – clear and light, cinnamon brown. Maz let his mind push him gently back to where he had started, and he thought of Tanya again; the slight curve towards the end of her small nose, her white, white teeth. Her long hair, gleaming with darkness, cascading like some wondrous thick treacle down her shoulders, catching eyes like flies; turning heads.
Maz was jerked back suddenly to the real world. Didi was pushing him unceremoniously into the open doorway of the dining room where he had been stood, (Didi claimed), for about an hour.


‘H-hi Tanya.’
Maz had switched his mind to Tanya like a radio. Fm-Tanya-Am-Flying-Lw.
She had been his goal for the afternoon, his focus. Especially after the disappointment of the flying machine this morning. Tanya was strong, and she knew. She knew how to spell pizza, and what labour meant. Maz would ask her, and she would know.
‘Hi Mazzy!’ She threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.
Maz squirmed, clouded with being so close, struggling to think in straight lines, or even the circles he usually managed. He could feel her warm arms on the back of his neck, and blushed, feeling the heat of embarrassment radiating through his face and body.
Half-heartedly he tried to push her away, and attempted a scowl, as though she insulted him with such immaturity. But he could smell her hair, sweet like treacle, and for a second the effect was disarming. Was it actually treacle? It could have been… Maz couldn’t tell. But if he just put his finger to it he would know. If he could just touch it once…
Tanya’s hair brushed his nose, bringing him back to something like reality, except it was closer to cotton wool than reality, soft and warm and effortlessly comfortable. Tanya’s hair wasn’t treacle, although it looked like it, and smelt like it. And Maz, in fact, was not dismayed with Tanya’s behaviour, although he looked as though he were, and behaved as though he were. His face told his secrets, and the scowl he had been forging crumbled to a smile.
'Tanya?' Maz asked tentatively. Tanya beamed back at him. Her simple delight at Maz’s struggle with himself lit her up like a sun; something radiated from the inside to the outside, escaping through the spaces in her – the ends of her fingernails, her pores, her gums. Her eyes.
Maz took a deep breath, thinking about the two of them. The drama that Tanya would create – this scene, and the changes that it led to in Maz – were one of the reasons he neglected to talk to her as much as he would like. He could never do it easily. And now, with important questions of truth – of flying, of Lords – forced to the cupboard in the jumbled bedroom of his mind, he had the feeling that he would struggle to say anything else.
‘Tanya?’ He stuttered again, not particularly surprised by the ineptitude of his words.
‘Yeh?’ Tanya waited eagerly, smiling.
‘Is there a flying mach–?’ he managed, before his body spluttered and died, as he stuttered, trailing off.
‘What?’ Tanya looked vaguely amused. Maz cleared his throat, cursing his stupidity, wishing…
‘Is there such a thing as a flying machine?’ He stumbled again – trying to adjust his speech to cope with the way his tongue had increased so unfortunately, so dramatically in size.
‘What… like planes?’ she asked, a light confusion distorting the happiness that was with her, whenever Maz was with her.
‘No, like spaceships… I mean -.’ He thought hard, struggling for a way to convey the images that collided eternally in his mind. ‘Richard and Mark said -’ He sighed. With that sentence Maz began to feel the uneasy realisation that he could have been tricked creep in; the deception of their words uncovered somehow as they were spoken aloud. But Maz had to know, now.
‘They said Toys R’ Us sold, like, flying… ships.’ Maz waited, looking at Tanya. She looked back, perhaps waiting for something that might qualify this absurdity. ‘…For a hundred quid,’ was all that Maz could add, still unable to hide the sadness in his voice at such an extravagant amount of money. After all, it was only a flying machine.
There was silence.
‘Really?’ Tanya asked after a time, her eyes wide.
‘Yeh,’ Maz muttered, glancing at her eyes briefly before looking back at the floor, and thinking about her hair. ‘But I dunno if…’ He stopped again, unsure now if Tanya knew any better than he. ‘I thought…’ He sighed an old sigh, one that he had heard from Didi’s dad, and enjoyed for the sorrow it expressed.
‘I dunno, but I’ve never heard of them… I’ll ask mum tonight.’ Her mum, of course! At this point, suddenly, they were back on even ground; well-trodden ground; places they had been before, would go again...
‘Yeah! That’s what I was gonna do! ‘Cos I thought… if they had flying pods, why wouldn’t they let me see them… why wouldn’t they show them…?’
The thoughts that Maz had been holding back spilled from him, teased out by anticipation; that Tanya would ask her mum, and he would ask his, and they would compare the answers tomorrow. They would talk again tomorrow! But he quickly regained control, as the silence he had created with his outburst of words wrapped around them.
‘Where’s Lindsey?’ Maz asked Tanya eventually, for the two were inseparable.
‘I dunno, I was going to find her… but…’ Tanya blushed slightly, breaking eye contact as they stood face to face, before looking at him again. ‘She’s out here… Where’s Didi?’ She asked in return.
‘Dunno. Playing football, prob’ly…’ Maz paused. ‘It’s well hot today, you think we’ll be allowed on the grass?’
And Tanya answered him, sweetly, and they talked about the teachers, and the sun, and anticipated the time that they might be able to go on the grass for the first time in the summer. Because it had been wet all spring. And the conversation maintained its stop-start quality, but Maz liked it more than anything he could remember. Time became hard to understand; thick like glue, and the bell was ringing, from worlds away, before they managed to find either Didi or Lindsey. Before they even tried.

Chapter 2.

The days tumbled past and on Tuesday evening, in the same way as Monday and Sunday and Saturday evenings, it was Tanya that filled Maz’s thoughts. She dominated his wrestling figures and his cartoons; his imaginings. Hulk-Hogan was fighting Andre the Giant because Tanya was in trouble; he had to save her, and he did, he won the fight. How could he lose?

But through all his fantasy Mark still emerged in his mind, and Richard his leader; their claims about flying machines, that was threatening to turn into another obsession. With them returned all the grave reality of a problem unsolved; a stain on the smooth planes of Maz’s mind. He tried to concentrate harder his figures, but these bad thoughts was like a great dam that held back water. It was just an object, but with more power behind it than Maz could understand. Beyond it dwelled darkness, monsters... To ponder the dam, to stand upon it and look down, was to weaken it – weaken it where he might have marched on beyond it.
Maz rejected the thoughts of Richard uncomfortably, forcibly, and was conscious of Hulk-Hogan, a dead weight in his hand, needing his commitment to explore the bedroom again. Maz threw himself in, and slowly he was taken hostage by scenarios, investing the missions he gave his men with bursts and breaths of life.
Tanya was there again; a vision in his mind as strong as she had been that day, as real. He imagined Tanya and Maz, Maz and Tanya; overcoming hardships, fiercely together; always in the sunshine, always with goose-pimples making the soft hairs on their arms stand together. United. The details were unnecessary, but the ending Maz saw in sharp focus; they ended up together. Against the odds. And they flew away together – often in a flying machine of some kind. Tanya had come to turn his thoughts around and Maz was soaring.
‘Maz?’ a grey voice called from the kitchen.
‘Yeah?’ Maz shouted back, his elation dying, as he anticipated a call for dinner.
‘Dinner’s ready! Don’t be long, you’re not going to bed late again! It’s spaghetti, so if you’re wearing your school shirt get changed…’
Maz breathed in deeply, as though he could force the pressure from his chest by expanding it. Looking around this dim, small room he made him think of an underground cave, not for the first time. He seemed to walk through narrow corridors here, endlessly, occasionally emerging into the light; an empty room where he could relax. Maz breathed out, and thought of Tanya, and the flying machine again, and he nodded gently.
Even the discovery that there was no flying machine (which his mum had confirmed blankly, adding that if it was a hundred pounds then they wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway) didn’t matter now, for Tanya was flying with him. Maz knew that planes flew, so he would do it one day, in the future. But the idea of flying in a one-man flying pod had lost its appeal anyway. Flying anywhere alone had lost its appeal… doing anything alone.
In eight years of looking forward Maz had never felt anything so strong as the emptiness he felt when he thought of Tanya and he in different places in the world. It was a deep, gut-wrenching anxiety that reminded him of the end of summer – when he would have to go back to school instead of cycling around and playing with his friends, where he would have to be on time, be quiet, be good. He supposed that feeling was the same thing that he would be left with should Tanya ever leave. Each time he dwelled on it it became fear - just a snatched glimpse of the adult world, as though he had opened up a door he shouldn’t have.
Maz put his figures down and stood up. The jumbled sensations that had hijacked him became, suddenly, something tangible, a realisation: that without Tanya he could only move backwards, only retrace the steps he had already taken… He would take action tomorrow, he told himself, clenching his fists. He would never have to go backwards because he would talk to Tanya. This realisation sent adrenaline, and what Maz suspected was love, coursing through his veins. It took him away from the dark place he had again stumbled into. He would talk to Tanya tomorrow.
Did you ask your mum? Yeah. Yeah… Mine, too! Yeah I knew they were, anyway. Yeah I know.... Yeah, I do.
Maz was freed from his figures, and went to eat his dinner, wondering if Tanya would be thinking about him at her house across Palmer Park. He was suddenly sure that she would be, the hairs on his arms and legs rising in agreement, charged by her energy. Tanya would think of him and (Richard) no one else.

A distance away though, Tanya worried slightly about her own little things. Did Maz like her? He always looked so scared of her. Maybe she was too much, maybe she should be more quiet, or quiet more often. She didn’t know.
Tanya was skipping outside on the humble patio of her house, dodging amongst pot-plants as she did so, breathing in the warm evening air.
The weight of Maz’s hesitation coloured her ideas, but on top of this they were diluted with something duller and harder; some anger at his nature, so that she could only skip continuously, lest she acknowledge these feelings in her mind, and think badly of Maz, whom she loved with all her heart.
Blocking out all thought Tanya embraced the swoosh and tap of her skipping rope as she jumped. Swoosh – tap. Swoosh – tap. She breathed in the air.
Each year the smell of the summer air seemed more complex to Tanya – layered somehow with brand new things. Where once it had been the essence of a time of year – of summer – it was different now. The smells seemed to separate to their component parts, each one greater than its sum; bound with the blur of greens (as she turned her head), the gold’s and the red’s all around her.
Tanya breathed grasses and branches, the air ruffled the hair on her arms (it swayed like a tide) there was pollen, closer, and farther away cool, plaintive smoke drifted; barely perceivable and yet at the heart of everything her senses found; (what could have been burning?) it was defining; consuming.
Tanya’s thoughts returned, for she had only been holding them at bay. She had asked her mum about the flying machines, and she had replied, not without a degree of surprise, that she should know better than that. That her mature, confident daughter should know better than that. And Tanya thought that maybe she did. But there was something so thrilling in the way that Maz believed in them, in everything. His eyes were bright with certainty, and the idea surrounded her like a mirage, fuelled by the sense of possibility in the air: it was feasible, for these few short weeks alone, that anything might happen.
Suddenly the garden, as Tanya moved her eyes around it, seemed to lend itself to fantasy. Horses, should they graze here (they would, they must) could be unicorns after the light was lost each night, and before it had returned each morning. She let her eyes drift, unfocussed, over the smear of colours and, as she did, the crane flies and horseflies were flying machines – each one sanctioned and honoured by the faith that she had found in herself; the faith that she had found in Maz.
The horizon in front or her, the infinite, improbable purples of the evening sky, became peopled with flying crafts, zipping and diving, each bowing to a formula in her mind – a compressed version of Thunderbird Two, shining with metal. There was room enough for a single person, and a domed glass roof shaped it into what could only be described as a pod.
Looking through this idea to the patterned colours of the sky Tanya was helpless with the idea that Maz might be looking at the same thing from his garden. She noted her position (in case it should come up in conversation). She was exactly underneath the thinning end of a pink spiral, before it faded to a ballooning mass of greys; the body of a cloud. The swirls might have been the raspberry moose she ate that lunchtime! Tanya thought. She imposed this idea upon the sky with delight, before it drifted from her mind like the droplets of a cloud, dissolving into a spray of images as she closed her eyes, colliding and merging; one of Maz, (his nervousness!) one of flying machines (his sweetness), the straight line of his forehead. Her mum’s anxious face, and words…
Tanya couldn’t seem to focus on any one of these images, perhaps she didn’t want to. They came together and parted, moving faster and faster through her mind with each beat of the skipping rope, a smudge of feather-touch sensations and desire, leaving her dimly aware that she could get lost in images that might never be. But still they changed and moved, increasing… There was Maz and unicorns, colours and smells, faster and faster with the swoosh and tap of air, increasing with each beat of her heart… increasing… increasing.
Before she let them all go. Released them. Tanya focused her mind on nothingness – chasing, before embracing it. She stood there still, breathing desperately into the silence. Tanya couldn’t understand the distinction between before and after, but she knew that here it was calmer. Slower. She breathed.
As soon as Tanya opened her eyes (for she had closed them, she supposed, at some point) she couldn’t help imagining the flying machines again, for the idea was brilliant, that she could fly to Maz this evening – impress him as she flew into his garden! The sky was at once bursting with flying machines again, carving their unfeasible arcs through the sky, each one carrying a faceless passenger except for the highest, where she pictured Maz, faster than anyone and unafraid, his eyes squinting with joy.
Suddenly Tanya longed for the daytime, where she could talk to Maz again. But she was scared of what the new day might bring.
What Tanya knew for sure, what reached her through the clouds of uncertainty swirling in her head, covering her fear, was that she wanted to be close to Maz, to see what he saw. Everything else was worry by comparison, awkwardness and doubt. Sometimes she imagined there was a rubber-band bringing them together. Even when they were at home she felt the strain, as it stretched too far, welded and melted to some secret part of her, above her stomach and below her heart. She could feel the streaks of white that appeared as it pulled and pulled...
Maz would play some role in her future, she decided with vague assurance, for she sensed in him some quality that she had sensed before, compelling her, for no reason she was aware of, to go upstairs and find her mum’s photo albums.
She did so all in a rush of blood and pink cheeks, hot itchy skin, and insect bites. Opening her grandmother’s old chest a rush of mustiness consumed her, instilling in her immediately all the familiarity of her grandmother’s house. Books, too, were embroiled in the scent; fragile pages, perfectly preserved; the possibilities that lay in unfamiliar signatures scrawled inside the cover, suggesting, in the loops and curves of an unknown hand, centuries of time.
Tanya seized and album from its cot, and cradled it like some forgotten child. It was deep red and encased in leather, fat with those pictures of before – of before she was born – of before they lived here – of before her dad left… These thoughts were bound together with the distant, ancient tang of leather. Whenever Tanya smelt leather it was the padded-red of that book she thought of first – its thick, soft ostentation; too big for its purpose, but holding within it all those things she thought most precious.
Tanya let her hand fly through pages instinctively, perching on the bed, and suddenly there was her father, holding her up when she had been small (she had been so tiny!) and spinning her around! She remembered this photo of her father like a friend, and sometimes, if she approached it in the right way, from some elusive angle, she could recapture for a moment the rushing excitement of spinning, and an impression of him, strong and vibrating with laughter; fitting so completely, so comfortably with the scene painted in her mind; with a yearning for home.
Slowly Tanya’s breathlessness left her, and Tanya turned the page. There were photos of her grandparents here, a picture of her granddad when he was younger and one when he was older. Tanya compared the two for a moment. Somehow the smudged, brown hue of the former seemed right – as though when he had been young he had simply been that colour, the world had simply been that colour…
Granddads face had sunken slowly towards his chin, as though pulled by an invisible weight. He had been young as well, in a time before she had known him. Tanya stared at the photo, helpless with the possibilities of time, the tricks that it played. She couldn’t look away, and she couldn't understand. Her granddad would change so completely, but all the while his small house, its living room, its kitchen, would remain there, unchanged – as solid as a rock, while time washed around it like a stream.
She thought there might be a photo of him before he had met her Gran and flicked through the album quickly, searching for this prize with something closer to desperation than curiosity. He must have been younger than that once…
But Tanya gave up suddenly, closing the drawer more sharply than she had intended.
Granddad had been young once and he had got older. She wondered how he had met her grandmother, what he had done, and all the while the idea of her and Maz (their future!) permeated her thoughts, playing faintly in her mind like quiet music. The house that Tanya had been in so many times before, her grandparent’s house, stayed with her that night in the creases of her mind. There seemed something so clinical about it; it seemed to be laughing at them, for all the while even though it grew older, it stayed the same, as though immune, somehow, to the forces of the world.
For the rest of that day, even after she went to bed, Tanya felt some weight of history on her chest; the awareness that before she and Maz could join those ranks of Johnson’s, their legacy in ink spiralling endlessly into time, she would have to talk to Maz more than she did. But they would grow old, she remembered in a burst, and that made it easier. Time was short, even though it somehow seemed eternal. She should talk to Maz so that they could spend their time together, because one day they would be old… It struck Tanya suddenly that she was wide-awake, and she tried to cast all these thoughts aside, and think about beaches and islands and Christmas… nice thoughts that her mum had told her to think about whenever she couldn’t sleep… And when sleep came it drifted around her; she breathed it in and it caressed her to a world of children, grandchildren, and houses that never changed.


On Wednesday morning Tanya inspired in Maz echoes of the fleeting doubt he had felt the previous evening, and the feelings surprised him. It were as though he had conquered a great mountain, only to lose his footing near the summit, and tumble loosely to the earth.
He saw Tanya was he walked from Mrs. Catchpole’s classroom to morning break, and he was only vaguely aware that he was imitating her pace, keeping a steady distance behind her so as to remain unseen. Delaying. Even the snatches of her conversation that Maz overheard seemed to conspire against him:
‘…I wouldn’t want ‘im to anyway’ Tanya snapped at Nina, trying to cut her out of the conversation so that she and Lindsey might set up some camp beneath a tree on the field, (miles away from the school, it seemed) so that they could talk about Maz. For it was Lindsey, alone, that she trusted.
Nina, not taking the hint, but sensing some harshness towards her that she didn’t like, walked away to find Sarah, her friend, who she liked better than Tanya, anyway.
And Tanya was released. As though some tether had been cut she sprang onto the grass (dry enough to play on, for once) laughing and looking behind her, knowing Lindsey would be following. Hand in hand, in some wordless pact, they ran, lit up by sunlight, to find the earthy shade of the large acorn tree, some hundred miles from the school, over planes of lush pastures.
A quiet leant by distance surrounded them. The grass was greener here (Tanya was sure of it) and less densely layered – untouched by the heavy feet of children (implanting in her mind an image of the perfect early-morning water of the swimming pool; almost artificial smoothness, as though it were thick, like jelly, and then a recollection of Maz, who had always wanted to be first to dive in those mornings, to spoil it), imparting on this tree a sense of wilderness.
Tanya reached the tree first and released Lindsey’s hand, crumpling onto her front. Her dress and body pressed the clean grass flat, and her elbows rested on the edge of it, propping up her head above the moat of earth that surrounded the tree.
Tanya noticed, (as she heard Lindsey’s voice, a level hum somewhere nearby – asking her about Didi, about whether he liked her) a series of dirt roads in the mud. She traced the line of them with her eyes to a point where four roads cross, (Lindsey was saying that Didi was sometimes horrible to her, and had laughed at her once) and then to a bend, and a bridge that had been made by hollowing a space beneath a section of the mud and leaving the original level of the earth intact above it.
The roads were seamlessly carved, an indentation in the ground about two inches wide, and a spaghetti tangle of length that stretched right around the tree – the work of a lifetime, it seemed to Tanya – a commitment that had been worth every second.
The sound of Lindsey’s voice, ever-present in the background of Tanya’s mind, became the hum of an engine as Tanya traced the road around with her finger, imagining the car that she might have had; her finger powered, in part, by the thought of Maz doing the same thing sometime in the past (the idea of this, his creation); hoping that he would see her here and come over, ask her if she liked it (she would tell him that she did). He would have a car, she thought, perfectly proportioned, and they would play together. He would teach her how to do it properly, show her things… Didi might come as well, and talk to Lindsey, because she liked him…
And Lindsey was talking to her, Tanya remembered, looking up.
Having noticed Tanya’s distance Lindsey stared at her, not in annoyance but in interest, glancing from her to the road, expectantly, as though she had just asked a question and received no answer.
‘Sorry’ Tanya said, looking at Lindsey before looking down.
‘That’s ‘k,’ Lindsay said sweetly, for Tanya was her best friend, they did everything together – everybody said so. Lindsey talked about the roads for a moment, speculating on who could have made them, and, as she did Tanya noticed Maz from the corner of her eye, far away – playing football.
She remembered, all of a sudden, that they had come up here to talk about Maz, and she retraced her thoughts from the beginning of break-time. Nina was gone, perhaps annoyed, the grass was the water in the swimming pool and Maz was fearless, and nice, with some great force moving through him that encouraged and delighted her. (But these bright thoughts, drifting through her consciousness, were coloured darker by anger – that Maz should be playing football, far away, when she was over here. That he should not ask her about the flying-machine even though she had found out – even though he had asked her to find out…)
Lindsey thought it had been Nathan, anyway. He had probably built the roads.
With the veil of this mystery lifted from her mind Tanya could resist it no longer and asked Lindsey, all at once, the questions she had been saving up.
Lindsey, seeing the fire in Tanya’s eyes, put aside her thoughts of Didi so that Tanya would be happy. After all Tanya probably needed sympathy – the involvement of such things must surely have been huge. When the girl in the book that Lindsey was reading had fallen in love with the prince she had been unable to sleep for a week, and Lindsey indulged in this fantasy with oscillating fear and joy. But if anyone could do it Tanya could, Lindsey decided, even if she was scared.
She answered Tanya, saying that she had seen Maz looking at her – that he often did, and doing so she noticed two figures walking over to them. Her heart starting beating, frantically, suddenly, and she wished that it would be Maz (Didi), but looking harder, and for longer, it was Nathan, she decided, and his friend Richard (who she hated).
Maz, far away, saw the same thing, as he tried, and failed, to concentrate on playing football: Nathan and Richard were walking over to Lindsey and Tanya.
All the burning agitation of the day before resurfaced. Nathan had been talking to Tanya yesterday, bothering her (he was so loud and so stupid – had she been laughing?) He thought of the flying machine (the flying machine!) with more assurance than before (it was an embarrassment, a humiliation), remembering the sneer of Richard’s face as he had impressed this idea upon him – all these images contriving, somehow, to undo him, to displace him.
He willed upon Tanya (who surely knew by now that there were no flying machines) his desire, from half a playing field away – that she should punish Richard for his involvement, make him pay. He willed upon Tanya that she should show her allegiance to him, alleviate his doubt.
Maz watched them, slicing the football repeatedly as he attempted to subtly look their way. Had Tanya looked in his direction? Perhaps she had just been looking around her. Maz wasn’t sure. But he could see clearly that she was laughing now with Lindsey at whatever Nathan and Richard were saying…
The world around Maz grew vague, except for a clear circle in the centre of his vision where detail was sharp with definition. He could see Tanya’s eyes, catlike, beautiful, narrow in laugher, her white teeth as she smiled, talking, saying things, unknown to Maz, that he wished, with all the effort he could find, she were saying to him.
The scene was obscured for a split-second (as Maz stood staring) by some brown blur. He looked harder, and it happened again, hiding, for vital seconds what he had to see, what he needed to see… and a voice saying Maz…
He turned to see Didi, standing and staring at him, fascination and gentle amusement etched on his face – so real, so unavoidable, as to be an antidote to all his woes, to his distance, his dismay…
‘Mazzy!!’ Didi shook him playfully by the shoulders. ‘You playin’??’ And Maz answered yes, slowly, considering (as he looked at Didi) confiding in his friend – telling him everything he thought, all in one breath, asking him if Tanya liked him, or if she was teasing him. But Maz did not, could not, acknowledge the torrid waters inside him even to ask Didi (who was so strong, so confident). They seemed to clash and change momentarily and, each time they did it was a new kind of fear that gripped Maz – a new dire possibility. Tanya and Nathan, Tanya and Richard; that Tanya might laugh at him, laugh at the flying machine...
These dark waters united suddenly, horrifically, as a new scenario gripped him (Tanya and Richard had both come up with the flying machine to trick him, so that they could talk about him, laugh at him!) one that he couldn’t believe, couldn’t consider…
He answered yes to Didi, thinking, as he swore to focus on the game (to try with every ounce of effort), that he should have talked to Tanya earlier – that he was a coward to have slowed down behind her, and to be here now, when he should have been over there, fighting Richard (Nathan), fighting for Tanya…
Maz swung his leg towards the ball and kicked Christopher Adcock so hard that he fell to the ground, swearing. Maz regarded him briefly with irritation, and looked away.

Chapter 3.

As Nathan talked, boasting about something, saying that he and Richard had beaten Mark and Craig by thousands of goals the day before, improbable as it seemed to Tanya, there was something deeper and older that undercut all the dislike she felt for him – some pull to him that contradicted the feelings she could understand. She thought he was annoying, and he talked too much. He was a bully, as well. But there was something else. He had come over to talk to them, and Tanya liked it, sitting here as he stood over her, talking a lot, but he was looking at her (when Maz was over there, miles away) and when he smiled, she wanted to smile, and when they were both smiling, they laughed…
Richard chipped in, occasionally; adding to the barrage of words that burst from Nathan’s mouth. Lindsey, looking at the two of them, felt an unlikely compassion for Richard (who she hated, she hoped he would die - as he boasted about stupid things, trying to impress them)… She was impressed that they could come here and talk; that they weren’t playing football, but that they were here, talking; saying stupid things, but if she were walking and there were bad people around, in the dark, or on Oxford Road, then Richard would help her, protect her. These assurances tapered her feelings towards him, and they culminated in something closer to pity than hate – that he should not understand both his repulsiveness and his attraction, but that he thought they might be impressed by improbable football scores (could they score a thousand in one lunchtime?) and the number of football stickers that they had.

Walking home that afternoon Maz was subdued – constricted by a great vacuum inside him, one that made him feel odd and forced him, each time he might have breathed in deeply to suck in meagre, shallow gasps.
Every time Tanya emerged in his head her image would distort, the reality of this morning still too strong and too real, influencing from a distance all that Maz imagined. Even as he day-dreamed he couldn’t envisage a single positive scenario in which he and Tanya could talk to each other, could make each other laugh…
The words that Didi was speaking rose into the air, and fell, lost, having been neither acknowledged or heard…
Didi, Maz realised, had some great talent for talking – for speaking, like Nathan, Richard (surely everybody, in that split-second, but he) even when nobody was listening. He could just continue to talk. Something solid inside him that was strong, that was immovable, just said he could continue, without fear. And so he did.
As the two of them wandered slowly down London Road, Didi continued to talk, and Maz, his own aimless thoughts leading him back to Didi, (the nature of him, people like him) found that he was listening again, in spite of himself. But for now that was better. Better than the dull impotence he had felt all afternoon; better than the images that ricocheted through his head…
He wished he were at home. He could play with his figures, watch cartoons, and eat toast and butter and jam…
He would talk to Tanya tomorrow, perhaps. But the comfort of his home, of his figures, even as he made this resolution, undid him, and some secret place in his mind would not let him be sure of anything that he said, any promises he made.
Maz wished he were like Didi – that he could talk with no-one listening, and be sure all the time.


By the evening Maz had dulled the bad thoughts, and in their place had materialised another world; one where The Terminator was hunting The Nasty Boys, whose plane had crashed on the way to Wrestlemania, leaving them stranded. They had needed to take control of the plane, to navigate their way down but neither of them had known how. And now they were stranded in the jungles, for which Maz had gone outside into his garden; a small square of grass framed with a neat, concrete path.
The Nasty Boys now led a crusade against The Terminator, who was armed with guns, but vulnerable to an attack from behind. The Nasty Boys could use their wrestling moves, after all.
Maz collapsed to the grass, a figure in each hand, and landed on his elbows and knees. As The Nasty Boys attempted a hold The Terminator took a cool step back, and shot from the hip.
The grass blew about the shoulders of these figurines, overgrown, like some dense forest of young saplings, aching with potential. The idea was enchanting to Maz; as though he might ever see trees that high, that dense! He couldn’t deny the possibilities for long, and the allure of exploring this exotic environment soon put his figures in the shade. As his head sunk level with the line of the ground he dropped The Terminator, who fell, lost in the undergrowth.
With his chin resting on the grass Maz looked vacantly along the line of the horizon in front of him, feeling changes that he had felt before. As the lawn grew and grew, becoming something else, the change was tangible, definite – synchronized with the focus of his eyes. The harder he looked, the more he could see…
Every particle was magnified, grained with detail. The lawn was another land, and Maz was its God – its idol. The blankness of the grass became trees and plains, insects were beasts; granules of dirt sprung mountains from the depths of Maz’s mind. This grass that he had played on a hundred times before was suddenly a microcosm of the world – lumps of soil the peaks and troughs, the highs and lows; the blades as trunks of trees and bees, as Maz blew on them, tumbled, lost in his typhoon, bowing to possibility, for this world had sprung from a lawn…
In that fleeting moment all that Maz had ever seen before flashed through his mind in a symphony of colours, smells and certainty – for anything he had ever seen could be something else up-close! For that second it were as though the world had opened up to him, doubled in size, and whispered its secrets – for each object contained a doorway to somewhere else. Maz was unaware of the goose-pimples on his arms as he marvelled at this world, for it was his world, and he knew not if they were blades of grass or trees, but only that they were, they had been. They would be.
He remained there, focused, and far away from his garden. He knew every flicker the wind inspired, the direction that every blade of grass had gone (the direction that every blade would go). He could feel every choice and option of every object, lined up before him, aware of their dilemma for a time so slight it barely registered before it was lost, the decision already made. He felt the sun as it pulled from the east, the clouds as they swam; his focus remained, but he couldn’t acknowledge it – to do so would be to lose it, to throw it away…
Temptation, though, proved too great. Maz relished in considering, suddenly – relished in contemplating this brief exceptional clarity, and, as he mused upon it, it was like waking to the broken recollection of some dream – excited anticipation of the day ahead tinged with layered sadness and regret. (After all, what if you should never dream such a dream again?)
Maz knew these feelings with the sight he still seemed to possess, and the realisation that this sight, too, would be lost felt like the end of an age of time. He found himself lying there, on the overgrown lawn, suddenly crumbling beneath some crushing weight, gasping with grief, drawing in breath as though he might never again have the chance – as though it might relieve him of this surprising sorrow. But the feelings passing over him were relentless, and Maz wept, reluctantly at first, and then with more enthusiasm; accepting it, and after a time embracing it. Hoping to purge his body with aimless, shuddering cries. Hoping to pass this poison back into the sky; to look outwards, for the possibility of looking inside still remained.
Maz stayed there for a while, not daring to think that the feelings may have passed – so consumed with frustration that all he could do was open his mouth, close it again, try to cry out, to form some shapeless sound of his emotion.
The panic, though, the dismal frustration, had subsided, less suddenly than it had begun, leaving Maz with the shaken catharsis of someone who has recently cried, echoes of which would shudder through his chest for minutes afterwards every time he breathed in. Every time he breathed out.
The panic had subsided. And in its place grew certainty, fuelled by some distant determination that he must avoid ever feeling this way again. He had to talk to Tanya, to take those difficult steps, for if he didn’t he could bathe in her beauty and quietly worship her, but she would drift away like a pattern in the clouds. He knew this with some atavistic instinct, shaped by the stinging recollection of Tanya and Nathan talking, and by the sense of loss that still weakened him from moments before, that he had known all the wonder of the world and it had drifted away...
Maz sighed, pondering the sternness of life – its inconsistencies. He could cycle to the top of Rose Hill without even slowing down, but for some reason talking to Tanya was much harder, even though it would be over in seconds (Rose Hill had taken ten minutes!)
He would do it if he had to – for Tanya. For the two of them.
Maz turned onto his back. His decision felt hard and firm, and he could lean on it, steady himself. He breathed in the infinite flavours of the outside into his mind, spreading his arms and legs and staring at the sky, as though the world were about to turn, and he was the only one prepared to fly away.
For the first time in a long time, Maz found that he could embrace thoughts of Tanya, without fear. She was an image in his mind coloured brighter by the mingled scent of cut-grass and freedom – the sexy cool of the air. The chill of these evenings would always make Maz long for the brilliant, bare fire of the days, until the day came when he would long for the evenings again – each one surpassing the other for a time so small it was hard to measure, but neither ever less than wonder.
In bed that night the world seemed flung with far-off possibility and distant dreams. As Maz closed his eyes there was Tanya in the foreground of his mind, and in the background nothing more than the universe, and the future, and the stars.
He was reminded again of Christmas as he drifted away – remembering that desperate, frenzied desire for the night to be over and for the day to come.


The path Maz turned down from London Road the next morning was almost identical to the one that Tanya turned down a hundred and fifty meters to the left. They walked, the two of them, a park’s width apart and parallel – Tanya closer to the railway track and Maz the opposite side, closer to London road; Palmer Park between them.
People they knew, each of them, were scattered along the route like seeds. Some straggling, some in groups, some with handfuls of dry grass, armed and readied for an impromptu battle – the winner, seemingly, the one with so much grass clinging to their clothes and face that they couldn’t see their opponent to defend themselves.
Maz relaxed the focus of his eyes and squinted at them. The children seemed then to be an extension of the grass, rolling and moving, alive, throwing, laughing, but green – some buried so deeply that they might have stayed there for days, at one with the flat plains of the earth; moved by its vibrations.
It was going to be hot today. Maz knew this as surely as he knew there was no such thing as a flying machine. It was ingrained in the air – infinite, assured.
To Maz this Thursday had the feel of a great event, as though it were the last day of school, or a sports day. He was full of nervous energy, embracing each moment and revelling in it.
For Maz school had always been a process of enduring the mundane and waiting for Games, waiting for Football, waiting for Making Stuff and Drawing. The time between leaving home in the morning and returning in the afternoon had a quality like elastic, stretching and bending, depending, somehow, on the fragrance and the flavours of the day – shaped by events that could not shape it.
Sometimes Maz just swam through the days, longing for the weekend and school – ten-pee mixes and wrestling. Yearnings and desires would touch in his mind, changing momentarily with the light flicker of a breeze… But today things were different. Maz was conscious of time in a way he never had been before. As he walked it was with a sense of the day ahead of him planned, somehow, into the shape that he knew it would take. He could see with certainty, as he looked forward, the nature of things: he would talk to Tanya and she would reply: Nathan would be nowhere, would be playing football, would be, in fact, anywhere but where he and Tanya stood. Together.
This belief was fuelled by an assurance that Maz had gained, and he still floated on it (as though it were a breeze, and he were a leaf) unafraid to face the day. For he still remembered the night before with clarity – the gift that he had been given, the sense of himself and the world in harmony… but he had thought about it too much. And it had left him, with sorrow taking its place. Maz shook these feelings away, and conditioned by it he knew what he needed to do. He couldn’t let Tanya get away, couldn’t let her be replaced with sorrow.
As he went into the newsagents and bought bubblegum he met Mr Singh’s eyes, waiting for him to say 23 pence please, before looking to his hand; counting out two tens, and a two, and a one. Sensing a hollow victory in his actions that derived from nothing, but meant, for that moment, everything – that Mr Singh should have to ask him for the money, and that he should slowly count it out and hand it over, where he might, on another day, have had it ready, clutching it to his palms – anticipating all-too-keenly the transaction, and his escape from the shop.
He looked at Mr Singh again now, waiting. Even after he had said thank you Maz stared at him, still standing there, before Mr Singh looked away, averted his eyes, and Maz, with that same sense of triumph lifting him, could walk away.

He barely thought of Tanya that morning, but simply drifted through the day, concentrating on nothing, performing tasks (he had a spelling test, painted a tiger) efficiently and indifferently, but always with a subdued sense of something greater that could happen soon, something he was waiting for.
It was at morning break that Maz allowed himself to face that inevitable sense of waiting. He met its gaze, but found that it was greater than he thought. He would have to find Tanya and he would have to talk to her. A familiar squirming panic rose up inside him. And it reminded him of the darkness that existed without her.
Maz looked around the playground, and noticed Tanya on the other side.

As Sarah began to talk about the afternoon spelling test Tanya looked around her. She had been thinking about Maz, feeling excited about today for reasons she could not pin down. Everybody seemed to be vibrating with excitement – Lindsey and Manny had both said something to her about Maz, and now Tanya was nervous. (Sarah was talking in the background, asking her about question ten, and saying that she thought it was ‘ht’ but wasn’t sure if it had a ‘g’). She hadn’t seen him, but perhaps Sarah had, and Tanya interrupted her, asking if she’d seen him (Sarah put her hand on her hip for a moment, something she had seen her mother do, and enjoyed) and eventually nodded in Maz’s direction, before walking away to ask somebody else about question ten.
Tanya turned around. She thought she saw Maz walking towards her, but it was Didi, remarkably similar in height and appearance, who had stopped to talk to him.
Maz turned his head and saw Tanya, standing, staring, with the gormless air of someone lost in distant thought, surprised to be discovered, but unable to look away. It was Maz that was on her mind, no-one else. He began to walk towards her.
As he got closer Tanya felt the heat coming off him in waves. Alertness pumped through her so quickly that it was painful – reminding her of when she ate something sharp for the first time in hours – pleasure and pain in a jet of saliva, as now, in a jet of adrenaline. Mixed desire and dread.
They stood facing each other, Maz revelling in nervous tension, embracing it. Feeling the adrenaline and trying to hold onto it, to milk from it every sensation, every chemical. Neither of them was aware, nor did they consider, the time that they spent there – it stumbled and tripped. They both shivered in the heat.
Neither of them knew what to do. But it didn’t seem important. Tanya’s fears were forgotten. It was glorious anticlimax. But they were together, so they would never regret it.
‘There’s no flying machine then?’ Tanya ventured.
‘Nah.’ And Maz grinned widely, shyly. Trying to cover his smile, even as it grew further, but unable to control his face (lacking experience in doing so). They shared this joke, this conspiracy, and appreciated that no one else would know it, would understand. This moment was their own.
They walked to the shade, talking about the things they liked. Trying to look at each other’s eyes before the other saw them – looking away too late. Catching glimpses. The whites of each others eyes was the image they would recall that night, pressed against a background of brown skin, lent pink by embarrassment. Made perfect by time.
And it was time that they owed a debt to that summer, for more than once were its rules broken in the face of wide-eyes and optimism, adrenaline and doubt. They would often go days without seeing each other at all, but they were always drawn back by Tanya’s rubber band, feeling something wrong inside if it stretched too far. A deep, dark ache of yearning that sapped their concentration, and brought them together, weak with desire – feeling, each of them, and constantly, a burden that was terrifying and wonderful; that would wash them away like a tidal wave, all consuming, and impossible to undo

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Comments by other Members

NMott at 11:21 on 18 October 2008  Report this post
Hi, G-Man and welcome to WriteWords
10K words is a bit long to read and comment on in one sitting. If you want something more detailed then 2K is a better length - although you might consider uploading it on the Authonomy website, as 10K is the minimum they require, but comments tend to be far less detailed.

I've read the first chapter and it's a good story - My first thought was whether it's the Steam Punk genre? I bought George Mann's novel Affinity Bridge (publ. Snowbooks) purely because of the picture of an airship on the front.

You haven't said what sort of comments you're looking for it, so I'm going to give my first impressions. You'll have to forgive me if they come across as a bit brusque at times, but I'm a little short of time at the moment and, as a part member, this maybe the only time you upload something. Most of the points I'm going to make are what almost all writers hear about their first work, so try to read it with a detatched attitude. There is a lot good in it, but because I'm short of time I'm just concentrating on the bits that need fixing.

I liked the opening scene, however it's a little confusing. It's always best to start with the main character, Maz. Instead you start with a girl called Manny and her reactions to what she's seeing, which is ok, although it's probably not worth naming the characters who's reactions you are describing. You have a man who's trying to phone for help, and a line of his halting dialogue, eg:
‘What happened?? Call an ambulance or somein’, innit!’
- you don't need the exta question mark. I don't think 'innit' works. It's a contraction of 'isn't it?' - a question - and you use it twice in this paragraph.

The next scene with Maz contemplating his surroundings was good. however - and this is the reason why (personaly) I dislike prologues - it gives a confusing start to chapter 1. It's a scene presumably taken from somewhere in Maz's future (somewhere inside the book) where he's dying, and next (start of Chap. 1) he's with friends discussing the cost of a flying machine. By the of the opening scene, I still don't have a clear picture of Maz, of how old he is, of the era, of where he is, what the 'flying machine' is that he's referring to (why wouldn't he call it a spaceship, if it's a spaceship? Even very young children know what spaceships are - this was partly why I wondered it it was Steam Punk, because he'd seen something that looked neither like a spaceship or a plane or dirigable, or maybe he's in a world where they don't have manned flight?). And, more importantly, what age of reader the book is ained at? - Children's? Young Adult(Teen)? The prose is too detailed for Childrens fiction, but the characters are children, which may put off older Teen and Adult readers.
Instead of setting the scene, you have concentrated on detailing/explaining Maz feelings. You put a lot of work into explaining the subliminal messages that are passed between dialogue, rather than using the dialogue to do the job for you. All the way through the chapters there were no clean strings of dialogue - it is all cluttered with explanation. You need to trust the reader to 'get it', to do half the work for you, so you don't have to add all this explanation and instead can concentrate on the plot.
Also in the opening scene of chap. 1. your mc gets far too emotional, when you haven't set up the explanation of what it is he's describing and why it means so much to him -
A wave of emotion threatened to incapacitate him once again, but he forced himself to hold on, striving for some strand of reason in this unpredictable world,
= if he'd just lost his mother, then it would be believable, but having all this outporing of emotion when you've just had a scene where two boys are discussing a £100 "flying machine" from Toys R Us is stretching the point a bit. I would suggest replacing the emotional angst with humour - these are boys afterall - and it would counterbalance the more shocking scene in the prologue.
Skipping down to the bottom of the extract, you've again over egged the emotional pudding:
They stood facing each other, Maz revelling in nervous tension, embracing it. Feeling the adrenaline and trying to hold onto it, to milk from it every sensation, every chemical. Neither of them was aware, nor did they consider, the time that they spent there – it stumbled and tripped. They both shivered in the heat.
Neither of them knew what to do. But it didn’t seem important. Tanya’s fears were forgotten. It was glorious anticlimax. But they were together, so they would never regret it.
‘There’s no flying machine then?’ Tanya ventured.

- it sounds as though you are describing them making love, but it's about their feelings towards a "flying machine".
I notice you also tell it from both character's points of view. I would just have it from Maz's pov, unless Tanya has scenes to herself, in which case pick just one pov to tell it from in each scene.
Also, (minor point about dialogue), Tanya ventured - stick to said/asked, otherwise the dialogue doesn't flow.

There are some very good lines, such as comparing Tanya to FM radio
I think you have done very well with this, but it needs a good edit. You are trying to drive the story through emotion rather than plot. Where you do have facts they tend to be given as chunks of tell (info. dumps of backstory). These are all common failings in first novels. Once you spot them there, then you can easily deal with them. The trick is to train your writer's eye to see them in the first place, and that comes from readng other writers' work - both published (to see how it's written well) and unpublished (on sites like WW) (to see the common mistakes).
Check out Sol Steins books: Solutions for Writers and Solutions for Novelists, and Margaret Geraghty's The Novelists Guide - Powerful Techniques for Creating Character, Dialogue and Plot - they got me through my first novel.
Good luck with it.

- NaomiM

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