First Man

Free First Man by Ava Martell

Book: First Man by Ava Martell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ava Martell
last century. Far from being the mindless drivel many literary purists would have it labeled as, the fantasy genre has produced texts that could only be called modern day epics.
    “The protagonists in these tales are called heroes or heroines, and they are rarely the one-dimensional defenders of the righteous. Truly well-written heroic characters make mistakes and have moral ambiguities. The same goes for the antagonists, usually referred to as villains. Though creatures of ultimate and unwavering evil are used with relative frequency in the fantasy genre, a much more interesting type of villain is one who can draw the sympathy of the readers.
    Joseph Campbell’s ‘ The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ is a text devoted to the study of heroism in human mythology. It contains detailed descriptions of the progressions people undergo as they change from normal humans to heroic figures. Since a well written character should have the same feelings and dilemmas as a real person, Joseph Campbell’s book helps answer many questions. Why is literature filled with great struggles between good and evil? Why are heroic characters so enticing, and why do villains have a similar draw?
    “This is good,” I said, flipping though the other pages to find a meticulous reading schedule and plans to write a lengthy paper documenting her findings. “This is very good. It’s also incredibly ambitious for one semester when you do have five other classes.”
    I looked up at Ember to see her practically beaming, and I wondered if she had even heard anything beyond the praise.
    “I can make it work,” she replied, the surety in her voice quieting any more potential protests.
    “All right,” I agreed. Back then I really had been curious to see where she would manage to take this project. Her topic wasn’t entirely revolutionary, but this would be the longest paper she had written so far in her academic career. How she handled a project of this level would likely be a perfect indication of how she’d fare in university life.
    The bell rang, and Ember ran off to her next class, leaving me with the copy of her proposal resting on my desk.

    I’d generally treated my fellow teachers with the same aloof courteousness that I afforded my students. I can’t pretend that I never had a momentary stab of envy at the clusters of teachers gossiping together at the lunch tables. Their topics might not have interested me, but my closest friend was over four thousand miles and an ocean away. Even a lone wolf gets lonely sometimes.
    The behavior of New Englanders suited my personality far more than the overtly friendly Southerners of Atlanta had. The Southern habit of striking up conversations with strangers and telling your whole family history in a casual conversation was largely absent in New Hampshire, a personality trait I was deeply grateful for.
    I’d heard the people here described as flinty and cold by outsiders, but it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. People here were simply more cautious of outsiders and more introspective. The long winters will make anyone turn inward.
    I hadn’t even noticed the slow progression from outsider to local. The faculty lounge had stopped falling silent when I entered, and without even realizing it, I’d been accepted into the fold.
    Laura Watson taught freshman and sophomore English, herding the rambunctious bands of 14 and 15 year olds through the finer points of Shakespeare. A no nonsense woman in her late fifties, she wore her iron-grey hair in an immovable topknot. I’d seen that woman walk through blizzards without so much as a hair slipping out of place.
    She had taken the new art teacher under her wing. Janet Parsons was a tiny, birdlike woman. Pretty enough, but she seemed terrified of her students half the time. Fresh out of graduate school, the 24 year old still seemed a bit baffled that she was actually in charge of her own class.
    The two women were lingering in the faculty lounge, nursing

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