Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A new novel's on the way

It seems the long break is somehow over. How? you wonder. Let me tell you: We were uncharacteristically going off-topic on my self-published books, pain or gain thread, when one of the contributors told us about and incident that happened a few years ago, when her husband was rushed to surgery in order to save his life. She said back then that she assured herself that she couldn't be a widow in her late twenties and that, if she'd be put in this situation again, she couldn't see herself loving another man again.We discussed the possibilities, the ethnics, etc. and, in the midst of all, WHAM! the muse found it necessary to slap me with that idea for a novel. Don't ask me why it had to happen now, but the muse kicks in your door when you least expect it--just like love. They seem to find it funny to smack you in the face when your head is busy with other things. Oh well. So, presented with that idea, I quickly threw together a rough story line: young wife loses her beloved husband and struggles with life on her own, missing him dearly. Everyone wants her to meet someone else, because she's too young to be alone, but she's made a promise on her wedding day. Friends and family are at the end of their tether as she pushes everyone away. That is until one man suddenly appears at her door step, remaining undeterred by her rudeness. Is he the one who can save her from herself?
After that, the story's still a bit thin. Since I've started to play around with the plot (yesterday), it has already changed at least three times. Of course, I have a few unexpected twists and turns, the last one will most possibly blow your socks off.
I've decided to keep track about the process as I go along, how much I change, how many scenes I've discarded, what's going on in my head when being creative. And, to give a few glimpses of the tone, I'll post excerpts regularly.
Please be aware that those are mainly unedited, copy and pasted as just typed. It may all change at some point.

One day in London

Here's the opening:

When the door bell rang, I hurriedly dried my hands and rushed to open; I was expecting a parcel for my husband. John had been going on about this book he had to have yet, typically him, never got round to buying it. Tonight, I was going to surprise him at dinner. Chuckling about my little ploy, I pulled the door open and my thoughts changed direction rapidly. Two police officers nodded at me; the woman swallowing hard, the man shuffling his feet.
'Mrs Smith?' the woman asked.
'Yes.' My answer came out more like a question.
'Could we come in, please, there's something we need to tell you.'
I could feel the blood draining from my face and my heart rate going up. John! Oh my god, John. What happened? I nodded, stepping aside to let them in.
Slowly, I closed the door as if to delay the moment of truth, they didn't need to say anything, their faces had bad news written all over them, unease defining their postures as they stood awkwardly in our home.
'Please,' I said, motioning them to make their way into the living room. 'Do you want a tea?' I want to know what happened. I don't want to know what happened! Please don't say it! Please don't tell me he's dead! I was torn.
'Thank you, we just had lunch,' the male officer said. He wiped something off his chest, then cleared his throat. 'Maybe you'd like to take a seat, Mrs. Smith.' His colleague looked at him, then took a step forward and with a calm voice she said, 'I'm so sorry, but we have been called to a fatal accident. Your husband …'
The words were out, said, untakebackable, unreal. The man continued what she couldn't spell out, and I listened without taking anything in.
With shaking hands, I grabbed my mobile from the table in front of me, where I'd put it after talking to John. At exactly 11.06am, just before he'd left to see the next client. John, who, according to them, died on the scene, apparently not feeling any pain. Was that supposed to comfort me? Why do people feel the need to say such things?
'Mrs Smith, are you all right?'
'Yes, I-I-no. Do you need me to identify him?'
The female officer shook her head. 'No. He had all the documents on him.'
I nodded. Of course he had. John was the type of person who carried his passport and donor card everywhere. Just in case he'd had an accident and someone needed to inform me that he's in hospital. If only he were … Nobody could've possibly guessed that some day it may become reality.
'Where is he?'
'They brought him to King's Cross.'
Again, I nodded. Heat rose in me and I felt sick. My hand flew to my mouth as it hit me: John would not come home tonight. Not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever! A sob fought its way out and I lifted my head to meet the woman's eyes which were brimming with sorrow. 'This can't be true,' I whispered.
'Do you want us to call someone? A friend, your mother?' She squatted in front of me to put a hand on my arm.
'No, I think I just want to be alone right now.'
'Are you sure?'
'Yes, please.' Tears were blurring my vision. 'If you could see yourselves out?'
'I'm not sure, Mrs Smith, it's a lot to take in. I'm not feeling comfortable leaving you alone now.'
I sniffled, then took a deep breath. 'I just need a moment, then I'll call our parents.'
'We can do that for you, if you like.'
'No, no,' I shook my head, 'I'd rather they hear it from me. We're very close.'
A minute later, I was dipped in silence. This silence, however, was very different to any other I had experienced when I was on my own. This silence made my thoughts sound like thunder, my sobs felt as if they were ripping me into several parts. I sat here, staring at the phone which my hand still grasped, the screen saver showing me and John on our last holiday: happy and alive, with the future ahead of us, and I finally let my tears run down my face and gather in my lap.


I could tell that Amy was at the end of her tether. The way she almost slammed the mug onto the table in front of me was a dead giveaway. On one hand, I felt sorry for her, on the other hand, she didn't lose the love of her life. Nobody could understand how it felt and despite knowing that everyone just wanted to help me, I only longed for being left alone. The constant pussyfooting around me, the way they looked at me, as if I were someone who couldn't think for herself, the daily calls and visits, the smothering with love, hugs, food, and questions about my well-being; I've had enough of it. I was in a pickle, though, they only meant well, and sending them away would be rude. The only time I'd lost it was when Mum wanted to change the bed covers, but I wouldn't let her. When she hadn't stopped pressing, I'd thrown her out of my house. Nobody was to touch anything that had John's scent on it. Not the sheets, not the towels in the bathroom, not the jumper he'd carefully placed over the chair for the next day, then not worn it, for it was unexpectedly warm, not his shower gel, the cheap one I always teased him about, and not the thick coat with the scarf tugged into one arm. No matter how often I told him he should hang it on the hook, he never did. Amazing how those habits which caused us to quibble have now become something to cling on to.
'You know, I'm just trying to help, Elaine.'
'I know,' I replied as I'd done countless times recently.
'Sweetie, it's been weeks, and I'm not saying you have no right to grief, or that there's a time limit to it, but look at the state of your house, let alone yourself. If you don't let us help, you'll end up with rats and roaches all over the place.'
I shrugged. 'I'll do it later.'
'Yeah, you keep saying that.' Amy snorted.
'Don't do that!'
'Do what?'
'That disapproving sound.'
'Well, I disapprove.'
'I said I'll do it later.' I got up from the chair, pulled the arms of John's cardigan, which I'd removed from the laundry basket, down and was about to leave the kitchen when the phone rang. John? No, stupid, it's not him. John is dead! For a moment Amy and I stared at each other, when I didn't move, she sighed and answered it. It was my mother.
'I'm going to bed.' With that I turned and went upstairs, leaving the tea untouched.

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