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Category Archives: FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)

[New Chapters 6 – 7] The Book of Carver

Chapter 6

[Costa Rica – Same time and date]

Veronica lie napping on a padded hammock at the Sand Dollar Pub, a small beachside bar and grill where American and European expatriates frequent and drink alongside generations of natives who may as well call the spot home. Nearby, a young American traveler is taking part in a ritual—a brutal interrogation by some of the locals. Old and young, men and women alike, gather around any unfamiliar face and free-pour from bottles of dark rum while badgering, degrading and humiliating, deeply prying into the life of the stranger.  If they don’t drive the stranger away, he will have earned not only an evening of complimentary rum but also a lifetime spot in the family. A family of crazies and drunkards, mostly, but they are loyal, and most are well-connected. It’s what they tend to be connected to that can be worrisome, but with enough drinking and camaraderie, you learn not to let that bother you.

Veronica glances over at the young American man named Abe, and softly catches his eyes. She winks and offers a small smile—he seems to be passing. She knows this not only because she’s seen this ritual acted out many times before but because it’s been three hours now, and he’s still there, and seems to be laughing along with the crowd. This earns you bonus points. Technically, the only requirement is to stay through the ordeal, a show of respect for the culture. However, presenting with an enduring air of confident self-deprecation catapults you to levels of very high esteem.

“And what of your Jenny? You say she left you. Why she left you, a dashing young man?” asked Greta, grasping the Abe’s sturdy thigh. Greta, a middle-aged expatriate was a German socialite escaping a rather dodgy past filled with multiple fiancés left wondering what became of her and an inflated bank account without any real explanation of how it tripled in assets within the span of two months. On the other hand, there’s no one around to ask her too many questions about that anymore, so perhaps the mystery will remain just that.

Abe paused at the question, offering no response. He may ultimately fail the test, Veronica, Greta and about a dozen other on-lookers thought, worried for a moment. Abe, however, did not leave. Instead, he slid his empty glass aside, and with a serpent’s grace, he stretched his slender but muscular body across the table, and wrapped his long fingers around the neck with a seductive, choking rhythm, pulled the bottle to his lips and emptied the slightly sweet and eminently powerful liquid into himself.

Abe retracted back into his seat, returning to his meek pose and responded, “I am in love. Carnally in love, spiritually raptured and emotionally damned—the feel of her, the sight, her fiery aura that lights up a room that becomes alive just because she’s in it. Her scent, the way she tastes and sounds hypnotizes me senseless. Her words and thoughts and emotions captivate me and hold me enslaved. But I cannot tell you why I am in love. It’s a spell. She’s horrible. The way she treats people—me. She’s at the core an angry, bitter jealous, crazy woman who bursts into rages and screaming insults when the wind changes direction. Disapproving of all people and ideas, she is an earthquake or a voyage on cracking ice—welcoming at first, but just waiting to through open the trap door on your ass as soon as you hit her mark. Her words at times sound so sweet and kind and so funny as if she’s a delightful gift and could never be anything but, worshipping the very ground on which you walk and so grateful to have you there in this warm place of love and reverence. All the while she has a dagger churning in circles, dug deep into your back, preparing to remove your organs and gleefully play with your spleen like a spongy little ball. These are a few of her favorite things. And I am in love. I too often imagine her unbroken with all of the damaged pieces whole and the crazy removed. But it’s the crazy that’s the glue holding her together, you know? If I could take out the crazy, all that would be left of her is a million little pieces and no glue. So she’s there, and I’m here, in love with her in a place that’s safer. Is there more rum?”

Veronica pops up and pours coffee for Abe saying, “All drunks are poets. You may be a better poet than most, so we’ll need to keep the alcohol poisoning at bay so that you may see another day. So, instead of more rum, let’s have you try another Costa Rican original—a full-bodied roast. Cream or sugar?”

Abe smiles, “Ah, you’re right, of course. I’ve had too much. Black is fine. Thanks.”

Greta wraps her arms around Abe, with Abe suddenly realizing how attractive Greta is, though having lived almost twice his 28 years of life. Greta says, “Abe, I think you shall not make the journey back to your hotel tonight. Too far. You stay here.”

“Here at the bar?” asks Abe.

“No. Here at our house,” says Greta.

“I’ll stay at your house?” asks Abe.

“No. You’ll stay with our Veronica. She is lovely, no? And she will see that you are comfortable for tonight. Your hotel is too far, and you are too drunk to travel that far, yes? Yes,” Greta decides for Abe. Veronica is busy cleaning up the bar getting ready to close. She has prepared a ham sandwich for Abe with thick fresh bread, and she places it along with a very tall glass of coconut water in front of him without a word. Greta says, “Yes. Good. You eat all of this. Drink all of your water. Hector will hand you Asprin. You will finish all of this, and your hangover will be much more, uh, tame in the morning.” Greta pokes Abe hard in his side causing him to wince saying, “You finish all, here? Yes.”

Abe dares not sway from these orders. He still has about a dozen eyes on him, though some had wandered off. Veronica flickers the lights on and off, signaling the close for the night. Last call took place about an hour ago, which went unnoticed do to the lively entertainment provided by the newcomer. As Veronica cleans up the last of Abe’s dishes, his eyes fix on her. She is heartily plump with more than 60 pounds of extra padding evenly distributed around her body and very short—not much more than 5 feet, he thinks, and still she looks rather athletic. She has medium-length blonde hair and a kind yet edgy presence about her, though they have not yet spoken to each other.

Soon, Abe feels remarkably sober, sober enough to realize that while he has every intention of staying the night with Veronica, she has never uttered a word about it. He gently wraps his long fingers around her forearm and asks, “Is it okay with you? May I stay the night at your house? Greta seemed so insistent, I’m sorry it didn’t occur to me to ask you until now.

Veronica explains, “That trial they just put you through for four hours? You passed.” She places her hand on top of his, which is still resting on her arm saying, “You are now family here.” She smiles at Abe continuing, “You are welcome to stay,” and she pats his hand and places it back in his lap. She continues talking to him, while Abe’s brain feels like it’s doing the backstroke, swimming around in his skull. “I’ve seen them perform that ritual, that brutal interrogation you just endured, more times than I can count. Only five people have passed so far. You are the fifth,” she said nodding at him.

“How do you know I passed?” asked Abe.

Veronica leans into him saying, “You stayed.”

“I stayed? That’s it?” asked Abe.

“Yep. That’s it,” replied Veronica. “It’s a flawless test of character, really. If you can tolerate their shenanigans and insults while revealing the most personal things about yourself in answer to their rude questions, it shows that you are forthcoming, that you respect them enough to answer, truthful or not, you have hide thick enough to take their shit and that you stick around through difficulty to a resolution.  Damnit!” she pauses, “I think you might be damn near a perfect person!” Veronica laughs. “Come on. Let’s get you to bed.”

Abe hops out of Veronica’s 1992 yellow Jeep Wrangler that was decked out with the biggest tires he’d ever seen outside of a monster truck derby. She turns off the ignition, and with it stops the blaring music, Schumann’s “Erlkoeng.”

They approach a quaint house, glowing with warm yellow electric lights in lanterns hanging from the eves. As he enters the house behind Veronica, he notices the smell of fresh Caribbean beach air as though the house had no walls, and the beachside breeze painted the interior with a magical peaceful brush.  The floors were all terracotta clay tiles, and the walls were painted in warm buttery yellows and cool blue-gray tones with stark white accents. The furniture was an eclectic mix of comfortable modern décor combined with antiques and local craftsmen’s creations and vibrant art and sculptures.

Veronica leads Abe to a large bamboo door off of the foyer, which reveals a comfortable guestroom, complete with a large white bed with crisp pale blue linens though a little threadbare, having been through more than 10 years of washes on a washboard. Yes, a washboard—the device Veronica has used to wash everything she owns since she moved to Costa Rica 10 years ago.

Abe dove head-first into the bed, kicking off his flip-flops, and landing with his head snuggled deep into the fluffy pillows. An avid marathon insomniac, his shut his eyes, praying that sleep would hit him soon, although he feared the dawn that would most assuredly serve him a mighty hangover. He was hoping he’d be able to sleep through most of it. Veronica flipped off the light and shut the door behind her, and Abe’s prayer was answered as he quickly fell deep into slumber.

 

 

Chapter 7

Veronica had just baked fresh donuts; dawn had poked up above the trees in her back yard and the chickens and geese she kept there were stirring, waiting for the Saturday morning games. Abe started waking at the sweet smell of baked goods. He found it strange, considering the copious amounts of rum he consumed, that he knew where he was and even how he got there.  As he sat up, he was even more astounded that his head wasn’t pounding, and his stomach felt fine. His eyes felt slightly swollen, tongue thick and head a little heavy, almost as if he had caught a light cold. But, that’s it. As he rose to his feet, his bladder felt like a sack of wet sand, and he knew he needed to take care of this issue posthaste.

He thudded his large feet towards the bamboo door, struggling a bit figuring out how to open it until he discovered the latch. Walking through, his eyes strained at the young bright orange light of the day prying through tree leaves and beaming through the large glass doors and window panes. His blinked rapidly adjusting to the light to survey the living area of this gorgeous small home. Woods of mostly bamboo and teak and accents of carved limestone appear alive, as though they grew together organically composing this architecture to create this impressive, cozy dwelling place. The life force shown through in the daylight in a way that wasn’t noticeable at night.

Veronica looked over at Abe, seeing an impressively tall, skinny man with wild dark hair, appearing more than a little lost. She waved towards a plate of donuts and a large glass of ice water saying, “Breakfast?”

Abe raised his eyebrows and smiled, “Uh, thanks. Restroom?”

Veronica pointed right next to him, to a door that was cracked open. Abe swung himself inside—just a quick pivot, latching the door behind him. Veronica exited out the back door with a donut in hand, still slightly warm, and her feather friends soon surrounded her clucking and whining ever-so gently. “No, not yet. We have a guest this morning. A spectator for the game. We must be polite and wait for him,” Veronica said to the chickens and the geese. They appeared to have limited capacity to hold their attention on anything, especially Veronica talking to them as soon as it became obvious that the donut in her hand would not fulfill their need for instant gratification. They just scampered about.

Abe walked out standing next to Veronica with a whole donut stuffed in his mouth, chewing, with his head bobbing up and down in time with the mastication. “Do you like football—American football?” Veronica asks Abe. Abe smiles politely with his lips shut tight, nodding his head in the affirmative. “Great, the girls would love to play for you!” Veronica laughs.

Abe swallows the rest of his donut in a gulp and says, “You mean the chickens are going to play football? Is this like a cockfight?”

“No! Certainly not!” exclaims Veronica, as she swoops up a small black clucking chicken into her arms and cuddles her briefly. “No fighting. Football. Here, just toss the donut out to them. You get to throw the game ball into play,” she says directing Abe towards the donut with her head and releasing the little black chicken into the playing field. “Let the games begin! Woooooooooooo!” yells Veronica as Abe tosses the donut out for the players.

“Go get it Juno! Juno is in the lead, keeping the donut away from Minerva and Venus. Oh! She drops it and wanders off, leaving Minerva in the lead followed closely by Flora hopping out of the bushes. Minerva is on the run with Flora at her heals and blocked by Pellonia! Pellonia has the donut. Good job, Pellonia!” Veronica says, serving as sports announcer for the morning.

Abe has a silly smile glued to his face. “Oh my god, I’ve never seen anything like this! They’re playing ball!” he laughed.  Just then, Venus, the big white goose grabs up the donut and gobbles it—gone!

“Oh, game over! Foul by the fowl! Venus declared champion by default and claimed the prize all to herself.”

Abe’s face dropped, and Veronica noticed. “Hey,” Veronica said nudging him. “What’s with the frowning? You look like you lost your best friend just now.”

“I did,” said Abe.

“Oh, the crazy girl who stole your heart—the one you talked about at the bar?” asked Veronica, fully intending to pry.

“Yeah. It’s okay. It only hurts when I smile,” said Abe.

“Hmm. No, I don’t understand,” She shook her head.  “I need to get to the bar; are you about ready to go? It’s okay, you’ll explain to me on the way.” Veronica instructed.

Back in the Jeep, heading towards the bar, bouncing furiously as if on a crazy trampoline, Veronica finally pipes up, “So, a man wandering around with a broken heart is a mystery to me. I’ve only known women to get that moody and forlorn.”

The subject alone opens deep wounds, and Abe says, “Yeah. It’s a mystery to me too. But be careful what you ask for. I try not to think about it, and I definitely try not to talk about it. Simply put, my heart is bleeding, and I don’t know why, and I can’t seem to stop it.  My head knows it’s crazy, that I’m better off with her gone from me, that there was nothing good there for me. But like a drug, I still crave even the madness and pain she caused. What do they say about addictions? Despite catastrophic consequences, you’re still driven to the drug. That’s it. That’s the best way to explain it.”

The Jeep plummets into a mote-like pothole, and Veronica masterfully climbs the steep incline at an angle, exiting with ease. She looks over at Abe who is gripping the dashboard as though there was actually something there to hang onto. “You can hold the roll bars if you need to hold something,” she says laughing at him, as they return to the bumpy but trail-blazed dirt road ahead, leading to the bar. These pot holes are everywhere. You get used to them. Just as soon as Abe moved his hands, they were there, parked beachside at the bar.

“So, young man, what makes your heart so heavy that it hurts to smile? Not some damn crazy girl, I hope?” Veronica insists.

“Yep. I know, it’s pathetic. I’m pathetic!” he proclaimed laughing. “I doubt she even thinks much about me at all, or worse—I’m a punchline in her everyday colloquialisms, symbolizing suckers and waste and disappointment for her. And I’m just like a junkie jonesing for a fix of something that will kill me if I don’t shake it free. Not a physical death, but my identity was fading. I had to change everything I thought and said to meet with her wavering approval. Mostly I just stayed quiet and tried to predict what I should do or say that could maybe make her happy or at least meet with her impossible standards—that changed like the fucking tides. I don’t know, what killed me, and why I jumped on a plane to an underdeveloped country, hoping to find a way to heal this mess—she said nothing to me. Not one fucking word. A relationship of 11 fucking years, and I was there for her through everything—I wasn’t even worth on fucking conversation to her in the end. Nothing. And THAT meant I had to give up hope. Hope that the years of lies she told me that she loved me, respected me, appreciated me, couldn’t imagine me not being in her life—it was all just horse shit. A steaming wet mile high load of horse shit. All I had to do was take a second—one sober second to look back on all of the bizarre painful accusations, the constant fights she’d pick with me, the humiliation and devaluing of countless comments and actions—and in that one second a blinding flash of the obvious overtook me. I’m a goddamned, motherfucking rabbit-assed-crazy moron! So, I left.”

Abe looked over at Veronica, expecting that she had become bored of his lamenting eons ago, but she wasn’t. Her eyes were a steady gaze of interest, with her head resting on her hands, comfortable, waiting to see where Abe was going next with his tale of woe. Abe realize that he hadn’t actually answered Veronica’s question yet, so he continued, “Why does it hurt to smile? That’s what was so magical about her. She had this power. She could find this place in her, filled with this electrified joy that sent jolts of power—giddy happiness to everyone surrounding her. Fucking intoxicating! I’m not a joyful guy. When they handed out positive traits, they were all out of joy for me when my time in line came up. I don’t know how to find it. But, through her, I was so closely bonded to her, I could feel joy through her. Her smile and excitement lit up places in me I didn’t know how to reach. I don’t know how to reach on my own. And without her, every smile is dulled and every spark of joy never ignites into anything of any real worth. But, even with all of that, I know I must go on without her and that electric joy. Or I risk losing me completely, just for the high.”

Veronica, placed her hand on Abe’s knee, “Whoa,” she said. “That’s one powerful and dangerous drug. But I know it’s more than that, my new friend. You love her. And that kind of love, even when you try to kill it, the goddamned thing won’t die,” said Veronica, as she pulls her backpack out of the Jeep and opens up the bar.

“But I didn’t even get to that part yet,” Abe explained, following after Veronica.

“Yes, I know,” said Veronica, placing her hand on his back welcoming him back into the Sand Dollar. “Let me be presumptuous here and see if I can finish your story.”

Abe hopped up on a bar stool and nodded at Veronica. “Okay, give it a go,” he said.

“You worry about her. You worry if losing her didn’t actually cause her great pain, and you know it did. You worry so much it hurts you every day not to call her, but your head is saying ‘no, no,’ and you listen. You are head-sober here, far away from the intoxication of her here, and you can think with your head a little better here, and this is good. You know that contacting her, no matter how compelled you are to try to help her heal once more will only open up still fresh wounds that will only end in you both being apart anyway. Because that is what you need to find and be you, Abe, again. If you go back, everything you have strived to create for yourself will be destroyed and you will be once again trapped in the craziness she creates in her world. But you, you must create your world now. Here, you must build something new for yourself. A sanctuary where you can heal and grow stronger. Did I get it right?” Veronica asks.

Abe’s eyes were liquid with tears streaming down his face. “Yes,” he said softly. “You got it right. How did you?”

“Your paths will cross again, new friend, and it won’t be like it was before, many times before. You’re not done with this relationship. Just this chapter, but do not force it, Abe. When the time is right, the universe will insist upon it, when you are stronger, more healed, ready for a new chapter with her in it. Your relationship will be different—you will be more powerful with your own identity. You will know you, and she will see it and be respectful of it. She, unknowingly preyed upon your weakness—your weakness of self and identity. And do not worry, because it is this in you that is suffering. It is in fact dying—your weak self. And you must let it die to have your rebirth—to finally become and know Abe.”

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)

 

The Book of Carver (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6

[Costa Rica – Same time and date]

Veronica lay napping on a padded hammock at the Sand Dollar Pub, a small beachside bar and grill where American and European expatriates frequent and drink alongside generations of natives who may as well call the spot home. Nearby, a young American traveler is taking part in a ritual—a brutal interrogation by some of the locals. Old and young, men and women alike, gather around any unfamiliar face and free-pour from bottles of dark rum while badgering, degrading and humiliating, deeply prying into the life of the stranger.  If they don’t drive the stranger away, he will have earned not only an evening of complimentary rum but also a lifetime spot in the family. A family of crazies and drunkards, mostly, but they are loyal, and most are well-connected. It’s what they tend to be connected to that can be worrisome, but with enough drinking and camaraderie, you learn not to let that bother you.

Veronica glances over at the young American man named Abe, and softly catches his eyes. She winks and offers a small smile—he seems to be passing. She knows this not only because she’s seen this ritual acted out many times before but because it’s been three hours now, and he’s still there, and seems to be laughing along with the crowd. This earns you bonus points. Technically, the only requirement is to stay through the ordeal, a show of respect for the culture. However, presenting with an enduring air of confident self-deprecation catapults you to levels of very high esteem.

“And what of your Jenny? You say she left you. Why she left you, a dashing young man?” asked Greta, grasping the Abe’s sturdy thigh. Greta, a middle-aged expatriate was a German socialite escaping a rather dodgy past filled with multiple fiancés left wondering what became of her and an inflated bank account without any real explanation of how it tripled in assets within the span of two months. On the other hand, there’s no one around to ask her too many questions about that anymore, so perhaps the mystery will remain just that.

Abe paused at the question, offering no response. He may ultimately fail the test, Veronica, Greta and about a dozen other on-lookers thought, worried for a moment. Abe, however, did not leave. Instead, he slid his empty glass aside, and with a serpent’s grace, he stretched his slender but muscular body across the table, and wrapped his long fingers around the neck with a seductive, choking rhythm, pulled the bottle to his lips and emptied the slightly sweet and eminently powerful liquid into himself.

Abe retracted back into his seat, returning to his meek pose and responded, “I am in love. Carnally in love, spiritually raptured and emotionally damned—the feel of her, the sight, her fiery aura that lights up a room that becomes alive just because she’s in it. Her scent, the way she tastes and sounds hypnotizes me senseless. Her words and thoughts and emotions captivate me and hold me enslaved. But I cannot tell you why I am in love. It’s a spell. She’s horrible. The way she treats people—me. She’s at the core an angry, bitter jealous, crazy woman who bursts into rages and screaming insults when the wind changes direction. Disapproving of all people and ideas, she is an earthquake or a voyage on cracking ice—welcoming at first, but just waiting to through open the trap door on your ass as soon as you hit her mark. Her words at times sound so sweet and kind and so funny as if she’s a delightful gift and could never be anything but, worshipping the very ground on which you walk and so grateful to have you there in this warm place of love and reverence. All the while she has a dagger churning in circles, dug deep into your back, preparing to remove your organs and gleefully play with your spleen like a spongy little ball. These are a few of her favorite things. And I am in love. I too often imagine her unbroken with all of the damaged pieces whole and the crazy removed. But it’s the crazy that’s the glue holding her together, you know? If I could take out the crazy, all that would be left of her is a million little pieces and no glue. So she’s there, and I’m here, in love with her in a place that’s safer. Is there more rum?”

Veronica pops up and pours coffee for Abe saying, “All drunks are poets. You may be a better poet than most, so we’ll need to keep the alcohol poisoning at bay so that you may see another day. So, instead of more rum, let’s have you try another Costa Rican original—a full-bodied roast. Cream or sugar?”

Abe smiles, “Ah, you’re right, of course. I’ve had too much. Black is fine. Thanks.”

Greta wraps her arms around Abe, with Abe suddenly realizing how attractive Greta is, though having lived almost twice his 28 years of life. Greta says, “Abe, I think you shall not make the journey back to your hotel tonight. Too far. You stay here.”

“Here at the bar?” asks Abe.

“No. Here at our house,” says Greta.

“I’ll stay at your house?” asks Abe.

“No. You’ll stay with our Veronica. She is lovely, no? And she will see that you are comfortable for tonight. Your hotel is too far, and you are too drunk to travel that far, yes? Yes,” Greta decides for Abe. Veronica is busy cleaning up the bar getting ready to close. She has prepared a ham sandwich for Abe with thick fresh bread, and she places it along with a very tall glass of coconut water in front of him without a word. Greta says, “Yes. Good. You eat all of this. Drink all of your water. Hector will hand you Asprin. You will finish all of this, and your hangover will be much more, uh, tame in the morning.” Greta pokes Abe hard in his side causing him to wince saying, “You finish all, here? Yes.”

Abe dares not sway from these orders. He still has about a dozen eyes on him, though some had wandered off. Veronica flickers the lights on and off, signaling the close for the night. Last call took place about an hour ago, which went unnoticed do to the lively entertainment provided by the newcomer. As Veronica cleans up the last of Abe’s dishes, his eyes fix on her. She is heartily plump with more than 60 pounds of extra padding evenly distributed around her body and very short—not much more than 5 feet, he thinks, and still she looks rather athletic. She has medium-length blonde hair and a kind yet edgy presence about her, though they have not yet spoken to each other.

Soon, Abe feels remarkably sober, sober enough to realize that while he has every intention of staying the night with Veronica, she has never uttered a word about it. He gently wraps his long fingers around her forearm and asks, “Is it okay with you? May I stay the night at your house? Greta seemed so insistent, I’m sorry it didn’t occur to me to ask you until now.

Veronica explains, “That trial they just put you through for four hours? You passed.” She places her hand on top of his, which is still resting on her arm saying, “You are now family here.” She smiles at Abe continuing, “You are welcome to stay,” and she pats his hand and places it back in his lap. She continues talking to him, while Abe’s brain feels like it’s doing the backstroke, swimming around in his skull. “I’ve seen them perform that ritual, that brutal interrogation you just endured, more times than I can count. Only five people have passed so far. You are the fifth,” she said nodding at him.

“How do you know I passed?” asked Abe.

Veronica leans into him saying, “You stayed.”

“I stayed? That’s it?” asked Abe.

“Yep. That’s it,” replied Veronica. “It’s a flawless test of character, really. If you can tolerate their shenanigans and insults while revealing the most personal things about yourself in answer to their rude questions, it shows that you are forthcoming, that you respect them enough to answer, truthful or not, you have hide thick enough to take their shit and that you stick around through difficulty to a resolution.  Damnit!” she pauses, “I think you might be damn near a perfect person!” Veronica laughs. “Come on. Let’s get you to bed.”

Abe hops out of Veronica’s 1992 yellow Jeep Wrangler that was decked out with the biggest tires he’d ever seen outside of a monster truck derby. She turns off the ignition, and with it stops the blaring music, Schumann’s “Erlkonig.”

They approach a quaint house, glowing with warm yellow electric lights in lanterns hanging from the eves. As he enters the house behind Veronica, he notices the smell of fresh Caribbean beach air as though the house had no walls, and the beachside breeze painted the interior with a magical peaceful brush.  The floors were all terracotta clay tiles, and the walls were painted in warm buttery yellows and cool blue-gray tones with stark white accents. The furniture was an eclectic mix of comfortable modern décor combined with antiques and local craftsmen’s creations and vibrant art and sculptures.

Veronica leads Abe to a large bamboo door off of the foyer, which reveals a comfortable guestroom, complete with a large white bed with crisp pale blue linens though a little threadbare, having been through more than 10 years of washes on a washboard. Yes, a washboard—the device Veronica has used to wash everything she owns since she moved to Costa Rica 10 years ago.

Abe dove head-first into the bed, kicking off his flip-flops, and landing with his head snuggled deep into the fluffy pillows. An avid marathon insomniac, his shut his eyes, praying that sleep would hit him soon, although he feared the dawn that would most assuredly serve him a mighty hangover. He was hoping he’d be able to sleep through most of it. Veronica flipped off the light and shut the door behind her, and Abe’s prayer was answered as he quickly fell deep into slumber.

 

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About “The Book of Carver”

Honestly, “The Book of Carver” is only my second real stab at fiction. I have spent most of my adult life writing nonfiction for a living through business writing and journalism. However, I’ve never been a big fan of reality, so this is my opportunity to allow all of my imaginary friends to run amuck in the world and give power to their voices.

As I said, “The Book of Carver” is my second stab at fiction. My first try is still in progress, and it can be found here on this blog as well–just a skeletal structure of a few chapters with only the Prologue and Chapter 1 complete, and I think Chapter 4 is mostly complete, too.

But, about “The Book of Carver,” it began as a flash fiction story (Chapter 1 of the book). The rest is an expansion on this story, because I liked it so much, and I simply wanted to know more about Carver and his life. I really like Chapters 1 – 4, but I’m not certain I like Chapter 5 as I’m writing this here post on November 18, 2011–it’s almost 2:00 a.m. So, I’m going to bounce off to another place for Chapter 6, introducing a new character that will tie into Carver’s tale, and perhaps I’ll go back and change Chapter 5 to better suit the introduction of this new character and her role in the story. Maybe I won’t change Chapter 5 at all. We’ll see.

When, you ask? Well, I have quite a bit of actual work to do Friday – Saturday, so Sunday I plan to dedicate a considerable amount of time to Carver. Please feel free to check back on Monday, November 21, 2011 to see what all has developed. And please, please, please, if you feel even the slightest bit inclined, post a message here on the blog. Let me know you’re here, what you’re thinking. Add any comments, ideas, criticism–if you like it, if it bored you, or even if this just isn’t your thing–what is? Or just say, “Hello.” It can get a little lonely here, just me playing with my imaginary friends.

Anyway, if you’re not impressed with Carver or maybe even if you are, you might like to read some of the poetry, articles or the little modern-day treasure hunt story I have going in progress. I invite you to click around and explore. Check back as often as you like–I try to post daily or at least every other day.

I have received some questions about what I do for a living, and yes, I am a professional writer–a freelancer. I do commissioned work–poetry, articles, websites, social media, press releases, business writing/proposals, copywriting, and I design amazing multimedia PowerPoint presentations. I also am a freelance communications consultant and provide trainings, workshops and develop multi-layered communications plans to help businesses sustain and thrive. Feel free to contact me here for any reason!

Happy trails  –Daphne

 

The Book of Carver

[Here are the first five Chapters of a developing short story.]

The Book of Carver: Ssssmokin’

Chapter 1

Carver woke up with his nose crunched down on the cold damp sidewalk. He turned his head, and pried open his swollen, blood-crusted eyes that tried to focus on the partially dissolved cigar next to his face. It never did come into view very well. As he began to tense his body, hoping he had the strength to get up, he felt a stream of hot, wet liquid splashing onto the back of his head, stinging the many cuts and abrasions on his face that he
didn’t know he had until now. Each one stinging sharply, and the waft of a putrid stench began filling his nose. Someone was pissing on his head, he realized. He threw his hands beneath him, to thrust his body upwards in one herculean push-up, but just as quickly, the sound of metal cracking on bone reverberated in his head, followed by a ferocious pain that almost made him vomit, and the force of a large booted foot came down on his head and squashed his nose back into the sidewalk like a bug, breaking it with a loud crunch. The taste of blood seeped into his mouth, and he coughed a bit before he could angle his head into a position where he could catch steady breaths, gasping through his mouth.

Just as suddenly, he heard the footsteps of the booted man walking off into the distance. Carver pried his eyes open once more, and tilted his head forward. There he saw a pair of sexy 3-inch black and white Patton leather heels, arranged in a ballet stance of third position, topped with long slender creamy legs that seemed to go on forever. He didn’t have the strength to look up any farther before a pack of smokes and a book of slightly used
matches were tossed in front of him. Then, those shiny heels and dreamy legs clicked away, completely out of view.

Again, Carver, placed his hands beneath him, and he curled his legs to the side. He sat up and took in the view. He was right below the front steps of his own apartment building. He tapped his pocket to see if he still had his wallet, and it was there. He opened it to find everything in place, including $400 in cash.

Carver snorted in a repulsive mess of piss, mucus and blood, attempting to breathe from his cracked nose, but that didn’t work. He reached over for the cigarettes and match book, and slid a cigarette into his mouth, sitting up a little straighter. He examined the matchbook—it was from a local tango club that he frequents. And, suddenly, he remembered those shoes, and the legs that went on forever. He remembers asking this exotic Argentinian lady for a smoke, and her eyes fluttering at him through her sultry smile. He tried to remember more, but it all came up blank. Like he had his head caved in by a falling concrete wall, and he wasn’t too certain that didn’t actually happen.

Carver flicked open the matchbook, and saw black letters inscribed that read, “Smoking can be hazardous to your health.” A smile drew across his face as he lifted his brutalized body inside to his apartment. “Not nearly as hazardous as long-legged Argentinian women,” he thought to himself.

 

Chapter 2

Freshly showered and deeply buzzed by the pain, he chews a fist full of pills—a modest rainbow party of over-the-counter meds washed down with a double tall, ice cold vodka and apple juice.  He knows he should be in a hospital, but the effort it would take to even make the final decision to go isn’t in him right now. His nose is still bleeding. He passes out on his sofa.

The invigorating scent of expensive perfume urges him awake, along with the repetitive, gentle slaps across his cheeks made by soft, small hands.

“Carver!” he hears slowly drifting into his ears, followed by sobbing and repeated slapping. “Carver!” he hears much clearer and louder now as his eyes begin to open most painfully. “Carver wake up!” he raises his hand to keep her from continuing to slap him.

“Desi! Stop it. I’m awake,” he says to her.

“What the fuck happened to you, Carver?!” she continues to cry.

“Nothing,” he says as he rises to his feet, only to collapse like a deck of cards, spilling back onto the sofa. He points over to the far corner of the room, by the window overlooking the sidewalk where he just recently had his ass kicked. “Hey, Desi, look over there. It’s finished.”

Desiree’s gaze follows his pointed finger leading to an amazing work of art. There are 25 skate boards and surf boards bolted onto metal racks, portraying a mosaic of skeletal figures skating and surfing side-by-side in a brightly colored Mexican Day of the Dead style. She is mesmerized and approaches the work as though she had just seen the Arc of the Covenant. Caver bursts into a painful smile, watching her reaction.

Soon, the hypnotic effects wear away, and Desiree quickly pivots enraged at Carver, “You are getting up, and I’m taking you to a hospital right now. You idiot! What the hell happened to you… Never mind. You can tell
me later.” She reaches under his arm and helps him to his feet, headed straight for the door.

“Desi, wait!” he says whining.

“No, we are not waiting. You have no idea how horrible you look!,” she says.

“Well, thanks for the flattery, really,” he says while stubbornly planting his feet down onto the wood floor, “I’m in my boxers. Can I at least put on my pants? Pretty please?”

“Where are they?” she barks.

“Here,” he says, moving over to reach into the bathroom.

“Did you piss your pants?” she asks, smelling the foul odor emanating from his kakis.

“No, not exactly,” he said tossing them to the floor and proceeding out the door in his fresh clean boxers. He decides that the minor humiliation from prancing around in his underwear far surpasses the repulsion of sitting around in pants soaked with some other man’s urine or trying to convince Desiree into letting him grab a new pair of pants out of the bedroom from the second story loft.

 

Chapter 3

“My bed. God I love my fucking bed,” he said as he began waking up. Soft, white, crisp cotton sheets and downy covers—he curled up, hoping he could drift back to sleep, but the pain was starting to throb. Nothing specific—it hurt everywhere, and the pain was getting stronger.

He remembered the wicked ass-kicking from the night before, and he remembered Desiree kidnapping him in his boxers, making him go to the hospital. “The hospital!” he thought. He remembered that he was taken to the
hospital. He didn’t actually remember being in the hospital, but he knew he was taken there, so that means there must be pain killers around the apartment somewhere. Surely they’d prescribe pain killers to a man who looks like the product of a botched slaughter from a blind butcher, or something like that, he thoughtt.

He slowly slid his battered flesh out of bed and began hunting for the pills he was certain were here. Checking the bedroom loft, then over to the small bathroom upstairs—there was nothing. He made an effort not to glace in any mirrors, not wanting to know what his agony looks like. He slowly made his way downstairs and into the first floor bathroom. No sign of a prescription. He did catch a glance at his hand and saw the hospital band still
strapped to his wrist—proof that indeed he was treated. His eyes lit up, more certain than ever that his pills are here. Somewhere, they are here.

He began heading towards the kitchen, and the pain became unbearable. From all over his body, sharp stabbing, throbbing and fiery pain began building into a relentless frenzy. His head, however, fell numb, as
though it wasn’t even attached to the rest of the tortured torso beneath it. He could barely keep his legs moving beneath him as he smoothed over every surface of the kitchen, looking for the damn pain pills. He found nothing.

At this point, walking was out of the question. He fell to his knees and crawled to his favorite spot on the sofa. As he lay down, he saw a small piece of paper on the coffee table in front of him. It looked like a prescription. He grabbed it—a script for a big bottle of oxycodone was clenched in his hand. “A lot of fucking good this does me,” he thought to himself. He lay back into the sofa with an excruciating stabbing pain jabbing him in the small of his back. He passed out as if someone had simply flipped the off switch—he was out.

“Hey, Carver! Why did you leave the door wide open?” Desiree shouted at him as she walked in to find him sprawled out on the sofa with his eyes wide open. “Carver?” she said, “What’s going on?”

“I’m in fucking pain!” he bellows.

“I know, I know,” she says pulling out a couple white pills and sliding them into his mouth, handing him a bottle of chilled water. “Go ahead, and swallow. They’ll kick in soon,” she said.

Carver did as instructed. Then he thought about the prescription still clenched in his hand. “Hey, didn’t you need this,” he said, holding up the paper script in a death grip.

“No. I had a cheaper supplyand closer, in my medicine cabinet right down the hall,” she said. “We’ll get this filled a little later.”

“Good neighbor,” said Carver. He rested his eyes, and then that sharp pain stabbing him in his back threw him into a spasm. He gripped the back of the sofa until the spasm passed, and he wished he were back in bed. His back felt fine in bed, he thought.

Desiree seemed to read his mind, and she pulled him up into a sitting position, “Let’s get you back to your bed,” she said. Then, her eyes darted to the cushion where Carver was resting his back. “What the fuck, Carver. Look if you’re just trying to off yourself, let me know now, and I’ll leave you to do whatever the hell it is you think you need to do. Christ!”

“What the hell are you talking about. I just had my ass kicked, I’m in excruciating pain, and you’re screaming at me about some crazy bullshit about suicide,” he blasted back.

“The gun, Carver. The gun. I don’t know any sane people, you know who don’t have a fucking death wish, who sleep on top of guns. Do you? Oh, I see. No, I get it. You were afraid some hoodlum was going to pop up through the cushions of your sofa, and the gun would protect you. You cuddle with it to feel safe or something? Fuck you, Carver. Just be honest, ” she shot back at him.

“What…” Carver looked over to his side, and there in fact was a gun. He popped up to his feet enraged, “What the fuck is this shit all about? Why did you bring a fucking gun into my house, Desi. I fucking hate guns! Shit! Get it out of here!” Carver is now speechless. Silence has taken over as the room as the two of them stared, dazed, pointing at the gun. Carver eventually broke the silence but otherwise didn’t move a muscle. “It’s not your gun, is it, Desi,” he said.

“No.” said Desiree, still motionless pointing at the object.

Chapter 4

Carver looks at Desiree with a crooked face, not that it’s easy to tell what with all the swelling and bandages. He lowers his hand and says, “I think it’s time I call the police.”

“Carver, what happened?” asked Desiree.

“Desi, can you please write this down?” Carver says, pointing to a pad of paper on the kitchen counter. “I don’t really trust my memory to hold, what little I have left of it. There are so many blank pieces between last night and this morning.”

Desiree grabs the pad with a nearby pen then plops cross legged on the floor beneath Carver’s feet. Carver moves slowly onto a stool and looks down towards Desiree.  At once, he sees her differently. He sees a beautiful young woman, not just the edgy hot chick that lives down the hall, but as someone sensual, desirable. He sees a warmth in her eyes he has never noticed before. A glint of compassion and nurturing, maybe. He felt like he just wanted to curl up next to her, for her to hold him and make this nightmare disappear. Ah, he thought, that’s it. The pain killers are kicking in! Woooooooooo!

“What happened, Carver?” she repeated softly. He told her of the Tango club, the Patton leather shoes with the legs that went on forever and the sultry Argentinian lady he asked for a smoke. He told her about the proper
ass kicking and the blank spot on his memory just before the last part of the beating. He recalled what he did following the beating, pointing to the pack of cigarettes and match book, showering and passing out on the sofa followed by her, Desiree slapping him awake. He went on to describe what happened while they were together, then Desiree had to fill in the blanks of the time spent at the hospital to returning with the front door to his apartment swung wide open. Thy both completed the rest of the story together leading up to and including the
discovery of the gun. The gun.

“Why the fuck is there a gun in my apartment?” said Carver.

“I’ll call,” said Desiree as she whips out her iPhone adorned with rainbows of tiny skulls.

Yep, he thought. That’s sexy. I’m still high. Carver smiled.

 

Chapter 5

“So, you don’t know anything about the guy who urinated on your head? You can’t remember the color of his boot or whether he was short or tall black or white?” asked the bland uniformed officer.

“No,” said Carver.

“I have no idea. Like I told you, I wasn’t there! I was in my apartment acclimating a new shark to my aquarium,” declared Desiree to the other bland uniformed officer who arrived, responding to Desiree’s 911 call.

Just then, a skinny young man walked through the door in an expensive dark silk suit that hung on him like a hanger in a closet.  He had a soft, underdeveloped voice like puberty still hadn’t slapped him properly and his balls were still waiting to drop. “Who is Carver Thompson?” he said, walking through the room with an air of confidence that seemed overinflated, betraying the slightness of his appearance.

“Odd duck,” said the first bland uniformed officer to Carver.

“Mr. Black, It’s ready for you,” announced Carver, excited for the young man to see his commissioned work.

Mr. Black removed a pair of mirrored aviator glasses to look more closely at the creation. “Its symmetry is eloquent, movement is tumultuous but fluid and the colors electric. I could never have imagined something so perfect,” he said to Carver. “Can you load it up?”

I’ll deliver it to you. What’s the address?” asked Carver.

Mr. Black handed him a shiny thick black card embossed with:

666 Black Drive

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

“Do you have the poster?” asked Mr. Black.

“Oh, it’s in my apartment. I’ll be right back,” Desiree said as she bolted out the door and down the hall. She returned as quickly as she left with a large cardboard backed poster of Mr. Black skating and surfing in Hawaii—all wrapped in a generous amount of clear cellophane. Desiree fumbled around with the wrapping for a second while Carver grabbed a black paint marker off of his drafting table for Mr. Black to sign the poster.

“Oh, yes. I remember this one. I like this poster. Carver, so something with a similar style but more recent? Get with my people for some photographs you can use. I want the design on an electric guitar and a poster, you understand?” said Mr. Black signing the poster Desiree is holding for him. “A benefit for foster kids, you said?”

Desiree nodded, “Yes, there are about…”

Mr. Black interrupts her, “Will there be foster kids at the benefit?” Desiree nods yes. “Please bring an invitation for me. I’d like to go,” said Mr. Black.

“Oh, that would be amazing, Mr. Black. Thank you very much!” said Desiree as Mr. Black quickly leaves the apartment in an abrupt awkward silence. Not rude—there is nothing rude or unkind about him, just awkward.

Meanwhile the uniformed officers bagged up and catalogued the evidence: 1) the gun; 2) the cigarette pack; 3) the match book; 5) some fingerprint samples from inside the apartment and outside near the attack site; and, 4) Carver’s shirt from last night soaked with blood and urine in case there’s a need and ability to pull any of the assailant’s DNA from the garment. They left Carver with a case number and let him know that a detective will be
assigned to the case and to expect a call for further investigation.

Once the police left, Desiree helped Carver upstairs to is bed, gave him more pills, and they took a quick nap before heading over to Mr. Black’s house to deliver the art installment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ssssmokin’ (flash fiction/short story)

[THIS was originally written as a flash fiction piece. However, I liked it so much, I kept writing. It is now Chapter 1 of “The Book of Carver.” I’ll be editing and adding to “The Book of Carver” along the way. Feel free to check back for developments.]

Carver woke up with his nose crunched down on the cold damp sidewalk. He turned his head, and pried open his swollen, blood-crusted eyes that tried to focus on the partially dissolved cigar next to his face. It never did come into view very well. As he began to tense his body, hoping he had the strength to get up, he felt a stream of hot, wet liquid splashing onto the back of his head, stinging the many cuts and abrasions on his face that he didn’t know he had until now. Each one stinging sharply, and the waft of a putrid stench began filling his nose. Someone was pissing on his head, he realized. He threw his hands beneath him, to thrust his body upwards in one herculean push-up, but just as quickly, the sound of metal cracking on bone reverberated in his head, followed by a ferocious pain that almost made him vomit, and the force of a large booted foot came down on his head and squashed his nose back into the sidewalk like a bug, breaking it with a loud crunch. The taste of blood seeped into his mouth, and he coughed a bit before he could angle his head into a position where he could catch steady breaths, gasping through his mouth.

Just as suddenly, he heard the footsteps of the booted man walking off into the distance. Carver pried his eyes open once more, and tilted his head forward. There he saw a pair of sexy 3-inch black and white Patton leather heels, arranged in a ballet stance of third position, topped with long slender creamy legs that seemed to go on forever. He didn’t have the strength to look up any farther before a pack of smokes and a book of slightly used
matches were tossed in front of him. Then, those shiny heels and dreamy legs clicked away, completely out of view.

Again, Carver, placed his hands beneath him, and he curled his legs to the side. He sat up and took in the view. He was right below the front steps of his own apartment building. He tapped his pocket to see if he still had his wallet, and it was there. He opened it to find everything in place, including $400 in cash.

Carver snorted in a repulsive mess of piss, mucus and blood, attempting to breathe from his cracked nose, but that didn’t work. He reached over for the cigarettes and match book, and slid a cigarette into his mouth, sitting up a little straighter. He examined the matchbook—it was from a local tango club that he frequents. And, suddenly, he remembered those shoes, and the legs that went on forever. He remembers asking this exotic Argentinian lady for a smoke, and her eyes fluttering at him through her sultry smile. He tried to remember more, but it all came up blank. Like he had his head caved in by a falling concrete wall, and he wasn’t too certain that didn’t actually happen.

Carver flicked open the matchbook, and saw black letters inscribed that read, “Smoking can be hazardous to your health.” A smile drew across his face as he lifted his brutalized body inside to his apartment. “Not nearly as hazardous as long-legged Argentinian women,” he thought to himself.

steps

 

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(NaNoWriMo) About the process

Hi! So earlier I posted the prologue and Chapter 1 to this creation, which are mostly complete. But, as is my writing process, I write in “mindwanderings” to help keep things flowing. So, the following few chapters I just posted are incomplete (with funky formatting). And they may stay that way for some time. Meanwhile, I tried to provide some content to help me (and you) figure out where I was headed with the chapters. This keeps me on track with the story in my head, and it might help you if you chose to read these incomplete writings. Edits will be made along the way, and it will be difficult to track if you are so inclined. I guess, just look for the removal of “[incomplete]” notations to see final versions of chapters in the future.  Thanks for following along on my journey and meeting my imaginary friends. We are all going out to lunch now, but we’ll return to continue the adventure! I always appreciate the company and the comments…  Happy trails  –Daphne

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)

 

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(NaNoWriMo) Chapter 4 [incomplete]

St. Petersburg,
Florida 2008

 

[Veronica returns home, returning to the warmth of her best friend Jimmy’s side. She tells him what has happened. He wants to help, and he arranges for her to meet a very peculiar fellow—a treasure hunter with an even more peculiar collection of skulls. He gives her some insight on the problem she’s trying to solve and an added complication more dangerous and mysterious than he’s able to explain. She must experience it.]

 

After landing, Veronica makes her way through Tampa
International Airport floating on some surreal reckless cloud, surrounded by
ethereal insects scurrying about. All of magnificent unimportance, she brushes them
away, ensuring all possibilities of unsolicited human interaction are squashed.
From vendors and hustlers to self-absorbed families and business mates
traveling in pods, clogging up pedestrian traffic flow, she aggressively stomps
through the mindless piles of ants. She crashes down from high above at baggage
claim, acquiring a single garment bag and bounces out the front doors with a single
goal: to commission a cab and head back home. Once through the airport doors,
the humid Florida summer night air fills her lungs with thick steam and clings
to her skin as a hot, wet blanket. She takes in the familiar deep, liquid
breaths and begins to feel her native Floridian gills reanimate. Searching the
scene before her for a cab, nothing, not one to be found. She approaches a
baggage check attendant appearing as a mime—animated and silent. All at once,
she erupts into voluminous speech. Spending the past 12 hours in self-imposed
muted silence, she finds she can’t shut up. Words just start billowing with no
particular order or purpose, out beyond her lips. She can even see the medley
of letters spilling in front of her—bursting consonants mixed haphazardly with
flowing vowels, but she can’t stop them from coming. She’s talking so much and
so fast, such nonsense, she’s frightened.
The circuitry in her brain has surely shorted out, and her sanity is
compromised. The baggage check attendant stares at her, horrified by the
oddity, fearing she might suddenly turn crazed and dangerous. The attendant’s
sweaty hand is gripping the black desk phone. She’s about to alert security.

 

Suddenly, Veronica feels a hand at her back and
simultaneously feels a rage boil in her gut. A violation of personal space, a
rape of her darkened aura, hyper-sensitive and desperately vulnerable, her
fingers grow to talons ready to attack. Veronica swung around and froze.
Melting just as suddenly at the sight before her, her best friend with a
leather overnight bag flung over his shoulder, right at her side. He pecks her
on the cheek and smiles warmly.

 

“Hi, Love. I heard you from inside. You want a ride?”
Jimmy said.

 

She melts into his arms, silenced again, at peace with a
quiet mind. She smiles up at him, while he slides her to one side of his
shoulder, holding her close, he brings her back inside the airport, then up to
the parking garage and into his Honda Element, still smelling faintly of moldy
SCUBA gear. Unpleasant but familiar, the scent sooths her further, and she
settles inside. No words were spoken between them. None were needed. Best
friends. They know what the other is thinking whether together or continents
apart. They know. Everything is finally okay. Tonight, it is all okay.

 

About 15 minutes into the 40 minute drive, Jimmy, a
little uncomfortable breaks the comfortable silence saying, “You want to bunk
with me tonight or stay at the Surf’s Inn?” She didn’t answer right away, but the
timing was actually crucial. He needed to know which exit to take off of the
interstate.

 

“You have gin?” she asks.

 

“Tanqueray 10 with tonic, ice and a few fresh limes,” he
replies.

 

“Your place,” she says, and then snuggles into her seat
resting her eyes. She has no intention of drinking tonight, and he knows it
too. It was a trick question, she already knew the answer—he always keeps a
bottle around just for her, in case one day she’ll be in town, and he can serve
her favorite drink. They both smile, though not facing each other, just glad
that they’ll be spending time together, sharing the same roof, waking to each
other’s smile. No matter if they’re spending time silent, battling over some
inconsequential disagreement or laughing uncontrollably and sharing intimate
thoughts. Together they’re happy. Together, they are reminded what love looks
like. And its face looks like them.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)