Novel Pieces – The Other Half

Another segment of my current novel project.
This section has not been edited.

June 18th, 1980

  At 8:57, the ambulance returns to the hospital and the on duty paramedics bring a woman in through the emergency doors on a stretcher.  The woman is laying on her side, with a distended belly far beyond what seems possible.  

  In their haste get the proper help for the woman, the paramedics moved too quickly through the doorway, catching the corner of the stretcher on the automatic door and nearly tipping over.  The woman lay silent and motionless through the commotion on the stretcher, made no motion to catch herself from a potential fall, even as her body slid on the stretcher.  She remained as she was, curled around her belly as though it were a pillow.  Her thighs closely follow the curve of her belly until her knees, where her calves are tighly folded back.  The heels of her feet touch her bottom.  Her arms wrapped tightly around the belly, each hand gripping the lower part of it’s sister arm.  

  Straightening the stretcher, the EMTs are quickly met by the triage nurse just past the threshold of the hospital emergency door.  

  “What’s the status?” she says.  The nurse goes to the right side of the stretcher and helps push it along.

  “Call said probably overdose.  We prepped the Narcan, but delayed dose.  Vital’s are stable and Sats are at 93%.” the attending EMT reports to the nurse.   He refers to the clipboard in his hand, while continuing to push the stretcher forward, waiting to hear which direction the patient needs to go.   

  “Is she responsive?” the nurse fires back, snapping her fingers in front of the woman’s face.  The woman opens her eyes, stares blankly at the fingers before her eyes, but makes no other movement. Her shirt has risen at her back, exposing the skin of her back.  The nurse reaches across the woman and lifts the back of her shirt further.  A bluish tint and patches of red angry sores can be seen.  

  “It may not have been an overdose this time, but she’s been using for a while and it’s just a matter of time.” The nurse says, pulling the woman’s shirt back down at the back.  “Pulse?” The nurse asks.

“Sluggish”

  “Take her to the intake room for more assesment.”  The nurse reaches for the woman’s wrist to check her pulse and is taken a back by the size of her stomach.  “Fuck! What is she pregnant with? When is she due?”

  “No idea.  There was no one with her when we rolled up.  Dispatch says a male made the call, but he didn’t stick around.”  the EMT reports to the nurse.  

  “Stop moving.” The nurse tells the EMT’s, and the stretcher slows to a stop in the hallway infront of the doorway of the intake room.  “When are you due, honey?” she says to the woman on the stretcher.    Not waiting for a response, of which there was none, the nurse puts her hand on the top of the woman’s stomach, slipping them under the woman’s arms and adds a bit of pressure.  “She’s contracting.”  The nurse leaves her hand on her stomach while she consults the second hand on her watch.  

  A second nurse comes out of the intake room, and stands beside the triage nurse waiting for directions.  With a head nod from the triage nurse, the EMT reaches across the stretcher and hands over the clipboard to second nurse.  

  “We need to take her to treatment room 2.  Strap a contraction monitor on her and prep for a possible emergency C section”  The triage nurse takes her hand from the woman’s stomach and turns her attention to the intake nurse.  “She doesn’t seem to be responsive so she may be in shock.  Or still high.  Either way, get that baby needs out.”  

  “Has a doctor been assigned?”

  “Dr. Franklin is covering that block.  I’ll divert his inflow to Dr. Dylon until this is sorted out.”  the woman was wheeled away by the intake nurse, the EMT returned to his collegue at the door of the emergency department and the triage nurse returned to intake to review the next case.

 

***

 

  “Is she allowed to be with them?” the Charlotte asks.

  “Yes, sadly.  There’s nothing we can do to stop her from seeing her babies.  Especially since somehow neither one of them seem to show signs of addiction.”. Merlinda, the head nurse in the maternity ward, kept her eyes on her work,  moving around clip boards, flipping through charts for compliance, focusing on maintaining the flow of the maternity ward.

  “Neither of them?  There’s more than one?” Charlotte asks.  She pulled the chart out from the pile she was monitoring, and flipped through again, looking to cover up her missed detail.

  “Yeah.  Twins.”

  “Oh, I didn’t see that in her chart.”

  The head nurse sighs.  “It’s in there.  We aren’t supposed to stay with the mother when we give them their baby to visit.  The mothers need time to bond and take ownership of the baby before they are released from the hospital.”

  “But, she’s a drug addict.  What if she doesn’t know what to do?  What if she hurts the babies?” Charlotte says.

 “We haven’t heard from child services yet.  We’ve done our part by reporting it, but until then we follow procedure.”   Charlotte frowns at hearing this.  “If it makes you feel better, linger around for a bit, claim the mother needs extra help seeing as it’s twins.”

  Charlotte turns to leave the nurses station and is about to head to the nursery.  

  “Charlotte,” the head nurse calls out.  Charlotte stops and turns her head to look back at the head nurse.  “You can’t save them all.”

 

  Charlotte heads to the nursery to check on the babies.  Charlotte often visits the nursery, even when not part of her normal rounds.  She makes a point to introduce herself to each baby that comes into the ward.  As she enters, she greets the babies she has already met.  She pauses at each bassinette, says the babies name and gives a small nod and a smile.  She sees the new guests in the far corner of the room, and her smile widens.  

  “Them babies are a bloody miracle, if you ask me.   The mother isn’t… the mother is lucky.”

  “And we’re lucky to get to see those babies.” Charlotte says to the nurse working the nursery this morning.  She walks towards the new babies.  Both are in the same bassinette, wrapped in identical white blankets.  

  “Oh, I remember being so young on the maternity ward like you.  I was so excited to see each wee baby that came in.  Was so proud to be a part of their young little lives.”

  “I hope I’m always this excited.  I can’t imagine that seeing brand new babies would get weary.”  Charlotte sees the name on the bassinette says Baby Girl LastName.  “These babies have no names?”

  “The mother hasn’t given one.  She hasn’t said much of anything from what I hear.”

  Charlotte leans down at the babies.  One is swaddled tightly and remains still and asleep.  The second one has started to stir and struggles to turn her head to face her sister.  “Shh shh,” Charolotte says as she scoops up the small fussy bundle. The baby grizzles and attempts to nuzzle into Charlotte.  

  “They both need to be fed and bathed.  You can take them to their mother now.  See if she wants to take part today.”  

The babies are bottle fed.   How do hospitals bath babies?  

  Charlottes returns the small bundle close to her sister, and rolls the bassinette out of the room.

  The room is dark and quiet when she rolls the babies inside.   

  “Ms LastName?  I’ve brought your babies for you.  It’s time for them to feed and I thought you might like to bath them.  I’ll stay and give you a hand.”

  “You can just leave them over there,” the mother’s voice is heard through the darkness.

  A small noise comes from the bassinette.  Charlotte smiles with hope that the baby recognizes her mother’s voice.  

  “I didn’t know they were awake.”  the mother says.  

  “Let’s get some light in here so we can see what we are doing.”  Charlotte brings the bassinette to a stop at the foot of the bed and moves to the window opposite from the door to open the curtains.  She parts them slightly, letting enough task light in, so as not to startle the fresh eyes of the babies.  

  “Do you have to do that?” the mother says.  She squints at the bright light, sitting up at the head of the bed, pillows propping her up into a sitting position, her feet stretched out towards the foot of the bed.  She sees the basinette at the foot of the bed, and pulls her feet towards her, tucking her feet under her as though something was about to nibble on her toes.   The swelling of having recently given birth made her wince in pain.  

  Charlotte continued on her mission, and returned to the basinette.

“Would you like to hold them while I get the bottles out?”  Charlottes asks.  One baby is still asleep, the other has her eyes open slightly, opening and closing her mouth.  A small noise escapes her.  Charlotte puts her left hand on the baby’s swaddled feet, and lifts them up slightly.  Using her right arm, she quickly slids her right hand under the newborns bottom and up towards the head, which she craddles in her hand, the bottom supported by her forearm.   LIfting the baby up, she crosses her arms and adjusts the baby so that the head is now craddled in the crook of her left arm.  

“Uh, no, that’s alright.  I’m tired.  You can feed them.”  The mother moves her body towards the end of the bed, and rolls to her side turning away from Charlotte.  

“Ms. LastName, the babies need to spend time with their mother.  This is how they learn to trust you.”  Charlotte walks with the baby to the side of the bed the mother faces, and lays the baby down infront of the mother.  She stays close until the mother finally puts a hand on the baby’s tummy.  She gets the idea that the mother might push the baby off the bed.  
“Why don’t you sit up again, and feed this baby, while I feed the other one.”  scooping the baby up again just as she did a minute ago, Charlotte stands at the side of the bed, waiting.  

  With reluctance, the mother sits  up again in the bed, as she was when Charlotte first entered.  Leaning across the bed, Charlotte places the baby in the mother’s arms, ensure the head was well supported and in a feed position.  

  “Now what?” the mother asks.  

  Charlotte fetches the warmed bottle from the shelf under the bassinette and holds it out to the mother to grab.  The mother looks at the bottle, but makes no move to take it.  Leaning across the bed again, Charlotte turns the bottle and gentle rubs the nipple across the babies lips.  The baby latches on and turns her head slightly towards her mother.  

  “Hold the bottle here.  Just a little at a time.  Their stomachs are so tiny right now.”  Charlotte returns to the bassinette, and scoops up the second baby.  The head rested in her palm, while the baby’s body ran the length of her forearm.  Grabbing the second bottle, Charlotte takes a set in the armchair close to bed.  Quickly getting her in position, the young nurse tries to wake the still sleeping baby by rubbing the nipple of the bottle across her lips, just as she had done for her sister.  Without opening her eyes, the baby latches on to the nipple and lazily draws formula from it.  Charlotte looks down at the face of the baby she is holding.  The baby has opened her eyes to tiny slits.  With a sigh, the baby starts to pull from the bottle with more vigor, her eyes opening wider, to take in Charlotte’s face.  

  “Have you chosen names yet?”

  The mother has been staring off at the wall behind Charlotte.  At hearing Charlotte’s voice, she turns to look at her.  “No,” she says.  

  “What names have you been thinking about?”  Charlotte asks.

  “I didn’t think of any names.”  the mother says.  The baby the mother is holding lets out a small cry, and releases her latch on the bottle.  The mother looks down at the baby and frowns.  

 “Just give her a moment.  She might have an air bubble that needs to come up.  The mother looks that the wall behind Charlotte again.  She holds the baby in the same position in one arm.  The bottle is in her left air, she keeps it suspended in air.  

  “It helps the nurses if a name is chosen.  As well as speeds up paperwork for you later on.”  Charlotte looks at the mother, who’s eyes have unfoccused.  

  “Huh?  Well, they don’t have names.”

  “I had thought of two names when I first laid eyes on them.”  The mother looked at Charlotte while she spoke but turned her atttention back to the wall, still holding the bottle in mid air.  The baby in her arms had fallen asleep.  “Would you like to hear them?” Charlotte proded.

  “Sure,” the mother said, her mouth loose and open.  Her eyes unfoccused again.

  Charlotte looked down at the baby in her arms.  The baby’s eyes were open, although she didn’t seem to be staring at Charlotte.  It was more observing.  “Charity and Faith.” Charlotte said without looking up.  

  When there was no response from the mother after a moment, Charlotte returned her gaze to the mother, who’s eyes were closed.  The bottle she had been holding in the air was now laying on the bed, with the hand that had been holding it lying lifeless at the end of her arm, palm up.  Fearing that that mother might drop the baby, Charlotte quickly got to her feet, placed the baby she had been holding in the bassinette, and went to fetch the second baby.  

  “Ms LastName?  Ms LastName!  Open your eyes.  Are you alright?”  Charlotte said sharply as removed the baby from the mother’s arms.  

  The mother flinched as she came to, and saw Charlotte was trying to take something from her.  

  “Hey, that’s mine” the mother said.  She pulled the baby closer to her chest with both arms.  Charlotte stopped and let the mother take her baby.  The mother looked down at the bundle in her arms.  The commotion had woken the baby in the mother’s arms, and she let out a cry.  Startled by the noise, the mother pulled the bundle from her chest to look at it.  The mother’s face morphed from one of alarm to one of annoyance.

  “Oh.  Here.” the mother said, holding the baby out for Charlotte to take.  

  Charlotte took the baby, and swiftly pulled the baby’s head close to her neck, letting it peer over her shoulder and gently patted the back.  “Shh shh… it’s alright.  I just startled your mom.  It’s alright.” Charlotte cooed to the baby and rocked back and forth slightly.  

  When the baby had settled down, Charlotte placed her beside her sister in the bassinette.  Both girls closed their eyes, faces towards each other, and their chests rose and fell in unism.  

  “Those are church names.”

  “Hmm?” Charlotte turned to face the mother again.  

  “Those names.  Charity and Faith.  Those are church names.  I don’t know what religion you are selling, but I’m not buying it.”  

  “I’m not selling anything, Ms. LastName.  Sometimes when I see little ones, names just happen to pop into my head.”  Charlotte picked up the bottle she had used to feed back on the shelf under the bassinette.    

  “I don’t know what I’m going to name them, but it’s not going to be any church name like that.”  

  Charlotte moved to the side of the mother’s bed again, and picked up the bottle the mother had dropped.  A large dark stain was on the blanket from the formula that had leaked out.  “Charity so she remembers that not all gifts are material, and some gifts don’t seem like gifts at all.  Faith to remember that life is full of lessons, but sometimes the lesson isn’t for us.”  Charlotte returned the second bottle to the bassinette shelf.  

  The door to the room suddenly opened, and a man walked through the threshold.  He paused in the doorway when he saw Charlotte.  

  Charlotte felt the air change in the room, and suddenly needed to leave quickly.  “I’ll send someone to get you a fresh blanket.” she said as she wheeled the bassinette out the door.

  “And don’t say I’m the mom, either.  I haven’t decided on that either.”  the mother said to Charlotte’s back as she exited the room.  

Writing Strategy

notebook-to-write-in-cofklb4m

January is the time of new beginnings, new trials, new adventures, new pursuits.  I’ve decided it’s time I approach my writing in a different way.  It’s time to show it the respect it deserves.
When hit with an idea for a story, the best one I’ve ever had, the best one the world will ever read, I pull out my notebook and write feverishly.  My fingers fail at keeping up with the prose that are oozing from my brain.  This is creation at it’s prime: raw, energetic, and unplanned.  Editing will take care of plot holes and flat characters later, right?
There is no plan, just creativity.  Planning might squash this delicate flower instead of letting it bloom.  Surely, creativity is the opposite of planning!
  Somewhere along the way, the words slow down, an errand or chore suddenly needs to be done, and the characters I have created go off to do something boring.

  And sometimes, I just have the overwhelming urge to take a nap.

  I promise myself I will get back to it quickly, and somehow it just doesn’t happen well enough.  I’ve lost the vigor for that paper world, and wonder why I was so excited in the first place.
  Late last year, I came across author, Randy Ingermanson, and his Snowball Method technique.  The book was a fast read and quite humorous.  In those pages was a scientific method to planning and writing a novel with results.
Having a novel already in the works, I didn’t start with step one of his process, but I did take the time to work on other steps, such as character sketches, deciding the target audience and creating a map of timelines.  Just using those three steps put my novel in a new exciting direction, with new scenes, characters and conflicts.  Having a plan hasn’t squashed my creativity, it means that if the words do start to slow down, my plan reminds me why each scene is so vital to the overall story.
I’m a big advocate of Todoist.  I have been using this program for years (I have reached Grandmaster status), but have just recently started using it for my writing as well.  I have created a project for each piece that I am currently working on, and included list items with checkpoints, research that may need to be done, and due dates for word counts.  Seeing my writing goals along side my daytime work goals helps remind me to push a bit harder to get everything completed, and ensures that I schedule time to do so.
During my scheduled writing time, sometimes Facebook or emails steal my attention, which is where using the Pomodoro technique works for me.  There are a bunch of apps for this technique, but I recommend using one that actually stops you from using certain sites of apps while during productive interval.  Using this method allows me to focus on my writing without distractions, and takes some pressure off, knowing that I have a break coming up in just 25 minutes.  Usually when I use this app, I finish the first interval, grab a coffee during my first break, and by the second interval in, I have my writer’s groove on, and I don’t need to take a break for while.  It really is something to motivate me to get started.
My last tip to give your writing strategy a jump start is to join a writing group.  The writing group I belong to has monthly writing exercises, offers encouragement, has contests and events, all in the spirit of working on our craft.  This writing group helped me move onto the path I am currently working on, as well as helped me learn new techniques and styles to try.

I’d be interested in hearing other methods writers use to get their projects off the ground.  Please leave your own tips in the comment section!

Why I write.

As I’m sure most writers do, I get asked where the ideas come from.  

The truth is; I have no idea.  They just appear in my head, and make themselves at home till I do something with them.  I don’t write for the sake of thinking up new things, I write for the sake of writing.  It’s something that speaks to me in a way other things do not.  

My favourite part of writing, is that moment when suddenly your characters trust you enough to reveal themselves to you.  They roam around your head for so long, barely giving you an idea of why they are there, and then like a flood of insight, all the little bits and pieces of who they are, fall into place, and you understand why they are there.  You know their story.  You are now you are able to tell all of it.  

Sometimes I wish my characters had better timing though.  It’s often that I will have a great idea for my work at an inopportune time.  Like, say when I’m in front of that laptop and ready to write, instead of when I haven’t got a free hand to write down the idea before it leaves or 3am.  

I also like revisiting what I’ve written before hand.  While writing ‘Other Half’ I was very busy with other things in my life, business, children, and just life in general.  It kept me from writing often, and when I did have time to write, I felt so overwhelmed by what I had going on in my life, that the creative aspect of writing seemed weak and diminished.  But if I was able to read what I had already worked on, stuff that had already had a once over for basic editing, it was enough to turn on that switch give me the encouragement I needed and squeeze a few words or sentences out before I had to run to the next engagement.

Writing, for me, is like a voice that lives inside me that only comes out to play through written word.  

 

Working Title ‘Other Half’ – Another Novel section

In an attempt to hold myself accountable, I’ve promised myself that I will post sections, unedited, of the novel I am working ever so slowly on.  Below is another section.  The tidbits I have posted are not in chronological order as far as the book goes, just sections I feel are complete enough to make some sense.

Faith had pulled nearly everything from the closet.  Trying on Mom’s clothes was something she did often, but that day she was on a mission.  She had moved past the clothes she had tried on before; dresses that were far too big for her 7 year old body.  She was such a waif.  She could fit her head through the arm holes with ease.  

Many of these dresses only ever saw the light of day when Faith tried them on.  Faith would often bury her nose into the clothes, breathing deeply, claiming they smelled of a perfume.  I was hard to believe that any of those clothes ever fit Mom.  Mom usually wore the same shirt and jeans for days on end, the collar of the shirts often misaligned on her skeletal frame.  When ever Faith asked about the clothes in her closet, Mom always answered the same way; Those clothes were from another life.     

Faith had moved past the dresses and the shoes quicker than usual, and turned her attention to the shelves above the closet rod.  Sweaters had been stuffed on the shelves haphazardly, pinned between two boxes of different sizes.  She reached up high on her tip toes, and pulled things down, starting with the sweaters leaving them as a pile on the closet floor, covering the shoes that resided there.  Intent on seeing what may be in the boxes stored up there, she inched them forward, reaching way up, using the clothing rod for extra leverage, and caught just the corner of the box and moving it diagonally forward so it would hang ever so slightly over the edge of the shelf.  She pushed up and out on the corners of the boxes, and moved it slowly more and more over the shelf edge, until finally gravity would take over and the box would topple from its hiding spot.  Faith would move just in time so as to not have it land on her, leaving the box to hit the floor, spilling their contents.  

“She’s going to kill you, ya know.”  I said to Faith.  I was sitting on top of mom’s dresser, lazily leaning my head against my knees, my feet wiggling to make room for themselves amoung the empty coffee cups, tissues and other bits that had not made it to the bin yet.

“I’ll clean it up before she gets back” Faith claimed.  She grabbed the already toppled box and dumped the remaining contents on the floor, running her hand over top to spread out the contents.

The first box appeared to contain the same items throughout, random bits of paper, pictures of Mom linked arms with different men, her smile in the pictures seeming to grow smaller as her stature deteriorated, earrings without a mate, tickets and mementos from places she no longer went, the occasional bill statement.  Faith sifted through all of these with keen interest, pulling pieces together of the woman who owned those clothes, who once wore perfume, who once smiled, who felt a need to hold onto pieces of this so-called other life.  Faith sorted the box contents, piling papers, bills, and photos into respective piles.  Abandoning her need to make the contents logical, she scooped it up in her arms, and dumped them back into the box and pushed it to the side.

The apartment was hot that day, even with just shorts and a tank top on.   I abandoned my earlier position when my hair started to stick to my legs, and while leaning back with my hands behind me, I stretched my legs out infront of me, knocking over a coffee cup which was less empty than I had assumed.  The cup fell from the edge of the dresser, and the beige liquid soaked into the grey cheap carpet that filled our whole apartment.  

Faith turned her head towards me when she heard the cup fall, and gave me a sarcastic look.

“She’s going to kill you when she sees that, ya know” Faith said, her head bobbling and lip curling slightly as she did so.  I pursed my lips and wrinkled my nose in response to her jab.  

Faith turned her attention to the second box on the shelf, and struggled the same way as the first time to get it down.     

The second box was much different.  It was smaller than the first one and was a simple cardboard box, the top flaps having been folding over themselves to interlock them.  More bills and letters with official looking type were in this box.  Very few pictures lived in this box, and the ones that did, were just of mom alone, tired and gaunt.  Faith was on all fours sweeping the contents of the box around with her hand.  She stopped routing through the contents when she came to a single picture.  She sat up on her haunches, her feet tucked under her as with a photo in her hand.  She held it close to her face, memorizing and sorting out the details of our mother.  She sat that way for quite some time staring at this photo, and without turning to me, she held the photo hand, swung her arm back towards me, with the unspoken command for me to come and fetch it.  

Char gets off her perch reluctantly to get the photo, with some snide comment.  

There was a single picture of Mom’s profile while she was pregnant, her eyes closed and chin nearly touching her chest, emphasising the tightly curved ‘S’ her back had formed. Her belly protruded away from her body, making it seem as though she would have toppled over easily from the weight of carrying twins.  

Another Novel Tidbit

I’m still working on the novel I started back in November, but progress is slow.  Below is an unedited segment of said novel with the working title of ‘Other Half’.

 

The bass hits so hard and my ears are ringing so much I’m dizzy from it.  I close my eyes and hope I keep my balance.  

jump

I land, both feet on the floor, the stage floorboards bowing beneath my feet, vibrating with everything that is going on stage.  

jump with the music

I’ve lost the in-ear monitor to my left ear.  Its dangling from its wire and sways with me as I dance and jump around. Most of my hearing is gone in my right ear, and so the remaining moniter is little help. A lock of hair is plastered to my forehead.  I throw my head forward with music, and  still it stays.  My tank top clings to my body, the bright lights making it see though.  

I dance and jump on the stage, letting my body move however it wants to the music, forgetting there are thousands of eyes on me at the moment.  

I hear my cue come again and lurch towards the mic.  I grab it with my right hand, ripping it from its stand, and continue my dancing, throwing my head forward to the point of decapitation and sing as hard as I can.  

  “She says she laughs at fear.  She says she fears happiness.”

I can’t hear myself over the band and the crowd.  I have no idea if I’m even on the right verse.  Jamming the monitor back into my left ear, I take a few steps back from the edge of the stage, and stand closer to my lead guitarist.  I search his face for any inidication that I may have fucked up, and seeing none, I dance on, sing on, and give everything I have to our last song of the night.  There will be no encoure tonight.  

  The final song ends, and I stagger back to the mic stand, replacing the mic, and leaning on it at the same time for support.  

  “Thank you everyone for sticking around!  I am Char, and we are Near Mirror!  Good night everyone!”  I am breathless, and stumble towards the wings.  The crowd chants.  I don’t have any more to give them tonight.   

I walk to the stage exit, past the bassist who is still holding his bass as though he’s about to play another song.  I avoid eye contact with him and continue to leave the stage.  

Reaching the wings, the back stage fans, mostly woman too old to be groupies, pat me on the back and tell me how great we sounded.  One tries to hug me.  I recoil from not only the hug, but from the sickly sweet stench of her perfume.  They arent here for me.  They hear for the band mates.  My fans are further back, a bit more cool.  

The chanting from the fans demanding an encoure, starts to turn to anger when they clue in the I am not returning to the stage.  

“Char, are we going back out?” my guitarist yells.  He standing just off the stage floor, guitar gripped in his left hand, strap still around his back.  The bassist has turned slightly to see the conversation, but still he stands, ready to play.  

I stop at the edge of the stairs that will lead to out side of the park area.  “No, I’m done for the night.”

“Bit short isn’t it?  We were late going on.  We should do at least one more.”  

An Update on Nanowrimo.

No, I don’t want to talk about word counts, or if I’m on track or if I’m behind.  Life is crazy and I’m just happy I have words down…

Here’s a tidbit of what I have gotten done so far.  Yes, I know there’s a lot of editing to do.  Did I mention that its Nanowrimo?

 

Other Half – A Novel

Written by H. L. Jaden

I watched him ride down the street, pride wellming up and overflowing to my eyes.  My oldest had the last training wheel taken off two hours ago, and after an hour of running beside him up and down the street, Chase finally got it.  We had been practicing for over a week now, first bending the training wheels up, so they only touched the ground when he was off balance, and then only removing the right one, since he had a tendency to falter to the left.  His biggest obstacle this morning was his own confidence, suddenly falling off his bike only when he realized that I was merely running beside him, not actually holding onto the back of the seat, holding him steady.  He was going to be so proud going to school tommorrow, to brag to his friends that he was finally able to ride his bike on his own.  All summer he would only ride his bike close to the house, embarrassed that he still had training wheels on his bike, when all of his other friends had shed theirs before school had let out in June.  Such an odd trait us humans have, suddenly disbelieving of our own ability, when we were infact doing it on our own all along.  And now, on his own two wheels he was riding on his own as though he had always done so.  

My husband stood beside me on the walkway leading from the sidewalk to the front porch, arm draped over my shoulder, beaming with his own pride.  He was standing tall, and for a moment I had to look up to him, having forgotten that he is in fact taller than me, having adopted a standard slouch in the last few years.  

“It’s too bad your mother isn’t here with us.”  he said.  His arm fell from my shoulder, and he stooped down to pick up some garbage that had blown onto the yard.

“What?”  I misheard what he said, surely.  

“It’s too bad your mom passed away when you were young.”  

I stared at him in disbelief.  Did he really just say that?  After this many years of marriage, how could he possibly get a detail like that wrong?  

He stood, stepped a bit further away, and couched down again, pulling a few weeds from the edges of the walkway that the lawn mower had missed early this morning.  

“What did you say?”  I dared him to repeat it.  

“I said, it’s a shame your mother has passed away.” he said over his shoulder.  “It would be nice if you could share these family moments with your family.  I mean, I know my mother treats you like one of the family, and of course me and the kids are your family, but I’m sure it’s not quite the same as having your own blood that’s known you all your life.  It just feels like you don’t have anyone to share with.  Except me of course.”

“My mother isn’t dead.”  I said, hostility dripped all over the conversation

He stood again, turned to face me again slowly, a look of bewilderment on his face.  

My husband generally has a look of bewilderment on his face, but it takes a wife to be able to decipher the difference between actual bewilderment and just a resting face.

Think, Hope, think.  Why would your mother being alive seem like such a shock to him?  

My pinched, angry face, slowly melted into a look embarrassment as I remember all the Christmas I had spent without my mother, all the conversations I hadn’t had with my mother in the last 10 years, all the times she had not held my children.  The decade I’ve lived without my family.

I shook my head, a futile attempt at loosening myself from this conversation, and took a step backwards.

“Oh, right.  She is dead.  Sometimes I forget.”

I stepped past him, down the walkway, towards the sidewalk, but not before I saw the look of bewilderment intensifying in the furrow of his brow. I looked for Chase who was just coming towards the house again.  Seeing me, his attention waiver, and he careened too close the hedge that separated our front yard from the sidewalk.  Turning a moment too late, he toppled over, landing into the hedge, his face taking most of the blow.

In two large steps, I was at his side, picking him up, and untangling him from the hedge and his bike, with a speed and strength that is only lended to mothers.  

“Shhh… Don’t cry, darling.  Let me have a look.”  Chase buried his face in my right shoulder, snotting on my shirt.    His right arm was tightly around my neck, hand grasping my pony tail like a handle, a habit he’s had since he has been able to reach it.  

“Is Chase okay?” Audrey side, appearing at my side.

I looked down at her, her round face looking straight up at me.  She turned four last week and thought the sun rose when her brother woke in the morning.  “He’s just fine, love.  He took a tumble while practing.  But he’s just fine.”

Dave was beside me again, one hand on my back, one on Chase’s “Let’s see, buddy.  Did you hurt yourself?”  Chase lifted his face to meet Dave’s, tears still on his cheeks.  A few scratches had appeared on his cheeks, the more severe ones being on his neck.  He tried hard to stop crying, a sob catching in his throat, and breath coming out in a shudder, wanting to show his father how brave he could be.  “Oh, no damage done!  You can get back on your bike.” Dave said, after his five seconds of reviewing Chase’s injuries.  He took a step back, his judgement final.  

Hearing his father’s approval, Chase arched his back, and wiggled from my arms, heading back to his bike, another sob hitching in his chest.  

“Chase, how about we clean up your face first?”  Chase stood on the sidewalk with his bike, a hand on each handle, an eager look on his face at the thought of just a bit longer in mother’s care.

“Hope, he’s fine.  Let him play.”  

Chase rubbed his right arm across his face, leaving a runner of snot on his sleeve, dirt mixing with the tears not quite dry on his face, leaving a dark smear across his face.  The movement had disrupted the clotting of the larger scratch on his neck, smudging it to look worse than it actually was.  He picked up his bike from the sidewalk and slowly got back on his bike, and pushed it slowly down the sidewalk again with his feet dangling from his hips, toes barely touching the sidewalk.  His head was down, the earlier enthusiasm for bike riding visiable diminished.  

“C’mon Chasey!  I’ll beat you to the Mrs. Parkison’s house.”  Audrey had her tricycle on the sidewalk too, and with one big push, she moved towards the neighbours driveway, feet pedling up a storm.  Chase faked a smile and pretended like he was going to try and beat her.  He was good with her, and always let her win.  

“Hope,”

“I’m going to go and change my shirt.”  Fearful that Dave would bring up my faux-pas about my mother again, I shot myself up the walkway and porch steps, and through the front door of the house.