Thursday, April 8, 2010

Excerpt

Got a story published, Grace, in Tomlit this week.  It's here.  Proud of this one.



And while I'm sharing writing, this is from the novel.  Toward the end.

            Hey, Bug, she said.
            Hey, he whispered back, motionless.
            It’s Auntie.
            I know.
            Silence wrapped itself around them, not uncomfortably.  She looked out the window.  Warm, early afternoon light streamed through the glass.  She sat down on a chair next to the bed.
            I’m sorry, she said.
            I know.  Then, did she die?
            Yes.  Has no one told you?
            They say she’s gone.  They say she’s passed.  They don’t say die.
            Well, honey.  Yes.  She died.  I’m sorry.
            When they say she’s gone, I think maybe she went to the store.  Went to get food or something.  They don’t say die.
            I know.
            Why don’t they say die?
            They don’t want to upset you.
            He moved for the first time, turning his head to look at her.  But she died, right?
            She died, honey.
            How?
            I don’t know.  She slipped, I think.  She was trying to protect you, I think, and she slipped into the water.               
Is she going to be in the ground?  Are they going to bury her?
Yes, she said.  She took her time with what she said next, knowing the boy would spend hours visualizing it, agonizing over it.  There is going to be a funeral, she said.  They are going to put her in a casket.
Like a box?
No, not really.  It will have very soft fabric in it.  Like pillows.  And it will be very pretty fabric.  Like a bed.  Like a newly made bed.  And they will lay her down on it.  Soft and pretty.  And they’ll put her in a room, and people will go up to her, to look at her one last time.  You can, if you want to.  You don’t have to.  But you might want to.  You might want to see her one more time.
She’ll be dead.
Yes.  But you might want to see her.  One more time.
Yes, he said.
One more time.
Yes. 
They’ll say very nice things about her.  The preacher will, other people will.  I will.  I promise I will.
Okay.
And then.  Then they’ll take the box outside.  To the graveyard.  They’ll carry it out to a gravestone.  Very pretty.  Made out of stone.  So it’ll last.  And they’ll lower her down.
With ropes?
Yes, I think so.  With ropes.  And they’ll cover her with earth.  With soil.  She couldn’t bring herself to say the word dirt.  She wasn’t sure why.
He asked, will it be dark down there?  In the soil?
Yes.
Will she be cold?
No, honey.  She won’t be cold.  She’s past being cold, ever again.
Will she be bored?
No, honey.
Will she miss me?
Yes.
Will she still love me?
Of course, honey.  Yes.  Always yes. 
He turned, looked up at the ceiling again.  His voice dropped lower, nearly monotonous.  Is she going to heaven?
She didn’t want to lie to him.  She was there to comfort, but she was unwilling to lie.  She told the best truth she knew, as simply as she could.
I hope so, honey.  I don’t know these things.  I don’t know anything anymore.
I hope so too, he said, after a time.
She cleared her throat.  She said, I’m afraid I wasn’t always very nice to your mother.  I’m sorry for that.
It’s okay.  He looked at her again.  He said, do you remember that time we prayed together?   All of us, on the floor?
Yes.
Why did we do that?
To feel safe, she said.  To talk to God.  To ask for help.  But mostly to feel safe.  Close together, holding hands.  Family.  Blood.  I was hoping it would make your Mom feel safe.  Make you feel safe.  Did you?  Did you feel safe?
Yes.
Good.
I don’t feel safe now.
I know, sweetie.  Me neither.  It’ll get better.  One day, it will.  You’ll see.
She stood from her chair, kissed him on the forehead, ran her hand along his cheek.  She lay down next to him, inches away, but not touching.  They lay like that, side by side, on top of the covers, as the last of the light faded from the windows, as the stars appeared and traced a lazy circle in the sky outside the walls of the room.  The darkened room filled with the rhythm of their breathing, the quiet pulse of their hearts.  After a time the boy fell asleep.

15 comments:

Eric said...

Lord, that was magnificent.

Sabra said...

Thank you.

ArtSparker said...

Every line is luminous, and simple, simply luminous. I hope you find a publisher soon.

Shayna Prentice said...

Susan linked to you - I am so pleased she did - I love what I just read.

Cláudia said...

You have every reason to be proud of the little gem "Grace". It's so tiny, yet so condensed. With your words I could be there and feel the mood, the feelings. Oh, it's so well written, congratulations!

Adults difficulties to communicate, to forgive, to let go of resentment; the child's delicate and graceful communion with the world - everything there in only one and a half page!

Keep us informed about the novel, I will be waiting for it in the first row of seats (I don't know how you say that in English, so I just translated it literally from Portuguese).

Fresca said...

Oof.
Right in the solar plexus.

That's a good thing.

Tom said...

really good!

femminismo said...

Very good. Touching, just truthful and evocative of an actual scene between people - real people. I wish you good luck with publishing too.

Fresca said...

Thanks for commenting on my Polish sadness post:
SMALL WORLD, indeed!

In fact, I *met* you in person through our mutual friend--must be 27 years ago or so--around the time I was writing that Polish paper.

And now I meet you again through Art Sparker...

I love this kind of stuff.

Ciao!
Francesca

Clowncar said...

Thanks Eric. I'm really fond of that bit of dialogue. Felt like hitting a nail square on the head with a hammer when I wrote it.

Your welcome, Daisy. Thanks for helping me try to find an agent.

Art, that is very nice of you to say. Thank you for linking to me - a bunch of nice people stopped by.


Shayna, I'm glad you stopped by. Looking forward to discovering more of your needlework. That Gilda quote was quite moving.

Claudia, nice of you to say. It's kinda straight reportage: I wrote Grace after watching a couple interact at my daughter's dance class. They are so graceful. We are so clumsy.

Thank you Fresca. Nice to meet you (again). I remember that Stevens St. house, and you, well and fondly. Do you still have Bop the dog?

Thanks you, Tom. Glad you stopped by.

Well, Femme, as I mentioned to Claudia above, it was sorta straight reportage. All I did was notice, and write it down.

meno said...

I just went and read "Grace" but i think you put it here first as i think i've read it before.

It's just as evocative the second time.

Clowncar said...

Thanks meno. I pulled the story off the blog after it got published, at the request of the publishers.

Fresca said...

Bop the dog! Thanks for remembering.
Long gone, alas...

Lil Hux said...

Dear Mr. Wood. I cried the first time I read this, and now I'm crying again. It's beautiful.

D

Clowncar said...

thanks, sweetie. love you lots. yesterday's rejection email was particularly discouraging, so it's nice to know somebody thinks I know how to write.