So here it goes! I am back to blogging, and I have a new schedule to keep me on track. Instead of trying to split my time between a number of projects, and getting nothing done, I will re-focus this blog primary on the novel I am currently writing. This should be a great way to and to focus my energy, as well keep the blog interesting for readers. The novel is still in its fledgling stages, so it will be fun for me to watch this story start to really take shape along with you guys. Each week, on Thursday, I will be posting an excerpt from the novel I am working on. BUT I’M STARTING WITH ONE TODAY.
The book is called Four Petals. It is the story of a girl’s journey through a strange, whimsical world, on a quest to help her friends, find her freedom, and ultimately discover a little bit about herself in the process. After much internal debate about over how to introduce my story (Because apparently starting at the beginning would have been too easy,) I have decided to jump right in and post this excerpt. Although this piece does not come from the beginning of the novel, I think this segment does a good job of introducing the novel’s main character, Fiona, as well as giving a little bit of a glimpse at the people in her life who made her who she is.
And, remember, this is a work in progress, so your constructive criticism is of course welcome! Enjoy!
Four Petals- A Dreamer’s Etiquette
There was not much orange juice left. It wouldn’t be much longer before Fiona would have to put the cup down and face her mother. But she knew how much easier pretend drinking was than real-life talking, and she was dedicated to making this last. Fiona put the cup to her lips and tipped it upside down. As she shook the last drops into her mouth, she eyed her mother with one eye through the empty glass.
Her mother sat cross-armed and unimpressed on the opposite side of the table.
“I’m still thirsty,” said Fiona into the hollow chamber of the cup.
“That’s fine,” said her mother, mirthlessly. “There’s water in the kitchen. I’ll be sitting right here, ” she added.
This was a waiting game that Fiona knew she could not win. Nevertheless, she played her role. Fiona rose nonchalantly from the table and, grabbing her glass, sauntered casually into the adjacent kitchen. Orange juice, coffee beans, Cream soda– Fiona ran her finger across the counter top. Her hand came to rest on a pitcher and she poured herself a full glass of water. Fiona studied the liquid, which she most certainly did not intend to drink, and she began to think aloud. “The water is like the woods before the dark appeared. It’s joy and the happiness.” Fiona shook the cup with both hands, stirring the left-over orange pulp from where it rested on the bottom. The pulp swirled about, clouding the glass. “And the pulp… the pulp is like the mysterious darkness, slowly spreading and making everything impure.” She thought regretfully about her woodland friend. “No wonder the water made Mr. Frog sick, it was contaminated with pulp— with evil and fear.”
“You may bring your drink back in here, Fiona,” said the voice from the other room.
“Already done,” Fiona replied as she poured the rest of the water into the sink. But she wasn’t ready to confront her mother just yet. She would much prefer to be in her own mind; in fact, she had rather learned to like it there. Fiona opened the door to the refrigerator and peered inside. “I’m hungry too, what is there to eat?” she called.
“If you are hungry, then perhaps you should have thought about that at dinner time, when you were out romping through the woods and scaring Mr. Gavin half to death for your own amusement.”
Fiona winced. She had walked right into that one.
“Yips, chattering, howls? Fiona, sometimes you really do worry me. Please come in here and sit down so we can discuss this.”
“That wasn’t me,” said Fiona. She returned to the room and reluctantly plopped back into her seat.
“Then who was it?”
“I don’t know, mom.”
“Mr. Gavin said he found you sitting alone in the woods, maniacally laughing like you were some sort of crazy person.”
“I was laughing at a joke.”
The mother crossed her arms even tighter than before. “A joke told by whom?”
Fiona sighed and looked down at the old, wooden table in front of her. “I know how I must sound, but I was having fun with my friends. Mouse made a very funny comment and I could not stop laughing. I’m sorry I scared Mr. Gavin.”
“Okay, let’s hear it then.”
“Yes, let’s hear the mouse’s comment.”
“Well, you see,” Fiona started. “You see, mice are very tiny and they’re usually very good at tucking away and vanishing. But every time we play games where we have to hide, Mouse is always the first one to get caught. So today, Digger the groundhog asked her about it— in his usual, endearing groundhog way, of course. He said, ‘Ms. Mouse, now I know I’m used to digging and navigating the likes of tunnels and all that, so my expertise in small spaces is surely quite superb and whatnot. But I dare say, Ma’am, with all that commotion you make, even if I were absolutely mole-blind, you would be one easy rodent to spot.’ So then, of course we all looked over at cute little Mouse, who was blushing through her whiskers. She peeked up at Digger, and was quite innocent and sincere when she humbly told him that she guessed she just wasn’t any good at “Hide-and-Squeak.”
Fiona’s mother looked across the table at her daughter. Fiona was sitting there, looking quite innocent and sincere in the telling of her own story. Her mother couldn’t help but smile, though she tried her parental best to hide it.
“Oh Fiona, I’ve told you, you simply must stop with all these fanciful tales. You’re just…” As Fiona’s mother tried to formulate a proper way to respond to such an odd story, her cell phone began to vibrate in her pocket. She looked down at her phone and then back up at Fiona, as if to apologize for the call she was about to take. It is hard to tell who was more relieved, Fiona or her mother.
The mother answered her phone, and within seconds her soft smile transformed into a look of deep concern. She hurried into the other room to take the call in private.
Fiona alone sat at the table, where she once again became absorbed in her own mind. It had been a rough past few days (or was it weeks? Fiona couldn’t remember,) and Fiona had a lot to think about. She was certainly worn thin, but there was something new underneath the tired— a sort of comfort in her own skin. Fiona closed her eyes. She knew that, before she could focus on fixing her own problems, she would be asked to explain the impossible to her mother. She could hear the concern in her mother’s words through the wall. Part of her was thankful that the worry was no longer directed at her. The droning, dreamlike quality of her mother’s half-audible voice seemed to blend with the concerned voices in Fiona’s own mind. Each pained sound from her mother seemed to pull on her heart and leave a vague shadow in her head.
Fiona was not sure if she was asleep or daydreaming, but she had to crawl out from somewhere deep in her subconscious when her mother finally returned to the room. Her mother came back to the table defeated. Her eyes were red and swollen; they had the glossy appearance of smeared tears. This certainly is not just about me anymore, Fiona thought. Fiona’s mother sat down next to her, but she was avoiding direct eye contact. “I try so hard,” she said, still looking away.
Fiona scooched closer to her mother.
“I just don’t know what to do anymore, Fiona. I try so hard. And he just makes everything so much harder.” Her mother began to weep quietly. Then she wiped her eyes, and turned again to Fiona.
“We all have chinks in our armor. Each and every one of us. The key is to surround ourselves with people who help us rebuild the parts that are weak. People who will protect our fragile parts.” The aging women shook her head defeatedly. “But your father… your father likes the look of his armor so much that he’s always seeking out friends who wear the same coat. Instead of rebuilding, they take turns chiseling away at each others’ suits. And they laugh while they do– they drink and they shout. And they call it freedom, they call it fun.”
Fiona watched her mother with big, sad eyes.
“My God Fiona… I’m sorry.” The mother knelt beside her daughter and hugged her close. “You don’t need to hear this kind of thing.”
Fiona reached over and rubbed her moms head. “It’s okay mommy.”
“No it’s not. Sometimes I find myself just talking, venting– even when I’m absolutely sure the person I’m venting to doesn’t understand a word of what I’m saying.”
Fiona thought for a second. “Sometimes I tell people things because I KNOW they won’t understand. If they did understand, they’d believe me. And instead of thinking I was crazy, they’d just be sad at the truth.”
Fiona’s mother smiled a little bit, and she looked in wonder at her daughter. “You are wise beyond your years, Young Lady. I have to be more careful with what I say around you.” She looked into Fiona’s clear, innocent eyes. “But what could you possibly have to say that would be so sad and so hard to believe? Those aren’t the kind of things young people should have to worry about.”
Fiona lowered her head and looked away. Her mother’s brow furled in concern. “You wouldn’t be referring to those tall-tales about your animal friends again, would you?”
“No mother. Of course not.” Fiona bit her upper lip until it started to bleed. “Everybody knows those tales could never be true.”