Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Today's little contribution comes from the first novel I wrote, (read: completed) two years ago. It "was" a vampire novel, but thanks to the ridiculous amounts of vampire fiction, television shows and films that have inundated our entire lives, I decided that this novel would have to wait several decades before seeing the light of day or would need a major rewrite without my MC's 'not so better half' being something other than yet another suave, foreign, ancient vamp.

However, I did love the detail and description in the following and since my "Post-Apocalyptic Love Story" that y'all have been reading on here needs to be edited (one of this week's goals), I thought I'd tease the story that never was.

A small bit of history: The MC is called Morrigan Mayeaux. She is a collector for a made-up university in the fictional Foutainbleu, Louisiana and she's just had a major fight with her boyfriend, Calen. She and her family's lives are in danger because she is trying to translate a very old journal that some don't want her reading. She isn't happy about the need for being protected and is even less happy that her 'boyfriend' thinks he can tell her what to do. Also, this is in first person, which I don't write anymore, so please forgive the tense.

Please read and comment!

I watched a small calico cross in front of me, pausing for a moment to survey me sitting alone in my car, before it leapt up onto the fence post at my mother’s gate. We stared at one another for a moment and it blinked, a lazy, slow motion, before it made serious work of climbing the cypress tree behind it. Distracted by my concentration on the cat’s motions, I jerked at the shriek of my cell phone ringing and cursed myself for not turning it off the moment I hung up with Sara. It had been off all day. I suspected Calen would call and I was in no mood to hear the incessant ringing if I’d left it on. I looked down at the number on the screen and closed my eyes, not eager to fight with him, but curiosity and a sheer morbid desire for torturing myself had me answering.

“What?” I said, not bothering to hide the clip in my voice.

“Where are you? Are you safe?”

I drew in a deep breath and rolled my eyes, my annoyance still too newborn and present to manage much civility toward him. “I’m fine. Was there something you needed?”

“Morrigan, where the bloody hell are you?” I could hear the anger dripping between his breaths. He hadn’t forgiven me. Fine. I hadn’t forgiven him either.

“How is that your business?” He uttered a series of irate curses in Gaelic before grunting. As I waited for the profanity to suspend, I realized that his concern may be genuine. What if his boss had learned about the translations? “Am I—is anyone in danger?”

“Perpetually, Morrigan. Tell me where you are and I’ll come and fetch you.”

“No. I’m fine.”

“You left without waiting for the guard. He told me you were gone by the time he arrived to relieve the night watch.”

The idea that I was still being minded, despite the rather horrific night Calen and I had, only served to annoy me further. “I didn’t realize I was supposed to give your employees an itinerary of my life.”

“Bloody hell, woman, can you not just tell me where you are? Are you so stubborn that you’ll risk your neck just to spite me?” He paused and I could hear the slightest hint of humor in his voice. “Why am I even asking, then? Of course you would.”

The porch light flicked on and the door opened, expelling from behind it my mother’s Jack Russell, Zeus. He darted straight for my car, growling and barking in a rapid succession that sounded much like a high pitched machine gun. I rolled up my window to block out the sound and prayed I’d neglected to mention anything about my mother and her miniature guard dog to Calen.

“I have to go. I’m expected,” I said, turning off the engine and throwing the keys into my bag.

“Morrigan, don’t you bloody well hang up.” I didn’t answer, waiting to see how thick the brogue would become. “Morrigan, I swear to sweet bloody Bridget, if you hang up, I‘ll—”

I didn’t wait for Calen to complete the threat. I ended the call and turned my cell off, leaving it in my glove compartment before I opened the door to Zeus’ growling welcome.

“Shut up, Mighty Mouse. It’s just me.” I closed the door and knelt down to Zeus’ level, letting him sniff my hand. The growl became a whine of excitement and the animal nudged at my fingers, insisting with his body that I scratch his head. I gave him a brief rub under his chin and allowed him to lick my cheek before I stood up, nodding to my mom as she watched me come up the sidewalk.

I took a breath, and a patient calm flooded through my body as I scanned the perimeter of the house. There were no lurking guards, no odd strangers hiding in wait to attack and I was quite certain not one person in this neighborhood would ask about Bowman’s journals. I was home. No matter how old I grew or how many borders I saw in the task of buying ancient relics, this house would always be home.

It was a Victorian cottage with a pitched gabled roof, a yellow exterior that reminded me of a meadow of buttercups and a porch that wrapped around like arms snuggling tight to protect the warmth within. I smiled at Zeus yapping at the calico, still circling the trunk of the cypress and took note of the fresh sod. Katrina had warranted new landscaping and my mother’s co-workers had done a superb job of ripping out the dead, bare grass and replacing it with this lush green. The old cypress had survived the breaking levees and stood as sentinel at the wide wrought iron gate that curled around the boundary of the lot. Vivid red roses dusted the outlining surface of the porch and new dogwood saplings had replaced the balding banana trees at the edges of the walkway. My mother had seen fit to uproot the concrete path and replace it with wide, red pavers staggered parallel and perpendicular. It all looked beautiful, new, alien to what I’d seen at Easter when the new flowers had yet to bloom. Despite the newness of the landscape, the old cottage remained as reassuring, as solid for the recollection it stirred in me and the buzzing hum of contentment I felt looking at it— my mother’s smile a fitting center of this tranquil picture.

She was leaning against the column on the porch, her light brown hair pulled tight behind her and minute ringlets escaping over her forehead and around her ears. She fidgeted with her collar and I took note of the thin blue cotton shirt, fraying at the hem and the faded denim capris she wore. Ah, Thursday, I thought. Her day off. It was pruning day. A dingy pair of gardening gloves lay on the step and the small garden sheers were next to them on the pavers. Despite my hesitance in seeing her, and discovering what state she may be in, I felt a quick thrill that she seemed unharmed, if not a bit pink-cheeked.

Looking down at her hand, I noted my suspicions were confirmed. My mother was never able to spend a day off relaxing without Mr. Guinness or Senõr Cuervo to keep her company. At least she had good taste in liquor, I thought. I glanced back up her body— steady, not slouching— and to her eyes— bright but not yet red-rimmed with drunkenness. Good. I had a solid three hours before she would be incomprehensible.

My mother wasn’t an alcoholic. According to her, anyway. She just liked to drink. A lot. When I was younger, she would have a glass of red for dinner and the occasional lager at parties. There had never been any coming in at four in the morning staggering and I never found her passed out next to the toilet. As I grew older and my social life obligated me and she was more frequently left alone, the amounts and consumption of her “occasional” drinks got larger in quantity. Now that I lived on my own, I had no real way of monitoring what or how much she drank. She was responsible, however. Drinking a lot was her hobby, like some of my friend’s mother’s working a knitting needle or scrapbooking their way through five hundred dollars in stickers and gel pens, but my mother wasn’t stupid about it. In twenty years, she’d missed only two days of work and that was when Katrina hit. If she loved anything more than me or her libations, it was being a paramedic.

“Lavender or lilies?” I asked, nodding to the dirty gloves.

“Lavender. They were getting so big I couldn’t see out the back window,” she said.

She downed her drink, Cuervo today, from the smell of it, and put it on the step next to her gloves. She tilted her head, examining me, and seeing that I was in one piece, she reached out and engulfed me into the pillow of her small chest. I inhaled, smiling at the way, despite the small tinge of sweat and tequila, she still smelled like rosemary and, well, just her.


K.A. Levingston said...

Very nice. Hopefully this will move from "Never Was" to "The Novel That Will Someday Be". I would read it! :)

TS Tate said...


Darren said...

Good sense of setting and character here. I like the descriptions of the replanting after the hurricane. Good way to show your character coming home, seeing the differences.
Couple suggestions:
1.I'm always a little reluctant to believe characters who know each other very well would use each others' names on the phone (or even just in ordinary conversation), even if they get really heated. Morrigan's name comes up a couple times in the early dialogue, so I would suggest removing one or two of them. That could just be me. I don't go around calling others by name if it's a one-on-one conversation and no one else is listening -he or she knows who I am talking to.
2. You describe the grass as "dead, bare" which to me mean the same thing. How bout "dead brown" to contrast with the new grass that you describe as "lush green"? Would be fitting.
That's all I can really see right now for suggestions. Thanks for posting this, keep up the good work.

TS Tate said...

Thanks, Darren. I do agree with you about the frequency of the names. Calen, however, is an odd bird. LOL very odd and old.

This book will be completely rewritten, eventually, once I figured how to rid myself of all the vampires. Also, that was only draft one, so I know there are lots and lots of problems. Again, thanks so much for the input. I really do appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

The imagery is nice in this story and it so far looks like something you should pull out of the drawer, if you like it.

There's nothing wrong with first person, but some stories are told better in a different POV. Of course, I'm biased since I kinda like my first-person approach w/Symbiosis, but the second wip is third person and I'm finding I like it too.

The only line that gave me trouble was the pillow of her small chest. Maybe a less-than-fluffy chest, but small chest doesn't imply pillowy to me.

Otherwise, besides rephrasing to eliminate some of the 'I's', it sounds like a great story.

TS Tate said...

Thanks for the great comment, Madison!

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