Thursday, November 4, 2010

Excerpt Thursday

Since I've got a busy, early day today, I thought I'd share a snippet from my National Novel Writing Month work in progress.  This is the first chapter in my novel and it is hopefully self-explanatory. 

DISCLAIMER: These words are rough, unedited, and vomited out of my brain unchecked.  They in no way represent a finished piece, so don't treat 'em like that.  In other words, be gentle.  Pretty please . . . ?

I blink and there is a knife in my hand.‭  ‬A knife,‭ ‬and a potato.‭  ‬I shrink from the blade,‭ ‬shining past slivers of brown‭ — ‬potato peelings,‭ ‬some still-sentient piece of my brain says‭ — ‬and I drop both.‭  ‬The potato falls faster,‭ ‬slamming into the linoleum floor with a dull thud.‭  ‬The knife follows with a clatter,‭ ‬all bouncing black handle and crisp edges.
A cry.‭  ‬I blink again.‭  ‬I feel as if I am coming up from a swim in deep,‭ ‬deep water.‭  ‬I am not alone in the room.‭  ‬The room is a kitchen,‭ ‬it seems,‭ ‬and three girls and one middle aged woman with chapped lips and a thin gaze stare back at me.
The woman steps close,‭ ‬and I shrink into myself,‭ ‬the stool I am somehow perched on hard beneath my bottom.‭ 
“Are you all right‭?” ‬asks the woman,‭ ‬peering at me as if at a specimen.‭ 
No words come.‭  ‬Am I all right‭?  ‬There seems no way to know.
“‬Why’d you drop your knife,‭ ‬Louisa‭?” ‬says one of the girls,‭ ‬all three young and yet not young.‭  ‬Somehow I know I’m young and not young,‭ ‬too.‭  “‬Why did Louisa drop her knife‭?”  ‬She’s turned to her two companions.‭  ‬Their hands are all covered in brown shreds of potato skin.
The woman bends,‭ ‬retrieves my knife and potato with a grunt.‭  ‬She straightens and frowns at me.‭  “‬Well‭?” ‬she says.‭  “‬Why did you drop these‭?”  ‬Her hands extend,‭ ‬offering the knife and potato.‭  ‬I do not take them.
“‬Same old Louisa,‭” ‬says another of the girls.‭  “‬Brain dead,‭ ‬I say.‭” 
“Yeah,‭” ‬echoes the third,‭ ‬voice weaker than old water.‭ 
“I don’t know why she’s even here.‭  ‬Wrong place for a vegetable like her,‭ ‬if you ask me,‭” ‬the second girl says.
“‬Nobody‭ ‬is asking you,‭” ‬returns the first girl,‭ ‬cheeks pink.‭ 
The second girl snorts,‭ ‬arches brown eyebrows beneath a curling mop of red.‭  “‬I’m just saying,‭ ‬she either sits there and doesn’t do a thing,‭ ‬or she does little jobs like peeling potatoes as she’s a friggin‭’ ‬robot.‭"
“Language,‭” ‬barks the woman,‭ ‬tossing the word into the air.‭  ‬Her breath is hot and stale against my face.
“‬Shut up,‭” ‬growls the pink-cheeked girl.
“‬Why should I‭?  ‬Just because you’re stuck with her as a roommate‭—”
The woman bends even closer.‭  ‬It’s amazing that her nose hasn’t kissed mine yet.‭  ‬The thought makes me shiver,‭ ‬a jagged tremble that takes each muscle for its own.‭ 
“Louisa‭?” ‬the woman says,‭ ‬looking at me as if searching for something hidden behind my eyes.
‭“‬Lou,‭” ‬says a fifth voice,‭ ‬a new voice.‭  ‬The woman and I blink in unison surprise.‭ 
“Lou‭”‬,‭ ‬she repeats,‭ ‬tone gentler now.‭  ‬I look around the room for the owner of the new voice and see no one.‭  “‬Is that what you like to be called,‭ ‬Lou‭?"
I wait for the reply,‭ ‬and then suddenly realize that it was my own lips that parted,‭ ‬my dry tongue that formed the single word.
Is that who I am‭?‬ I wonder.‭ 
And then,‭ ‬nearly in the same moment of joining synapses and electrified understanding,‭ ‬I am Lou‭  ‬My name is Lou,‭ ‬because it’s better than Louisa.‭ ‬
I say it aloud.‭  ‬The woman’s brows arch up like mountains.‭  ‬The red haired girl bleats an embarrassed giggle,‭ ‬then the room falls too-silent.‭     
I cannot remember anything more.‭ 

Happy Thursday!  What are you working on today?

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I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.


  1. blametheweathermanNovember 4, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    I read your other snippet on, too & I really like them! Totally captivated by the premise and what all is going around. I also adore her roommate you've created!

  2. Beth @ To the FullesNovember 4, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    Thank you! :)

  3. Oh I love it!!!!!!! Please finish so I can read the whole thing!

  4. this sucks beth. what i mean is, it sucks that it just ENDS THERE! how can you leave me hanging, like those potato skins!!!excited to read more. you are good beth. what i worked on (yesterday) was an extremely long portrait shoot with 2 really sweet but terrible subjects. would NOT sit for anything! im an achy mess and still exhausted, but i got lots of kisses and hugs and "i love you miss clare" so its worth it. then i taught yoga and it all balanced out.

  5. Beth @ To the FullesNovember 8, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Thanks, Christina!Clare . . . I had to read that first sentence 3 times before I realized what you were saying. Hah!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King