Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Wrote A Novel

Maybe you've heard?  I've been writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month, and it ends tomorrow.  I asked my friends on facebook to challenge me with words to use in my last push to finish.  They really came through for me with a whole list of crazy words.  To thank them, I wrote this chapter.  I put all of their words in, except for a handful that I had already used in a different chapter.  So this is for you, friends. Thanks for supporting me when probably what you really wanted to do was type in all caps, "WE DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR NOVEL."  But if you do care, check out my web badge off to the side. That's my prize for winning.--------------------------------->
And now, I present to you, a chapter in my novel.  Also, you may want to read this with a dictionary.  The words I was instructed to use are in bold.  ALSO, this is a REALLY rough draft, so it is fine if you criticize me (which I really don't mind) just don't hate, ok?

62 Years Ago, in the Summer

Language ... has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone.
- Paul Tillich

At eighteen years old, Ray thought he knew something about pain.  He had lost his mother when he was only eight, and then had suffered a severe injury that required him to learn to walk again at 16, but he had never felt pain quite like this before.  The whole mess had started when he was finally healed enough after the accident to go to the common room to “hang out” with the other teenagers who were in the hospital convalescing.  His initial thought when they first pushed him into the room was that it was reminiscent of a really bad high school dance.  The girls were all shuffling around on one side of the room, and the boys were all staring stupidly off into space on the other side of the room.  The nurse began pushing him in that direction, but he waved his arm, “That way,” he commanded her.  If he had to sit in this ridiculous room with these sad people, he would at least be on the side with the girls.

And then he saw her.  At first sight there was not anything special about her, if you discounted everything about her.  He nodded to the nurse that she could leave and he pushed gently on his wheels to send his chair a little closer in her direction.  She was showing another girl pictures in a photo album.  He sat there for a moment, listening, until he felt that he had been near them for long enough that he could slip his presence  into the conversation.  “Mind if I take a look?” he asked, casually.

She looked up at him sharply, and it occurred to him that even though he knew he had been sitting there for some time, this was the first notice that she had taken of him.  He could feel his scalp tingling as the sweat began to pool.  She looked him over slowly, starting at his shoes.  He had never been so carefully examined in all his life, he supposed even the doctors who had examined him after his accident had failed to be so thorough.  And he knew, with the clarity that usually only comes just before death why all the boy were on the other side of the room.

Just when he thought she could not make him any more uncomfortable, she lifted the book off her lap and offered it to him.  “Sure, strange boy, they’re only my personal photos.  Why would I mind if you had a look at them?”

Her tone was so poised, and her spine so rigidly set that he was afraid to actually take the book from her.  She thrusted it forward more energetically, and he had no option but to take it.  He opened it to the first picture, and saw a small girl in a pink baby stroller.  He looked up at her, the question evident in his eyes.  “That’s my little sister, Lucy.”  She said, her tone softer now.  Her friend got up and walked away to talk to someone else, and the girl moved over on the couch closer to him.  He turned to the next page in the album.  The next pictures showed a dying basil plant on one side and a peanut plant on the other.  Again he looked up at her, again the question burning on his tongue.  “Those are my plants at home, my mom takes pictures of them to show me so I can see how well she is taking care of them while I am…here.”  He nodded his head to show he understood.  He turned to the next page and saw a picture of what must have been her, smiling wildly in a kayak, floating on the bluest water he had ever seen.  On the opposite page there was a picture of a loaf of bread sitting on the counter.  By now she knew what he expected and she answered before he had a chance to give her the question stare, “Yes, that was me in a kayak last year at the lake, and that is a loaf of bread.  My mom put those in to remind me of my favorite things, I guess to give me something to look forward to when I get out of here.  Sometimes I dream about the smell of baking bread. Have you ever dreamt a smell, before?”  He shook his head no.
“Look, what’s the matter with you?  You ask to look at my book, is that all you know how to say?  Do you have halitosis or something?”  The rigidity was back in her spine, the arrogance had returned in her voice.  Again, feeling almost as if he wanted to mock her, he shook his head no.  He found himself somewhat surprised at his own sassiness.
She looked him over again, and for reasons he could not fathom she turned the page on her own and continued talking, as if her previous outburst had never happened.
“And here is the penultimate one, it is my favorite.  I love the way you can actually see, because of the angle of the shot, the rhizomatically inclined plants…” The force of his stare caused her to stop talking.  Did she really always talk like that, or was she just showing off for him?  She didn’t need to use weird words to impress him, he had never seen a vixen like her before.
“So, you’re kind of smart, is that it?”  he asked her, using his voice again but immediately regretting it as if his own vocabulary made his intelligence naked in front of her.
“I do consider myself to be rather fecund, yes.” She answered, a smug smile on her lips.  Her lips were a shocking red against the sallow color of her skin, how had he not noticed before how sick she looked?  What was it about her that was so fascinating?  It couldn’t be her looks, because that would make him shallow, and it couldn’t be her attitude because that just drove him crazy. 

He had a lot of time on his hands however, and if she wanted to play smart guy, he would show her.  He asked his father to bring him a dictionary and a thesaurus next time he came.  Once his father had brought it to him, he stealthily hid the bulky volume under his pillow as well as he could, he did not want to have to explain to anyone why he had them.  He knew if he worked at it, he could make himself a contender in this game she was playing.

He asked the nurse to wheel him in to the common room where he knew she typically spent her time.  He saw Kara in her favorite corner, in the couch by the window.  A nurse was handing her her meds, and he smiled.  He knew this one.
“I see you are having your preprandial medicines.  I just took mine,” he unconsciously puffed out his chest as he said the words, but immediately deflated when she laughed at him.
“What did you say?” she asked, her tone haughty and condescending.
“Oh, I was just referring to your little, you know,” he began stumbling, “preprandial medicine,” he sputtered off, the look she was giving him scaring him into silence.
He wanted to retreat to his room.  She had scored the ace this time but he was not giving up.  He gestured to a nurse that he wanted to go back to his room, and resolved to work even harder.  In the coming days he no longer cared who saw him with the open dictionary and thesaurus, furiously scribbling notes in his journal.  This game was on.
As soon as he saw her when he was rolled back into the room the next day he imagined himself defenestrating her.  Either that, or just really, really kissing her.

He continued his game, half seriously trying to impress her and half just enjoying the way it made her act so superior each time he used one of his new fancy words.

The day he actually did try to kiss her and she rejected him was the day he knew that he knew nothing about pain.  Even realizing that how he felt could be described as maudlin only made him feel worse.  He had been a football player, and now he was nothing but a rejected fake intellectual in a wheelchair.


  1. BOOM! Love it. Excellent work. Ames, you're cool.

  2. Can I just tell you that I LOVE the fact that you used the word "defenestrating?"

    That is a total win.

  3. I need the rest too!!!!! Ps loved it, but I needed a dictionary of my own lol

  4. I need to buff up my vocab like my. character ;-)

  5. You're fantastic.

    And the fact that our language has a word like "defenestrating" really just shows how ridiculous or amazing it is. Take your pick.

    I can't wait to read more about Kara and Ray!!

  6. I just realized I never commented on this post. I love how you added everyone's words in. I do need a dictionary for some of them though. Ha! What a crazy month we had! I am already gearing up my thoughts for next year. I guess I'm already over my post NaNo fatigue and am excited to do it again. First things first: I need to finish my current novel.