It’s definitely starting to sink in exactly how many words 50,000 words is. I just hit 14,018 after banging out about 2,000 today, and apparently to stay on target I need to hit about 20,000 on Saturday, unless I want to end up doing a few 10,000 word days near the end.
Thankfully, I still have plenty of plot to get through. Surprisingly, the hardest part for me has been writing this story in order, but in a way it’s good, because I have to write through the tedious explainy bits.
Ah well. We shall see, I suppose. It is only Day 4.
Marie slid into the shower after waiting what seemed an eternity for hot water. Although the water pressure left something to be desired, there was soap like smelled like eucalyptus and something citrusy she couldn’t place. Grapefruit, maybe.
She leaned against the smooth, colorfully tiled wall and slid down to sit on the floor, picking up her right foot in her hands and pulling it close to inspect the bottom. Despite being hopelessly dirty, it was painfully blistered, and Marie caught her breath when the hot water hit her damaged skin.
“Shit!” she swore, as she gingerly began to wash off the dirt.
“Ow. Shit ow. Shit.”
It was a full hour later when she finally stepped out of the shower, scrubbed pink and flushed with warmth. Marie thoroughly inspected the clothes that Elsy, the woman in overalls, had given her and smelled them. They were clean, mercifully, and smelled almost floral.
The white linen pants were generously baggy, although lucky they had a drawstring closure, so that if Marie tied them tightly and folded them over several times, she wasn’t tripping over them. The bright blue shirt was heinously ugly, but was at least a closer match to her size. She’d saved her own underwear and bra, much to Elsy’s protests, washed them in the sink and left them to hang dry. They were still somewhat damp, but at least they were hers.
She gingerly put on a pair of too big flip-flops Elsy had leant her and emerged into a narrow hallway painted a fading, medicinal pink. The walls, like the rest of the small house, were constructed of some sort of plaster, smooth and cold to the touch. At the end of the hall, she turned through an open doorway into what apparently passed as a dining room, a sort of dark, low ceilinged affair with a small rectangular table and a mismatched assortment of chairs. The four weirdos she’d met that morning were clustered around it – Elsy, the fat one, Galen, the tall skinny guy, Hershel, the old man, and Alice, the wild woman.
“About time,” Alice grunted, taking a sip of what was evidently one of a series of drinks. Marie took the empty chair between Hershel and Elsy and inspected the meal that had been laid out for her.
“Some freshly fried chicken, a nice rice pilaf with some toasted nuts, and a little fresh fruit,” said Elsy with pride. Marie nodded her thanks, turned the plate so that the chicken was as far away as possible, and picked up what looked to be a slice of mango.
“You want a drink?” Galen asked. He had his right hand firmly gripping the handle of a pitcher of something.
“What is it?” Marie asked, suspicious.
“Red wine sangria. Freshly poisoned,” Galen said dryly.
Marie stared at him.
“Don’t mind Galen, he’s just an ass,” Alice said, shooting the tall guy a vicious glance across the table. He shrugged, poured her about a pint of sangria and slid it across the table.
She nodded her thanks and attacked another piece of fruit, realizing she was starving. Marie took a generous slug of sangria.
“This is fabulous,” she sighed, taking a second sip.
“It’s also real fucking strong, lady,” Galen replied, reaching across the table and refilling her glass.
Hershel turned to Marie and held up a small medic case.
“Alice mentioned you were running around in the forest barefoot last night,” he said. “Can I see your feet?”
“Right now?” she asked, a forkful of rice almost to her mouth.
“No time like the present,” Hershel replied firmly, and patted his knee. Marie shifted awkwardly in her chair, kicked off a sandal, and gingerly perched her foot where he indicated. He pulled out a few antibiotic pads and got to work. Marie tried her best to ignore him and continue eating, although the ointment stung.
“Not a chicken fan?” Galen asked when she pushed her plate away.
“I’m a vegetarian,” Marie explained.
The four of them stared at her.
“What the hell is a vegetarian?” Galen asked, picking up a piece of her chicken.
“Very funny,” Marie spat.
Word count – 14018
How Milo had managed to join her at some point during the night was not, in her hazy state, a particular point of concern, rather, Marie had thrown an arm around the dog and used him as a somewhat squirmier replacement for her state-of-the-art sensor controlled heating pad, and hadn’t even minded when he licked her face a few times before settling in.
Now that she was awake, Marie tried to will herself to get out of bed and cleanup.
“Get up,” she growled quietly to herself.
“Now,” Marie added.
“Please,” said the wild woman from the doorway, where she stood with a small gathering of people ranging from a large woman in overalls to an elderly man in a very odd hat.
Marie sat up, surprised, and reflexively pulled the covers up to her chin. The four people standing in the doorway stared back at her, unmoved. The wild woman from the night before looked like she hadn’t bothered showering she they’d gotten in either, although she’d changed into a long skirt of some green gauzy material and a white sleeve-less shirt.
The other three were clean, but wearing the strangest combination of clothing imaginable. The large woman, who was built like an ox and was about as attractive, had a grandma cowboy look going on with a lace trimmed pastel pink shirt on under her no-nonsense overalls. A pair of oddly shaped glasses – somewhere between octagonal and nonagonal, but slightly curved as well – were perched on her surprisingly dainty nose.
The old man had a blindingly colorful pair of pants on that looked straight out of the nineties and a hat that looked like a bowler hat got into an argument with a hammer and a pair of scissors.
There was a fourth person in the doorway, a tall man dressed all in black, but mismatched and patched together, so one of his sleeves was a bluish black, and one was a graying black, and his torso, in comparison, was a true black.
Marie took all of this in, blinked, and, never having been woken by four disheveled looking strangers, promptly started to cry.
“Oh my god,” the man dressed all in black said with disgust, “this is the anomaly?”
“She’s been doing that since I found her,” replied the wild woman.
“God, that’s sad,” said the woman in the overalls.
“Shut up,” Marie sniffled.
“She talks!” the man in black cried sarcastically, clapping his hands together.
“Her name is Marie,” Marie replied, wiping her face on the ruined sleeve of her silk blouse. “Where the hell am I and who are you people? Take me back home, right now!”
Milo chose this moment to jump back onto the bed and snuggle himself into Marie’s side, grunting softly.
“You’re in the town of Perto-Roco,” the elderly man answered, moving forward and sitting on the edge of the bed. Marie scooted away from him and pulled her knees into her chest.
“Where is that, Florida?” Marie asked.
“Florida?” the woman in overalls asked, “Do we have Florida in our dimension?”
“Marie, tell me, what planet are you from?” asked the elderly man.
“That’s not funny,” Marie replied icily. “Tell me where we are. If this is a kidnapping, my dad will pay whatever you want. Just tell me where we are.”
“Marie, what’s the last thing you remember before you were in the forest?” the wild woman piped up.
“I was in the elevator at work,” Marie replied sullenly.
“And then what?” the wild woman probed, “A light flickered or flashed, the elevator opened, and dumped you out in the middle of the woods?”
Marie was silent.
“What if I told you that you were on another planet?” the wild woman continued.
“I’d tell you to go fuck yourself,” Marie spat.
“Atta girl,” the man in black chimed in.
The wild woman sighed and pinched her forehead with her fingers.
“Okay. Let’s approach this another way,” the woman in overalls piped up. “If you come with us, you can have a nice hot shower, a change of clothes, and a big lunch.”
“Is there alcohol at this lunch?” Marie asked.
“Seconded,” said the man in black. Marie caught his gaze and he smiled good-naturedly.
“As long as I’m here,” she sighed.
Word count – 12003
I was nominated for two awards yesterday by the fabulous FactoryMaid! They are over in my growing collection on my side bar – The Interesting Blogger Award, and the WordPress Family award. I’ll be writing more on that subject the instant my DRIFT countdown is over, but I wanted to thank FactoryMaid for her kind nomination.
I woke with a start, and Connor wrapped his arms more tightly around me in his sleep, pressing my head into his chest. I lay still as my breathing slowly calmed.
Outside, the storm was raging. The rain came down in sheets, like a stampede of wild horses on cement. An irregular flash of light lit up across the wall of the room, and was almost immediately followed by a rumble of thunder that cracked so loudly that even Connor, who’d previously slept through both a fire alarm and a car crash, was jolted awake. He instinctively moved to cover me with his body before he came to his senses, realized what was going on, and relaxed.
“That was too close for comfort,” I said shakily, getting up on one elbow. The sky rumbled and cracked again, momentarily throwing my own shadow in stark relief against the wall.
“It’s alright,” Connor murmured, “it’s just a storm.”
“The Lochness is out there. I think we should check on it,” I replied.
“The Lochness has weathered many a storm, and it’s going to make it through this one just fine,” he answered. “Now come here.”
Connor put his hand on my back and pulled me back into his arms, wrapping the covers around me and tucking my head down under his chin. I licked his chest in annoyance and he made a low warning grumble deep in his throat.
Within a minute, he was fast asleep. I lay still for a long time, staring into the darkness and listening to the rain dashing itself into the roof, and thinking about the fishing boat moored not 57 steps from my door.
If you’re confused, start here.
The first person I told was my best friend and roommate, Alissa Barton. We lived together in a ramshackle apartment exactly 57 steps away from the canal, where we’d been living since we moved out of our parent’s houses 6 years prior. She was everything that I was not – a hiker and a biker, a carnivore, and a land lubber. She was the turf to my surf.
“Well damn, looks like Ariel finally kissed Prince Eric,” she said putting down the dish she was washing and spreading her sudsy arms wide. I stepped into them and she hugged me tight, dripping joyfully down the back of my t-shirt.
“Did I just hear wedding bells chime?” Alissa’s girlfriend, Marlene, popped her head out from Alissa’s bedroom and yelled down the hall.
“Yes ma’am,” I called back, and Alissa grinned.
“Come give the blushing bride your blessing, sweetie,” she yelled.
“One second, girls, I’m indecent,” Marlene answered. A minute later she waltzed into the kitchen wearing an oversized t-shirt and a star spangled thong.
“Sweetie, you’re still indecent,” Alissa frowned.
“Call it a preview of the bachelorette party,” Marlene laughed, planting a sloppy kiss on my cheek, then grabbing for my left hand. She gave the ring a onceover and nodded her approval.
“Congratulations, darling. Will it be a summer wedding?” she asked.
“We haven’t discussed it yet,” I replied, “ but I don’t see any reason to rush into things. I’m sure we’ll take our time, build up our funds a little, all that.”
“Knowing this one, she’d be married barefoot on the man’s fishing boat, three years from now, holding a bouquet of kelp and a live lobster. And I’ll be the maid of honor dressed in a seashell bra and nothing else,” Alissa joked.
I laughed at that.
“You’d do it for me, wouldn’t you, Lis?” I teased.
“I’d do anything for you, Sarah,” Alissa said, smiling. We made eye contact, and she didn’t look away.
“Hello, standing right here?” Marlene interjected. She grabbed Alissa’s hand and pulled her in for a kiss. I rolled my eyes.
“Really, Sarah, I’m happy for you,” Alissa added, grabbing my arm as I turned to go. Marlene released her own grip on Alissa.
I awkwardly patted Alissa’s hand with my free one.
“Thanks, Alissa,” I replied, “I’m happy for me, too.”
I turned and walked down the short hallway to my room, closing the door behind me. I could hear sounds of hushed dissent coming from the kitchen, and I sighed. First Paula, then Josephine, then Alice, and now Marlene.
I found myself subconsciously twisting the ring around and around my finger and I looked down at my hand. It was a pretty thing, carefully crafted, and it fit my finger well, but I’d always found wearing rings to be awkward. I took it off and flexed my fingers.
I just need a break, I thought. I put the ring on my dresser.
I looked at the clock. Jesus, it was 9:15. I had work in 45 minutes. I stripped off the clothes I was still wearing from the day before and ran for the shower.
I’m backtracking a bit. Deal.
* * *
Marie hurried through the double doors and nearly walked straight into Dakota, who quickly grabbed her shoulders to prevent a straight-on collision. They stared at each other briefly in surprise before Dakota broke into a wide smile.
“Couldn’t get enough of me?” he asked jokingly. “I’ve never had a stalker, but it’s pretty flattering of you.”
Marie was thrown off guard, and blinked.
“No, this is my office building,” she explained, jerking her thumb back towards the Everline skyscraper. He looked up at it instinctively, following her motion.
“And of course I’d be stalking you, who else would I stalk?” she added coyly, a beat too late.
He shot her a sideways glance.
“Out for lunch?” he asked innocently.
“Care to join me?” he added.
“That was the plan,” she shot back. He chuckled and started walking again, Marie tagging along.
“Where do you work?” she asked, to fill the silence.
“You know the old library down on King street?” he asked. Marie didn’t, but nodded anyway. “I work the special editions section, you know, all the really old or rare stuff. Cataloguing mostly, but some research stuff. It’s pretty fun.”
“So what are you doing in this part of town? King street’s nowhere close to here.”
“Oh, running some errands,” Dakota said vaguely.
He stopped in front out of a small restaurant with Vera Jon’s painted above the door in a pink that stood out from the garrish green door frame.
“How’s this?” he asked, looking down at her for a reaction.
“Here?” she blurted out incredulously.
She shrugged. Because I’ve never heard of this place? Because no one important probably ever comes here? Because hippies smell weird?
Dakota led her into the small restaurant, which had a bunch of small wooden tables packed between its crumbly brick walls. The chairs and tableware were mismatched and brightly colored, and several surrealist charcoal drawings hung on the otherwise unadorned brick walls. It had the air of a coffee shop, complete with several college students poring over piles of books and a shy couple out on their first or second date.
The perky hostess, who wore a brightly colored scarf wrapped around her weave and had different colored fingernails, led them to a back table between a student reading Shakespeare and a group of middle aged women clearly on lunch break. She handed them each an organic looking menu with Vera Jon written brazenly across the front, told them her name was Shay, and left them to her own devices.
They flicked open the menus and read in silence for a while. The restaurant was advertised as a ‘sandWhich’ shop, and the menu featured 3 or 4 pages of creative options. All could be eaten on gluten-free bread or as a wrap, and all could be halved and eaten with either a soup or a salad. The most expensive was 10 dollars and had lamb, avocado, basil, balsamic vinegar, walnuts, and pear slices between its two slices of challah.
“Ham and turkey on multigrain with cranberries, sliced apples, mayo, and cheddar cheese,” Dakota mused.
“Bacon and marmalade on pumpernickel?”
“Grilled cheese on country white with pesto, pine nuts, sundried tomatos, bacon, and garlic paste.”
“That sounds simultaneously terrible and amazing,” she said, looking at Dakota over the top of her menu.
“Most of these sound simultaneously terrible and amazing,” he replied. Marie nodded.
“But in a good way.”
“In a good way.”
Continued from here.
At some point the dog disappeared.
Marie wasn’t paying attention. The stream of tears and mucus and smeared mascara flowing from her face was coming too fast and too furiously to concentrate on anything other than trying to stem the waterworks. It was never ending. Marie kept trying to find the tissues in her purse, before remembering she no longer had her purse, which made her cry harder. She searched around her and found a large leaf, which she blew her nose into with a loud honking snort.
God, she hadn’t cried this hard since her former high school boyfriend had left prom with her former ex-best friend.
There was a rustling in the bushes. The dog reappeared, leaping from the long underbrush with his mottled tail held high. Marie gave a little shriek of surprise and threw her arms up over her face. It was a useless defense, because the dog managed to lick her face anyways, panting and mashing his huge head againse her chest. He seemed somewhat more exuberant than he’d been earlier, and although the light had change, Marie could have sworn he was less grey around his face.
“Milo, heel!” A gruff voice called, to which the dog immediately responded, bounding over to the side of the grizzled looking woman who had called him. She was leaning against a tree at the edge of the clearing, her tan arms crossed over her chest, which was not ample.
Marie stood up, sniffing.
“Who are you?” she managed in a thin whine.
The woman gave her a once-over, snorted, and jerked her head without speaking.
Marie gave her a long uncomprehending stare.
“Follow me, you halfwitted bimbo,” the woman finally said, “and stop sniffling. You’ll get us both shot.”
Okay internet. So if you read my last Manuscript Mondays post, you know that this whole writing a book thing isn’t really going so well. 50 pages by March 15th is starting to look less and less like a realistic goal. However, I’m not exactly one for realism.
I had a coffee break with my writing mentor A last Wednesday and he assured me that my work was not as bad as I think that it is. He is essentially the Supreme Ruler of Making Me Calm Down About My Writing Related Insecurities. We workshopped for about an hour about plot, and he told me I have something decent to work from, which made me feel much better about everything. Side note- last week was apparently my mental crisis breakdown week. Sorry, readers (not sorry).
So let’s get into the nitty gritty of it, then, and we’ll se where we end up.
Our main character, Marie Everard, is a bit of a (I wanted to use a more PG term but I can’t think of one so I’m just gonna go with it) bitch. The plot revolves around her rise to fame and her ultimate downfall. Marie is, at heart, someone who has never gotten past the concept of popularity that was so important to her in high school and throughout college, and she seeks to be the center of attention at every turn, no matter the cost. During the course of the book, she commits three awful acts (no spoilers!) to try to solidify her status in society, and these acts, in turn, backfire on her and almost cost her her friends, her job, and her life.
Marie has two best friends, Alex and Kate, who have been there at her side since middle school. They are beginning to try to move on past Marie’s deluded conceptions of society, but are having trouble untangling themselves from their roles in Marie’s life.
Also central to the story are Ryder and Dakota, who are antitheses to each other and appear in the story in almost direct contrast to each other. Ryder is the famous person that Marie wants to be. He’s handsome, charming, and always within snapping distance of the paparazzi, but underneath that shiny visage is a twisted, dark and abusive person. He is always slipping between these two different personalities. Dakota, however, is a reclusive librarian and publisher, intellectual, self made, and always honest. Marie mistakes him for someone else and is initially turned off by his quiet nature, which is, in her eyes, bizarre.
So that’s my checkin for this week, I guess. I’m still not sure if March 15th is going to happen, but if it’s not, I’ll know by next Monday for sure.