Hi all, if you also follow me on twitter you know I’m super jazzed up about having started a new WIP!
I finally wrapped my edits on And They Called Her Stormbringer and sent out my first big batch of query’s second week of March. I debated about doing another editing pass on Draft 2 of One Half A Dead Witch but I gotta be honest I am burnt out on editing. The thought of having to hack 10-15k out of that MS just about killed me.
I started formally plotting out a book idea I’ve had simmering on the back burner for a few years, tentatively titled Gator 911. (Thank you @IndieHorrorWri1 for the suggestion, it was so much snappier than what I was going to go with!)
Gator 911 is a contemporary medical drama set in a rural hospital in East Texas that follows a doctor and nurse that are sisters struggling to keep their family and their hospital from collapsing.
Key players include:
Dr. Grace Salinas (39), ER Physician, newly un-engaged and returned or exiled, depending on your perspective, to her hometown of Salt’s Bayou as of 6 months ago.
Aricela Salinas (34), ER nurse and serial monogamist back in a rocky relationship with her on again off again boyfriend, a local cop, who’s been holding the family together in her sister’s absence.
Also, Salt’s Bayou local town legend and source of many mishaps, Big Salty (50+?), a very large, blind in one eye, gator that people claim is really a 20 ft long saltwater crocodile.
I started actually writing early this week and am about 5k in and I gotta say after nearly a year in revisions on various WIPs I am euphoric to be writing new material for a brand new story. I am so excited to watch this world flesh out beneath my fingertips.
Big Goals for this weekend are as follows:
Get at least to 15k.
Develop the character of Grace’s Ex- Fiance (NAME?? JOB?? Any distinguishing characteristics other than Betrayer and destroyer of worlds)
8:10 AM is seared into my eyelids by my phone screen.
I’m clocking 3 hours of sleep for the fourth night in a row and I feel like it.
Because Finals Week isn’t depressing enough, my phone pipes up with a very cheering reminder that it is in fact Friday the Thirteenth
Bad Things happen today, so I wear my lucky testing necklace, and I dress to kill, red lipstick, hair up.
Failure hurts less when you look good.
The hollow pounding in my skull is probably what’s left of my analytical reasoning trying its damnedest to squeeze out of my head through my eye sockets. Lunch is a haze of leaning on someone’s shoulder, nodding my head at the appropriate points in the conversation while trying to simultaneously keep my eyes open and eat a decent meal before I walk home to my apartment.
Rain… it is raining. Everything is cold and damp and I am entirely apathetic toward the situation. The apartment is dark and empty, but in the bed is a welcoming cocoon of blankets. No sooner am I face down, I am asleep.
The ring of my phone is like a jolt of electricity straight to the heart and reflex has it at my ear before I register I am in fact awake.
The silence on the other end is broken by a few choked breaths, and I can feel my throat closing. Nononononono…
“It’s grandpa… he passed away this morning.”
I hold my breath, waiting for it to start to hurt…but it doesn’t…I just feel numb.
Mama is sobbing on the line and I can’t think of a thing to say. My heart is in my throat. I want to deny it. He can’t be! I was there just last weekend!
“It’s alright though… the Alzheimer’s never got as bad as it could have. He was happy… at the end.”
I know! I was there! He remembered who I was and he asked me how my engineering classes were, and he sang karaoke after thanksgiving dinner, and he was so happy. He can’t be dead. A person can’t just die like that.
“The memorial service is Wednesday. I want you to concentrate on you finals. Don’t worry about this. Do good, and then come home.”
It’s hard to find something to say, “Alright mama, I will. I love you. I’ll be there soon. Bye,” it sounds so meaningless I almost wish I hadn’t said anything.
I can almost see her, red faced from crying, dark circles under her eyes, “OK, Baby, I love you, Bye.”
The line goes dead and I stare at it for a long while. Slowly, I crawl back under the covers and close my eyes.
What do you do, when someone you’ve lived with for nine years is dead? Should I put a picture of him on Facebook “RIP Grandpa P. I will always—”
That seems to be what everyone else in the family has done.
Is there something wrong with me? I don’t want anybody else to know. I don’t want the page of single sentence blurbs, “Our prayers go out to—”
If I can just keep it quiet, where no one but me knows, no one will ask. If no one asks, I will not cry, and it won’t really be real. If I don’t cry none of it’s real and I can just be. numb.
I’ve realized I don’t want to go home. If I go home everyone will be crying and sobbing and grieving… I am afraid I will stand there, dry eyed, face tingling, everything far far away, like I am now, and then they will know something is wrong with me.
I feel so strange, like I’m stuffed full of cotton balls, and all I want to do is sleep, but I can’t , there are finals and papers, and I can’t just shut down.
So I won’t and I don’t… but nothing seems real real.
Wednesday 1: 17 pm
The memorial service is like watching a funeral on television for a character who’s name you know but whose face you can’t recall. It’s not real. It really isn’t, until a slideshow starts to play and Dr. Antonio Penaloza’s voice, cracked with age, begins to sing. His voice fills up the tiny church as he belts out To God be the Glory, and I Will Always Love You at the top of his lungs. My eyes, dry till now are suddenly overrun with tears, too much to blink back though I try, slowly deep achy sobs drag themselves out of my chest, and I clutch my mother’s hand as my aunt presses tissues into my hand so I can contribute to the small mountain that is forming between the three of us.
In memory of my Grandfather Dr. Antonio Penaloza who passed away on December 15th 2013. Loss is hard, we all deal with it in our own ways. Rest in peace grandpa. We miss you every day.
The last thirty minutes of a six hour drive is always the longest. Every pothole looks familiar. You know how to drive these roads at night, in the rain, with headlights shining in your face, half asleep or half drunk. This is so close to home you can taste it. Your mind is already leaps and bounds ahead, and it’s like no time has passed at all.
You’ll pull in the drive and tumble out into the cold, and tell everyone all about school and the friends and the guy you just met, but he seems so nice…
And that’s when it hurts. It’s sudden, like a fist to the gut, like all the air’s been sucked out of the car and replaced with bleach. You can’t miss people constantly that would be crippling. So you don’t. You forget. You pretend that home is exactly like it was when you lived there every day… except it’s not.
The house that looks so familiar will be cold and empty and full of stale air, most of the innards that made it home, pictures, dirty clothes, things that indicate the presence of people are gone, packed into neat little boxes stacked in unused rooms, or brought with them halfway around the world. Most of the pets have been given away to friends and neighbors, who can care for them better while the family is abroad.
It’s so…so stupid that for a minute you let yourself think you were going HOME. Because you’re not, it’s not home anymore. Home is family. Home is the smell of Dad’s cooking, the cat petting himself on your shins, and everyone’s shoes spread out in a blast pattern from the back door. All those things have picked up and moved across the Atlantic. You’re really just driving to a particularly familiar storage closet that holds your winter clothing. You shouldn’t have let yourself get excited for that.
It’s hard to go home when you know nothing will be the same
This is the graveyard shift, the long hours after Dad’s finally too exhausted to drive in the wee hours of the morning until they stop for breakfast at ten. Everyone is asleep. My sister barely lasted thirty minutes awake before she knocked out, feet leaving foggy imprints on the windshield, tucked under a blanket stolen from the parents in the back. The Bobcat, or the Coyote or some other tiny country station is buzzing static as I drive further from Amarillo. The roads a grey swath under yellow headlights, and the only thing I’ve seen in miles is eighteen wheelers blinding me with their headlights as they go barreling north the other way on this tiny two lane highway.
Seven exits after the red light on the dash pings a strident warning, the yellow glow of a Love’s sign pops up beside the next overpass. I exit pulling in under those too bright white lights, and my sister makes a muted protest. The door comes open with a rush of cold. It’s a matter of minutes ever more tedious minutes to get the tank filling. It’s one of those that have to be depressed by hand, and 16 gallons seems ever so long, and the smell of gasoline is doing odd things in the cold that is burning her fingers.
Thankfully a run quick run indoors offers climate control. Finally the real reason for insanely large gas station cups is revealed. Coffee. Large, and more a vector by which to imbibe cream and sugar. It runs hot through her veins and the remainder of the night is spent in a pleasant buzz of caffeine and jittery fingers on the wheel tapping out to old country classics she hasn’t heard in years but hey—Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone!
Coffee and country make for the best company on late night drives