This morning I left the house to get my words. A bit like yesterday, I wasn’t coming home until I had 2K. The only problems today weren’t just that I had a time limit and I had to also get groceries while I was out… the real problem was my brain was mash and I feared I’d hit the wall of my creativity. 50K in two weeks was tempting creative fatigue.
There are several days every month when my brain departs, my body shuts down and I’m best found on the couch or immersed in a book. I sleep lots. I expect nothing from myself. Yet yesterday I expected the biggest word count of this campaign.
And my primordial days kind of crept up on me, even though I was meant to be mindful of it’s sideswiping tendency.
It took forever to get words. To sink down.
It didn’t help that I found a glaring structural error in the book. I sent Christian below far too early. I need to space it out to build the tension – have him come up from the cave for Becca’s salon and disappear again. I have to build into the narrative the believability he’s doing something with Becca, or at the very least, make it look like Becca is chasing him.
So, in my mucky headspace, I took in the dark places that Tabitha goes to. It’s not a dreamscape like Jo goes through in Elyora, but the ethereal game of checkers Tabitha plays in the foyer with the ghosts of her children comes close to the storm scene in Elyora. The writing has the same lyrical horror of it.
I want to interweave her madness with Christians feverish work to prove himself to Ramsey. And in all of this two things are apparent: there is not enough of Ramsey (does this mean I remove him altogether?) and that I started far too early. I wonder if in the second draft the chop will be the first three chapters?
I need to plug all of this into Scrivener and begin to tease it apart so I can get the momentum rolling again for the ending.
And just when I think I don’t need any more threads I get the most poignant image of Maya at the grand piano in the drawing room playing. Ahhh – perhaps this is what might be seen during Tabitha’s lonely walks through the house at night.
Tonight I’ll leave you with the what goes down in the foyer in the dead of night.
* * *
The hallways were the highways and byways of Tabitha’s decay riddled heart at night. In the maze of thoughts they were unchanging, as she turned right and left, into parts of house she hadn’t even explored with Lucas. They called her into their embrace rather that sit alone in the room staring at the empty page and feeling the absence of her story as viscerally as the Christian’s.
But what was night? All the windows were clothed in heavy drapes to block out the inky void that lived beyond; a hypnotic nothingness beating a subliminal pulse. If you stared long enough into it, you would feel the ever so slight gravity, pulling you into it. She’d almost opened the window one night and climbed out into it, when it felt as though there was more beyond than was left within.
Night. Was it really night? What was night other than the absence of daylight and in the absence of daylight, could there be night?
The extinguishing of the lamps was hardly a ‘real’ night. False salutations of ‘Good evening’ at the dinner table when they arrived. ‘Sleep well’ when they left. If only she could sleep. The bed empty and cold and cavernous with only her in it.
Tabitha turned the corner and looked down the never-ending dark hallway, her PJs pants wavered in a breeze that skimmed the surface of the worn carpet.
A thousand other insomniacs, lost, wandering bare foot in the freezing cold, looking for their way home.
She followed the cold air and found herself at the door of Ramsey’s study. The handle turned and the door gave when she pushed it. The light from the lantern brushed against the walls like a paint wash over crayon. She remembered Jacqui thinking it was magic, the way her drawings lept off the page. The delight in her eyes.
“Mummy.” The laughter of children rang out from out in the foyer, small foots steps running, skipping, jumping. Ghosts playing hopscotch.
Her bare feet were silent on the black and white tiles. She moved from one thinking about how she had taught Louis to play checkers last summer while Robert was away.
“Crown me, Mum. Crown me, Mum,” he had chanted the first time he’d won through to the other side of the board.
Her bare feet slipped across the black tiles. Always moving diagonally. White feet, black tiles. “Now you can move forward and backward now.”
Forward to the edge of the board. And backward again. But no one here to play against. Just the good parts of her trying to hold out while the bad parts jumped her, and lined them all up out of reach. The good parts of her out of the game now.
“You be red,” he’d said. “I’ll be black. Then you can be black and I can be white.”
The cold burnt her feet and she started to cry.
There was nothing good left in her. Her children were ghosts from a life she wanted to escape. She had left them behind. Purposely.
You’ve forgotten your own children.
They’re home still. Asleep in the same minute I left them.
But you forget them.
The voices in her head tailed off until there was nothing. Just the cold press of silence and loneliness.