For a long time now, I have been trying to start a second novel. I thought I was on my way with a story about an aging musician and his younger lover and their romantically tragic and addictively dramatic lives, but there seemed to be a real lack of interest from a few of my regular and trusted readers. It has been driving me crazy.
I added a poll to my author Facebook page and in accordance with my fears, few were interested in the romantic tale. According to the results, more were intrigued by a brief description of a plot involving a young man and the mysterious death of his fiancée. You have to give the people what they want, right? Thus, I have started writing my second novel, which has a working title of Moody Blue.
I am going to post the beginning of what I have here, in hopes it will be read and feedback will be left.
As always, enjoy and please let me know what you think. I’ll beg if I have to.
Human beings respond to traumatic events in different ways. Some people will remove the entire episode from their memories and completely block it from their minds. It is like they passed out and completely lost conscious for the event – like at the moment of impact, when the glass shattered from the outside in and the metal frame of the car and crumpled and crunched impossibly loud, their eyes slipped shut and they missed everything. When they next opened their eyes, there were bandages, gauze, and scars and a hazy kind of recollection that would be terrifying and incredibly detrimental were it to clarify. Thus, every day is a struggle varying in difficulty to keep the terror, the heartache, and the pain at bay. The goal is to simply exist, to continue from day to day as if nothing ever happened. These poor souls operate under the near constant pressure of the past, of the truth, of reality crashing down upon them like a tsunami, and shattering the walls they have built around themselves. Others remember the traumatic event in remarkable detail, able to recall the sights, sounds, smells and sensations at a moment’s notice. Their eyes were open wide and observant, somehow impeccably braced for the crash. As if time slowed to a crawl, these individuals looked all around and noticed a slight stain on the front of their passengers’ shirts – probably ketchup or dripping grease from a tasty hamburger – and the way said shirts folded upon themselves at the passengers’ thighs when seated. When the police arrive on scene, these are the individuals who provide the makes, models, colors and license plates of the other vehicles, which slammed into their own cars. These individuals have accepted what happened and freely live with it, and do so fairly quickly, almost immediately. Rather than treating the past as some stranger, these people welcome it as an old friend, inviting it to walk beside them daily and help to define the rest of their lives. These people are strong in spirit, undoubtedly, and wake every day fully aware of whom they were, who they are and wonder at who they might be. Still others hold onto one single detail of a traumatic event, and let that one detail define the whole event. They focus in on something minute to keep from going mad, to keep from going numb, and to keep from drowning in their sorrow. Because one thing, one little thing, is easily broken down, analyzed and compartmentalized accordingly. This is the person who cannot determine from which direction the other car came from, or where he was going and why. He can only stare at his bloodied, trembling hands and mouth soundlessly, doing his best to form unintelligible syllables which were intended to form words but fall short of the mark. The focus becomes the stained appendages because to try and live with the whole trauma, with all its many aspects and nasty surprises would be suicide for this man, and for people like him. Focusing in and away from the big picture would make waking in the morning and taking that next inhale much easier for these kinds of victims and these kinds of witnesses.
Adam Peterson belonged to this latter group.
The only thing he honestly remembered about finding his fiancée dead in their bedroom was all the blood. As far as Adam could remember, and let accuracy be damned, the room was filled with orange, burning light – whether from the setting sun or the sun’s rays reflecting over the various pools of blood he could not be sure. But amid the odd light, he could see Lily in the room, in the blood. Lily was surrounded by it, transformed into a lonely island of flesh. Adam practically had to swim through it to get to his beloved, trudging through crimson puddles with the coppery smell of it filling his nostrils and forcing his stomach to rise to his throat. He was worried about vomiting, but the worry was not strong enough to keep the howls of pain within his throat, because they traveled with too much power from deep within his chest, beside his soul, adjacent to his very reason for being. It did not seem possible. Indeed, it was only a few hours ago that Adam had risen, gone to work, and then returned home with every intention of proposing to Lily. How had everything gone so horribly, tragically wrong so fast?
Adam could never, and believed he would never, be sure as to why he awoke when he did that fateful morning. Maybe it was the absence of the anticipated obnoxious buzzing of the alarm clock that roused him, even though it also explained why he slept as late as he did. His eyes inexplicably shot wide, preternaturally realizing something was askew and that his biological alarm clock was slow. His hand reached out to pull the alarm clock close, desperate to read the time in blaring digits colored a neon green, and praying that it would be earlier rather than later, that there would be time, indeed. This day, Adam’s luck was in (or so he had thought); he had only slept thirty minutes later than usual. If he just sped through his shower and skipped breakfast, he’d be golden. He set the alarm clock back on the bedside table, short and squat and made of some wood composite, gently, much gentler than when he had grabbed it because there was time; there was no need for anger or anxiety. It would be okay. He threw the covers and hurried into the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom, whipping the door shut behind him. In just a few moments, Lily could hear the water traveling through the pipes to beat against the linoleum that made up the bottom of the shower. She had been awake. She had noticed that Adam’s alarm clock had failed to sound, had been the cause of the tardiness. Gracefully, she had leaned over her beloved’s sleeping form to turn off the alarm. She had done so around 3:22AM, when she had awoken and been unable to go back to sleep. What was keeping Lily up was difficult to discern and understand, but she had stayed up for the two hours, staring up at the ceiling and breathing evenly. She could hear Adam breathing peacefully beside her, and he seemed comfortable and untroubled, so she had done her best to match her rhythm to his.