Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Rest is Silence / Novel writing

I've been working on a novel for the past 6 months. Although I have attempted novel writing in the past, I vowed to get this one finished. I completed the 2nd draft on Dec. 24 at 5 pm. Like a  marathon viewing of the series "Breaking Bad" or the entire "Lord of the Rings , by the end I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I hit the mental off button and like that everything stopped. My mind was a blank, the characters, the internal editor, the grammar police were silent and it felt weird.

To celebrate I present the opening scene from "The Mighty One, Before,During and After".

Everyone has a moment in their life that sets fate into motion. My eight year old curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out what I was getting for Christmas in 1966. My parents were kind but set boundaries and one  of them meant staying out of their bedroom. They treated my room with the same respect and always knocked before entering.

Mother left to go grocery shopping which gave me the chance to go upstairs. My room occupied the front of the second floor, with theirs at the back. I knew Dad kept presents under the bed and I carefully lifted up the comforter when I heard the front door open and shut.

Oh no, if she comes up the stairs I'm done for. Panicking, I did the obvious and stupid thing; I stepped across the bed, opened the window, and climbed out on the rear porch roof. It had snowed the night before. Dad shoveled a path from the back door to the detached garage leaving a large pile of snow close by. I tiptoed to the edge of the roof, aimed for the mound and jumped. Instead of hurtling fifteen feet to the ground, I drifted like a leaf from a tree. 

I laid in the snow in a mild state of shock. I tried to absorb what just happened when the cold snow on my backside reminded me Mother expected me to be in the house and hurried up. I brushed snow from my clothes and noticed our next door neighbor Mr. Hoover standing in his driveway with a shovel in his hands and a gaping mouth. I gave him a nervous wave and headed thru the back door. I almost ran into Mom in the kitchen unloading groceries.

"Neil, what are you doing outside without a coat?" she asked with typical concern. I mumbled something but Mother didn't notice anything unusual. 

Despite my ordinary appearance I have exceptional strength, fast reflexes and oh yes, I can fly.I mean like Superman, just push off the ground and I''m airborne. I realized no one else could after I got a the weird glance from a friend when I mentioned it. I had to keep it to myself but the burden grew heavier, even after the careful realization that everyone had a secret to hide.

At a young age I didn't fly so much as make little hops, like reaching for an apple high in a tree or something on the top shelf at Dad's hardware store. Falling like a leaf was one thing. Flying took more effort to accomplish. Not as easy as it sounds since Galesburg Illinois is as flat as Kansas. There  aren't a lot of places to hide. By adolescence I would sneaking off at night or near dawn for some quick flying out in the country.

I became aware of other unusual skills as I went about the business of childhood. I used to take a red blanket off the clothes line and pin it to my t-shirt. Like many boys, I would run around the yard imitating the world's most famous super hero. Our dog Blinkers was energetic but not the brightest pet. He would chase me around trying to get his  blanket back until exhausted. I got too carried away with this game one time and in the excitement he ran out into the street and the path of an oncoming car. Seeing the inevitable tragedy about to happen, I ate up the distance, grabbed the dog and dodged the car before the driver slammed on his brakes.

My joy at saving him was dulled because I had no one to tell. The disappointment followed me for days until Mother noticed my unusual crankiness. 

I don't like keeping this to myself, I wanted to say but just shook my head, it was nothing.