An extract from the novel - project me day 362

28 December 2010

I've been talking about it this entire year and I wouldn't be surprised if anyone thought there was this phantom novel I had conjured up to seem busier (or more of a writer) than I really am. The truth is, I'm getting frustrated with myself that I can't show the world any of Ephineah. I have been saying I started it nearly two and a half years ago, but when I do the calculations, it's more like over three years.
Greggie gave me a great book to read last night and I have my friend's book sitting on my bedside table with a bookmark already making its way through the pages, but today I woke up and missed my story terribly. It might just be a burst of enthusiasm, but I want to get through some of the final edit. As I was reading through and smiling at how far I have come as a writer since I started the book, I heard the voice say: "it's time!"
It's time to stop telling the world ... it's time to show the world. And so, I've finished editing a chapter from Ephineah: A story about a woman who is misdiagnosed and goes away to her cousin's holiday home by the sea to try and rest and recover from an illness that has tampered with her body, heart and soul. It's a few chapters in, but she is getting?acquainted?with the family who live next door and that are going to play a big role in her journey of self discovery as she learns to heal her body by discovering herself:

?Oh now you look down.? I did not need a mirror to know I looked a sight: half asleep, scraggly looking, wearing a black work suit and bright yellow feather slippers. Was now the time to curse the humour of my gay best friend? I imagined him reminding me that everyone has got to have one ? the gay, not the feather slippers.
?Too late? I tucked my shoulder length brown hair behind my ears with my free hand while watching the curtain move, wondering who I would be met by. The anticipation built and I considered holding the jar into the crack that was beginning to widen and running for my life as faceless hands took hold of it.
?You must be the Shavon? Come in, come in. I?m Ida Briar. I?ve been expecting you.?? She threw her arms around me with an unexpected welcome hug, then made her way back into the house and gestured me to follow.
?Odd trait for a family.? I had only had half glimpses of the face of the old man and the back of the other one, both swooping Aldora away from me and now Ida had turned her back on me too.

Conscious of my foolish looks, I hoped to drop the jar off and be on my way. ?I?ve just come to return the jar to your granddaughter. Do you mind if I leave it here?? I felt silly carrying a glass jar filled with a combination of brightly wrapped sweets and little pieces of paper with scatterings of fairy wishes. I thought it a rather odd practice to let children believe fairies exist, let alone help make wishes come true.

The dinner table was scattered with half full bowls of food and empty place-mats; all except one spot.
?Nonsense, you?re staying for dinner. Gerald wouldn?t forgive me if I didn?t take good care of you.?
I cursed myself for my diabolical timing and then went on a rampage of imaginary punches to my cousin?s jaw, imagining the fragile picture he had painted of me. ?I?m honestly fine, the fridge is jam packed with food and I just ate something.?
?Crackers and cheese, yes, Aldora told me.?
Hovering between the strange surrounding, I finally asked where I could leave the jar, hoping to distract from the dining spot presumptuously awaiting me.
?My granddaughter has caused quite a scene over you tonight.? Wanting to know the meaning of your name, why you?re so sad and when you?re going to make your fairy wishes. I hope she wasn?t too much of a bother?? Gesturing for me to place the jar on the counter and then grinning with a whimsical smile.
?Stupid.? I felt my heart pound and was furious at myself for not kicking the jar off my patio. Not only did I have a silly little girl interfering in my life, it has been broadcast to the entire family. ?So much for peace and quiet, thanks a lot Gerald.?

?We are all blessed with two names.?
?Excuse me??
?One that our soul carries through all our lifetimes and that all other souls in this world know us by. The other, we are given for this lifetime alone.? Packing dishes away, she continued as though we had been talking for hours.
?Each one of our names is equally important and its meaning is an indication to our journey in each lifetime.?
She wore a sleeveless white summer dress with buttons running from her chest to her ankles. Her toenails and perfectly manicured fingers were painted in a shade of pearl white that seemed to turn pink as it caught the light. I felt myself consciously fold my hands into each other, knowing that I had not done much to care for myself in months. Honestly, I was always too exhausted to even bother.
?What has happened to me?? My thoughts were interrupted by her sudden shouting.
?Did you find her name yet?? She paused for just a moment before bellowing the question down the passage again.
The ground floor looked identical to my apartment except for a staircase that seemed to float in the middle of the room and perfectly divide the living room from a quaint dining area.

?Oh no you don?t? I caught a side glimpse of the man who gently swooped her up and started carrying Aldora back to wherever she had snuck out from. He was tickling her at the same time and she garbled a mixture of tears and laughter that obviously made it impossible for her grandmother to resist.
?Just 5 minutes.? Ida did not seem to be asking permission. ?Mom!?
She smiled and walked over to me, whispering how her son hated it when she interfered with his attempts to discipline his daughter. ?He?ll give in, he always does.?
Before the words had even left his mouth he emerged carrying his little girl like a sack of potatoes.
?What does it mean Idi?? HHHHer blonde curls covered her face as she forced her head up in glee. I watched his right hand grip firmly to the metal railing of the banister as he kept his eyes on every step while carrying his precious package.
?Gaelic, meaning God is Gracious!? The nameless voice of the old man who I had met earlier that day, shouted from down the passage.
?Thank you my darling, now come inside and meet our new neighbour.? I still could not quite get used to all the shouting and cringed at the thought of being roped in as the token neighbour.

As both men met at the bottom of the stairs they gave each other an uncomfortable smile, both focusing their attention on the little girl who enthusiastically fought herself free. He gently slid her to the floor and patted her head before she sprinted off and into her grandmother?s arms and he made his way back up the stairs without speaking to anyone. It was not even 6:15 in the evening. With the little knowledge I had of children, I at least know that it was far too early for a little girl to be dragged off to bed. She must have been 5 or 6. ?What do you know about bed time anyway?? the mean voice in my head snapped mockingly.
I felt envious considering I had on average of two hours of sleep a night. I had cunningly convinced myself that my passion for work kept me up into the whee hours of the morning, until it was time to get well and sleep was vital for the process.

Without needing to ask, Ida began filling me in on the ritualistic hour that her son and granddaughter spent together every night, either watching TV or reading stories. She told me about the giggles and laughter that always filled their home for and how, even though Ida and her husband where not invited into their secret space, it filled their hearts too. All this being portrayed to me while Dora tugged at her grandmother?s dress and begged for the meaning of my name.
As she finally received her long awaited definition I lost myself in trying to sum up the aloof man who didn?t feel the need to introduce himself. He had seemed so irritated with her earlier that day, but Ida?s description of him portrayed a dedication greater than any father I had known before.
?Mothers are bias, it?doesn't?take away from the usual arrogance of the male species.? There I went painting all men with the same tarnished brush, as my best friend would say.

Feeling the tug of my blouse, I looked down at the green gems staring back at me and left my thoughts behind.
?My Idi?s name means propulous,? Aldora stated with pride.
?Prosperous,? her grandfather corrected as he placed his hand on her head and gave it a little wiggle.
After leading me to the coaches, with Aldora still clinging to my arm, the old man lowered himself into one of the two single armchairs, that could have been fit for a king, and once again reminded me that if Little Aldora became too much of nuisance I was just to holler for Ida. I thought it inappropriate to announce that there might be a lot of hollering going on considering my impatience with children, ?and the rest of the world.? Why did I feel as though everyone was out to annoy me of late?

Now perched on my lap in the most obscure angle, not wanting to lose sight of her grandfather sitting behind her, Dora swung her legs back and forth and asked if I liked the meaning of my name.
I had to admit that I needed reminding and Ida jumped in with an explanation of an Irish origin that meant ?God is gracious?.? My first thought was to tell Dora I must have been given the wrong name because I didn?t feel that I had received much Grace from God for quite some time.
?It?s pretty? I answered through a false smile and hoped we could be done with the topic, but should have known better that Dora would not let it slide.
?But it means something, tell her Idi, that there?s a reason she got that name from her mommy even if her mommy?didn't?know why.? Her train of thought was snatched away by the sound of her father?s voice.

?Night Ma, Night Dad, I?m sleeping in my own private tent tonight.? He stood at the top of the stairs, dancing patterns across the ceiling with a torch. Every so often the light caught his face and outlined the silhouette of strong features. The familiar features that had charmed, teased and destroyed me time and time again and ones that I wished would go back to his private tent and stop threatening.
She left my arms as fast as she had arrived as I gasped in horror, thinking she was falling. My heart was fragile enough and I had to catch my breath as she grabbed my neck, slapped a kiss on my cheek and dashed up the stairs begging her dad to wait for her.
I leaned forward, having forgotten about my gay slippers and tried to make the kiss seem a natural gesture as I placed my fingertip on the cheek that still held the feeling of innocent affection.

?Ida, Lennon, it?s been wonderful to meet you, but I am exhausted from the trip and haven?t even unpacked yet.? I began rising to my feet before Ida stopped me from taking any control of my escape.
?Not so fast, you have a meal to eat.? She had dished a quantity way beyond my means and was off to warm it while Lennon led me to the table and pulled out my chair. A gentlemanly gesture I hadn?t experienced in the longest time.
?Thank you,? I said while settling myself. ?Men don?t do that much anymore.?
The aroma of roast chicken filled the air as Ida set the plate before me.
?Maybe not the men?you've?chosen to surround yourself with.? Her remark stung. I was sick and tired of hearing that statement for happy couples who had an easy ride on the love train.
?Maybe they don?t exist anymore,? I mumbled through the first mouthful of food.
The conversation was distracted by the first burst of laughter from upstairs. Ida was right, it did bring an innocence and calm to the atmosphere as we exchanged simple stories and familiarised ourselves with one another. Considering small talk was my least favourite thing to do, I was happy to settle into the tales of the Briar family and used my brilliant journalistic skills to steer clear from them digging to deep into my life.

?Dinner?s at 5:30 tomorrow, but you?re welcome to come early and help me cook.? It?s very therapeutic for what you have.?
The temptation to question her on the bleak picture my cousin painted of me quickly passed as the usual headache began to linger and the anticipation of another insomniac filled night called me to bed.

4 comments on “An extract from the novel - project me day 362”

    1. Thank you so much my friend ... I'm finally feeling that the end is near and a new chapter can begin (pun ... tee hee)
      I hope you feel better ... Greggie has the flu also so it's all around the world. Sigh!

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