A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Short Story Excerpt: Cold Comfort

Hi Karen!  Thank you so much for your wonderful supportive comment.  I think I've had a breakthrough. I've been working on a new short story all morning and I want to share it with you and whoever else stops by this blog.  But first I wanted to answer your question about what I meant by Alana dressing to her best advantage.  Based on my mother, Alana's figure would be more of an apple shape than the more classic pear shape for women.  So she is narrow at her hips, like a man, but modestly broad shouldered.  Dressing to her best advantage meant wearing tailored, sporty clothing, clothing influenced by styles for men, but flattering to women.  My mother was a teenager in the 1940s, so think of that style from black and white films of the time.  Narrow skirts and jackets with padded shoulders, etc...  A nice pair of pumps and maybe a stylish hat.

Anyway, here is the beginning of my short story.  The opening scene I wrote over a month ago.  It's stuck in my head, so I decided to work on it.  Any comments would be most welcome.

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"Cold Comfort"

The moment he touched her his months of planning suddenly became a reality.  All he knew was it was cold as death outside and she was warm.
"Money upfront" she said.  He dug his hand into his pocket.
"Not here!" she hissed and pulled his arm to get him to cross the street with her.  They slipped into an alley and then down a few steps to a door that was slightly ajar.
"In here--we've got to be quiet."  There was a small vestibule with a padlocked second door and a sign that read "KEEP OUT!!"  She put her back against the outer door to keep it shut.
"Okay, 15 minutes."

John had heard that she had run away from home the year before.  She was 16 then.  Home life had not been good to her.  The word was that her step father had been molesting her since she was 12.  Her name was Jamie Chamberlain and he had known her when he was just 12 and she was 8.  They had been at the same camp one summer.  It was the summer that Jamie learned how to swim.  Harry, one of the camp counselors, had paired him up with her because he had become a skilled swimmer the summer before, had won several races.  Harry had told him privately that she was afraid of the water because her father had drowned the year before.
"So, treat her gently Johnny.  Don't push too hard.  I'm telling you this because I've watched you the last couple of years and I know that you are good with the younger kids.  Patient and kind.  Older than your years.  I'll be keeping an eye out for both of you."

The first thing Johnny noticed about Jamie was that she was beautiful.  Even as a little boy he had been drawn to beautiful things and people.  Sunsets, shells, animals and flowers, but mostly the face of his mother.  He learned very young not to talk about beauty and beautiful things because his older brothers had skewered him when he tried, labeling him a "momma's boy".  And, in a sense, that's what he was, being the youngest of four brothers.  By the time he was twelve he had proved himself to his family by doing well in school and by excelling at soccer and swimming.  He still loved his mother dearly, but followed his father's taciturn example.  He only spoke when he had something to say, the rest of the time he remained a silent bystander.  He learned by watching.  He watched his brothers making rambunctious mistakes.  He learned not to do as they had done.

If Jamie had been closer to his age, Johnny would have steered clear of her.  He had made a habit of falling in love with the prettiest girls in his class and then got tongue-tied with extreme shyness when any of them was assigned the seat next to him.  He hated the feeling so much, that feeling of being vulnerable and struck dumb, that he overcompensated by focusing on the work at hand and had gotten the reputation of being a know-it-all.  He hid behind that persona and acted as if he were coolly indifferent to girls.  Little did his classmates know that he was a closet romantic.  So when he saw Jamie for the first time at the lake an hour before lunch, saw the golden brown ringlets of her hair and her wide green eyes, her serious, stubborn mouth, he knew he was safe because she was only a child, a child who had lost a father, a child who needed his help.  That suited Johnny; he liked to be of help, especially to misfit kids, those kids who were awkward and tongue-tied, too.  If she had been a beautiful, spoiled child, conscious of her beauty, he would have lost interest, but instead she came across as very, very serious, a watcher like himself.

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Okay, that's it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I'll be working on it for the next few days and posting more scenes here.  Till then, what do you think John does when he gets Jamie alone in that vestibule after he's given her money to have sex with him?  To be continued....
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