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Friday, January 18, 2013

Chapter 1

...of my new "first" novel.  It is said that most first novels are a piece of crap.  Well, the thing is I really like my true first novel.  It just turned out to be much more than I think I can handle at this point in my writing.  So we, Julie and I, decided we were each going to write a new "first" novel, an easier story to tackle.  My new "first" novel is a tawdry romance, complete with salacious content (none of which is included in this chapter).  Here is my first chapter of this yet to be named novel.  ENJOY!



Chapter 1  DAY 1
Two weeks earlier...

How did things get so bad, Charley thought to herself?  It’s not really that bad, she corrected.  She has a good life, from the outside anyway.  Anyone looking in would think she has the picture perfect life.  It makes her think of the song “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter.  She sits quietly as the lyrics play through her head...

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was twenty-one she wore her mother's lace
She said "forever" with a smile upon her face
She does the car-pool, she PTAs
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was twenty-nine she delivered number three
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her
She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression upon her face
When she was thirty-six she met him at their door
She said I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her
For fifteen years she had a job and not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
At least until you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her


In reality, she knows things aren’t that bad compared to what some others have but the hurt and anger building from years of unresolved conflicts has taken its toll.  Charley and Garrett rarely talk anymore.  The laughter is gone.  It’s been replaced by apathy.  There’s no anger or acrimony, only emptiness.  Where there was once passion, laughter and a shared ideal about building a life together there is now only indifference.  The TV is the moderator in their marriage.  As long as the TV is on, there are no conflicts.  But she wonders how, with no work being put into their marriage, he thinks he’ll keep her.

Charley used to be the one to pick fights, to try and draw out what was wrong between them and fix the problems.  But she got so tired of feeling like a nag and a shrew, she stopped.  It was always up to her to fix things between them.  Garrett was happy to bury his head in the sand and let things go.  When Charley would bring up a problem, he would sit and talk with her.  Garrett would look interested and seem to want to fix issues but no matter what he said, things always went back to the way Garrett wanted them.  If he wanted to fix things he would fix them but if they were Charley’s issues things always went back to the way they were before.  It was exhausting and unrewarding work, so Charley stopped working at their marriage ~ hoping though, always hoping, Garrett would see how empty their marriage had become and want to fix it before it was too late.  

In reality, Charley goes on to think, it could be worse and she tries to look at all of the good she has.  She has to focus on that, just to get through today.  She knows she has their beautiful kids, three of them came one after another and the twins made it five.  She and Garrett have a beautiful house in a great neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky.  Charley has a good job she loves, doing exactly what she wants to do ~ creating beautiful places in ordinary spaces.  She has a good and decent and honorable life.  

Her mind wanders to what she no longer has...she has a handsome husband she once adored and who once thought she was the world but that feeling seems to be gone.  The joy in life she once felt has vanished.  She’s flat.  Her marriage is mediocre, at best, teetering on divorce, at worst.  Charley doesn’t understand why, if it used to be so good, they have let it go to the point of being nearly irreparable.  

She sits at the computer and pulls up picture after picture of happy days gone by.  There is not much there, inside Charley’s heart.  No joy looking at the pictures.  Only sadness wondering what went wrong.  There’s such an emptiness there.  Will he keep me, Charley wonders out loud?  Or is it too late?  

Charley is reminded of an unfinished poem she wrote when things started getting bad and feels the need to read it again.  She goes on to wonder, for the hundredth time if things will ever repair themselves as she reads the words she wrote not long ago...

The Questions
The questions I have, there are so many.
The answers ~ I’m afraid, right now, there aren’t any.

They’ll come from within, only answered by me.
Right now there is nothing for me to give, you see

My heart is so heavy, so hurt.
Not a thing can be done for the pain to avert.

Did I love you with all of my heart?
Or did I just love the love the thought of “us” from the start?

We seemed so perfect, so right.
Everything was wonderful.  You were my knight.

Did I do the right thing?
Did I just want a ring?

Did I rush you?
What did I do?

I didn’t want to be alone.
Oh, how I wish I had known.

Ws this the path I was supposed to choose?
Or did I choose the path where we both lose?

I don’t know which end is up or down.
I feel I am ready to drown.

This is not the right life for you or for me.
This is not right, not for either to be.

We are full of despair and not at all right.
I want it back to when we filled each other with delight.

We...

The poem stops there.  Will the “we” continue, Charley thinks?  She powers down the computer, putting away the pictures, the song and the poem for another day.  


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