Thursday, May 2, 2013

A "Snippet" from "Rain"

I can't make up my mind on whether I was going to present Rain or  Snow at the upcoming Romance Workshop at the DFW Writers Conference. I've worked up both of them. So I've written two queries and two plot summaries. The activity should teach me something, shouldn't it? The rough draft of Rain is complete at least. Snow is a work in progress. I'll let you know my final decision and its ramifications after the conference.

But this posting I thought I would do something I've not done before---post what I call a 'snippet'. Frequently they don't make their way directly into the story but do form one of the building blocks of a character. I write them and stuff them into my character dossiers. This 'snippet' is from Rain and involves Gerry, the male protagonist. Right now it exists simply as a nightmare in the rough draft.


                        Judith was born late to her parents or , at least, late in that day and time. Long past the time that Sydney and Eleanor StClare had thought about having any more children. Audrey was 14, Gerry was 12, and Marilyn was around nine. Yes, a slip up...a mistake...a accident. But she was welcomed all the same.
                        And as if being born so late into the family wasn't unique enough, she was a total physical anomaly. In a family of brunettes, she was a blonde. At a table lined with equal pairs of brown eyes, her eyes were a wide and sparkling blue. When all these physical attributes became obvious, Sydney was known to gently tease his wife about the postman. A remark that was sure to get him into temporary trouble with her or a pillow thrown at him. As a geneticist he knew better. There were blue‑eyed blondes on the StClare side of the family and Eleanor's own mother also had the same coloration.
                        Yes, she was a her parents and her siblings. Marilyn was old enough to be intrigued rather than threatened by a baby in the house. Audrey, deep into contemplating the opposite sex at that time, had some reservations, primarily to do with having to babysit when she would rather be out with her friends. She could foresee herself as the older sister trapped into responsibility when she'd rather be doing other things. But those were subconscious concerns that never formed strongly enough to make their way up to a conscious level. Gerry saw to that.
                        During his mother's pregnancy he was nonchalant. It seemed to have little to do with him, unless it turned out to be a boy and then he would be forced to share his "sanctuary". But when she and Judith returned from the hospital something happened. Gerry held Judith for the first time, melted in front of her wide blue eyes, and fell in love. From that moment on they belonged to each other.
                        It amazed his parents, his other sisters, and his grandparents at the beginning but they soon became accustomed to it. If Mother and Father couldn't stop Judith , Gerry could. She almost preferred him over both of them. A mutual admiration society. Gerry's soft, emphatic 'no' could shatter her world. Throw a temper tantrum and 'Bean' wouldn't play with you for hours and hours. On the other hand, quiver your lower lip and you could find yourself on top of his shoulders at a football game.
                        It was lucky for Gerry that Judith was both a merry baby and a merry child who knew her limits. Yes, she was a "bright elf" as her brother was fond of calling her. She walked early and could climb on anything with both a speed and grace that astonished a lot of people. Acrobatic, athletic, and graceful her parents signed her up for dancing and ballet early. Her brother started teaching her to ice skate when she was four. She took to it as quickly and naturally as a bird learning to fly.
                        Then Gerry left for college and Judith was heartbroken. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and Summer Vacation become magical words to her. They meant 'Bean' was coming home.
                        The 'Swenson incident' that summer meant little to Judith. She was too young to really understand. All she really knew was that Pop was upset, her parents and sisters worried, and 'Bean'...'Bean' she found hiding in his favorite place. He was feeling bad that was all she knew so she climbed onto his lap and hugged him tightly. It was probably the best thing that anyone could have done for him. Understanding his tears was beyond her. But her silent acceptance started him healing.
                        Gerry went back to college at the end of that summer. He did not return for Thanksgiving as he had the previous year but he did return for Christmas. To Judith's added delight, a pair of new skates was under the tree and she badgered Gerry until he promised to take her skating on the city pond.
            It was a beautiful day, bright blue sky, bright sunshine, but still frigidly cold. There had been four more inches of snow the night before. But the clouds were gone, there was no wind to speak of, and it was a perfect day for skating.
            Judith's skates felt wonderful on her feet and on the ice. She acclimated to them so quickly that Gerry started teaching her some fancier moves. New skates, new blue parka. Gerry thought she had never looked better. Her laughter rang out across the pond, distinctive even in the din of the other children's voices. There were a lot of new skates that Christmas.
            "Bean! Watch me! See what I can do!" The bright elf was flying around the pond, her skates almost a blur. No more fancy moves, she was hooked on speed now.
            "Don't come complaining to me when you fall on your bottom!" He yelled through cupped hands from the edge of the frozen pond but she only laughed again.
            Brushing the snow from one end of a bench, Gerry sat down and removed his own skates. The sun was getting low in the sky and they should be getting home.
            "Judith! Come on! It's getting late!"
            "Do we have to?" She cried from clear across the ice.
            "Yes! We have to! Now come on!"
            A blur of blue and gold and she was in front of him.
            "Can we come again tomorrow?"
            "With aunt Liz and uncle Jack leaving? I doubt it, pumpkin face."
            He lifted her onto his lap and helped her take off her skates.
            "How about the day after then? Can we, Bean? Can we?"
            "I don't know," he started to hedge but she wouldn't let him.
            "Please? Pretty please with a cherry on top?"
            "OK. I'll think about it. Alright?"
            Apparently Judith took this as a definite yes and bounded off his lap with a delighted shriek.
            "Come on, pipsqueak. If we cut across we can make it home before Mom sends Marilyn after us." He stood up, brushed off his pants, then scooped her up and onto his shoulder.
            The drifts were a little high as they cut across the park toward home but others had stomped paths as well so the going wasn't exactly rough. Judith began squirming then kicking her heels on his chest.
            "Let me down, Bean!  Let me down! I can walk!"
             She kicked her heels against his chest again. More emphatically this time so he let her slide down.
            "Just as long as you walk and don't start running," he replied. She just laughed and took off.  He smiled indulgently and picked up his walking pace. There wasn't much clear space to run on anyway. Then the path cleared up even more and she was way out in front.
            "Slow down, Judith! We're not in that big of a hurry!" He picked up his pace again but she was increasing the distance between them and laughing.
            "Judith!" But it was a game to her now and she started to run in earnest. They were almost to the edge of the park. Hawthorne Avenue was in clear sight.
            She only increased her speed then turned her head to laugh at him. She was too far away... too far away. He started running.
            "Judith!" He screamed as she ran off the curb and onto the street. The silly imp wasn't even looking! A truck...a black pickup truck. She didn't see it. The driver apparently saw her for his tires began to screech. Too late. On the bright black asphalt was a small heap of blue and white, gleaming in horrifying contrast. How he got there that quickly he didn't know. But there was a new color now: bright scarlet. He didn't want to go on but his legs kept moving.
            He was on his knees beside her. There was blood everywhere, staining her blue jacket and golden hair.  Weeping, he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. There were small pieces of something grayish white and soft coming out the back of her head. She was still so warm as he began to rock slowly back and forth.
            Gerry wouldn't let go of her when the ambulance came. Who had the presence of mind to call their parents no one remembers. It was Sydney who finally took her from Gerry's rigid arms and gave her to the attendants. But the pronouncement was a formality. She was dead before Gerry ever picked her up.
            Old Mr. Douglas was right.  The casket was very small and there is something so unnatural about it. And Gerry? Gerry was inconsolable, walking around the house in a daze. Sending him back to college almost seemed like barbarism to his parents but he insisted.

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