Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Because I'm Me

And if I didn't start a new book every week, I wouldn't be me!

So here's a bit from the middle of a brand new book.


Mom sits at the table with me and beats eggs. She has the baby monitor pressed against her ear for Dylan's nap, like she's trying to use it to make a phone call.

I tell her, “I saw Fiona today.”

Mom shoves her hair off her forehead. “What are you paying attention to her for?”

Fiona is a ragged woman who lives at the end of the island. She tells fortunes.

“She was telling me this story about the ghosts who haunts this island. Not even just Mrs. Delaney. It's the whole island.”

Mom says, “Really, Rudy,” in this voice like she hasn't slept for days. Maybe she hasn't.

All the more reason she needs a good story. “It's a ghost of this boy they threw into the ocean, and he drowned.”

She looks up. “Why would you say something like that?”

“It's not my story, Mom, God.” Never mind.

Her eggs are all the same color now, but she doesn't stop beating them. Her whisk keeps tapping against the bottom of the bowl. I have this thought that she's going to keep going forever, like a wind-up toy that never winds down. Like her whole purpose in life is to beat these eggs.

Before Dylan was born, I never would have thought my Mom was the kind of person who could handle a sick kid. She'd cry that she was a horrible mother if I ever got a scrape. I always felt like I needed to keep her safe. Even when I was a kid. Dad would give me these talks about how we needed to protect her, and I would feel like a knight.

Now she's made entirely of steel, and Dad's the one who cries every time any little thing is wrong. He thinks every cough from Dylan or bad grade from me is going to be the breaking point, that we're just going to crumble in on ourselves at any minute.

The house creaks in the wind.

“Your father wants to take you fishing,” Mom says.

I wonder how hard dad would cry if he dipped his fishing line in the ocean and pulled out a boy.

Or a ghost.

Maybe he was a ghost.

I should have touched him. I missed my chance to find out what he was.

I can't believe I've turned into the kind of guy who wonders if people are ghosts. I guess that's what this place does to you.

A ghost is as good a guess as any for what he is, I suppose.

And now my father is trying to schedule time to be with me, acting like Mom is his secretary, and that feels even more unbelievable than a ghost.

We used to play ping pong in the backyard.

The ancient clock on the wall clicks with every second, but the hands are so springy that every click has two tones.

I'm trying to drink water, but all I taste is salt.

Mom gets up and goes to the stove. I say, “Mermaids can breathe underwater, right?”

She doesn't look at me. “Rudy, can't you do your homework?” She presses the monitor harder against her head.

“Can you look at me for a second?”

She turns around and does, of course. She has this soft expression in her eyes like I'm her baby. I'd forgotten that she still looks at me like that.

The fisherman was touching him, I realize. He couldn't have been a ghost. The fisherman had his hands all over him, kissing him, trying to...

“How do you have sex with a mermaid?” I say.

“Rudy, honestly.”

“Okay, sorry, God,” but I don't know if she even hears me, because she's holding that monitor like she wants it to be a part of her skull.


maine character said...

I love the mystery around this line:

I should have touched him. I missed my chance to find out what he was.

There's a whole story there that links with the ghost story, and yet is much stronger and pulls us into finding out what he meant.

Wait - I thought those were the opening lines, but that's from the middle of a new book? Now that's scary. :-)

Robby said...

A NEW BOOK EVERY WEEK!? You're on fire. I love it.

hannah said...

Haha, most of the books don't get finished. 80% of them don't get finished, I'd say.

And nope, this is a scene about 5,000 words in.

Thanks, guys!!

Julie said...

I loved this! Great job! Like you, I also start a book nearly every week but 80% of mine DO get finished and sometimes I think maybe they shouldn't :)

elissa said...

haha how do you have sex with a mermaid! imagine asking my mom that! :)

Megan said...

Ah, this is so good. I am teased.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I love it! :D

ALT said...

How do you have sex with a mermaid!

This is my favorite line.

Phoebe said...

Oh sheeeeeit, is this is a mermaid book? I'm writing one, too (well, my main character would protest that he's a merMAN, dad, merMAN. But still!). Exciting!

hannah said...

heehee, this is a merman book, too. Twinsies!

Phoebe said...

Heh, then you might appreciate this, which my husband made for me: NOT my actual title, swear to god.

hannah said...

When I steal this and make this my cover, I hope you don't sue me.

Phoebe said...

Ha! You're safe. Well, from me, at least. Whoever actually painted that fabulous merman might still come and get you!

Kristin Briana Otts said...

I can haz this book pleez?

No, seriously. If you need a beta, I'm in. I know that the musers are fantastic betas, but...still. :D

hannah said...