Friday seems to be coming around an awful lot faster these days! I'm shattered, having taught solidly for the last two days, field trips with my writing students, and still suffering from the unshiftable lurgy! I've been writing bits by hand, and have finished (I think) one of the later chapters which is in the form of a short story. A day late for Coffee Morning with the Novel Racers, and up to my eyes in marking (again), I'm trying to decide how best to use the weekend. I'm hoping hubby will take the kids out somewhere and leave me to make a dent in my work!
On the plus side, I swam 20 lengths this week, had a great riding lesson, and submitted the first 10,000 words of my novel to my PhD supervisor. I await her comments with trepidation, but at least I've finally given her something!
Liz Fenwick set us all a challenge - to post the first page of our novel in progress, so here goes nothing. Do your worst!
The First Page
My mother stood in the bedroom doorway, but I didn’t turn to look at her. I could hear her breathing, laboured and uneven, feel her eyes on the back of my neck. I knew one of us had to break the silence, but no words would come. Language was pointless and she knew it too.
I folded the piece of paper up carefully, and placed it back in its manila envelope, but I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. I kept staring at the dressing table, the off-white affair from my nan. I traced the brocade around with my eye until I reached the part where the gold leafy pattern was chipped off in one corner. I had no idea how long I’d been sitting there, no idea how much longer I could go without moving. I knew that if she dared to speak, dared to say just one thing, it would all come flooding out, and I didn’t want it to. I just wasn’t ready.
Then my mother broke the silence. “I—.” She heaved a sigh.
I felt my skin crawl, as though a cold, wet thing, had just smothered itself over me. “Why didn’t you tell me?” My voice sounded suddenly harsh, like someone else’s.
She said nothing, drew another long, uneven breath.
“Who else knows?”
Again she said nothing, but when I turned to look at her, I could see it in her eyes that I was the last to find out.
Eventually she came and sat on the edge of the bed, her face turned away. She took a cigarette from the bedside table and I watched her light it with a shaking hand. Those hands that raised me so carefully, those wrinkled up dish-washed hands. How many times had they taken that letter from its envelope, and carefully folded it up again? Did she sit in the middle of the night reading it, or did it beckon to her from its hiding place in the shoe-box on the top of the wardrobe? And why even keep it? Was the hell was she thinking?