Working on my first ever novel has been a lot of fun, and the success of finishing the rough draft is actually in sight. But, I really feel like I have been neglecting some of the other things on my plate, so I have decided to share a small excerpt from one of the chapters in the SFD version of my NaNoWriMo novel. I’m still working on the cover graphics – in my head – but first things first.
The Burning Bed
“What you set that mattress on fire for?” she repeated.
“I didn’t do it!” I instinctively protested, still recovering from being caught off-guard the first time she posed the question.
“Yes you did,” she said, maintaining a soft, even tone – the tone that she always used when she wanted to let you know she meant business. Leaning close to my face she continued, “I can see it in your eyes.”
What! How could my own eyes betray me that way? I didn’t start the fire. True, I had been playing with the matches, but so had my little brother and little sister. Why was everybody trying to blame this unfortunate event on me? I didn’t understand.
Turning her attention to the teacup sitting on the counter, she picked it up, deliberately timing each element of the action. Then, she started to slowly wave it in the air, just inches above the saucer. Around and around she went, drawing every new rotation tighter than the last, faster and faster, like a sinister, spiraling tornado. For a moment it looked as though she was completely fixated on swirling those last few drops of tea left in the bottom of her cup, to make sure everything was perfectly blended before she took that final sip.
Suddenly, the swirling stopped, and in one fluid motion she flipped the cup upside down onto the saucer. My mouth flew open, startled to hear the cup clink soundly as it landed, certain that the tiny shards of porcelain would fly everywhere – but they didn’t, not even one chip.
She locked her gaze on me momentarily, as if peering into the deepest recesses of my soul, and lifted the cup from the saucer, revealing the dregs left from her tea – pooling in the depressed center of the delicate little saucer with the shiny gold butterflies. Leaning in a bit closer, she peered intently at the dark brown gook. Finally, with a heavy sigh she said, “Yeah, you did it.” Turning to face me, she squinted her Mongolian-looking eyes down to the tiniest slits and practically hissed, “The signs don’t lie.”
Protests of my innocence landed on deaf ears. The judge and the jury had spoken. I remember that day with the clarity of someone who has had an event etched in their brain forever. That’s the day I got the whipping of my seven year-old life – thanks to ‘the signs’. That’s the day I lost my faith in signs. Not that I really had any faith in signs, but I had faith in my grandmother. She taught us things. How could her precious signs betray me that way? How could my precious grandmother betray me that way? I loved my grandmother with all my heart, but I didn’t like her very much that day. Not her, and not her pretty little teacup with the ugly brown gook in it. And especially not her signs. Those lying signs.