Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love at First Sight

I didn't get in on the Kissing/No Kissing blogfests, but I'm pretty excited about Love at First Sight. This is from my (no-longer IP) WIP, The Poison Hill, a YA novel set in the 1920s. Gertrude, the heroine, has gone with her mother to a health resort in Montana, where she meets Frances... Enjoy it, and Happy Valentine's Day!

"This is not how I meant to start. I meant to start with when I arrived. For some reason everything I wrote in my diary is…well, I wouldn’t say not true, but sort of unimportant. There were some things I couldn’t write down for fear of other people reading them and then that made other things too complicated to relate and soon there was nothing to write but unimportant stuff. (I wonder if all diaries are like that?) Still, I thought I had included some of the important things. I didn’t remember I’d written so much just about the train ride. And a few things I wrote were not exactly what happened. For instance, I wrote that I talked to Frances at the hot springs pool, but actually I was just sitting on the edge, with my legs in – the water was so hot and sort of nasty-smelling – and she was drifting around on her back on the other side. Then she turned over and swam towards the ladder like she was going to get out. I tried to think of something to say. I was still thinking when, as she climbed up the ladder, she pointed at the leg of my bathing suit and said:

“You’ve got a thread loose.”

And that was all, except I went back to my room and cut the thread off with Mother’s nail scissors.

Except it wasn’t all. It was a lot, actually. She had looked at me and spoken to me and I was so irritated at myself for wearing an old bathing suit like that and at the same time not really upset because she could have just walked right by me without saying anything, and she didn’t. It wasn’t like she said the thing about the thread to be mean. I didn’t feel that at all. There was something about her tone, as if she were calling out to me and laughing at the same time, so I didn’t take it amiss as I might have with another girl.

But of course when I sat down to write about it I couldn't put all that down. It wasn't there enough to write down. I couldn't write down either that I wanted to make her notice me that first night at dinner. I never could have, because it wouldn't have sounded right. But I did want to, even though I didn’t know then that she was going to be a person of importance to me.

But no, I can’t write that truthfully. I did know it. It was like a trumpet blast, when she looked at me at dinner. Windows must have shattered for miles around. And all around us people went on talking about duck blinds.

For days and days after that there was no thinking about anything. I was happy all the time. When I took the elevator past Floor 2 I would say to myself that’s her floor and when I walked in that sun-stunted rose garden, all brown leaves and withered stock, I would say she’s walked here.

No, that’s wrong. It’s soppy. I was never soppy.

It wasn’t a bit like what Louis is, either. There was absolutely nothing sick about it. I mean, you would only have to look at Frances to see how feminine she is. And all the men at the Paradise were crazy for her. Mr. Lind, the man with the false leg, who was a gas case from the war, never took his eyes off her and used to hobble up to talk to her in the halls.

No, it was not like Louis at all. It was something else entirely."


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

This is fascinating! I like the way she in untangling her feelings like a thread of memory she just sorting out. And I love the line it was like a trumpet blast when she looked at me. That captures the intensity of these feelings so well.

Kelly Lyman said...

I'm drawn into this and want to know the beginning of her story and how this will end. Good job.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Beautifully written. You captured a different age and time in a few short sentences.
The emotional build up was very strong.

VR Barkowski said...

So intriguing. I love the way there's this stream of consciousness feel so we're right there with her, becoming aware of her feelings at the same time she is. Very powerful technique and it drew me in immediately. I would love to read more.

Just Another Sarah said...

Very interesting! And I like this line, where she says she realizes what's coming:

It was like a trumpet blast, when she looked at me at dinner. Windows must have shattered for miles around. And all around us people went on talking about duck blinds.

Laura Canon said...

Thanks for the comments! I was afraid this was sort of an awkward excerpt since it portrays the moment not as it happens but as she re-lives it. I'm glad it seemed to work.
I'm really thrilled I did this blogfest. I read some great stuff today!

ThePreyers said...

I love that Frances' notice was "like a trumpet blast" but everyone talked about duck blinds! What a wonderful juxtaposition! I love this character's voice. Thanks for sharing!

Mary Campbell said...

I'm intrigued by this. So cool that you collect older YA books - I need to check those out. Thank you for your comment on my piece and for becoming a follower.

Merissa said...

This is so neat. I really enjoyed it--you managed setting so smoothly. Its a completely different time and place from today, but with a few quick strokes, we were there, in this young girl's mind. Very nice writing.

roxy said...

Great post! I was intrigued with just a few sentences. Thanks for sharing this!

Livia said...

This reminds me of Fried Green Tomatoes.

Amalia T. said...

This is interesting! Great voice!

Tara said...

You have a great handle on your MC's voice, and time setting. Nice job.