A few years ago, I wrote a novel called The Time Is Now. I tried to revise it. I felt lost. A few people beta read it gave me feedback. I still couldn’t get the story right. But I really loved this story and I didn’t want it to be something that would simply collect dust.
I decided to publish it as a serial novel on wattpad. So what’s it about?
Kyra and Chris went to high school together. He was the good-looking, popular guy that everyone wanted. She was the shy bookworm who never really felt like she fit in. One day he springs her from detention and an unexpected relationship springs from it. For a little over a year, they were each other’s satellite. Then–just as suddenly–he vanished from her life.
No proper goodbye, no real closure and only sporadic contact marks the next fifteen years of their lives. Now a high school reunion brings them together again. Can they rekindle the flame…or is it too late for second chances?
It’s still in a relatively rough state, but maybe one of these days I will finally take the plunge and do a thorough rewrite/edit. Until then, it will be available for free on wattpad. The first ten chapters are already online and more will be going online in the coming days. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Since today is Father’s Day, I thought I’d share with you a father-daughter scene featuring Mads and his youngest daughter, Freya, from Maybe Forever.
Once Anton and I rang off, I took Freya into the bathroom and cooled off her skin with a cold compress. The aloe vera gel came next. Freya whimpered at first but as the gel soothed away the heat she settled down and a tiny smile emerged again. I hated seeing her like this. How did Laney deal with this all the time? All I knew was I wanted to make everything better for my little girl.
She was growing so fast–just yesterday she’d managed to pull herself up on her own and balance for a few moments. Laney and I had watched, mesmerized, as our youngest daughter planted her hands onto the sofa cushion to brace herself and try to stand. In a few days she would be eight months old. Would she be an early bloomer and begin walking before she was even ten months old? Or would she be more like Liv, who’d taken her time about walking and explored every inch of the apartment crawling or scooting, only to take us by surprise on her first birthday by standing and taking off almost immediately in a wobbly run.
After a sleepless night thanks to her sunburn, Freya was more subdued than usual, which was understandable. Hell, I was pretty exhausted too. If anything I wanted to take a nap and I’d barely been out of bed for more two or three hours. Picking up Freya again, I asked her, “What do you think, lille ven? Shall we take a nap?”
My daughter yawned, her sleepy green eyes struggling to remain open. We retraced the path to the bedroom Laney and I had been sharing. The bedroom faced the back garden and was shaded by most of the morning sun thanks to the lush canopy of a marbleberry tree. It cast swaying shadows on the wall as a breeze caught its branches. Freya and I watched the shadows dance. She giggled and pointed at the tree. I kept my arm protectively around her as I began to drift off. It wasn’t long until even Freya settled down and her tiny sighs let me know she’d fallen asleep.
The air conditioner’s hum formed a cloud of white noise that lulled me even deeper into sleep. Freya planted her thumb in her mouth. I wondered if she was dreaming of penguins. Don’t grow up too quickly, I thought as my eyelids grew heavy. Stay my baby girl for just a little while longer.
I’ve started working on a new project and I thought I’d share it with you for my first #SundayShare post. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a story set in the future that features a robot who falls in love, a woman struggling with the past and the future, and an astronaut who loses more of his humanity the longer he’s in space. The title of my experiment is Under the MilkyWay. I shared a scene from it with you back in April as Flash Fiction. What you’ll get now are some snippets of scenes which aren’t connected yet. Over the next few months, I’ll share more scenes with you, even some fully developed chapters. Let’s see where my experument takes us.
She gave up trying to sleep. What was the point when too many thoughts were tumbling around in her mind? Sleep was eluding her anyway. She pushed away the tangled covers and turned over on her side. She murmured, “Blinds up…” and the black-out shades retracted, following the curve of the window. A sulphurous glow filled the window, blocking the stars from the sky. The city didn’t sleep. Though she couldn’t hear the traffic, she could see headlights bouncing off the steel and glass facades.
On a night like this, she wished Gus were beside her. Even if he were snoring, his warmth, the solidness of him, would have been enough to quell her thoughts. But perhaps it wouldn’t make a difference this time. Especially since he was the reason she could not sleep. His distance. How his eyes seemed so flat and unseeing the last time she’d spoken to him.
Though she was no longer alone in the apartment, the silence ate away at her. What was it…he..? doing while she struggled to sleep?
She slipped out of bed and put on her robe. The bedroom door slid open with a whisper, allowing her to pass over the threshold and into the hallway. With each step she took, the floor-level LED night lights bloomed on, illuminating her way until she came to the open-plan living room. Here the black-out shades hadn’t been lowered and the orange glow of the nighttime city cast enough light to chase away the shadows.
The robot–she still could not think of him as a companion or by the name he’d been given–sat at the very centre of the sofa. His eyes were open but stared blankly at the wall. He didn’t move, not a muscle flickered.
Belle ventured closer. What was it doing? Why was it…staring at the wall? It didn’t the move. Did it even breathe? She took another step forward. This time, the robot, as if sensing her presence, turned its head toward her and asked, “Is there anything I can do for you, Bellamy?”
From up here earth is beautiful. All the colors the ones on the surface take for granted, all the striations, the crags…the rivers…they all become this hazy pattern like an Impressionist painting. The first time I was at the station, I couldn’t get over it.
Now I barely notice it.
Earth is…insignificant. Sooner or later, it won’t matter. I’ve got my orders. Board the next shuttle. Go further out. Explore. Take samples. Test. Transmit results to Ground Control. They’ll tell me at some point that I should come back to Earth.
Earth. I don’t even miss it.
Sometimes I miss her. But…she doesn’t need me. I took care of that already.
She’ll move on. And then, when they give me more orders, I can head further out.
There’s so much more to explore.
In the morning she shut her mind to what awaited her. Another day without Gus. Another day of opening the bookshop and busying herself, hoping that today she would sell more than three or four books. Sometimes going to the shop drained all the happiness out of her. She loved it so much and yet no one else in the neighbourhood seemed to care about it. No, she was exaggerating. The elders—Mrs. Jankowitz—the octogenarian war widow who always wore a shade of pink as perfect as peony petals, Father Odei from the local Catholic church who always brought her fresh flowers to thank her for keeping the joy of books alive, Mama Sandra who’d grown up with Belle’s own grandmother—they came nearly every day, they told her stories, browsed…bought books even when they probably had far too many to ever read. Seeing them every day and sharing tea with them or sitting outside the shop in the sun…that dimmed the gray plume of longing inside her long enough to keep her from thinking too much about the man who once said he would pull down a star for her, but who now preferred the stars to her.
“I shouldn’t think that way.” She braced herself in the shower, her forearms pressed against the steamed glass. “I need to remember the promise he made to me.”
But she couldn’t erase the bland, distant expression on his face during their last vid call. Or the way Gus tapped his middle finger on the screen’s edge like a metronome counting the beats of their conversation, waiting for the minutes to dribble away.
She tapped the shower controls, increased the water pressure and hoped the hard droplets of water would wash her thoughts clear. There was no point in denying it. She missed him. And he was not coming back. Not now.
The last time he’d been on earth—how long ago was it? A year ago? They had 72 hours together before Gus had to return to the station. That first day, he’d barely given her a chance to speak before he began peeling away the layers of clothing, stripping her bare and touching, reclaiming her. All the motions were right…even now, when she thought about it, her hand drifted downwards, sliding between her thighs as she longed for release. She parted her lower lips until her fingertips brushed the tight bud of her clit. With each slow torturous caress, a moan erupted from her, her breath caught in her throat and her chest strained forward…if only…if only he could suck her nipples now as he did that day, catching them between his teeth and tugging, then teasing with the tip of his tongue until she begged him for more. The thick weight of his erection, pressing into her, filling her so completely…those pale eyes… always watching her, never seeming to get enough of her—was he memorising her? Trying to absorb every detail so that he would not forget?
She slid two fingers inside her, surprised at how wet she already was. At how swollen her clit was and how no amount of fucking herself gave her the release she needed. She picked up the pace, pumping her fingers in and out, trying to hit just the right spots as her knees shook. But the more she tried, the more she wanted.
Even if she closed her eyes and replayed that afternoon in her mind, it was like grasping at stardust.
She couldn’t go on like this.
Belle was still curled in the same tight ball she slept in every night. No matter how many times I tried to massage away the thoughts that troubled her, she curled into herself, one arm tucked under the pillow, the other looped round her torso.
I knew she was not yet accustomed to me beside her. Whenever she announced that she was going to bed, Belle always paused as if uncertain whether she wanted me to join her. Though she kept her expression impassive, her body gave her away. She’d rise from the sofa, her fingers picking at invisible tufts of lint or fussing with the hem of her top. A flicker of her lips was enough to betray her.
Tonight she’d been more certain. She’d crossed the living room and then waited at the mouth of the hall. I studied her, reading the quickness of her pulse, the shallow breaths she took. Tonight she held out her hand to me and said in a hushed tone, “Come to bed, Max. It’s late…”
Once we were in bed though, she did not want me to make love to her or to pleasure her with my fingers and mouth. She asked me to hold her until she slept.
So last week we had a chance to catch up with Mads. This week let’s sit down with Laney. We’ve caught up with her on a rare moment when the kids are napping and her aunt’s house in Juno Beach is quiet. We’re in her aunt’s garden, sitting in the shade of the marbleberry tree and sipping iced tea. What’s going on in Laney’s head…? Let’s find out.
Me: I think the question on everyone’s mind is if this is the end of the road for you and Mads.
Laney: I don’t know. I don’t want it to be…but things between us aren’t the way they were. And I need more from him. I don’t want a part-time husband.
Me: How are the girls taking the separation?
Laney: They don’t really understand it. Freya’s too young–she’s only seven months old, so for her this is more of a Where’s Papa? thing. I can tell she misses him. She’s always looking for him. And for Liv…she’s confused. I can’t really tell my four-year-old daughter that I’ve left her father. That I’ve done it because I need a break from what our life was becoming. All she knows is that her daddy isn’t here… she asks about him every day–when is he coming, does he miss her, will she see him soon? I make sure she has FaceTime chats with him…it’s not the same as seeing him every day but at least they can see each other and talk.
Me: Are you talking to him as well?
Laney: (pausing) Sometimes. It’s not easy. Seeing him, being reminded every time I look at him that maybe this is karma for how we even met and the hurt we caused. And then… I see him and my resolve to be away from him slips. I love him. I guess I love him too much. Maybe that’s my problem.
Me: You’ve had a case of the Baby Blues…do you feel like being away is helping you get back to the old you?
Laney: I really hate that term, “Baby Blues”. It makes it sound so cutesy. I feel better…I’m beginning to feel normal again. My aunt Cecily has been a huge help. I needed support, I needed someone to help me focus and find my footing again and she’s done that. It’s the second time she saved me. The first time was when my mom died… Cecily didn’t have to take me in. She could have left me in foster care. But that’s not the sort of person she is. And even now, she could have said no when I asked if we could come. She tried to talk me out of leaving Denmark with the kids. But she also understood I needed to be away.
Me: You didn’t initially want to try the yoga and meditation she suggested. What made you change your mind?
Laney: I couldn’t really see how it was going to help me… I didn’t understand how it could make me feel any differently. But then I went, and it was all about focusing on you and your baby and forming this connection. When everything is calm, when you can feel all the tension ebbing away and you realize how much you love your child, how you’ve been in this fog because of anxiety and lack of sleep and everything else. And suddenly you see your little one in a different light, one that isn’t dimmed by all the confusion, and it’s such a relief. I’m so glad Cecily talked me into trying it. It helped me find my way again.
Me: Do you have any regrets about leaving the way that you did?
Laney: I should have told him I was going to leave. I knew it even as I was booking the tickets while he slept. I knew this was going to break his heart. But my heart already felt broken. I felt like I’d already lost him.
Me: He says he doesn’t want this to be the end of you. What would it take for the two of you to come back together again?
Laney: I need more than words. I need proof. As much as I love him, I need to see that things will really change. That’s the hard part though…because if he suddenly showed up and said all the right words, I’d melt. I always melt for him. I can’t help it. There’s no one else in this world I want. For me, there’s only Mads.
The last time we interviewed Mads, he was waiting for Laney to figure out if she was going to take the plunge–give up the comfortable though sterile life she had with Niklas in Stockholm for Mads. Now it’s four years later. They’re married, and they’ve got two beautiful daughters. But all is not well. So let’s imagine it’s one of those hot, humid summer days in Copenhagen and we’ve caught up with Mads at Mikkeller and Friends on Stefansgade. And we’re sitting outside since it’s too sticky to be indoors. Mads doesn’t seem like he’s in the best of moods. Let’s see what he’s got to say…
Me: Let’s just jump right into this…what the heck did you do to make her leave?
Mads: (clasps his hands, leans forward and stares down at his feet) I screwed up. I was stupid… I just… I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought if I could be more successful, if I could give her everything–the money, the lifestyle she used to have…that we’d never have to worry. And… I wanted to be successful for me too. I didn’t want to feel like I was some kind of failure.
Me: But how could you feel like a failure when things seem to be going so well for you and your partners? You’re making bespoke pieces for a major hotel project, you’ve got a steady flow of orders coming in and write-ups in design magazines. Surely by now you know you’ve made it.
Mads: I don’t know. You know… sometimes when you’re looking at the stacks of invoices that need to be paid and you’re having to remind pretty flush customers that they really do need to pay for the furniture you’ve designed for them, and you’re paying rent on workspace and making sure everyone else gets paid first…you don’t really feel that successful. We had some pretty lean years in the beginning.
Me: But surely you know Laney doesn’t miss her life with Niklas…
Mads: I know she doesn’t want to be with Niklas again. Realistically, I know this. But when I’m standing there watching this distance grow between us…and I know he’s calling her sometimes, asking for advice and acting like the only thing that was ever between them was friendship… It’s like he thinks she still is a part of him. I know she doesn’t think that way, but he does. I know it.
Me: Did you ever tell Laney that his calls bothered you?
Mads: I can’t forbid her from talking to him. And why should I? I trust her. I don’t trust him, but I trust my wife.
Me: There’s a part of you though that is envious of Niklas’s wealth…
Mads: Yeah, of course I am. He could give things to Laney that I couldn’t…I’ll probably never be that well-off. Laney never complains, but I know there are times when she misses what she had. She never had to think about how much something cost, she never had to question if there was enough money to go on holiday. And then she moved here to be with me and that privilege of never having to worry… it disappeared. Those first few years, we sometimes had to scramble to make ends meet with our salaries. I’d stopped working at the clinic, so there was no more extra money coming in unless I managed to get a few evening classes in woodworking from the local design school and community college. And then when Liv came…I pretty much stopped working so I could be at the hospital all the time… I still remember how we had to dig into our savings to pay bills. And Laney’s had just a broken background as me… I knew she needed that security and it was disappearing because we didn’t have enough money…
Me: What about your family? How did it feel–having that family you wanted?
Mads: Everything that’s good in my life is because of them. Before I met Laney, I never pictured myself as the guy who couldn’t wait to go home to be with his wife. I’d stopped believing that I would ever meet someone else I’d want to be married to…and then she came along…I love her… I can’t even imagine my life without her. I don’t want to. And my daughters–do you know how brilliant it feels to be their dad? I come home to them and it feels like whatever was missing–they fill that hole as soon as I see them. Or if I just think about them…Liv is like my little shadow–she follows me everywhere and she’s always full of questions. And Freya…she is my littlest angel and she’s growing up so quickly… Fanden, I miss my girls.
Me: Is this the end of you and Laney?
Mads: No, it can’t be. When you love each other as much we do…it can’t just disappear like that. I want to grow old with her. I’m not giving up on my marriage.
Me: Anton and the gang are worried that if you don’t act soon, Laney may ask you for a divorce.
Mads: I don’t want a divorce. I want my wife. I want my family…that’s all I want–Laney and my girls.
I wasn’t sure how long I sat on the sofa, waiting…my face stripped of all the makeup, my dress draped across a chair in the bedroom. I would never wear it again. Now it felt jinxed. I’d changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top. My stomach grumbled, reminding me that I’d not had dinner. I should have been hungry…but the roiling sensation in my belly didn’t make me want to eat. It was too hot. My skin felt clammy, sticky. I hadn’t smoked in over a year but now I wished I could have a cigarette. I longed for the illicit pull of the tobacco. I longed to forget.
How could he forget? How could I be so easy to forget? He used to remember everything. Every little detail of my life, memorizing it like it held some hidden meaning. He used to tell me he wanted to know everything about me. He’d remember things I’d forgotten. Now it felt like he’d forgotten all the important bits. Maybe he didn’t want to remember.
I thought I’d share with you one of the stories I’ve written for the 30 Days, 30 Stories Writing Challenge. It’s from a novella I am working on that is set in the same fictional Vermont town as Snowbound. Yes, Mia & Jake are in the novella. No, they are not the main characters. This one will focus on another couple, Asha & Nick. If you want to follow the rest of the stories, head over to my Facebook author page. At the end of the month, I’ll add a section here on the blog where you’ll be able to read all of the stories.
Story #8: Dance
Asha extended her left leg and then tested her pointe shoe. It was pliable enough now that she’d warmed it a bit. She rose up en pointe, keeping her upper body perfectly balanced and still, then raised her arms, imagining they were feathery wings as she moved across the floor.
Careful, she reminded herself. It’s been months since you’ve done this.
Yes, her muscles were a little stiff, but she could still do a perfect jeté and relevé. And to feel her body moving again without the pinching soreness or the ache of healing fractures, oh…what freedom. She tested her battements, moving from adagio to allegro and then drifting to the floor in the most graceful of bows.
“That was beautiful.”
She raised her head enough to see Mia Wilkinson standing in the door. She applauded as Asha stood and curtsied for her. “Just wanted to test the old gams, see if they could still do it.”
“You’ve still got it,” she said. “And you’re still so tiny.”
“No, I’m not.” Asha walked over to her, a little self-conscious at being caught out dancing. It was so silly. Dancing was her life. It had always been. She reached for her wrap sweater. “At least it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
Asha shrugged on her sweater and then pressed the stop button on the stereo. She tied the stays on her sweater. The dance studio was chilly even with the old steam radiators hissing at full blast. She’d have to talk to Horace about it. The little girls she’d taught this morning were covered in goosebumps by the end of their ballet lesson.
“I still remember when you and I used to take lessons together with Madame Vivienne.” Mia grinned. “You were always so much better at it. Even then.”
“I practiced,” Asha reminded her old friend, “while you mooned over Owen Cudahy.”
“Well, yeah, you were in pursuit of dance, I was in pursuit of love.” Mia linked arms with Asha. “And now I’m in pursuit of lunch. Aunty Mo’s?”
Asha’s stomach growled in reply. She didn’t remember when she’d last eaten. Had she even had breakfast? “Aunty Mo’s—just like old times.”