Write for all you’re worth

I’ve been so bogged down by work lately I’ve put aside blogging for a couple of days. I guess it’s my own fault, I’m too quick at doing the things I’m supposed to do, so they give me extra stuff, and more extra stuff. Last time they gave me something new stuff to do was today… Well, I actually asked for it. Today I also found out that I’m not on any rota. I’m supposedly on the administration rota, but they don’t have a rota (dunno if it’s perpetual or just this week) this was the conversation I had with my manager:

He handed me a sheet of paper, the one he had showed me how to produce.”Sunday, look for your name there, you should find your name there.”

I eye through the list of employees working today. When I can’t find my name I wave with the paper. “Hey, I’m not here!”

“Oh, yeah, because you’re on the admin rota, and they don’t have one right now. Don’t worry sweetheart, we know when you’re working…” My manager always calls me sweetheart. I’ve heard him sometimes call customers sweetheart too. “And we’d definitely notice if you were missing.”
It warms my heart to know they’d be missing me if I was gone.

Okay, enough about work. What I was really going to share with you was about my progress at 750words, you know, the site I wrote about a while ago. I haven’t been able to write every single day, but I’ve done my best. And I’ve realized that I actually get better at writing when I just write, with speed. I try to reach 750 words in 20 minutes or less, my best is 750 words in 17 minutes when I write for all I’m worth. There seems to be a line to cross, some sort of Rubicon, and when I do, the sentences form themselves and the story just form itself. My fingers hit the right letters on the keyboard before my brain realizes and it feels like my fingers are for once faster than my brain.

I’d like to share with you what I wrote one day, it’s not my very best, but I was in such a flow when I wrote it that I feel quite proud of it. I just started writing, from zero, with no intention what so ever to make it good or readable. Suddenly it turned into the beginning of a story whose characters I created years ago. I’ll tell you about those characters later.

A note before you read it; I have never been to NYC, and I have no clue about nothing, except Central Park. I have a picture of a friend standing in Central Park, and from what I can gather it’s quite large. I don’t know any names of any of the cafés there, or even IF there is a café close to Central Park (but why wouldn’t there be?) So in this short excerpt, NYC is a figment of my imagination, and there is a café called the Wild Goose Chase (yes, really!) next to Central Park somewhere… 🙂

Here’s what I wanted to share, uncut, unedited (okay, I corrected the worst spelling mistakes that I could see), straight from my fingertips.

Unnamed, but it might be My Cousin the Sniper.

I couldn’t believe it was five years. I had been in a coma for five years. I had found my obituary in a paper from a library already. I was obviously killed in action. They had had a ceremonial funeral and that was that. The obituary was short and to the point and all condolences were asked not to call, only for closest friends and family. Well, I knew my family wasn’t missing me. They hadn’t been missing me for over ten years, so I guessed it was the company that was considered family. I wondered how Alabama was, if she still was that happy go lucky, getting out of trouble and into trouble every other second. And Adrian, sweet Adrian. How he would have cried at my funeral.

I was making my way down the aisles of lockers in the train station, trying to remember my number. Amazingly the hospital had released me, without any ID or anybody confirming who I was. To them I was Annabel Simon. One of my many aliases. Overcrowded, that was their only reason for signing me off. They didn’t have a bed to put me in, and I was obviously conscious and knew who I was, and where I was going. I told them I had a relative living in NYC so I’d go and knock on their door and hope they were home. Otherwise I’d come back and bug them. The nurse that handed me the papers to sign laughed nervously as if she wished she’d never see me again.

I stopped in front of locker number 1072. It was an inconspicuous number. I wouldn’t have remembered it, but when I saw those worn numbers, still the same faded black against the metal of the door. Of course I didn’t have a key. I never had one. But I had obtained a hair pin and a paper clip and together they could open even the hardest lock, except those slide card locks. Those were a bit hard to break into. The lock opened with a satisfied click and I smiled as I pulled the small door open and pulled out a black dufflebag.I was so glad that I kept this separate from all the lockers used by the Company. That meant nomatter what happened, I’d always have a change of clothes and come cash and an ID. You can go very far with just that.

I was wearing old clothes, I think it might be the clothes I came into the hospital with, but I’m not sure. anyway they fit ill and I looked like a baglady with too small clothes. If they were mine, how could I have grown by lying still for five years? Well, when I regained consciousness I had a couple of months of muscular therapy before they’d even think of signing me out. I had had a shower before I left, but deodorant, toothbrush and all that crap I was without. And I hoped to god the stuff in the bag would still be good after being unused for five years. Usually I checked the locker once every year.

I didn’t open the bag, just took it and left without looking back. The locker I locked again, it could still be of use, and boarded a train, the first one that was leaving. I got off at the first stop, outside NYC but still NY. I got a road map an tried to look inconspicuous as a tourist and found a cheap motel opposite a casino with disco and a bar. Well inside my room I locked the door and put a chair to hold the door, you never know, and plopped down on the bed and opened the bag.

I was totally unprepared for the flood of memories that came in the bag. Mostly of Indrid. So far I had avoided thinking of him. He hurt to think about. Sometimes I wondered if he even was missing me or if he still continued as usual, in his cold way. Indrid Cold. I missed him. His closeness, even though we seldom spoke, he wasn’t the talkative type, I liked being in his company. I felt safe somehow. At the top of the bag was the Smith and Wesson revolver he had given me on my first day at work. It was his personal, and he gave it to me when I confessed I had gotten up so late that I forgot to take my gun with me.

I put it on the bed side table and continued my excavation of the bag. The box of bullets I put next to the gun and then pulled out the necessary items; hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste and all in one shower cream. And a dry deo-stick. They were all neatly tucked into a zip lock bag. Next was a black bath towel. It was actually too big to be in there, but I had wanted it there when I packed the bag. It was Indrid’s too. Or it was actually mine, but Indrid had given it to me. As a birthday gift. A big black Armani bath towel. I didn’t even know Armani made towels. But it was heavenly. Underneath the towel was a pair of jeans, a black tank top and a black t-shirt and a navy blue hooded sweater. Black socks and what I had been looking forward most of all; underwear and shoes that fit. A black bra and two pairs of black panties and at the bottom a pair of black canvas sneakers. I was all set.

I had a quick shower and pulled on my own clothes and reveled in the feeling and decided that there was no better feeling than that of one’s own clothes. Under the bottom of the bag was the cash and the ID cards. I had two to choose between. Did I want to be a Stephanie Fields or Amanda Hopkirk? I chose Stephanie Fields and grabbed a tenner from the wad of cash and hid the rest in the bag. I hid the bag under the bed and put the gun under the pillow with the bullets and headed out to buy dinner. I settled on chinese, since I didn’t want to walk to far away. After years of only drip and months of only hospital food, I felt like I had never tasted anything better than the goose dumplings and the noodles I was eating.

I found a small convenience store and bought a magazine and some fruits, a small yoghurt and a sandwich and a can of juice for breakfast. When I got back to my room I settled in on the small bed and read magazine, trying to catch up with the world and the gossip. I knew I needed to get in contact with the Company, but I didn’t know how to start. Among the cash I had a small flat plastic box with a simcard in it and a ring. In case I wanted to be married or not. The simcard contained phone numbers to the Company. All I had to do was plug it into a phone and I’d be able to call all my friends and tell them the great news. Only problem was: who do I call first?

The answer was so simple it had been dancing in front of my eyes all the time. Of course Indrid would be the first one I should call. He was, or had been, after all, my companion. We were a team. Him and me. I didn’t know if I could stand hearing his voice again without crying. Only thinking of him made me cry. The room grew darker and the noise from across the street louder as the clock ticked away. I decided to postpone all decisions until tomorrow, and I had to get a phone too.

When I woke up the world was still sleeping. At first I thought it was in the middle of the night, but the growing traffic outside was a telltale sign of nearing rush hour. I had wanted to avoid rush hour, but I guess it was too late now. I ate my breakfast still in bed, feeling like a queen eating breakfast in the bed. Although I had to drink the fat yoghurt because I had no spoon. As soon as the sun hit my window I was up and about. Packed my stuff and was out the door within a minute.

A phone was my highest priority right now. And then I’d decide who to call. I checked out and got on a train towards NYC. I found a phone shop and got their cheapest phone to go and went to central park with a coffee and a cinnamon bun in a brown bag. The coffee tasted horrific, but the cinnamon bun was heaven. While I enjoyed the bun and forced the coffee down my throat I opened the phone and slit the sim card into it’s slot and then turned on the phone. “Searching for simcard. Please wait.” the phone displayed in a rolling banderoll. I finished the bun and threw the rest of the coffee in a bin before the phone beeped “simcard found, do you want to import phonenumbers?” I pressed no and then went to the address book. I looked up Alabama’s number. Adrian’s number. China’s number and Tennessee’s number. And last Indrid’s number.

Before I could stop myself I pressed dial and pushed the phone to my ear. I heard the tones ring. I let it ring eleven times before I hung up. Hunh? No answer. He always answer. A dreadful thought hit me. What if something had happened to him during these five years. WHat if he was dead too? I squeezed my eyes shut and banished such thoughts. Then I flipped through the phonebook again and suddenly I came across another number to Indrid. It didn’t say his name, but I figured “the cold one” could only mean him. I pressed dial and almost fainted when the other end was picked up almost immediately.

At first it was silent then his voice, dark and smooth, oh, what I had missed hearing his voice.

“Valentin?” That was my nickname. He always called me Valentin. From my surname. My mouth was dry and the awful coffee made itself reminded.

“Indrid,” my voice sounded hoarse and I cleared my throat. “hi…” I didn’t know what to say. *Hi, remember me? I was your partner that suddenly disappeared. I know you’ve had my funeral and all, but I’ve really been in coma for these last five years. I just woke up and wanted to hear your voice so I called you.* What did I want him to do? Take me back? What if he had another partner? What if I was redundant? What if I had forgotten everything? What if he didn’t want to talk to me? What if he hung up? Panic welled up my chest as he kept his silence on the other end. *Please say something* I was about to open my mouth when he broke the silence.

“Hey,” his voice was soft, almost loving and I wondered if he had really missed me. “You’re back from the dead?”

“Yeah… sort of… coma.” I couldn’t talk. I was about to cry from hearing his voice. He was silent for a long while on the other end and I was afraid he had hung up.

“Where are you?” I could hear he was moving, wherever he was. A car door opened and slammed shut.

“NYC” I breathed, trying to will myself not to cry.

“A bit more specific?” He asked.

“Central Park.” I answered.

“There is a café down there called the Wild Goose Chase, can you get there?” I looked around and spotted the funny looking cafe with a flock of geese pictured on the window, running or flying, wings out. Funny how I hadn’t noticed it earlier.

“Yeah, I can see it.”

“Wait for me there.” And he hung up. Before he hung up I heard a car start and my breath caught. He was coming to get me? he was coming to get me! As in a trance I made my way over to the small café and sat down on one of the benches outside and watched the traffic rush by. How long would I have to wait? He didn’t say where he was. What if he was in Philadelphia, then it would take an awful lot of time before he got here. I stood up and walked to the end of the bench and stopped. The cars rushed past me, but I didn’t really see them.

What if he had changed? What if I had changed? What if we couldn’t work any more? No team Cold. What if what if what if. All questiond twirled around in my head and made me almost dizzy. I turned around to sit down again and turned straight into a wall of muscle.

“Sorry,” I excused myself and then I realized who it was. Those electric eyes I used to be afraid of pierced me and then I was engulfed by muscles. I pressed into him and hugged back of all my might.

“I’ve been missing you,” he whispered in my hear. We must have stood there for quite a while because people started noticing us. He must have sensed the gazes too because he put an arm around me and pulled me with him. His black Hummer stood double parked nearby and I wondered how lost in thought I had been when I hadn’t seen it drive up. He opened the passenger door for me and I climbed in and dropped my bag on the floor when he closed the door. In no time he was in the drivers seat pulling out into traffic. I put on the seat belt and looked over at him. It looked like he was smiling. It felt odd. He usually never smiled.

“So, what’s up?” I usually didn’t start cold-talk with Indrid, I knew he disliked it, but now I felt like I couldn’t contain myself. I had to know what had been going on during the years I had been gone. Had he found someone? What if he’s married? I looked over at his hand and tried to spot a wedding ring. Panic scoured my veins until he laughed. I had never heard him laugh before.

“I’m not married, if that’s what you’re checking.” He grinned at me sideways while concentrating on the traffic. he was as beautiful as always with the suntanned skin and the raven black hair, long enough to curl over his ears.

“I tried calling you on your work-phone…” I started but he interrupted me, suddenly serious.

“Did you call anyone else? Anyone from work? Anyone from the Company?”

I shook my head. “No, I figured you’re my partner in crime, so you should be the first one to know…”

I suddenly felt daft. Alabama was my best friend at work, if I had thought a bit it would have been more logic to call her first, since she was a woman too. But I hadn’t, all I could think of was Indrid. Would he think it weird I hadn’t called Alabama yet?

“Good. Don’t call them.” He said, more like the normal Indrid I knew. Short and to the point. No smalltalk.

“Why?” I asked after a couple of minutes of silence.

“They went bad after the announcement you were KIA.” He flicked his eyes to me and then back. “That’s why I quit.”

“You quit?” I was flabbergasted. “But, but, you loved that job!” Hadn’t he?

“Yeah, but it wasn’t the same without you…” Was that a compliment?

Tell me what you think of the characters. I’m not that concerned about the story as of now, I’m more concerned about the characters and how to make them more alive. They are of course alive in my head, but do they come out alive from this short text? Or are they dead matter to you? I’d really appreciate any comment you have! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Write for all you’re worth

  1. No casinos in NYC. Atlantic City, New Jersey would be the closest (nitpicking, I know). She obviously loves Indrid but I’m confused as to why she would want to cry so much. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy but I don’t get that. She seems to be too dependent on Indrid. I would like to see her be stronger (if she were some kind of agent or assassin she would be trained to survive with or without a partner, to withstand torture, that sort of thing), unless it makes sense with the story. Indrid was fine for the limited amount of time he was around. Why wouldn’t she suspect everyone with her “death”, including Indrid?

    You’ve got a good start. Just my two cents anyway.

    1. I imagined if I myself just woke up from a coma, and everybody I knew would think I was dead I would be a total crybaby… 🙂 and I would want the first person to know that I’m alive to be someone I’d trust with my life. And she blindly trusts Indrid with her life.

      I just got an idea of re-writing this passage with Valentin as a guy… just to see how it turns out. So I’m cutting out the bra, and re-thinking the cry things. 😉

      Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated! 🙂

      1. Did you ever think that you’re writing characters based on your experiences, instead of their own experiences? That could be the hang up right there. Try taking Valentin and writing an extensive bio about her. How old is she, where was she born, siblings, personality growing up, relationships with men, personality traits, physical traits, anything you can think of. Maybe her mother hates her because after giving birth the doctors told her she couldn’t have any more children and she really wanted a son. Her father held a special place in his heart for his only child, never said too much but showed that love with every action. That could explain why she feels the need to be around Indrid, because he reminds her of the one good thing she ever had in her life(the relationship with her father). The relationship with her mother could be what drove her to her life as an assassin and why she kills. You can never have too much information on your characters. You just have to know how much to include in the story. Perhaps Indrin was put in a spot where he had to shoot Valentin. It’s your world don’t be afraid to shake things up. Just some ideas off the top of my head.

        I would keep Valentin a woman and keep the romance element. If you flesh out the characters and story, a romantic spy story would be a winner. My sisters read all kinds of romance and trust me, spies and romance from the female perspective would do well.

        Like I said you have a good starting point, but that’s often the easy part. Now you have to decide where these characters and the story will go.

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