So, I was cruising through some files and found an old YA story that I wrote in 2012. I’m going to post the first pages below because I’m trying to decide if I should go back and work on it or not.
Other writers out there? Do you ever stumble back on 50,000-words of forgotten stories? Or is that just me?
It makes me wonder about these lost stories, the discarded computer files, abandoned for other stories and sometimes forever forgotten.
It’s hard to share full, done books and I’m getting super freaked out about IN THE WOODS’ release in July. July is so soon!
So, this book baby in all its raw form is even scarier. Here you go, never before seen by human eyes other than mine. I hope this makes you all feel better about your drafts!
“Miss?” the woman says. “You need to pay.”
I pull some money out of the embroidered elephant wallet that I’ve had since I was five and try to make my hand not tremble. The ache behind my eyes seems to dull the store’s fluorescent lighting and make the world blurrier. “Oh. Sorry.”
The cashier takes my money. The bills are crumpled and dog-eared. Less than twenty-four hours ago those bills were lined up in the top drawer of my dad’s bureau right next to his gun. I took that, too, even though I already had one stolen gun tucked into my belt.
“Thanks,” I say as the cashier hands me my change. I’ve loaded the case of water, the people food, the batteries, dog food and bedding into the cart already. It’s just the notebook and pens that are left, which seems both appropriate and symbolic somehow.
“Bit cold for camping,” the cashier says. She meets my eyes. She’d been avoiding them.
I fake smile. “Yeah. I’m hardy though.”
“What?” Her eyes fully focus on mine now.
“Hardy…. I’m hardy though. You know? Tough.”
She shakes her head and chuckles even as she starts ringing through the next person in line’s stuff. Diapers. Pepto Bismol. “I thought you said, ‘I’m Artie though.’ And I was all, ‘That’s a funny name for a girl.’ You have a good day, sweetie. Stay warm.”
I sort of stand there awkwardly for a second, just staring at the plastic bags of stuff in the shopping cart. I feel guilty for having to use plastic instead of canvas bags from home. I feel guilty for taking the money and the gun. I feel guilty for what I’m about to do, but I have no choice. All the moments in the last few days have ensured that I have no other choice.
The guy behind me clears his throat, and I apologize again for being in the way. Pushing the shopping cart, I turn it, and start heading down past the other check-out lanes towards the doors, keeping my head low so that the security cameras will only see my hat, not my face.
And the whole time, I’m mumbling, “Don’t remember me. Don’t remember me. Don’t me remember me.” It’s like this little mantra will make words become truth.
And the whole time, the cart is making this funky screeching noise because one of the wheels is a little bit off its track and is scraping against the metal of the cart.
And the whole time, I’m praying that I am not making the worst decision in my life. But no, I have already done that, haven’t I? Or maybe it was the best?
I stop the shopping cart right by the door greeter and check the closest plastic bag. The notebooks are there. That’s important. It’s more important than the batteries or the food or the water.
I will write it all down, old-school style, just like someone did for me. No computers, not even the ones at the public library, because then they can log your IP address. I will write it all down in the notebooks and then send it to my mom or dad and then they can decide what to do with it. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll send it to someone I don’t love so much.
When Mom gets home today, she’ll know that something has happened. Maybe not right away because I didn’t leave a note. Maybe she’ll call my name and head up to my bedroom looking for me and see all the clothes missing from my closet. Maybe she’ll notice when Sparty doesn’t come to the door to greet her. Maybe she’ll still be at work and she’ll get an email from the high school about my unexplained and unexcused all-day absence. Maybe she’ll just know the way moms sometimes just know things. She’ll call my dad. He will freak out because he is horrible in any sort of crisis. One of them will probably call the police and I will become a missing teenager in an official way. My face will be in newspapers and the news feeds of social networking sites. People will be upset and then most of them will forget.
And in a couple more days, the notebooks will come. She’ll get the mail, or maybe my dad will, and she’ll be excited because she’ll think the notebooks mean hope, that they mean that I’m still alive, and she won’t realize that what they really mean is that I am gone from them forever or at least for a good, long while.
The store’s automatic doors open and I push the cart out into the parking lot. November wind blows the edges of the plastic. I get to the Subaru. Caleb is there. Waiting. The same way I was waiting for him, for so long.
He opens the hatch in the back of the car and starts putting things inside. Sparty sits in the back seat, patiently watching the entire thing. The end of his tail wags just the smallest of bits.
Caleb stops loading for a second, grabs my hand in his and says, “Are you sure about this? You don’t have – ”
I interrupt him because I don’t want to hear him say it aloud. “I’m sure. I go with you.”
I want to fall over onto the pavement, slump against the car and weep. I want to curl my hands into fists and punch the tires, punch the bumper, punch the world for being so wrong and so unfair, but most of all I want to hug Caleb, to hold him in my arms and tell him that I will never let go.
So, that is what I do.
IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!
My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
I’ll be at CoeSpace in Bangor on June 7 as an artist! I know! I know! I’m hyperventilating about it already.
You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.