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Archive for January, 2012

A Novel Excerpt pg 209

This is an excerpt from my first novel. The title is still undecided. This part here is a section about two of the secondary characters: Abby & Markus. Thus far, the true reason for Abby having been in prison for stabbing MArkus and why he tried so hard to keep her out and why he still loved her had not been discussed. Here the full story comes out as they flee from their homeland to find a man (the main character) who prophecy says is the rightful heir to the throne. And, as Abby points out, their journey is less about “the man” and more about what he represents.  

 

Hiram was the first one awake. Markus was watching vigilantly enough for a city boy, Hiram thought. Hiram chuckled into a cough. He cleared his throat with a grunt as he got up and wiped his eyes. His smile only got bigger and Markus frowned at it. He leveled a discontented stare down at the burly priest. Hiram slapped his back and chuckled again in sarcastic elation. “Son! Is that you?”

“Funny,” he returned flatly. Markus puffed a stray lock of his now very strawberry blonde hair out of his face.

“I think the red hair looks good on you, boy.”

“I think you should eat your tongue.”

“And I think you should have less lip this early in the morn. Besides, once we’re over the thresh you’d be well to dye it back to that rat brown.”

“Whatever, Hiram. I just got out of prison, chased for almost a week, and forced to dye my hair this godless red panty stain, and listen to a fat wanker rib me like a school boy.”

Hiram groped at his paunch. “No need to look fit at my age. I’ve not had the need to look pretty for a woman in a long time.”

“Not since your wife died. What’s it been now? Six years? Seven? Should I rib your sore spots, old man?”

Hiram turned red as he flexed his fist. “You, you little piss ant, are crossing a very thick line.” He stood up slowly and went to check the horses. Markus slid off the rock and gaped his mouth at the sky then shook his head. All this was getting to him. He tucked his hands in the back pockets of his denim blue jeans as he looked at the ground. Hiram was not a man who took apologies well and Markus had never been good at them anyway. He scuffed the ground in frustration and turned at the sound of soft boot steps behind him.

Markus’ was deafened instantly as he reeled from Abby’s slap. “How dare you, Markus. That man is here because he wanted to help us and you…I can’t believe you’re such a cur. Rood, you were such a damned waste of my life. I don’t have a clue what I ever liked about you.”

“I was just there when you needed someone. A rebound.”

Abby shook, redfaced and tears welled up in her eyes. “Maybe…” She turned and walked away hiding her face.

 

Markus went after her. She shrugged him off and backhanded him when he tried to touch her a second time. “Don’t you dare! You don’t get to touch me anymore, Markus. You haven’t had that right for a long time. Just stay away from me. I don’t need you around me. I don’t want you.”

“I know.” He dropped his hand from his face. It fall and sagged him. He closed his eyes as two tears tumbled down from his chin. His voice was a shaky whisper. “That’s why I used to drink after you got pregnant…I was so in love with you then, this sweet, gorgeous woman. And you were so smart. You’re two years older than me but you made it feel like twenty. Gods, I was always in awe of you. You were everything to me…everything…but you never let go of your ex. I was so angry you still loved him. How you cried -you cried over what he was gonna think about you being pregnant- over him. I wanted to be a father, Abby. I wanted to be one so bad and have this amazing marriage with this awesome wife, but you cried over him. The happiest moment of my life and your worst. You made me feel like I was nothing. Like I was worthless.

I knew right then, that moment, it was all true. All those fears in the back of my head: true. You didn’t love me. Never did. Probably never could. So yeah, I drank. I buried myself. I had to. Because every time I looked at you I heard what you said ‘what’s he gonna think’. It eat me up inside. And then that night I passed out in the hallway outside our bed, you were on your knees pushing me and you thought I was still out and you said Luke would never act this way.” Abby paled. “And I thought, ‘yeah that was because you loved him. He never had to come home to a woman who didn’t want him or his child.’ And then I just snapped…I hit you. I couldn’t take it anymore but I never meant to hit you in the stomach. And after…when I found out you did lose it, after I slept in the park on a bench for a week because I was so ashamed of everything -myself, what I had done, that I was the only one who was in love, that I had wasted all that money on a ring for you, how stupid I was, how naïve- I pawned the ring and I set to drinking all that wasted money down.

And somewhere along the line that night I got it in my stupid head that maybe if we had had a child together you would…” Markus pawed at the tears falling from his eyes as he quivered. “That you could’ve grown to love me, if you just saw how much I loved you. I went home that night and I saw you sleeping in a ball on the couch and I just wanted us to be better. I wanted us to be happy…and I…I was so stupid and desparate and drunk, I…I, for the death, thought it would fix everything. And when you fought back I got so angry that you didn’t want me. I kept thinking about you wanting him and it made it worse and I…

When you stabbed me, I thought ‘good. I deserve this.’ and I thought I shouldn’t make you have to clean up my blood. I didn’t even make it a block. I wanted to just jump off the docks. I tried, oh, I tried. I crawled but by then someone had called for help and I had Hiram over me trying to heal me. To keep me alive when all I wanted to do was die, just bleed out and drown at the same time, in the bottom of the water. I knew you never loved me, Abby. Not once. Not ever. Not even a little bit. To this day I still hate myself for not being able to drown. I have failed at everything, Abby. Everything.” He pushed a finger into her chest. “But you know what the worst part is? I still love you. Still. You hurt me so bad and I know how bad I hurt you, but still I wish it could all go away. I wish we could start over. I wish for once I was that innocent kid you came to. That back then when I fell in love with you, you would’ve fallen for me.

So yeah, you may have been stuck in a cell I fought so hard to keep you out of for three years, but I’m still in mine and I always will be, because every time I close my eyes, every time I even think about another woman I think of you. I remember I will never be good enough because I’m just Mark, Abby, not Lucas Fennier.

You know, in my nightmares, when I hold you, you always call out his name.” Markus shuddered in a breath. “I’m sorry we ever met.”

He walked off towards the river while Abby held in her tears as best she could and hurried a little ways out of the camp from where the other two were still asleep. She rounded a tree and pressed her back into it until her knees buckled and she slid down into the tall weeds. She burst into tears and clutched chunks of the thick green grass in her fists before she gave up and fell on her side into a ball. It wasn’t true, she wished it wasn’t true. But he was right. She had used him. She had tried to love him though. She thought he didn’t know she hadn’t. He was so loving to her and she had tried so hard, but she wasn’t over Luke then. And by the time she was, he was always drunk. She didn’t mean to say that when he was passed out. It just came out. She knew all these years, that that had been what set him off. She wished she could’ve taken it back since the moment it came out. She never could. The past couldn’t be erased with a thousand wishes. They both had become despicable people and it had been all her fault. She used him and he hated her for it and he loved her in spite of it and hated himself all the more.

It was a long time before she could right herself up. She finally wiped her face and decided what she wanted. She got up and went to the river.

Mark wasn’t there. Everyone was eating breakfast and he wasn’t there. No one had seen him. His horse was still there. Her stomach was gnawing at her. She walked back towards the river and as she went out of sight she broke into a run. She was grateful she had slept in her boots.

He sitting against an oak tree, his head in his knees and arms. She dropped to her knees in front of him and grab two fistfuls of his strawberry-dye hair. He had been crying his face was flush and his voice came out with a clogged nasal note. “What Abby? What else is there to say?”

She pressed her head against his and smoothed down his hair with her eyes closed. “Don’t stop.”

“What?”

“We’re going to become…no. We have the chance to change everything about who we are, who we have been. We are getting the chance to make yourselves. Reinvent who we are. We, Markus, you and me are getting a second chance at life.”

“And for what? What good is it?”

She shook his head. “Listen to me, dammit…Markus, listen. You and me can start over.”

“I heard you the first time.”

She pulled his head away a little and looked into his eyes. “You and me can start over.” She looked and watched him look, from one eye to the other. “You were wrong about what you said. It wasn’t at first, but there was a time when I loved you. And that’s why it hurt me so much when you started to drink. I knew it was something I had done. I knew I was pushing you away. But I was so afraid of being hurt again. I had just lost a husband, my job, and a kid just turned sixteen had gotten me pregnant and told me how much he loved me. Luke had been sixteen when we got married. We were just kids.”

“Abby, I don’t wanna hear about Luke.”

“Shut up…just shut up, please…just listen…I was fourteen and he had seemed so much in love with me and four years later no baby on the way he found someone else and divorced me when I came home. So you scared me, you said the same things and I was in love with you. I really was by then when you moved in with me and we danced and made love on the dining room table. I was gonna be a mother, I was eighteen and the father was only sixteen and you told me you wanted to marry me. And all I could think of was how much I was scared. I was afraid that if I lost the baby, you’d leave. And I was afraid you really deep down didn’t care as much about me as I did about you. Gods, you jackass, I loved you so much that I would always run home before you, because I was afraid that if I came home late you’d leave me, right on the steps the way Luke did. I would cry about that when you went out. I was terrorized by it. It felt like a house of cards.

When I lost the baby, I knew it was over. You never came back. I was alone all over again. Then when you showed up and…I thought…I just wanted it over. My life was ruled by men I couldn’t trust. I felt used and dirty and I hated you and him so much…”

“I loved you.”

“Well that was a horrible way to show it, Mark. I needed you. I needed you to want me.”

“I did Abby. I always have.”

Abby crinkled her nose with intensity and slid herself off of her knees and onto grass, looking west. She leaned back on her hand which she placed on the other side of Markus’ foot. He could feel her side against his shin. She looked off, squinting across the river from the little hilltop as the hot wind from the desert turned to soft warm breeze here and rocked the amber and olive knee high grasses. She glanced at the scarlet and vermillion sunrise and the wispy tracks of fuchsia-navy clouds.

“When I think about this man we’re all going to see…the destination at the end of all this…I don’t think of some saint. Whether he saves the world or is a complete letch who lays around all day and stares at girls from his porch while the whole world goes to the hells, I doesn’t matter to me…or rather, it doesn’t matter to who I am. But what he does represent – offer- is Choice. My choice. A different tommow.”

“Abby?”

“Just think about it Markus. We have been living these lies. These tiny painful little lives. There’s no hope for the future. No great tomorrow where everything is forgotten or forgiven. But this man has given us, not just you and me, but Fiona to, a second chance. We are walking, running, away from everything that made us who we were.

After everything the gods are finally smiling on us. Today we shed ourselves. The old dying facades of who we were are buried here, in this place, and we leave here as truly free people. Completely free. Hells, we don’t even have to get to him. He was just a catalyst, the catalyst, that offered life to the dying.”

“Abby…”

“No really. Think about it. I was dying, drowning in all that had happened. You’ve been drowning too. And look at us now…we sit here in the suffering of all our past mistakes. But we don’t need to anymore. We’re going where only we will know who we are. And we don’t have to be who we were. We can be anyone. Anything.”

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