(definition further explained in this post if you still aren't satisfied)

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's December 25th And I'm Looking Forward To Christmas

I'll get more excerpts to you soon, but today, we shall take a break to discuss Christmas instead. Christmas cannot be ignored!

Things have gone pretty close to normal today as far as Christmas goes; my family gathered at one grandparents' house for breakfast (Mom's side of the family) and the other for lunch and probably supper (Dad's side). There's one crucial difference from the norm that makes this year feel off: Mimi is in the hospital.

Mimi is my mother's mother. She got sick this year on March 1st, and hasn't been back to normal since. It started with fluid in her lungs, and since then she's had good days and bad days. She has been back and forth from home to the hospital again, and even when she is home, someone else has to be there with her at all times to keep an eye on her and Papaw.

Mimi has five children, and only two of them stay with her regularly. One of the other girls barely does anything, another only pitches in by staying with Papaw when Mimi's in the hospital, and the 'boy' helps out by taking care of Papaw's cows, land, farm equipment, and whatever other outdoor work is needed.

Sometimes, this arrangement is fine. Other times, it feels like a real pain, as selfish as that may sound. My mom is one of the two that stays with Mimi and Papaw constantly, and her husband and three children miss her. The house just doesn't run smoothly without her around, and even if it did, it doesn't feel the same without her. However, we all understand why all this work is necessary, and we do our best to make do.

I've stayed with Mimi more recently (up until Christmas Eve, which was the night she was admitted back into the hospital). Many times up until now, she's been overcome with sadness and self-pity about her predicament, which I definitely can't blame her for. She can't walk to the bathroom without losing her breath, and she doesn't enjoy the breathing treatments that she has to do at least once every day. She told me that she wishes that she could make food and do other things for people for Christmas, but that she "just isn't worth anything these days". It's rough on her, that's for sure. I reminded her that she's surrounded by people who love her and who will take care of things like that. I also pointed out that she raised all of her children to be capable of those things, that she had done a good job. She did smile at that. "Yes, I did raise them to be able to do things," she said.

I've noticed that her outlook is improving a lot. Lately, she seems happier much more often. Even though she's in the hospital today, she seems to be in good spirits. She talked to everyone gathered at her house via phone this morning. We set aside a lot of the presents, and we aren't going to open them until she's back.

Then we'll have Christmas all over again, for her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sigh Of Relief and Exhaustion From The Aspiring Novelist

Whew! NaNoWriMo is over, and boy, was it a crazy journey! Sadly, at 47,236 words, I was not a winner this year. It was my first year, though, so don't be too hard on me!

Now that we are out of November, I'll be able to post more regularly, at least until Christmas takes me from you again. I know you missed me, but don't worry, I'm here now!

In celebration of NaNo being over and me being able to breathe again, I have an excerpt from my novel to share with you. I picked a few different sections that I was considering sharing with you, and this one is rather long, but hopefully you will find it worth the read regardless. It was one of my favorite passages to write.

I would offer a synopsis to help you take this passage in context and understand it, but frankly, I think it would be more fun to just throw it at you. The only thing that I really must tell you is that KMC is my main character's temporary name, although she told the character named Nathan that her name was Layla (for her own reasons). She's called that because I still have not named her. (Please also forgive the lack of indentation in the paragraphs. Blogger's format does not agree with the tab button.)

Anyway, here it is!

KMC opened her mouth to blurt out whatever option decided to present itself, but suddenly, she felt like doubling over. If she'd been a human, she would have.
The pain in her stomach felt unbearable, at least if it decided to go on for a full minute. Although KMC managed to stay composed enough to stay sitting upright, she could not prevent her hands' flight to her stomach, where they clenched themselves together over it. An involuntary moan escaped her lips, and although it had been rather soft, she was still mortified, wondering if Nathan had heard it.
As it turned out, he didn't need to hear it. He had already noticed the pained expression on her face.
“What's wrong?” His voice was full of concern. KMC quickly tried to mentally debate what to tell him, but her brain refused to function beyond a rudimentary level, blocked by the pain. She shook her head, at a loss.
The look of worry only deepened on Nathan's face.
“Do I need to call the hospital?” His voice was urgent and he was willing to take charge the moment she confirmed that it was what she needed. KMC shook her head weakly. A trip to the hospital certainly would not do. Besides, she didn't need doctors to tell her what she already knew. The cause of her stomach pain was actually quite simple; she was hungry. Ravenously hungry, in fact.
Hungry enough that if this pain continued, she may do something drastic.
Her eyes darted around the small establishment, searching for some inspiration. When she found none forthcoming, she decided that at that moment, she just wanted to get out. She needed to be unconfined to the small space between those four walls.
KMC stood shakily. Nathan noticed, and he quickly put his arm around her, helping her stand up and walk. The two got strange looks from the two other tables of ice cream patrons as they made their way out the door.
When they got outside, KMC looked around. When her eyes found a patch of grass, she began to stumble toward it, with Nathan assisting her regardless of the fact that he didn't actually know what she was doing or where she was aiming to go.
KMC disentangled herself from Nathan's arm and let herself flop onto the grass. She rolled over on her side, curling into the fetal position and wrapping her arms around her abdomen. Her mind was consumed with no thought but the pain.
After about a minute, the pain began to recede, just barely. It was just enough, in fact, for KMC to have a new, single desire. She turned her eyes to Nathan, who she was surprised to find laying on the grass as well, facing her. He'd been watching her.
Seeing him made the desire even stronger. Her instincts pushed her to kill in order to satisfy the terrible hunger.
She still felt weakened, but she knew that soon, even the weakness would recede to let her act on her instincts and have the full capability to kill. In fact, adrenaline would probably flood her system soon, lending her an enhanced strength even from her usual. She had to come up with a plan before then. Otherwise, she would be driven to kill Nathan right here in public.
His bright eyes still considered her. Suddenly, KMC knew that he was trying to figure out if her pain was going away and what to do next. He was only thinking of her and her well being, while she was trying to kill him. How curious.
I don't really understand this. Why does he even care about my pain? But no, she could not afford to take the time to mull over this idea. She had to come up with a plan, and quick. What she needed was time, but she was running out of it.
She wondered how to convince him to go to the beach now. Perhaps she could even get him to help her to get there. All she needed was a valid reason to go after the episode he'd just seen.
KMC suddenly felt her strength quickly returning. She was out of time.
“The...the beach,” she gasped out from behind clenched teeth. She would have to exercise an incredible amount of self control to keep everything from going horribly wrong.
“What?” Nathan's confusion was completely understandable, but KMC felt that it was torturous.
“The beach!” she cried, sitting up quickly. “I need to go there!”
Nathan shook his head.
“You need to go to a hospital,” he said, pulling himself into a sitting position as well.
“No! No, I need to go to the beach. If you can just get me there...I know the way...” KMC's head was becoming drenched in sweat.
“You're delirious,” Nathan guessed, sounding uncertain. Obviously, this was not an everyday occurrence.
“No, I just need to go there...” KMC cursed her inability to come up with a convincing argument, but all her efforts were going into keeping herself under control. She turned pleading eyes to Nathan.
The sight of his face, of the face of the target that she'd been planning to kill, caused an immediate instinctual reaction. Her heart rate spiked and her muscles clenched, attempting to launch her toward Nathan against her will. Not here! KMC looked away from him as quickly as possible, bending her head down to make a curtain of her hair and trying to make a mental note not to look at any humans until she got to the beach if she could manage it.
Nathan moved closer to her, turning his head to try to look her in the eyes. KMC turned her head to face the opposite direction, avoiding his gaze. When he tried again to get her to look at him, KMC backed away in fear. I can't look at him! If I do, it will all be over!
“You need to go to the hospital.” Nathan's voice was finally decisive.
KMC was filled with disbelief. How could she have let this happen? In the distraction of unexpectedly good company, she had forced all thoughts of the hunger out of her mind. Now she was quickly learning her mistake.
“Here, get on.” KMC saw Nathan's back filling her vision. “I'll give you a piggyback so you don't have to walk there. When we get back to the bar, I can drive you the rest of the way myself and call your family or whatever you need.”
KMC suddenly felt like crying.
Nathan turned his head to the side.
“If you don't get on, I can pick you up and take you there myself.” He tried to sound authoritative, and pulled it off well, but KMC knew that he couldn't like the idea of carrying a girl, kicking and screaming, down the sidewalk with just anyone standing around, waiting to cause trouble by assuming the worst.
KMC had to admit that she didn't like the idea either. At least if she was on his back, she would have more maneuverability when she could finally come up with a plan.
Tentatively, she reached out toward Nathan.
When he felt her arms beginning to wrap around him, Nathan snaked his arms around her legs, hooking an elbow under each knee to support her. Without so much as a grunt, he twisted around until he'd gotten on one knee, and then pushed up off the ground. KMC clung to him, unfamiliar with the experience of riding on a human's back instead of it being the other way around.
Nathan turned his head to the side, looking back in surprise.
“You're shaking.”
KMC buried her head between his shoulder blades, unable to come up with a response and embarrassed at his observation. Her muscles refused to stop quivering, causing the trembling to reverberate through her arms, legs and shoulders. She grabbed a handful of Nathan's shirt in her fist, clenching her teeth again in a futile attempt to still her muscles.
Nathan hiked as quickly as he could down the sidewalk. The longer he felt KMC trembling on his back, the more urgency he felt. He couldn't fathom what was wrong with her, but that was all the more reason to get her to a hospital as soon as humanly possible.
When he made it back to his car, he was no longer sure if she was even conscious or not. He was pretty sure that her eyes had been squeezed shut ever since he'd first picked her up, and they hadn't opened. Her trembling had finally slowed to the occasional shudder.
Balancing awkwardly, Nathan kept KMC on his back while he pulled the handle on the passenger door. He wrenched it open and tilted his body to swing KMC around, catching her in front of him and slipping her gently into the seat. She moaned weakly as he pulled the seat belt around her and fastened it.
He rushed around the car as quickly as he could, sliding violently into the driver's seat and shoving the key into the ignition.
As he sped to the hospital, he could only hope that she would get medical aid in time.