Sunday, November 30, 2008

NANO--Day Whatever

I'm writing again, but I'm expecting a much more reasonable word goal from myself this time around. I had to backtrack about a 1,000 words and start again. I went wrong, and I couldn't continue until I got back on track.

My brother Mike would have been 39 today. The novel I'm writing is my birthday present to him, and will be dedicated to him once I finish. Here's a short snippet from it.

First draft. Please don't quote or repost. Thanks.

The sound of singing drew her. Katie stopped and listened. The singing seemed to come from somewhere to the right and up a short rise. Brush obscured her vision of what might lie beyond that rise. She hesitated, reluctant to leave the road, the only sign of civilization she’d seen, but the music was like a siren song. She plunged off the road and into deeper snow, picking a way through the snagging branches and uncertain footing to the top of the rise.

The first thing Katie saw was the soaring majesty of an evergreen, at least ten feet in height, perfectly shaped, and loaded with decorations on its lower branches. The next thing she saw was the people who surrounded the tree, placing decorations on its branches and singing a song that seemed full of minor keys but somehow didn’t sound like a dirge. Someone played a small tin whistle that inserted a metallic punctuation to the rise and fall of the voices.

Katie stood, her feet cold in the snow, astonished that anyone would decorate a tree out in the middle of nowhere and sing while they did it. At least thirty to forty people stood around the tree, dressed in warm fur coverings, leggings, and knee-high boots, and with colorful scarves covered with intricate designs.

Crunching snow to her left drew her gaze. A girl about her own age, red hair framing her face, freckles across her nose, approached her. The girl’s expression was open and friendly.

“Hello!” the girl said. “I’ve not seen you here before. Have you come to make your wish?”

“Wish?” Katie repeated.

“Yes. This is the Wishing Tree. Did you bring your decoration?”

“I’m sorry, I have nothing,” Katie said.

“Oh!” the girl said. She reached inside her fur coat and brought out a tiny doll made of sticks and cloth. “Here. I brought her in case someone lost or broke their decoration. You can have her.”

Since the girl held out the doll with an expectant look on her face, Katie took it. She looked at the doll and marveled over the handiwork. The doll wore a cloth dress that seemed to be made of some pliant leather and decorated with the same kind of intricate designs she saw on the girl’s scarf. The doll’s face was hand-painted and very detailed.

Katie looked up at the girl, lost. “What should I wish for?”

The girl cocked her head. “Surely you must have some desire in your heart.”

I only want one thing, Katie thought. I want my sister back.

The intensity of her expression must have caught the girl’s attention. She reached out and caught Katie’s sleeve. “Be careful what you wish for,” she said. “Do not wish for the impossible, for it can only lead to pain.”

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