Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Snippet - May 25, 2007 "While He Sleeps"

A little bit of backstory since last snippet. Jeff has tracked down her phone number from her parents. They gave it to him since she had called him. Jeff accuses her of ducking the whole issue, trying to pretend it never happened. They exchange some heated words about commitment and expectations.

Rhea hated going to restaurants alone. Something about sitting at a table in lonely splendor while families flowed and dined around her struck her as sad.

She called her friend Mary and arranged to meet her at their favorite place after work. The commute dragged, and she walked into a crowded restaurant. That annoyed her, and the annoyance clung as she searched the crowd for Mary's face.

Instead, she found another face. The top of his head and his eyes were all that she could see of him. The pit of her stomach knotted and her eyes burned. Intellectually, she knew this man couldn't be Charles--that if she moved to where she could see his entire face, she would be looking into the face of a stranger. Her head knew this. Her heart didn't.

Rhea dug her fingernails into her palms. The little pain distracted her from the larger one, helping her control the urge to burst into noisy tears. Too much. These last few days, seeing Charles in a walk or a turn of the head, the weird, unexplained events surrounding her, all culminated in this moment of intense emotional distress.

The awful finality of her brother's death hit her like a slap. Maybe what Jeff had said was true. Maybe she had left Stillwater to pretend nothing had happened--that Charles still lived and laughed and hadn't shot himself over a girl.

Rhea turned, nearly bowling over a young couple walking behind her. With a muttered apology, Rhea made her way out of the restaurant before the tears flooded her vision.

She cried for awhile in her car before again joining the queue of homeward-bound cars. She called Mary enroute and gave her a story about not feeling well. When she entered her apartment and flipped on the lights, the sight of her notebook, somehow retrieved from the trash and now prominently displayed in her chair, didn't surprise her.

Rhea looked at the notebook, and the words, help her covered the page.

"What do you want from me, Charles?" she said.

And once she started talking, the logjam broke.

"What could you possibly want from me? You made your decision all by yourself five years ago. You didn't need my help then. You never asked for anybody's help. Did you even stop to think about what pain you would cause? No, you didn't, because you never did. Because that's the way you lived your life. All about Charles."

A sense of great sadness rushed over her. Rhea couldn't tell if the sadness belonged to her or to Charles. Or if she had just gone completely around the bend.

Rhea threw her purse on the chair, dislodging the notebook, which fell to the floor. The pages flipped to an older scribbling she'd done weeks ago. Rhea had written "Stillwater," and drawn a heavy black box around the name.

"You want me to go home to Stillwater," she said.

The feeling of sadness lightened. Her phone rang. Rhea looked at the caller id. Her mother.

Around the bend. Definitely.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Friday Snippet May 18, 2007

A scene later in Chapter One. Working title of novel is "While He Sleeps"


Rhea dialed Jeff Towerhouse's number. While she waited for him to pick up, she pulled out the notebook and pen she always kept by the phone to write aimless words and to draw geometrical shapes.

The sound of Jeff's impatient greeting threw her off stride. She hadn't really expected him to answer. Rhea struggled to get her thoughts in order.


She heard the intake of breath, then silence. Rhea wrote something on the notebook like a mad woman, pen digging into the paper.

"It's Rhea."


A host of unspoken words hovered behind Jeff's enunciation of her name. Rhea could almost hear them.

"I know," she said, as if in answer to a question. "It's been awhile."

"Five years," Jeff said in an even voice. "You walked away from the cemetery and apparently kept right on walking."

"Yeah. About that--"

"You know, Rhea, I wouldn't bother. You don't need my forgiveness. It won't change anything, will it?"

Rhea winced. Her pen moved across the notebook like a wild thing.

"Maybe not forgiveness. Maybe I just need to give you an explanation. After we buried Charles, I hated my job, my life. I hated Stillwater. I had to get out."

"And your friends, Rhea? Did you hate them, too?"

Rhea flipped the notebook page and kept on writing. "No," she said, voice soft. "I never hated my friends."

"You said you hated your life. The implication was there."

The scritch of her pen sounded loud in the silence.

"Rhea, I'm having trouble dealing with this right now. What did you want from me?"

"I'm sorry, Jeff. That's what I meant to say."

"Rhea, don't you hang--"

She hung up, breathing quickened, pulse racing. Hearing Jeff Towerhouse's voice had disturbed old thoughts and feelings, like someone raking up dead leaves in the grass. She knew he wouldn't call her; she had paid to bypass caller id, and he didn't have her number.

Rhea dropped her pen, fingers aching. She looked down at the notebook, and felt a cold chill creep up the back of her neck. She flipped the pages. One single phrase covered two pages, line after line.

Help her.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Friday Snippet

Since I'm out of town Friday, I'm posting a short snippet tonight to start off this linking. Hope I figured out what I'm supposed to do. This is the very first scene of the first chapter of my WIP (work-in-progress). I don't have a title yet.

Rhea Taylor paused in the doorway of her flat, hand frozen in the act of removing her keys from the door lock. In the deepest shadows of her living room, but still visible, stood her brother.

"Charles?" she whispered.

Hands shaking, she fumbled for the light switch. When light flooded her living room, no one stood there.

Of course.

Charles had been dead for five years.


Saturday, May 5, 2007


I've established this blog to post snippets of my work.