This One’ll Haunt Me

It must be that time of the year where all of my energy goes into being awake and anything beyond that is just too much. I haven’t been writing more than a couple of sentences here and there and it’s making this WIP REAL hard to finish.

Here’s an excerpt just to prove that I’ve done something:

The primary reason counselors didn’t “get to know” their cases personally was because spirits generally couldn’t focus enough to chat. Instead, there was a team of researchers cataloging cases, researching histories, conducting interviews with surviving family members and writing concise yet thoroughly informative case studies for operators and counselors to review beforehand so they’d be prepared for the emotions attached to issues assumed. When counselor met spirit, it was usually in a haze of disorientation and volatility. The spirit often lashed out, confusing the counselor for the person or people most closely associated with their barrier. The very first step in spirit counseling was just calming the spirit down, sometimes just enough to listen, sometimes enough to respond to questions.

 

Mrs. Atkins was different. She took longer than usual to take form, drifting together piecemeal without the customary chaos of swirling particles and light. The atmosphere shift was different as well and not nearly as uncomfortable while still being significantly electrified. Once a cohesive form had taken shape, it hardly moved. Subtle shifts in color and brightening and fading of light were the only indications that there wasn’t, in fact, a solid form present. That, and she floated.

 

“Mrs. Atkins,” Catori had said. “Barbara Atkins?”

 

“Yes,” the form had said, clear as a bell. The form appeared to be sitting, hands folded on its lap, eyes cast downward.

 

“My name is Catori and I’m here to help you.”

 

“Are you?” it had said. The flatness of her tone had seemed to Catori a mix of dejection and disinterest.

 

“Yes. And I know I’m not the first. I may not be the last. But we’re not giving up on you, ma’am. We’re going to help you move on.”

 

“Oh,” was all it said.

 

Three quarters of an hour passed and neither had spoken. They were already beyond the point where previous counselors had given up, either after talking themselves blue or waiting impatiently for a response. But Catori had taken a different approach. She watched. She waited patiently for an opening, and after 45 minutes, Barbara Atkins sighed.

 

Spirits don’t sigh. They don’t breath. It was an affectation left over from a lifetime of habit.

 

“Hmm,” Catori hummed softly in response, not questioningly, but almost like an agreement. It was just enough to coax Mrs. Atkins to look up.

 

Catori made and held eye contact, tilting her head and speaking with genuine concern. “How ARE you?” she asked.

 

“Fine,” it answered automatically, politely, and with a little nod of the head.

 

“No, you’re not. Barbara,” Catori paused, letting it sink in that this wasn’t small talk, that she was really asking. “How ARE you?”

 

“Fine?” it responded but with less conviction.

 

“No,” she repeated. “You’re not.”

 

“How am I?” it asked, ducking its head, breaking the eye contact. And here’s where Catori needed to decide who this woman was, what she really needed, and to give it to her in a way that would be helpful.

 

“You’re dead.”

 

“Oh,” Mrs. Atkins said sadly but thoroughly unsurprised.

 

“Your spirit is stuck here.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you know why?”

 

“None but ourselves can free our minds,” it said, quoting Bob Marley.

 

“That’s true. But we can help each other.”

 

“Can I help you?”

 

“Maybe. Can I help you?”

 

“No.” The spirit sighed again.

 

“Can I try?” Catori asked.

 

They looked at each other for a long time, each appraising each other. And then finally, the spirit nodded.

 

Look for it on Amazon… someday when I’ve gotten around to finishing it.

Some Context for That Tweet

Excerpt from my as yet untitled (and unfinished) NaNoWriMo WIP:

“How is this still the way things are?” Daya said, defeated. She shrugged and stared out the window.

Catori was thoughtful for a moment. She thought about all the women who had sacrificed their own lives and safety to get them what they did have. Why more women didn’t make such huge sacrifices. Why she didn’t.

“Because most of us are too busy trying not to drown to save each other?” she asked and in her mind, she tried to take responsibility for her own part. She tried to justify that she was making a difference as a professional women in a field originally dominated by men. Then she remembered Enid’s description of her interactions with her male coworkers. “Fluttery and coy” couldn’t possibly be working in the favor of women’s rights. She was too embarrassed by this new realization to comment further.

“Because we’re too busy second-guessing ourselves to ask for what we need,” Daya answered with conviction. “Not a day goes by that I don’t doubt I’m doing my best to care for my son. I know I am. How could I not be? But I still doubt myself. Every time one of my male coworkers questions my knowledge, I stop and check myself. ‘Do I really know that to be true? I think so. But I could be wrong,’ and then whatever I say sounds unsure and my credibility is gone.”

“I know the feeling,” Catori said.

“We all do.”

 

Winning Feels Nice

Smack dab in the middle of a climactic scene, I hit my NaNoWriMo winning word count and forced myself to pause and reflect and celebrate. Maybe order of o’ them winner t-shirts while I’m out here in the real world. Brag a little. Scroll through Facebook and then realize that was a mistake. But then it’s right back to writing, kids. WIPs don’t finish themselves, ya know.

I would like to thank my husband for giving me some kid-free time, the Sleep Sounds app on my phone for covering the obnoxious sound of neighbors with glorious white noise, and Sundays at work where no one bothers me and both actual work and writing get done with relatively little disruption. Thanks as well to all the #amwriting and hashtag games participants and moderators for keeping me motivated. And above all, thanks be to coffee. You always help me keep it real, little beans, and I love you for it.

 

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner

Definitely Not Slacking

I’m almost 74,000 words into my WIP and I’m so close to the end, I can taste it.

It tastes like Deep Woods Off, perfectly burnt marshmallows and summer rain falling from trees, if you’re interested. … It’s a story that takes place in a campground. It makes sense, I swear.

Anyway, blogging’s taking a backseat until I tame this beast. Once it’s done, I’m putting it up on the (metaphorical) high shelf so I can prepare for NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t done this much writing since college and I’m pretty impressed with myself, if you want to know the truth.

Go Eda, go Eda, go!

mb5w4d