Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Today's words from the ghost story in progress

I love when characters tell me things that I hadn't planned.  Yesterday I was writing this scene with my main character, Tess and her friend Nicole.  I didn't know why Nicole had to be there and it's hard to get pumped up to write a scene that meanders around looking for its purpose.  Then Nicole told me why she was important.  Here's a snippet from the day's writing.  Remember, this is ragged, first draft stuff.

      Nicole parked by the broken fence. "Some people swear this place is haunted."
      I jerked around in my seat to stare at her, my heart beating hard. "Did you ever see a ghost here?"
      She laughed. "Girlfriend, the only spirits I ever saw in this place were the ones I brought with me in little bottles," she said.
      I ducked under the slit in the fence and slipped inside the park. Nicole followed right behind me. "Jesus, Nic, I don't need a babysitter." I hefted my backpack. "Look. All set. Juice, granola bars, and chocolate."
      "Hey, you called me. And this is a full service taxi."
      "Whatever." I glanced back at her, watching out of the corner of my eye as we walked across the abandoned midway towards the bumper cars. If Marco was here, would Nicole see him? And if she didn't see him, did it mean he wasn't real?
      My bike was leaning where I'd left it. The sun poured in through the broken slats of the wood lathe surrounding the pavilion, casting long think shadows along the floor. I studied the patterns, looking for Marco but all I could see was the rusting cars and dead leaves. Staring at the alternating stripes of light and dark, I reached for my camera.
      "You didn't tell me you were on a photo shoot."
      I shrugged. "I said you didn't need to stay."
      Nicole stood behind me and off to the side. She was good about staying away from my peripheral vision and out of the path of the light. "What are you taking these for?"
      She didn't know I hadn't touched my camera since Thomas died--until yesterday  and I wasn't going to tell her I was ghost hunting. "Independent study project."
      "Let me see."
      I turned on the display and showed Nicole some of my shots.
      "You make it look almost beautiful," she said, comparing the pictures to the filthy arena.
      I looked up, staring out at the decaying place. "It is beautiful."
      Nicole snorted. "It's a wreck. And an eyesore. And a dangerous liability for the city."
      "God, you sound just like your dad." Her father was on the town council.
      "Well, get all your pictures now," she said, shrugging.
      "Next month this place will be splinters."
      I grabbed the camera from her and clutched it to my chest. "What?"
      "The council voted on it a few weeks ago. They're worried about getting slapped with a lawsuit the city can't afford. This place is no man's land. The original owners declared bankruptcy and walked away. Some kid died here, don't you remember?"
      "What happened," I whispered. A chill walked its way up my spine and I looked up, certain I was being watched.
      "Well it was five or six years ago. Just before they closed the place. They say it was a park employee who snuck in after hours. He fell into the log flume pool and drowned. Probably drunk or high. There was a big investigation and they cited the owners for all sorts of safety violations." Nicole shrugged. "That's why they canceled our 6th grade class trip here."
      That I did remember. I wasn't going to go, but Thomas was pissed as hell. "Do you remember who it was?" My throat was so tight I could barely get the words out.
      She shook her head. "Some high school kid from Chicago."
      A bitter wind kicked up dirt and scattered the litter at my feet. I shivered, looking for Marco, not sure what frightened me more--seeing him or just seeing the dust scattering the early morning light.
      "Come on, you ready to go?"
      I took the camera off idiot mode and started playing with the f-stop and shutter speed settings. "Why don't you head out? I'm going to be a while." I kept my voice as casual as I could. There wasn't any way I was going to leave now. Not until I could talk to Marco again. I didn't know how the whole ghost thing worked, but you couldn't haunt a place that didn't exist, right? If Thomas was here somewhere, I needed to find out. Marco was my only lead.
      "You sure you're okay?"
      I tossed her my pack. "Go ahead. Look inside. Portable meter, juice, food. I'm all set. No crisis today. Promise."
      "Pinky swear?"
      I smiled and nodded. She set the pack down without opening it.
      "Call me if you need anything, okay?"
      "Deal." My hands were twitchy on the camera. The icy breeze sliced through my thin jacket, but I wasn't going to give Nicole any reason to stay and try to convince me to leave. I had to be here today and I had to be alone.


  1. The intensity of your writing is escalating, almost unbearably. This is the middle of a page-turner -- almost agony to read with no page to turn.

  2. Wow. Thank you. I can't express how much your comment means to me, especially since this past year has been such a struggle to get words on the page. You have given me a gift to treasure.