Monday, February 13, 2012

Plugging away at the ghost story

The ghost story still has no name. I'm still calling it YAGSIP (Young Adult Ghost Story in Progress).  One of these days, maybe in the shower, maybe when I'm walking the dogs, the right name for this project will pop into my head. But for now, YAGSIP it is. :)

I've been floundering a bit, as I trudge through the middle of the story. This is nothing new.  Every story I've written grinds to a halt at this part of the arc.  It doesn't mean I like it, but I've made may peace with the process. 

I'll get through this and charge through to the end. That's how it works.  Even as I get frustrated by some aspects of storytelling, I am really enjoying writing this one.  The characters are complex and the stakes are high.  Here is a snippet from this week's work, through the POV of Marco, the ghost Tess finds at the abandoned amusement park. Tess is struggling to make sense of her brother Thomas' death.  Enjoy!

I drifted over to the building, watching her as she picked her way across the littered path. Dark smudges under her eyes gave her face a hallowed out, distant look. I was fascinated by the beat of her pulse at her neck and as fragile and wraith-like as she seemed, there was still a burning vitality to her. The living place such little value on what they have.
I looked away before she could catch me watching her, angry and ashamed at my helpless longing. My life was done and there was nothing I could do to change that, no matter how unfair its ending. Besides, that wasn't Tess' fault.
The crunch of glass beneath her feet pulled me from my self-pity.
"Lovely place you have here," Tess said, kicking at the shards of a broken bottle.
"Home, sweet home," I said, shrugging.
She stopped and looked at me, unwelcome pity in her eyes. "If you're not stuck here, why don't you go home?"
An image of my parent's house flashed through me. The living room that no one lived in. Not even dust was allowed to mar the perfect, creepy altar with my mother's precious collection of saints. No, this place, even crumbling to the ground and decayed was more my home that that place ever had been. There was a darkness that colored everything in their lives and it wasn't just the heavy curtains shutting out the sun from each room. Every moment I spent there, I struggled to keep it from smothering me.
I waited to answer until she turned to step over the threshold of the entryway. The door creaked shut behind her. "You wouldn't understand." It would take a few minutes for her eyes to adjust from the sunlight. I faded to the color of shadow, leaving her groping in the dark space.
"Try me," she said, looking at the space where I had just been. I didn't answer her. "Marco?"
It was petty of me, but I couldn't help it.
"Marco?" Her voice had a ring of panic to it. She put her arms out in front of her and walked into the center of the room, shuffling her feet to avoid walking into any surprises. In the darkness, her eyes glowed and silver shadows wreathed her slim form. It was like there was a ghost inhabiting her skin. A ghost I could see, but not sense.
"Here," I said, drifting over to the benches against the far wall and letting my outline glow. Hers faded and if I hadn't seen the field inside her with my own eyes, I would have believed I made it up.
"That wasn't funny." Her lips were pressed together in a tight line and her eyebrows slanted down over her staring eyes. She strode over to the first bench and sat down, putting her camera down and opening her pack. "I don't suppose you have a flashlight?"
I shrugged. I could do better than that. Her eyes widened as I glowed more strongly.
"Thank you." In the metallic light, she rummaged through her pack, pulling out a small handheld meter, two large pens and a pack of thin needles. I turned away in disgust. Alcohol and pot I could understand. But putting shit in your body with a needle?
"I hadn't pegged you as an addict. Vodka not enough for you?" But maybe that was part of it. Maybe that made her weak enough for the field to take advantage.
"Fuck you," she said, and slid one of the pens alongside her index finger. For some reason, I couldn't look away. A single pearl of bright red blood glowed as she squeezed her finger, letting it drop onto the meter.
"What the hell?"
"I'm a diabetic, you idiot." She stared up at me, daring me to say anything. "And I don't drink. Not ever. Alcohol is sugar. Sugar means more shots." I looked away from her face and down at the supplies she had organized on the bench beside her. The apparatus in her hand beeped once and she sighed. "I've been doing this since I was seven years old. It sucks and I'm tired of it. But I'm not stupid."
I watched her hands as she unwrapped a needle and twisted it onto the end of the other pen. She turned the barrel and tapped it a few times before lifting her shirt and pushing the needle through the pale skin of her stomach. I had never seen anyone stick themselves before. If I were still alive, I probably would have puked. "And I don't want to kill myself. Not like Thomas. So tell me," she said, staring me in the eyes as her thumb pressed the pen's trigger. "What the hell was I doing chugging from my mother's vodka collection?"

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