random novel chapter...

Fiction By Aisling // 8/7/2010

 (Here's a rough draft for a chapter from my new novel idea... Have fun!)

 

Mel’s old car choked, rumbling to a stop in a corner of the gravel parking lot. She pulled the key out, stopping a song mid-sentence on the radio; she hated that… She grabbed her wallet and paused on the way out to apply lipgloss and sigh over her hair—it was so uncooperative today… She slammed the visor mirror shut and got out.

     The world outside was hot and lazy and half-asleep. She hurried across to the welcome center, where the air-conditioning hit her like a tidal wave. She stopped at the back of the line, and it felt forever long. When she finally reached the ticket counter, she almost walked out. “Did you say $20.00?!”

     “Yes, ma’am. Weekend rate, 1 adult. $20.00.”

     Mel stifled a groan. What am I doing here?! But she had come too far. She handed over a $20.00 bill, snatched the ticket and map, and hurried out the far door into the village.

     Checking her map, she made her way down the lane through the quaint period houses to the far corner of the town square where the blacksmith’s shop was set up. It had been a long time since she was there last. There was a crowd of people in front, all pushing close to get a better view inside the smithy.

     Mel moved closer, but slowly, lingering on the fringe of the crowd. She hated crowds. Absently, she pulled a loose bobby pin out of her hair and shoved it back into place. She was thinking about being five years old and chasing a bunny into the woods, only to lose him and come to herself suddenly, remembering how frightened she was of being in there alone. She felt like that now, more than anything, and wondered why on earth she’d ever come.

      If only all these people would go away…But she laughed at herself, then, bitterly. Don’t be stupid; you’re the one to leave. You should never have come. She hesitated, clinging to the sound of the bellows’ heavy breathing and the hungry voice of fire on iron. What were you even thinking, Melisande? You could just waltz in here and bam! be alone with him? There’d be no one around? Midday on a Saturday? You’re insane.

     She turned to go, but only a step or two away she was arrested by the familiar sound of Jacob’s voice, singing an old song they both knew like the back of their hand. She could almost see him smile in the corner of his mouth as he sang… She stood still, listening. Just as he came to the end of his song, the church bell called out twelve noon.

     The hammer had stopped too, and for a moment the voice of the bell was the only sound. It echoed inside her and her heart beat loud in time with its rhythm. And then, in a slow, sporadic sort of trickle, pockets of the crowd began to move away. Mel waited where she stood under the tree just down the road, watching them leave. Maybe….

     She took one step back toward the smithy, and then another. By the time she reached it, everyone else had gone. Things were relatively quiet, now, except for the low crackle of the fire and the sound of Jacob’s feet shuffling across the dirty floor. Her heartbeat was the loudest sound in her ears. Slowly, she rounded the corner and looked in.

     Jacob stood almost with his back to her, hanging up a set of tools on the back wall. His arms were bared, his sleeves rolled up, the muscles tense. She could just see the back of his sweaty head, the hair curling on his neck and around his ears. She would have known the back of his head anywhere, but the sight of him, there in the smithy, looking so for real…she just sort of stood for a moment and stared.

     In the end, he turned to reach for something and saw her standing there watching him. He started. “Melisande.”

     Mel blinked, and smiled a little, feeling foolish. “Hey,” was all she managed to get out. She tried to read his expression, but all she could make out was surprise. She stood, awkwardly, waiting for him to say or do something. Somehow seeing him standing there like a blacksmith wasn’t helping her over her intimidation.

      “What are you doing here?” he asked, then.

     She was a little disgruntled. What am I doing here? she asked herself. “Well, I mean…obviously I came to pick wildflowers,” she said, her sarcasm obvious, almost sharp.

     He didn’t seem to mind; a grin spread over his serious face. “Really?” He stood, leaning back on his worktable, looking at her for a moment, and she couldn’t make out what he was thinking. Was he glad she’d come? Oh, please be glad…

     “Listen,” he said, then, “I know of a spot where you can find more wildflowers than you could hold. Let me show you?” It was a question.

     Mel was confused, but relief was settling in slowly. “Can you?” she asked him. “You’re working.”

     He nodded. “It’s my lunch break. Being a blacksmith kicks up a fierce appetite.” He grinned again. Good grief, but his grin was handsomer than ever today… “I have half an hour,” he told her. “Hungry?”

     Mel didn’t know what to say. “I…I didn’t bring anything…”

     “No worries.” He wiped his hands on his big leather apron, and then untied it and pulled it off. “Come on, let’s go.”  He grabbed a paper bag from under the bench, and rolled an old sheet up under his arm.

     As he hopped the fence in front of the smithy, Mel heard a noise behind her and turned to see a cluster of kids coming down the lane. Jacob saw them too. He jumped back into the smithy, and before Mel realized what was happening he had lifted her over after him and was pulling her through the shop and out a side door.

     Hurrying after him, she swallowed her surprise and tried to catch her breath. He started off down a narrow dirt lane, checking his long stride at last to let her fall into step beside him. The lane wrapped around the back corner of the smithy, crossed a small creek in the form of a makeshift plank bridge, and disappeared into the woods beyond.

     Jacob saw her hesitate as her feet met the bridge. “Don’t worry. If it can hold me it can hold you.” He took her hand, his confident stride putting her at ease. His eyes still had that breathless, smiling look, from their quick escape. Mel hadn’t seen it in awhile, and she was realizing all over again how much she’d missed him.

     “Watch yourself, here,” he was saying, slowing down. “There’s some pretty nasty pricker bushes. Here, you go first.” He had stepped a little to the side, and lifted the lowest hanging branch; he bent his shoulder beneath it, now, and held the bush off, making a hole just big enough for her to slip through.

     Mel was suddenly ten years old again, running with him through the woods behind his house, in the almost-dark, playing a game of capture the flag…and he stopped to put his body between her and the prickers so she could pass through. She hadn’t thought about that night in a long time, but it all came back to her now like it had been yesterday.

     She blinked it away and hurried past him. But something caught at her hair, and she stopped short. “Jacob, I’m stuck!”

     She felt his hands in her hair, gently untangling it from the pricker bush, and in a moment she was freed. She turned. “Thank you.”

     He was much closer to her than she’d realized—for half a second he was close enough to kiss her, and Mel’s heart stopped. But then he ducked away under a low-hanging branch, and pulled her after him. They stepped out through the trees into a little clearing. A small creek ran through a few feet away, and an old willow hung its delicate arms over the water and danced lazily in the breeze.

     “How did you ever find this place?” Mel asked.

     Jacob dropped his burden beneath the willow. “It found me, I think.”

     “It’s beautiful!”

     He nodded. “I thought of you, that day when I stumbled upon it first…”

     Mel looked up quickly, but he had half-turned and was laying the old sheet out under the tree. Suddenly, she realized what he was doing….the sheet, the lunch, this beautiful clearing…. How had she not seen it before? He was taking her on a picnic.  He wouldn’t be taking her on a picnic if he wasn’t glad she’d come…

     “Jacob…”

     He looked back at her. His gaze was heavy, searching, but she didn’t look away.

     “Thank you,” she told him, with a soft smile.

     He blinked, and pulled a hand through his hair in the old embarrassed way; it stood on end a little, still sweaty from his work in the shop. He shrugged, then, and started to unpack the contents of his old brown paper bag. “I just thought you’d like to see this…I’ve wanted you to ever since I found it, actually.But you know….you’ve been busy, and…well, we haven’t had that much time, to….to…”

      “Jacob…” Mel stood still where she had stopped, but her voice drew his eyes. “I’m sorry about that.”

     He wouldn’t say anything, but his eyes were questioning her.

     “I mean, I woke up this morning and realized that almost two months of summer are gone already, and…well, I still don’t feel like we’ve really reconnected.” She sighed. “That’s why I came. Before I know it, I’ll be back at school, and…” She trailed off, not knowing how to say what she really wanted to. More than anything, she wanted to tell him, I told Jonathan no.

     He cocked his head toward the sheet next to him. “Come sit.”

     She did, dropping down indian-style, glad now that she’d worn her plaid shorts instead of the skirt she had on first. She hoped he understood what she was trying to say; she thought he did.

     “Let’s pray,” he said, then, and he led grace. He let her make the sandwiches, though, since his hands were still hopelessly dirty. She took a strange, lovely delight in prepping the meal, simple as it was; it made her feel like such a woman.

     While they ate, they talked. He, about being a blacksmith on Saturdays, about the farm, about the random thoughts that came to him while he was out in the field haying with his dad and Liam. She liked that best of all. “I almost got hit square in the face with a hay bail, once,” he told her, “because I was so wrapped up in thinking about how many hundreds of years that field—that same field—has been giving my family hay…”

     Mel smiled at him.

     “No, but it’s crazy to think, isn’t it?”

     She nodded. She wouldn’t have told him—she couldn’t have—but the way Jacob’s mind wandered to deep, crazy thoughts was one of her favorite things about him.

     She told him about how much she loved being at home again, about the trip her parent’s went on, about working at Skyway. When she told him the story about the guy who’d asked for her number, something in the way he looked at her made her voice catch in her throat, and she moved on quickly to something else. She avoided any mention of Jonathan—but then she wondered if that wasn’t worse than if she had talked about him a little. She knew Jacob was thinking what she wasn’t saying out loud.

     When he stood up, it didn’t feel like it could possibly have been a half an hour’s time since they’d come. But Jacob said it was close, and he’d better be getting back.

     “What about all those wildflowers you promised me?” Mel asked him, suddenly remembering.

     “Oh. There’s a field just there,” he said, pointing down the creek. “More flowers than field grass, seems like. I’ll clean up—you go ahead and see.”

     Mel hurried off in the direction of his finger; it wouldn’t take him long to gather their things. She could see the field through the trees, glowing golden and a dozen other colors in the sunlight. It was beautiful. Daisies and chickory and queen’s anne’s lace made the place like an ocean of smiling color.

      Coming back, she met Jacob halfway with one hand clasped around as big a boquet as she could hold, and the other held up excitedly. “Look! I found blackberries!”

     His face echoed her smile. “You would.”

     She dropped half of them into his outstretched hand. “At least I can contribute dessert.”

     He threw them all into his mouth at once, just to see her shake her head at him. “Thanks.” He grinned. “Let’s go.”

     His grin stuck in Mel’s head the whole drive home. She rolled her window all the way down and stuck her arm out. Oh, God, don’t let it be too late… She wasn’t sure that her visit had answered any of her questions, but there was a smile inside her that had rekindled her failing hope. 

 

Comments

I. Demand. More. The only

I. Demand. More.

The only thing is that it's hay bale and not bail. That's it though. I LOVE!!

E | Sun, 08/08/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Wow! That was...

 Wow! That was really really good! I agree with Erin! This is so entertaining! Loved it! 

Madeline | Sun, 08/08/2010

I like this. You'd better

I like this. You'd better have more coming.

Tahlia Grant | Mon, 08/09/2010

Cool

I like it. The confusing thing was... Was this smithly place in like a atraction thing, I guess that would explane the ticket counter wouldn't it... I really like it! keep it up!

 

Write on!

Kassady | Tue, 08/10/2010

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

AWESOME!

Oh, 'Shling, why TORTURE us with only a random chapter?

Keep writing, lady! Your fans insist! <3

Sarah Bethany | Thu, 08/12/2010

This is actually incredibly

This is actually incredibly amazing.

Please ma'am, can I have some 'ore?

 

Sar | Sat, 08/14/2010

Your invited to Apricot Tarts

 Dear Aisling,

Your invited to http://apricottarts.webs.com Write on! Kassady

 

P.S. please invite as many APer's as you can!

Kassady | Mon, 10/18/2010

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

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