Minus One… finally

Marriage Cert

There’s always that one piece of unfinished writing which haunts a writer.

This is mine.

My 2014 NaNoWriMo project, Plus One.

It was my first time taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, and I got off to an amazing start. But as an uninformed pantser, I had no idea what I’d set myself up for.

Words flowed as my word count surpassed two-thousand daily. However, as I neared the 40K mark, I ran out of words. And ideas. And energy. All I had was the sound of crickets buzzing in my head. My total word count for the next eleven days was 547 words! I was so disgusted, after November ended, I couldn’t finish or revise it.

The experience taught me even a pantser can benefit from a bit of prep work, and I’ve had no problem finishing NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo ever since.

But there’s still this one. Sitting on my hard drive… mocking me.

I try to pull it out once a week and work on it. I went back to the beginning and created an outline, character sketches, and plot points. I will complete and publish it sooner than later. I have to. It’s a moral imperative. 😀

~~~~~~~~~~

Perri Norton was exhausted.

Her joints throbbed with each step. Beads of sweat ran down her back as she approached the parking garage. She should never have come alone. She should have told someone, and asked them to come with her. Three blocks were a breeze for a healthy person, but for someone dealing with multiple chronic illnesses like her, they may as well have been a marathon.

It had been much easier making the short walk when she’d arrived three hours earlier. Now, not only was the sun high in the sky, Perri was certain Los Angeles would record a new high temperature for this mid-August day. Combined with the slight incline back to the parking garage, Perri knew she could trigger a flare-up which would leave her immobile for days. She said a silent prayer as she reached her Lexus LX SUV.

Giving her car remote a click, she opened the rear driver-side door. A blast of heat hit her in the face, taking her breath away. The car’s interior was stifling. Another quick click started the car, and Perri was grateful she remembered to leave the air conditioning settings on high.

Setting her bag on the back seat, Perri removed her linen blazer, grabbed her cell phone from the pocket and the manila folder from the side of the bag. She laid the blazer over the bag and closed the door to give the car time to cool off.

She turned and looked out at the Los Angeles skyline. Thick, brown smog hung over the city like a blanket. Perri could not wait to get back to the less oppressive environs of Brentwood. She loved the frenzied, cacophonous atmosphere of the shopping district, but it was humid, smoggy days like this that reminded her why she moved away.

Her lips curved into a faint smile as she glanced at the Los Angeles Court House. The few hours she had spent there, and the exhausting walk back to her car was a small price to pay for what the folder held inside. She opened the car door and stuck her head inside. Satisfied with the cooler temperature, Perri slid into the driver’s seat and closed the door. A sense of euphoria washed over her as she stared at the folder. She opened it, removed the formal document and read the bold heading.

FINAL JUDGEMENT FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE,”

It was over. Leaning back against the seat, Perri ran her fingers over the paper. No more pretending.

No more phony smiles or empty promises.

No more sad, pitiful looks from family and friends.

No more dreaming of the day when her farce of a marriage would end. Today was that day.

She knew she should feel remorse or regret, but Perri had to stop herself from laughing out loud. She was giddy… happy, and she wanted to celebrate.

Sobering, Perri realized again no one knew where she was. It was no secret she had filed for divorce. The week after Marlena’s eighteenth birthday party, Perri hosted another small dinner party and made her announcement during the first course. No one was surprised. Most were relieved and applauded her decision to dump Parker. Her children were ecstatic. There was no love lost between them and their father.

But no one knew today was the official end to the Norton marriage.

However, they all knew Parker well enough to know he would never just agree to a divorce, and he had not made it easy for her. But as Perri prevailed and walked away, she still had the hope of a reconciliation between Parker and their children… children who had long ago reconciled their feelings for the father who all but ignored them.

Had the twins, Daniel and Ethan, had their way, she would have sought a divorce seven years ago. The young men had the misfortune to witness firsthand their father’s adulterous ways and wanted their mother as far away from him as possible. Having grown up in a household ripped apart by the ugliness of divorce, Perri assured her two oldest children that evening she knew of their father’s after work “activities”, and she could handle it for the time being.

A few short months away from their twenty-first birthday, and less than a year away from their college graduation, Perri’s boys argued that she should at least start the proceedings and they would return after finishing school to help with their two younger siblings. She remembered the pride she’d felt seeing the seriousness in their faces. Perri wasn’t in the habit of explaining herself to anyone, but her children were the life’s blood that kept her going. It had taken most of the evening, but her boys understood and had promised not to confront their father. Ethan was even complimentary on her way of thinking, saying he almost felt sorry for anyone who was silly enough to underestimate her.

Underestimate.

The word brought Margaret Gower Bradford front and center to Perri’s mind. The unsympathetic family matriarch was adamant Perri caused all her own problems. From her straying husband to her chronic health issues. If Perri had done enough, given enough, been enough… none of her problems would exist. Margaret didn’t even see them as problems, but more like Perri’s issues. She had cautioned Perri to not even consider divorce. Marriage was forever in the eyes of God. This sentiment from a woman who had been divorced for forty years, refused to remarry, and still found a reason to fight with Maynard Bradford anytime they were in the same zip code.

No, Perri would not be calling her mother anytime soon.

She thought about her small, close group of friends — or the “old broads” as she liked to refer to them. They hated that label. Tory, Sara, Connie and Valerie were always the cause of Perri’s fits of hysterical laughter. None of the women had an OFF button. No subject was sacred and anyone with a pulse was fair game for their biting, caustic remarks. She picked up her phone and dialed Tory’s number, but hit End instead of Call. A celebration with the girls would involve a long evening with way too much alcohol. Better to save that party for the weekend. She’d call them all later and set it up.

Glancing down at the court documents again, Perri knew there was only one person she wanted to call. The only person who knew all she had gone through and understood. The only person who was always there giving her unconditional friendship and emotional support. Her fingers hovered over his name on her contact list. She hadn’t told him about this morning’s court date. He would be upset. He would have offered to come with her.

Perri dropped the phone on the seat. She would not tell him over the phone, but he would be the first one she told. After all the years he’d held her together when she thought she was at the end of her rope, she owed Grayson that much.

Easing the car into the flow of mid-day L.A. traffic, Perri focused on the task at hand… surviving the drive home. No one could maneuver the crush of downtown traffic or its many surrounding freeways unless they were a bit unbalanced, and she fit right in for sure today. Perri couldn’t name the light, bouncy, but apprehensive feelings that buzzed just under her skin. It didn’t matter. She liked it. She liked it a lot.

She felt reborn.

©2014 Copyright Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Hypocrite


Stapler

A scene from an ongoing (never-ending!) WIP. Quinn Landon can’t get a break! Determined to divorce the adulterous Oscar Landon, she can find no respite from her family’s judgment and harassment. Quinn draws a line in the sand when older brother, Aaron Clark, shows up at her job.

Aaron held out his hands in front of him. “Quinn, be reasonable. Just because a man has a little fling or two on the side, it does not mean he doesn’t love his wife.”

She froze, willing herself to not throw the stapler on her desk at her brother.

“What does it mean, Aaron?”

Caught off his guard, Aaron scrubbed his hand down his face, “It just a guy-thing, Quinn. Not a big deal.”

Quinn dropped the stack of files she was holding and leaned across her desk.

“What about you, Aaron? Is it just a guy thing for you too?”

Aaron Clark folded his arms across his broad chest again and returned her glare. “This isn’t about me.”

In the span of seconds, Quinn saw the truth in his eyes.

She was crushed.

Quinn covered her gaping mouth with her hand, shaking her head. She stood and walked over to her office windows still reeling from her brother’s non-admission.

Tears formed in the corners of Quinn Landon’s eyes. No. She would not cry. Enough tears were already shed over a situation that didn’t deserve them. Quinn looked over her shoulder at Aaron.

“This isn’t about Oscar’s infidelity, is it? This isn’t about his betrayal of our marriage, or my… what did you call it? Inability to be reasonable?”

She turned and fully faced him.

“This is about male privilege. Guys just being guys, right? Who else, Aaron? Who else gives lip service to their marriage vows? Junior? Clinton? Daddy?”

“Now, sis. If you’d just calm down and think-”

“Oh, I’m calm, Aaron. Probably calmer than I’ve been in the last five years. I’m glad you came here today, Aaron. You’ve given me not only true clarity, but the resolve to follow my heart and my mind. Now, get out.”

“Quinn-”

“I said get out. And Aaron… never come here again. If you do, I’ll have you removed by security.”

“Quinn! Listen to what you’re saying! We’re family, for god’s sakes!”

“We’re siblings, Aaron. Something we had no say about. But family?”

Quinn returned to her desk and sat in her chair. With a small, bittersweet smile, she continued.

“Family is always there for you. They support you, lift you up and cheer you on. They love you unconditionally. My family doesn’t do that for me. When I think about it, the Clark family abandoned me and supported Oscar even before we were married.”

“But it all makes sense now. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. No one was shocked and appalled when I found out about Oscar’s first affair. It was me everyone told to calm down. It was me who was told to not do anything hasty… to think things through.”

The small smile faded from her lips.

“It was me who was shamed because I wanted to end my marriage. All because my family doesn’t see adultery as wrong… for men. They rant and rave about the sanctity of marriage and how it’s ordained by God, and is forever. But adultery… it’s just a little thing. A minor detail. Forget that it’s listed in the Bible as a reason for divorce, or on God’s top ten list. No… no. Men are entitled to a little tail on the side every now and then. God’s a guy, he understands, right?”

“Quinn, you’re-”

“How would you feel if Vanessa had an affair? Or two? Three? How many have you had, Aaron?”

“Vanessa would never-”

“Hypocrite!”

“I take care good care of my wife. I’ve given her everything she’s ever wan-”

Quinn bolted from her seat.

“Except honesty and fidelity!”

“I’ve always been honest with Vanessa.”

“Oh! Well, that’s different. If you tell her up front you’re a lying, cheating asshole, it’s okay.”

“Quinn-”

“I believe you were leaving.”

“Quinn-”

“Goodbye… brother.”

“This isn’t over, Quinn Avery.”

“Yes, Aaron. For me, it is.”

He held her gaze as he backed toward the door.

“No, it isn’t. If you go through with this divorce, you’ll pay a steep price you’ll never recover from.” Aaron left, leaving her office door open.

Stunned, Quinn stood there, her mind replaying her brother’s words.

“… you’ll pay a steep price you’ll never recover from.”

What the hell?

 

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Hypocrite


Stapler

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 27
A scene from an ongoing (never-ending!) WIP. Quinn Landon can’t get a break! Determined to divorce the adulterous Oscar Landon, she can find no respite from her family’s judgment and harassment. Quinn draws a line in the sand when older brother, Aaron Clark, shows up at her job.

Aaron held out his hands in front of him. “Quinn, be reasonable. Just because a man has a little fling or two on the side, it does not mean he doesn’t love his wife.”

She froze, willing herself to not throw the stapler on her desk at her brother.

“What does it mean, Aaron?”

Caught off his guard, Aaron scrubbed his hand down his face, “It just a guy-thing, Quinn. Not a big deal.”

Quinn dropped the stack of files she was holding and leaned across her desk.

“What about you, Aaron? Is it just a guy thing for you too?”

Aaron Clark folded his arms across his broad chest again and returned her glare. “This isn’t about me.”

In the span of seconds, Quinn saw the truth in his eyes.

She was crushed.

Quinn covered her gaping mouth with her hand, shaking her head. She stood and walked over to her office windows still reeling from her brother’s non-admission.

Tears formed in the corners of Quinn Landon’s eyes. No. She would not cry. Enough tears were already shed over a situation that didn’t deserve them. Quinn looked over her shoulder at Aaron.

“This isn’t about Oscar’s infidelity, is it? This isn’t about his betrayal of our marriage, or my… what did you call it? Inability to be reasonable?”

She turned and fully faced him.

“This is about male privilege. Guys just being guys, right? Who else, Aaron? Who else gives lip service to their marriage vows? Junior? Clinton? Daddy?”

“Now, sis. If you’d just calm down and think-”

“Oh, I’m calm, Aaron. Probably calmer than I’ve been in the last five years. I’m glad you came here today, Aaron. You’ve given me not only true clarity, but the resolve to follow my heart and my mind. Now, get out.”

“Quinn-”

“I said get out. And Aaron… never come here again. If you do, I’ll have you removed by security.”

“Quinn! Listen to what you’re saying! We’re family, for god’s sakes!”

“We’re siblings, Aaron. Something we had no say about. But family?”

Quinn returned to her desk and sat in her chair. With a small, bittersweet smile, she continued.

“Family is always there for you. They support you, lift you up and cheer you on. They love you unconditionally. My family doesn’t do that for me. When I think about it, the Clark family abandoned me and supported Oscar even before we were married.”

“But it all makes sense now. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. No one was shocked and appalled when I found out about Oscar’s first affair. It was me everyone told to calm down. It was me who was told to not do anything hasty… to think things through.”

The small smile faded from her lips.

“It was me who was shamed because I wanted to end my marriage. All because my family doesn’t see adultery as wrong… for men. They rant and rave about the sanctity of marriage and how it’s ordained by God, and is forever. But adultery… it’s just a little thing. A minor detail. Forget that it’s listed in the Bible as a reason for divorce, or on God’s top ten list. No… no. Men are entitled to a little tail on the side every now and then. God’s a guy, he understands, right?”

“Quinn, you’re-”

“How would you feel if Vanessa had an affair? Or two? Three? How many have you had, Aaron?”

“Vanessa would never-”

“Hypocrite!”

“I take care good care of my wife. I’ve given her everything she’s ever wan-”

Quinn bolted from her seat.

“Except honesty and fidelity!”

“I’ve always been honest with Vanessa.”

“Oh! Well, that’s different. If you tell her up front you’re a lying, cheating asshole, it’s okay.”

“Quinn-”

“I believe you were leaving.”

“Quinn-”

“Goodbye… brother.”

“This isn’t over, Quinn Avery.”

“Yes, Aaron. For me, it is.”

He held her gaze as he backed toward the door.

“No, it isn’t. If you go through with this divorce, you’ll pay a steep price you’ll never recover from.” Aaron left, leaving her office door open.

Stunned, Quinn stood there, her mind replaying her brother’s words.

“… you’ll pay a steep price you’ll never recover from.”

What the hell?

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

The First Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

A Writer's Path

by Lynne Stringer

You may not know it but there are rules for writing a modern novel. Now, every good rule needs to be broken at some point but is it a good idea to say that all rules should be ignored because writing is a creative exercise?

I don’t think so but I think there are times and places for them and so I’m going to tackle each one in turn. Here’s the first:

View original post 387 more words

Minus One

Marriage Cert

Week 16 – 52 Week Writing Challenge

Perri Norton was exhausted. Her joints throbbed with each step. Beads of sweat ran down her back as she approached the parking garage. She should never have come alone. Perri should have told someone. She should have asked someone to come with her. Three blocks were a breeze for a healthy person, but for someone dealing with multiple chronic illnesses like Perri Norton, they may as well have been a mile.

It had been much easier to make the short walk when she’d arrived three hours earlier. Now, not only was the sun high in the sky, Perri was certain Los Angeles would record a new high temperature for this mid-August day. Combined with the slight incline back to the parking garage, Perri knew she could trigger a flare up which would have her immobile for days. She said a silent prayer as she reached her Lexus LX SUV.

Giving her car remote a click, Perri opened the rear driver-side door. A blast of heat hit her in the face, taking her breath away. The car’s interior was stifling. Another quick click started the car, and Perri was grateful she had remembered to leave the air conditioning settings on high. Sitting her bag on the back seat, Perri removed her linen blazer, grabbed her cell phone from the pocket, the manila folder from the side of her bag, and laid the blazer over the bag. Closing the door to give the car time to cool off, she turned and looked out at the Los Angeles skyline. Thick, brown smog hung over the city like a blanket. Perri could not wait to get back to the less oppressive environs of Brentwood. She loved the frenzied, cacophonous atmosphere of the shopping district, but it was humid, smoggy days like this that reminded her of why she moved away.

Her lips curved into a faint smile as she glanced at the Los Angeles Court House. The few hours she had spent there, and the exhausting walk back to her car was a small price to pay for what the folder held inside. She opened the car door and stuck her head inside. Satisfied with the cooler temperature, Perri slid into the driver’s seat and closed the door. A sense of euphoria washed over her as she stared at the folder. She opened it, removed the formal document and read the bold heading.

FINAL JUDGEMENT FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE,”

It was over. Leaning back against the seat, Perri ran her fingers over the paper. No more pretending.

No more phony smiles or empty promises.

No more sad, pitiful looks from family and friends.

No more dreaming of the day when her farce of a marriage would end. Today was that day.

She knew she should feel remorse or regret, but Perri had to stop herself from laughing out loud. She was giddy… happy, and she wanted to celebrate.

Sobering, Perri realized again no one knew where she was. It was no secret she had filed for divorce. The week after Marlena’s eighteenth birthday party, Perri hosted a small dinner party and made her announcement during the first course. No one was surprised. Most were relieved and applauded her decision to dump Parker. Her children were ecstatic.

But no one knew today was the official end to the Norton marriage.

However, they all knew Parker well enough to know he would never just agree to a divorce, and he had not made it easy for her. But as Perri prevailed and walked away, she still had the hope of a reconciliation between Parker and their children… children who had long ago reconciled their feelings for the father who all but ignored them. Had the twins, Daniel and Ethan, had their way, she would have sought a divorce seven years ago. The young men had had the misfortune to witness firsthand their father’s adulterous ways and wanted their mother as far away from him as possible. Having grown up in a household ripped apart by the ugliness of divorce, Perri assured her two oldest children that evening she knew of their father’s after work “activities”, and she could handle it for the time being.

A few short months away from their twenty-first birthday, and less than a year away from their college graduation, Perri’s boys argued that she should at least start the proceedings and they would return after finishing school to help with their two younger siblings. She remembered the pride she’d felt seeing the seriousness in their faces. Perri wasn’t in the habit of explaining herself to anyone, but her children were the life’s blood that kept her going. It had taken most of the evening, but her boys understood and had promised not to confront their father. Ethan was even complimentary on her way of thinking, saying he almost felt sorry for anyone who was silly enough to underestimate her.

Underestimate. The word brought Margaret Gower Bradford front and center to Perri’s mind. The unsympathetic family matriarch was adamant Perri caused all her own problems. From her straying husband to her chronic health issues. If Perri had done enough, given enough, been enough, none of her problems would exist. Margaret didn’t even see them as problems, but more like Perri’s issues. She had cautioned Perri to not even consider divorce. Marriage was forever in the eyes of God. This sentiment from a woman who had been divorced for forty years, refused to remarry, and still found a reason to fight with Maynard Bradford anytime they were in the same zip code.

No, Perri would not be calling her mother anytime soon.

She thought about her small, close group of friends — or the “old broads” as she liked to refer to them. They hated that label. Tory, Sarah, Connie and Valerie were always the cause of Perri’s fits of hysterical laughter. None of the women had an OFF button. No subject was sacred and anyone with a pulse was fair game for their biting, caustic remarks. She picked up her phone and dialed Tory’s number, but hit End instead of Call. A celebration with the girls would involve a long evening with way too much alcohol. Better to save that party for the weekend. She’d call them all later and set it up.

Glancing down at the court documents again, Perri knew there was only one person she wanted to call. The only person who knew all she had gone through and understood. The only person who was always there giving her emotional support. Her fingers hovered over his name on her contact list. She hadn’t told him about this morning’s court date. He would be upset. He would have offered to go with her.

Perri dropped the phone onto the seat. She would not tell him over the phone, but he would be the first one she told. After all the years he’d held her together when she thought she was at the end of her rope, she owed Grayson that much.

Easing the car into the flow of mid-day L.A. traffic, Perri focused on the task at hand… surviving the drive home. No one could maneuver the crush of downtown traffic or its many surrounding freeways unless they were a bit unbalanced, and she fit right in for sure today. Perri couldn’t name the light, bouncy, but apprehensive feelings that buzzed just under her skin. It didn’t matter. She liked it. She liked it a lot.

She felt free.

©Copyright Felicia Denise 2017