Winter Prayers – another old original story

Winter Prayers

By Ais

        When Jessica was seven, her father walked out of the house and never returned.

        She stood by the door, her hands pressed against the cold glass, her breath fogging her view of that large world beyond. She was certain that if she waited long enough, if she looked hard enough, if she was a good enough little girl… He would be there. She longed to see his tattered brown briefcase, his work-worn smile. She wanted to see him wave again, like he used to, with just the slightest of twitches in his upraised hand and a sparkle in his eyes she could see even across the lawn.

        She wanted to hear him laugh.

        She wanted to see him smile so kindly at her when she asked him why the world existed as it did. She wanted to see him again, hug him again, cry on his shoulder again…

        But no matter how long she waited, no matter how many years passed, her father never returned.

        She watched for him still, her faith as strong as a disbeliever turned religious. She knew that she just wasn’t looking hard enough. Her father was down that street, inside that café, across that stadium… Everywhere she was, her father was. He was waiting for her to find him.

        He was waiting, for her.

*        *        *        *

        “Jess…” his voice struggled to free itself from his throat but came out as a groan. “Jess…” The second time was barely better.

        She stood by the window, staring out at the postcard lawn with its twinkling snow and feathers of bunny prints. The wind was soft, but still it found the strength to howl quietly against their house. She could feel the impact of the air against the windowpane, struggling to claw its way inside and turn her body as cold as her heart felt right at that moment.

        No one.

        No one was down the street, and no one had been for three hours.

        No one.

        “Jess…”

        She needed him. Why wasn’t he there? She loved her father and he left. She wanted him back. It wasn’t fair… It wasn’t fair…

        “Jess, just… give it up…” Rowan groaned into his pillow.

        For six years he had been with Jessica. Every morning on the anniversary of her father’s disappearance, she waited five hours instead of the normal two, and she looked four times as hard when she went into the city.

        He had tried to tell her he wasn’t coming back.

        Everyone had.

        But Jessica refused to listen. She told them she was her daddy’s girl. She told them he loved her. She told them they could never understand what it was like every night…

        “He always rocked me to sleep and read me stories. He kissed me goodnight when I got afraid during the night…” Her broken whisper was barely louder than the muted wind from outside, but the way her voice cracked and trembled under the power of her words betrayed her intense need. The litany fell from her lips like it did every year, and like always she waited for her prayer to be answered.

        Every year she stood there.

        Every year…

        Religiously.

        Rowan shifted on the bed, his body so comfortingly encased in cozy blankets and fluffy pillows that he didn’t want to leave. Already he could feel the chill of the air against his bare arms, the way the cold from outside seeped through their shoddy window and pressed frost-laden kisses against his exposed skin. His face always felt the coldest in the morning, especially around his right eye.

        But that was the way it had been for years, ever since that accident…

*        *        *        *

        It was during the same year that Jessica’s father left her when nine-year-old Rowan was walking through city alone. No one remembered why no one was there with him, just that he was alone with nobody to hold his hand and lead him through the streets. The sky was dark, Rowan says, but many claim it was the middle of the day. Rowan says it was raining and he was cold, so cold, but others think it was so sunny that they recall being burned. Rowan says he was on 12th street but others protest it was 11th.

        The story changed each year, individual by individual, detail by detail, until the tale of Rowan’s accident became nothing more than a gossiped half-truth of a time long ago and a boy now long dead.

        Rowan refused to acknowledge the others with his story, for he was certain he was right. Much like how Jessica insisted her father would return seventeen years later, Rowan knew he was right and everyone else was mistaken.

        So it was on 12th Street at night in the cold, hard rain when nine-year-old Rowan was walking down the street alone. He was humming a tune he liked very much. He was forgetting the words and inserting his own. He was singing off-key and listening to his echoing footsteps and the voices reaching back to him from alleyways as he passed.

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Julian Files, excerpt 9: Cedrick, Boyd, and the great ice cream debate

I know I keep doing a lot of excerpts for Julian Files–sorry. Hopefully there will be some new material you haven’t read yet when it’s finally finished ^^;

But the thing is, I love writing Cedrick with Boyd. He messed with that kid so much sometimes 😄 It amuses me to imagine. Another excerpt is below, in which Cedrick and Boyd basically fuck with each other because they’re both stubborn dorks.

As always, unedited and possibly will change in the final book.

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Julian Files, excerpt 8: stories

Another random excerpt. I don’t think I’ve shared this one before, but I’m not sure. Sharing now because I like the lines in the last paragraph.


 

Cedrick always found himself wondering what the story was of people he saw. He built fables in his mind; sometimes dramatic, sometimes heartbreakingly not.

To these strangers, he built a story:

The young man was named Max. He had always tried to find love in the girlfriends he had in high school, but it never worked out. Something was missing. In his first year of college, he met Trevor. They became best friends and Max had never been happier. They spent all their free time out of class together, and sometimes even skipped class to go on suddenly devised adventures. Max’s favorite thing to do was to go urban exploring, and Trevor had decided to go with him last night. They were looking for ghosts, which was particularly alarming for Trevor who refused to acknowledge just how afraid he was of the supernatural. They visited the old, abandoned hospital in Carson City; rumored to have housed the worst psychiatric patients the state had seen in decades.

Cedrick had visited the hospital once, and even as someone who was fascinated by mysteries and the supernatural, he had found it to be unbearable. The air had felt suffocating; metallic, as the taste of blood. The shadows had seemed so much darker, an umber hue on the edges but fading so quickly to pitch black it was akin to sharp drops in the sea floor.

That was how it had felt to Trevor, when he’d gone: the cold flutter of air on his skin like skeletal fingers dancing across his back; the creaks of the old building settling like the cracking groan of bones grinding against one another; the piercing silence as the pause right before Death drew in a rattling, endless breath. Trevor’s heart had been a drumline in his chest; tripping over beats and melodies but staying enough of a tune to keep him alive.

Julian Files, excerpt 7: Vivienne POV

This Julian Files excerpt has Vivienne POV. Again, it’s unedited and some things may change, but I can’t remember if I ever released anything with Viv that showed a bit of what her childhood was like. I know she mentioned it in Fade but I don’t think she gave many details because, to her, the details are unimportant.

What’s interesting to me is as I’ve been writing Julian Files, especially Cedrick POV, I’ve realized the parallels between Vivienne/Cedrick and Hsin/Boyd, particularly the slight parallels between Viv and Hsin, and the way Cedrick and Boyd viewed their respective partner. Those parallels had existed before but I’d never thought about it to any extent to realize they were there.

Anyway, there will be more on Vivienne’s life in Domino, but here’s a glimpse.

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Julian Files, excerpt 6

Here’s another Julian Files excerpt, just because. Unedited, and I might change parts of it later. I just felt like sharing this piece.


 

“Who raised this mannerless heathen?”

“Mrs. Beaulieu! I must ask you to be more understanding.” Ms. Callaway dropped her voice and leaned in, her eyes catching and holding Vivienne’s. “His mother passed away from the lung sickness just over a month ago.”

Vivienne stared.

Ms. Callaway grimaced and nodded. “So, as I’m sure you understand, this is a transitional time for young Austin.”

“I do not.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I do not understand. I am waiting for a reasonable explanation as to why you have deemed it appropriate to encourage his behavior.”

“Mrs. Beaulieu, his mother–“

“When I was not much older than he is, I lost both my parents in an unexpected act of violence. I did not use it as an excuse to abuse others, nor did I willfully put their safety in danger for my own amusement. If his sole excuse for harassing my son is a death he saw coming for months, then it is an exceedingly poor one.”

Ms. Callaway gaped at Vivienne, which only served to further irritate her. Everyone in this city was wholly incompetent. Rather than waste further brain cells attempting to explain to an imbecile why it was shortsighted and idiotic to let a kid who’d lost a parent get away with near murder, she stood. She grabbed Boyd on the shoulder and turned him toward the door.

“Enough. We will leave now. I expect you to look into further complaints or I will be forced to take this to the school board. The fact that you are incapable of doing your job correctly should not be reflective on my son’s ability to learn.”

Ms. Callaway’s entire face tightened. Good.

 

NaNo 2014: Julian Files, Excerpt(s) 5: a study in Beaulieus

nano2014cert

I hit 50,000 words early this month! First time that’s ever happened! I still have a long way to go before Julian Files as a book is finished but I mentioned earlier maybe I’d do an excerpt from Julian Files in celebration.

Well, I decided–why just one? Why not three? Because overkill! 😀

So here are a few excerpts below, from different parts. NO EDITING HAS BEEN DONE so it’s probably all levels of bad with lots of repetition but you can still get an idea from it. I tried to pull from a range of moods so it wasn’t all the same thing. This is sort of like a glimpse at the different ways the Beaulieus interacted with each other. I’m starting with the sad one first but then it’s better I swear!

ALSO, not in these excerpts but in the book there are a number of cameos– and one is someone you know very well from ICoS. Just sayin’.

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NaNo 2014: Julian Files, excerpt 4 || NaNo Day 11: 35,481 words

There isn’t much reason for this; I just randomly felt like sharing another excerpt.


 

Driving down the dusty street, with the broken windows and the empty plant holders, Julian saw the merit in staying cautious. If whoever had his brother really did have guns, then Cedrick and Julian were walking into a gunfight without even a knife. Julian had a taser, true, and he would use it if needed. But if there was more than one person armed and dangerous, a taser was about as useful as a piece of paper telling them to be nice and pretty please just hold off on attacking until he was finished with the first.

Although, the mental image of that was almost enough to want to try it one time, just to see what sort of faces he’d pull out of his adversary.

The street began to bend strangely, digging into space that otherwise would have been left untended, and with it the houses came perilously close to the tracks. It was at the apex of the curve that they saw it.

“There!”

Julian hardly heard Cedrick. All he saw was the house.

Pale green, with scalloped accents in white and blue and shades of purple. A porch that had been white picket at some point but now was as peeled and grey as a rotting vegetable. Lights that were long burned out, guttered and broken in shards that sliced the sun’s rays into pinpricks of white. That was the impression he had of the house; lost shades of white fading into greys and blacks and shadows, and hues that bled out like oversaturated watercolor.

It was just as he remembered the Greenes’ house, but with more time gone by to settle ghosts into its bones and sighs into its creaks.

He wondered what they would find inside.