I’ve been talking about how stressful editing my own book has been, so I want to put a little preview here. Here’s Chapter One to my book (still editing!), Noca: Wake of Ending Dreams. And no, I won’t be self-publishing (if I can help it).
“Lucy, you’re going to love it.”
The woman in the front seat of the old Sedan glanced back at her daughter, whose arms were firmly crossed. The driver shifted uneasily and mumbled under his breath as he slowed behind the red lights of the car in front – the red lights were getting more frequent.
Lucy looked out the window and watched the skyscrapers awaiting them in the city her father had been reassigned. She’d frowned at the prospects of this occurrence since the day she’d learned about it. She had never wanted to move and she saw no reason why they had to; her father had a decent job back home.
It’s for the best, she could still remember them repeating. She felt the coarseness in her throat as she tried to mouth the arguments she had said – yelled – to try to stop this from ever happening. She felt her blood rushing up her face, and she blinked away the moisture beginning to form. She had grown tired of crying.
Shrinking back her nose, she looked down to her lap. There she saw the black and white striped fur-skinned notebook softly resting under her hands. She held the cover, feeling the soft outline of the stripes it bore, and opened it. Only one page had been written down so far; she ran her hand down the etchings of the words on the rough parchment. Lucy recognized the handwriting of her best friend, Rebecca, who had given her the notebook right before she left home.
It felt so long ago.
She eyed the people walking along the sidewalks as they slowly drove deeper into the sea of brick and granite. They were strange and varied; she’d never seen so many people all at once before – and yet this didn’t seem to bother any of those she saw.
They must be used to it? I don’t know. They’d bump into one another and ignore it completely, even if a bit of the drink they carried had spilled or if a foot had been stepped on.
The car stopped abruptly, causing the notebook in Lucy’s lap to quickly slide off before she had a chance to reach at it. Lucy heard her father curse – he seemed to be cursing much more lately.
“Damn it! Did you see what he did to me? Maud, did you see that mad man? If he’d pulled a stunt like that without you guys here I would’ve WRUNG his neck.” Her father banged his fists on the horn as the taxi in front of them pulled out of the U-turn he had just committed, driving away briskly. Her father let go of the horn and mumbled to himself again as he continued the sluggish drive.
“Richard, are we almost there? Do you want me to look at the map again?” Lucy’s mother seemed upset. She didn’t enjoy seeing her husband so annoyed. They had been driving around blocks of buildings that all looked alike for half an hour, and his temper wouldn’t last much longer.
Lucy broke herself from the argument about to happen. She looked out the window with her hands clutched tightly around the notebook and examined the people carefully. The first man Lucy observed had a small white cap in the middle of his head. He wore something she thought could be nothing other than a black dress for men. He had a dark beard that hung down to his elbows and his nose seemed crooked. Lucy recognized then that he must be Jewish.
Lucy straightened herself, squaring her shoulders that had been hunched over and blinking a few more times than needed. She felt silly for not recognizing what the man was right away, and reminded herself that she couldn’t let such stupid mistakes become common in a city like this.
In a city like this. She longed for the open fields and tall grass that she was accustomed to. She had known this day would come and that she would have to accept it, but that didn’t make it any less difficult.
Lucy had never lived anywhere other than home for sixteen years. She knew nothing of the world outside her town other than what she read in books and saw on television. She had only left the country town once for winter vacation many years ago, to her uncle’s house up north.
There she felt snow for the first time… she recalled its softness when she rubbed it between her gloved fingers, and she remembered the sudden pain that caused her to fall forward into the sharp ice. It felt like someone had whipped a baseball bat to the back of her neck – a cold, wet baseball bat. Lucy remembered looking back and seeing a boy outlined by the gray light behind him, laughing with an arm outstretched to her…
She shifted her eyes from left to right as she tore away from the Jewish man, as he nearly bumped into another who was equally alien to Lucy’s mind. He wore a dark hoodie, with the hood tightened over his head. He kept his head down and never seemed to move to either side; he just kept walking forward regardless of the people coming his way.
Lucy peered at him curiously, half-amazed at the even gait he sustained while walking through the crowd. Lucy tightened her gaze with every step, and she recoiled suddenly as if she had been struck herself. No one else seemed to notice him as he walked right through a tall man in a suit who was talking on his phone. As if he wasn’t even there.
She motioned closer to the window, her nose and the tips of her fingers white as they pressed the glass desperately. She wished to escape the car and run to the boy; for no other reason than to touch him – she wasn’t sure if he was even real.
Lucy looked at his hands and gasped – her mother’s eyes whisked to her for a moment, and quickly turned back. The boy’s hands were burrowed deep in his sweater, but from them emitted a bright light – they glowed. She had only seen it for a moment when the boy passed at a parallel angle. The boy continued walking, and Lucy could see nothing other than the back of his hoodie. He disappeared into the crowd.
Lucy sighed, realizing it was probably just the light playing tricks, and reminded herself once more to stop being so silly. Her fingers stretched over the notebook to assure herself it was still there, and she straightened herself once again. Her mother and father had stopped their bickering, and she wondered how long it had taken them to agree to disagree.