Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo Time!

Yes, it’s that lovely time of the year again when all (aspiring) writers spend a whole month sitting behind their laptops and computers, with a visible post-it explosion in the room and scribbled notes screaming for attention. Where food is a mere necessity and energy drinks are as important as oxygen. That’s right, I’m talking about NaNoWriMo! J
I remember reading an article on how to write a novel in three days and tried to picture it. The image invoked was one painted with stress and a lot of hair pulling. I cannot imagine writing a novel in three days because I know how long it takes if you want to do it right. Nonetheless, this is how my fascination began with how long it could take to write a novel. So I started with a month. I started with NaNoWriMo.
I’ll start by saying I did make it. I even finished a day early. While I studied at the University. And if I can do it, so can you. It’s just a matter of making it a habit. You get home from work or school and sit down and just write for the sake of writing. Keep going, even if you find out it’s rubbish later on. The first draft is about going with the flow, because that’s where the good stuff usually is. Perfecting it lies with the following drafts. A useful writing tool can be which makes you set a word goal and write those words in one sitting. Best. Invention. Ever. Next to the laptop. And food.
If you’re new at writing it can be quite daunting to even think about finishing a novel, but I highly recommend it. Just get those words on paper. Reread it later. The least you’ll be left is, is a handful of new ideas. At most, a novel. What do you have to lose? Except for sleep.
A little tip before you get started…I advise you to have some basic idea of where you are going. Even if it is just a clear idea of the characters or a general idea for the main plot. The rest you can figure out along the way. Hell, you might even change it along the way. Just write, reread and keep writing.
Good luck and most importantly; have fun! J

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upside Down

“Take that, you bastard,” Amy said out loud. She threw the last of Jay’s clothes out the window of her appartment. Not many clothes were lying around but she had searched for anything belonging to him. It was the only thing she could do to hurt him back.
            “Whatcha doing, there?”
            Amy turned around, her heart nearly jumping out of her chest. “You scared me,” she said.
            “And you are throwing stuff out the window,” Melanie replied. “We may be best friends but if I find anything of mine down there, I might have to kill you.”
            Despite everything, Amy managed a slight tug at the corner of her lips.
She looked at the floor and took a deep breath. “It’s Jay, he kind of – ” She shrugged.
            “What? What did he do?” Melanie took off her jacket and walked towards Amy.
            “He cheated on me.” As soon as the words escaped her lips she felt the tears well up in her amber eyes.
            “Oh, no.” Melanie hugged her tight and gently patted her back.
            “How could he do that to me?” Amy asked a bottle of wine later. They were sitting on the couch and were surrounded by tissues. 
            “Because he’s a man,” Melanie said.
            “Good point.” Amy took a sip of the glass of red wine Melanie had poured for them.
“So how did you find out he was cheating on you?”
            “I found a bra in my bed. It wasn’t mine.”
            Melanie gasped. “You’re kidding?”
            Amy shook her head. Apparently he took her back to my place, don’t know why. Probably closest to where he’d picked her up. I threw down the sheets as well. Might have to burn my matress.” She took a sip of her wine.
            “What will you do when he comes over and sees all his stuff on the ground?”
            “Won’t have to do anything, I put the bra on the doorknob, so he’ll know. Trust me, he won’t knock on the door if he knows what’s good for him.”
            And he did.
            The next day Amy woke up at noon with a slight hangover. She hauled herself out of bed and nearly tripped over her fuzzy slippers. Her blonde hair hung over her face like a veil. She blew some strands out of the way. “This is going to be a great day.”

            “This is the worst day, ever.” Melanie sighed and stared ahead while Emma and Norah ran around her chair with their jumping rope in their hands.
            “Children, it is bad to tie up your babysitter! Stop it!” Melanie shouted and tried to wriggle out of the rope. “I don’t get paid enough for this crap.”
            Emma and Norah stopped. “What does crap mean?” Norah asked.
            “It’s another word for…puppies. It means puppies.” Melanie took the distraction as an opportunity to wriggle her hand free. She took the rope from one of the girls and started pulling herself free.
            “Want to play hide and seek?” Norah, who was the eldest, asked.
            “We could, but I’m afraid I’d be too tempted to not look.”
            The girls looked at each other, puzzled.
            “Don’t worry, this kind of sarcasm is for teenagers only. You’ll get there.”
            At that moment the key in the lock of the frontdoor turned.
            “Yay, mummy and daddy are home,” Melanie said dryly.
            The kids rushed to greet them while Melanie grabbed her bag with her schoolbooks since she’d come straight from school. For some reason it felt extra heavy now.
            Mr and Mrs Briggs were wearing jeans and shirts that probably were for special occasions, such as date night, but were nowhere near special. Mr Briggs pants even had a hole in it. Luckily not in any awkward place.
Their clothing wasn’t a surprise, really. Mr Briggs was a funeral undertaker and Mrs Briggs taught sowing at different middle schools. No wonder they needed date nights.
            “There you go, Melanie,” Mr Briggs said. He handed her a ten pound note.
            “Thanks,” Melanie mumbled. She closed the door behind her, but not in time to miss the words: “Mummy, can we have a crap, please?”

 Melanie took the short way home, which meant she had to walk through poorly lit park that lead to the street they lived in. The air was cold even though it wasn’t winter yet. She zipped up her jacket and picked up the pace. She wanted to get home to Amy as soon as possibly. Who knew how she was taking her break up?
            A weird noise made Melanie turn around. She studied the path behind her, at least, she tried to. She took out her phone and used the light to see somewhat better. She turned back around and walked faster as before, occasionally turning around. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary so far. The leaves on the bushes and oak trees shivered ferociously as the wind swept through them.
            Melanie heard the noises again and stopped in her tracks. It almost sounded like a sort of crunching. She turned around, ready to hit the weird crunching person with her fist, only as soon as she turned around something flew in her face. She screamed and stumbled back and after a few seconds of making spastic movements, she gathered the courage to grab whatever awful thing was on her face.
It was a piece of paper.
            I have to remind myself to never ever become a police officer, she thought to herself.
            She was about to throw the paper away until she noticed what it said. It was an advert saying they looked for an experienced babysitter. Her hazel eyes sped back and forth over the paper, soaking in every word. Then she ran all the way home as if her life dependent on it. Although to Melanie, it kind of felt that way.
            “Amy! Amy!” she shouted as soon as she entered their appartment.
            Everything looked just as Melanie had left it this morning. The small kitchen was clean, the countertops still shining. A few glasses in the sink. The dark red couch with a few cushions on it and the coffee table had spread out magazines and a newspaper. No tissues, no wine, no empty chocolate wrappers.
            Melanie nodded with approval at the realisation that Amy was stronger than she’d thought.
            She opened Amy’s bedroom and nearly dropped the piece of paper.
            Her bed was filled with tissues, ripped up photos of the happy couple and an empty bucket of icecream. Amy sat behind her desk, her laptop in front of her, the screen blank. Her hair made it seem like Amy had been in a tornado and she was somewhat relieved that Amy’s back was turned towards her.
            “Well, now I feel sorry that I didn’t bring any birdseeds for the birds in your hair.”
            “Very funny,” Amy mumbled.
            “Have you been writing?”
            “Trying to. For some reason I only come up with stories that involve killing boyfriends.”
            “You probably shouldn’t tell your agent that.” Melanie sat down on her bed, using a clean tissue to move the dirty ones out of the way. “Usually when you have writer’s block you need some distraction to clear your head.”
            “How do you know that?” Amy looked at her with puffy, red eyes and chocolate around her mouth.
            Melanie had trouble keeping a straight face.
            “Because I’m brilliant. Now, tomorrow night we are going out to a big mansion and stay there overnight.” She nodded enthousiastically.
            “To make money,” Melanie answered.
            “What? My boyfriend cheats, I have writer’s block and now we’re prostitutes?” Amy rested her head on the keyboard in dispair.
            “No, of course not. It’s a babysitting job. There are five kids and the single father needs to go away on a short business trip. They need experienced people and I probably can’t do it alone, I think it will be alright if it’s the both of us. We’ll probably get paid a lot.”
            “How do you know that?”
            “The guy lives in a mansion. And it says so on this flyer.” She held up the yellow coloured flyer with the bold black letters.
            Amy grabbed it from her and read it.
            “It sounds like the lure of a serial killer. Plus, even it was true, you’re not that experienced. It seems these kids are trouble, which is probably why he pays so much. You get tied up everytime you babysit.”
            “That is not…that true,” Melanie said, twisting her fingers on her lap.
            Amy raised her eyebrow.
            “Look, we need the money. I’m sure we can do it together.”
            “I don’t know, I think I’d rather stay here and jump out of window or something.” Amy went back to staring at her blank screen.
            “Don’t make me do the face,” Melanie said in a flat voice.
            Amy’s eyes widened for a second. “No, that’s not going to work,” she said. Her voice trembled slightly.
            Melanie sat on her knees, raised her hands to below her chin and looked up with wide eyes, occasionally blinking and pouting at the same time. Nobody was as skilled in this as she was. As a kid she got more birthday presents than her friends and she was glad she had never lost that skill. Never know when you might need it.
            The next evening they were sitting in a cab and drove through Wellington Forest to get to Halliwell Mansion. It was situated on a hill, overlooking the river and the town they lived in.
            Melanie smiled as she glanced at Amy. She was staring out of the window with her arms crossed. She had spent all day getting from bed to shower to closet to front door. It was a long process. Melanie was just grateful Amy had succeeded. Even though she had circles under her eyes, she did look slightly more like herself. She had her hair tied up and a bit of make up on. She wore her latest pair of jeans and a long-sleeved, black shirt. Beats PJs with chocolate stains. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Same as it Never was

The gentle tapping sound of raindrops smashing against the window of the car was a reassuring one. Even though I was staring out the window I didn’t really see anything. I was in another place. I was still in the hospital. The first place I can remember. Not because I was born there, in fact I don’t even know if I was born in a hospital. My earliest memory ever was only a week ago.
            I looked to the right and observed the man who was driving the silver Sedan that was apparently ours. His hair was dark and sleek, his lips full and his dark eyes seemed empty. He was my husband, or so I was told. Nothing about him seemed familiar.
            We drove on in silence as my thoughts returned to the previous days. The hospital room I had been in had felt like home and leaving with a stranger that claimed to be married to me felt like walking blindfolded at the edge of a cliff. What the hell did I get myself into? Physically I may have recovered from the accident, but I can’t even remember who I am, let alone remember who I am around these people.
            We pulled up in front of a red bricked semi-detached house. It had large windows at the front and a wooden door that was painted black.
            “Are you ready?” Jason asked.
            I stared at the house and tried to see if I recognised anything.
            I turned to him. “Oh, right. Yes, I’m ready.”
            Jason got out of the car first and walked back to my side to open the door.
            The cool autumn breeze was welcoming and I closed my eyes for a second. When I opened them again I was still staring at the house that was my home. My husband got the bag from the trunk which held some of my stuff that I’d used when I was in the hospital.
            I studied the front yard that was surrounded by a picket fence. Stone steps lead to the front door and alongside it were planted hyacinths. The rest of the garden was made up of grass that was neatly trimmed. I wondered if I always took care of the garden. Did I even like plants or flowers? I shook my head in an attempt to dismiss my thoughts. I just had to take it step by step.
            The frontdoor flew open and a little red-headed girl with freckles dashed my way.
            “Mummy,” she called as she held out her arms.
            I stood frozen and watched as she hugged my waist. I had been preparing myself for this moment since I’d found out I was a mother, but in my mind I always figured my mother instinct would kick in and I would remember my own child. My body trembled with the realisation that I did not. 
            “Alright, Daisy, let Mummy get inside first.” Jason took Daisy by the hand and led her inside.
            I looked back at the car and had to fight the urge to get in and drive back to the hospital. I did not belong here. I didn’t even know them.