Excerpts and Other Things

As I battle the work-a-day world, I am finding my creative side clawing at the back of my eyeballs in order to be heard. This has produced a number of poems, stories, and longer works. My biggest project of late has been a novel. My goal is to have a completed draft of the manuscript by year’s end. As it stands, I am 15,000 words into the project. The novel will be named on completion, but as it stands, it’s a reworking of the Jorinda and Joringel fairytale of Grimm’s fame.

Some of the most difficult things to write have been Jorinda’s memories and thoughts about Joringel. This scene was a hard-wrangled one, and I present this draft excerpt for your reading pleasure.

The Witch set my cage across the room, and I had full view of the phoenix as sleep weighted my eyes.

“There,” she said. She paused before she turned, her eyes following mine. Instead of speaking again, as I thought she might, she left, closing the door behind her.

Soft fire at the edge of my vision, I drifted and dreamed.

“Jorinda, this way. The brook is slow here, and deep,” Joringel said to me. “Let’s rest a while.”

The forest was bright, the shade no match for the afternoon, and walking had been Joringel’s suggestion. I wanted to keep walking. I wanted to wander and speak, but Joringel called out places to stop again and again. The brook was the third.

“No, it’s beautiful, but the insects bite,” I replied. I went to where the boughs closed over the stream, where the stones lay mossy and huge, and they all made a tunnel for the flow, but he caught my arm. I lived in my arm for a moment, where he touched me. I wanted and didn’t.

“Stay. We’re alone here. We don’t have to go any further.”

“I…” It stuck in my throat. I couldn’t make more sound than that. He pulled me down from the stone, now his grip too tight on my wrist. “I…” couldn’t finish.

“Here, hush,” he said, and I couldn’t even stutter “I”s in return.

He was close, hot-breathed, hot-bodied, and I couldn’t call up the one word I thought would save me. His hand was fire on my wrist until I cried out “No!” instead of my sorrow song, and I said it again, “No, no, no, no, no, no!”

It didn’t save me. He pressed against me, and I crumpled under his weight.

“No!”

And his body smothered mine.

“No.”

And his lips muffled my voice.

At last, a moment of the familiar: the words turned to honey in my throat, became the “jug, jug, jug” of my nightingale voice. I expected his body to freeze, I expected to be crushed under him when he was held still as stone, but the Witch never came, and his fingers tore at my feathers until there was nothing left but plucked naked skin.

The phoenix fixed my eye, the doves cooing restive. I quieted myself under her silent fire and watched her groom.

Though I did not sleep for the rest of the night, I felt better rested than I had since the Witch took me.

Throughout the course of my writing, I’ll continue to post small excerpts.

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