After my 3.5 week hiatus between Dayjobs, I’m back to the grind tomorrow. In the interim, since Ash Wednesday, I was able to lay down almost 18k words for my next novel. Today, in fact, after hiding from my netbook for two days, they let me see 3800 words of their story!
Monday and Tuesday are merely HR orientation flak; Wednesday and Thursday begin my 10-hour days. It will be an utter catastrophe if I allow my fifth day off to lapse into indolence. I have come to see that “Worlds Without End” is going to be a two part book of somewhat unrelated stories but welded together by the same characters over two years.
My original target of completion of Easter is impossible. I am to have the WWE manuscript complete by May 31st.
Below the fold, I introduce a new, secondary character. I am tired and must to bed.
After a pint of water and a pint of cider Gary took a quick shower before Faustina used all of their hot water. He was wrapping the towel around his waist when the bathroom door opened. His sister had left her sweat-soaked clothes downstairs.
“My cute, broken brother!” she cooed at him.
“I used all the hot water,” he said as he pushed past her into the hall.
Pulling clean clothes on he heard the shower restart.
“Idjit! Liar!” Faustina yelled through the walls.
Rather than running downstairs he moved carefully, holding the rail.
“Knee hurting after your march?” his mother asked looking up from where she was reading a book in the living room.
“Just a little. I want to make sure I don’t do something stupid such as fall down the steps.”
“That’s good,” she said with a smile. “This going to be your usual visit?”
“I really don’t know, mother,” he replied, slipping into his shoes by the deck door. “Besides the time you drove me over when I still couldn’t even walk, today marks three weeks since I’ve seen her.”
He paused at the door.
“If I’m running late, I’ll let you know.”
“Thank you, Gary. Tell everyone we all say ‘hi!’” she said with a wave, returning to her book.
The Gannt homestead was only a few miles to the north, backed up to the Bull Run river. As such it made a largely easy downhill ride for him. The postman had just trotted up to their mail box. Seeing Gary, he paused.
“Here ya’ go, Gary!” he said, handing the mail over with a smile. “Y’all’s just always in the right time at the right place!”
“Am I?” Gary asked, swinging his small backpack around and stuffing the Gannt’s mail into it.
“Ahhh… er… see ya’!” the postman said before touching his horse’s sides with his boots and moving down the street.
I made him uncomfortable, Gary realized. But after all this time, who can still believe in coincidences?
He crossed onto their property and rode first to the small house where the Gramma and Granpa Gannt lived. No one was out front – and he did not desire to be sidetracked – so after checking what mail was theirs, he quietly left it on their front porch under a rock. The main house was about a thousand feet on, with their pole barn another thousand off to his right. Mrs. Gannt was outside feeding the chickens and paused as she watched him pedal up.
I do not like the look in her eyes.
“Afternoon, ma’am,” he said stepping off of his bike. He dipped his head. “I apologize for my recent absences.”
“That… that’s fine, Gary,” Mrs. Gannt said in a tense voice. “How is your knee?”
“Effectively healed, thank you. I was able to keep up with father on our march this morning!”
No one moved.
“May I see your daughter?” he asked, carefully setting down his bicycle onto the dirt path.
“Of course, of course…”
He took two steps toward the house before pausing.
“Is there a problem?”
He saw the older woman’s eyes fill with tears but blink them away.
“These… last two weeks… without your visits…” Mrs. Gannt paused to clear her voice. “She seems further away than usual.”
She returned to feeding the chickens who had begun to complain.
“She’s in her room but perhaps later you and I can help her out to get a little fresh air?” she asked.
Older that most of what he could say would only confuse and thus hurt her, Gary said nothing and resumed his walk. Up the five steps to the wrap-around patio, he stepped through the open front door and kicked off his shoes. Up the staircase on the right and all the way down the hall to the last room on the right. The door was half open.
Gary knocked lightly twice before stepping in.
“Hello, Tracy. I am very happy to be with you again.”
The figure in the chair between the bed and window did not move.
Looking at her right side while she stared blankly out the window, Gary saw no change from three weeks ago. Her golden hair was still clean and brushed past her shoulders, something her mother did every morning. It used to be paler but had become richer once she reached puberty. A short but very Celtic nose above a wide mouth. Her mother had her in a light white sundress with some yellow patterns and flowers stitched into it. Tracy’s breasts were already a bit larger than Henge’s, her chest rising and falling as she breathed.
She is very cute and will be a wonderful bride someday.
He couldn’t feel his Intended at all; their house was almost equidistant between two cell towers. There had been research as to whether that had played a role in her illness, but Dorina and Pavel had come up with nothing.
He walked into her room and knelt on his right knee before her.
“Friend Tracy? It is Gary,” he said, taking her right hand with his left. “I am so happy to see you again.”
He waited. A ‘normie’ as his sister called humans, would have not seen the cues in her very slight movements. After about ninety seconds her purple eyes began to slide from the window to his. They were not empty; they were not blank.
In fact, I would say there is too much going on behind them, he thought.
They looked at one another.
“Mmm,” she sounded softly.
Not one to talk about himself, it nonetheless filled the silence and, he hoped, would encourage her to speak of herself someday. He explained his absence: the duel with Thomas and his injury and slow recovery. Seeing something in her eyes he reached right and picked up the cup of water with a straw there. He held it to her lips as he kept on. After a minute her lips closed around the straw as she drank.
Her eyes never left his.
The cup now empty the straw fell from her mouth. He set it back.
“You,” he said, slowly moving his left hand up to her elbow, “are a little pale. Your mother would like you to take some sun. May I carry you downstairs and out onto the porch?”
From his visits with her in Henge’s home, Gary knew that Tracy had no grasp of time, so he did not bother with ‘I’ll be right back’. He stood and left her room, walking all the way to the window facing south. Opening it, he called to Mrs. Gannt.
“Ma’am? Tracy wants to come outside. Can you help me with your daughter?” he said loudly.
He watched as she flung the rest of the feed and ran into the house, up the stairs in seconds.
“Is she…? Did she talk?!” she cried, clutching at Gary’s hands.
“I’m sorry,” he said, leading her to her daughter’s room, “nothing like that. But she did understand and agree.”
“Thank God! Thank God!”
Moving into Tracy’s room, she was still looking to where Gary had been a few moments before. He went down on both knees and moved in from of her chair, leaning forward.
“If you would, ma’am, please ease Tracy onto my back,” he asked.
“I’ve never understood,” the woman muttered, “why you prefer this to a fireman’s carry!”
“It would be disorienting for her. And, now, were my knee to give out, quite the fall for her.”
Mrs. Gannt froze.
“I completely forgot about your injury! Please stop this right now…!”
“Respectfully, ma’am,” Gary hooked his hands under Tracy’s thighs and stood before she could stop him, “I’ve already given her my word. I will see this through.”
He indicated the door with a toss of his chin.
“If you would care to proceed us?”
“Hard-headed men…!” he heard her mutter as she walked out.
Gary took a few careful steps. While there was no pain from his left knee, he also had to consider the flight of stairs just ahead.
If something goes wrong I merely have to lean back, sitting us both down, he reasoned.
Slowly, one step at a time, he brought them down. Halfway down his knee began to hurt; three from the ground floor it was bad enough for him to pause.
“Are you – ?” Mrs. Gannt began.
“Fine.” He wasn’t really.
Three steps later he was gasping for breath. How will I make it to the porch…?
“Mmm,” he heard at his right ear while feeling Tracy’s legs flex slightly.
“Set you down, friend?” he turned his head a little to ask.
Gary bent his right knee twice as much as his left to let her feet touchdown but it still was if someone was twisting a knife in his left. Her weight was suddenly gone.
“Tracy! Honey! Can you stand?!” he heard his friend’s mother call as he leaned left onto the wall to take all weight off his left knee.
If they see me like this, both of my families will scold me… so they must not.
Hearing the concern, Gary turned slowly about. Tracy was standing, something she did only rarely, but ignored her mother’s questions and kept her eyes on Gary.
With a tiny flicker of pain across his face, he stepped to her and took her left hand with his right.
“Come,” he said with a tiny tug.
In the corner of his eye Gary saw her mother’s palms fly to her cheeks, “…a miracle… a miracle…!” she cried.
As it was almost mid-afternoon, Gary led Tracy to a rocking chair in the sun facing southwest. He maneuvered her in front of it and moved both hands to her shoulders.
“Sit,” he said to her eyes.
After a quick glance Gary pulled a small chair over so he could sit opposite Tracy. From inside he heard Mrs. Gannt on a phone babbling on about ‘a miracle!’
People can be so silly, he thought.
“Mmm,” Tracy suddenly agreed.
She heard my thought…