Hello Everyone! I joined Studio 30+ this week and am really glad to be here and see some familiar faces in terms of blogs I've been clicking on recently.
So, my first post. Breathe deeply. I'm jumping in with ten feet here. I went to the prompt. The first prompt word is in the title of my novel (unfinished). I've decided to share the opening of it here.
I imagine this is what it is like unveiling a painting for the first time. Or a new face. Or something that's been locked up for a long time. You hope it doesn't shrivel in the sun.
The first chapter of my novel was runner up last year in the Oxford Editors' first chapter competition, which was really heartening. But it wasn't open to comments from readers and writers like your good selves.
Be honest. Be brutal. But please, be.
Angela, where are you going? Tell me. After all, I love you. I am the one who loves you.
She is looking for me in places she believes I will not be. She is afraid. If she can postpone knowledge worse than not knowing, she will do so.
It is cold out despite the late autumn sun slowly sinking and bathing everything in a golden tinge. I can hardly remember seeing that colour when I was there. I see the light linger on the back of her head; her long, chestnut hair swaying in the sun’s last rays as she walks slowly through the field. She is wearing one of my polo necks; the one she made me buy in Italy because she said it would match my eyes. She held it out to me, her face dripping with recently married love and lust. And now she has covered it with a long, beige, woolen cardigan, one side pulled over the other and her arms folded across the top to keep warm.
Angela, why don’t you do the cardigan up?
“Alex, I’m fine.”
Maybe with free hands we could have held each other’s.
I watch her move slowly. The grass is sodden from the afternoon shower she watched from our bedroom window. Her steps are careful, precise, as with each one a brand new thought or idea is born. Her head tilts downwards, not facing the trees advancing in front of her. I can see her pale forehead, smooth until the tiny furrow between her brows. That is new. Her cheeks, soft, white and wanting to age one day, part for her nose; slightly too large, but still too elegant to argue with. Her lips are pressed tightly together, like her crossed arms, keeping the cold, the pain, me at bay. Her eyes focus on the wet ground in front of her. Seeing this one colour helps her mind to rest. She has had enough of asking questions and not getting any answers. She has had enough of not seeing what she wants.
Angela, please don’t see.
Her eyes are luxurious deep pools of mahogany from which people rarely escape. Earnest, trusting, loving. They don’t wander and they don’t avoid. They hold the secrets of a million shooting stars, births, loves and lies. You trust them back.
Now, there are tears pouring from my own eyes and I can hardly bring my hands up to wipe the shame from my own cheeks. I am feeling her cold slowly seeping into my own bones. Although there is no wind here, there is no sun either, on this cliff. It is a place I must suffer from; a place I must learn to love and hate again – to feel the pain I have made and watch the pain I will make. It is a lesson that sits on the wrong side of time, a lesson that will kill me for good and every piece of me will disappear. In a moment I will be dust: a lost love, a vague feeling, a bastard, the least tender touch, a fantasy, dead. I shudder. I have tried to avoid that word. Its inevitability is there for us all, I know that. Yet touching it, with my own hand, my own soul, is different. My own, personal void is so cold the stars are brighter for being frozen and so empty my dust will never, ever reach them.
Angela stops and I tremble. She hunches her shoulders forward in a circle and then brings her head up to look at the sky in front now buttered in crimson. Shadows are cast towards her from the trees ahead and scarlet, sunset pink glows between the branches like warped torches from beyond the horizon. It is a pink I know she loves. Her lips now curl outwards and she blinks tightly to try and keep tears and nightmares away. Thunder roars from the black sky she hasn’t seen behind her and at the instant the sound reaches her ears, her abdomen stirs, her soul rages and she knows I was near.
I scream at her from my cliff, blind in my own salty shame. But it is useless. I’ve tried to turn her away from this, push past all this emptiness to reach her and turn her away from the answers, from the path back to the life I ruined. I beat at everything, but like all times before, I fail and I get nowhere.
“Please, Angela, go.”
And for now, she does.