If there’s one thing I’m unable to manage, it’s the number of stories colliding inside my head.
Characters are always in competition. Hello, she says. Hello, he says. I’m next. Me, me, me! Tell my story.
Every writer I know has the same issues with characters. Whispers in the ear and knocking on the door, inside our heads, are the upside and downside of being a writer.
The upside is there’s always another character plying for story priority. This is a good thing.
The downside is time. Time is the enemy. Yes, the enemy.
Life takes over and there is nothing we can do about that, except to block time to write. A little here, a little there. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, many words pour onto blank pages.
A few years ago I committed to write fifty-thousand words in a month. Well, I did. But about half way through the manuscript, there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to the remainder of the story I undertook. Other stories became priority, so the story lingered on my computer gathering dust until I could find time to make some sense of the clutter.
I will admit to writing fifty-thousand words in a month was a spur of the moment decision. A big mistake without a fairly good outline. While I write many of my stories by seat-of-the -pants, either before I begin, or at some point during writing, I do re-evaluate the storyline. I have much work to do on this story.
Here is a scene from NOT MY OWN.
As an only child, and estranged from her father for nine years, Megan Phillips finds herself the administrator of her father’s estate. In order to acquire the vast estate, which she has no desire to attain, until she learns she must accept responsibility of her seven-year-old half-brother, Adam. News of Adam comes as a complete kick in the gut.
NOT MY OWN
Despite the sunlight’s warmth spider-webbing across the gray marble floor, Megan felt a chill cut to her bones. Death hung in the air. She smelled it. Felt it. Her senses alive with familiarity.
Each click of her heels inched her closer to the hissing respirator of room 407.
Megan pressed three fingers against her temples, hoping to rid herself of the blinding headache.
Accommodating the Vail attorney’s request, providing closure to a chain of unhappy incidents in her past was not what she’d had in mind. Still she’d come. Facing the man in the bed would be the hardest thing she’d done since her husband and son’s death.
Uncertain of his feelings, Megan moved into the room and stopped beside his bed. She knew his illness was terminal, but was unprepared for what she saw. It was all she could do to keep from crying.
She was stubborn, and couldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her tears. With a smile pasted on her face, she walked forward and braved the sight of her father again.
Her breath caught at the blue eyes that once tormented her, staring back glazed in impending death. Anger and resentment passed like a storm in the night over their nine years of separation.
He’d been a virile, yet vain man. The salt and peppered hair that he’d cherished had turned to alabaster.
Thin, yellowed skin folded into crevices of his skeletal form and stilled bony fingers, did little to satisfy her need for revenge. What did it matter that he’d not known she’d become successful in spite of him.
Megan recalled her mother’s words. ‘Time waits for no man. Savor every moment.’ There would be no more moments for her, nor her father. No more time to ease the pain of separation and the precious lifetime they’d spent apart.
A lump rose in her. She felt cheated of the time they’d lost. Had her stubbornness been worth what she knew now to be the last days, maybe hours of her father’s life?
Bret sauntered through the suite’s adjoining room while Megan sat and stared out the hospital’s window. Snow piled high on the window’s ledge and swirled from the winds that had the temperature dropping at an alarming rate.
Unable to get the husky feminine voice out of his head since their phone conversation, he stared at the petite vision before him.
“Yes.” Megan turned. “Mr. Evans?” A shock of sandy hair that fell forward on bronzed skin caught her off guard.
“Bret. Bret Evans.” Bret smiled, immersed in the scent of her perfume. He reached to shake hands but closed his right hand over hers. From photos of her, he’d known she was beautiful but in person, was even more so.
“Please…call me Bret.”
“Thank you. Is it possible to speak with my father?” Bret noticed her eyes and saw a deep hurt inside.
“I’m sorry. Your father has slipped into a coma. If only you could have gotten here sooner.” Bret didn’t know how she felt, but from the look on her face, she was clearly stunned at her father’s condition. “He asked for you.”
Thomas had discussed that they weren’t particularly close and that led Bret to wonder about their estrangement. Something definitely was amiss in their relationship. Bret reached for his briefcase. “Can we talk?”
Megan glanced toward her father and nodded.
Bret rang for the nurse, then led Megan to the elevator and down to the coffee shop. The mirrored elevator gave Bret a perfect view of Megan’s face. She was definitely a beautiful woman.
“To sum it up, Ms. Phillips, your father retained me as your attorney, at least until his estate is settled. Which is quite large, I’m at liberty to say. I’ll act as your attorney until such time you deem no longer necessary.”
Bret waited and watched Megan, as a hint of pain etched her face. “What your father has requested will no doubt come as a complete surprise. There is a matter of great importance that must be taken care of before we can get on with executing the will. My apologies.”
She stared into his eyes. They reminded him of a stormy blue sea, and probably just as dangerous. Surprised that suddenly anger replaced her professional attitude, so much that he had mistakenly seen her as someone who might only think of money at a time like this.
“Mr. Evans. For the record, I’ve no intention of accepting anything from my father. I have no need for an attorney. I came here to appease my father and you, since you were both so insistent.”
“Mr. Evans. Whatever monies there are, can be distributed between charities of your choice. How my father’s estate is closed is of no concern to me.”
“Perhaps you’ll experience a change of heart after hearing provisions of the will.” Bret looked as though he’d tried to read her mind, but she’d thrown a wall around her.
“You’re the only person he trusts.”
“I have no reason to believe that line, since he knew nothing about my way of life the past nine years, but if I’m to get this over with, I’ll play along. Tell me. What is this I’m supposed to be so honored with?”
“I’m not sure if you were aware your father had remarried. From the marriage there is a child…a seven-year-old boy. His name is Adam. Adam Phillips.”
Megan’s eyes flickered. “So there’s a child. A brother.” She took a deep breath. “A child my father didn’t even bother to tell me existed.”
Bret ignored Megan’s comment and continued. “Adam is a well mannered, bright child for his age. He loves his father deeply and hasn’t a clue of how to deal with his grief. His mother abandoned him when he was a year old. So, you see the child has no one else which to turn.”
Suddenly the sound of Bret’s voice and his demeanor, made Megan nervous. She rose from her seat at the table and walked to the door, intending to end their conversation. But against her better judgment, the child, Adam, her brother, changed her mind.
She made here way back to their table.
Megan sighed and folded her hands on the table. “I’m terribly sorry. I had no way of knowing.” Why was he talking of this child when all she wanted was to get out of here?
“Look, Ms. Phillips.” Bret stuffed his hands in his pockets, stared out over the coffee shop and continued. “Please, may I call you Megan?”
The conversation wasn’t going in the direction she’d hoped. This was not good. She couldn’t shake the uneasiness.
“If you wish.”
“There’s no way to tell you except to ask you outright. Adam is in need of a mother. It’s pertinent we go before the judge before Thomas passes. Not that it’s impossible afterward, but the procedure is more simple beforehand.”
Megan gasped. “What does Adam have to do with me? Surely his mother can be found or there is another family option.”
“Well, you are his sister. And according to your father’s wishes, he’s chosen you, and only you, to care for his son.”
“Quite astounding for a man who hasn’t bothered to call, write or acknowledge the fact that I’m alive—in over nine years. I’m sure you know he disowned me when my mother died.”
“We talked, yes.” Bret stared over at her. “He had a change of heart.”
“He makes certain decisions when the situation benefits him.” She could almost hear her father talking to Bret. “Look. I was young and full of ideas for my own future. Not one he’d built for himself. He was never there for me, and now in death he wants to rule my life? I’m sorry. I can’t do it. I won’t. It’s impossible to mother a child I don’t even know. Besides, I know nothing of raising a child who may or may not want me around. Surely there are other family members.”
“None your father wanted to pursue. Adam’s grandparents could assume responsibility for the boy, but…”
“Well, then. You have your answer, don’t you?”
“Not quite. You see, they haven’t seen Adam since he was a year old. There were objections from his wife’s parents. Thomas was twenty years older than Adam’s mother and her parents grew bitter when she’d married him without their approval. Your father has no desire for his only son to be reared by the aging grandparents. Who, by the way, have had no contact with Adam since his mother left.”
“Is locating the mother out of the question? How do you know the grandparents wouldn’t jump at the chance to raise their grandson?”
“They don’t care about him. If they did, they’d have made provisions to visit him before now. No. The grandparents are not an option.”
“As I said. The child isn’t my problem…or my responsibility. At least they were aware of his birth, so the responsibility stands with them. Now if there isn’t anything else I can do for you, I’d like to get back home as soon as possible. You need to search for the boy’s family.”
“How can I help you reconsider?” Bret spread his hands on the table. “Perhaps you’d meet with me at Thomas’s home this afternoon?”
“And why would I do that? We have nothing else to discuss.”
Megan knew how her father worked and saw that Bret suffered at her father’s hand in not making the custody case easy. Why hadn’t Bret suggested he talk to Megan himself? Explain it all to her. Before, it was too late. Maybe he had, but now—it was too late.
Comatose men tell no stories.
“Adam is looking forward to meeting you, Megan. He’ll be home from school at 3:30.”
“So Adam knows about me? This is heartless. Why wasn’t I told about Adam when you first called?”
But, she knew. She wouldn’t have come. Would’ve refused to come.
Megan’s temple’s throbbed while her insides shook violently from learning she had family in this manner. She wasn’t so sure she wouldn’t crumble under pressure, but stood firm in her belief that family always came first. She was strong and would remain so…if possible.
Adam was her brother, whether she wanted one or not.
I wish you Butterflies, Music, and most of all…Love.