Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Slice of Cheese(y)

So, I finished my first round of revisions of my novel, Cheesy, yesterday. I have a few people reading it to give me some feedback. When they're done, I'll do another round.

But until then, I'm going to work on another project, more than likely my untitled dystopian I started last year. What I've written so far has received some really good responses. But I do have something else I've started as well. ugh. I can't help myself. I also have an idea for a kind of comedic chick lit book (i'm not all gloom and doom, I can be funny).

So I think today, I'm going to give you an excerpt of Cheesy for your reading pleasure (or displeasure I guess, if you don't like it :)

Cheesy, Chapter One

There was a time I used to wear dresses. I wore pink, and patent leather shoes, and ribbons in my hair. I used to play with dolls. That was before my mom died of the cancer. I sat there and watched her disintegrate there in her own bed. I saw her hair fall out, watched her body get weaker and more frail by the day, watched her silently slip out of consciousness. Her already labored breath would catch and her chest would heave when it became too painful to even breathe. When she finally died, I was glad I was asleep. I wouldn’t want to have watched her take her last breath.

Upon waking that morning, I went downstairs to an odd pair of undertakers in my living room. The first undertaker was just like the ones you see in the movies. His name was George and he was very tall and pale with dark hair and a deep voice. The other’s name was George too. I know, too weird. He was the comic relief. It was almost like watching a vaudeville act instead of the men who were going to take your dead mom’s body out of your house forever.

Then there was my dad, looking dazed as the undertakers performed their monologues, then went about their duties. He didn’t speak, he didn’t cry, tears having run their course weeks before, he just sat, and I let him just sit, staying quiet, watching him. I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it all. Truth was, I didn’t know him very well at all. At the time I was thirteen, and my mother had been my sole caretaker while Dad coached college football, and travelled. And when he was home he worked on plays, and watched film, and strategized. I knew lots of his players, he’d invite them to dinner every so often and my mom would serve them meatloaf, or pasta, or pork chops while my dad told them they were playing well, or how to improve their game, or that they were being cut. That’s how it went it our house.

The undertakers finished up, and rolled my mom out on a stretcher in a big black plastic bag with a zipper down the front. They handed my dad some pamphlets, he still didn’t speak, just nodded really. He didn’t even get up. I closed the door behind them then went to my mom’s room. She had her own in the last few weeks. The air was stifling and held a stale smell to it. A death smell. 

Pictures still hung by thumbtacks to a cork board, photos of us in happier times. There was one of her and me baking cookies, some from our many trips to the zoo, my parents wedding picture. I hardly remember her looking like she did that day with a head full of hair and rosy cheeks and a full body.
Her bed faced the window so she could look out over her garden, which my grandma would come and tend for her in the final days. Light was shining through the window and a stained glass ornament I made for her in third grade, the colors spreading across the gray carpet like it had spilled right out of a rainbow. Looking across the room, I could see every piece of dust filtering through the air. Swatting my hand through it to make a clear trail, I stepped toward the shelf full of books that stood right underneath the window. My mom, she loved to read. I remember her reading to me when I was little, Where the Wild Things Are, fairy tales, or poems from Shel Silverstein. I know some of those by heart. One of my favorites was called Whatif. I often thought about the Whatifs in life, so I guess this made perfect sense.

When my mother read for herself, she read stories with strong female characters, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, and the like. She taught me to be strong myself, and to always go for what I want in life, big or small.

On the wall next to the window was an entertainment center with a television, a stereo, music and movies. My mom’s favorite movie was Fried Green Tomatoes. We watched it together a bunch of times. I admit, I liked it too, though it definitely isn’t my favorite, but I like how the women stand up for what’s right, and stand by each other in the hardest of times.

My eyes took in the room one last time before exiting. Everything was just the same as it was the day before, except for her bed of course. Hospice had brought in a hospital bed for her, one of those that you can lift up the head and feet, the kind with the bars on the sides so you don’t fall out. It was stripped. No more purple sheets, no more quilt made by my grandmother’s own hands, no pillow case. No more mom. Stripped away just like the soiled bed sheets.

But that’s enough about my mom, though I still hold her memory close to my heart and strive to be what I knew she wanted me to be, this really isn’t about her. It’s about what came after, and me and my dad, how he raised me, and the what and why of how I got where I am, and who helped and who hurt along the way. It wasn’t easy that’s for sure. Pretty much everyone was against me, well, everyone except Tommy, but then I’m pretty sure Tommy would support anything I did seeing as we’ve secretly liked one another since seventh grade.

So like I said, when my mom was alive, I was a girl, when she left me, things changed, I changed. I felt I had to, otherwise I might as well have been an orphan. I was the daughter of Shelby University football coach, Frank Reed, and he lived and breathed football. And being a daughter who wanted to know her father better, I put away the ribbons, the dresses, and my black patent leather Mary Janes, and eventually decided that the only way to my dad’s heart was through football.

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My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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