I love this picture of Halifax as it once was. Old photos always give me a feeling of something like homesickness. It really makes me wonder about reincarnation.
Finished major rewrites on Shattered Monday evening. This story is almost ready to go off into the world. Yesterday I tackled the synopsis. Time to take a deep breath and a break.
I see that I’ve written another rather herocentric story. I think that’s ingrained in me, thanks to all the herocentric stories I read growing up. The plot revolves around Liam’s journey toward healing. I found him a little difficult to get to know, but of course, I eventually fell in love with him. He’s earned his flaws. He’s like the ‘Tommy’ in Rudyard Kipling’s poem:
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints, Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints
As always, some of my secondary characters have done their best to divert me. I’d like to write the story of Liam’s brother Nolan and his wife Annie (What is it with me and prequels?), and definitely the story of Alice’s brother Carl. Who might be waiting for him? He’d definitely need a strong woman to bring him around. Recipient of a Military Cross, tough as nails, with a frightened little boy hiding deep inside – Carl is definitely hero material.
But for now, after a little vacation, I’m going to switch gears and finish my children’s novel. It’s been on the back burner too long. I’ll leave you with an excerpt of Liam and Alice’s first dance, and Liam’s first encounter with Carl. What a pair of Irish hotties –er, hotheads. Enjoy.
He took Alice’s hand and drew her into his arms. Dancing and the heat had brought the blood to her cheeks, and her eyes sparkled like running brook water again. Although she blushed, he sensed no shyness in her body. She fit naturally in his arms, as if she belonged there.
Yeah. She sure isn’t a kid anymore.
Then, like a bolt from the blue an image flashed into Liam’s mind, Alice dancing close, nestled in his arms with her head on his shoulder. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, where did that come from? She’s Georgie’s sister! He loosened his hold on her, but that didn’t dull his awareness of every slender curve, of her light floral perfume. Worse, he saw in her eyes that she’d felt the awareness between them, too.
Before he could make an excuse and abandon her, the band ended the waltz with an extra flourish. The leader bowed to the crowd. “Catch your breath, ladies and gentlemen, while the chair of your Social Committee says a few words. I give you Mrs. Frances Henneberry.”
Everyone returned to their seats, Liam with a sigh of devout thanks. He angled his chair to put Stephen and Alice out of his line of sight. As far as I’m concerned, friend, she’s all yours. Good luck keeping her. Thin, sharp-faced Mrs. Henneberry stepped onto the platform with a self-conscious smile and cleared her throat.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s wonderful to see you all here, supporting our parish’s efforts to ease the suffering of helpless civilians overseas. There is more than one person here tonight who could tell us first-hand just how severe those sufferings have been and what our sons and brothers have sacrificed in the effort to end them. The least we here at home can do is – ”
“Shut up. That’s the least you can do.”
The words carried clearly from the corner nearest the O’Neills’ table. Every head swiveled. Georgie blushed a deep red. Alice’s face blanched pearl-white. In the shadows just beyond the lighted platform, Carl leaned against the wall, his face flushed with heat and liquor. No one at the table had noticed him come in.
An older, heavier Carl than Liam remembered, with a harder face. The tough kid had grown into a tough man, with an added belligerence. One look at his glazed eyes told Liam Georgie’s brother was a loose cannon.
He and Stephen got up at the same instant and started toward the corner. Stephen got there first and planted himself in front of Carl.
“You’ve said enough. Your sisters are here.”
“I’m not leaving ‘til I make my point.” Carl pushed Stephen back and raised his voice again. “That old windbag hasn’t got anyone at the front. She doesn’t have a clue.”
The scathing words on Liam’s tongue died there. Up close, Carl reminded him too much of men he’d seen in hospital, men who woke in the night screaming as he’d done more than once. Men who spent their days looking at the world through vacant eyes. And Mrs. Henneberry annoyed the hell out of him, too.
“You’re right, Carl. She doesn’t. This isn’t the place for either of us. Come outside and get some fresh air.”
Fists clenched, Carl took a step forward. “Don’t bullshit me, Liam. I’m not going anywhere until I’m good and ready. Who do you think you are, anyway? Your little brother isn’t the only one who’s been killed overseas, you know. Just –”
Liam didn’t hear the rest of the sentence. Rage blotted out his compassion, rage and the memory of Michael-John’s wide, sightless dark eyes. His first punch landed hard in Carl’s belly. The second hit his jaw, knocking him backward and throwing Liam off-balance. They hit the floor, fists flying. The next thing he knew, Nolan was dragging him to his feet while his father and Stephen pinioned Carl. Liam shook his brother off and dove at Carl, only to have his bad leg collapse and land him back on the floor. Nolan helped him up again and got a firm grip on his arms.
“What the hell? Liam, stop it!”
The girls stood nearby now. Georgie’s eyes sparkled with anger, but the strain on Alice’s face did more to clear the haze from Liam’s mind. He stopped struggling with Nolan, took a deep breath and swallowed. The metallic taste of blood in his mouth made his stomach churn.
“The son of a bitch insulted Michael-John.”
Nolan released his hold and took a step toward Carl, putting himself in the man’s face. “If I ever hear of you mentioning my brother’s name again, I’ll finish what Liam started. Dad, Stephen, get him the hell out of here.”
Still winded from Liam’s first blow, blood trickling from his nose, Carl didn’t offer much resistance. Liam figured he’d gotten the worst of the encounter himself, a split lip and what would likely be a magnificent shiner. A couple of older women were on the platform trying to soothe Mrs. Henneberry, who looked on the verge of tears. He should go and say something to her, but at the moment he couldn’t find the words. He shrugged Nolan’s hand from his shoulder.
“I’m getting out of here. Apologize to Georgie for me, would you?” Without waiting for an answer, he walked out.
I'm a teacher, an amateur musician and, for over thirty years, a writer. I fell in love with words at a very early age, and the affair has been life-long.
Glimpses of the past spark my imagination. There's an archaeologist buried in me somewhere. I'm currently working on a series following the McShannon family as they put down roots and find love in the old world and the new, against the background of the American Civil War. Along with this series, I'm writing a story set at the time of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. I'm really enjoying delving into the history in my own backyard.
I write for children as well as adults. When I'm not writing I garden, play guitar and spend time with my DH, our cat Emily, and our dogs Chance and Echo, the most spoiled Duck Tolling Retrievers on the planet. I live in Nova Scotia, in my opinion the most beautiful place in the world.