Thursday, 24 April 2014

So, I thought I Might Have Figured It Out.

My last post was on my confusion on West By Train. I thought I had gotten it, or a little part of it figured out.... but I'm still kind of stuck. The story doesn't seem to be very connected now, and I'm still not sure if my new idea of Miranda having to hold back is working.


Something like this.

So, I'm asking you guys to read it for me, if you don't mind. Don't feel under any obligation, but I would appreciate it very much if you would take the time to read it and give me some tips. Thanks so much! Click here!




Saturday, 19 April 2014

OH!! Okay!

Well, yesterday, I finished my short story, West by Train. At least, I wrote "The End" on the end of the document, copied it into my document holding all my competed first drafts of my short stories and wrote my author's note. But last night, I was thinking, and I felt that WBT was missing a point for parts of it. There was one scene I had added that I liked, but it didn't seem to have much a of a point. And I don't want to introduce something about a character and then not do anyhing about it, not tie it in with something else.

So ya'll know what I'm talking about, I'll give you the scene. I admit, it's not perfect, and it might seem downright awful, but here it is.

After the midday meal, Miranda went for a walk down by the creek. After walking a long way, she saw Jonathan sitting on a log that stretched across the creek, staring out at the landscape, the fast- moving water swirling beneath his feet. She would have left as quietly as she had come had he not looked as if he might cry over something. She crept closer and saw that there were indeed tears in the man’s eyes. His shoulders were bent, as if a great weight was sitting heavily on them.
“Sir, are you all right?” she asked, climbing up onto the log to sit beside him.
He whirled on her and for a moment she was frightened by the look in his eyes. Then he relaxed, seeing it was her. “Oh... Mira. Well, not really.” He gave half a smile. “I’m just having bad memories.”
‘Memories?” Miranda put her hand on his shoulder.
He took her hand in his and pulled her close. “About the war. They come to me every so often, though it’s been nine years.” He passed a hand slowly over his eyes as if to block out the fearful images that stood before him.
Miranda’s skin prickled. The war had ended when she was only two years old, so she did not remember any of it. Had Jonathan been a soldier? “Were you in the army, sir?”
He nodded. “Yes. How I wish I had not been. There are so many tragic things that come to me at night, or even during the day, that I wish would go from my mind forever. The dying words of a friend; the twisted face of a man mutilated by a shell; the roar of artillery pounding and destroying and killing.”
His fist clenched, hurting her hand. She winced a little and he immediately let go. “Oh, Mira, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Miranda smiled gently, but said nothing, only leaned against him, reveling in the fatherly way he held her. She could almost imagine... but nevermind, he was talking again.
“I think the battle we fought at Antietam and the one at Gettysburg were two of the worst. At Antietam, a boy named Timothy who shared a tent with me and two other men had his leg blown off. He was only sixteen.”
Miranda shuddered. “Did he die?”
“No. His friend Jeremiah, who saved him from more seriously injured, was killed by a shell, but Tim survived, at least as far as I know. But I don’t know for sure. Gangrene might have set in.” Jonathan put his head in his hands. “Also at Antietam, Brian was killed; a father with five children, one of whom he had never seen.” His voice broke and Miranda put her arms around him, her eyes misting.
“Then there was Gettysburg,” Jonathan continued. “The fight lasted three days, and so many men died. Mira, it was awful. I have nightmares about it sometimes. I had one close friend, a seventeen year old by the name of Nathaniel, and he survived Gettysburg, only to be wounded at Cold Harbor, in Virginia. Gangrene set in, and his last words to me were, ‘John, please write my sister Fanny, and tell her I love her, and have gone home.’ Then he slipped away.” Jonathan stopped talking, his shoulders shaking. Miranda was crying as well, not knowing what to say. What sort of nightmares haunted Jonathan she dared not imagine; even his retellings of war scared her badly.
“I’m sorry, sir,” she whispered. “I’m sorry. I’d love to help you forget, if you want.”
He put his arm around her. “Thank you, Mira.”

And then the story goes on, in the same scene, but leaving behind all Jonathan's memories. Now granted, I did put in a bit at the end with Miranda saying she wanted to help him forget, but something was missing.

Miranda is an eleven year old girl with a pa that dumped her on the orphan train. She and another boy have been taken in by a couple who don't have children, and she is convinced they only took her in so she wouldn't have to be sent back to New York. She desperately wants their love, but is sure they don't want her.

Now, that is all well and good for the story, but I wanted more. And now I realize what I need to do. Miranda has to have a problem. She has to feel that she needs to hold back. She wants someone to love her, but when she realizes that the Grassels don't want her, she has to lean on something. She has to be strong, to recede back inside herself. SHE MUST BE STRONG.

But then Jonathan tells her about his bad memories of the Civil War. She sees his pain, and understands that, though a grown man, he is weak, like we all are. And she's weak too. Pulling back won't make her strong and shut out her want for love. Jonathan has pain, but he lest it out. She needs to do that too. She has to let go of the pain that came with her father leaving her to go west on the orphan train.

Well, I guess it sounded better in my head, but anyway, it was nice to write it down. Miranda thinks she needs to pull back to keep strong and save herself from pain, but she really needs to let it out. Let it ALL out.

"Let it go, let it go! Can't hold it back anymore!" ~Frozen Only it should be don't hold it back anymore, not 'can't.'



This book ain't finished. Not yet.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Next Bit.

Well, here is the next bit of We Regret to Inform You....


I tried to be a soldier, like dad said, but it was hard. I didn’t see Brad for two weeks, and after that he didn’t talk much. One time, we were at my house and dad got home from work. Brad couldn’t even look at him. I watched dad’s face, and though he smiled at Brad, his eyes were crying. Not with tears, but with a flash of pain. I knew it hurt dad that he had given such pain to Brad and his ma.
But, even though I hated dad’s job, I still loved him. I could never stop loving him, no matter what. Even though his job made him sad, I could see that he loved it all the same. Maybe it was the smile he had when he came home from delivering some piece of good news, or the sad look he wore as he sat gazing out over the street some evening after a sad, hard day of a crying woman collapsing at the bad news he bore, or a kid slamming the door in his face, tears already starting to come down. Whatever it was, I could tell he would never quit, no matter what I, or anyone else said.
But then, just as I felt I could grow used to every day becoming tougher on dad, everything came crashing down.
*******
The sun was starting to go down as I sat on the porch swing, waiting for father to come home. He was usually home by now, but perhaps he had more telegrams than usual to deliver. Then I saw him coming up the road, and leapt up to run out to him, but his face stopped me where I was. I would never forget that look.
He walked up to me and gave me a hug. “Hello, Jack. Did you do anything special today?”
I could only shake my head kind of numbly and watch him walk inside, then followed close behind. “Dad? Is... something wrong?”
He didn’t answer, only looked at me with a funny look in his eyes. “Where’s your mother?”
“In the kitchen.” I didn’t ask any more questions, only watched him go through the swinging door, feeling like there was a ball of lead in my stomach. Part of me wanted to go in and find out what was wrong, but the other part already suspected what was wrong and wanted to go nowhere near the kitchen. So I remained frozen by the couch, listening to the rise and fall of father’s voice. Once I thought I heard mother crying, but when I heard her voice next, it was strong, though the words were unintelligible.
The muscles in my arms tight, I shifted me weight from one foot to the other, trying to keep calm. Why don’t they come out and tell me what’s going on? I have to know for sure! Every sense in my body was screaming ‘draft’, but my legs refused to cooperate and take me to the spot which would answer my questions and seal dad’s fate.
I waited, but they still did not come out of the kitchen, and so the question still remained unanswered. Was he drafted or not?
Finally, my brain not being able to bear the stress anymore, I was about to charge into the kitchen when the door swung open and father and mother came out. Their hands were clasped together and it was at that moment that I knew for sure.
“Jack,” dad began slowly.
“You’ve been drafted,” I blurted out before he could continue.
His eyes were so sad, but he nodded. “Yes. I’m shipping out next week to Africa.”
My throat felt all choked up, and I couldn’t think of what to say. First Michael and now father! But then dad’s words came rushing into my head. Be a soldier. “I.... you’ll be fighting for our country, dad. I’m proud of you.” That was all I could think of to say, and I wasn't very sure I meant it.
Dad looked at me closely. “My boss will need  someone to take my job while I'm gone. What do you think?”
For a second, panic and revulsion flooded me. Take dad’s job? Take the job I hated, the job that caused so much sorrow to my best friend? For a moment I felt like refusing. Then I set my jaw. “I’ll do it, dad. Until you get home.” Please come home. Oh please come home.
*******
He left the next Monday. I never forgot his final words to me before getting on the train. He looked very stern and forbidding in his Army uniform, but I knew he was just the same dad I had always known.

“Take care of your mother son. Do your job well, and keep a stiff upper lip.”
“Yes, dad.”
He held out his hand and I shook it slowly, then we hugged. For a long moment his arms were around me, then he pulled away. “Don’t forget me, Jack.”
“You’ll come back before you know it.” A sudden thought popped into my head. “Dad, are you scared?”
He started at the sky above my head. Then, “Yes, I am, Jack. I’m scared.”
“Do you want to go?”
The pause was even longer this time. “No, and yes. I don’t want to kill, but I love America, and I want to protect it.” He smiled down at me. “I’m glad you’re too young to get drafted, Jack.”
“I wish I could go with you. I’ll miss you, dad.” I gave him one last hug. “I’ll be praying for you. I love you.”
“I love you too, Jack. Don’t be scared for my sake. And remember, be a soldier; so matter what happens. Even if I never come back.”
“Yes, dad.” I wanted to say more, but he was hugging mother, then suddenly it was time for the train to leave, and my arm was around mother’s waist as he grew smaller and smaller in the distance. His words rang in my head over and over. ‘Even if I never come back.’


“Come back soon, dad,” I whispered to the vanishing train. “Please.”

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Snippets For March.

Snippet time over at Katie's Blog!


“No, Fraulein. (miss) We had no idea of the news.” There were tears in Esther’s eyes, but she held her chin up.
“Ah, I see. Well, you may go along home, of course.”

“But Fraulein--”
“Go along, Esther.” There was firmness in Teacher’s voice, but in the back of her eyes Ana saw a spark of pity. 
Her lips trembling, Esther backed away, then turned and ran out of the schoolyard, her hand over her mouth. Ana started to go after her, but Oscar grabbed her arm. “Stay away from her, Ana Huber. Don’t you go mixing with those Jews. Esther’s not worth it.” ~Shattered.


“Thank you,” she whispered to me, though there was no trace of thanks in her heartbroken voice.
“Mama?” the little boy asked, his eyes alarmed. “Mama, what is it?”
“Your father,” she said softly, stroking his hair. “He... he won’t be coming home.”
The little boy’s face took on the most anguished, angry and horrified expression I had even seen and he began to cry. The mother, also crying, hurried back into the house but the boy remained in front of me, wiping at his tears with his hand.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, not knowing how else to take my leave. “I’m really sorry.”
He lifted his head and glared at me, tears shining on his cheeks. In his eyes I caught sight of all the expressions I had seen in the dozens of other people who had received bad news by my hand. Behind the tears glistened a rage for death, killing and all the inhumanities of war, and a sorrow deeper than the deepest part of the ocean for the pain cause by the inhumanities. For a long moment we looked at each other, then the boy reached up and slammed the door in my face. ~ We Regret to Inform You...

Stupid logs, stupid fence, stupid chores. Tim ground his teeth furiously, swinging the ax with a vigor that made his arms hurt. The resisting log, almost as stubborn as Tim himself, firmly refused to split. ~War Boy

“I’ve wanted to fight for so long,” Tim confided. “And now I might get to real soon! What’s it like?”
Jeremiah turned to look at him, a strange glint in his eye. “It’s the worst, the most exciting, the scariest, the most thrilling experience.” For a moment a gloom came over his eyes. “But I almost wish I had sent you away back at the creek. You're too young to be in the army.”
Tim felt his face getting hot. “Jeremiah! Not five minutes ago you spoke up for me, and now...”
His friend put his hands on his shoulders. “Tim, listen to me. It isn’t that I don’t think you're capable of fighting, or handling a gun. It’s that war is a terrible thing, a horror that never leaves you. Battles are terrifying.”
Tim set his jaw. “I ain’t scared.”
Jeremiah tipped his head to the side, as if considering Tim. “No,” he smiled finally, clapping Tim’s shoulder, “I reckon you’re not. Welcome to the sixty-fourth New York regiment, Tim.” ~War Boy

“Forward!” The order came back through the lines and Tim gripped his gun so hard the skin on one of his knuckles cracked. This was what he had been waiting for. ~War Boy

Harry, the fourth man in the tent, knelt up. “That’s the signal for battle! Come on, fellows! Get up!” His words went through them a like a bolt of lightning and Tim jumped to a crouching position, his knee smacking Jeremiah’s nose.
The man groaned and clapped a hand to the bleeding nose. “Timothy! Be careful where you put your knees or I’ll report you for violent conduct!” ~War Boy

“Because I’m afraid of fire!” Aidan blurted. “It terrifies me! I know you want me to be a firefighter like you when I grow up, but I don’t want to! Fire makes me more scared than anything else! I can't stand it! Last night I felt like I was going to faint! I couldn’t move, not until I realized that it was probably a drill. Dad, I can't stand fire or fighting fires!” Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she realized she’d been almost shouting. ~Fireman's Daughter

There was a beeping, a small, annoying, insistent beeping coming from near the doorway. Exasperated and stressed, Aidan turned her head and smelled smoke. Into her mind flashed a picture of the candle sitting dangerously close to the curtains in the kitchen. It was then that panic seized her. “No,” she whispered. “No, there can’t be a fire!”
But there was, and from the sound of it it was big and roaring and getting closer. ~Fireman's Daughter

“William, come back to you family soon. They miss you already.”
Indeed, Mistress Phillips was being supported by her husband. Her head was down and sobs wrenched from her as she mourned her son. “I just know he’ll get killed!” she cried.
Master Phillips patted his wife’s shoulder. “We must pray, my dear. Pray very hard.”
Mamie watched them go inside, their shoulders bent under the weight of their sorrow. Oh William, she thought sadly. Why did you have to leave them? They think you’ll be killed, and.... so do I. ~ Battle of the Bull.

“You mean... that I’d be your little boy, and you’d never just give me up because you don’t want me anymore? You’ll always love me?” ~West by Train.




Guilt does not Die.

Over at Rachel's Blog, it is Chatterbox time again! This month the theme in resurrection. So, without further ado, let me begin!


He had left home to burry all of it behind him, but still it followed. It would follow him to the ends of the earth, that he was sure of. What must he do to be rid of his guilt?

"I wish you would leave me alone. Why can't you stay buried?"

You left. You left without explaining. Without saying goodbye.

"I had no choice. How could I tell them? How could I tell her?"

You fear her.

"I don't!"

You do. You fear her scorn, her disappointment, her anger. But most of all, you fear the loss of her love.

"Yes, I do. She's more important to me than anything. How could I bring her such sorrow by telling her the truth?"

And do you not bring her sorrow by staying away, by hiding?

"She's not strong. The news could kill her."

Yes, she is not strong, Did it not occur to you that perhaps your leaving killed her? That she is already dead?

"Don't say such things1! Of course I thought of that! But I can't go back. She would never have me if I told."

You misjudge your finace. Agatha is stronger than you think. Perhaps not in body, but in soul and mind.

"I'm afraid to go back."

Coward.

"Why do you still haunt me? I wish to be down with you, and that part of my life! Begone from me and follow me no longer!"

I cannot and will not leave, not until you have put this crime to rest.

"Have I not put it to rest already? No one knows about it; I have hidden all the evidence."

You know.

"I will forget... in time."

You have already tried to forget, and yet here I am. You cannot kill your conscience.

"You mock me. I have suffered every day and night since that day. At nights it is worst, it is then that I see the whole picture as clearly as the day it happened. I see his eyes, his face."

Agatha is not the only one you fear. You fear the law.

"Yes! Do you have to pull everything out of me? Can I not hide anything from you? I fear the law, of course! I would be killed if I return, and then Agatha would be no better off than she is now."

Perhaps.

"I mistrust your tone. What are you saying?"

I mean that Agatha might have turned to someone else by now. Someone she can trust and rely on. A man whom will stay by her no matter what.

"Now you confuse me! First you say she is longing for me, now you say she has turned to another."

I do not say, I only suppose. I am not God.

"What is God to me? Why do you bring Him up?"

What is God to you? He is much; you fear Him also.

"Not true!"

Then why do you cower away from the sound of His name?

"I've had enough of this conversation! As I told you before, I wish to be left alone! Stop resurrecting bad memories! I wish to be left alone!"

You do not really wish that. You would go mad. But I will leave you for now. Leave you to your guilty thoughts, your prideful thinking. Guilt does not die until it is put to rest in the proper way, Michael.