NaNo Day 6

Oookay, NaNo is continuing and I am being possessed by a very talkative and odd main character. It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything like this. Hell, who am I kidding? I’ve never written anything quite like Skeletons in the Closet. It’s fun, in a warped sense, to do. But Lexie Smithson is an odd bird and I just realized that I’m writing the book exactly as she’s dictating it to me. Yes, I hear her in my head as I write. It sort of helps since the book is in her POV, but it is getting annoying because there’s this mix of stereotypical country/Texas/Southern to her that will need to be cleaned up if I want to publish this. At least I think there is. It might just be that the book is so different from what I’ve been writing that I am not sure what to do about Lexie and company.

That may actually be part of the problem. I’m pantsing this book since it is for NaNo. (BTW, I hadn’t planned on doing this particular book but it won’t go away. So I am writing two books at once this month. Help me. Please. Whimper.) The word count on this installment is 2870 and I did another 2k on the other project.

Anyway, here is most of my output on Skeletons in the Closet from yesterday. As always, the content is mine and copyright resides with me. So don’t do anything with it that will make me send the demon kitten after you.  😉

 

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

 

Despite all the weirdness in Misty Creek, and most especially in our house – or maybe because of it – the sun does still rise in the east and there are still bills to pay.  That means, no matter how badly I might want to stay in bed, pillows over my head to block out the world, I can’t.  So, I’d best just get out of bed and out of the house.  Not that I really minded.  The last few days had been stranger than usual, so weird that just the thought of going to class was so much more appealing than the prospect of staying home.

I didn’t need the sounds of a skillet banging on the stove down in the kitchen, echoed almost instantly by drawers slamming in Mama’s room to know the battle still raged.  Believe me, raged is much too mild a word for what’s been going on.  And, not being a fool – at least not too much of one – I knew the best thing for me to do was to get out of the house just as quickly as possible.

Hell’s bells, I’d forgo my shower if it meant avoiding the next barrage between Granny and my mama.  I could always grab one at the university after my morning run.

Ten minutes later, dressed in running shorts, sports bra and a tank top, my running shoes in one hand, I carefully crept down the hall past my parents’ bedroom.  So far, so good.  All those years of sneaking in after curfew – more like trying to sneak in.  Mama almost always managed to catch me – finally seemed to be paying off.  I knew exactly where to step, and where not to, in order to avoid that one board near my parent’s room that always creaked like a door hinge badly needing an oiling.  I could tell by sound alone just where in her room Mama happened to be.

Just a little bit further and I’d be at the stairs and safe – almost.

It’s not that I really expected Mama to burst out of her room and catch me.  After all, where’s the fun in that?  I wasn’t exactly breaking curfew and, yes, even though I’m an adult now, Mama still acts like I’m not.  Nor was I sneaking out to meet some boy she didn’t approve of.  For one thing, I lost interest in boys long ago.  Men are so much more fun.  For another, if Mama thought I was even remotely interested in someone – man or Martian – she’d probably lock me out of the house in an attempt to throw us together.

As I said, Mama’s not one to let reality interfere with her desires and, believe you me, there’s nothing she desires more than to get away from this house once and for all.  In her mind, there’s only one way that’s going to happen, and that’s for Patty or me to get married.

And being the ungrateful daughter that I am, I was merely going out for a run and then to class.  I wasn’t going to meet a man who’d sweep me off my feet and finally get Mama out of her version of Hell on Earth.  Far from it, in fact.  I was simply once more escaping the strangeness that had been home for ten years now.

Besides, after what happened last night, Mama’d have other things on her mind besides why I might be leaving without saying goodbye.  Truth be told, it wouldn’t surprise me one little bit if we didn’t see Mama anytime soon.  The last time she and Granny went at it like they did yesterday, we didn’t see Mama for a week.  While Granny ruled over the downstairs, Mama stayed locked in her room and made poor Papa sleep on the sofa.  The only one she’d let in was Perfect Patty.  For that week, Mama sulked and whined and told Patty how she was the only who understood.  Which, if I’m to be honest – and Mama always told me I should be, no matter how painful.  “Lexie,” she’d said more times than I can count, “the truth hurts sometimes.  But it’s better to tell the truth and hurt someone’s feelings than to burn in the hellfire of damnation.” – is true.  None of the rest of us understood why Mama didn’t just accept Granny and the others and try to make the best of a very strange situation.

Far as I’m concerned, Mama crossed the line last night and there’d be no going back.  For ten years, Mama’s done her best to ignore, insult, bully and force Granny and the others out of the house.  She doesn’t care that this is their home just as much as it is hers.  Okay, so it is a bit strange having family you’ve seen buried sitting across from you at the breakfast table.  But they aren’t causing any trouble.  Truth be told, I have a feeling they’d leave if they could.  Well, all of them except Granny.  After last night, there’s no way she’s going to leave of her own accord, at least not unless Mama leaves the house first.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she didn’t tell Old Serena what happened.  If Mama thought last night was bad, just wait until Serena Duchamp learned what she did.  Damnation, you’d think Mama would have learned by now that she needs to think before doing something so exceedingly stupid.  The last time she angered Old Serena, our dearly departed started taking up residence in the homestead.  I really didn’t want to think about what might happen next.

With my luck, I’d start turning furry on full moons or something equally off-putting to any sane guy who might, at some point, be interested in me. It was going to be difficult enough to try to explain away the dearly departed who still resided with the family. Telling him he’d need to play fetch with me every few weeks might just kill any romantic feelings that survived meeting the family.

Maybe it was time to move out.  I could do it.  Of course, I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone where I was going.  Nor could I leave a forwarding address.  Otherwise, no doubt about it, Mama would track me down and I’d find her waiting on my front doorstep, bags in hand, one day.  And, the way my luck runs, Granny and the others would be close behind.

“Lexie Marie Smithson, just where do you think you’re sneaking off to so early?

I paused at the foot of the stairs and blew out a breath.  I’d been so close.  Less than a dozen feet stood between me and freedom.  The front door was so near.  But not near enough.  Not with Granny standing in the doorway to the kitchen, hands on her hips, eyeing me suspiciously.

Why hadn’t I climbed out my window and shimmied down the tree like I used to when I was a kid?  It would have saved me so much trouble.

“I’m waiting.”  Her hands remained fisted at her waits and I swear she tapped one foot impatiently.  At least I think she did.  I didn’t dare look down to check.

“I’m not sneaking off anywhere, Granny.”  Well, not really.  “I’m just going to grab a run before class.”

“And I’m fresh as a daisy.”

I couldn’t help it.  The laugh was out before I could stop it.  One thing about my granny, alive or dead, she did have a sense of humor.  When she wanted to, at least.

“Course, if I was you, I’d be sneaking out rather than risk getting caught up between me and your mama.”  The humor was gone just as quickly as it had come.  “But you ought to know better.  Your mama’s not likely to show her face today.  So get yourself into the kitchen and eat some of the eggs and bacon I’ve made.”

Knowing better than to argue – besides, Granny made the best eggs around – I nodded and followed her into the kitchen.  Besides, she was right about one thing – unless Mama had taken complete leave of her senses, she’d lay low until Granny had time to cool down.  The only problem was, we didn’t have any idea how long that would be.  Alive, Granny held onto her grudges, savoring them until they fossilized.  What would she do dead?

###

“Amy, I swear my mama’s finally lost her mind.”  I slid onto the chair opposite my oldest friend, glad she’d been able to meet me for lunch.

“Lexie, you know I’ve always felt your mama’s been walking that tightrope between sanity and stark raving loony and that after your grandma and the others returned, her balance has been precarious at best.  So what’s happened to finally push her over the edge?”

I didn’t answer right away.  Instead, I studied my best friend, the only person I felt comfortable discussing my home life with.  For one thing, Amy and I had known each other since the first day of kindergarten.  We’d made common cause against my sister and hers.  She’d seen and condemned the way Mama favored both Patti and Bubba over me.  And she’d told me in no uncertain terms a number of times over the years that Mama would pay for it one day.

Well, when Amy’s right, she’s right.  Although I don’t think this was quite what she meant.

“Would you believe she brought in a Catholic priest to try to exorcise Granny and the others?”

If the table had been any higher, Amy’s jaw would have hit it.  For a moment, she looked an awful lot like a wide-mouthed bass just dropped into the boat.  Her eyes bulged, her mouth opened and closed but no sound escaped.  Not that I blamed her.  No siree.  I probably looked pretty much the same last night when I realized what Mama had been up to.

I swear, Amy must have sat there a good minute, staring at me in disbelief.  Then she reached up to close her mouth.  Which was probably a good thing.  We had enough folks looking at us in unbridled curiosity.  It’s not often any of us see Amy Duchamp speechless.

That’s right.  Duchamp.  As in Old Serena Duchamp.  Now you see why mama did her best to keep us apart.  That’s been especially true since that fateful encounter with Old Serena so long ago.  Not that I paid her any mind.  Amy and I had been friends too long to let Mama come between us.

“Lexie!”

Well, Amy finally found her voice. Unfortunately, it was loud enough to have everyone staring at us again.  She colored slightly and leaned forward, her expression intent.  “Lexie, you’re not saying she managed to convince Father Timothy to do an exorcism, are you?”

I shook my head.  Father Timothy led Misty Creek’s only Catholic church.  Mama had tried – more than once, truth be told – to convince him to perform an exorcism.  He’d been far more patient than I’d have been, explaining that it was his opinion God had some plan for Granny and the others.  Besides, he’d been told by Brother Bill how Granny and the others still went to services at the Baptist church on a regular basis.  As far as Father Timothy was concerned, they were simply a different kind of worshiper.

Mama had not been pleased.

“No, not Father Timothy,” I confirmed.  “She found herself a priest in Arlington who promised to help ‘rid her of those abominations.’  I don’t need to tell you that Granny wasn’t one bit pleased.”  And that was putting it mildly.

“Oh – my.”  Amy covered her mouth with her right hand. Her blue eyes danced with wicked glee.  Sure, she could laugh.  She hadn’t been caught in the cross-fire.  “I take it your granny wasn’t amused.”

“Amused?” I snorted.  “Let’s put it this way.  She sent that poor excuse of a priest running for the hills.  Not because she’s still holding court over the kitchen instead of being in her grave but because she gave him a lecture that had his ears burning.  It included things like pointing out she was no ghost.  Then she pointed out it was downright ridiculous to think she was possessed – because what self-respecting demon would want to possess the body of an old woman and then move back in with the daughter-in-law who detested her.  I thought the priest was going to choke at that.  Then Aunt Pearl came in and if there’s anyone less threatening than that dear old lady.”  I paused, shaking my head.

“Well, Mama sputtered and then ranted and then demanded this Father Christoff do something.  And he did.  He apologized – yes, apologized – to Granny.  Once he did, I swear he turned and ran for the door.  ‘Course he did stop long enough to tell my father to come see him if he ever needed to talk.”

That did it.  Amy threw her head back and laughed.  No, guffawed.  Big, braying peals of laughter that had everyone looking at us.  I groaned and buried my face in my hands.  Wasn’t it bad enough everyone in Misty Creek knew my family was a bit odd?  Which is truly unsettling when you consider how odd every family in town is.  But did Amy have to call attention to us here, in the middle of the TCU campus?  Didn’t she realize what would happen if the administration ever began to suspect what went on at home?  I’d lose my scholarship and be booted off-campus so quick my head would spin – literally.

“Amy!” I hissed as I dropped my hands.

“C’mon, Lexie.  You have to admit it’s funny.”  She grinned impishly.  Then she sobered, a little.  “I imagine things went downhill from there.”

“Oh yeah.”  Downhill, into a pit and well on the way to the Earth’s core.  “Mama demanded Granny and the others leave.  Granny countered that this had been their home much longer than Mama’s.  So, if anyone should leave, it’s Mama.  That’s when Mama tried to pull Papa into it.”  I leaned back, blew out a breath and looked around the coffeehouse.  No one seemed to be paying us attention – thankfully.

“Oh no.  Your poor dad.”

“Yeah.  Mama demanded he do his duty and make Granny and the others leave.  I swear, Amy, I thought Mama was going to have a heart attack right there.  Her face was fire engine red.  She was panting and gasping for air.  I think she was even frothing at the mouth just a little.”  Or maybe a lot.

“Oh my.”  Sympathy replaced humor.  “What did your dad do?”

“He basically told Mama she’d made this bed and she’d best accept it or move on.  If he could learn to put up with her holier-than-thou attitude, she sure as hell could learn to cope.  Otherwise, he’d be glad to help her pack. He’d even book her a room somewhere far away.”

“Damn.”  Amy couldn’t quite hide her smile or her admiration for my dad.  I couldn’t blame her.  I’d been waiting a long time for him to finally stand up to Mama.  Unfortunately for Mama, she hadn’t stopped to consider the possibility that he wouldn’t do as she wanted.  She’d figured he’d cave as he had in the past just to keep peace in the family.  Well, Papa may have been forced to sleep in the guest room but I, for one, was glad he’d finally put his foot down.

“Lexie, your mama’s had this coming for years.”  Amy reached across the table to give my hand a squeeze.  “And I recommend she does as your daddy said – not that I think she will.”

No, not yet at any rate.

“Why don’t you stay with me tonight?  It will keep you out of the line of fire.  Besides, my grandma wants to see you.”

“What?”  Oh, great.  The last thing I needed or wanted was for word to get back to Mama that I’d seen Old Serena.  Still, staying with Amy would get me out of the house.  Besides, there was no way Mama would show up on the doorstep at the Duchamps’ place.

“Sure.  Thanks.”  I finished my coffee and stood, checking my watch.  “I’ve got to get to class.  Meet you here later?”

“Sounds good.”  Amy stood, carefully shouldering her backpack.  “I need to hit the library for a bit.”

Together, we left the coffeehouse.  At least it had quit raining.  All I had to do was get through the next few hours.  Then I’d follow Amy to her apartment over the garage at her grandmother’s.  Who knew what would happen then.

The light changed and I stepped off the curb.  Like most of those who attended TCU, whenever I stepped onto University Drive, I expected traffic to yield.  And it usually did.  Usually being the operative word.

“Lexie!” Amy screamed.

Ah hell.  Unlike Misty Creek, they have buses – lots of them in all sorts of shapes and sizes – in Fort Worth and I was about to have a close encounter of the painful kind with one of them.

At least I had on clean underwear.

*   *   *

Now for the mandatory promo.  Duty from Ashes is now available for pre-order on Amazon. You can check it out here.

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Hahahaha! I like Lexie and when I read your first post with her that accent was loud and very in your face, and I can’t get it out of my head. I’m so sorry for you.

    • Posted November 7, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      You laugh because she isn’t living in your head, demanding your undivided attention. Whimper. 😉

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