This new novel is beginning to come together. It is a departure from Shoal Hope and my previous work. It is an exploration of the intertwining mysteries of writing, action, and how we puzzle out what to do in face of a future we cannot predict.
Here is a short excerpt:
Snow fell. Like in Bruegel. Some winter’s scene from the Maunder Minimum that mini Ice Age in the late Middle Ages. Everything in sight expressed into a calligraphic monochrome. A diluted watercolor palette of somber grays. Dark splotches fading into glowing patches of white. As though the color of the paper ground showed through.
Birds flew by. Appearing as moving marks, strokes expected to fade away and bleed back into empty space. The foreground eclipsed by falling flakes. Like ashes settling softly onto every surface.
“Sounds like the biggest, most audacious trump ever!” He laughed, turning to look at Cara. He was immediately struck by her presence. Her vibrant vitality contrasted against the muted, washed out tones outside. It took Gordon a moment, grinding his gears, to adjust. Her pale skin, dark hair, and sharp eyebrows. Her eyelashes stood out like carved incisions, curling strokes of dense black ink. Like a steel quill scratching fine grained paper. “Yes, it does!”
“It’s a wonder you don’t get hit more often than you do!” She said. Her eyes bright and smoldering at the same time. Like Hematite gathering brilliant reflections. A steely, dark polished surface. “How can you make such a blanket statement?”
“Thought is incoherent! Everything that comes from thought is damaged goods!”
“It’s one thing to insist somebody’s been mistaken, but then to pile on – you say – everything you think is true is wrong?’”
Gordon reached across the table. His hands settling on its smooth, cool dark surface. Smiling sheepishly, he said, “When you put it that way?”
She leaned in towards him as he stepped forward. She hesitated and drew herself back upright. Her shoulders resting against the cushioned seat-back. Her eyes met his gaze. She reacted to his bemusement. A smile on her dark lips. Her cheeks rising almost imperceptibly. On the verge of speaking.
He blurted out, “We just want to be validated! It’s like we go around holding this shiny toy in front of us and we’re so eager that everyone appreciates it!” His hands rose. His arms still outstretched. He cradled this imaginary bauble turning it this way and that.
She reached out with her left hand and tapped his, “knocking” his “toy” crashing into the table to bounce away across the floor. His eyes following this imaginary trajectory he ended up looking down at the floor by the table, searching for its shattered pieces.
“How is anybody going to take it seriously? I mean really?” She laughed. He was still playing out his bit of business. He shoved her foot aside with his, craning his neck to peer beneath the table.
“Oh! Stop it!” She laughed and kicked him back.
The contrite boy. His innocence carried on his face breaking through his habitual scowl. She knew he knew the power of this look. They both knew its limits with anyone who knew him well.
At that moment she saw in him exactly what he must have looked like thirty years ago. The silver light, embracing shadows, hid decades of changes, accentuating bone structure over skin texture.
She rose again, responding to a pang of vertigo. Butterflies chilling her stomach. Fluttering silvery wings beneath her chest. Her cheeks warmed by a rising blush.
Covering all this with a feint of anger, “Cut that out!”
He settled back in his seat, folding back into his habitual slouch. Back curled, shoulders down. His neck arched forward to aim his gaze at her as she shrugged and settled down on her side.
As much as he talked about staying in the moment, he found himself – as he often did when in her presence – picturing her as he had first seen her.
Entering a room full of people talking he spotted her facing away, deep in conversation with a group standing in an arc before her. He was immediately struck by their rapt attention. It was as if he first saw her through their eyes. Men and women alike, smiling, eager, and open to what she was saying. So clear.
A concision to her movements struck him next. Her small frame carried with distinction. Her movements precise, yet not fussy.
He took to her even before he saw her face. He arrived in front of her just as her eyes turned, mid-sentence, to look at him. “Love at first sight!”
“Oh boy!” What anyone would say if he described the scene to them this way. “Not quite true.” He had to admit, both relieved and troubled by this equivocation. His ambiguity persisted. Even after all these years.