It’s been a difficult week; two children sick at home, and now I have contracted the dreaded lurgy myself. It’s not conducive to sleep, writing or creativity. However, I got all my re-writes done, and have just started the final edit before sending my new little book-baby out into the kind (I hope!) hands of my lovely beta-readers. Current word count is 30, 317, but I expect to reduce that as I edit. This is the last time I will post about Swanskin until nearer its launch date. Btw, if anyone’s interested, I’m looking for two more beta-readers.
Here is an excerpt. This piece is one of the re-writes I worked on this week. Cethlenn has something of a complicated relationship with her mother, as you will see…
The atmosphere in school was pretty hyper. There were groups of students everywhere, some happy, a few distraught, many hugging and screaming and doing little happy dances. The noise was intense. I felt sick as I moved through them, a part of it all and yet not.
I signed for my envelope, then turned to be confronted by a shrieking Sophie. She flung her arms around me. “I passed,” she yelled in my ear. “I passed. Well, only just, but still. It’s a miracle.”
She faltered when she saw my own envelope was unopened. “Congratulations. I’m happy for you,” I replied, and meant it. I had really missed her friendship over the summer. She took my arm and drew me over to a quiet corner.
“Go on. You’ve got to look some time. Might as well get it over with.”
I groaned, stomach jolting. “I don’t think I can.”
“You could always leave it to your Mam.”
I ripped open the envelope. “I don’t think so. I need to prepare myself. She’s gonna go mental.” I scanned the results and sighed. “Yep, she’s gonna flip. That’s her plans for me being a teacher down the drain.”
“You don’t even want to be a teacher,” Sophie retorted.
“I know, but since when did that matter?”
Sophie snatched the sheet of paper from my hand. “Well, it’s not that bad. But it’s not good enough, that’s for sure.”
“Maybe I can re-sit them.”
“Yeah.” Sophie regarded me seriously. “Are you still seeing that guy?”
I shook my head. “No. But I’d rather not talk about it just yet, if you don’t mind.”
She nodded. “And how are things at home?”
I tried to twitch my lips into a smile, but failed. “Not easy. It’s world war three between Mam and Cian lately. Don’t know what the hell he’s supposed to have done. He hardly ever comes home, just works on the farm with Dad and dosses with mates at night.”
“Well he’s gonna get a reprieve when you bring this home.” She handed back my results and I stuffed them into the envelope. “A few of us are going down the town for a celebratory coffee. Want to join us?”
I shook my head. “I think I’ll just go home and face the music. Better get it over and done with.”
“Ok. Well, you know where I am if you need me. And I’m sorry about… well, you know.”
“I know. Me too. And thanks.”
I headed down the road to wait for a bus. I was dreading Mam’s reaction.
She was surprised to see me. “I thought you were celebrating with your friends?” she said.
I didn’t reply, just handed her the envelope. She stared at me for a moment, compressing her lips into that awful white line. She sat down at the kitchen table, shook out the letter and read its contents without a word. She must have stared at it for ten minutes while I stood there, anxiously hopping from one foot to the other. I thought I was going to throw up over her freshly mopped floor.
Eventually, I couldn’t stand her silence any more. “Well say something, then,” I burst out. But she didn’t. Slowly, she tore up the results, allowing the pieces to fall from her hands onto the floor. Then she got up and left the kitchen without even so much as a glance at me. I fled to my room. I didn’t go down for dinner, and no one bothered to call me, or bring me anything on a tray.
And here’s a little snippet from Ruadhán, too…
Nothing exceeded the rush of flying. It was my only solace. I lost myself in the spaces between winds and soared, nothing but the roar of the empty air about me, and the landscape passing beneath me, glorious in its abundance and many guises.
Sometimes, I thought I would fold my wings and allow myself to plummet and end it all, but somehow, I was ever unable. Perhaps my soul still cleaved on to hope, even though my heart and mind did not.
I wandered, and the days and nights merged into one formless mass, as they had done for centuries, each one nondescript and indistinct from the other. Just loneliness, and an ache that could never be relieved. I felt so heavy beneath its weight, I wondered that my wings could lift me.
I sailed from river to river, drifted from lake to lough, flying and feeding in the day, hiding and sleeping in the night. I say sleeping, but oft times it eluded me completely. Or else I was mired in traumatic dreams and memories which served only as torment.
SWAN FACT NO.4 A swan has over 25,000 feathers covering its body. Wonder who took the time to count them, and how the swan felt about it at the time!
OTHER NEWS; I entered a piece of flash fiction into Sacha Black’s Writespiration, you can read it here. The prompt was ‘write about a struggle’. Mine was based on a true story.
I also entered a poem into Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge. You can read it here. The prompt was to take a favourite line from a song, movie, etc and allow it to inspire a poem. I chose a line from Demons by Imagine Dragons, and wrote a villanelle (my first ever).
Ad that’s it for today. Have a great week!