Friday, 2 November 2012


DAY 1: So excited to start. The novel has started from a slightly different starting point than I planned. I've started with Malachi and interestingly I have found myself writing in the present tense. This is very exciting as it is making the narrative feel very immediate and intimate. Malachi is an interesting character. The words have flown of the page and I clocked in 2,500 words. The characters are very bold.
Here are the opening paragraphs. Bear in mind that the whole premise of NaNo is that you are not meant to allow your inner editor to make an appearance - it is VERY much a first draft.

Here is Chapter One.

CHAPTER ONE copyright 2012 Katie M John (No part of this may be copied or reproduced without consent of author - Thank you)
Malachi tips the glass of bourbon to unsettle the caramel-glass surface. He has seen his father’s face  reflected back at him. Younger of course - but they were unmistakably his father’s eyes - the colour of dark chocolate. Malachi’s younger sister, Maud, has the same colour as their mother; ice-blue. His father had been a great man, not just in the eyes of his son, but in the eyes of the world. As one of the leading scholars of Shakespeare, he had attained the status of an international geek superstar. It is a hard legacy for his seventeen year old son to carry. Malachi downs the rest of the glass, stands and straightens his black mourning tie and smooths his hands over his dark grey suit. 
Today is the day of his mother’s wedding. It is also the seven month anniversary of his father’s death. Malachi’s jaw is clenched so hard that his teeth hurt. The pain feels reassuring. 
“Malachi!” his mother calls up the stairs to him. “The cars are waiting.” 
He looks at the bottle of bourbon on the desk. His father had opened it the night before he died. There are just a couple of shots left. Malachi has eked it out. Ridiculous as it sounds, it has made him feel close to him, as if each glass has been shared together. When it has gone, those moments will also be gone. 
“Malachi!” His mother’s voice is urgent. She is keen to be a bride. The thought of it makes him feel sick. He picks up the bottle, uncorks the stopper with his teeth and pours the rest of the burning spirit down his throat. The intensity of it brings tears to his eyes. He fights them back. He knows it will not be the only time today he will have to fight this battle.
He is hiding here in his father’s study. Graham, his father’s brother, soon to be husband to his brother’s wife, (yes, incest is complicated) has promised Malachi that it will become his. His father’s things will not be moved. Malachi is not holding this promise dear. After all, what worth is the word of a man who jumps into bed with the widow of his brother even before his brother is buried. 
The spirit makes Malachi cough - bringing tears to his eyes once more. He has not heard Maud enter the study and he startles when he feels her hand on his shoulder.
“Ki,” she speaks with the voice of a lullaby, “everybody is waiting for you.”
“Let them wait!”
“Ssh!” she soothes and strokes he head. “Not today, Ki. Mama knows how you feel - the whole family know how you feel.”
Malachi balls his fist. The urge to destroy something is almost overwhelming.
Maud holds out the pale blue silk tie and implores him with her eyes to change. Malachi bats her hand away. It is enough that he is going. He runs his hand along the line of his trousers, tucking his shirt tight before doing up his jacket button. 
“Let’s go.” He walks out, leaving Maud’s hand still suspended in the air. She is also unhappy about her mother’s hasty marriage to her Uncle Graham. He is a strange man - she has never liked him. Fourteen year old Maud is a born again Christian. She has the youthful sureness of right and wrong. The pastor has told her that her mother’s marriage to her late husband’s brother is a cardinal sin - they are both condemned to hell. 
Their mother is waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs. She is dressed up like a pea-hen, all white satin and a festoon of feathers. Her cheeks are over-rouged. She has lipstick on her teeth. Malachi doesn’t tell her - he takes a quiet satisfaction in this minor social faux-pas (as if the wedding wasn’t bad taste enough). She looks at Malachi hard, notes his black tie and goes to say something before thinking better of it. She knows that he is like an unexploded bomb. The boy needs to stop being so gloomy. Death is just a part of life. Life is short. “Out, out brief candle, life is nothing but a walking shadow that struts and frets its hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” She smiles sadly at herself. She can quote Shakespeare as easily as the names of her own children, but it means very little to her. In all the years she was married to the esteemed Professor Stone she had never read or watched one of Shakespeare’s plays in its entirety. Her knowledge of the bard was as fragmented as the knowledge she really had of her husband. 
His brother Graham had always loved her. He had told her this on the day she wed his brother. He had tried to kiss her in the car on the way to the church and she had slapped him. Not because of what he had told her, but because he had left it too late. The professor brother had already staked an eternal claim - she was pregnant with Malachi. For eighteen years Graham had stood in the shadows watching on as his golden-haloed brother lived the perfect life - except that it wasn’t. 
The silent, heavy moment between Malachi and his mother passes. She wishes that he could read her mind and know just how much she loves him, even if she doesn’t particularly like him at present. She is blocking the stairway and Malachi catches her as he passes by. It is a cold moment but she lets it pass and smiles weakly at her daughter, Maud, looking for sympathy. Maud replies with a steely glare and a shrug of the shoulders. 

Malachi arrives at the Registry Office earlier than the wedding party and takes a seat on the back row. The guests have not noticed him arrive and he can hear their whispers. They are there because in their small community his family count as aristocracy - no matter what, the aristos stick together - and also because they like nothing more than to be a front row spectator at  a road-crash drama. His mother had asked if he would give her away but he had refused. There had been a terrible row. Horrible, irrecoverable things had been said. Malachi had stayed out all night. When Maud had asked him where he had been, he had refused to tell her, but she knew … he had been with Ophelia. Soon after he arrives, Lucy, Malachi’s girlfriend arrives and takes a seat next to him. She reaches out and takes his hand in hers. It is limp and uncommitted. She is wearing a pink silk dress suit and matching hat and shoes. Malachi glances at her and thinks that she looks like a younger version of his mother. He returns her smile out of habit. He stays with Lucy as a form of self-discipline (possibly self-punishment). Staying with her is an exercise in self-control, proving that he can conquer the weakness that is human emotion. That he is not a slave to lust or love. He is a free man. An evolved man. A superior being beyond the baseness of human frailty. She leans in and whispers to him, 
It is a stupid question and one that Ophelia would never ask - but Lucy, well she’s a different type of girl entirely. 
Malachi nods. His jaw is still tightly clenched. 
“Your sister gave me this.” Lucy hands out the wretched blue-silk tie and smiles her sweetest smile as if she understands but maybe knows better than him. 
“That was nice of her but I’m really not sure it goes with your lovely outfit, sweetheart,” he replies.
She laughs. (God how that laugh annoys him.) He counts to three with deep breaths in between.
“It would be a nice gesture to wear it …” she makes a small drama of scanning the room and then leans in conspiratorially “… and maybe it will stop some of the whispering.”
Malachi stares straight ahead and twists the top of his black tie. “Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a fuck what the gossips have to say!”
The word “fuck” has been said loud enough to cause a small ripple of surprise from some of the elderly ladies in the row in front and Lucy is doing her best to smile and be charming - apologising on his behalf for his outrageous behaviour. Malachi does not feel sorry. Lucy is squirming in her seat. Malachi allows himself a wry smile - she will accommodate his every instruction later in order to appease her angry god. He knows that his cruelty does not make him good. 

The music strikes up and his mother walks down the aisle. She looks slightly flustered and he is happy that maybe he has cast a slight cloud over her day. The legal process is thankfully swift. (Even she is not audacious enough to pretend that God or any other ‘spirit’ would approve of a sentimental exchange between them) Before he knows it, the wedding party are standing on the steps of the Town Hall, confetti raining down around them and the photographer barking orders for them to smile.

When the photos are returned it is clear that Malachi has refused. 

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