Well this is the halfway point for NaNoWriMo and I’m definitely not at 25,000 words. A bit less than half that. Regardless, as I was telling Violet the other day, 10,000 words on one topic is a goal I’ve never reached before now. I’ve surpassed it by a little, and I’m really proud of that. And I’m really excited about what I’m writing. It’ll take multiple rounds of edits once it’s finished, yes, but I feel like I’ve crossed that invisible line of no return. I will finish this book, and I will work on it until it’s worth reading. Until then, though, you get the unedited, stream-of-conscious-esque scraps I throw at ya’
“Look,” said Sara, rising from her knees and feeling the indignity and frustration blossom into anger as the emotion spread through the veins that mapped her whole body. “Look, it doesn’t matter to you why I’m here-I’m not bothering you. Leave me alone or I’ll get the groundskeeper. You can’t act this way to people, especially not here—not in this place.”
She could feel her tear ducts warming up, ready to spill over with hot salty tears. It had been always an automatic reaction of hers to cry when angry, and it was a reaction she fiercely despised. Crying always made her feel like she lost the moment, regardless of the actual outcome. She blinked hard in an effort to hold them back. Sara forced herself to keep her head level as she stood face to face with the strange man. Her last statement made his body jerk forward in a spasm, and she realized he was laughing at her. It was a mean, guttural sound that made her think of an animal, a wild vicious one, cornered and trapped, if that animal could laugh at the twists of fate leading to its current predicament.
Sara inhaled deeply to clear her head, not trusting the situation enough for her to shake her head. She kept her eyes on the stranger as he returned to his pacing, this time right where her grandmother’s feet could be traced, several feet deeper in the ground. He appeared to be talking to himself, or rather, to his hands.
“Not here, no not here, not here. Doesn’t know. Doesn’t know!” The last two words were shouted at Sara instead of muttered towards his palms. Sara didn’t trust enough to look way from him in an effort to see if there was someone near enough for her to flag down for help. She could recognize the fast pace with which any control she could exercise over the situation was leaving her. All she could do was hope a dogwalker was nearby and recognize the sharp strangeness present in the moment.
“Look, I think there’s a mistake—is there someone we can all to help you out?” Sara offered the suggestion in the calmest voice she could muster, wanting to reassure the unsettled stranger.
He jerked away from his self-absorbed muttering to bark out that painful laugh again. This time Sara watched him closely and couldn’t believe how dark his mouth looked when he opened it to laugh. It was like any place that her eyes would expect to see color was caught be shadows instead, making her want to turn her head for a clearer angle.
“Someone for me? No no no no it’s you, you need the help. You need to trust me. Trust me!” The man’s maniacal pacing and abrupt stops was scaring Sara and she couldn’t see any sense of what was going on. She couldn’t fathom an exit from this moment, some way for her to escape this strange boy with his lack of color. Sara blindly took a step backwards and bumped her into her grandmother’s grave marker. She caught herself from falling and deftly stepped behind it to create a larger pocket of space between he rand her aggressor. Sara pointed down to the marker in a wild attempt to stall the violent stranger.
This is my grandmother, Marlena Tucker, see? That’s my middle name—I’m Sara Tucker Grimsten, after this woman—my grandmother. I’m just visiting her to say hello, to pay my respects. I don’t,” Sara’s voice cracked as the adrenaline made her slightly hysterical. “I don’t need help, your help.”
The man watched her as she spoke, his face softening from the hard lines etched there from so much anger. His haircut was old-fashioned, almost a bowl cut, and several dark loose strands fell across his forehead. He continued staring at sara, holding perfectly still, and she started to hope somewhat weakly that somehow something had gotten through to him, that he was finally calming down.
He continued to stare and Sara realized that the violent anger which had fueled him earlier hadn’t disappeared, but rather it had morphed. She could see the loathing for her on his face, his disgust and resentment written in his posture.
The stranger shook his head slowly and abruptly took several long strides towards her. Sara was too shocked as she watched him step through the gravestone she had almost tripped over a moment before to do anything but watch, helplessly dumbstruck. Walking through the headstone as if it was nothing more than a projection, the man reached Sara and shoved her hard with very solid hands and watched as she fell to the ground. Sara gasped loudly and tucked her feet up to her body. She struggled to find her balance enough to allow her to stand and run, bu he was faster.
He leaned down and grabbed her feet, pulling her back towards him. Sara screamed loudly this time as she felt his hands on her bare skin. It was as if he was reaching through her boots and jeans. He dropped one of her feet and smacked her across the mouth—not hard enough to hurt badly, but enough to stun her into temporary silence.
“You’re so wrong,” he repeated, placing an emphasis on the last word that sent an icy shiver of terror down Sara’s spine. You reek from it. I have to fix how wrong you are.”