When Beth Kephart throws Facebook confetti and declares that it is Work-in-Progress day, and when Beth then invites her many talented writer friends to share a few lines from their current Work-in-Progress, and when Beth then asks you (meaning ME) if you’re in ….
Then you decide that this will be a two-blog post day (it is a holiday, after all) and the planned book review will wait.
Instead, you skim the pages of your own novel in progress to see what words, if any, are good enough to share. You want them to be your best – or, as best as they are right now.
Some of you have read these words before, either in this space or in a critique session at writing group. Some of you are new here and hence, have never seen them.
Regardless, here are the very first lines of Chapter 1 of my young adult novel titled Between Here and Gone.
“Anyone die today?”
It was his standard greeting to me during those days, a joke that started taking on a double meaning. We had abandoned the pleasantries of how are you and how was the drive up from Philly. In those days, we were all about the dead and the dying as we tried making room for the living.
“I got the last one, can you believe that?” I said, nodding toward the boxed butter cake I held, an attempt to change the subject.
My dad’s question-as-greeting referred to the obituaries, but we didn’t call them that. They were simply “The Deads.” Our religious daily reading of them in The Philadelphia Inquirer was one of the things we had in common, and one of the many revelations that came to light nearly a decade ago when Mom left to find herself out in Tahoe – and stayed. Whenever someone connected to our large, full of twice-removed peopled family died, it became almost a contest between us, our own celebration of The Days of The Dead, to see who would be the first to call, the first to ask, “Hey, did you see in the Inky that ….?”
He was expecting an answer. There was a time when I would have offered the tired joke about whether one of us were expecting to see our names listed but not now, not today. Not in these circumstances.
“Well, we’re still here,” I offered, just like I knew he wanted me to say, knowing that there would be a day when I wouldn’t be able to give that answer.
When the question wouldn’t be asked.
photo taken by me at my mom’s house, July 2011
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