"The movement lingered; hovering just above her skin, making her hair prickle up like filings. Ada yanked her quilt over her head and curled into a ball, dipped and then hardening with fear. The house seemed to circle more tightly, watchfully, around her, and she resolved not to move.
She lay there breathing wildly, then slid out again, the blood still pounding under her skin. It was just a dream, she thought, nothing more-
But- that sound, scraping quietly over the floor-
There was something else in her room.
It came on the bed. Ada screamed, began scrambling away, but the thing drew over her, crouching low atop her body, its long, stiff fur prickling her skin. Its eyes tick-tocked over her face, not seeming to see her in any ordinary sense.
It was blind, studying her scent. She flattened. It lay close over her; if she moved, its teeth would unzip her flesh. She had to escape, but what then? What could she could hit it with? A book, a shoe-but she’d hardly unpacked. The only things serviceable as weapons were her records. And those were out of reach...."
So now I'm in the Midwest visiting my family before the holidays, and took my dad's car into the shop this morning. It's hard for me to write new stuff in a situation where I'm frequently interrupted, but I can edit, so I spent the first part of the morning hunting over the first 15 pages of my manuscript- I want to get the first 50 or so to a presentable state so I can try submitting for fellowships, residencies, etc this December.
The full length, ultra-rough manuscript now runs to 200 pages, and is officially a gnarly mess. I've been experimenting with dividing it up by character, which seems like a reasonable way to tighten & speed up the individual stories. Then I'll stitch them all back together. Or not, if it works to tell it section by section.
Foggy, drizzly day with my parents' dogs, the big one and the small one.
My dad and I went to the art museum on Saturday, then again on Sunday because it was such a wonderful time. It's become our special routine whenever I come home. He had a stroke two years ago, and getting around is no longer easy for him, but man, we can look at paintings together for hours. We rented a scooter at the desk to make things easier, but on our second visit we decided to park a few blocks away to have a walk through the trees.
I also went to church on Sunday with my mom, something I haven't done with intent since I lost my faith as a grade schooler. Thinking about it brings to mind a poem, a favorite of G.G.'s:
This Solitude of Cataracts- Wallace Stevens
He never felt twice the same about the flecked river,
Which kept flowing and never the same way twice, flowing
Through many places, as if it stood still in one,
Fixed like a lake on which the wild ducks fluttered,
Ruffling its common reflections, thought-like Monadnocks.
There seemed to be an apostrophe that was not spoken.
There was so much that was real that was not real at all.
He wanted to feel the same way over and over.
He wanted the river to go on flowing the same way,
To keep on flowing. He wanted to walk beside it,
Under the buttonwoods, beneath a moon nailed fast.
He wanted his heart to stop beating and his mind to rest
In a permanent realization, without any wild ducks
Or mountains that were not mountains, just to know how it would be,
Just to know how it would feel, released from destruction,
To be a bronze man breathing under archaic lapis,
Without the oscillations of planetary pass-pass,
Breathing his bronzen breath at the azury center of time.
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)