My dear friend Miss Elliot (seriously go check out her blog - she has the most adorably-written posts and all that jazz) suggested I'd do a post filled with snippets of my current novel, 'At the Wrong Side of the Ocean.' Seeing as I don't have much time to make posts, this is a perfect one for me. It might be ludriculously boring for you, though, but hey, just so long as posts keep on popping up on the surface, ey, ey?
‘I’ll only tell you if you promise you won’t ask me why I’m not fighting.’
‘I wasn’t planning to.’
‘That’s good.’ He smiled kindly. ‘I’m twenty – I’m not like most of my friends, who yearned to enlist as soon as War broke out. Some of them went at a sure young age, pretending they were a year older; no doubt they weren’t the only ones. I wasn’t keen at all – lost my father in the other War, don’t like the sound of fightin’. But yeah, I’m twenty now and I’ve got to register for training. Will be leaving in several months and I’m not counting down the days.’
Laura smiled through her chatters and heavy blankets. ‘You didn’t have to explain.’
‘No, it’s good if you understand.’ Andy was looking at the crackles in the fireplace, and he talked to Laura as if he was talking to himself; daydreaming. ‘But of course, I want to do my part and all that. Don’t think I don’t, ‘cos I do. But fightin’ – I’m just not really attracted to the idea. But I’m going to go, and I’m going to try to put my heart in it and do it for our country.’
James and Spencer were anywhere but in the sight of their family members – dodging between the cheering and happy multitudes, crawling under legs and arms, whisking the best food from the tables, and running to calmer and inky-evening-black places with trees, climbing as high as they could and devouring their sugary treasures whilst sitting there. The trees they climbed in stood solemnly at the side of the park in the town, in black shadowy corners, set apart slightly from the people, who were slowly going home one by one, holding lanterns and chattering with laughs fading softly as they walked further.
‘Hey Spencer,’ James began. His accent had become quite American by now. ‘I finished my doughnut. Shall we go down again for more?’
‘No, wait, I still have a few more bites to go,’ Spencer said from the dark. The branch he was sitting on cracked melodiously.
‘Hey Spencer,’ James started, thinking of a sudden something.
‘The War’s ended. That means I’ll be going back home, right?’
Spencer said nothing for a minute. James thought he was busy eating his whatever-he-had-got, but Spencer was, in fact, seeping that thought in, very upset about it. He and James had done practically everything together for four years.
‘I bet you’re happy,’ Spencer said after a while.
‘Yes,’ James replied. ‘Sure am!’
‘Okay, let’s go and get some more now.’ Spencer didn’t want to think about James leaving today. He really wasn’t ready for it.
The main things that peak out when I think back is me scraping that tin plate and gazing at the food in the market. There was a market every Tuesday, and mother would go there to buy the essential things. I would gaze at the meat, dripping with fat and drizzling with beautiful rich oil. I would stand in front of all the Christmassy puddings and dumplings, pastries, walnut-balls clumped together with maple syrup and mouth-watering chocolate, gazing with my young blue eyes, the words of my father rolling and re-rolling inside my brain. ‘One day, Charley. One day, an’ soon Charley. All the chocolate you want, why that’s a no-brainer!’
So he stopped for the last time at the little white house with purple fall leaves scattered over the porch. He found Rose alone outside; he wondered if she had been waiting for him. ‘Hello, Jonathan,’ she said.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘You know – my dad reminded me of this yesterday – you know that it’s illegal for whites to marry blacks?’
Rose’s happy youthful face sprung to a grave grey. She said nothing.
‘I think we should stop this then. Before it gets too – serious.’ Jonathan hated to put an end to this beautifully fresh and moist and blossoming relationship. It was so young, but yet so old. It was a beautiful relationship – all fluttery, like white, white lace curtains fluttering delicately in gentle spring wind. But he had to end it – it just wasn’t possible.
‘Yes,’ said Rose.
Harper got a pair of sailor palazzo pants – something which she never got to wear; it was totally out of her comfort zone (but never mind, because Lottie stole the piece) – five blouses with jumbles of cheery patterns, prickly woollen cardigans with buttons that looked like coloured chocolate, skirts with flexible material just rough enough to look professional, two ordinary dresses – one blue, one dark rosy – and a pink Sunday dress with wave-like tiny pleats, a frippery furbelowed lace collar and satin trimmings made of flippery material that jaunted like butterfly kisses. Harper was so in love. It was the nicest dress she had ever owned. She generously told Tatty and Lottie they could borrow it now and then, but she was so happy that the gorgeous gentle thing belonged to her.
By ten o’clock, Lottie was snoring already, but Tatty and Harper were relaxing wide-eyed and dreamily in the dark bedroom. They heard Jacky and Tote washing up plates in the kitchen, and talking together in low voices they couldn’t quite grasp.
And then they heard their doorbell ring.
The Gab’s had an old doorbell, one that went ting-ting and then seemed to bong in circles, wavering with trills in the air. In the daytime it had a cheery sphere to it, an Easter-like sphere. But at ten o’clock, in a black, bat-like, cold, wet November night, the sound made Harper’s wild thoughts jump into haunting conclusions, and she felt like screaming.
‘Who could that be?’ she whispered.
‘Dunno,’ whispered Tatty back. ‘Shall we have a look?’
Harper and Tatty crawled out of their soft eiderdowns, and tiptoed with their bare feet under their silk winter pyjamas into the hall, arm in arm, making an adventure of it. They bent over the banisters trying, listening carefully. Tote had just opened the door; Harper could hear it was raining outside.
‘What is it?’ Tote asked. There was not a trace of laughter left in his voice anymore.
‘You know it,’ answered the guest. It was a low voice, with an even worse crackle than Tote’s. It sounded zooey and zappy and drunk. Harper clamped Tatty’s hand. It was Miranda Kerr! Miranda Kerr, approaching a house different to her own! Miranda Kerr in front of their doorstep! Miranda Kerr! That lady with witchy liquor smell fuming from her old skin, crinkled with grey lines; that lady with violent bronze eyes, glaring war-like at every obstacle that passed her – here! Harper desperately wanted to go down and look. She imagined the big spider-web bunch of hair, looking all ghostlike with raindrops mingled all inside; and she imagined her wearing a stinky over-coat, drenched to the skin, and looking violently at Tote. But Harper didn’t move a muscle, and neither did Tatty. They wanted to go, but they were scared and cold and frozen quiet, leaning their hair curlers against the banister, because they wanted to catch every word going on down there.
‘Yes, I know why you’re here.’ said Tote. He sounded calm, but firm. It was a voice that knew it was going to win. Not a voice that tried to win, and voice that knew it. ‘But,’ he went on, ‘I don’t see why it would change anything.’
‘You kidnapped the boy.’
‘You mistreated him.’
‘I didn’t, you scull-head, you!’ She spoke with puffs and husky terrors.
‘Mrs Kerr,’ Tote said professionally, ‘I found James Tucker lying unconscious on the ground, his face blue with coldness, and purple strokes of bruises on his legs. Yes. What have you to say.’
Please mark that theses snippets aren't yet properly edited, and all that, so excuse the perhaps-wrong-sounding sentences and typos. I hope you liked them, though. :-)