Opening to the future, closing up the past

Scene: the main protagonist, Kerri Ann, experiences the death of a family member and reacts not with grief but with stoicism. As others reach out to her she pulls away. It ends in a bedroom with a pillow discussion and a ticking clock underscoring the gravity of life, the choices made to ignore rather than face the past, and the acquiescing to routine rather than opening up to pain and moving forward through life. It’s what they don’t discuss that hangs as a mist to influence future misunderstanding, except at this point I’m the only one who knows that.

“All right,” he said, reached over and turned out the bedside light. He drew in close, sifted my hair over my shoulder, and his lips lingered in light caresses on the nape of my neck. I didn’t respond to his touch. I loitered in the past, trundled through that horrid hovel, knowing it would look worse as an adult than it ever had as a child. The mantel clock ticked a muffled beat as the rest of the house grew silent. The last light seeping under the door went dark, hurling us into blackness.

“Why didn’t you want me to come?” he spoke into the night.

Share, the clock clicked rhythmically. Share, it tocked.

Lisa: good imagery with Kerri Ann and her dad; -just “confided” good don’t need “whispered;” +”Traced my mark.” Note? Need to understand its importance, need more on that. +”Cascading concern,” +”leave it alone,” Sherrine told Chloe; +the whiff of tissues from box;” +glad Lee came; didn’t’ understand only ½ hour of people after funeral? +rude second husband; +speculation about door tight in parents house. Not sure I understand the fight between Kerrie Ann and Lee(?); I don’t care about that, I care about now (conflicts with his questions during fight).

Melanie: Graveyard scene. +Lee not coming to funeral, +++Lee arrived. +Grief of others – for her. +Guest “welcome to God’s country” scene, we knew something was coming! +Pretend jobs no one needs. +Tick Tock.

Pam: +Nice inner thoughts at the first part. Interesting that she left before he died. So she hated her mom, too? I didn’t remember that – sorry. Why is she so devastated that she can’t even function? +Great imagining at the funeral! I’m glad Lee came! Good exchange of character dialogue at the reception (I didn’t get the whole door thing). K.A. has many issues doesn’t she? I wish she wasn’t so ashamed of her past. +Breathe – tick-breath – toc’ (That entire scene is well done).

Peggy: +Dredged up murk” …ooh, I like that! ?He “walked” away again? Death? +Like a lone sentinel, + :-). +Chloe being mad about Lee not being there…And then for him to be at the funeral…Yay! + :-). +”his eyes smiled…” <– nice. +Like the addition of the clock ticking with her thoughts. +Getting to know Kerri Ann.

Edits: The group thought I could eliminate a couple of summary references to items the reader understands from the details. Done.

There was some confusion about KA’s feelings about her mom. She didn’t hate her, and also some questioning why Kerri Ann felt the death so hard of someone she did hate. Fixed.

I moved the tissue box in the scene from the rows of well-wishers to the family row and think it tightened up the emotions.

Pam’s catch, “Interesting that she left before he died,” will give me something nice to remind her of when KA reflects in Part II why she did that. I’ll enjoy reminding Pam of how astute she was to catch that fleeting thought.

This was one of my chapters I sent to the teacher (Carolyn Rose) when I missed a class to attend volunteer orientation for Willamette Writers Conference. I used teacher’s feedback to enhance the scene, but also mistakenly took the scene too far. The read to the group let me know I needed to pull Lee back, the Korean husband, soften his edges, he is not an easy character to understand. we will love him and get pissed at him from here on out. Characters tick as illusive as people who don’t want to be known, or who don’t know themselves well, as complicated as the inner workings of a clock.

The tick-tock they referenced is a clock beating in the background as Kerri Ann opens up to Lee, shares her childhood, how it haunts her and how she doesn’t want it to touch him. A ticking clock will show up in Part II, but that’s to underscore the need to leave. This was a fun night for me to read—lot of emotion in the room, intense listening.

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