I have this problem with first drafts. They don’t happen.
That’s not to say I don’t have anything, because I do have some stuff to show you, but I rarely write something all the way through before peeking back and editing, restructuring, revamping, rewording, blah blah.
So that bout of perfectionism, sprinkled with some potent procrastination, and here’s what we’ve got so far. Something unfinished and all over the place that will probably get torn apart and stripped down to something that actually fits under a 1k word limit.
I tweeted how I was able to spew out 300 words in one sitting and nothing had happened yet, and now I’m at 1k words and, like, 2 things have happened.
Which is fine, I think. Most of the things I’ve written over the years have been more… characters’ thought processes than anything else. So we are par for the course, friends, lmao.
But anyway. Here’s what I have as of now.
It’s warm in here.
It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.
It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And have had every day. For…
You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would make this feel too much like a prison.
But… isn’t it?
You sit up and give your head a few shakes. Nah nah nah, you don’t wanna think like that. You’re out here for a good reason. Probably several good reasons.
If only it wasn’t as monotonously warm.
With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this tiny concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the new flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.
This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.
So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities–bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back–and the not-so-much–table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…
You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet red window shutters.
The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.)
Not a prison, not a prison, not a prison.
You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid.
And you hate bugs.
Suffice it to say, the hill your box is seated on, sporadically surrounded by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.
Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.
She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds–(alright, half a minute)–before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.
There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not.
“Hey,” you call back, and raise a hand in greeting.
Something buzzes near you, then, and you want to ignore it, but it immediately buzzes again, close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the sharp spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.
“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.
There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.
“Are you okay?”
You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”
Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you. That was hilarious.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.
Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway, peering inside. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, and when your fingers wrap around a familiar aerosol can, you give a triumphant, Ah ha!
The next solid thirty seconds are spent on you dousing the whole window area in bug spray, along with your arms and legs. You don’t care too much that it’ll get anywhere else with you spraying it in your box. You don’t hate the smell of it, but you hate bugs more.
Done, you toss the can onto your bed and look up at the sound of the mini fridge closing. She shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning back against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.
“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.
You shake your head to yourself a little. Maybe later.
“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. Keeps those nasty things out–” You gesture out the window. “–and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.
She snorts, rolling her eyes, and you feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker from earlier, all the way down to your toes.
“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”
You look around your box. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop.
You count your options, hum, think, and grin.
“Boring day, today, huh?”
You stretch your arms and legs out in all directions, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. It’s soft, but durable enough to handle the dirt on the ground without much needed fussy cleaning.
With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles.
“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”
She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”
You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. After a moment, “No, I don’t think I could.”
You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on.
With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”
You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”
The two of you stare at the clouds for a while.
Okay we’re back. You’re lucky, you get the clean, non-highlighted version. Sigh, the whole bit with the bug spray is highlighted bc what is that I could definitely squish that down to like a sentence and is it even necessary–
But aside from chunks of this that I’d like to nix and the fact there’s nO ENDING YET (I have 2 ideas that I’m debating between), I’m liking parts of it. I’ve been intrigued by second person POV, too (tho I might swap to first person if I find I hate it), which I blame on my time working on a choice-based, POV shifting e-lit piece. I also like playing around with ambiguity regarding my characters. I feel like it gives the reader (I really almost just wrote player) a bit of power, almost? Like a game.
I think I wanna write games… huh…
Fair, since I started writing a visual novel with some friends a while back. Really wanna keep that going someday. I miss those dumbass kids. (The characters, not my friends, though I miss those kids, too.)
Anyway. I also have a chunk I cut from the middle–just after the visitor goes “That there’s why you run out all the time.”–that I felt was making the scene too Doom and Gloom too quickly, plus it had a backstory plot I was thinking of cutting (main character’s memory loss). For shits and giggles, here it is:
When you don’t reply, she tilts her head, and her eyes turn knowing. “I left the lemon one. You like those.”
You hesitate, for just the briefest of moments, but cross the room anyway, grabbing yourself one of the other pastries.
Turns out you do like lemon. The realization stills you, and you have to jerkily make yourself nod when she asks if it’s good.
(You don’t talk about it as much as you should–the fact that you don’t remember much from before you were here. You’ll ask her about something later, like you always do. And she’ll be vague but understanding in that sad way of hers, like she always is. It frustrates you sometimes, makes you pause when she says something about you that you don’t know.)
The two of you eat in silence, side by side against the counter. You could use the chairs, but, eh.
I kept it because I like it. But idk. The parenthetical felt a lot, expositionally. (Is that a word? I’m making it a word.) And, do I wanna go with a “main character knows as much as the reader knows aka nothing” or a “main character is unreliable and keeping info from the reader” route regarding the reason they’re out in the middle of nowhere in a box?
At the very least, we got somethin’ down.
Have a lovely afternoon, friends.
(p.s. – pls be prepared for more zelda gifs bc link the the most relatable dude)