Sunday, 9 November 2008

Dragons

A coincidental and fitting day to post the next extract from my NaNoWriMo novel as it is Remembrance Sunday and almost 90 years since the end of World War One.

Part Two: PAPER DRAGONS

(i)

The Show

1918

Silence.

Ever since the guns had ceased their tirade across the western front, Daniel Cole had sought solace in silence. He would wake in the early hours, the night ink blank, the stars concealed behind the weight of clouds that refused to release the ghosts from the earth, and he would sit on the worn chair in the corner of his bedroom, look out at the emptied world, and remember all the lost men.

Their ghosts brushed past him when he entered the bakers where Eddie Tarpey dusted loaves and dreamed of Mabel Normand; when he rode his bicycle past Newsham School where Norman Bulmer instructed children in physical education; and down by the lake where the twins spent their summers fishing. In this very room, where prior to 1914 Walter James Cole had wept, snored and dreamed of glory in the bed next to his.

Sometimes, in the silence of three a.m., he heard his dead brother snore. Sometimes he remembered Walter had been as young as the century. Fifteen when an enemy shell found his heart. When its shrapnel crossed the channel, embedded in the walls of their old terrace, and stole their parents.

Sometimes the silence broke him.

His uniform hung on a wire hanger over the back of the door. It formed ghost of its own in the dark, and one month since quiet had fallen over blood red fields its shoulders slumped, its legs baggy over emaciated thighs, its collar bent beneath the weight of a bowed head. He had that morning decided he would never put it on again. He wondered if Swan, George, Ken and Harvey would wear theirs when they met the following day at the White Horse Inn.

Swan Ecklund would, of that Daniel had no doubt.

The curtains dragged along the yellowing wire as he pulled them open and looked out at what he considered a ghost town. The cobbled streets glistened with rain. Gas lamps washed the streets with pools of light. He lifted the sash window. The gas lamp located outside his terraced house hissed, in his darkest hours Daniel imagined that hiss was for him alone.

20 comments:

K.C. Ball said...

Reading these snippets, I can't help but think about that glorious moment when Oliver has the nerve to hold out his bowl and ask for more.

Jamie Eyberg said...

You are rocking on this. I smell book deal.

Catherine J Gardner said...

LOL, KC.

Jamie - I don't. :) I'm thinkin, who is going to buy a 60,000 ish collection of novellas/novelettes by a complete unknown. But hey, so long as I'm having fun.

Jamie Eyberg said...

It might be worth a shot. Besides, you are not a complete unknown. I live in the middle of Iowa and I know of you.

Catherine J Gardner said...

LOL!

K.C. Shaw said...

This is really gorgeous writing, Cate! Atmospheric, rich, and ever so slightly ominous. :) I agree with Jamie--book deal book deal book deal!

Catherine J Gardner said...

Ha! You're a gem, Kate. And speaking of book deals what's happening with Evil Outfitters Ltd. I need to read that book. :)

K.C. Ball said...

As to who would buy something from a complete unknown, my grandfather once told me that everyone has a first time sometime. And that includes every best-selling author in the world.

Catherine J Gardner said...

True, very true. :)

katey said...

KC said what I was about to say. Your prose is so tense, but so pretty I almost forget my shoulders are in a knot worrying about this poor guy already.

Thanks for posting these excerpts, they brighten up the day!

Catherine J Gardner said...

Cheers, Katey. And WOW! your word count is inspiring.

katey said...

An inspiring testament to my obsessive qualities, and the fact that I have no life! (Or if I do, I'm adept with the pause button.)

You're not looking too shabby yourself this weekend. You're tearing it up!

Catherine J Gardner said...

Who needs a life???

Sunday's are good for me - Saturday's not so good (family day=300 words)

Aaron Polson said...

Beautiful, truly haunting and just beautiful.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Thank you. :)

K.C. Shaw said...

Evil Outfitters (since you were kind enough to ask!) is currently out as a requested full with an agent I really, really want! Hopefully she'll get back to me by the end of the year, because I am practically chewing all my fingernails off.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Now I'm going to chew my fingernails off - oh wait a minute, I have none left. Wishing you lots and lots and lots of luck.

Mary said...

That's a beautiful piece of writing, and so wonderfully atmospheric!

I found the news coverage of Remembrance Sunday incredibly moving this year.

Carrie Harris said...

Wow. Wow wow wowie wow. You can't quit teasing us like this, you know.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Thanks, Mary & Carrie.