“CHANGING MENTAL CHANNELS (So You Don’t End Up in Podunk When You Wanted Emerald City)”
by Glenn Younger
Creating a story from reader’s input—rough first draft.
Chapter 5: Nightfall on a Dream.
The sun is setting behind the trees, their last rays illuminating Tandy’s stricken face as she watches Karl walk away, pushing the baby carriage with Rebecca limping a half-step behind on one broken heel.
The stillness to the air matches the numbness she feels. She watches Karl weave his way through a group of Japanese tourists with an ease all his own.
He always knows how to navigate troubled waters, she thinks. But how will I navigate them?
The air feels cooler now. She shivers as shock sets in. Her hand still covers her mouth, only now it’s to hold back one salient thought that she refuses to voice out loud. It can’t be said. The minute it is, it’ll all be real.
Edwina slowly turns to Tandy, chapters and chapters of concern written on her face.
Don’t, thinks Tandy. Just don’t say it. You’ve done enough.
“His son?” Edwina says anyway, even though Tandy’s thoughts come in loud and clear. “Did you know he has a son?”
Tandy shoulders slump, her hand drops. It’s done. It’s real, and nothing is going to make it right. A surge of red hot anger rises up and explodes with a whimper. “How could you? Do you know what you’ve done?”
“Do I know what I’ve done?” Edwina voice cracks in self defense. “It’s what he’s done. Did you know he has a son? Did you?”
“Of course I didn’t! I wouldn’t have agreed to move in with him. But you had no right—“
“I had no right? HE’S the one who had no right to betray you!”
“Yes, but you had no right to speak for me! You might be a little older, but you’re not my mother.” Tandy turns on her heel to exit stage left.
“Tandy! Stop!” Edwina runs towards Tandy and grabs her arm. “Look at me,” she barks.
Tandy stops, but keeps her eyes to the ground.
“Look. At. Me.” Edwina’s voice softens when Tandy slowly raises her eyes, two liquid pools of blue. She looks like a lost puppy. Edwina feels a tug at her heartstrings. “What would you have said? If I hadn’t spoken up?”
“I don’t know.”
“In situations like this, you gotta’ to strike when the iron’s hot. Otherwise…” Edwina mimes a hopeless what-are-you-gonna’-do-shrug.
“Someone will speak for themselves?”
“No!” She stamps her foot to punctuate Tandy’s wrong answer. “Otherwise the moment is lost, and you won’t ever get to the truth because he’ll have time to invent a new one.”
“You don’t know that.”
“That’s what people do. We lie! We lie to ourselves first, and then we lie to each other. And if enough people believe us, we act like it’s true, even when deep down we know it’s not.”
“That’s not true, I don’t lie!”
“Of course you do. On some level, you knew something wasn’t right. Didn’t you? He says he’s working on an apartment you haven’t even seen, for cryin’ out loud.”
“I told you, it was a surprise and—“
“He has a son, Tandy.” Edwina emphasizes the word “son” and waits for it to sink in. “That’s the surprise. A newborn. And he somehow justified it as being okay to not tell you about it? Puh-leez. I beg of you as your new friend, wake up and smell the bull droppings.”
It’s dark now, and the lights in the park come on one by one.
“We don’t know it’s a lie,” Tandy protests. “Maybe he had a one night stand and she got pregnant and he didn’t know how to tell me and—“
“And he kept your existence from the mother of his child. While you two were in a supposedly monogamous relationship. What does that say about him?”
That stops Tandy cold. What does that say about me? Holding back tears makes her teeth chatter. She drowns the thought out with another feeble protest. “But you didn’t give him a chance, Edwina! You had no right.”
Edwina “You’re right. It technically wasn’t my business. Forgive me?” Edwina reaches out to touch Tandy’s arm. “You’re freezing. And in shock. Let’s get you home.”
COMMENTS are open for business. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and ideas. Or just cheer me on in this NaNoWriMo challenge of getting a rough draft of a new novel finished by November 30.
**This chapter is short, but there’s a big scene change in the next chapter, and so it felt like it should be separate from this one. Plus, combining the two might make this chapter too long.
What do you think? Do you still want to turn the page to see what happens? Talka-to-me!
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