So, I’m participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. This organization is a huge part of my life, and I’d like to give as much as I possibly can back to it. One of the ways I can do that comes through the annual Write-a-thon, which occurs during the workshop itself. While those brave souls are out weathering the writing storm, I’m cowering within my office, trying to concoct the best works I know to write. Since today was the first official day of the Write-a-thon (and yesterday the first unofficial day), I’m posting the words I wrote here. This is an unedited excerpt from my work-in-progress, “Throwaways,” a young adult novel that has been eating away at me for the better part of a year. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so by visiting my Write-a-thon page here.
And there is a power that holds, that sways her to do as it suggests, that makes her sit when it says to sit, to beg when it says to beg. She always follows, even when it burns, the words that say “yes, please” a catch on her throat, acid that eats through everything she might have been, might have seen. But she doesn’t know how to do those things anymore, to follow the man when he says he’s to be obeyed, to be honored and trusted and acknowledged as the one who truly knows.
Who is it that she follows? She tries to see the world through his eyes, tries to look beyond the quivering acquiescence that rattles through her, even when she tries to shake it off. All the edges blur into a prism of the not-right, of the mistaken. She sees fire, a haze of black that clouds and suffocates, a billowing breeze that swells into her throat and shakes her lungs into spasms of yes and no, before it spits her out into a mess of blood, a red river that drips thick drops into broken ditches bursting with dead things like crawfish, drowned grasshoppers, spiders and, somehow, even snakes.
“They’re not ours,” he says, quiet, in her ear.
She whirls, but he’s not there. Of course not. A shadow in her mind, he waits for her to break. How he bridges the walls, she doesn’t fathom. “They made a choice.”
“Like I get one,” she says, ready to crush the bugs showing her up, exposing her weaknesses. She just followed, as usual, and look where that got her? She glances at her wrist, veins blue against paper skin.
“You know your answer was already written.” Though she can’t see it, she can hear the voice sneer, a reminder. No control, remember? You were destined to take my place, it says. To give me back the power you found through the ever-lasting loophole.
A lump pushes back at her when she tries to swallow, to ignore the stupid reminder. Every day, the annoying pest that says, “you were built for this.”
“There’s nothing I was built for,” she tries to say, but the words just sicken her, a swirl of rotted thoughts she can’t control.