I’ve been eating/sleeping/breathing “Wrecked” for the past week or so, and I think my sanity (if you can call it that) is slipping a bit. My head is noisier than usual, and my creative energy seems to be stirring up some resident spooks in our house. Is it a bad that whenever something goes bump in the night I think, “Oh, I could use that in a future story”? *grin*
I realized recently that one of my biggest issues is the plot surrounding the main mystery – it’s way too simple, and the resolution is a big yawn. So now I’m trying to create a ghostly mythos before I continue. I feel almost like I’m starting from scratch – this story-behind-the-story can be anything I want it to be. Maeve might gain superpowers. I could set it in an alternate universe. I could create a special ghostly language. My brain hurts from all the possibilities.
To ease my brain pain a bit, I figured I’d post a short snippet of what I have so far. This scene happens near the end of the book. There are still a bunch of moments in here that are total tell, not show, but since it’s the first draft, I figure folks will forgive me.
Backstory – not too long after Maeve and Jack start dating, he talks her into doing a Tarot Card party for his housemate Sheila (Maeve’s never read cards professionally before). It begins just as Maeve finished her last reading of the night, and is preparing to leave, both the party and the town (she was there temporarily for work, and had been staying at the Inn Magnolia).
Turns out she worried for nothing. At first, when Maeve was telling her the card meanings, Sheila politely said, “Uh-huh” but Maeve could tell she wasn’t feeling the reading. But by the time she got to the, “This is behind you” card, Sheila’s eyes were getting bigger and bigger, and her, “Uh-huhs” were becoming more incredulous. When Maeve said the fear card was The Hanged Man, and meant she was afraid the situation had become stagnant, Sheila blurted out, “Are you freaking kidding me? How do you know this?” and they both started laughing. Maeve was glad to end her first card party experience on such a high note. She knew Sheila was sold on her abilities, and was dying to schedule more parties because of it. Maeve wasn’t sure how often she wanted to do this, but it was great validation to have so many positive reactions from Sheila’s guests.
Positive until she walked back out in the living room. She and Sheila had talked for a while in the side room, and they both decided it would probably be better for Maeve not to stay and mingle too long. Maeve also imagined the people pelting her with all kinds of questions, and being the center of attention – which, unlike her Leo self, was not her favorite place to be. Shelia went out to get Jack while Maeve packed up her few belongings.
Jack came in the room a few minutes later and said, “I think your cab is here.”
“Brat!” Maeve laughed and lightly punched him on the arm. They were still chuckling when they walked into the living room, and Maeve saw someone new standing behind grumpy guy. She did a double take at first – the ghost was so fully formed that she thought for a minute someone else had joined the party. Then, before she even knew she was speaking, she stared straight at grumpy guy and said, “Your brother looks a lot like you.”
The room went dead quiet. After a huge pause, grumpy guy asked, “What did you just say?”
Maeve was almost afraid to answer. However, with everyone staring at her, and the outside door being just past grumpy guy, she had no choice but to reply. “I said, your brother looks a lot like you.” She cleared her throat and tried to think of some way to explain her statement. Without mentioning his ghost brother staring at her, there would be no way of making her declaration sensible, especially since she’d never met this guy before in her life.
“How the hell…” grumpy guy made each word sound like its own sentence, “would you know that?”
There it was, the sixty four thousand dollar question. How the hell did she know? Not only was she seeing the ghost, but she somehow knew exactly who he was. She couldn’t explain it to herself, so how could she explain it to a room full of virtual strangers who, just a moment ago, were so excited at her card reading abilities.
“Ummm…” she swallowed nervously. “I know this is going to sound all kinds of lame, but I really can’t explain it. All I know is that at the moment, he’s standing next to you, wearing a Boston Celtics hat and a jean jacket, and he looks about as pissed off at me as you all do.”
The room went from silent to all hell breaking loose in less than a nanosecond. Grumpy guy slammed his drink on the table and said, “That’s it! Enough of this bullshit! I knew she was a con artist from the minute I saw her. I told you all this stuff was bogus!” he practically screamed in Sandy’s face, who looked like she wanted to cry.
Sheila was trying to talk over everyone to get them to calm down. The other three were yelling back at grumpy guy, trying to get him to leave Sandy alone, and speculating openly about what was going on, even with Maeve still in the room. Jack looked for a moment like he was frozen in time, but when grumpy guy made a move towards Maeve, Jack jumped in between as if to form a human shield. All it did was piss grumpy guy off even more. “Oh, so what – you think I’d hit a girl? Think she needs defending? Listen asshole, you should be protecting me from her – she’s the one who’s looking to hurt me, not the other way around!”
Maeve’s head was spinning, and she couldn’t figure out what to say or do. The ghostly brother was no help. He was leaning back casually with his arms crossed, looking back and forth between grumpy guy and Maeve.
“I’m not trying to hurt you,” Maeve said quietly, but some how forcefully enough that everyone in the room quieted down. “I’m trying to get you to stop hurting yourself over your brother’s death. It wasn’t your fault and he says he’s damn sick and tired of your pansy ass whining about how you could’ve saved him.”
Maeve could feel herself turning white, then red. She had no idea where the hell those words had just come from. Grumpy guy looked like she’d slapped him in the face and everyone else seemed to have stopped breathing.
Sandy said quietly, “Oh my god – you sounded just like Joey.”
Maeve knew then the ghost guy was named Joey, and he apparently was using her to get a message across to his brother. She thought to herself, but in the ghost’s general direction, “it would’ve been nice if you’d asked me first if you could give me a message.” The ghost didn’t seem fazed at all, just stared at her for a moment until Maeve found herself witnessing Joey’s death. The phrase, “seeing your life pass before your eyes” occurred to her, but in this case, it was Joey’s death that flashed, along with the aftermath of his drunk driving accident. Judging by how old grumpy guy looked in the flashbacks, and how old he looked now, Maeve figured this had to have happened in the very recent past, which is why everyone was still so sensitive.
“I’m sorry, everyone. I’m not trying to scam anybody, or mess with anyone. I’ve never really had something like this happen, so I don’t even really know what’s going on – this is all new to me too.” Maeve said to the room at large. When she stopped talking, a voice said, “Tell them what you saw,” and she looked around for a second before she realized the voice was inside her head, and the ghost brother looking at her. She cleared her throat and said, “All I know is that when I walked in to the room, I saw what I thought was a person standing next to… “ she paused before she said ‘grumpy guy’ and instead, gestured to him, “that gentleman, and I knew almost immediately that they were brothers. When I started talking about how much they looked alike, it took me a minute to realize I was the one talking.”
She realized she had everyone’s full attention, but not a clue what to do with it. She quickly said a prayer to the Universe that she would say what grumpy guy, or whoever else, needed to hear, and continued on. “Then I saw a whole bunch of weird images flashing in front of my eyes. I’m guessing it was the car accident that took your brother’s life.” This time, grumpy guy didn’t say a word, he just stared daggers at Maeve.
“He showed me that you hid his car keys that night so he couldn’t drive home. He also showed me he had a hide-a-key that you didn’t know about. It wasn’t your fault, Tony.” There, now she knew grumpy guy’s name. Then grumpy guy turned into weepy guy – and in short order she was wishing grumpy guy was back. The sound of the hiccupy sobs coming from the big brute of a guy was breaking her heart. Sandy was hugging him, and everyone one else other than Jack gathered beside him to comfort him.
Maeve looked at Jack and thought, “I bet he can’t wait to drop me off at the Inn…wonder if he’ll even slow down, or he’ll just make me jump out as he passes by.” She tried a tiny grin, and he gave her a wink, but they both stayed where they were, trying not to call attention to themselves. After a minute, Maeve felt like a voyeur, and she gestured to Jack that she was going to go back into the reading room – he gave a small nod, and followed her in.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I had no idea something like this would happen. You must think I’m a totally nutcase,” she said in a whisper, trying not to join Tony in the tear fest.
“Maeve, don’t apologize. I think this happened for a reason. Tony has been on a self destructive course since Joey died, and we’ve tried to talk to him, but he’s been shutting us all out. Sandy wanted him here in the hopes of having his cards read, and getting the message that he needed to move past his brother’s death, but he said he’d only agree to show up, not participate. Having you see Joey and pass along a message like that might be just the thing he needs to finally forgive himself and move forward. Instead of apologizing to us, we should be saying thank you to you.” Jack took Maeve’s hand and squeezed it, staring into her eyes.
They sat quietly for a few minutes that seemed like hours, listening to the muffled talk and emotions trickling in from behind the mostly closed door. Finally Sheila came in, and said, “Could you come talk to Tony for a minute, Maeve? He’s really sorry for what he said to you, and he wants to make it right.” Maeve looked at Jack, who smiled and nodded, so she followed Sheila back in.
Everyone was still in much the same position, but the atmosphere was much calmer. Joey was still leaning against the kitchen wall, but even he somehow seemed more content.
Tony apologized, and Maeve said not to worry, it was all good. As Tony told her he finally got it, Maeve glanced over at Joey, who waved, and walked around the corner through the doorway and disappeared. When Maeve told Tony he’d left, he seemed disappointed that he couldn’t have any further conversation with his brother, but was happy he’d heard the most important message of all.
Sheila said, in an effort to break the tension, “Okay, so time to say goodbye for a second time – unless any other relatives want to make an appearance?” and everyone laughed. Maeve said her goodbyes, and Sheila said, “I really hope you won’t let this scare you off. I expect to see you back here next month,” and Maeve almost fell over.
“Scare me off? I thought you’d change your mind after this.” Maeve said in amazement.
“Well yeah, I did change my mind. I changed it from, wow Maeve is good to wow Maeve is incredible.”
“I can’t guarantee any more ghostly visitors. I’m not even sure why this one appeared to me…” Maeve started.
Sheila cut her off and said, “We want you and your cards. Anything else on top would be gravy, but not necessary.”
Maeve hugged her, and said thanks as she and Jack headed out. Surprisingly, given how much had happened that evening, they didn’t talk much on the ride back to the Inn.