What’s the difference between a writer and a maniac? The voices in the writer’s head are called characters.
*a pause for laughter*
*awkward silence ensues*
Anyway, today’s blog post is all about characters, brought to you once again by The Pocket Watch, a group of writers causing fictional mischief. In this blog hop, we’re shining a spotlight on a few of the voices–characters–in our heads.
My post is an excerpt from my novel Dark City. It focuses on a moment between Jude, the protagonist, and his brother Eli. Jude is eighteen, the son of a crime boss and a dangerous criminal in his own right. He’s just killed a man for the first time, at his father’s request, and is now seeking guidance from his older brother.
My brother and I sit on his balcony, moonlight falling ghostly white over the elaborate expanse of gardens below. Dead rosebushes and bare cherry trees cast dappled shadows over the soil.
“You’re good with girls,” I say, turning to look up at Eli. I’ve given up the hope I’d someday be as tall as he is. Bulky and broad shouldered, he has always been stronger, but I have always been faster, darting like quicksilver when we spar, elusive as wind.
He chuckles, head tilted to look up at the stars. His usual anger is absent, as though the darkness is too gentle, the quiet resting too softly upon us, for him to hate me as much as he usually does.
“Looking for advice?” he says.
“I stood her up tonight. I was working with Dad.” I press my palms to the cool stone bench. Pale light falls on the strong angle of Eli’s square jaw, his black hair messy from sleep before I woke him with a knock in the dark that’s not quite morning or night.
“Of course you did,” he says. “Look, what you have to do is go with a really sappy apology. Say something like,’ all night I just kept thinking I should have been with you.'”
“That’s not what I thought about all night.”
“I know,” he says, a wry twist in his voice.
Silence stretches taut between us, in the deceptive purity of the moonlight. But he doesn’t leave.
“I killed someone.” The heady rush of adrenaline has faded, the monster within me slumbers, and the words escape delicately as a confession.
“I’m surprised Dad waited until now to have you do a hit,” Eli says.
He faces me, green eyes shadowed as a night forest. “What do you want from me?”
I stand the intricate metal railing, a sentry between us and the fall to the garden below. Without petals and leaves, the rosebushes have become thorny vines, curling and snarling together.
Eli stands beside me, placing his hands, solid and heavy with wide knuckles, on the railing. An enforcer’s hands, for breaking jaws and noses, for collecting debts and making threats. His hands make him who he is, not his gentle heart.
I turn my own palms upward, slender fingers so recently covered in blood.
“When I was really little, I broke a rose off of one of Mom’s rosebushes,” I say. “Do you remember?”
“Yeah. I’m surprised you do. You were really little. And it was kind of sad. You brought me that rose, crying and begging me to fix it.”
“And you did.” I remember clearly the rose returned to its stem, glorious red, open to the sun.
Eli looks out at the garden, silent for a long time. When he speaks, his voice is gentle, if devoid of affection. “Jude, I taped that rose back on the stem. It fell off as soon as you walked away.”
“You did?” I don’t know what I expected of that memory so distant it’s half a dream, but a small sense of betrayal twists in my chest.
“You can’t fix a rose.” Eli walks back into the house. Behind him, the door shuts with a gentle click.
In the garden below, I picture a dead rose among the live ones, fallen to the indifferent ground, petals shriveling brown and falling, one by one, away. I wonder if the same rosebush still blossoms down there, missing a beautiful crimson flower.
Before you go, take a moment to check out my Pocket Watch pals!
Hector Kopczynski shines a light on the shadowy, enigmatic Agent Gray. A spy in the midst of a cold war, at the decline of his career, Agent Gray knows too many secrets to retire on a beach in the Bahamas. But he’s not about to go gently into that good night.
Tasha O’Connor gives us some rare insight into the woman known as La Shaliyah. Haunted by a dark past and shrouded in mystery, La Shaliyah moves between worlds with ease, acting as a guide for a young woman searching for her lost love.
In a dark corner of Pittsburgh, Kate Whitaker introduces us to Rick, one of the nicest demon hunters you’ll ever meet. He’s a member of the colorful cast of characters featured in her series Monsters of Pittsburgh. She’ll discuss the inspirations behind his character.
Somewhere by the sea, Amelia Bishop is interviewing Vinny, a water witch, and his lover Salil, a sexy Fae, the stars of her recently published novel Water Witch. The chemistry between them sparks so hot, even a water witch might catch fire.
Speaking of fire–phoenix fire, that is–Jeanne Marcella gives us some in-depth insight into the making of the fantasy world featured in her transgressive, dark fantasy series Seasons of the Phoenix. She’s explaining the symbolic significance of the phoenix, and how they function in her universe.
That’s all for now, folks. Until next time, we’re…The Pocket Watch!
Beautiful photo from Vineetha Nair on Flickr.