When You Find Old Stories

I have found what looks like to be the beginning of a novel saved on a jump drive from ages ago. It was dated 5/29/2013 2:25PM. My birthday is 2/25, so whenever I see this numerical code, I always take notice. Before I started publishing poetry, I had dreamed of being a fiction writer. Like many of us, I started writing poetry when I was a young girl in the single digits. But, I also wrote many stories. When I was ten, there was one story in particular that stuck with me. It was a fantsay based story about a girl who stumbled upon a magical underground world after following a squirrel into a tree. Trust me, it was like Alice in Wonderland meets Chronicles of Narnia (had either of those stories also been written by a ten year old child! ha!) I thought the story was so good that I sent the ONLY copy to Disney studios and told them they could have all the rights to the story, as long as they made it into a movie. I never did hear back from them. Rude.

But anyway, back to the story I found this evening.

I wanted to share with you the opening lines of the first chapter. Bear in mind, I have many incomplete manuscripts, half-written stories, or outlines of bigger stories, but something about this character, "Josie" and the title: Josie's Crushing spoke to me. I think I might revisit her world and finish her story one day.

I hope you enjoy this small snippet.

Picture a room with white walls, no windows-- a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. No furniture, or photographs; just an empty space. That hollowness is what indifference feels like. Josie was no stranger to indifference. It had become a way of life for her, not caring either way the outcome of a damn thing.

Life, or the lack thereof had hardened her in a way that would be inconceivable for most, at least she was sure of that. In her mind, her hardships and sacrifices were more burdening than many of the horrors others faced.

It was 12:15am and Josie sat at the kitchen table, a cigarette resting unlit between her fingers. Using the filter, she traced the outline of her pursed lips over and over again while her eyes remained fixated on the unopened bottle of Pinot Nior that was on the counter, just out of her reach.

She recounted in her mind the harshness in his eyes, the deep howl of his O’s when he told her, “No, Josie. Stop.” She had a husband and a new baby now. Things could never be the same between them, he explained, the disgust heavy in his voice. He could hardly stand the sight of her. “Do your vows mean nothing to you?” he had asked.

It was that final memory that brought Josie to her feet. Twisting the cap off of the Pinot, she filled a glass and set the bottle back down, instantly changing her mind, she picked up the bottle and left the glass sitting on the counter.

Josie quietly made her way to the steps just outside of the front door. Her husband, Ken was away on business in the south. He was a claims adjuster. He’d often tried to speak of the incredible disasters he came upon in a heroic sort of way, but Josie was never impressed. It bored her to death. Their son, Richard, only a few months old, was asleep in his crib.

Bringing the bottle to her lips, the dry, red wine tasted bitter with the first drink. She took a deep breath through her nose and let the alcohol spread through her body. Bringing the bottle up to her mouth again, this drink was longer and filled with purpose. She didn’t want to cry.

“Fuck. Harvey. What have I done?” The stars were hard to see, a storm was making its way into town and the clouds carried with them a chill and a shadow. She wasn’t expecting Harvey to come back. After he left for Hawaii, he never responded to a single letter or call. He basically, and instantly, just seemed to disappear. And Ken, well Ken was persistent. He showed up to the diner she waitressed at with flowers on more than one occasion. “How ‘bout a movie, tonight? You and me?” On a whim, she finally breathed out a gentle, Okay. Wide-eyed, and with a smile that spread from here to the infinite skies, his enthusiasm flattered her, she couldn’t help but feel like maybe it was the right decision.

So, those are the opening lines.

And I feel a pull to finish what I've started.

To remember why I felt it important to become a storyteller.


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