When I posted yesterday’s excerpt from Dreamdarkers, I failed to realize a passage from the middle of that scene would carry little weight or interest. Lacking context and being unpolished, rereading it today made me feel a wee bit embarrassed for having tossed it up here as though it should pique anyone’s interest. As an apology for that, let me offer you an excerpt from much earlier in the text.
This comes from the first chapter which precedes the original short story. Unlike yesterday’s offering, this one carries itself better because its context is self-contained to a degree. The scene is unpolished. It stems from the first rewrite and, since this was not part of the original short story, it technically is draft or first-pass material. Nonetheless, it makes up for what lacked in the previous post—I hope.
Squatting on the shower floor soaked in tears and hot water, I relived that brief encounter as though it had just happened. The rest of our life together played out before me in abrupt, harsh flashes, like a life racing before someone’s eyes chasing their last breaths, and the nightmare I had experienced only added to the agony of seeing that scale in the office bathroom. I wept loudly and uncontrollably, and it echoed throughout the bathroom. Her death had indeed changed me; it had darkened me, tainted me in a way I did not comprehend. I had grown bitter and almost militant. It did not compare to my life before her. I had never experienced a similar moment when all of the torment overwhelmed me in one sufferable instant. With my head laid on my arms as they rested on my knees, I felt like a small child after a beating. The world would never be the same and no one could ever understand my grief.
How long I sat there did not matter, although it felt like half an hour or more. Lamentations wracked my body similar to blows from an attacker. My strength failed entirely and I became a frightened, inconsolable child hiding in a corner. I tried to make myself as small as possible, to curl into as tight a ball as my bones and muscles would allow, yet I could not conceal myself from my own anguish. It suffered long and hard, and its assault was brutal and unremitting. My tears mixed with the water raining down upon me yet they did not wash away. I bellowed my grief as much as I quietly wallowed in it. The cold, uncaring surfaces in the bathroom endured as my only witnesses. Their solace came in unfeeling stares, their voices offered as repeats of my own wailing. Even the water rushing down at me from the showerhead, hot and constant, provided no relief. Silent and callous, they offered no support when I finally screamed, “Somebody, please help me!” There would be no help. The one thing I knew better than any other fact burdened me more than anything else did: I was alone, and in my aloneness, I agonized and poured out my heart in no embrace other than my own. Were it not for my arms wrapped around me, there would be no shoulder upon which to cry out my grief. My hurt was mine alone. No one shared it, no one saw it, and no one endured it save me.
When the tears became dry sobs and the wailing turned to groaning, I finally stood and washed myself. Rote actions ensured thorough cleaning of my body. My eyes stung from tears. With so little visual clarity and focus, my muscles remembered the shower process and recited the steps one by one. Finally, with the last traces of soap and shampoo rinsed down the drain, I leaned against the wall and stood under the water for several minutes. I needed to find my strength. After the crying had faded and the memories had passed into my subconscious, I turned the water off and opened the shower door. I dried off before stepping to the sink. My eyes were swollen and puffy and my face red. I looked like I had been crying. Although I knew that was true, I had no intention of advertising it. My parents would understand, but most of the townsfolk in Kingswell had no need to know the depth of my personal problems. It would fall back on Mom and Dad if they did. I knew no one would treat them differently. I also knew they would become the parents with that poor broken son, those folk keeping up appearances even as their child crumbled before them. They needed none of that and I refused to create such problem for them.
Now, let me also give you an update. The children’s pat-a-cake song has again been modified. You might remember the last rewrite. I do. And I hated it then and hate it now. I still intend to use only one of these instead of two as in Darkness Comes to Kingswell, and it must remain a children’s verse if it is to fit with the general scheme of the Dreamdarkers themselves, but it’s bad, I know it’s bad, and it needs to change. So it will—and already is. The new one feels darker, more menacing, and yet it retains the juvenile impression needed for the song. Nevertheless, it will not be posted here. When you read it in the final book, I hope you’ll like the new version.
Oh, and one thing on that I need to clarify: They don’t call themselves Dreamdarkers. That’s a name we gave them. It was laughable for me to put that word into the rhyme. That won’t happen again.
Finally, allow me a moment to answer a question I’ve been asked a few times, to wit, why am I posting excerpts? To be more specific, don’t I want to keep it a secret? Sure, that’s the intent, so it’s important to remember this is all either draft or first-rewrite content and not necessarily indicative of the final work. Also, the small sections posted will in no way reveal the entire story or any secrets. They’re just sections I find might be interesting for you to see in their current incarnation. Nothing from the final draft of the manuscript will be posted. All you will see here are smidgens of the whole, morsels I hope will keep you looking forward to the final product, yet nothing so revealing as to give away the farm. And there won’t be many more of them. Besides, the book is already hundreds of pages long and will get longer before it’s done. To see 20 or 30 paragraphs from a work that large offers no cataclysmic insights and should not endanger the impact of the novel.