Well I’m struggling around the 38,000 words mark and I think the only reason I’m continuing is because I’ve got this far I’m not going to give up, even though my story is pure pants and as the title of this post says I’m probably not going to be doing this next year, I do not write well with such a large word count deadline artificially looming, I let other parts of my life slip which I should not let slip (like the house in chaos, my children are intimately acquainted with the contents of the chiller cabinet and I’ve been letting certain things I should have done in my book selling business slip, notably my Christmas mailings). Who after all thought November was a good month? Anyway I think I’ve discovered I can’t write sci-fi and I’m a lot happier when I can write a story where there’s some element of research, something I can dig my teeth into, whereas with this story I wanted to keep possible research to a minimum so it feels like there’s been no ‘grounding’ to the story but I guess that’s the sort of writer I am. So anyway I’m going to continue writing this just so all the other things I’ve let slip this month have not been in vain but most of this story is never going to leave the dark confines of my hard drive however having said that I’m aware I haven’t been posting many exercepts, probably because I think most of its embaressingly rubbish, but I do like the scene I’ve just written, so I’ll stick it below, just remember this is NaNoWriMo so it is very unedited!
I typed in the numbers and the door swished open, I hestitated on the threshold,
“Mrs. Richards?” I called out softly.
I took a few steps into the apartment, I had never seen an officers’ private quarters before and I’ll admit I was jealous. I guess a bit bigger than the lower ranking officers’ quarters due to Richards seniority and the fact that his wife was with him, a rarity only a few other command officers were allowed. Richards even had his own private sitting area, furnished simply but comfortably with two hardback upright chairs more at home from a Dickens’ novel that a 21st century space ship, there was a low coffee table covered in books, I recognised some medical texts alongside those big coffee table picture books full of glossy photos, I think these were antique ones from the late 20th century, full of bright green scenary shots of a yet unharmed lush green country, I thought possibly America where Richards was from. As well the medical books and the photo picture books were children’s story books, also probably antique with the faces of smiling happy children on the cover from a happier time. However Mrs. Richards was not in the room. I called out again, no reply and headed slowly towards the door at the side of the room and pushed open the door. I first saw the bed, bordered on each side by two bedside tables, the one nearest the door I think must have been Richards, neat, methodical, a simple old fashioned clock, a half empty glass of water and a single book complete with bookmark marking about half way through. The sheets and blankets on that side of the bed were neatly tucked in and the pillow squarely arranged. The other side of the bed, the sheets were creased and crumpled, untucked like the sleeper had only just got out of bed, the bedside table overloaded with books, multiple full undrunk glasses of water and wools and scraps of materials. I turned the corner into the bedroom and spotted a chair I hadn’t seen before, right in the corner and sitting in it, in a pool of handknitted and handmade children’s toys, spilling from her lap and onto the floor could only be Mrs. Richards. In a ship where youth was the norm or at least the graceful aging of the commanders who looked after themselves and worked out regularly, the sight of Mrs. Richards was a surprise. I guessed she was either in her fifties and she had had a hard life or she could have been anything up to her seventies. Her thinning hair was uncombed and uncut, her skin sagging away from her, she was dressed in a dressing gown that looked as if it hadn’t seen laundry for a while, she stared straight through me, I wondered if Richards still had a handy stash of Somnia somewhere.
“Mrs. Richards?” I said softly so as not to alarm her, “I’m a doctor, your husband sent me, my name is Kal.”
I crouched down beside her, my hands on the arm of her chair, I looked up at her “How are you feeling Mrs. Richards? Your husband’s a bit concerned.”
Her gaze moved down to the toys remaining on her lap, I watched her studying them for a while and then her frail thin hand moved from her lap, dislodging a few toys in the process and it hovered over the rest before plucking a tiny knitted toy snowman, complete with little black hat and green and red stripy scarf, she handed it to me.
I held it carefully cupped in my hand, I dreamt about toys like this in my youth, I’d dreamt about snow, I didn’t know what to say so I just said “It’s lovely Mrs. Richards.”
Mrs. Richards reached down the side of her seat and pulled out a pair of knitting needles complete with a piece of uncompleted knitting and a ball of wall, she started knitting, staring ahead, the click clack of the needles was surprisingly comforting.
“Did you make all these Mrs. Richards?”
She carried on knitting.
I took one last look at the little snowman then tried to put it back on her chair, she instantly stopped knitting and her hand pushed the snowman back towards me,
“It’s yours” she said fraily “think of it as an early Christmas present.”
“Christmas?” I said confused, of course I knew what Christmas was and then it occurred to me that actually it would be Christmas soon, it was December, at least I thought it might be.
“It’s Christmas tomorrow, I think I might be the only person on this ship that knows it’s Christmas Eve today,” she said, “even on Earth when things were bad, we still stopped, we still paused to celebrate what we had.”
She looked sad “But I supposed with no children what’s the point of Christmas? I keep thinking about all those poor children we left behind,” she sobbed.
I could do nothing but agree with her, “Will let me examine you Mrs. Richards? Your husband is concerned.”
I did a basic exam, a little thin, a little frail, she could have done with some more food and exercise but other than that she was fine, I told her so, she smiled patted me on the head a trifle condescendingly like I was a child and said “I knew that, you go tell my worrisome husband now.”