Friday, September 1, 2017

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine (version 10010)

First Draft Friday is a more or less regular series where I share my parts of my first draft, usually whatever I am working on at the time. General writing advice tells us to keep our first drafts for ourselves, they are always horrible. I want to share my first draft and so I do. Maybe it can inspire other writers who think their drafts are too horrible to ever see the light of day but mostly I think it keeps me writing.

Consumption Divine is the story I've been writing since the very beginning. Before that I was thinking about it. More than 25 years. I've written so many first draft versions, it's ridiculous. Currently, there are over 100,000 words written in this project. None of it is cohesive, complete, or very much usable. A lot of it is repetitive. I've given up on it many times but I literally feel haunted by it. I can't stop trying to write it but I also can't seem to write it right. I'm trying again. I'm trying for the last time. If I can't write it now, I have to give up. I can't keep writing something if it is impossible. So, this is the last first draft of Consumption Divine.

Consumption Divine
first draft, incomplete, 1766 words
By Stephanie Thompson

She lingered outside his apartment, her hand in his. It had a heft and warmth that was comforting. Strengthening. Encouraging. Otherwise she wouldn’t be here. Otherwise she’d listen to her better judgement. But that hand made everything seem simple. Straight forward. And she didn’t want to let go. So she lingered.

“When can we do this again?” Port said.

“You’re sweet,” She said. “I had a nice time.”

 “You’re avoiding the question, again.”

“I don’t like making plans,” she said.

“I want to be sure I’ll get to see you again.”

“You’re sweet,” she said again.

She leaned in to kiss him on the cheek, what had become her standard good-bye, but he turned his head at the last moment, meeting his lips to hers. She closed her eyes and lingered.

With the second kiss, he moved closer to her. And her body awoke with a desire she hadn’t felt in a very long time.

By the fourth kiss, she had him pushed against the door, her body melting into his. His arms around her hips, her hands in his hair.

“Open it,” she said.

He fumbled with lockpad until his thumbprint unlocked the door but they never broke the kiss and feverish embrace.

The lights of his home turned on with an automatic hum as they stumbled across the threshold. She’d never been past the door before but she didn’t care to look around now. She let him lead the way again though she wanted to tear his clothes from him and have him on the floor of the entryway and comparatively he took his time. He took his jacket off and draped it on the dining table, then did the same with hers without breaking physical contact.

But they didn’t move from the spot near the door. His hands didn’t pull at her clothes or touch her bare skin. And his kisses never moved from her mouth. She didn’t know how much longer she could control her lust burning like a wildfire through her. Then he pulled away.

He took her hand again, guided her to the couch, and asked if she wanted anything to drink.

“No, Port, I don’t want anything to drink, I didn’t come in here for a drink.” She laughed. “I can go home for a drink.”

 He said nothing as he got himself a glass and filled it with water. She watched in barely hidden disbelief.

Chrystal didn’t know what to say next. What to do next. Her brain was burned out from unquenched desire.

 “Portland, I don’t. . .” “It’s just a few moments ago, you were ready to leave, didn’t even want to set a next date, then I steal a kiss and suddenly. . .”

He took a long drink from his glass. Emptying half of it and staying in the kitchen.

“I still don’t understand.”

“I mean, one minute you’re tepid, lukewarm towards me, next you’re scalding hot.”

“So you didn’t invite me back to your apartment for sex?”

 “I’ve invited you to my apartment every night since our first date. I invited you because I didn’t want our dates to end.”

“But you don’t want to have sex?”

“Chrys, I want a relationship, not casual sex.”

 She closed her eyes and shook her head. She shouldn’t have come to his door. She should’ve gotten into her car and driven home. She shouldn’t have agreed to a first date, much less a third or fifth. She opened her eyes.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I just. . .I got carried away, I guess.”

“You don’t have to apologize. It was . . .”

“I should go. I need to go,” she said standing up.

“No, Chrys, don’t go. We can . . .”

 She had her coat back on. Her hand on the lock pad.

“No, you’re right. You want . . . and I . . .” She couldn’t say the words she needed to say. They were too final. “I can walk myself to my car,” she said instead.

 “Wait. . .”

 She was out the door and down the stairs before he could catch her. She was in the car and pulling out of the parking spot when he reached the lot. She ignored a text message from him when she was halfway home. She’d come to her senses. Stupid senses that vanished with one simple kiss. She couldn’t see Portland Kapsak any more. No matter how nice, how simple, how sweet, how reassuringly normal dating him was, it had to be over now. She would do the courtesy of telling him this in person, soon, and that would be the end of it.

Her heart was heavy when she reached her own door and used her thumb to unlock it. Her lights weren’t automatic, she preferred a light switch instead, just like she preferred driving her own car. Port liked that she was old fashioned.

She shook her head like her brain was an etch-a-sketch and she could erase her thoughts that way. She would have to stop thinking about what Port liked or didn’t like. What he had said or would say. The sooner the better.

She went to her fridge and pulled out a tall glass bottle of a red liquid. Then changed her mind and returned it to the fridge. The synthesized stuff didn’t satisfy the way the real thing did so there was no point. She was destined to remain frustrated, wanting nothing she could have.

 A lighted panel in the kitchen wall flashed on in a bright blue brilliance an instant before the digital ring of a phone filled the house. She checked the caller id and answered it with a sigh.

“You’re home late,” Gareth said. His thin face filled the screen with disapproving sternness. “I’m not on probation anymore, it shouldn’t matter to you what time I come home.”

“I know but I can’t seem to turn off this notification and since I was just about to head out for lunch, I thought I should check in so my mind could be at ease during my break. How was your date?”

 “Again, my personal life doesn’t concern you anymore. Get IT or something to turn off the notifications or whatever the hell monitoring you have and only contact me for work related reasons, please.”

 “I will take that under advisement, Ms. Voss, but in the meantime, your cooperation and compliance with any of my requests are a requirement to your continued freedoms. Your restrictive probation is over but your general probation remains in effect until the end of your sentence.”

She couldn’t look at his dark satisfaction as he scolded her anymore. She looked her hands on the counter and resisted the urge to dig her nails into the fleshy part of her palm.

“So, I’ll ask again. How was the date.”

“It was fine, Gareth.”

“And you will see him again?”

“Yes,” she answered truthfully but she didn’t give details, he wouldn’t get any more than bare minimum from her.

“Do you think that’s a good idea?”

“I don’t know, Gareth. It is what it is.”

 “You should really be putting all of you efforts into the task force. This young man of yours seems to be a distraction or there are at least a few councilors who don’t think you are putting forth your full effort, who expected greater results.”

“If it weren’t for me, there would be no progress on this task force whatsoever.”

 “Do not value yourself too highly. There are other means to extract the information we need.” She suppressed a shiver by giving into the urge to dig into her hand. She would not go back the interrogations.

“I assure you Gareth, I am giving 110 percent and whatever distraction you might think Port is, he won’t be for much longer. You can enjoy your lunch worry free.”

 “Glad to hear that,” he said with genuine cheer. He was always happiest when she was most miserable. “I will look forward to your reports later in the week then.”

Chrystal ended the call without a greeting. She took her frustration out on the faucet, hitting it hard and knocking it loose. The kitchen panel lit up again. A problem has been detected with the kitchen plumbing. Would you like a message to be sent to a plumber? She selected no and left the kitchen, turning the light off on her way out.

She got ready for bed early even though she didn't’ feel like going to bed. But she didn’t feel like doing anything else either. Plus, there was also nothing else for her to do.

Gareth had been right about one thing, Port was a distraction. A distraction from the boring, mind numbing repetitiveness of her life. She worked, she came home. She did nothing else. She saw no one else. She went nowhere else. Port was a dalliance. A game almost. How close could she get without getting too close? How far could she court disaster before pulling back from real danger?

It was an unfair game. She realized that now. Port had been nothing but straightforward and honest about what he wanted from the beginning. She had been full of vagaries and avoidances. She went on that first date out of morbid curiosity and with that satiated she should have politely refused the second date. But it didn’t matter now. In all fairness, she couldn’t continue. If she valued their lives, his life, she couldn’t not allow herself to go any further with Port.

In bed, she looked at the message she ignored earlier. Please, let’s talk about this. You don’t need to be embarrassed.

She responded. I’m not embarrassed. 

His response was so quick it was obvious he’d been waiting by the phone (nope this is dumb) I don’t understand why you had to rush away. 

She didn’t respond right away because she couldn’t think of something to say that didn’t sound like she was breaking up with him through text and she didn’t want to do that.

I want you too, you know? But I want emotional intimacy first. 

Again, she had no response.

This isn’t easy for me either.

Finally she wrote back. Can we meet again tomorrow? To talk in person?

Of course.

They set a time and said good night. But Chrystal lay in bed with her eyes wide open unable to fall asleep for hours afterwards. Thinking of the future. Thinking of the rest of her life. How it would be nothing but the same thing every day, every week, every month, every year, for decades, for centuries, until she died ancient and frail or killed herself from desperate boredom.

Thank you for reading!