Friday, September 8, 2017

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine, Chapter 2

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, 1,318 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Chapter Two

The meeting time didn’t come soon enough for Chrystal, who’d only gotten a little sleep, made useless by recurring nightmares. To get out of the house she went to the cafe early, ordered a coffee, and spent over an hour letting it get cold while she ripped apart beverage napkins.

There was no relief when Vik arrived. He looked happy to see her, a smile across his face, a bright spark in his chocolate eyes. She resolved that she was doing the right thing, to save this happy, decent man from pain by gently breaking his heart now.

“I’m sorry if I . . .”

“Vik, you have nothing to apologize for. You did nothing wrong, we simply want different things.”

“Oh.” It sounded like an accidental sound, like the air escaped his lungs when he realized what she was saying.

“You are so kind, and sweet, and I’m . . . not. I’m not who you think I am and I can’t give you what you want. I’m sorry that I let you think I could. It was just nice to feel like I might, for a little while.” God, she sounded like an asshole. A sad asshole but still an asshole.

He watched her intently. She didn’t know what he was looking for or what to do or say next.

“I don’t care about your past. I care about your dreams, your goals, your future,” he said in a low voice.

“It can’t be separated. I’m not completely divorced from the things that have happened to me, the things that I’ve done, nobody can be. My future is linked inextricably to my past, forever. And you could never know it and love me.”

“You don’t know that.”

“No reasonable person could.”

She didn’t know what was left to say. She wasn’t going to convince him. She didn't know if she was trying to. Maybe she just wanted understanding. Maybe it would be easier to leave if he would agree. For now she felt stuck there like she was made marble, too heavy to move.

“Simmons showed me your file.”


“Before our first date.”

“That’s classified.”

“It was redacted but I got the . . . general idea.”

She closed her eyes and shook her head yet again. “I don’t . . . I don’t understand.”

She’d worked with Simmons for almost 10 years now. They had a good working relationship. They were partners. She thought he saw them as partners. Equals fighting the good fight. She thought she had a fresh start with him. He had said as much.

That was part of her disbelief.

“He warned me that you had a shady past. That you were once considered very dangerous. And I told him then that it didn’t matter.”

“Why would he even talk to you? Warn you at all?”

“We trained together. We’ve worked together off and on over the years. He’s my buddy, he’s looking out for me. Just like you.”

“You shouldn’t have seen that file. He shouldn’t have shown you.”

Her thoughts were stuck in that groove repeating it over and over. Vikter should not have seen that file, no one but Simmon needed to see it. Definitely not Vik. Even if it wasn’t true, she liked that he had clean image of her. That was part of what had been so nice. But that was just another fantasy apparently. A facade. He knew what she was the whole time.

“Chrys,” he took her hands in his. She’d started tearing up napkins again without realizing it. “You are worried that I couldn’t love you if I knew what you did but I do know and I do love you. All I’m asking is that you give yourself a chance to forgive yourself and maybe love me back.”

Those hands tried to tell her everything would be ok again but it wouldn’t be. She pulled her hands from his and put them in her lap.

“No, Vikter. I don’t deserve your love or forgiveness. No matter what you think you know, I’m far worse and. . . I have no goals, no future, and only nightmare for dreams. Live your life and forget about me.”

Then her feet remembered how to move and she left him in the cafe.

In her car, she didn’t drive this time. She was too angry. She prefered anger over the heartache, a mixture of sadness for Vik and for herself. Anger was an old friend she was happy to reconnect with. They got on like a house on fire. And right now the fire was blazing. She let the car drive, she would be too busy on the phone.

Simmons answered on the third ring. “This is unexpected. Is there a development?”

“Today is a day of unexpected information, like finding out you shared my classified file with Vikter.”

She waited through his pause for a response.

“He had clearance enough to see what was in it.”

“Really, Darryl? Really?! You think I’m this pissed over security clearance?”

“He could have looked it up himself.”

“I have earned the right to privacy, I have earned the right to a private life. You have no right to interfere with either of those things.”

“And I thought my good friend had the right to know that he was trying to date a dangerous. . . person. I’ve seen the full file, you know. You may be more valuable free than imprisoned but that doesn’t change that you’re a traitor, a murderer, and not to be trusted around . . .unsupecting humans.”

If there was something she could destroy in the car right now she would. Instead she took over manual controls and pulled over to the side of the road. It was dim outside already between the sun starting to set, and the grey clouds threatening to rain.

“One wonders how you can even trust me as a partner then,” she spoke through clenched teeth. Her skin itched for something to lash out at, to rip apart.

“You are an informant, a decent soldier, and a co-worker. We are not partners.”

She didn’t even get the satisfaction of hanging up on him as he ended the call first. She screamed. Then exited the car on the side of the road and slammed the door. She screamed again. There were no other cars on the road. She was surrounded by woods. Her voice echoed off the pavement and into the trees. A bird took to the sky.

Gareth was right. She apparently did value her self too highly. She wasn’t a partner, she couldn’t be a girlfriend, she was an informant. A traitor. A murderer. Outside of operations, she couldn’t remember the last time she killed something, someone.

Rain fell from the sky in heavy cold drops. Slowly, then quickly. Then more like streams and buckets than drops. She stood in it. Froze in it. Shivered. But it didn’t ease the heat in her rage and disappointment, the sadness. The itch beneath her skin that she could scratch only one way. She was going to kill something.

She stalked into the trees. She’d hunted there before. Will had taught her. Years and years ago. Before her current job, before the interrogations, before everything else. She hunted deer, goat, rabbit, wolves, transients, hikers.

She didn’t know now if she still had the skill. Dried leaves crunched underfoot, she was too loud already. Even with the rain, everything else was quieter than she.

It was always more difficult to hunt in the rain but he’d made sure she could. Hours of standing in the cold to get it right. Every other living creature had the decency to stay undercover rather than get soaked to the bone like she. But she wasn’t decent. That was the problem. She wasn’t decent and no matter how much rain washed over her, she would never been clean of the blood she’d bathed in. The blood she wished she’d let herself drown in.

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