First time anyone will see this.
Hi. I've been working on this novel for going on two years now. I've never had anyone read any of it. This is the opening stanza of the book. I would love some feed back, as I have no idea if I'm headed in the right direction or not. Thank you!
The gentle crash of the slowly lapping ocean caresses the shoreline of the beach in the near darkness. Head resting in hands, back wriggling its way into the warm sand, legs crossed at the ankles, I trace patterns in the sky through the myriad of stars painting the velvet canvas of my evening.
The waning heat of the dying fire behind me exudes a comforting atmosphere as the flickering flames create shadow dancers cast by the empty bottle of champaign sticking proudly out of its shallow grave in the coarse sand.
Pit-pat, pat-a-tat-pat. The rhythmic sounds of the drum circle casts its triumphant trance around the bay. My toes tap against my sandals like a metronome.
Slowly the people in the background fade into the withering night. The patterns in the dark sky begin to leap and play together. The man lion bounds through the playground of my night chasing a rainbow-hued phoenix across the dreamscape of my consciousness.
That consciousness fades into a sleeping dusk which is cast aside by a warmly rising sun as it brings its beauty to the now lonely beach.
Everyone has gone. The fire has died and the sun is coming up. Its time to go. That was a good night.
They are not always good nights. But there are good nights. For months the good nights were few and far between, but they seem to come easier these days. And even more frequently.
Less often am I found dwelling in dark thoughts of lost hopes. The bright side of things seems to be easier to find.
Its been a year since I made the choice. Left all that I had, was and felt defined by, behind to make a completely new start far from all that was dear to my heart.
That is probably accrediting the action with more fore thought than went into the real decision.
I had been unhappy with my job. Very unhappy and unfulfilled. The monotony of a business photographer for a small Midwestern weekly was not providing the lifestyle or fame that I desired.
After nine months it had been enough and at 10 months I packed up my few office possessions, stole a flash for my camera and took the job.
The offer was a spot as a photographer and sports writer with the Virgin Islands Daily News on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I found the job online and sent them my resume on a whim. There was a foot of snow on the ground in January in Nebraska and it was 17 degrees outside.
For the record, given the choice between a dirty snow bank and a sandy white beach, wouldn’t you go for it too?
My final week in the states was spent with family in St. Paul, Minnesota. Growing up in a household with six sisters and one brother who is 10-years younger is hard. Leaving that family behind to move out of the country is much harder.
I cried himself to sleep the night before I left. Alone in my basement room, the last time I would ever be able to call it my room. Creating patterns in my mind with the plastic, glow-in-the-dark stars glued to the plaster-board ceiling.
At 4:00 a.m. I was awake again having slept only two hours. A quick shower, a bagel and a cup of coffee later I was in the front seat of a Suburban riding shotgun with my father and namesake, cruising through the pre-dawn haze of MacGroveland out to the airport where I would take the first step of this new journey.
Anxiety tore through the bagel in my gut and ate holes into the lining my stomach as I boiled with misgivings and fears. Foremost being the extreme desire to not be getting on a plane. They crash all the time. People die. If you go down you have no chance!
Thoughts of her raced through my mind. What if what I had given up on was the real deal? What if I was leaving behind the best thing in my life? Won’t I be miserable for the rest of my life? Maybe I should stay for her? Propose to her? Wouldn’t that be better?
But I said goodbye to my father at the curb of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. A final hug. Some final advice to watch myself and make good choices. I shouldered my bag and was on my way.
I checked in. Navigated my way through the terminal to my designated gate and found a seat. I made one last call before I left the country, the state, that I had been born in, grown up in, and learned to love. The call was to her. It was 7:30 in the morning but she had said to call because she’d be up anyway.
My call woke her up, but she is glad to hear from me before the big flight, she says in that groggy sleep voice that comes from the place where she will always love me.
"Well, we are boarding," I say. Time to take off to places unknown and adventures untamable. I promise to call when I land.
I haven’t seen her for five months. We haven’t been dating for over a year. Yet, I still ache for her smile. For her warm presence in the dark when the night creeps in. For those eyes that sparkle with amazement, flash with anger and glow with love. For that laugh that breaks the monotony of my existence.
Good bye I whisper to my great state. A tear forms in the corner of my eye as I take my seat. The blur of the stewardess’ address about airplane safety belts is lost to the crooning of Blue October through the recently inserted ear-phones that will carry me to sleep as the plane lifts off for Miami.
“I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head. They crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed,” lifts me off the runway and I attempt to drift off into a dream world where the fear gripping my insides will disappear into the haze that is unconsciousness.
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you? Anyone? Please.
It seems so long ago that that fateful flight carried me away from my routine to this new world. So far from that paralyzing fear that had gripped me upon arriving in the Caribbean for the first time.
The island has worn me smooth since. Life has made its mark and I am content to live it now.
The pilot’s voice could be heard over the intercom announcing their landing in beautiful St. Thomas where its always 85, sunny and blue skies -- drunks, drug-addicts, hookers and corrupt cops included.
The plane is descending but no runway is in sight. Where are they going to land? What’s going on? Irrational panic flashes through my mind. The runway at Cyril King extends out from the island into the open ocean. Its hard to see from the window of a plain until you touch ground. I learned that the hard way.
Waiting 40 minutes at the terminal for my luggage to be moved 30 yards from the plane to the baggage claim, Jason showed up, fat and clad in jean shorts and a flower-print madras shirt that hung open revealing a white t-shirt and Daily News media credentials. Nice to meet you he says. Welcome to the island.
Imidiately we conversed well, with plenty of things to talk about and many things that must be introduced to the newbie. For the afternoon the two of us drove around the 14-mile long and seven-mile wide strip of paradise.
Lunch was served at Caribbean Saloon where a chicken sandwich was a nice piece of familiarity in this foreign environment. I don’t know how foreign yet.
Tonight is not a good night.
Alone on the porch, I got off work early today, but didn’t have anywhere to go. Lynn is still in the office working late. The Daily News is a hard place to break away from on a work day, something always seems to pop up.
Its been about two months since the big move and while work is going well, my heart aches for those that were close to me and the familiarity of Omaha -- my town.
Keeping me company tonight are a couple of Presidentes, a bottle of Cruzan Citrus rum and a half smoked pack of cigarettes found in the blue jeep I bought two weeks ago. I’d rather be smoking weed, something I haven’t part-take in for at least 6 months, but now that I am in the islands, I feel like I should pick it back up again.
The moonlight illuminates the precipice overlooking Magen’s bay as the evening wallows in its own serenity. A pair of large Koss headphones croon lonely melodies that dance their way through my mind.
“This is the first day of my life. Swear I was born right in the door way.”
Another pull of the bottle and I sink deeper into the chair and farther into the darkness gripping my mind. One after the other they flash through my consciousness. The one that was. The one that could have been. The one that should have been. What if? stalks me through my waking hours and haunts me through these subconscious evenings lost to the starlight of these cloudy nights.
Bright Eyes lulls me off into the darkness. “I realized that I need you and I wonder if I could come home?”
"I thought it was strange you said everything had changed, as if you’d just woke up." When will I wake up? Wake me up! Please…
Just in my opinion
This is a very good start. I like your description at the beginning, kind of draws you in. Very poetic like. Good flow to the writing. It feels a bit like a journal at this point. I am a bit confused about something. Where does Nebraska come into this? Thought he lived in Minnesota? I am judging from inference that he first left MN for a job in Nebraska which he didn't like, then went home to visit before heading to the islands, but I would like to say it seems a bit unclear in the story. I had to read through a few times to figure that part out. Perhaps you could rearrange a few things so your not jumping around quite as much. I certainly understand your setting the stage and your doing a good job.
one spelling error I noticed Imidiately, Immediately, well keep up the good work, hope to read more from you in the future.
On a personal note, I live in MN, 40mi north of the twin cities.
First time anyone will see this
Cant really disagree with what has been said and suggested so far. But Im interested to see where this is going. There are a lot of things to like here, such as a story set on a small runabout instead of a major starship and a sexy computer avatar who seeps with the captain?