After a bit of a setback, I've made some progress on my first book, No Dreams For Henry.
It's not been much, but I'm still proud of moving forward and getting things to where they are, both literally and figuratively. There will be more details about the story later as it's fleshed out more, but for now, I'm not trying to set any unnecessary expectations. All I can say is I hope it turns out as good as I'm hoping, but only time will tell. But at the least, here's a first draft excerpt of chapter one for those who are curious.
1Henry lay in bed staring at the ceiling.
It was approximately a quarter to three and he couldn’t bring himself to get back to sleep. It was yet another night insomnia claimed for its own.The early stages of a rainstorm were just beginning; light drops of precipitation pitter-pattered against the window pane of the bedroom. Occasional flashes of light streaked across the sky, lighting up the shades like ghostly, glowing sheets. Wind rustled through the leaves of the trees outside. At least it was his favorite type of weather.
Next to him, his girlfriend, Jessica lay still, snoozing. The covers lightly rose and fell with each breath. Henry found one of the few benefits to not being able to sleep was being able to watch her sleep. He loved her faint snoring. He loved the calm and relaxed look on her face as she slept, even those nights when she would drool after a long, hard day at work or a long, hard night of fucking.
It ended up being a little of both as today had been a bad day for her. She loved her job, but sometimes it just got to her. She held a position as a barista at a local coffee shop. Coffee had always been a sort of passion for her. Jessica hoped to one day own her own shop. Henry hoped one day he could provide that to her with his writing. With the way things were going, he wasn’t sure when or if that would ever happened, but he still hoped. He thought about it almost every day. It was one of his goals that kept him on track, focused.
Henry sighed and sat up in bed. The rain began to beat harder on the windows, audible through the walls. He could hear strips of thunder rumbling in the distance. That was his cue to go ahead and head out to the porch. He loved sitting through rainstorms, watching the sheets of precipitation pour over the houses and streets in falling waves. The noise of the thunder, the flash of the lightning, he’d always found it soothing. It was his writing weather. He did his best to sneak out of the bed, to not wake Jessica. He decided he would make a pot of coffee and sit out on the porch with his pad.
Fumbling around in the dark, Henry was able to find his night pants and his favorite writing pad. The now more frequent flashes of lightning provided him the light he needed to make it from the bed to the doorway without making too much noise. He still wasn’t lucky enough to make it through without stubbing his toe on the door frame.
Grunting in pain, Henry hopped on one foot down the hallway and into the kitchen. He favored his left foot, stepping extra lightly. The sharp pain shot up his leg with each step, but he knew it’d go away soon. He flicked on the light, taking a few moments to let his eyes properly adjust.
He set up the coffee pot for a full load. He wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon anyway, so it didn’t really matter. He enjoyed his coffee as well.
While the maker prepared to drip, Henry grabbed a pen from the mug on the kitchen table and limped to the front door. The rain was still beating down hard. He didn’t worry about getting wet, though. The porch was covered. His favorite chair always stayed dry, even during the really bad storms. Tonight looked like it was going to be one of those. Henry was ready.
The latch turned smoothly on the knob. The deadbolt turned just as smooth, clicking into place. The door, though, creaked loudly when he turned the knob and pulled. He looked behind him, not sure what to expect in the dark. There was no movement he could see. It was difficult to hear anything subtle over the rain. The cool air from the outside gusted in. It was a little chilly, but he could handle it. He enjoyed the colder weather.
Henry figured he had five to ten minutes before the coffee pot fully finished. He made himself comfortable in his favorite chair outside, the wind blew wildly, and the rain came down in the sheets he loved so much.
For a few minutes he leaned back and closed his eyes and just listened. The noise of the rain was calming to him, relaxing. It helped him get his mind going, usually helped the ideas pour out more than laying and staring in the dark and he knew better than to turn on the television. He listened to the thunder. Behind his lids, he could still see the occasional bright flash of the lightning.
The patter of the falling rain began to pull thoughts from his mind. Without opening his eyes, he leaned forward and began to jot down on the pad. It was therapeutic. He tried to not think directly as to what he was writing down, only put words on the paper. He found this lent interesting twists and turns to his stories. New ideas forged like swords and daggers from the molten steel swimming through his head. Whenever it stormed and he wrote, he stabbed the paper with near pinpoint accuracy. The rain was his muse. The storm was his method.
He sat scribbling, eyes closed, for what felt like an eternity. He didn’t dare open his eyes to see what he had put down just yet. He didn’t want to break the spell.
Then the door creaked.
Shaken out of his trance, Henry looked up to see Jessica, dressed in only an oversized, faded band t-shirt, holding two steaming mugs. “I figured you were out here.”
“Sorry, I didn’t want to wake you.” He stammered. She shook her head. “You didn’t. Well, not directly.” Jessica handed him a mug. She always tried to support his writing, no matter how weird his techniques were. “You know how I am about my java.”
He snorted, “Heh, yeah, I forget sometimes.”
Jessica carefully sat back in the chair opposite Henry. Her soft breasts pressed against the material of the shirt. “So, whatcha got so far?”
The wind howled; rain still fell like crashing waves.
“Well,” he looked down at the pad. As usual, the writing was a bit messy, but still surprisingly legible. “It’s a bit scattered like always, but I think we’re looking at a murder mystery here.” He handed her the pad. She had to lean forward to take it. A few drops of coffee spilled on the table.
She looked quizzically at the pad, “Scissor-Fist? That’s not that guy you told me about from your childhood, is it?”
“No, no, that was StitchFace. He, he doesn’t exist. Not anymore. Hurray for medication, right?” Henry stared off into the rain. “I really don’t see how you put up with me. You know I’m not all there.”
Jessica sighed and laid the pad on the table. Her impatience was audible.“You know I hate when you talk like that, Hank!”“You know I hate when you call me ‘Hank.’”
He continued looking at the rain; it was beginning to lighten up a little. Jessica put her head in her free hand, “It’s too early for this shit, baby. Just come back to bed, okay?”
Henry sighed. “Fine. Can’t promise I’ll get anymore sleep tonight, but fine. I’ll meet you there. Gotta turn off the coffee pot.”
Jessica went to pick up the pad, but stopped for a moment and stared as her hand got close. “Baby, am I going crazy or does this look like…a face?” She picked up the pad and handed it to Henry. When he looked at the page on which he had just blindly wrote, he couldn’t believe he didn’t notice it sooner. Though the writing was normal for the most part, certain words, letters, punctuations, were darkened; scribbled over more than the rest.
When Henry relaxed his vision some, he could see what Jessica was talking about.
He could see the eyes. He could see the mouth. He could see stitches.
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