NaNoWriMo 2009 story! It will be rated K+ for a fairly long time, but it might change. I don't know.
You can read the Event Horizon blog that I'm doing for class here: http:// qzie. wordpress. com
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.- Hebrews 11:1, NASB
At The End of It All
Virgil cringed at how loud the typewriter sounded and how stiffly the keys moved after years of not being used (he almost laughed as he realized he could have described him and his own arthritic fingers). He had been writing stories on that computer his daughter Phoebe had gotten him for Christmas for so long that he had forgotten how noisy typewriters could be in comparison. But using a typewriter felt right for this story. He couldn't really explain why… it just did.
I was eighty-three when Grace died. It was snowing, as was appropriate because Grace loved the snow. "It has a quiet beauty," she used to say. But towards the end of her days, she didn't say much. She sang a lot, though. She sang my songs, the songs I meant to be sung in churches, but… they never quite made it. There was my anthem for the Depression when I was a teenager, He Is All I Need.
Virgil couldn't help but hum it to himself as he remembered his late wife singing it to Phoebe when she was young. "He is all I need… Over every other need… He sees me when I go down… He'll turn my life around… He is all I need…" He sat there quietly, expecting to hear Grace say in the other room, "Time to say prayers, Phoebe." But he was reminded of the fact that Phoebe was no longer a little girl who needed to be taken care of, and Grace was in God's hands now.
"Keep writing, Virgil," he muttered to himself, remembering his old mantra from when he still wrote stories on this crotchety old thing.
She would sing it when things got hard. When I lost faith. It was always so easy to lose it during those days, even during the war when he lost... well. She helped. She brought the grace back into my life. I always needed that. Maybe she always knew.
There was the song about light.
The words were out of his fingers and on the paper, glaring at Virgil, before he could do anything about it. He wasn't sure if he should continue with this or not, having considered the song about light very unsteady ground, but he couldn't stop. He just kept betraying himself.
I wrote it a couple months after I wrote He Is All I Need, but it didn't have the same motive. It wasn't nearly as pure as the first one. It was never nearly as pure. Grace brought purity to my life, too. I guess you could say she was made for me.
"FAH!" Virgil felt unadulterated hatred sweep over him as he tore the piece of paper out of the typewriter. He hated the clichés, he hated how terrible the writing was, he hated how much of a sap he sounded like, he just hated himself for even writing a sentence like that. Saying it to your wife was one thing, but writing it down with the intentions of other people seeing it was completely different. He crumpled up the paper into a little ball and threw it across the room, where it ricocheted off the side of the wall and lied on the floor.
He could still see those words on the paper.
Grace never understood how a writer could be so unromantic. "I thought you were supposed to write happy endings where the boy marries the girl and they live happily ever after," she had very naively said when he had been forced to show her one of his short stories, which had a less than happy ending. They were fifteen at the time, he remembered. Before he ever knew… well, that was another story.
"Happy endings don't happen in real life, Grace," he said in all his cynical arrogance. "And I'm aiming for realism." And realism, at the time, were people getting laid off for no good reason, the whole world suffering from a depression, runaways, suicides, and overall... loss of faith.
Grace didn't like that much. On the other hand, she saw too many romantic comedies anyway. It was good to inject her with a healthy dose of pessimism.
Virgil now hated himself for ever trying to make a girl like Grace pessimistic.
Trying to get his mind back on his tribute to Grace, he took out another sheet of paper and started over. Maybe a title. He just needed a proper title to set the mood and that would be good.
Now THAT was suitable. She loved that song. When they were married, that was even the song she walked down the aisle to. And when she died... it was the first song they sang at her memorial and her funeral. She would sing it around the house all the time and when Phoebe got her a video of their little grandson, Tyler, singing it... she was in tears. Virgil was even getting a little choked up just thinking about it.
Yes, this was a good title. Now the words, if only the words would come... Virgil looked out the window. It was frosted over, as it tended to do in Kalamazoo during the winter, and snow lined the bottom of it. It wasn't snowing now, but judging by the thickness of those clouds, it definitely would be soon.
Grace loved the snow. Even when we got older and most people learned to despise it, she still had a lingering affection for it. "How could you hate anything so filled with grace?" she would ask every time I complained about it. It was a loaded question, quite obviously.
"It's cold and causes traffic accidents," I would tell her.
Virgil was starting to dislike this one as well. Except for the title, he would always love the title. Amazing Grace stayed.
Suddenly, an idea struck him. There was one story- well, partial manuscript- that Grace had always been curious about. It wasn't even a proper story; it was just some random phrases and a few sketches that Virgil himself didn't draw (he had no artistic talent) and then, at the very end, was one page that contained the sentence in his handwriting:
Once upon a time, there was a writer, there was an artist, there was a light, and everything as we know it was in flux.
"Virgil? What does 'flux' mean?" Grace had asked when she came across it during cleaning one day.
Virgil remembered feeling his heart stop as he skittishly replied, "It, uh, it means that it has the ability to change. It can be made different."
He had never been more terrified of his wife (save of when she was giving birth) than when she walked into the room holding that manuscript that he had long since abandoned. She was looking through the pages at all those nonsensical phrases and- oh, the pictures, the pictures were just plain mad- what would she think of him now? "Well, she's pretty," she had commented as she found a picture of a rather dazzling young girl.
"Um, I guess, would you mind putting that back? I only keep it around because for some odd reason, it inspires me." Virgil was very clearly lying, which he had always struggled with. Why could he never stop lying? It had already gotten him into serious trouble once; he didn't need it to get him landed in the insane asylum. (Maybe that was politically incorrect… what did it matter?)
"Why didn't you ever finish this? All these pictures and excerpts are so interesting." Grace, to Virgil's horror, had been enthralled with this world. "Oh, there's a character named Phoebe! Is that where you got the idea for our daughter's name, Virgil? Sneaky, working your characters into the real world…" She hadn't seem all annoyed.
He didn't remember what exactly he had done to get Grace off the subject- maybe it was Phoebe- but whenever things got a little too quiet or whenever it was time to clean the house, that manuscript would always get dragged back out. Grace would make up wild theories about what the plotline was because in its current form, it didn't really make a lot of sense, and Virgil would do his best to not act like he had anything to hide.
Even though he was hiding a whole world right behind her back.
With that in mind, Virgil started typing again. This time, he didn't start the way he usually did, or really, the way most writers did:
A Letter to Grace
You have asked for over sixty years what the manuscript in the closet was and why I never finished it. I have to tell you the truth now- I never intended to tell you. It sounded mad and made me seem like a crazy person and I just couldn't have you thinking less of me. But now that you're with God, I think you'll be able to understand what happened all those years ago.
With a heavy sigh, Virgil carefully took out the paper, inserted another, and began to write.
Hope everybody had a happy Halloween. :) I wish you could see the fonts for the title and chapter header; they're really cool. Oh well.
For people who don't know, NaNoWriMo is an annual event where a bunch of people around the world write 50K words in 30 days. And why yes, that is a quote from the Bible at the top of the page... saw it in church and deemed it WIN.
(For anyone who cares (CaveDwellers) I meant to have last year's NaNo novel ready for sale today, but the page numbers refuse to cooperate with me. But it's coming!)
Have some candy.
Current Word Count: 1917