NaNo is over.
NANO IS OOOOOOVERRRRRR!!!!
I’ve gotten so much done this past weekend, it’s kinda crazy. And it’s good to be reading a lot more and doing my poor, neglected schoolwork, but… I miss Daniella and Kyle and David and Mal and everybody in The Art of Letting Go. Trying to work out how to be in college, work two jobs, read, practice piano and violin, have some semblance of a social life, and still find time to write. It’s a lot, but I’m working on taking out the things that I’m doing right now that don’t really matter in the long run. I’d much rather do things that have eternal value rather than here-and-now pleasures, if that makes any sense. Unfortunately, I get distracted more often than not, and I’m trying to get that fixed. (*dismounts soapbox*)
The last week of NaNo was… stressful. Like, literally THE most stressful week of NaNo – even more stressful than that week I was at my grandparents’ house, if you can believe it! I was soooooo behind at the beginning of the fourth week that I honestly didn’t think that I’d be able to win. (But then I kept thinking, ‘I’m two for two. I’m not going to fail now!’)
Monday was SO much fun, though. I went to a friend’s house and we wrote for four hours, getting a little over four thousand words done. YAY! We also had time to eat junk food (and real food), watch the new Mockingjay: Part One and The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies trailers (SOB) and I watched The Book Thief for the first time! (Also SOB.) It was a very feelsy day, both writing- and movie-wise, and I enjoyed it very much. Thanks a million, Frankie!
Tuesday, I wrote over four thousand words again, and then wrote over two thousand words on Wednesday, finishing off the fifty thousand (plus eighty-six) at about 11:30pm that night. (During NaNo, late nights are non-negotiable. As are things like headphones, soundtracks, chocolate, and sweet tea.) I sat back and enjoyed scrolling through my OpenOffice document of my novel, which was very gratifying.
Writing places: In my basement, in my room, in the bathroom, at the kitchen table, in my living room, outside, at the library, in the car…
Approx glasses of sweet tea: 37
Approx pounds of chocolate: 8
Approx hours thinking about my novel: 720
Approx minutes of crying over my novel: 20
Pages of sheet music required to unwind every day: 12
Books read to retain sanity: 4
So… yeah. NaNo’s over. But The Art of Letting Go is not. In fact, I think I’m at the climax right now. Act II just wrapped up in a gut-wrenching fashion, and Act III is opening up in a similar manner. (Let’s hope my gut lasts ’til the end of the novel…)
Excerpt time! These excerpts are mainly from the beginning (ish) of the novel, because, towards the end, there are some spoilery things and Events Which We Will Not Speak Of At This Time. Obligatory notice: I don’t edit while doing NaNo and haven’t started the process yet (I usually write the entire book before going back because I need to know where it’s going before I can edit, blah, blah, blah), so… pardon the type-os, grammatical errors, wonky phrases, etc, etc.
Kyle and I ate our pizza in silence. I didn’t feel like eating, so I pulled the cheese off my pizza, then ate the sausage. I ended up eating the crust, too, but it took me about an hour because I would eat a bite and slowly chew it as I stared out of the big picture window in the dining room. Kyle sat with me the entire time.
I help him clean the kitchen after we were done, again, in silence. When we’re done, I stand in the middle of the kitchen, not knowing what to do.
“Let’s sit on the couch,” Kyle suggests.
I slowly nod. We sit down together, side by side. A memory flashes through my mind and I take a deep breath. The last time I sat down on this couch, next to a guy, was last Tuesday, when David came over to study with me after school.
Tears stream down my cheeks. I rub them away, and the motion attracts Kyle’s attention. “Hey,” he whispers, wrapping his arms around me. “It’s okay.”
I cry into his shoulder for the second time today.
“It’s okay, Daniella. You’re going to be fine.”
I listen to it, but I don’t believe it. ‘How can I be fine, now that my best friend in the entire world – the guy I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with – is just gone?’
I let myself cry. I can’t think of anything else I can do.
The summer slowly draws itself to a close. I start getting preoccupied with school stuff… and, at Kyle’s constant reminding, college stuff. Every time I start looking at colleges and scholarships and application processes, my heart feels like it’s been ripped out and stomped on repeatedly. It kills me to know that I’m doing it without David. And I can say that now because it genuinely hurts that much. When you’ve imagined scenes of your life and then get to those scenes and certain people you’ve pictured there aren’t there… it hurts. It’s painful, and I can’t escape it. I had imagined parts of my life with David and now… they can never happen. Funny how that works.
Anyway, before I know it, I’m entering the school building again, except it’s different because I’m a Senior now. Yahoo.
I get there a few minutes early because Mr. Turner wants to show me something. He doesn’t tell me what it is, but I know exactly what he wants to show me. Turns out, I’m right.
“Right this way, Daniella,” he says, smiling at me and leading me down the hall.
I follow him down a hall I know all too well. I know I walked down this hall a million times in the three years I’ve been here, but I remember one distinctly. Half-stumbling down it, with Kyle’s arm around my shoulders, guiding me.
I shut out the emotions as I follow Mr. Turner through the door to the library. He flicks on the light just as I drop my backpack to the floor. I look up and gasp. The entire library has been renovated. The shelves start at a different end of the library and everything is moved around. There are new tables, new chairs, new carpet, and a new color on the walls.
“C’mon,” Mr. Turner says, motioning with his hand. I follow him across the library and through an aisle of bookshelves, all the way to the back, where the Bio section used to be.
And then I stop.
There’s an empty space in the bookshelves. Right in the middle of the floor stands a wooden podium with a glass case on top. Inside the glass case is a football helmet. I don’t have to go any closer to know that it’s David’s. I know every scratch by heart.
I swallow, summon my courage, and walk towards it. I want to touch it so much, but I can’t. The stupid glass is in the way. A plaque catches my eye and I read it a few times, whispering the words on it under my breath. “In memory of David Anthony Jamison, 1994-2012. You lived a short life, but impacted so many people. You will be missed.”
I finger the indented lettering on the plaque, blinking rapidly. ‘I’m not going to cry in front of Mr. Turner. I’m just not.’
“I have to go back to my classroom and finish getting ready. Mind if I leave you here?”
I purse my lips and shake my head firmly.
Mr. Turner squeezes my shoulder. “See you in class.”
He leaves and I fix my stare on the plaque. It feels as if it commands my gaze because I just can’t look away.
The plaque seems to unleash all of the memories of that day that I’ve blocked out of my mind. The way David’s shirt felt as I clasped it in my fist. The look of utter hopelessness in the suicidal boy’s eyes. Most of all, I distinctly remember the blood on my hands. I can’t escape it. I’ve had nightmares centering around it – nightmares where I can’t get it off and can’t get away from it. I shudder and block the memories. Again.
I turn around, trying to spot the place where David fell. The library is radically different from before, but, if I wanted to, I could probably figure it out. My mind instantly starts calculating where the bookshelves used to be.
I get out of the library as fast as I can.0
I’ll leave you guys with a song of how Daniella kinda-sorta feels now. She’s still grieving, but she’s past the hardest part. She knows she’s been through so much and now feels like she can handle almost anything life throws at her. (And then I think, “MUAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s what YOU think, Danni!”)