I’ve been writing a lot this month for Camp NaNoWriMo, it’s the spring version of National Novel Writing Month and it has the same goal. Fifty Thousand Words in a thirty day month.
I’m a little behind where I should be. I need to write um… 17,000 words in 8 days.
That won’t be the end of the book, but it will be the end of the project.
The working title of the book is Hard/Drive and it contains scenes where the characters are telling stories themselves. Think Inception, but without the suitcase.
Once upon a time on a trail through the woods two men were running side by side. They wore black running shorts and Vibram five-fingers running shoes, the ones with the toes in them. On either side of the dirt trail tall trees grew forming a leafy canopy overhead. They could hear squirrels chittering at them as they ran, and occasionally they would startle birds out of the bushes. They ran for long minutes, their strides perfectly matched as they ran through the woods together, their breathing matched as perfectly as their pace did.
Ahead they could see the path turning slightly to the right and they turned to find the trail opening into a clearing. They slowed and stopped, standing in the clearing. One side of the clearing was lined with yellow flowering wild roses and the other side was lined with red wild roses. The clearing smelled strongly of the roses. “This wasn’t here last time was it?” Mark asked Matthew.
“No. I’d have remembered this. It looks like it used to be someone’s garden that went wild. But how? It wasn’t here two days ago,” Matthew looked around the field and walked over to the red roses and picked one. The bloom was small, no bigger than a poker chip. He held it to his nose and sniffed it. He could feel his sweat cooling on his skin. The edges of the clearing were cast in shadows while the center of the clearing, covered in a low growing clover was lit in the full light of the noon sun.
Mark walked to the yellow roses and picked on and with a hissed, “Shit!” brought his finger to his mouth where he sucked the blood from his finger. “The thorns on these are a bitch.”
“Weird, the red ones don’t have thorns. Oh.” He looked closer. “There are thorns, but they’re big and soft, they bend but don’t poke. Weird.”
They each smelled their flowers again and dropped them onto the ground, “Let’s keep going. We’ve got another few miles to do,” Matthew said.
He looked around the clearing, “Where did we come in at?”
Mark looked around the clearing and he couldn’t see the path coming into the clearing either. “I don’t know. I thought it was…” His voice trailed off as he turned slowly looking for where the roses change from red to yellow but the gap that had been where the change was at was gone now. Instead of two walls of roses, red on one side, yellow on the other the roses were mixed now with yellow petals with red hearts. The inside of the petal was red and only the outsides were yellow.
Matthew tried to push through the roses and pulled back a scratched and bleeding arm, “Ow! Dammit! It’s too thick. I can’t get through them.”
“This is stupid. There has to be a way out. We came in through…” Mark looked around, “Over there?”
A breeze stirred the trees overhead and swirled the rose leaves and petals. The smell went from heady, to too sweet, to cloying, and finally to literally intoxicating and the two runners found themselves in the center of the clearing sitting in amongst the clover dizzy and dozing.
When they woke up the sun was gone and the sky overhead was dark but for stars and the path of the Milky Way, a smear of stars across the sky. The moon wasn’t out but the light of the stars lit the clearing enough to see the dark edges of the wood and make out each other against the darker black of the forest around them. The air was warm and the smell of the roses still hung in the air but not as heavy as before.
A light flickered in the wood, a pale blue light. Matthew clapped Mark on his shoulder and pointed. Mark nodded that he had already seen the light and they watched as it approached. The light grew closer and brighter as it entered the clearing, it lit the rose bushes as it passed over them and they saw that the roses had closed in the night so there was no sign of the flowers. In the center of the light a lady dressed all in blue, with long black hair that fell down her back, at least passed her shoulders where they could see it coalesced out of the light and the light seemed to contract around her as she formed leaving just her and a flickering nimbus of blue flames that danced and flickered around her.
They watched in stunned silence as she extended her hands to her sides and the roses on either side of her, and of the clearing began to glow, red on the left, and yellow on the right. They parted then and the light moved along the rose bushes to outline the shape of two younger women, one in a red dress with brilliant blond hair and the other in a yellow dress with fiery red hair that tumbled in tight curls to frame her face. Green eyes, the color of the clover they sat among looked at them interestedly from both beautiful faces.
“My daughter Miranda,” the lady in the blue dress said indicating the blond haired lady in the red dress, “Will love you and be devoted to you all of your life but you will never be able to love her as much. You will only ever feel a friendship for her, nothing more.” The red-dressed lady looked at both of them and smiled. “My other daughter, Sarah, will be your loyal friend until the end of your days but you, should you choose her, will love her and only her forever. Which of them would you choose to guide you from this place and be with you as friend or unrequited love?”
Matthew looked at Mark and said, “Neither?”
“You can have a loyal friend to stand by you for all time, or someone who loves you more than they love themselves. Would you not want one of these? Are they not beautiful? Does not every man want a loyal friend or a person to love him always?” The lady in blue asked raising an eyebrow at Matthew.
“Can we learn to love her?” Mark asked looking at the blond in the red dress.
“If you choose her she will love you always and none other. You, however, will love others and never her,” The lady in blue said.
“That sounds pretty miserable for her.”
“To love someone is never miserable is it? Love conquers all. It gives hope. It adds zest to life. Would you deny my daughter that?”
“But… wouldn’t she be unhappy to see me,” he pointed at Matthew, “or Matthew love someone else?”
“What has happiness to do with love? Do not all mean yearn to be loved? With all their flaws and shortcomings? To be taken as they are and still accepted and loved completely by someone?”
“No. I don’t think so,” Matthew said.
“What of my other daughter whom you will love and desire completely for all your life?”
“That sounds worse!” Mark said, “To be friend-zoned forever? Without hope of getting out of there?”
“With love there is always hope. Perhaps you will believe you can prove your love to her and change her mind or that you can perform enough favors or deeds to earn her love from her. Would not the challenge to be loved back as completely as you love her be a challenge worth taking?”
“But you said it would never work, that we would never be loved back as completely as we love her.”
“That is true.”
“Then… it would be for nothing.”
“Love is never for nothing,” The lady in blue said. Her voice sounding sad.
“This sounds like a terrible choice. Isn’t there another choice?”
“Perhaps a companion that you neither loved nor cared about but to whom you were inextricably linked?” She asked.
“I was thinking more like someone with whom we could be friends and also love,” Mark said.
“Ah, there is one such as you ask for. You ask for too much to be just given as a gift though. Such a one as you ask for must be sought after yourself.”
“Unless they are here in this clearing though we probably won’t find such a one. The roses won’t let us pass. We are trapped here,” Matthew said. “Can you cause them to release us?”
“I could. But I won’t. When you find the one you say you want, then the thorns of the rose will present no barrier to you. Until then stay a while here in the safety of my garden.” The two daughters turned and walked into the roses and faded from sight as they entered the dark shadows of the trees. The lady in blue, whose name they never did learn faded and vanished from their sight leaving the two of them there. Soon they fell asleep again and didn’t wake up again until morning. The sound of birds chirping in the trees woke them and they sat up to see the clearing was gone and had been replaced with a slight widening of the trail they had been running on. The stood and looked around and started slowly back down the way they had come when Matthew stopped and stooped to pick up something from the ground. He handed Mark the flower that Mark had picked, the yellow one, and he kept the red one he had picked. They both smelled the roses one more time, put them in the pocket of their shorts and jogged back the way they had come without looking back or talking about the strange night they had just had.