Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Excerpt two

Zoey ~

We ate our french toast sitting on the steps of the deck, plates balanced on our knees. The eggs had been relegated to Gavin and Tame, and for this reason I think they quite liked me. No one had made any mention of the fact that I tried to run, or made me feel in any way uncomfortable, but as each minute passed I feared more and more of being that girl. You know that girl, the girl who hangs around until four o’clock in the afternoon the day after a one night stand, despite repeated and increasingly obvious hints to feck off from both the boy and his many flatmates, who are keen to play some Halo without a girl sitting on the arm of the couch and asking them to teach her how to play. No, I lived in terror of becoming that girl.

We watched each other through askance eyes as we ate, passing the bottle of maple syrup back and forth between us. Neither of us bothered to make small talk, but the silence was nice, relaxing. Birds swooped from the hard grey sky, and my bare arms were cool in the morning air. Again I could smell the sea. As we ate Gavin and Tame left the lounge and retired to their respective rooms, I can only assume, to leave us in private. I couldn’t believe how civilised this flat was.

It looked as though there were families living either side of the house, I could tell by the trampolines and swing sets on the lawns. Either that or this was a raucous party neighbourhood, and if Lucas invited me out back I would be greeted by an over sized bouncy castle and a pool with an Audi parked at the bottom of it. Families were more likely, I thought.

We had been eating for a while before the taste registered in my brain. ‘This is good.’ I smiled up at him, to show that I really was genuine, and he laughed.

‘You sound so surprised. Didn’t you think I could cook?’

‘It’s just, unexpected, that’s all.’ I speared a piece on my fork and wiped it in the maple syrup. I brought it to my mouth and paused, a sudden thought slicing through me. ‘Do you cook french toast for all of your one night stands?’ I was genuinely curious. ‘Is this like, your thing?’ I used my fork to outline his face in the air, as though to physically demonstrate his ‘thing’.

He laughed again. He seemed to find me very funny, and it was quite gratifying.

‘No.’ He chewed his mouthful thoughtfully. ‘My thing is usually eggs. But since you screwed that up…’ He gestured to the plate. ‘This was the best I could rustle up. My one night stands don’t usually run out on me though.’ His eyes roved across my face, searching for a reaction, some clue as to whether or not he could joke about this yet.

‘That was very asshole-esque of you, you know.’ He chewed again, thinking. ‘One of my mates does that, to girls, usually.’

Something Real – excerpt one

Zoey

Life seems so much simpler in the click of a shutter. The tap of a key, the scratch of a pen. Life is framed, frozen and still, poised for just one second of eternity, finally perfect. I have loved photography all my life for this exact reason. Take four people, each with an individual motive, a difference, a fight, and put them together with a lens, a frame, aperture and light. The result is something completely different to that of a hundred real Christmases, bickering across the dry turkey. I loved my grandparents’ smiles in that old photo, their teeth so white and gleaming, dimples and crinkled eyes in exactly the right places. Picture perfect.

My family have always been argumentative. I think it comes from something our father instilled in us. He always wanted to be a lawyer, I think, before Mum got pregnant with Elsa and he settled himself into the soil, the landscaping that had been his business throughout his teenage years and would be so for the rest of his life.

When I say argumentative, I don’t mean that we bicker about small things, rather, we like to debate, to push our point for each side, regardless of our actual thoughts on the matter. My most memorable birthday was my eighteenth. I was lying on the grass in front of the kitchen, and my lazy eyes were focussed on the black gleam of a Tui, upside down in our Kowhai tree, my mother’s pride and joy of the garden. I was only half listening as they chatted behind me, Elsa, Mum and Dad. My stomach was full from the carrot cake Elsa and I had made, swirls of the lumpy cream cheese icing still lingered in my tongue’s memory.

‘But you can’t argue that Dad,’ Elsa was outraged, the wine glass in her hand glinting in the afternoon sunlight. ‘That denotes a complete condescension for anyone who lives south of Tarras!’

I can’t remember what it was, maybe something in the pompous lyricism in her voice, or maybe in the rare use of the word ‘denotes’, but something sparked it.

Dad was the first to erupt into laughter, and as he caught my eye I felt it bubbling up from my stomach, and then we were all howling with laughter, raucous and rolling on the grass, as Elsa sat and tried to feign wise indifference. She took a slow sip of her wine, eyes averted across the lawn in a show of her detachment, and at that exact second, I kid you not, a large, slippery smear of bird shit splattered onto her left shoulder and slid down towards the latticed detailing of her pretty yellow dress. We were silent for one incredulous moment, no one daring to breath.

Mum was the first to speak. She nodded towards the stain, ‘That’s lucky, apparently.’ Her face was perfectly straight.

We all collapsed into convulsions, even Elsa joined in this time. I laughed so hard that day I got grass stains on the elbow of my white cardigan, you can still see the faint mark there now. That photo sits on my bedside table, in a red beaten-shell frame that is now chipped and dull. We look so content on the dewy grass, Elsa’s dress still wet from where she sponged it clean. Mum is sneaking a furtive look at Dad, and you can see in her eyes that she is still shaking with mirth at what has just happened. Elsa and I look exactly the same, our dark hair flipped across our right shoulders, the same chins and mouths pulled into identical pixie smiles, legs tucked up beneath us.

I remember feeling like nothing in the world could make me unhappy in that moment. As though nothing out there could pull me from that happy paradise of sun dappled lawn and birds in the trees, warm cream cheese icing and my fathers hands, scarred and always covered in dark, fertile soil.

I think that day was maybe the beginning of my bad luck.