This novel, my new work in progress, was not the original choice to fill this space on Tuesday’s NOVEL WRITING posts. It is not like novels I have written before. It will be longer, deeper, and probably more controversial. It will also probably not be a stand-alone story/ It will be deeply intertwined with When the Captain Came Calling, Snow Babies, and Sing Sad Songs, my previous Valerie-Clarke novels. The Cantos will not be short and will be titled with Classical music. An emphasis will be placed on thematic development and character development. And I may not do more than a few Cantos here.
Prelude and Opening Movement
Just because you cannot see someone knocking on your front door anymore, it doesn’t mean they are totally gone from your life. In fact, sometimes the most important people in your life are the ones that you can’t touch anymore… the ones who don’t sit down at the dinner table with you anymore… the ones you can’t talk to and have them actually give you an answer anymore… the ones who will never actually kiss you ever again.
That’s why Valerie Clarke was crying in her bedroom. It was why she was awake with her eyes closed early into the wee hours of the morning. It was also why she hadn’t really been aware when the racing thoughts and weepy sighs turned directly into a conversation with her angel. It was as if Michel Volant was a part of her every-day living world.
“Why are you crying, Mon Cher? What solace can I give to thee?”
He flapped his large white wings only once, and the swirl of cool night air helped draw away some of the heat on her face because she had been crying, and cooled her body down just enough to drain away the tightness and stress.
“Because they’re all gone, Michel. I have nobody left.”
“Who has gone? You mean Mary and Pidney because they have gone to College in Cedar Rapids?”
“Yes, my two best friends from high school are gone far away. But not just them.”
“Danny Murphy because he has fallen in love with the Bates girl?”
“Yes. He was never my boyfriend. But he made me laugh. And he doesn’t have time for me anymore because of Carla. He’s deeply in love with her, and won’t risk making her jealous. I had no closer friend when I was twelve and he was thirteen.”
“But surely there are others…”
“No. Really, there are not.”
“You I know. But…” Valerie’s eyes were open, but seeing only the darkness of the bedroom. “I was in love with him too. And he was… he never got to… Oh! I can’t even say it.”
“But I was him and he was me… for a time. So, I know he was deeply in love with you. But he had no choice. A hematoma in the brain that the doctors had missed…”
“And before him it was Tommy. He came with the blizzard, and left with…”
“But you knew he had a mission in life. He had to go. And perhaps he will return one day.”
“He never asked me if I would let him go. Or if I wanted to go with him. Now, I don’t even know if he’s still alive.”
“He is. That boy was made of iron. He was stronger than any adult you ever met. At least, stronger of heart.”
“And I have lost so many adults in my life too.”
“Your mother is still here. And Uncle Dash.”
“But there was Catbird.”
“The old hobo from the blizzard? The man with the crazy-quilt for a coat?”
“He was so wise and so good. But when the blizzard was over… he was gone.”
“And who else did you lose?”
“My cousin Stacy. I could talk to her about anything. And Uncle Dash drove her away because…”
“Because she fell in love with the Toad, Brom Brown.”
“Yes… And don’t forget Ray Zeffer. He simply disappeared. Remember how he saved me when the Voodoo Guy was tricking everybody?”
“The first boy who ever saw you naked.”
“Well, the first non-cousin boy.”
“And before that?”
Valerie’s eyes were blurry with tears. Did that mean this wasn’t a dream? Do you get blurry vision in a dream?
“Yes. You found him in the barn…”
“And the gun was still there…”
“Oh, Ma Belle, I’m sorry to make you remember.”
“Why did he do it? Was it because of something I did wrong? Was it my fault?”
“This I do not know. But I think not. And you must remember, the pain of losing someone is caused by their value to you. If it hurts that much…”
“…Then that’s how much you loved them. I know. The pain will never go away. He left me without ever even trying to tell me why he had to go.” She could say nothing more. Her whole mind was full of tears. She laid her head on his soft bare shoulder, and he folded his wing around her. And then she realized that she was awake. It was not so much a shoulder as it was a damp pillow. And she desperately needed him to come back. Her heart was broken. Even her angel had left her behind.
Can I do this? This is going to be the hardest novel to write that I have ever yet written. I had to write it to answer critical questions I have about my own life. But reading this through for the fifth time, I still had to stop and cry three times. It’s worse now that both my mother and father have died. But if I can mend Valerie’s broken heart before this story is over, then it will more than be worth it.