Thursday, July 25, 2013

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning Coffee ~ Jeremiah Quick excerpt

Good morning, Darlings, is it Thursday already? How it always creeps up on me, I'll never know, but here we are.

So because it's late and I'm lazy, and all is right in my little world, I thought I'd share a (very rough) excerpt of my WIP, Jeremiah Quick.

That is what you come here for, right? Info and writer news and sneak peeks into books, more so than long rambling blog posts about head injuries and emotional messiness....

So let me oblige you! (And maybe by next week I'll write a synopsis, so you can get a better sense of what this book is about. Ha. Wouldn't that be just lovely?

Excerpt: Jeremiah Quick

He couldn't say how old he was, only that most of the world was much bigger than he, when he first noticed people were like red ants; tiny and focused and zig-zagging this way and that, but all going in basically the same direction, busy, busy, busy appeasing the Queen, never questioning, never fail, and if the one in front of you did happen to fail, well, just climb over it and get on with the program.

They were drones scavenging the earth of everything beautiful and precious, blinders on, ignoring the grass and the sky and art and anything of particular beauty.

Every so often a scary black ant, or even a gleaming beetle, one of those with the shining iridescent shell, would capture the attention of a drone, and then the drone would follow and change. Or follow for awhile, then lose the route, get turned around, and die trying to find its way back. Maybe even trying to find its way forward. It was hard to tell sometimes.

Jeremiah felt sorry for the ants, all working so hard to please a queen who didn't care about them, who was incapable of seeing them as individuals. Who would eat them if resources ran low, eat them purely to maintain her ability to reproduce and make more of them.

Would the world suffer without the ants? He didn't know, really, but somehow he doubted it.

His mother, he decided, had followed a beetle, an impressive one, that was so glittery shiny pretty to look at it was like the music of the pied piper, and she, so captured by its beauty, couldn't force herself to escape, even though she knew she ought to resume her role among the drones. She couldn't. She'd die if she did. That's the story he told himself, and he tried hard not to listen when his father waxed angry-poetic as what a miserable life he had, raising this freak boy without any help at all, and if Jeremiah's mother had one bloody fingernail's worth of love for her son, she'd be here right now, right now, RIGHT NOW. Or she'd show up and take him away. Or, at the very least, send a check once in a while.

No, Jeremiah, decided, no. This ridiculous existence of servitude was not for her. She had to go, she had to, or she would die of the monotony.

She was an artist. He knew that, a painter, skilled with pen and ink, with pastels, with oils and brushes, and sticks and stones and oh, how they broke his bones, the precious two brushes that had been hers, that he'd hidden under his dresser for so many years… next to the carefully rolled sketch of herself looking into a mirror and seeing horror looking back.

His father railed about that too, all the fucking mirrors in her work, always mirrors, reflecting back something other than the person standing there, reflecting fantasy, when what the fuck was a mirror good for other than seeing oneself? Mirrors reflect reality, his dad said, and Jeremiah's mother's obsession with mirrors led to her leaving, off to whore around in the name of searching for a goddamned fairy tale, and she'd find out one day that those just didn't exist, did they?

But he was wrong.

Jeremiah had stood on the toilet seat and watched his father shave, and smooth back his hair, getting ready for another date with another stupid red ant woman, who would laugh at the jokes that weren't funny, who would smile at Jeremiah and say, "Oh, my, you must be a bright little thing," because they didn't want to notice he was rail-thin and pale and ugly. They couldn't find anything to compliment about that, could they? And yet they had to smile incessantly, fake smiles with fake-white teeth and pats on the head that hurt his teeth and made him want to bite the smiles right off their faces.

There was always one or another of them around.

And he watched his dad in the mirror, and wondered at his dad's insistence that mirrors reflect back reality, because… the mirror didn't show his clenched fist, or the snarl-twist of his lips that came seconds before a blow, didn't show the deep red rage resentment that lived inside the man Jeremiah called father, the rage that boiled out of him unexpectedly in cracks to the back of Jeremiah's head, cupped-palm cuffs over his ears, a shove here, and a kick there. An invitation to eat, or a decree that there wouldn't be any food today.

No. The mirror reflected a brown-haired, blue-eyed man, more handsome than not, with bushy eyebrows and creases around his eyes because he scowled so much, but that Jeremiah knew were called laugh lines.

He liked his mother's reflections better. They might not be pretty, but at least they were honest. Even the one that was tucked way, way in the back of Jeremiah's closet, the one he never looked at, in which his mother stood half-turned in front of the mirror, cradling a baby, a baby drawn carefully and to every perfect detail of pure newness, an utterly precious newborn he knew was himself, and the rendition was amazing, how the baby almost glowed with purity and beauty, and this kind of dewy freshness that babies had… and he knew she loved that baby, she spent hours drawing him, after all, his eyes still dark, still squinting from the bright of the world…

And the mirror, the mirror showed –

No. He couldn't think of it, could never look at it after that first time, when his father flung the thick, creased paper into his room after a beating, disgusted that Jeremiah had been crying for her to come back for hours. "Oh, yeah, cry for your mama, you ungrateful piece of shit. You think she loved you? She never loved you, and she's never coming back."

He'd stopped crying and unfolded the paper, the unfolding somehow exposing first the mother and child, the beautiful, beautiful child, so precious, so carefully drawn. So perfect.

The rest, the mirror, the reflection, he wished he'd never, ever seen.


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