Saturday, February 21, 2015

A False Start...

So I've been doing some computer "housekeeping", deleting old files etc. and I came across this short piece I wrote a long time ago when I first started working on A Buss from Lafayette.  (It was so long ago that my niece, Lucy, for whom I then named the character, was a young girl. She is now in her mid-twenties!)

This was the original beginning and has very little resemblance to how the completed story opens.

***


"This is not the way it is supposed to be," Lucy thought, as she cut another white rose from the garden fence and put it into her basket. Only last week, she had picked blooms from this same bush for her mother.  Now her mother was dead and her father had sent Lucy into the garden to gather another posy.  A wedding posy for a new "mother".

Lucy's eyes were stinging, though whether from tears or from the sweat of her brow, she couldn't tell. She thought she had no tears left.  Hadn't she had cried her eyes dry by now? She sniffed, wiped her eyes with the back of her arm, and squinted up at the hot June sun.  Almost mid-day, by the look of it.  Nearly time for the ceremony. 

She looked into the basket.  A dozen white roses. And still there were plenty left on the bush. There had been enough to cheer Mother's bedside when she began her travail to birth the new baby, now wailing inside the farmhouse.  There had been enough to mark Mother's plot in the small family graveyard on top of the hill.  And now there were enough to bedeck Mother's sister, who was to take Mother's place. 


 ***
 How is the final version different from this?

1.  Lucy is now named Clara Summer Hargraves, after another niece and a grand niece.

2. Clara's mother has died from tuberculosis, not childbirth, so there is no newborn baby in the story anymore.

3. The tone of this opening is SO DEPRESSING, as it takes place just a few days after Lucy/Clara's mother has died.  The final version opens a year later.  Lucy/Clara still has big problems with her stepmother, but things have settled into an uncomfortable pattern that can be broken a little more easily as she comes to understand her father, stepmother, et al a little better.

4. The first chapter of the completed story (like all the other chapters) opens with an entry in Lucy/Clara's diary which lets us see what she is like as a person and what is on her mind. It is also somewhat more humorous in tone.