This post is longer than usual and certainly different from my others, but stick with me on this one. I’m sharing more than the opening chapter to my book, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes, currently wending its way through WestBow Press’s publishing maze.
Dickens got it half-right.
It was the worst of times—that Thursday afternoon in late May,
the day I got the kind of call no one wants to get.
“Niiiickkk, Niiiickkk.” Lullaby smooth, her voice cooed in Nick’s ears. He snuggled closer.
“I love you, Brittany.”
Warm and comforting, her body shifted.
He hugged her tight.
“Brittany, what’s wrong?”
“Brittany? I’m not Brittany.”
Not … Brittany … Not … Who? What?
A startled Nick woke and found a strange girl staring at him with wide bullet eyes. Where was he?
A car. His car. From a darkened dashboard, the clock glowed 3:37.
“Who are you?”
“Well, I’m not Brittany, whoever she is.”
Had he been dreaming? Or was this the dream?
“But who are you?”
The young woman pressed against the passenger-side door and gripped its handle. She was call-the-cops scared and ready to bolt. She seemed as clueless as Nick.
Had he kidnapped the girl? Nah, that’d be ridiculous. Why would he make an idiot move like that? He didn’t do stupid. Not regularly. Not ever.
Well, had they done the dirty deed? After all, they were alone in a car in …? In …? Where the heck were they?
An unlit Bennigan’s sign—must have been the one in the neighborhood. Nick wasn’t far from home.
So had they been intimate in Bennigan’s parking lot? He couldn’t remember, and he wasn’t about to ask what’s-her-name. Say, I have no idea who you are, but I was just wondering. Did we get it on last night? Yeah, bet she’d love that.
A second question popped into his head. By the way, how was I? He laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
She asks, what’s so funny? Look, girlfriend—girlfriend? I don’t even know her name—but this whole situation reeks of hilarious. “Nothing, nothing’s funny.”
The girl’s hand tensed on the handle.
Oh, horse turds—that didn’t look good. Well, of course it didn’t look good, ya jerk-face. Given the circumstances, who’d blame the girl for being scared? Strange car, strange guy.
But he wasn’t strange. Just your average, everyday brilliant, good-looking guy. Another chuckle. A tighter grip on the handle; big, dark eyes wide as hubcaps.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, lady friend. Don’t go there. Please, please, please don’t go there.
Well, Mr. Brilliant-and-Beautiful, say something. An eat-’em-up fragrance drifted his way. “You smell good.”
“I mean you’re delicious.” Just brilliant, Nicky boy, just brilliant. How can the girl not think she’s in the car with the next Jeffrey Dahmer? “I’m sorry. I’m just a little confused here. Do you know who I am? Because … well … uh … I sure as hell fire don’t know who you are.”
Bigger eyes, quivering lips. This definitely wasn’t going well. Nick started to place a hand on the girl’s shoulder. Bad idea. She pasted herself against the door.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. That was a dumb thing to say. Really, I am sorry. Let me start all over.” He held out a hand and smiled, hoping he didn’t look too dopey or … devious. “I’m Nick.”
The girl stared at the proffered hand but remained in her corner. “Lavender.”
“Lavender? For real?” This all seemed so déjà vu.
She relaxed, even smiled. “Yeah, my parents are a little weird.”
“I’m sure they’ve got nothing on my old man.”
Nick could picture his father sitting in the living room reading his extra-thick, holier-than-thou Bible. The moment Nick told him the story about Lavender, his father would look over his reading glasses, cluck his tongue, then go to the bedroom and pray for Nick’s damned soul.
The car’s tension deflated. The girl released the door handle and slumped in her seat. Nick yawned.
Lavender, strange name … for the weird girl … in his car …
Bigger yawn. Daddy dearest wouldn’t like … strange girl … in weird car … with Jeffrey Dahmer … No … Not Dahmer … But weird girl … strange na …
Okay, in less time than it takes to shave, I put two characters and a small world in your head—incomplete personalities and place, yes, but two people in a darkened car nonetheless. All done in less than five minutes of reading.
The writing of the scene, of course, took me longer than that but it didn’t take days. And, the first chapter changed several times with an I’ve-lost-count number of revisions. But, even with multiple rewrites, the scene still didn’t take days to produce.
Still with me on this one?
Some people have trouble with this line in the Bible.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Or this one.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Those verses all come from the opening chapter of Genesis. They state flatly that the author of Creation and its ensuing story is God. Like I said, some people have trouble with that.
They especially have trouble with the idea that He did it all in less than a week.
I’m not among that group. Although the created-in-six-literal-days isn’t something I’m going to get hung up on. People have questions that neither theologians, geologists, nor polygamists can answer with certainty.
You can argue radiometric age dating, gravitational contraction, tidal friction, erosion, fossilization, and any number of other things you wish. I am curious about those kinds of discussions, and I do have questions I would love to ask someone more learned than I (and that leaves the field pretty much wide open).
But here’s what Scripture says and, as an author, what I have little difficulty in believing. God created the universe and all that’s in it, both seen and unseen, from parts smaller than atoms to things bigger than galaxies.
How did God do it?
He told a story.
Question: Do you think the idea that God created the universe by speaking words/telling a story too simplistic? And, of course, I want to know what you think of my opening chapter (although to be honest, if it sucks, it’s a little late now to make changes).
In honor of MLK Day, I recommend this article by Jeff Goins: 5 Lessons from MLK on Living, Leading, & Communicating.
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First, I did enjoy your opening chapter. I like how the guy talks/thinks like guys really talk/think and not like some ideal character that women wish they had but is impossible to have. Good job! Now, on to your question about God. God telling a story about how he created the universe or anything else He did is perfect because it’s what we can understand. It’s told in a timeless way. He could have told it in a much more complex way, but it would be something like a rocket scientist trying to explain the math behind what he does. We wouldn’t understand it. (Not sure if the scientist really does either, understand what he’s saying, that is.)
Thanks for your comment about the conversation/thinking of Nick.
You make a great point. Some people understand math. Others are great at grammar. Still others can speak forever on the layout of the constellations. But we all can understand a good story.
Great post, Tom! I am looking forward to seeing the finished book!
Me too. 🙂