I’m not going to lie, I’m normally very cagey about what I post with regards to NaNoWriMo. Most of the time, whatever I do share, in terms of excerpts, can already be found on my NaNoWriMo profile, under the Novel Info. These are, of course, the only excerpts I feel somewhat confident in sharing. They are also, usually, the first part of the first chapter, or something to that effect. So, guess what I’m going to be posting here?
I have other reasons for this, though. The main reason this year is the difficulty I have in trying to find an all-ages-appropriate excerpt, because there always seems to be something with me. Anything. If I was a director, I’d be notorious for getting my films an 18 certificate or above, I’m almost sure of it, and my novels, I will admit, have this tendency to go a similar way. This year, this is especially prevalent. More so than any year before, and most of my novel thus far has been laced with … well, we’ll call them ‘literary nasties’ shall we?
So yes, indeed, this is the excerpt from my profile, possibly with more to come as the month goes on, however, this is entirely dependent on 1. my cumulative word count at any time and 2. whether or not I feel it’s appropriate. I’m also doing this, somewhat, to see if I can clear my name, perhaps? What I mean is that I don’t think that this excerpt is terrible, but alongside the rest of the novel, it needs work. I like it better than some of the things I’ve written, which says a lot, considering this was a part of what I wrote on the first day … and the general consensus seems to be that writing 17,000 words in a day cannot possibly yield results.
I’ll leave that up to you to decide, however. Critique, criticize, something else beginning with C here and feel free to rip this to shreds if you do so desire!
“Courtney smiles at the woman opposite, wearing nothing but a satin gown, one elbow resting on the counter top while she sips her coffee the way she’s always liked it: black. Her short, blond hair is a mess, poker-straight layers curling at the ends, at the edges, the bottom layer falling in soft waves. Every morning, and he knows this because he’s watched her do it, still feigning sleep, she gets up a half-hour earlier than he does to put on a thin layer of make-up, the layer she’s wearing now. Her second skin. The only face she wants him to know, a fake beauty that he can wake up to every morning.
Her nails, manicured, on her free hand, they trawl through her hair, feeling for split and damaged ends, the ones she cuts off after she colors. She could almost look as though she doesn’t quite know where she is, as though the world is a new, foreign experience for her, every morning waking up to the early noise of a city just taking its first steps. Taxi cabs and cars stuck in traffic. A crash that almost happens, but doesn’t. She uses her free hand to pull her robe back onto her right shoulder, then to check her cell phone resting at the edge of the counter. She purses her lips, takes another sip of coffee, and says nothing.
She could be any other girl in the city, looking this way, only Courtney doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want her to think that there are a million others like her, even though this is a cruel truth that both of them know. It’s why she bleaches her hair lighter than the rest of them. It’s why she tries to make sure she’s the best dressed at every work function, every dinner party. Every time they go out for sushi, she goes the extra mile. And he loves her for it.
Courtney’s tie hangs loose about his neck, silver-gray, looking almost as though it’s attached to his pinstripe white shirt. Some object, some accessory, that doesn’t move. A different tie for every day of the week, a new appendage that flaps around while he looks for more coffee grounds, while he offers to cook the bacon, Monday morning’s treat that Alison insists he cut every last sliver of fat from. Most days, she leaves it there in the middle of the plate, not as an insult, but because she just can’t take the risk. Because just sniffing it piles on calories.
He runs a hand along his shaved, stinging face. He checks for stubble. He knows there’s an ingrown hair or two, but he can’t do anything about it. This is something he realizes as he checks his watch. His hair is dry, now, combed flat, not blown dry. His pants are neatly ironed with the creases perfect, meticulous, like some invisible housekeeper did it in the middle of the night, rather than him doing it, in the evening before he slides into bed. All part of the same routine. He doesn’t quite know why it is that they keep doing this same thing, over and over again, but the fact remains that they do, and he doesn’t see sense in refusing to go along with it; they have a good life. Whenever things start to seem wrong, this is what he tells himself.
Whenever things start to go wrong, this is all a part of what Courtney thinks to himself. Death and destruction in the news once again. Gunshots. Sirens. Things he knows he’ll end up dealing with in the morning, in the evening, whenever he gets that call. If he’s not due to do it, he sits behind the same desk all day and files the same paperwork, trying to remember a time when his life wasn’t made up of the same routines. As a kid, all he did was stare at the television screen. He’s still staring at it, only now, it’s a pile of papers that need to be signed, or the raw ingredients he needs to cook for when the girl, the blond, Alison, gets home from work late, or the pants he needs to iron before he goes to sleep, or his girlfriend waiting for him in bed. Do something too many times, and it all becomes a part of the same ongoing routine.
When she’s done with her coffee, Alison gets to her feet, hopping off the high stool with the gown fluttering around her thighs. Courtney, he finds it difficult to care about it anymore, but then he reminds himself who he’s looking at. Alison. It almost seems impossible for him not to love her, he’s been doing it for so long.
The two of them, Courtney and Alison, they’ve been living in the same co-op building, the same apartment, for a decade. They’ve had the same décor since 2001; the same off-white that never dates or goes out of fashion. The two of them, they’d like to live in a home that’s on the cutting edge of the latest trends, but the fact of the matter is, they have better things to spend their money on. A cabinet behind the dining table displays an array of vintage wines, spirits matured for half a century or more. They live on a diet that, over the years, has come to cost more than the rent on the place. They try to eat out more times a week than they eat in, so Courtney knows which days he’s going to be preparing a meal, and when they do eat out, it’s never takeaway or pizza. Sometimes this is all Courtney wants.
Courtney and Alison, they’re both the ailing product of a world raised by pop culture. A world that refused to look on in shock and awe, and instead either turned away or joined in, aware of how the depraved were now the center of attention. In a world where indecent exposure and lewd behavior became common practice. After Courtney turned seventeen, he stepped into this world and now he can’t get out. He can’t escape it. He grew up in a decade of unrest and dissatisfaction, where he never could see why everyone was so distracted by their finances. Where he never wanted for anything, except his parents.”