Alright, readers, in celebration of the 60 thesis pages I turned in yesterday, I am going to give you all a glimpse of my very-rough first draft of the opening of the first chapter of my novel. Take note that by the time this is in its final draft, it will probably look very different than what you see here--but, enjoy!
The Farmer’s Almanac had called for snow on the day their mother died. Their father was down in the barn—his wife was dying, but the cows still had to be milked.
Their mother was in her bed, but even with the frozen air coming in through the open window, even with the chance of snow sitting heavy in the air, she was still burning, flushed, her eyelids sweating.
Just last week Billy and Evelyn had come in from the back pasture, where they had been building a snow house, using sticks and rocks and packed snow to make a little room among the bare trees and bushes. When they entered the toasty house, Clara was in her bassinette in their mother and father’s room, shrieking her head off. “Mom!” Billy yelled, his boots still on, dripping puddles on the kitchen floor. “Mom, Clara’s fussing upstairs!”
“Take your boots off,” Evelyn had scolded him, hanging her wet outer clothes on a hook in the mudroom. She wandered through the house wondering where her mother was. On the love seat in the living room, she was curled into a ball, her knees tucked into her chest, hair sprawled over the floral patter Evelyn loved to traces with her index finger. Evelyn shook her mother’s arm, lightly at first, and then harder.
Her mother had sat up, looking around her like she was in a new place she’d never been. “I don’t feel well,” she said, looking not at Evelyn but out the window at the white slush that filled their yard. “Go get your father,” she said.
“But Clara…” Evelyn started.
“I know,” he mother had said. “Go get your father, Evelyn.”
And so Evelyn had slid her feet into Billy’s too-small boots, had run over to the barn without even a coat on because her mother’s voice had been scared, because last summer Mrs. Pearson from their church had fallen ill and died only a day later. Evelyn’s stomach had started to ache, and then all she wondered was whether or not she would be sick, too.
Without any brilliant snow, the light peeking through the draped windows in the parlor was pale, like it was early evening, even though they had just woken up. If their mother hadn’t been dying in the next room she’d be scolding Evelyn for playing on the chaise lounge. “It’s our nicest piece of furniture,” she’d say, something in her eyes like happiness.
Christmas was three days away. They knew not to ask their father when they’d be cutting the tree. Their father’s face of late was tight, like when one of the cows was about to have a baby and he would walk out to the barn in the middle of dinner to check, still chewing pot roast as he went.
The children heard boots stomping at the front door, clomping like snow was stuck to the soles, but it hadn’t started snowing yet; they’d been watching for it all morning.
Thanks for reading.