This is just a little excerpt (possibly Chapter 1) of a book that I’m still in the brainstorming stage of writing. I may not even use this character or plot, but I thought if I posted a bunch of snippets with different stories and characters, I could get some feedback on what the people (that’s you guys) would enjoy reading the most. So here it is and feel free to comment or contact me by hitting the “Contact” button above.
It was 3:07 A.M. in the town of Great Oak. The street lamps flickered above the freshly-paved roads. The only other light still glowing on Hickory Street came from house number twenty-seven. The small, round window of the third floor had two thin, white painted bars, one horizontal and one vertical covering the glass. The light that shone through was from the antique desk lamp of nineteen-year old, Penny Pennington.
Penny had moved to Great Oak with her father and their dog, Bongo, six months earlier after losing her mother in a car accident. Her dad told her they needed a fresh start in a new town. A day later, they packed their bags and drove 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to the small, hushed village town in upstate New York. It’s name was derived from the gigantic Oak tree that had been growing in the same spot for centuries, acting as the celebrated centerpiece of Great Oak’s adorably quaint downtown.
Penny considered herself an outgoing introvert. She could be painfully shy when approached by someone new, but once she felt she could trust a person, it was often difficult to get her to stop talking and sharing her opinion. But still, back in California she only had one friend, named Delilah and her had been friends since they were five and lived next door to one another until Delilah’s dad got an offer to work in Sweden and they moved away. But that was six years ago, so Penny has gotten used to spending time with herself, her father, and their rambunctious Siberian husky. When Penny wasn’t spending time with her two favorite men, however, she was in her room or the nearby park writing.
Her mother used to write a poem every day to read for Penny before she went to sleep. So after her mother passed away, Penny felt that by writing her own poems, she could somehow still feel connected to her mom. Writing was a way for Penny to express her innermost demons and dilemmas, her problems and her protests, her ambitions and ambivalence towards her new life in the small town.
She was currently working on a poem entitled “Love.” It was a jumble of words written down expressing the pain and sorrow in her heart caused by her mother’s premature departure, as well as her longing to find someone she, herself, could call her true love. The poem wasn’t finished, but the gilded lamp with brown, hand-carved accents that overlooked the page had started to flicker, warning that it’s light would soon burn out. It was too late for Penny to go to the basement to get a new lightbulb.
She feared she would wake up her father, who only got five hours of sleep in the first place. Her father worked two jobs in order to support them and live in their three-story Victorian home on Hickory Street. From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., he worked as a plumber, making house calls to lonely housewives who had probably broken the pipes themselves just to get him to come over. He was a charming, attractive man, but the death of his beloved wife was far too fresh for him to even consider romance with someone else.
By night, from 6 p.m. to midnight to be exact, he worked as a cashier at a CVS three towns over, the only store within a thirty-mile radius that was open twenty-four hours a day. It wasn’t a glamorous life, but it paid the bills and kept his daughter and himself on their feet.
While Penny thought about how much her father has done for her, the name-brand lightbulb gave it’s final flickering breath, and went out. Penny closed her journal and got up from her desk chair. She went to her bed, slid under her yellow-and-red satin floral comforter and closed her eyes. She was thinking about the poem she had just written. How it was so much the epitome of not only her life, but life in general. How love is one of the few things that is truly universal in this world. The warm blanket of glorious feelings that surround you when you’re in it and the devastatingly cold heartbreak when it inevitably comes to an end. Just before her breath and heart began to slow, and her thoughts surrendered to the silence of the night, she recited the poem under her breath.
Love is sick, but does prevail
Love can sink without a sail
When love runs thick, it seldom fails
Love is sick, but still prevails.
And love is blind, but still it sees
Love deafened by monstrous pleas
From hatred yelling ‘set me free!’
So love is lovely and love is ours
But love alone has all the
Before she could repeat the final stanza, her consciousness slipped away into the unchartered world of wondrous dreaming.
She dreamt of herself climbing a mountain. The sun was shining down on her, illuminating the blues and whites of the surrounding sea. She had no harness and no equipment, but she did not feel afraid. No, she felt driven and determined. A loud shrill sounded behind her, and as she turned her head to see what could have possibly made such a horrid noise, she saw a bird unlike any she’d ever seen flying toward her. Its feathers were silver and blue, and the twinkled as they moved underneath the sunlight. It was no larger than an average pigeon, but it’s beak was small and curved down, similar to a hawk. It was the most beautiful bird Penny had ever seen, in a dream or otherwise. And it looked so strangely familiar, yet at the same time Penny knew she had never seen it before. But the feeling seeing it gave her felt like listening to a childhood song in your forties. Or smelling the cologne of a long-forgotten lover, commandeering your senses and catapulting you back into that time of blissful reminiscence. But despite its beauty, the bird was coming towards Penny at an alarming pace, and it caused her to lose her grip on the rock under her hands. All it took was a second for her to let go. She began falling, faster and faster, down the side of the mountain, praying it was just a bad dream and that she would wake up the second before hitting the bottom. But she didn’t. She didn’t feel the impact of the ground or hear the thud of her body crashing into the rocks, in fact, she didn’t hear anything at all. The world had gone dark, almost completely black, and she felt as if she would continue to freefall for eternity. After what felt like hours, an illuminous, almost blinding white light appeared above her, looking as if it was miles away. The circular light kept growing until she was no longer falling in darkness, but floating in effervescent light. She tried to open her mouth and speak, but she could not say a word. It felt as if she was defying gravity in a world of pure, simplistic bliss. At least, that’s what she was thinking. And just like that, in an instant, she opened her eyes and found herself back in her satin sheets laying in bed. What an odd dream. Well, at least it was just a dream, she thought.
Little did Penny know, however, it would be the last dream she would ever have.