My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chapter 14

Later that day, I pulled on my hooded sweatshirt, and headed down to the park again. It was brisk, but not as cold as it had been the other day, and the sun was shining. The leaves of most of the trees had lost a little color, and with the afternoon light beaming through them, looked almost like gold glass; the contract with the blue sky was stunning.

I wandered along the footpath, crossing the bridges, feet making dull thumping sounds on the planks. I came to bridge where James and I had turned back before. I paused for a moment, debating whether or not to proceed. I had the rest of the afternoon to myself, but it would be so nice to just go back to my dorm room and grab a book to read until dinner. I moved to turn back, and suddenly found myself going forward over the bridge, and towards what looked like the end of the park. I kept walking, dodging through drainage tunnels, and suddenly found myself in a much larger park, with trees all around. The drainage ditch, which had wound uneventfully through the small space, had been made straight, and the water fell down several small falls until it ran past my feet and into the tunnel. To my right, there was a small long slope, with backyards of nearby houses spilling down it. Most of the houses actually had stables behind them, and the smell of horses teased the nostrils, though not unpleasantly so.

The park was mostly empty, though the jogging path had several people powering-walking, or out with their dogs. One two even had baby strollers. I turned to the left and began walking casually along the path, with the ditch on my right. I almost checked my watch, but thought better of it; somehow, this park seemed more important than whether or not I’d make it back to the campus in time for dinner.

Though the ground was mostly flat, it rolled a little, and there was a decided slope from the houses down to the ditch. I passed by one of the waterfalls—I say falls, but it was only about one foot high—and noticed that the area around it had been covered in large rocks and gently waved concrete, making an almost Zen-garden effect. The water poured through a small square opening in the concrete dam that covered the falls. A sign proclaimed “Do not climb on the dam”, but was gleefully ignored by two small boys in denim jackets, who scampered amongst the rocks and across the top of the dam.

The bridges here were still wooden plank bridges, but were larger and somewhat better constructed. Across the second bridge, I saw a water fountain and went across to get a quick drink. As I straightened up, wiping the stray drops of water off my chin, I saw another jogger come steadily down the path. He looked somewhat Hispanic in origin, and had a handful of paper. “Hello!” he called out cheerfully. “How are you today?”

I was taken aback; usually you avoid physical, ocular, vocal, or even mental contact with strangers, especially strangers in exercise clothing. But he didn’t seem to be asking for money, or a ride to Anaheim, or even a meal, so I mumbled something that sounded like “Hey.”

“Isn’t it a lovely day? God’s so good to give us this incredible sunshine, man. Hey, do you know Jesus Christ as your personal saviour?”

Ah, so that was the hook under this particular bait. I should have known from the fluttering stack of papers, which of course turned out to be helpful five point presentations about the wonderful plan God had for your—yes, this means you!—life. He reached out to hand one to me, it’s sky blue cover cheerily waving, promising me that it all had a purpose, that it was God’s will. Either than, or I’d committed some horrible sin and was now suffering the consequences of it; they were always a little unclear on when crap was God’s plan or your fault. I could almost hear the tract’s little tinny voice: it sounded like a bad actor, imitating Billy Graham, after taking a correspondence course on emoting. “Just say yes-uh to God, son, and all of your troubles-uh will-uh be taken to the big-uh garbage disposal-uh that is the forgivenessss of God-uh!”

“No, that’s ok. I go to the school…” I pointed off in the general direction of the school, hoping he’d know which one I meant.

“Oh, so you’re a student there? That’s awesome man, my pastor graduated there! Ok, well, I’ll let you get back to your walk. Go with God!” He loped off casually down the path; I watched him for a moment; he hadn’t seemed at all offended by my brush-off. I shrugged, and stalked back across the bridge, and continued down the path. Just on the other side of the third bridge, the land dipped down into a small dell; two large rocks were imbedded in the grassy ground, and a large, golden-leafed tree shaded the slope. On the left side, one of the falls babbled happily, and the accompanying dam blocked off noise from upstream. Between the rocks, there was a rusting, apparently seldom used firepit. Across the stream, the sun shone on the grass, illuminating it like green flame.

I stepped down the slope, carefully panting my feet so as not to lose my balance, and sat down on one of the rocks. It was warmer than I’d expected, from absorbing the heat of the sun. I closed my eyes, and rested, glad to be thinking of nothing in particular for the first time in weeks. The calming sound of the falls carried my thoughts away, and I simply sat, quietly, merely being.

Journal Entry November 15th

A person must be more important than a book. I would burn down the entire library, if I thought it would bring her back. Not because I want to date her, or see her or anything else. Just…so that she’d be back. I guess this is part of the Grief part of the “grieving process.” I don’t know, and I really don’t care.

If a person is more important than a book, why study them? Why read anything?


I sat in the cafeteria, scribbling in my journal. I was glad that I’d already done and recorded most of the academic research that I needed for the project: goodness knows I wasn’t in any mood to do that kind of work now. Just a few more journal entries, and I’d be able to turn it in.

I set down my pencil momentarily to take a small bite of food; I’d begun making it a point to eat something every day, even though it felt like eating sawdust.

As I reached for the pencil again, I saw James and some friends of his—several of them were in my classes, but I’d never really talked to any of them—coming towards me, trays already loaded. According to cafeteria etiquette, James caught my eye and jerked his head slightly upward, smiling. The group came forward purposefully, obviously intending to join me at my solitary table. I’d taken to going to dinner at the earliest time possible, avoiding the crowds, and taking over a small table in the corner, behind the secondary soda and frostee machines. They set their trays down, a few twisting their trays sideways to fit on the table.

“We’re not going to let you eat every single meal alone anymore. It’s just not healthy. I know this has all been really hard on you, but you need to reach out a little.” James slipped into the seat next to me. “I mean, you’re not the only person who was affected by this.” He took a bite of something that mght have been chicken, and pointed with his fork to Erin who sat at a table across the way with her friends. “See?”

Erin was smiling and joking around with her friends. She seemed to have aged just a little bit over the past month: I hadn’t ever noticed. But she wasn’t alone, and she looked happy. I hadn’t seen her since the funeral, and to be honest, hadn’t really thought of her since then. She’d taken to riding in a different car to Our Lady, and my car left pretty much right after the service, so I didn’t even see her at the coffee hour. But now…She cupped her tea in both hands, and sipped it, smiling at a friend across the table. Suddenly, she looked across the room and met my eyes. She didn’t smile, but it almost seemed like a very clear light came from her face. It was as if she was made of very delicate glass, heated in a great fire and blown to its thinnest, then filled with light. She shone at me for less than a second before turning back to her table. I blinked, and the illusion had passed; she was simply siting directly under one of the lights in the room; most of the occupants of her table were well-lit as well.

I turned back to James, slightly embarassed. “Sorry, didn’t mean to stare at her. You know when your eyes just kinda freeze in one direction, and you can’t seem to move them? Yeah….”

“Ok, well, I think I’m gonna go, we’ve got a class coming up.” He began piling the dirty silverware and cups onto his tray, then stacked the other trays underneath it. “Ha! See, there’s modern efficiency at work for you!” Picking up the stack of dinnerware, he turned to go, then called over his shoulder. “Oh yeah, and pizza and movie night at Lyman second lobby, Monday night at 8. You should come, we’re watching Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

“Ok, I’ll try to make it. I get out of class at 7:45, but I can get there by 8 or so.”

“Awesome. And it’s not like it’ll be a precise time, anyway.”

“Sure, I’ll be there. Thanks.”

James walked away and set the stack of trays on the conveyor belt into the kitchen, and walked out, laughing and joking with the other guys. Gary. I think one of them is called Gary.

I tried to continue ignoring Erin and her friends, but couldn’t help but watch from the corner of my eye. I knew that I hadn’t really seen her surrounded by light, but it felt like I had. Nothing out of the ordinary had struck my physical retinas, but it had the same effects as if I’d witnessed a minor miracle.

First a crowd on a mountain, just because I’d seen James smile, and now a halo around Erin, because she didn’t smile? What was happening?


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