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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chapter 2

I don't remember what happened that afternoon. I vaguely remember everyone coming to the little chapel. Ryan, James, Erin, Stephan, and a lot of others. I don't remember what was said. I wish I could. I wish I could have paid attention, been a comfort to some of the others, but I couldn't.
It felt like I'd finally begun to warm up, to feel the sun again for the first time in years. And now, the person who'd been pushing the clouds away was gone. And gone how? By a stupid driver, trying to get away from the cops for a speeding charge, and he walks away from it.
Journal: March 18
I don't know what to think. I wasn't in love with her, wasn't even attracted to her in that way, not like with Hannah. But life was finally starting to make sense, to show some purpose. I was beginning to think that she might be right, that life meant something, that being good had a meaning. Is this all being good got her? She wanted to be a saint, and became a statistic, fodder for a handful of news stories about cracking down on traffic violators.
Is that really worth it?
From: Jessica Payne
To: Jason Slocum
Subject: Hi, I know you don't know me

Hi, I know you don't know me, but I'm Angie's roommate. I'm sorry to be contacting you like this, but I was afraid that if I called you, I wouldn't be able to make it more than five words without breaking down.
Angie didn't leave a will, she didn't have time to. But I've got her journals, and writings from the past two years here, and I think she'd want you to have them.
She really cared about you, Jason. She wanted you to be happy. She wanted you to know what life is all about. And I think you should have her journals. Let me know if you want me to drop them in your mailbox, or just bring them over.

"When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun"

From: Jason Slocum
To: Jessica Payne
Subject: re: journals
Hi Jessica, I think I've met you once in the cafeteria.
I don't know what to say about the journals. I don't know if I'll be able to read them. I don't know if I can get through it. But...At the same time, I do want to know what she would have said eventually. I never agreed with everything she said, and some of it was really crazy, but she always made me think.
So...yeah, just drop them in my mailbox. Thanks.
"When everything feels like a movie, you bleed just to know you're alive."
I found the journals in my box the next day. There were three of them, soft cover journals that had been wildly decorated. Collage, paint, fabric, all mixed together and pasted on to the covers. I flipped through one of them; multi-colored inks, primarily a black felt-tip pen, lots of doodles. I stuck them in my bag to read through later.
I needed somewhere quiet to read. Quiet, and open. I didn't want to be inside, or near people. I decided to swing by the cafeteria to grab lunch; after stuffing an apple and a sandwich into my bag, I headed outside, down the drainage ditch, and out to the park.
It was colder today than it had been in a while; clouds covered the sky, and a chilly wind blew. I was glad I'd kept one sweatshirt out of winter storage.
I stumbled down the slope to the secluded spot I'd found before, and dug the apple and sandwich, now slightly squashed out of my bag. I had no real appetite, but ate anyway. After finishing my lunch, I pulled out the journals, and began to flip through them.
Journal entry: Angie Parr
This is my first journal entry after coming to LA. Huzzah! I don't have much time to journal right now, but I wanted to scribble down something that came to me earlier today:

Like a light on a hill, the City shines forth
The Queen of the Angels presides over her court
The saints and angels sing over the valley,
And everything here is touched with the holy.

I had made the mistake of not visiting Hannah's grave until long after she was buried. I was determined not to do the same with Angie. That weekend, I went back to the cemetery; it wasn't far from a stop on the bus line, so I was able to get to it pretty easily. As I walked down a sidewalk in a residential area, I saw a bouganvellia plant spilling over the cinderblock wall. The flowers were a deep magenta, and very lovely. I broke off a small spray to lay at the grave; Angie would have liked them, I think.
When I arrived, the afternoon sun was shining, and the grass was deep and green. I sat down on the sod in front of the headstone, and was silent for a while. I looked at her gravestone:
Agnes Parr
"Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I'll raise.
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee."
I vaguely remembered that we'd sung that song at her funeral; James had mentioned that it was her favorite hymn. But I never knew her name was Angela. Angela, angel. It seemed like it should have been her name, here in the City of Angels. But then, as she had pointed out, it wasn't the City of Angels. And instead of Angela, she had been Agnes, Lamb.
It didn't look like anyone else was nearby at the moment, so I gradually felt free to speak out loud.
"Hi, Angie. It's me. I came to visit, and, um, thought you might like these." I gingerly set the spray of bougainvallia on the ground. I could still see some raw earth between the strips of sod that had been laid down. "I guess I'm not really sure why I'm here. I'm so confused...You almost had me believing you, you know. You wanted to be a saint. But saints don't die as casualties in high-speed chases, not pointless, accidental, meaningless deaths. They don't end up in body bags on the 5 freeway."
I had been afraid that I would embarrass myself by breaking down in tears, but actually found myself unable to feel anything at all. All the glory of life, the joys of the City that had seemed clear before while Angie was talking had faded into stale mediocrity and stinking alleyways.
"I have to admit, though, now I know why you talked to your saints. It's hard to be here and not talk to you, crazy as it still seems to me. There's no reason why you'd be more present here than anywhere else, but I can't seem to help it. It just seems...natural."
I'm not sure how long I sat there, talking complete nonsense. It was late afternoon when I got up to leave, and the sun was beginning to sink in the west. The last of the light suddenly caught the flowers that lay on the grass; the yellow light made them suddenly look as bright and deeply colored as spilt blood.


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