Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Excerpt: Night Lily, Chapter 1-2

An excerpt of one of my recent projects, Night Lily, a contemporary mystery.

Night Lily
Chapter One: The Color of the Sky
Lema’s eyes skipped over the carnage. The town was in flame, the houses trampled, people screaming and dying and fainting…
It was a good book. Short and entertaining. All Lema had time to read at the moment. It kind of fueled that dark, brooding side that she couldn’t show around the others.
Lema stood from the park bench, sighing. For a brief moment, she looked over at the young man sitting on the bench on the other side of the park. Then she shook her head and walked away, eyes glued to the pavement. The sky was blue, not a cloud in sight, but she didn't notice.
That was the day she forgot everything.
HONK! Lema looked up from the sidewalk in time only to see the blurry, red lights of the pickup swerving off the road towards her. It was almost like a warning…but then again, not. Because if someone was trying murder her, they wouldn’t warn her, would they?
HONK! This time, Lema did not hear.
Black was the color of the sky, thoughts faded to nothing.
“Can you hear me?” No. She could not hear him. “Miss, can you hear me?” No. She could not.
She wasn’t in the park anymore. She wasn’t on the sidewalk. She wasn’t on lying on the street, unable to move, body dashed against the concrete.
Where was she?
____ sat up and felt surprisingly well rested. Her mind felt calm, empty – like a perfectly quiet lake. In fact, her mind was completely empty.
“What is my name?” ____ said aloud. She was alone in the room. A few moments later, a doctor walked in. “Miss, you’re awake!”
It wasn’t funny. But she laughed anyway, for a reason that not long ago would have been significant. “Where am I?”
“In a hospital. You’ve been badly injured.”
For the first time, ____ looked down to see the bandages around her arms. And the bruises that hugged her skin in more places than she could count. She stood brazenly, locking her eyes on the doctor. And she chose the question that was demanding her attention the most. “What,” ____ practically whispered, “is my name?”
The young man shook his head. “I do not know.”
No one had seen the accident. There was no license plate to search for, no footprints to track, no face to match…
And ____ couldn’t remember. The doctors said her brain’s memory center had been irreparably damaged; they said she was lucky to be alive. If she had fallen a couple degrees to the other side, she would have been completely paralyzed. She was definitely lucky to be alive.
But ____ didn’t know what it was to be alive. She could not remember what her life was.
She didn’t let them keep her in the hospital overnight. She could walk, she could talk, right? But she couldn’t remember. And so she asked the paramedics where they had found her. And then: “No identification at all?”
They shook their heads. “All you had with you was a leather jacket…and this book.”
____ took her things with hesitation, and put the coat on. “I’m leaving,” she announced. “Thanks for your help…tell me if you find anything on the driver.” The doctors didn’t protest as she walked briskly out the doors. When ____ stepped out of the large, double glass doors, she stood absolutely still for a couple minutes, taking in the world. The sky was gray, with large clouds rolling in over the city's horizon.
Then she continued on her business-like walk towards the nearby park. Muscle memory made her automatically reach into the inside of her coat; her fingers found a pocket sewn into a seam near the zipper. ____ pulled out a small card. On it was a miniscule magnifying class and a name. She stared for a while, considering it, then nodded.
The world was deaf to her realization, and Lema kept walking down the street, tucking the business card back into her pocket.

Chapter Two: Nameless Faces
When Lema arrived at the park, she saw no sign of an accident. They must cleaned the place up quickly, she thought. Or else…then she wondered how long she had been out. She had forgotten to ask. It could have been hours….or days. Lema shrugged the question off, because there was no way for her to find out. She couldn’t remember what day it had been when she had been hit.
No one else was in the park. And so she wandered the trails, taking in the fresh scenery with eyes that were seeing the world for the first time. Small, squat bushes, lonely benches, and a smattering of flowers that looked as if they were more dead than alive. Idly, Lema wondered why she had been at the park. She found nothing about it appealing. Then, with caution, she walked toward the street and stood on the sidewalk, staring at the little restaurant on the other side. Nothing happened. She pulled her jacket around her and crossed the street quickly. She didn’t know where she was going, and for some reason, this didn’t seem to bother her.
Rounding the corner of Marnal and Cotswarn, she bumped into a young man. He reached out to steady her.
“Oh! I’m sorry,” she apologized quickly, “I didn’t know where I was going.” Inwardly, she laughed at herself. Not a clue in the world.
The man frowned at her. “Lema…I know you’re upset, but there’s no need to treat me like a stranger. Although, judging by the last time I saw you, we are practically strangers.” Lema stared at him, at a loss for words. She hadn’t thought of this. She hadn’t realized that she must have known people in her ‘old life’, as she was beginning to think of it as.
He frowned harder at her hesitation, and then shrugged. “Oh, come here,” he said as he gave her a tight hug, pressing a number of bruises. “I’ll admit, you scared me. But seriously, where were you?”
Lema finally came to her senses and pushed him away, hard. He took a closer look at her and saw the bruise covering one side of her face. “Lema! What happened?”
“I don’t know you,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’m sorry for bumping into you…and I don’t know how you know my name, but I’ve never seen you before in my life. I don’t even know your name, much less why you have a reason to be friendly with me.” My new life, she thought. I’ve never seen him in my new life. She knew her old life was over. She had no connection to anyone, and there was no one to tell who could be trusted.
The young man stepped back, stunned. “Lema…what in the world?” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, okay? I’ve been too cold, too unwilling to accept your feelings. But you disappearing for an entire month and then pretending you don’t know me…isn’t that a little extreme?”
For a moment, Lema hesitated. She was aware that she could be breaking the heart of someone she had once loved. Someone who maybe still loved her. But she would never know, would she? Also, a month…he had said a month. She met his eyes, a deep black. “Let’s start over, okay? I’m Lema. You seem to already know that. What is your name?”
He obviously wanted to keep arguing, but he took a shaky breath and nodded. “I am Kalisk.” Then his frustration turned to concern as something occurred to him. “Lema…where do you live?”
Lema just shook her head silently.
“What’s your favorite color?”
No answer.
“Who is Riahgle?” Kalisk’s eyes were wide. “Lema, where have you been for the last month?”
“Oh, no…oh gosh Lema…you really don’t know who I am, do you? Heck…you don’t even know who you are, do you?”
For the first time in her new, short life, Lema felt something like fear. Her wall of indifference was shaken. “No,” she said in a very, very small voice. “I can’t remember.”
For Kalisk, a number of things all came together in a very short time. “Quick,” he said, “you have to come with me.”
And Lema, for lack of anything else to do, was forced to trust him. He pulled her into an alley behind Mallen’s tavern and followed it until they came to a small, bright blue door. “You’re in danger, Lema, more danger than you’ve ever been in your entire life. And trust me,” he added grimly, “trust me when I say that you’ve been in a lot of trouble before.” Then Kalisk helped her through the door.

~Caroline Meek

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