Friday, September 30, 2011

Out To Pasture

I've spent the past few days going over all my standing WIPs. I have plenty to choose from. Two have been booted down my list and are now close to being cut. Actually, one was cut. I started it while waiting for my first critique of Where to Belong. The entire story was outlined and structured and ready to go. I was only two chapters into it when I decided it was not for me. I tweaked it a few times before WtB came back for its first major rewrite. I opened it again when WtB went out for edits. More tweaking and more adjusting. It still wasn't clicking. Yes, I came up with the story and characters, but I disagreed with some of their happenings. I know that probably doesn't make since, but that is the only way I can think to describe it.

Its working title is The Rule Book of Tara. I have since taken characters from this story and inserted them into others. So yes, I'm piecing it out. I know I will not finish it and I've lost interest in it. I've started several more since its demise and it is safe to say The Rule Book of Tara will not happen.

I don't know if it is good practice or not, but I figured I'd post what little bit was actually done. You will laugh to see how short it is. That is because I reworked it too many times to make any real progress on it. Too many projects at once and I disliked how it was going. But anyway...

(I recommend Adele's Set Fire to the Rain as background music to the latter half :))

The Rule Book of Tara

Tara frowned at the creased papers in her hands. "I think two pages of instructions makes this sound harder than it really is." She held to them so tightly that her knuckles blanched. She had them memorized after the third time she read them. This was the seventh time, maybe the eighth.

"Why don't you put them down and go take it already?" Rosie asked from across the room. "They're just in there to keep you busy. All you need to know is plus means yes and negative means no."

Tara's eyes didn't leave the colored diagram. The blue lines, however many, earned her full attention. "This is why I have rules," she said to herself. "Had rules."

Rosie walked over and stood next to her with a sigh. "Go take the test. Everything will be fine no matter what it says."

"I took it."

"What? When? Did you set the timer?" Rosie was already hurrying to the kitchen to find the egg timer.

A quick glance at the watch on her wrist gave her an answer. "Two minutes ago," Tara said. She ignored Rosie as she put her hands on her hips and paced back to her. "It's probably ready."

"Do you want me to go check?"

She shook her head once. "I'm not ready." She knew it was pointless to resist the results. She would have to face it sooner than later. Still, she held her place on the couch and stared at the instruction sheet as the little blue plus sign burned into her vision.

"Are you going to call him? If it says yes?" Rosie was now perched on the arm of the couch. She reached over and gently placed her hand on Tara's shoulder as if she was afraid to wake her.


"You need to. He should know. I think he'd want to know. You would if you were in his position."

Tara snapped out of her daze and straightened her back. It felt tight and her neck ached from holding the tense posture. She looked up at Rosie and found her studying her with worried eyes. "I'll tell him. But I want to see a doctor first and get it in writing. The only thing more embarrassing than showing up on his front step and tell him I'm pregnant would be to show up, break it to him, then find out it was a false positive. 'Just kidding. You should have seen your face!'"

Rosie smiled with a sympathetic chuckle. She gave a nod and took the papers from Tara. "So you'd go to him?"

She bowed her head and rubbed her brow with the heel of her hand. "This is bigger than a phone call."

"We'll be that way next week."

Tara nodded and gazed blankly at the floor. She already knew that. She was dreading the trip. The three day ride used to be one of her favorite routes the train took, and she often spent any free time between duties with her face pressed to the windows. The country they passed through was of the more beautiful she had ever seen. Being a railway attendant wasn't the most glamourous job, but the change in scenery was one of its perks. But the last time they went that way was different. She wasn't herself. She was distracted, and Donovan was charming.

"Can I go check?" Rosie asked, her tone telling of her controlled excitement. "I won't say what it says until you're ready."

Knowing she could no longer hide from the real world, Tara gave a tired nod. Rosie scampered off to the bathroom down the hall. Silence filled the tiny apartment.

Tara unknowingly held her breath as she awaited the verdict. She half expected Rosie to be cheering by now. Her roommate had been collecting baby magazines and books on motherhood for the past couple days, since Tara picked up the pregnancy test. She had been stashing them in box behind the kitchen table, but Tara knew they were there.

Quiet footsteps sounded from the hall. Tara bit her lip and looked to the all-too-calm Rosie. The shorter, middle-aged woman stood with the test held at her side. Her thin, brown hair framed her round face and rested at her shoulders. She gave a shrug and a forced smile. "They can stay in my room until you're ready."

So there it was; life altering news delivered Rosie-style. Tara drew a deep breath and smiled up at her roommate.

"Oh, I hopes it's a girl," Rosie said. "I can make dresses."

"Wait for the doctor's answer, Rosie. Let's not get too excited yet."

"I love making dress," she went on. "I made them for my nieces. In fact," she turned back down the hall, "I think I might have a few. They outgrew them before I finished …"

There was no stopping her. Tara smiled as Rosie's voice drifted away. Let it be a boy, she thought as her hands went to her tummy. And let him have his father's eyes.

There had been only one man in her life prior to meeting Donovan. Paul was her high school sweetheart. They were married shortly after graduating. He worked for his father's company and built houses. Tara looked at his job as making peoples' dreams come true. Who didn't dream of a house and family of their own.

She'd spent the first nineteen years of her life in one sleepy little town. Everyone knew everyone. And everyone knew she and Paul would marry. They were meant to be. The whole town was at their wedding.

Paul designed and built their house. He put the finishing touches on it two days before the wedding. It was perfect. It was everything she wanted. The spare room would be a nursery when the time came. Tara was ready, but Paul said he wanted to wait. So she put that dream on hold.

It was a good thing that she did. Not six months into their marriage, Paul came to her with a confession. He had had an affair with her best friend, Angie. He said that it was over, he was only curious, and he had come to the decision that Tara was still the girl for him.

She didn't hate him for what he did. Nor did she hate Angie. But she could face either. She hoped to avoid the gossip before it started. She took the first train out of town the next morning. Her dream was dead, and she felt numb about it.

Rosie was the first smiling face she met on that train ride away from everything she knew. The generous and always gracious woman insisted on Tara staying with her. She even helped her get a job with the same railway. Tara threw herself into a new life and didn't look back.

To keep herself from falling victim to another Paul, Tara made a list of rules to live by. They often left her excluded from certain groups of coworkers, but she knew it was for the better. Rule one: no drinking around men. Rule two: don't kiss a man until after the fifth date. Rule three: never go home with a man until he is her husband. With these rules, only the best intentioned man would get into her heart. It worked.

Until she let her guard down.

It was on the day that would have been her and Paul's tenth anniversary. All her ex-anniversary days were hard, but this one had her depressed more than usual. She didn't know why it was, but neither could she get past it. She couldn't get Paul out of her head.

She was called to a luxury suite to clean up a spill. It wasn't her post, but the assigned attendant was on the phone with her family. It was just a coffee spill, nothing big.

When she stepped into the room, the guest was on his hands and knees trying to wipe up the mess with a hand towel.

"It's okay, sir. I'll get it," she said to him.

He didn't give up on his attempts. "I'm sorry, I wasn't watching what I was doing. My fault."

Tara pulled a rag from her spill kit and knelt beside him. "Don't worry about it. I'll have this cleaned up in no time. Would you like more coffee?"

"It's already on the way, so I've been told." He slowed at rubbing the stained towel into the carpet. "I think I've almost go it cleaned up. I don't want to waste your time here."

She smiled as he felt at the growing spot with his hand. "If you let me take care of it now, I won't have to come back later and clean it again."

He finally looked up. His face told of his surprise at her teasing. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." She continued to smile as he relinquished the towel to her. "This is my specialty."

Tilting his head, he returned her smile. "You specialize in getting coffee out of carpet?"

"Not everyone has what it takes, sir," she said with a shrug. "I live for this. Enjoy your paper and I'll be done before you know it."

The brown eyed man didn't go far. He only scooted back from the stain and continued to watch. Tara went on anyway. She sponged the spot with the rag until most of the standing coffee was lifted, then sprayed the area with a cleaner. She could feel his eyes on her as she worked the detergent into the plush carpet.

A waiter came in with another cup of coffee. She was glad for it. It took the guest's attention away from her for a few minutes. She was nearly finished when he knelt beside her, his voice in a whisper. "If you'll excuse me for moment, I need to check on something."

She looked up at him as he stood, nodded at the door, and backed toward it. "Yes, sir," she said.

It was all the time she needed to finish up. She was sorting the things into the kit when he came back into the room. He knelt down and gave an approving nod at the clean carpet. "I can't even tell where it was!"

Tara laughed, still feeling awkward to have him surveying her work. "Thank you, sir." She stood and turned for the door. "Enjoy your stay and …"

"I didn't get your name," he said. She turned back to him at the interruption and was slow to answer. "Ah, Tara," he pointed at the name badge. "It was a pleasure meeting you."

She stammered over a response. "You too, sir. And thank you for choosing TransEmpire Railway."

"Do you have plans for tonight?" he asked before she could open the door.

She looked to him with a nervous chuckle and gave a nod. "I work, sir."

"All night?"

"If the train is moving, I am working. But thank you, sir."

He put his hands in his pockets. "Well that's too bad. We're having roast, and I hear the chef is amazing with roast."

She studied him trying to determine his sincerity. "Yes, sir, he is."

"You can't even spare a few minutes of your time? I could speak with your supervisor and see if they could do without their spot specialist for a short time."

Rosie was her supervisor and Tara knew she would clear her evening schedule if a man had invited her to dinner. She was always encouraging her to start seeing someone again.

"I'll be a perfect gentleman, honest. Don't make me spill my coffee again."

The newspaper on the table caught her eye, and the date reminded her of the day. The old heartache pushed to the fore and whittled away at her resolve. She looked to him and bit her lip. But her answer came out anyway. "I'll ask my supervisor."

His grin grew and he gave a nod. "I'll be looking forward to see you this evening."

"Just dinner," she said. "I don't think I could stay any longer than that."

"Whatever you can spare."

Rosie not only granted the evening off, she ordered it. She even helped find something for her to wear for the dinner since Tara had only packed her uniforms. Black slacks, a blue blouse, and a silk scarf with blue daisies for the night's attire.

So, yeah, that's it. That's the only part in MS form anyway. Lots and lots of short notes, scribbles, jumbled thoughts, and nonsensical pages. Trust me, it's messy.

1 comment:

  1. Cutting WIP's can be hard. I think it is cool how you pieced it out. I sometimes do that with ideas.