I’ve been posting snippets on Facebook, rather than here on the blog, but I don’t want you to feel left out, so here is a bit of the current Work In Progress, working title While I Was Out:
Our yard was long and narrow with a small stand of trees in one corner, set behind the shed my mom had painted to look like a little cottage. When my mom was in her gardening phase, she’d made paths and a gazebofacing the picturesque little copse, with a bench hanging from its ceiling. It was a relaxing place to sit, swinging in the evenings, and it offered a bit of privacy from the house as well. If I was on house arrest, I needed a bit of escape.
I stepped out onto the back porch and inhaled the scented breeze. Mr. Hoskin’s lilacs were thick with scent. It wafted past my nose with a declaration of spring and a promise of summer.
I headed down the steps toward the swing, and then caught sight of a movement in the trees behind the shed. My heart sped up.
It was probably Mr. Hoskin’s ginger cat.
“Marmalade! Pss-pss-pss!” She was a friendly cat, and usually was content to join me on the swing if it meant a thorough patting. She liked hunting in our copse, though. If she had caught the scent of a mouse, she’d be less likely to come. “Come on, Marmalade.”
A stick crunched with a snap. There was no way that was Marmalade. It was unlikely to have been anything much smaller than a bear. The leaves rustled.
“Who’s there?” I asked, fighting to sound [aggressive, brave, confident, assured]. I leaned down to pick up a small brick from the border of the path. Just in case. “You’re on private property! Come out of there!”
A figure stepped out of the trees.
My heart was pounding so fast I could hardly breathe.
He took another step forward and I recognized him. “Carl?”
He stepped out of the shadows. It seemed as if it had been ages since I’d last seen him. At the party he was laughing and confident, like usual. This evening, he looked drawn and slightly haggard. His usually immaculate hair was tangled. There were dark circles under his eyes.
“What are you doing hiding back there? Is something wrong?”
He just looked at me.
“What?” glancing down at myself. I didn’t think I looked so terrible. My bruises were mostly covered, and the ones I could see were fading from their initial vivid purple into a sort of mottled blue-green.
His lips tightened and he looked at the ground. I watched him scuff a foot on the grass as he avoided my gaze. After an age, he blinked up at me. His eyes were brimming with tears. He muttered, “I’m sorry.”