Prologue: Discovering Home

So my attempt at NaNoWriMo 2015 was a bit on the Go Slow. Life got in the way. But I intend to finish the story I started.  So far I’m calling it, Discovering Home, but that’s its working title and may change.

The longest continuous piece I had written before NANoWriMo was only 1200 words and I beat that on my first NaNo day with 1696 words. But I hadn’t actually expected to hit the 50,000-word mark on my first attempt. I feel like I’m ok with beginning and ends, but struggle with the middles. It’s probably why I love writing the Friday Fictioneers 100 word stories, there isn’t room for middle fluff. Next year I will definitely try to plan for my book, rather then just seeing what happens like this year.

I decided to get myself motivated again I’d share a little bit of my work in progress.

Disco Home CollageBlurb (thus far): Joe is a young woman trying to decipher the secrets of her family history after her grandmother mysteriously disappears.

A fictional story about family with a romantic (maybe) and paranormal (definitely) twist.

* * *   Prologue   * * *

My Grandmother’s house only had two bedrooms, but those two bed rooms held a lot of secrets. So many secrets that I believe that still don’t know them all. But I’m getting there. For the past six months I’ve been reading through my grandmother’s diaries. She wrote in a diary every day. There is a half-finished entry from the day she disappeared. It reads “the trees are quiet and look still, but I can feel something moving, hiding in their branches. I think it’s about time I told Josephine about th…” and that’s where it finishes.

Finding the diary open and my Grammy Mac missing has prompted me to sift through her private diaries. A part of me keeps expecting her to walk into the bedroom and scold me like when I was five and caught going through her things. But she never does. And the longer she’s gone, the more I wish she would.

I always thought my grandmother and I were close, she practically raised me. But in reading her Diaries I realise there was so much more to her. So much more I wish she had shared. My dad went AWOL when he found out my mother was pregnant with me and my mother chose the voices in her head over me the day she drove of off the Newton Street jetty.

My grandmother was born Martha Josephine Fionnula Mac a’Bhaird, yeah it’s a mouthful. She was born in 1938 in Glasgow, Scotland. But grew up in the small town a Cranford away up in the snowy mountains of New South wales, Australia. She was raised by three aunts, they brought her over from Scotland when she was only seven years old. I’d never heard her speak of her mother or father. I wished I’d asked more, but I always felt uncomfortable bringing it up.

I am lost. I am struggling without her here. Even with the age difference between us she was always my best friend. I stare out of her window and glare at those trees. Oh how I wish they could tell me something, anything, about where my Grammy has gone.

Today is the 25th of December 2005, Christmas Day and it’s my 18th birthday. Six months Grammy’s been gone. Six months since I’ve slept or eaten properly. Endless reading of yellowed pages and elegant handwritten script. I can’t even remember the last time I left the house or showered. I don’t smell too bad, so I’m guessing it’s only a few days. I know this isn’t how she’d want me to live.

I’ve made the decision to move all the furniture and Grammy’s personal items into a storage unit. I intend on selling Grammy’s house. My boss at the local newsagents was really kind and understanding, it took her two months of me not showing up to work to fire me. There really isn’t anything left for me here.

I can’t really explain how I feel; I know it’s not natural. I understand grief and depression, but this is something more, it’s like I can’t physically do anything but obsessively read through the diary’s. Sometimes I think I can feel a presence in the trees, but then I realise I haven’t slept for thirty plus hours and I am just sleep deprived.

© Sarah Fairbairn

2 thoughts on “Prologue: Discovering Home

  1. Hey Sarah – I hope it’s okay if I post this here rather than emailing you – it’s Erin, from the Hunter Writer’s Centre Workshop.

    First of all, can I just say that I love the little header you have for your story? That is awesome.

    I have been told that the best feedback you can give someone involves telling them what you liked and why, and then what you didn’t like and why, so that’s the approach I’m going to try and take. I hope that’s okay.

    What I particularly liked about this piece was the sense of closeness coming through between the narrator and her grandmother, in combination with the revelation she was having that there was so much about her grandmother that she didn’t know. Poignant little reminders about her grief, like the fact that she had stopped going to work and can’t remember when she last took a shower did, I think, a really good job of showing and not telling the narrator’s internal grief.

    What I think could be improved, though, is that overall there is a lot of information told to us about the Grandmother, rather than shown. For example, could we maybe learn the grandmother’s name, d.o.b. and the fact that she immigrated from Scotland from the narrator finding and boxing the relevant documentation? My own grandmother, for example, was born in Boston (Australian Father, Boston mother) and they came by boat to Australia when she was 3. I remember she found and showed me a black & white photo her father took of her on a swing that had been set up on deck. It was very grainy and taken from far away, so my grandmother was reduced to a generic looking curly-haired little girl, but it was still wonderful to be able to see it.

    Overall, though, I think this is an interesting premise for a story, both in the detective sense of ‘what happened to grandma?’ and in being a story about dealing with tragedy and managing grief. I hope to be able to read more of it in the future.

    Thanks again for your feedback on my own work too, I really appreciate it.
    All the best – Erin

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