A Few Goals Through Winter 2021

It’s been a while since I’ve been in here, and there’s been a lot going on in the world (obvi), but I wanted to get down some goals and try to hold myself accountable to them over the next several months.

Here they are, in chronological order:

  1. Write a new experimental short play for The Fling the weekend of November 21st
  2. Continue training to get back in shape for an informal Half Marathon on December 31st
  3. Finish a draft of the full-length play The Pact by mid-January to submit to the summer workshop at HPT
  4. Finalize a draft of my ongoing prose piece and send to at last 20 YA agents by February 15th

What are the odds that these things will get done? Let’s see…

  1. 90% — easy, it’s a deadline, locally sponsored, kapow
  2. 50% — making progress here and my back is strengthening, or at least I want to think it’s strengthening; if I can run 10 miles straight by mid-December I’ll have nailed it (more on that later)
  3. 60% — I have about a quarter of it done right now and just got some good feedback by my new-found Vermont writers’ group; I’m motivated
  4. 60% — I got some good feedback by friends recently and want to get this done, though the work may be harder than I think*

Of course these other goals take precedence over all the above:

  • Stay healthy
  • Stay sane
  • Keep kids healthy
  • Visit my dad and sis
  • Ensure college apps for my oldest kid get in on time
  • Stay employed

All right, let’s check back in after Valentine’s Day at the latest. Annnnnnnnd…. go!!!

* wait, wait, I’m going to attach the opening couple of pages to the YA piece here, partly to get comfortable with sharing it; have any feedback, lemme know!

***** ONE *****

The thing I remember most about the drive to the hospital is the quiet. The quiet of the car as the tires rolled over empty roads. The quiet of my father with his shoulders stiffly square, his fingers at even intervals around the curve of the wheel. The quiet of my sister in the backseat with her body sprawled, her legs bent awkwardly toward the floor and her eyes pointing casually at the fabric above as it drooped down like a sagging hammock.

And most of all, I remember the quiet of the city.

Was everyone else asleep? Were they dead? I’m not sure it even mattered. I was having a lot of trouble thinking straight.

Lucy was covered in blood. Not covered as in awash or whatever. More like sprinkled. Or dusted. She was lightly coated in a sheen of her own blood, smeared here and there like a water-color painting in its earliest stages. And her skin was dotted with shards of glass.

Not even shards so much as specs. Square-ish specs all over her skin, like sequins on a dress, embedded from the fall in the auditorium.

Her greatest and most dramatic performance yet. Totally gasp-worthy. A few bars of Chopin, a fall backwards through a stained glass window and whammo, instant standing ovation.

I don’t think it was by design. She could never have orchestrated a stunt like that on purpose.

Though sometimes I wondered.

She attracted all the attention. She prompted all the hand-wringing. She received all the applause. Could it have been part of a master plan?

I looked into her soft brown eyes that never seemed to fully focus on anything and I felt embarrassed for even considering such a thing. No one would intentionally design a life like this.

But why wasn’t she screaming? Why wasn’t she crying? Her entire body had been cut up, sliced a hundred times and she was the calmest I’d ever seen her. Whereas when everything was going great and we were having a picnic at the park on a perfect sunny day she could erupt into a thunderous roar, searing the ends of your eardrums and sending the local wildlife running for the hills.

Maybe it was all an act.

“Bloody hell.”

That was my dad. He’d hit a roadblock up near the hospital, another obstacle on the way to get her treated. “This was not here yesterday,” he said. “Unbelievable. Damn city bureaucracy.”

He hit the gas in reverse and we flew back, my sister’s body hitting the back of the seat cushions. She moaned, annoyed. Again, covered in cuts and blood and she seemed annoyed. She had some serious patience.

Yeah, right.

My dad righted the car and accelerated down another street. I held onto the strap above my head. I’d been holding onto that strap a lot lately. The car lurched and swerved. I prayed we’d be there soon.

My sister stared out the window now, or at least that’s the direction her eyes were pointing.

Maybe she was in shock. That’s something I hadn’t considered. If my body was covered in blood I’m sure I’d be acting weird too.

Or maybe it was a relief. The accident took her mind off everything else. Maybe it felt good to be through something traumatic like this. Maybe it was a distraction from all the other difficulties in her life.

The hospital was up ahead. At last.

I held onto that strap and tried to prepare myself for what was coming next.

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