I’ve been vacillating back and forth about this potential new story. 1st PoV or 3rd? Stick with the beginning I wrote a few years ago or restructure it into something else? Although the core of the story has stayed the same more or less, the world building side of things has taken a slightly different twist than I planned. I’m going to run with it for now, though I’m still feeling it out.
A few new characters have popped up too, and I’m not sure how they’re all going to work with each other. Sometimes I’ll actually throw new characters into bed or some other awkward situation, just to see how things play out. (No, I almost never use those scenes – they’re strictly my brain figuring out the pieces.) But this time around I’ve got a younger set of characters. I’m not sure if this is going to be YA or not, but I hesitate to toss them into a sexual situation since I don’t think that’s even remotely where I want to go with this and I’d rather not muddy up the waters.
So I just decided to do a random scene. It may or may not make the final cut, but it will almost certainly change if it does stay. For some reason the muse wanted to do it in 1st person present – a hard thing to write and a hard thing to read, sometimes. But whatever it takes to get it working, I guess. I actually don’t mind 1st present, but it’s hard to pull off. I’m not sure I’m doing it quite right.
Anyway, here’s a bit of what I’ve got. I deliberately left out any real details about the sex of the protag because yes, that’s another thing I’m not sure about. It’s rough as hell because I pounded it out while sitting with the kids last night (watching The Land Before Time, of all things.)
Sparrow and I sit on the crumbling rooftop of the foundry to stare up at the night sky. Not that there’s much to see– there’s a perpetual fog surrounding New Town that never really leaves, even as high as we are. Every once in a while a shaft of silver slices through to light up the rusting edges of the drainpipes, blurring everything into a crystalline softness.
I shift in my wool long coat, stretching out to cross my arms behind me. The damp of the roof leeches into my skin anyway. I ignore it, the same way I ignore the constant rumble in my belly or the lump of concrete digging into my calf. Meridion’s shadow drifts above us, a floating monstrosity of luminous blue glass; the pale sphere of the moon crests the spire of its highest cathedral to taunt us in seductive mockery.
“D’ye think ye can see the sea from atop it?”
Sparrows asks the question without her usual cheer, a wistful longing upon the words. She obsesses about the ocean, Sparrow. Always has.
My heart lies above us, wrapped in the promise of Meridion.
Not that the great floating city pays its fallen Moon Children any mind.
I glance at Sparrow, her hair gleaming as white as my own. Her dark eyes are glassy and blank, lost in thought.
“Probably,” I say finally, taking pity on her memories. “Perhaps if the mist is gone.”
She sighs. “My mam used to tell me stories of it, ye know. Like a great mirror as far as ye can see. She said ye could sail away on it to a better place.”
“Any place is better than here.” Ghost’s gravelly voice rumbles at us. He emerges from behind the shadows of a rotting chimney, his naked feet as silent as his name. He’s a lanky lad, a few years older than me, with the high cheekbones and dusky skin of a half-breed. His graceful limbs slip past us, shrouded in patched trousers and a thin sweater; the ragged cut of the silver hair beneath his wool cap displays a heritage equal to ours.
Blight bastards, all of us.
Sparrow and I exchange a look. Odd he would seek us out. Odder still that he would deign to speak to us. Ghost keeps his own council, always.
He crouches beside me, his toes blackened with soot. I watch them curl into the greaves of the roof, calluses thick and hard.
“The Warrens were full of patrols today. Looking for somewhat. Or someone.” He says it casually, like he already knows why. Sparrow stiffens beside me and I nudge her. His eyes narrow at the movement, but his mouth curls in a cynical smile. “Keep your secrets, then.”
“There’s nothing to keep,” I say, sitting up to face him. My arms hang over my knees, fingers playing with the laces of my thin-soled boots. “And if I was involved, then it doesn’t really concern you.”
“As you say.” He rises and strolls to the edge of the roof, hand lightly trailing behind him for balance. He pauses, tipping his chin toward me. “Rory’s got his head up his arse about it.”
“And since when is that
anything new?” I scowl at my hands, rubbing the rough skin of my palms. Blisters upon blisters, beaten into a thickness from years of dancing upon the rooftops.
“It isn’t. I just thought you should know.” Before I can ask him what he means, he leaps and the wiry muscles of his legs hurtle him into the darkness. I hear the slap of his feet against the far wall, the drainpipe shimmying with his weight as he disappears.
“Show off,” Sparrow mutters.
I snort. “Aren’t we all?”
A rueful laugh bubbles from her to scatter her previous melancholy. Together we scramble to stand.“I suppose we’ll have to talk to Rory sooner or later.” She scuffs the roof disdainfully.
“I vote later. After a bit of Shepard’s pie, anyway. I never take to getting yelled at particularly well on an empty stomach.” I purse my lips at her. “And I’ve got three coppers in my pocket that says I’ll beat you to the Cheaps.”
“Deal.” She spins and launches herself toward the edge of the roof, her hands snagging a jutting bit of pipe. With a twist, she vaults to the other side of the alley; her fingers scrabble the brickwork for purchase as she lands.
“Cheater,” I call after her. She fades into the fog and a moment later, I follow. My coat drags as the air rushes past but I don’t mind. Sparrow and I both know I’d win if I set my mind to it; at least this way it doesn’t feel like charity when I give her the money.
Not that I won’t make her work for it.
I speed up. My vision narrows so that all I can see is the heady mosaic of walls and roofs, brittle stairs and ancient light posts. My hands are numb to the scrapes, the pull on my flesh as I grasp and release; the momentum of my body swings me forward. I smile as I land next to Sparrow and we take off again.
The copper tiles blur beneath our feet like the oily sheen of a metallic sea.