Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chapter 3 - A New Leesie's poem

This is still really rough. I blush to call it a poem. It's still kind of just broken up lines. There are flashes of poetic language and some nice images here and there, but right now it's more verse than poetry. But I need to push on with the story, so you're getting it half-baked. Just like I promised.

Chapter Three


Michael steers a wheelchair
into my room, waking me.
He pours pills down my throat.
“Come on, babe. We’re going
for a walk.”
I’m not talking to him
ever again. He’s wrong.
I’m right. And he’s going be sorry.

He picks me up, plops me
in the chair. Laughs when I scowl.
“How do you like you chariot?”
He ties my headscarf do-rag style,
straps on my ankle support boots.
I raise my eyebrows.
“In case you want to wade.”
He pulls a bottle of OJ out
of a grocery bag swinging from
his wrist and hands it to me,
kisses me when he bends to twist
the top off. “Forgive me?”

He’s so cute excited.
I can’t hate him when
he’s like this. The Ice Queen
relents. “Do I have a choice?”
“No.” He kisses me again.
“You’re stuck.”
My eyes swim. “No, Michael.
You’re stuck. I’m sorry I did this to you.”
He gets down on his knees and
lays his head in my lap.
“I don’t ever, ever, ever
want to hear you say that again.”

I can’t answer or I’ll cry.
I bend down and kiss the top of his head.
It’s damp. “What’ve you been up to?”
“I just got out of the ocean.”
“Saltwater therapy?”
“Yeah. It’s the best.”
“Earth to Michael—I can’t
go in the water.”
“But you can get close.”
His smile—so big and beautiful—
coaxes the corners of my mouth to
ease up for a moment.

His head tilts toward the bathroom.
“Do you need to go?”
I shake my head and sip my juice.
“You got up by yourself?”
“That must have hurt.”
I shrug.
“Freak, I got to use the john.”
He dumps granola bars
in my lap. “I’ll be right back.”

He disappears into his room.
I drink all the juice, eat both bars,
listen to the sink, then the shower.
He returns scrubbed, shaved,
and glowing, garbed in garish
purple and lime green swimshorts
and an “I love Cayman” T.
My jeans feel cemented
to my body. “No fair.”
“Jealous of my snazzy outfit?”
“You’re clean hair.”
“We’ll take care of yours after
the walk—I promise.”
“You’re going to undress me?”
“Shh. It’s a surprise.

The beach is glorious.
Caribbean blue water,
even brighter than I remember
from the Keys. The wheelchair
gets bogged down in the deep,
dry sand. Michael powers
through it to firm damp beach,
pushes me right up to the surf’s
edge—a tiny wavelet swirls
around the wheels.

He tips back the chair
on its two big wheels,
ignores my squeals
and pushes me into the water.
The turquoise sea rushing in and out
uncovers a childish delight—simple,
pure, a bit tarnished and battered—but
I can feel. He keeps me out there
until his arms can’t hold the chair
up anymore.

Then those arms, moist with sweat
and ocean spray, free me from
confinement. We lie 
on the damp sand, me
on my back gazing up at the flawless
blue sky. Michael on his side
staring at my face.
He leans over and sucks ever
so gently on my unblemished
lower lip. He stops too soon.
“Is my breath gross?”
“Yeah. You’re a mess. Sandy
now, too.”
“What are you going to do
about that? Dunk me in the ocean?”
“If that’s what you want.” He scoops me
up and runs towards the water.
“Stop it, Michael.” I pound on
him with my cast.
He pulls up short.
“How about nurses?”
“I found you nurses.”
“You’re sticking me back
in a hospital? No way.”
“No hospital—I promise.”

He takes me to a short cement building
set down in a tropical garden—pink
bougainvillea spill from pots,
palms, high and low, fan out in all
directions, bright orange and yellow
flowers carpet the ground.
Inside—cool, clean elegance,
marble floors, wood-paneled walls,
paintings of ocean sunrises.

My room’s a plush prison—
white bed draped with gauzy netting
looks resort brochure not hospital bill.
“You’re leaving me here?”
“Nurses, babe. They can take
care of you. I can’t.”
“You didn’t even try.”
“You need physio and wound care,
pain management. I can’t do that.”
“How long?”
“At least stay long enough
to get cleaned up.”
He picks me up from my chair.
“You stink.”
“Now that’s romantic.”

He lays me on the bed.
I sink into a world of soft
feather luxury.
He leans over me with
encouragement leaking
from the corners of his grin.
“They’ve got a therapeutic
whirlpool you can soak in
all morning. Wouldn’t that feel nice?”
He’s starting to convince me.
“What are you going to do?”
He blushes under his tan.
“Oh, my gosh—
you’re going
He bends low to give
me an enormous kiss.
“As if I could stop you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Get out of here.”

The smile that slips onto my face
as I watch him leave me
knows only him, only here,
only this moment.
Today, it’s enough.

I'm scanning the rough drafts for you, but while I wait I'm going to load some pictures of Grand Cayman. It's MY favorite place to scuba dive. We learned to free dive there, too. I did that solely because I was writing TAKEN BY STORM and Michael survived because of his mad free diving skills.  My husband was great at free diving. I was AWFUL. You can read more about it and the trouble free diving go me into with Kirkus's reviewer in STORM'S STORY: Hyperventilation on my website.

Okay. Here's Grand Cayman:

Yes, the water is really this perfect!

Me at the turtle farm.

This is where we stayed when we did our free diving certification. I was so AWFUL.

Classic Cayman
East End dive resort where we stayed when my kids certified.
Great blow-hole in the coral!

East End Dive resort where I think Michael and Leesie will go.

Imagine Michael and Leesie on this beach.

One of my daughter's great shots.

East End Sunset

My daughter takes great micro photos.

East End evening

Breakfast anyone?
This is actually where we dove for our free diving course. The floor of the inlet is covered with sea urchins.

Dive boats! 

My kids in the pool getting certified.
My daughter with her scuba instructor. She did really well. I wonder why?

And now my rough drafts. 


  1. Oh my gosh, those shots are beautiful (your daughter is extremely talented. And that dive instructor is HOT. Does Michael look anything like him in your mind?). Although I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, what with my being a die-hard fan of Michael's, I have a mild phobia of water, but the ocean in Grand Cayman is breathtaking! Makes me almost (ALMOST) want to go diving in it myself! Sigh.
    And the scene is, of course, beautiful. No doubt there.

  2. All dive instructors are hot, Sana. That's one of the rules. Seriously, my daughter was never late for a single class. I'm not sure how she paid attention, but she aced everything.

    I'd created Michael before this trip, so this particular dive instructor wasn't in my mind when I imagined Michael. I stole bits and pieces of lots of guys on dive boats. Eye lashes, long wavy hair, scruffy unshaven face. The picture on the front of TAKEN BY STORM's hardcover jacket looks more like the Michael I imagine than anything else.

  3. Oh god, this place is really real. So, so gorgeous. Your daughter does beautiful photography.

    And all this to accompany Leesie's poem. Perfect.

  4. Talk about the ultimate book research. What a beautiful place to be. Love the poem too.

  5. I'm missing the old Leesie so much, I feel so sorry for her. The pictures are adorable. They remind me at some parts of my country where the water at the beach is so clear and pretty. I mentioned to my husband that I want to take Scuba Diving Lessons because after living all my life on an island, NOW that I'm in TX is when the idea hits me ;( that's the power of a great book; inspires you to do the same things the characters love.

  6. That's funny, Michelle. It sounds like you're missing that island.

    I just realized that since Leesie's got a broken collarbone and cracked ribs, she can't bend down and kiss Michael's messy wet hair when she's sitting in a wheelchair. Rats. I need to make a note to change that.

  7. I love reading this everyday! I am so anxious to find out what happens with them...they have to be together you know that right? It would break my heart if they are not....I am debating whether to read this everyday or wait until the first of the year when the book comes out...I can't stay away from it though....I love your writing! You are amazing.

  8. Awesome! I so wish this book was done already -reading your posts is almost torture, lol.But I won't stop! And what beautiful photos! Cayman looks so beautiful1 And that sea! Looking forward to the next post!

  9. Chaleese:

    They will end up together, Michael will be baptized and after that the wedding. Right Angela? A fan girl can dream ;P

  10. Yes, we can dream...but we are all hoping THIS dream can be reality!!!! I don't care how it happens..only that it happens!!!

  11. I love it! The pictures are beautiful.

    "you stink."
    how romantic :D