Friday, October 29, 2010

Chapter Six Revised and topped off with New Leesie Poem

Whoo-hoo! It's our two week blogoversary. Celebrate good times, come on. Cue the music. Let's dance.

Here's the revision of Michael's dive log that I promised. Plus, I rounded Chapter Six off with a poem from Leesie.

I woke up this morning and she was saying, "It's Phil's funeral and you completely blew it off." Guilty. She had plenty to say about it, too.

We've been following Michael and Leesie almost minute by minute through these opening chapters. I think it's time for a leap. A jump in time. It's always tricky to figure out when to  leap and how far ahead in the story to go. Sometimes I'm tempted to leap when there's something that is too hard to write--an emotional or frightening or intimate scene. That's such a cop out. I hate it when authors do that in novels I read. So I try not to allow myself to succumb to the temptation. Sometimes I leap too far in my rough drafts because I'm eager to get on with getting the major bones of the story down.  I try to fill the holes when I go back and revise. But I'm only human, sometimes I miss them. Let me know through this process if I've leapt too far or lingered too long, okay?

For a fantastic discussion of this concept, see Ursula K. Le Guin's STEERING THE CRAFT, "Crowding and Leaping," p. 141-148. This is one of my favorite books on writing.

Have a great weekend. I'll be working on PR and checking back for your feedback. I'm starting to rely on it. THANKS!

If you have any great ideas on ways I can spread the word to more of my readers, let me know. Jo from Once Upon a Bookcase posted on her blog all about what we're doing over here, including a table of contents of links. She also wrote a wonderful email and sent it to her best blogging buddies. If you'd like me to forward you the email so you can share it with your blogging buddies, just let me know. Huge thanks go out to Jo!



Dive Buddy:  Leesie
Date:  04/29
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            It’s past midnight when I get back to the hotel. New day. Yesterday seemed like a lifetime. Leesie’s home phone is busy when I try to call. If her dad has a cell, I don’t know the number. Leesie never had one back home. Too broke. Crap reception in a wheat field.
            I try again in ten minutes. Busy. Fall asleep before the next ten minutes are up.
            I wake up a couple hours later. Don’t know where I am. Freak. Figure it out. Pick up the phone. Try again. It’s still not too late back there. Eleven. Big deal. He’ll be up.
            “Hello?” It’s him.
            I should have planned this better, written it out or something. I’m at a total loss what to say. “Please, sir. Don’t hang up.”
            “No. No. Of course not.” His warm voice sounds like rescue. “Don’t be afraid, Michael. Just bring her home. That’s all we care about. She’s hurt.”
            I want to tell him we’re getting on a plane tomorrow. “She’s getting the best care on earth.” Plus Cayman sunshine. Nothing can beat that.
            “Where are you?”
            “She won’t let me tell anyone yet.”
            “That’s okay.” His voice breaks. It takes him a moment to regain control. “Bring her back to us. We don’t blame you.”
            “I beg her to let me every day.” Now emotion gets to me. I swallow hard and whisper, “She won’t listen. She’s—ashamed.”
            He breathes a moment and whispers back, “Tell her we love her. Is she close? Can I talk to her?”
            “No.” I should have called from her room, put her on. She knew she’d have to talk to him. That’s why she made me call from here. “She thinks you’ll be angry with her.”
            “Never.” His voice is stronger, solid again.
            I stand and walk to my window. “I know.” The parking lot is dark except for one light. “I’ll tell her, though.”
            “Has she”—he pauses so long I think he’s gone, but finally gets the words out—“said anything more about the accident?”
            I wish I could give him something, but I’ve got nothing there. “No. Just that it’s all her fault.” I hesitate, hating the words that rise to my lips. “She thinks her mom hates her. And your God, too.”
            “Tell her that’s a wicked lie.” Wicked? Yeah. Evil and wicked. He says in a voice that sounds like a prophet. “No matter what. We love her.”
            “And, sir. I want you to know.” I swallow, switch the phone to my other ear. “I’m keeping that promise I made at Thanksgiving.” My hand grows slick with sweat. The phone slips. “I won’t touch her—not until we’re married.”
            “You’re getting married?” Does that scare him worse than anything else? “When?”
            End of summer? Tomorrow? What do I tell him? “Someday.”
            “Bring her home first.”
            “If I can, I will.”
            “Take care of her, son.” His voice fills with infinite sadness. “We miss our girl.”
            Him calling me “son” chokes me up like it always did. “She’s sorry. Tell her mom, too. She’s sorry.”

            I sleep past nine in the morning. Feel half-way human again. Talking to Leesie’s dad grounded me. We’re going to be okay. It’s all going to be okay. I got to tell Leesie—get her grounded, too. I book it down to the rehab-place, but when I get there, Leesie’s room is full of nurses and a tall, black man wearing a white doctor’s coat.
            “What were you thinking,” he speaks with a muted Caymanian accent, “traveling all this way injured as you are?” His rich voice fills the room like a preacher’s.
            Leesie holds up her purple hand with my ring tight on her swollen fingers. “We’re supposed to be on our honeymoon. I crashed two days before our wedding. The hospital said I was good to travel.” Leesie lying? Weird.
            “Well, they were crazy to let you leave.” He flips through the release papers I turned over yesterday when I checked Leesie in here. “How long is this honeymoon supposed to last? You’ll get no beach time for weeks.”
            “All summer.” I walk in and shake the guy’s hand. “I’m a dive instructor. Looking for work.”
            “Have you got Cayman papers?”
            “Working on it.”
            He knows I’m lying. “Have you been here before?”
            I nod. “It’s my favorite place in the world to dive.” At least Little Cayman is. Got to get Leesie over there.
            The doctor turns back to Leesie. “Let’s see what we have here.”
            He starts with her head, examines her cut. “Nicely done.” He glances back at the clipboard. “Concussion?” He flashes a penlight in Leesie’s eyes. “Good dilation. Does your head pound?”
            “Not right now.”
            “When your pain meds wear off?”
            He raps under her knee with the side of his hand. It jumps like it’s supposed to. “Good. The headaches should subside in a few more days. No permanent nerve damage.”
            “That’s good?” Leesie looks over at me and smiles slightly.
            “Yes.” He snips off the bandages to examine her nose. It looks awful to me. Black, blue, purple, green. The colors twist together and scream pain. He touches her nose. “The packs your surgeon placed in the nostrils are well-positioned.” He runs his finger over the bump high up on her nose. “You’ll end up with a bit of a bump here. But we’ll keep the nose straight. You can opt for cosmetic surgery once all this is healed up.”
            “I can have any nose I want?”
            No way. She’s going to stick with the nose I fell in love with. He keeps touching it and Leesie gets paler and paler. The garish colors seems to ooze and twist moving, crawling, spreading all over her face. The room gets really hot. My heads grows fuzzy, and I can’t breathe. I think I sway.
            The nurse Leesie calls Sugar takes my elbow. “Let’s get us some fresh air why don’t we.”
            I jerk my elbow away. “No, I’m fine.” I sway again.
            “Do you want to faint in front of her?” She grabs me firmly by the arm, guides me out Leesie’s sliding door, and deposits me on a bench in the garden. “A few deep breaths, sugar, and you’ll feel better.” She disappears.
            I cycle through my free dive breathing, inhale the flowers around me. Smile when I detect my mom’s favorite scent. Gardenias. I’m glad she’s close. I could use her help about now. I wander around, find the bush and break off branch after branch of dark green leaves and small white fragrant flowers.
            When I make it back to Leesie’s room, she’s got a new pink bandage on her nose, and she’s all alone.
            “You are a wimp.”
            I inhale gardenias for strength. “If you saw your nose, you’d faint, too.”
            “Pretty gory?”
            “The goriest.” I stick my bouquet in her half-empty water cup.
            She motions towards her hospital gowned torso. “Do you want to see my ribs? He left them undone.”
            “Are they gory, too?”
            She nods. “The bruising is ugly, but the doctor is most worried I’ll get pneumonia.” She’s supposed to breath deep so the air sacks in her lungs don’t stick together.  “I told them I learned everything I know about heavy breathing from you.”
            I crack a smile. “You didn’t.”
            “No.” She manages a crooked smile back. “But it’s true.”
            I bite my lip. “I was just out there doing free dive cycles.”
            “That’s what I told them.” She punches a button so the bed sits her up more. “You’re now my coach.”
            I sit beside her. “Cool.” I smooth my hand over her head.
            She closes her eyes and leans into my caress. “He thinks it’s a good idea to keep me trussed up like this for another week so the collarbone can set. After that I’ll just need the sling.” Her eyes open.
            “What about your hand?” I pick it up, inspect the fingers, notice my ring looks tighter on her third finger. “Did we keep it elevated enough?”
            “He said that’s just for the swelling.” She wiggles her fingers. “We’re past that crisis now. I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
            Her fingers still look puffy to me.
            She pulls the sheet up to show off her footwear. “I have to wear these new boots night and day for the next three weeks so my ankles heal strong.”
            These boots, lined with support, snugged tight with Velcro, are nothing like the floppy footgear she had before. She looks tired, worn out, strained. I try to read her eyes. “Did he hurt you—poking and prodding?”
            She shakes her head. “Heavy dose of morphine this morning.” That’s why she’s dozy. “They’ve got me back on it. He said I’ll need it around the clock for at least another week. Then we can taper off.”
            “No more skipping your pills?”
            She nods—so obedient today.
            I balance her hand on my outstretched palm. “When do you get your cast off your hand?” And your nose, but I don’t want to bring that up again.
            She pulls her hand away, lays it on her own chest. “Another five weeks—maybe longer. They are going to X-ray it tomorrow and put on a new waterproof one to match my nose.”
            “Yes.” She scowls at my tone and sticks out her tongue. “And then we can go to the beach.”
            I smile. “Cool.” The smile fades as I remember what I came to tell her. “I got a hold of your dad.”
            She closes her eyes and turns her face to the wall.
            I bend down, hover over her. “They aren’t mad. Don’t blame you.” I stroke her silky head. “You can go home.” I lean closer so I can whisper in her ear. “You rest here another couple weeks, get really strong, and then let’s fly home.”
            She speaks in a small tight voice. “I can’t. He doesn’t know.”
            “He does, Leese.” I kiss her temple. “He says God doesn’t think you’re guilty. He says they love you.”
            “They’ll hate me.”
            I nuzzle my lips against the side of her bare head. “Let me call him and tell him I’m bringing you home.” I slide my arms around her so I can embrace her. “They need some hope right now, Leesie. You got to go home.” I squeeze her close, hoping.
            She doesn’t answer.
I kiss the back of her neck.
            My arms relax defeat. “What happened, Leese? This isn’t you. Why—”
             She turns terror-filled eyes towards me. “Don’t ask me. Ever again. If you love me—” Her voice sounds ominous.
            I back off. “Look.” I slide off the bed and pick up the flowers. “I brought you something to inhale deeply.”
            “Gosh, you’re psychic.” she bends her head toward the branches and tries to smell the gardenias. “Sorry. I can’t smell anything. I’ve got stuff shoved up my nose holding the bones in place.
            “No problem. Let’s get to work on those free dive cycles.”
            She frowns. “Or I can inhale you.”
            I help her to her post-op surgically booted feet, guide her out to my bench, hold on her on my lap and coach her through cycles one to three. She’s not ready to pack yet. Then we make out in the sunshine.
            She whispers, “Kissing you is the only thing that feels right.”
            My lips moves against her mouth. “That’s just the morphine talking.”
            “Then let’s enjoy it.” She sucks my tongue into her mouth and keeps it.
            I do enjoy that. Way too much. I finally break loose, sit up straight. “Freak, Leese. That so not allowed.”
            “But we’re officially engaged.” She holds up her battered hand. The diamond on her third finger catches in the sunlight.
            “No—on our honeymoon.” I nuzzle her neck. “You little liar.”
            “You backed me up.” She tries to get my lips again but can’t reach.
            “What else could I do?”
            “Let me have your tongue back.”
            I move my mouth to her ear and whisper, “Not until you can follow it up with more action.”
            “Party pooper.”
            A lopsided grin breaks out on her face. “That totally frustrates you?”
            “I’ll have to remember that.”
            I peck her lips one last time. “I won’t let you forget.”



They buried my brother
today. It hangs in the air
between me and Michael

If we don’t speak it,
is it real?
Could it happen
without my words?
My consent?
He’s there in the locker
room, driving the tractor,
dancing with Krystal
wrapped tight in his arms.
Not cold in a coffin
too gruesome too open.
Not slid into a hearse
filled with flowers.
Not lowered into a deep hole
in a place he didn’t want
to rest. Not whispering
at the edges of my soul.
“I’m here, Leesie.
Let me in. I’m here.”

Michael doesn’t bring it up.
Keeps the silence—even
when he tells me about dad.
He sticks by me all day—drinks
half my smoothie, shares his
French fries and does his best
to make this ugly bruised cue ball
so hideous to look at he nearly fainted
feel sexy,

He sits by my bed
while I nap—worn
out by the doctors’
ministrations, Michael’s
attentive encouragement,
and holding this back.

I dream I’m there.
Dream fingers point.
Dream angry faces
screaming condemnation
surround me.
Dream rocks, big ones,
clutched in their hands.
Dream they raise them high
over their heads and no
gentle Savior intercedes,
no quiet voice says,
“He who is without sin.”
The stones fly but I feel
nothing—they form a cairn
around me. I’m entombed,

Hands knock on the outside,
voices call my name—
Michael, my dad—mom—grandma,
even Phil,
and a sweet, strong voice
I know so well.

I block my ears
scream and scream and scream.

Michael wakes me, holds me,
haunted by his own alternate
reality he doesn’t leave me alone
with mine.

The morphine dulls my pain
but doesn’t make me sane.
He does.
We watch movies all night—
stupid ones, funny ones
and one that makes me cry.
Those tears are the best
medicine yet.
And Michael kissing my
fingertips, lotioning
my itching bare head,
sitting on my bed beside me,
sleeping on the sofa
when I wake late the next
morning from a sleep touched
only by dreams
of him. 


  1. It's amazing how different this is from yesterday's post. I loved yesterday's but today's is so much... more. I love it! And what a poem! That's so sad! Poor Leesie! :(

    Thank you for the shout out! :)

  2. I think it's appropriate timing for a leap, even if it's a small one. Maybe to a point where her progress is a little more obvious. I'm loving everything so far, though. :)

  3. I think it's a good time for a leap as well! I want Leese to get better...:) Poor Leesie I'm so sad for her.

  4. Me, too. Michael gets the next scene. He has to figure out what they are going to do all summer. And Leesie will be fine outside the rehab center soon. I think that would be a good scene to leap to. A small leap it is! Thanks!

  5. This poem is hearbreaking. I think you captured the emotions perfectly. It makes me cry.

    Typo: The 'too' in the second verse should be 'to', but I'm guessing you already noticed that.


  6. Ha!!! I learned everything I know about heavy breathing from you.

    Her poem was hauntingly beautiful!

  7. Wonderful. Read it again it was so good. :)

  8. i think your gut wrenching poems are some of your best they are so moving and true! a true tear jerker!