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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The very last Michael dive log I'll ever write!

Writing that title made me teary-eyed. But it's so true. This is the last time I'll dip into Michael's mind and scoop out a scene. Wow. Michael's first words came to me in a free write at my first residency at Vermont College in 2002. I've spent nine years with him and Leesie. And now it's all coming to an end. I promise I won't take forever revising because I know you all want your own beautiful copy of the book, but it's going to be hard to let go of this one.

Here it is, the last scene. Thank you all, again, for each step you've taken with me and Michael and Leesie.


MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME 14
Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  ??
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Depth:  
Visibility: 
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  
Comments:

            As we drive away from the reception, man and wife, alone for the first time since we vowed to love each other forever, I try to stay calm, cool, but my heart—that I used to be able to slow at will free diving, beats so hard it pulses in my fingertips. My palms sweat. I grip the steering wheel way too hard. Good thing Leesie’s blindfolded. If she saw what a wreck I am, she might want to trade me back in.
            She’s sniffing the air like a bloodhound, trying to figure out where we’re going. I cut through a subdivision to disorient her.
            “Can I let my hair down?” She wore it up all day. It’s long again. She grew it out the whole time I was serving in Brazil. I felt like I’d stepped through a time warp when she met me at the plane with her hair long and gorgeous, catching the sun like the first time I caught her staring at me in physics.
            I pat her knee. “If you promise not to peak.”
            “That’s big of you. The hairpins kill.” She holds the blindfold to her eyes with one hand, slips the elastic loose with the other—pulls pins out and throws them at me.
            “Ow! Are you peaking?”
            She shakes her freed hair, combs her fingers through it, finding more pins, and shakes her head again. The car fills with the smell of hairspray and a tiny hint of her sweet banana mango shampoo.
            “Do you know what you’re doing to me?”
            “Who me?” She slips the blindfold elastic back around her head and folds her hands in her lap.
            We stop at a red light. “Get over here, then.”
            She’s in my lap in a second. We make out until the car behind us blares its horn. I keep her close, drive the rest of the way with one hand and my arm around her, worrying she’ll recognize the highway we’re on, but she chew on my fingers instead of playing bloodhound.
            I turn off the highway onto a gravel road, relieved we’re almost there.  When I slow way down and turn right onto a bumpy dirt road, she sits up straight. “This isn’t the airport.” She elbows my ribs. “Roll down your window.”
            I obey. Pines lining each side of the road invade their car with their sharp sweet scent.
            She sniffs. Sniffs again. “This is our lake road—at Windy Bay.”
            I hold my breath.
            “It’s washed out. Dad said—” She hits my thigh. “You got my dad to lie?”
            I move my hand from her shoulders to the steering wheel. Even in good condition this road is dicey.
            “We’re going to our lake?”
            Yeah, babe. Don’t you remember our first date here?
            “We’re camping”—her voice rises in pitch—“tonight?”
            I wish for a video camera and bite my cheeks to keep from losing it.
            “Did you rent a swank RV?” She fiddles with her blindfold. “Buy a cool sail boat?”
            I keep silent.
            “Not a tent, Michael. Please.”
            As soon as the car stops, she rips off the blindfold and climbs out over me. She stops dead in her tracks when she sees the lights. She spins around. “You did this?”
            My eyes move from her to the cabin and back to her astonished face. “I wanted to do something for your family—to make up for—you know.” A pre-fab log cabin on their empty water front lake lot won’t bring back their son, but it makes me feel less guilty for stealing their daughter.
            Leesie bows her head and wipes her eyes.
            I close the distance between us in a stride and scoop her up like I did when she was hurt. I haven’t picked her up like this since then. I sense she’s awash in the same memories that flood through me.
            “I love you.” She snuggles her face against my neck.
            I inhale her hair and carry her towards the lit cabin.
            “Wait.”
            “What?”
            “I need my shoulder bag from the back seat.”
            “Why?”
            “I have a surprise, too.”
            I carry her back to the car, get the bag, slide the strap on my shoulder—all without putting her down.
            I carry her into the cabin. “Do you want a tour now?”
            “No.” She chews on my neck.
            I head upstairs.
            “Was that Gram’s couch in the living room?”
            “I couldn’t pitch her stuff. Your dad stored it at the farm when we rented Gram’s house.”
            Her lips press against my cheek. “I like that.”
            I open the door to our “honeymoon suite.” The big window and king-size four-poster bed are draped with white gauzy stuff. The bed’s made up with a six-inch thick down comforters and piled with cushy pillows.
            “This is beautiful.” Leesie squirms out of my arms, takes her bag, and disappears into the bathroom. A high-pitched, muffled, “Look at that tub,” comes from inside.
            I sit down on an armchair by the window, take off my tie, slip off my polished black dress shoes, stare at the closed bathroom door, grip the arms of the chair to keep myself from breaking it down. The sound of my heartbeat echoes in my ears. I’m sweating. I close my eyes, inhale deep. Hold it. Exhale. My eyes fly open at the sound of a turning door knob.
            Leesie hesitates in the doorway. She wears the long silk skirt I bought for her in a Thailand market and a bra-top made of turquoise shells and beads that I’ve never seen. The Cayman-colored shell necklace I gave her there hangs around her neck. My diamond on her finger flashes in the bright light coming from the bathroom.
            Her cheeks flush rosy. “I packed for our island.”
            “I love it.” I cross the room—take her hands—kiss her fingertips, her fingers, each palm—turn her left hand over and find those faint scars that fit my fingernails, kiss them one by one.
            We sink to our knees. She bows her head onto my shoulder. I bury my hands in her thick, fragrant hair and offer our first married prayer, whispered thanks that she’s mine forever.
            I gather her into my arms and carry her to the bed. “Are you scared?”
            Her eyes are big, but she whispers, “No.” She reaches for my lips. “Are you?”
            My eyebrows rise. “Terrified.”
            Her lips find mine, and our embrace yields to the passion we’ve held back for years. “Don’t worry”—she’s breathless as I lay her on the bed—“I’ll let you up for good behavior.”
            She pulls me down beside her, and             I’m enveloped in silk, beads, long hair, and Leesie.

THE END


38 comments:

  1. Aww- I can't believe it.... Such a beautiful ending-- I want more though!!!

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  2. I am thankfull that you decided to do this for the last book.
    I love this very much.. Everydayy i waited for a new post. I wish it could go on forever !
    Angela I love you !!!!!
    i cant wait for you next book !
    P.S you should add at least an extra page before the end..^_^

    when does the book come out ?
    im going to pre order it
    and buy the whole series !
    I LOVE YOU ANGELA MORRISON !

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  3. Thanks so much Bandi and Nora. I'm not sure when the book will come out. I'll be posting my revisions here. Because it's a print on demand book, Nora, you won't be able to pre-order it. Unless I figure out PayPal and take order for signed copies via my website and on the blog.

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  4. You are amazing Angela. I LOVED it. I'm so sad it's over, but I'm SO thrilled with the ending and the happiness that they both deserved. I love happy endings, sad endings are hard for me...:) This was beautiful and everything I imagined it would be and more. Michael and Leesie are always going to have a special place in my heart. Thanks for letting me be a part of this journey with you...it has been incredible.

    P.S.- I agree with Nora and Brandi about adding an extra page before the end. ;)

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  5. Thanks, Chaleese!

    I'm sorry, girls. They need their privacy. The end is THE END!!!

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  6. I'm totally crying here. I loved being able to read your book in little snippets. Thanks for letting me be a part of such a wonderful journey.

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  8. The end of a beautiful journey. I remember the first time I read Taken By Storm and what I wished for the characters that I love. I never expected to LOVE them as much as I do. In a way is really sad to leave them but I’m happy that my wish came true. I’m writing these words with tears in my eyes and with gratitude in my heart. Angela I admire you beyond words … THANK YOU for this beautiful journey; is being lovely and spiritual. I wish to have the right words to tell you how much it means to me but I’m a little speechless. Thank YOU!!!

    _____________________________

    PS/ About the extra page I think I agree they need their privacy BUY it can be after the honey moon, they in the lake or something like that (like they are looking into the future). I don’t know but I was thinking THE END it was going to be a Leesie poem because the previous books ended with one of her poems.

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  9. Thanks CK and Michelle! I'm glad you were both along for the journey.

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  10. What a beautiful, fitting ending! I so love a happy ending. I love Leesie's panic at the thought of camping. :-) The only thing I was hoping for was for Michael to say more about how he had changed over the past 3 years since his baptism and mission.
    Thank you again for sharing your journey -- I'm looking forward to seeing how the revision process goes.

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  11. Oh freaking gorgeous.
    I LOVE this!
    I love the mention that takes you back to STORM -"the first time I caught her staring at me in physics"

    Thank you for this, Angela! It's been fantastic to see Leesie and Michael getting the happily ever after they deserve so much.

    And the last line? PERFECTION.

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  12. Gayle, Good suggestion. I think it needs a line or two like that, too. I'm glad you want to follow the revisions.

    Bee, Thanks for all you did to champion Unbroken Connection. I might never ha ve written Cayman Summer if not for you and Michelle!

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  13. Again I am so disappointed. I feel like Angela wanted to get the non members interested so she could baptize them by the 3rd book... Her writing TOTALLY changed, which is strange... AND very sad at the same time. She captivated me in the 1st 2 books. In Cayman Summer there was too much of Unnecessary church dialoge that I think should be kept in special setting you have in a CHURCH enviroment. Grr, it Ruined a could be great trilogy". Sorry.
    HJ

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  14. I can't remember the last time i read a book chapter by chapter i was reluctant to read the blog sure i would rather wait for the book to come out but I'm so glad i changed my mind reading this as you write it has been amazing! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. p.s. this ending is perfect i LOVE it and believe me it is RARE for me to love an ending.

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  15. will there be a never before seen in the book when it comes out ?
    because iam CRAVING for some more books badly

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  16. Adding to the last comment: Yes, I want to know how many kids they are going to have? I know I'm weird, but I just wonder? :)

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  19. Anonymous (HJ):

    I respect your opinion because the beautiful thing about literature is the diversity of opinions BUT I have to disagree. The concept of a book series is always based on building “something”, for example: the Twilight series was building to the hype of Bella turning into a vampire. From the beginning of the Taken By Storm series it was about Michael’s journey to something he admires but he didn’t fully understand. Even if we go back to the first time Michel went to a member activity with Leesie back in TBS, he saw how families were so happy and he had a moment of reflection. With every chapter of the series, Michael is changing and it was palpable in UB that he was not the same guy we met at the beginning of TBS. In every “hero’s journey” in literature there is always a “catalyst” that sets in motion the events of that “SOMETHING” in the series; in this case, when Leesie got spiritually lost. That was the moment when the beginning of the end on the journey began for the hero of this story. For me his change was natural, as a reader I NEVER felt his “character voice” getting lost, on the contrary, every chapter was like I knew him more and more like a friend. Since TBS I expected this outcome and I think the author was clever to let the readers know from the beginning the route of the journey. Something I really believe is that Morrison is not preachy at all. I’m not a member of the Mormon Church, I’m a member of another church, but I never think too much about the “etiquettes”, at the end we believe in the same GOD. I don’t think Leesie’s story is about a religious propaganda at all, but it certainly is a spiritual story full of heart, hope and redemption. What I don’t understand is that I read books where girls give out their mortality and their souls to be with guys and people love that kind of stories that have cero spiritual values, but when we have the honor to read a story of the nature of redemption some readers like to use terms like “religious propaganda”. Is that fair? It will be a more beautiful or fitting ending if Michael will never believe in God and Leesie gave up her believes to sleep with a guy? I don’t think so. Like Leesie told Kim in UB: “you are thinking about his body I want his soul”. This story is about the journey of two souls who love each other deeply and how far they will fight and grow for their forever. To summarize I think Morrison leaves her characters and the place they were meant to be and as a reader I truly feel that this series was constructed to end where it ends.

    Sincerely
    Michelle

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  20. Michelle, that was genius. Perfect. I could not agree more. :D

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  21. I have to agree with HJ. Taken and Unbroken kept me on the edge of my seat. Cayman Summer fell short of any excitement. The characters bothered me pretty much the entire time. (Although Leesie was never my favorite to begin with) Micheal gave up everything for Leesie, she gave up nothing. Maybe that is something women wish their men would do for them, but it is one sided and falls short of what a real relationship is. Michael used to captivate me with the other two books. (Angela created a masterpiece when she developed his character which to me disappeared within this book...) He was why I loved the other books so much, he was fun, exciting, live on the edge kind of guy... Almost untouchable which brought on the excitement. I never felt that way in reading Cayman. Through reaching the point of conversion, other traits that he possessed that made me love him so much (and were not BAD in any way) disappeared and to me he was lost. We all have our opinions, which I am sure Angela Morrison appreciates as an author. Controversy is actually a good thing in writing. I was so excited to read along with her during the Cayman journey, I wish it wasn't such a huge disappointment.

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  22. I still don’t get why people think Michael gave up? What? He was a guy who was emotionally, spiritually and immerse in a HUGE depression when Leesie met him. He was at the point to collapse. He didn’t even have moral boundaries; he was a guy who lived for the free ride. That didn’t make him bad but in TBS he has his “jerk” moments with Leesie. Did I miss his old behavior? Certainly not. I think a character that doesn’t grow and change is not worth it … seriously. The art of good writing is keeping it real as much as possible and Michal and Leesie grew like real persons. Some mentioned that Leesie didn’t give up anything; I think she gave up a LOT. From the beginning TBS, her fear was she was going to lose the person she loves or the reason (her beliefs) she lived for. I think it was quite a journey but it’s not an ordinary one, it was a spiritual journey for both. For Leesie was about faith and for Michael, it was about believing and growing. At the beginning we have a character that was a little jerk, with cero ambitions who ruled his life thinking sex equals love. At the end he have a character who believed in something eternal, who works for a future with not only what his parents left for him, but with his own merits. A boy who loves a girl more than life and demonstrates that NOT by converting to a religion but with the respect and devotion he has for her. What I feel and I think some don’t get is the conversion was never about Leesie, it was his journey and he didn’t believe because someone force him to believe, on the contrary, he learned because Leesie shows with her character that redemption’s nature is always there on someone if they know a heart dedicated to God to give you the opportunity. It was her example among others what put Michael in the position to know more ,to want more and the moment the truth touches your heart there’s no way you can let go, at least I couldn’t do it back in my time and Michael either. At the end the only think Michael gave up was his immature self and his childish ways, so that is not bad at all because by living that in the past, he became the man he was suppose to be; a GREAT man. To summarize my admiration for Angela is beyond words; her loyalty to her readers is amazing. She could be working on books which could be published in a second (I hope she is dong that too /haha/) but she is giving us this gift, she wrote this book for us, the fans of the series. She delivers this last journey with such a heart and what is the most beautiful thing; she was truthfully to her heart as an artist and the character she created years ago. At least I feel this way about how these characters came to life and they are friends whom I’m deeply sad to say goodbye because of how real they are. At that my fellow bloggers is the key to good writing.

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  23. First, Michelle, thank you for such a spirited defense! That was beautifully put, and I deeply appreciate it.

    Next, HJ and J&N, I think your criticism is valid. The outcome I planned for CAYMAN SUMMER is probably one of the reasons Razorbill backed off publishing the rest of Leesie and Michael's saga. The potential for it to be overly-religious is there. I didn't write this to convert anyone, but Michael's journey reflects the truths that are in my heart--and that is very religious. Michael provided a balance and counterpoint to Leesie's faith in the other two books, but as his journey became more outwardly a conversion in CAYMAN SUMMER, those of you who identified more with him could feel betrayed. If you weren't rooting for him to change or even for them to stay together, I can see how CS would disappoint you.

    I'm not sure how to fix that. I'll think about it as I revise. Because I'm publishing this myself, I felt a lot of freedom to include as much authentic religious detail and experience as I wanted to use. I tried not to get bogged down in minutiae or get preachy. I just wanted to present the story as my heart envisions it.

    Not having to answer to an editor, publisher, book buyers in major chains, or critics at Kirkus and SLJ allowed me to follow my own instincts and celebrate the things I love. But I do have to answer to my readers. I appreciate all of you who have enjoyed this final journey. I'm sorry to those of you who've felt let down. I don't think it's possible to please you all. I wish I could.

    I will work hard as I revise to keep Michael as exciting as he ever was. I do think I lost some of that in this draft.

    But as I said earlier, I've got sad-ending fatigue syndrome. I want to write that happy ending. And this is the happiest ending I can imagine. I would be false to my artistic vision and inner truth to deny that.

    I don't know if I'll ever get to write a happy ending again. They are probably not commercial. So I'm going to enjoy this one!

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  24. I am so happy that you followed your instincts with this book and the ending. Like I have said many times before, I love a happy ending. I have read SO many books, and the ones with a happy ending are by far my favorite. I read to escape from this world, and into a new and exciting place. To forget what is troubling me or what struggles I am going through. Happy endings make me want to keep reading. Thank you for this. Thank you for making me want to keep reading Angela. You are amazing.

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  25. Thanks, Chaleese. I got a disappointment today that had me feeling sorry for myself. Your comment helped me remember why I write. For readers like you.

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  26. My 0.2 cents: (Mostly addressed to Jake and Nicole and HJ)

    If you knew me personally, you'd know I'm a religious cynic. I'd be farthest away from preach-texts, just so you know. Which also means that before TAKEN BY STORM I hardly had any clue about Mormon-ism. But the book stuck with me and became such a favourite because in spite of the religious angle to it, it never got preachy. I think that made it unique. Leesie and Michael had a special story, one that I needed to hear more of, and I was elated when despite of facing so many hurdles, Angela decided to bring out UNBROKEN CONNECTION and consecutively share CAYMAN SUMMER on this blog. And I think this last book has been written with a lot of insight into what is best for the characters. I admit there were times when the church-talk sort of flew over my head, but with the progression of the book, I figured where it was going. CAYMAN SUMMER is like a coming-of-age story of Michael. The Michael who was broken and battered in STORM finds himself in SUMMER, and I think in many ways this is what this book is about. I don't think Michael had to give up anything for Leesie. Leesie was willing to marry him without a conversion. Michael did what he did out of his own will. That's where is found himself. I think as readers, we need to hold our sense of judgement sometimes, and just try to understand the characters. You might not do what Michael did, but the decision was his, and you have to accept it as his.

    As for happy endings, well, most of the time, when things come together in the last chapter alone and everybody's living 'happily ever after', it makes me go, 'meh'. But you have to look at the context. Michael and Leesie have been through so much. These three books have been a test of time and so much more, they deserved the ending they got here. I think nothing could have been more suitable for their story. It's a very realistic one.

    And I'm so proud of Angela for sticking with her instincts, for not being swayed in the face of naysayers and telling Leesie and Michael's story AS SHE SAW IT. Because, lets face it, yeah, writers can't do without readers, but whe somebody writes a story, they write first for themselves, and then for the rest. Because the story you write is the story YOU want to read. Whether somebody likes or dislikes it, would be an added boon or bane, but the writer's own beliefs come foremost.

    I'm sorry for rambling so much, but I just wanted to say, that in spite of my own personal religious beliefs, I think this book couldn't have gone more perfectly. I LOVE this book. And I'm so proud of Angela and the stories she tells.

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  27. Thank you, Bee. Ramble anytime you want. You made me cry! Thank you for sticking with Leesie, Michael and me through thick and thin.

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  29. J&N, I do appreciate your frank criticism. And the discussion it provoked. Please, don't feel like you can't speak up. I think several readers addressed their comments to you and HJ as a way to continue the discussion. I don't think anyone expects you to change your mind. But your critique got people thinking--does Cayman Summer work or not? What should I modify as I revise it? Thanks for sparking the dialogue. That's very valuable to me.

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  30. J&N and HJ:

    What is happening here is GREAT because it shows the power of literature; the different ways to interpret the same novel. I think is GREAT. Like I mentioned before I don't agree but I respect your opinions ;)

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  31. I second, Michelle. I think your opinions are equally valued.

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  32. I'm so happy about how this book turned out! The series is so unique and brave, I know I won't ever forget or compare it to any other. And because it's affected me so much, I would have been pretty heartbroken if Michael and Leesie hadn't ended up together! Also, I'm glad Michael went on a mission. If he hadn't, I would have though him being baptized wasn't sincere but that made things more realistic, which I appreciated. On a side note, will there be anything to clue us in on where they'll end up living, how many kids they'll have, etc. or will that be left to our imagination? :)

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  33. Jenna:

    We are screaming for an Epilogue some years after the end /haha/. It's hard to say goodbye.

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  34. I know, I want to know how many kids they will have, where they will live, etc. Please! :)

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  35. is it weird that every time i come here to see what you posted i RE-READ this. I keep have this feeling that i want to visit Michael and Leesie and see how they are doing.. Call me weird but its the truth.<3

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  36. Nora, I don't think that's weird. I take it as a compliment! Thank you. Hey, you won a copy of UNBROKEN CONNECTION in my contest. I asked people to contact me by Feb. 20th to claim their prizes, but if you'll email me, I'll still give it to you. You can access my email via my website--but it's on the contest page, too.

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  37. i did email you
    and thank you again :)
    if you still didnt get it
    my email is nora_alwayz@yahoo.com

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