Why, yes, I am still alive…

Apologies for the long silence. November is my second busiest work month, and adding all the catch-up after my week off and trying to do Nanowrimo has kept me buried. Huge apologies to anyone waiting for the newsletter–it will be out tomorrow, now I’ve hit fifty thousand words on my Nanowrimo project.

Heh. Fifty thousand words. A whole day early and without any all-nighters. It’s not the first time I’ve won, but this feels like a victory, not least because I struggled so much with it last year. I’ve written almost all of a standalone ghost story set on the Yorkshire coast. I’m not quite there yet (I reckon the final draft will come in at just under 60k), but I well into the final sequence.

If you fancy a peep at The Sea Has Many Voices, there’s a little bit from early in the story under the cut. It’s a bit rough and unpolished, but it will give you a glimpse of the guys I’ve spent the last month with. I’ve become quite fond of them. Here they’re waiting in Siôn’s holiday cottage to see the ghost that keeps appearing at sunrise (parts of this may only make sense if you’re a Brit).

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Siôn’s breath caught as he realized what Mattie was looking at. Siôn had made full use of the shelving and space in the studio to store paper, paints and framing supplies. He had one piece from the previous day still drying, although it only needed half an hour more, and another awaiting a second layer of sealing spray. Framed and finished pieces were stacked along every free bit of wall.

“This is…” Mattie said, his voice slow as he moved around, looking at everything with fascination. “I thought you were just a holidaymaker, but this is professional. Is this your job?”

“No,” Siôn said reluctantly. “Just a hobby. One I’ve invested in, obviously.”

“It should be more,” Mattie said, drawing to a halt before the drying piece. Siôn had been pleased with this one—had felt for once that he had caught some of that quality of early light and morning mist, of the contrast between the gleaming waters of the still bay and the rough, exposed shore at low tide. “This is… wow.”

Siôn knew he was blushing, tried to scold himself for being so vain, but Mattie’s open wide-eyed admiration of his work was warming him from the toes up. “I’ve, er, exhibited,” he said awkwardly. “Just locally, of course, and I sell a few pieces.”

“So you’re a real artist?”

“Everyone who creates is a real—”

Mattie snorted. “Yeah, yeah, and everyone with a youtube channel actually deserves to be famous. Lol.”

“People say that out loud?” Siôn asked, bewildered and horrified, and then realised he’d been rude. “Oh, I’m sorry—”

Mattie laughed, his eyes bright. “I thought you were from London, mate, not the 1950s.”

Siôn’s lip twitched despite himself. That easy laughter was infectious. “I wish I could claim that I’m a deliberate anachronism, but I’m afraid I’m just terribly unfashionable.”

Mattie narrowed his eyes at him, but he was still grinning. “No worries. I won’t judge you if you want to sit up in your carpet slippers and listen to Radio 4 all night.”

“What’s wrong with Radio 4?” Siôn protested. “Everybody likes Radio 4—the Archers, Mattie! Desert Island Discs. The Shipping Forecast! How could anybody hate the Shipping Forecast?”

Mattie was laughing so hard he was hugging himself.

“And for the record,” Siôn said, feeling his own laughter come bubbling up, “I wouldn’t recognise a pair of carpet slippers if they jumped up and bit me.”

Mattie whooped, and Siôn’s own laughter broke out of him, a little hoarse and rusty, because he couldn’t remember the last time he’d done more than smile politely at a joke. Mattie, though, dancing on the spot as laughter exploded out of him, was so compelling that Siôn couldn’t help himself.

“Oh, god,” Mattie hiccoughed. “Sorry—just, your face. The Archers!” And he was gone again, stumbling over to the sofa to crash down on it and writhe with laughter. His t-shirt rode up, revealing a flash of flat, pale belly. Siôn, already flushed and alive with laughter, suddenly wondered how else he could get Mattie writhing with delight on his sofa.

But he was too old for someone as alive and joyous as Mattie—too old, too damaged, too plain. The thought sobered him and he held out a hand to Mattie. “Come on. I may be old and boring, but I can at least offer you a beer since you’ve come to stay in my haunted house.”

Mattie managed to swallow the last of his laughter and accepted Siôn’s hand up. “Coffee might be better, if you’ve got some. If I sleep now, I’ll be out until breakfast, so I might as well make an all nighter of it. Want to join me?”

“No,” Siôn said dryly. “I thought I’d go and sleep comfortably in my bed while you sat around down here by yourself and played solitaire.”

“Don’t let me keep you up, seriously. I’m just no good at mornings.”

“It won’t be the first sleepless night I’ve had,” Siôn said, quite honestly. “There isn’t a telly, but I’ve got some films on my laptop. If that doesn’t appeal, I’m sure we could find some interesting way to pass the time.”

“I’m sure we could,” Mattie said with a cheerful leer and a waggle of his eyebrows.

Siôn blushed again, to his dismay, because he knew his whole face would be turning scarlet, right up to the tips of his ears. “Cards!” he yelped. “I have a pack of cards, and there are board games, I think.”

“Shame,” Mattie said and winked at him. “Let me know if you change your mind.” And he vanished down the stairs as Siôn was still trying to work out how to respond to that.

© Amy Rae Durreson 2015

 

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