here’s an excerpt from the novel i’m writing for national novel writing month (NaNoWriMo). it’s raw and unedited, just the way i wrote it. 19,391 words and counting …
“next thing i can recall is a bed, the softest, most comfortable bed i’ve ever slept in. there were blankets all over, so soft and so colourful, there must have been at least 6. all very light and clean-smelling. and the pillows! big and poofy, a whole bunch, and the bed was big but not too big, and there were stuffies all over, my favourite ones, too! all cats and birds. that’s kinda strange, don’t you think, strange and amazing and i loved it. and the room, it was so cute! windows all over and the sun shining in and it was warm and so, so cozy. the person who had picked me up, he came in once in a while, and everytime he did, or she, really, i could never figure it out, this cat came in, too, big and gray and fluffy. always smelling of patchouli. the person, i mean.
there was – love. yes, it’s true, there was love. somewhere. in the house. in the food. i felt it. and the cat, she had love, too. then there was a big bird somewhere, a raven maybe? and a turtle. and love. i’ve often wondered since then, what kind of love was that? i mean, there was no sex. i couldn’t even figure out, ever, whether that person was a guy or a woman. but she kept bringing me food and put stuff on my leg and on my back, and it just didn’t hurt anymore, i have no idea how she did that. pills, too, some pretty potent sleeping pills but not the kind that makes you feel awful when you wake up the next day.
what kind of love was that? it felt big and real, like bread maybe.”
“love like bread?,” asked lu, incredulously. “what happened to the mansion?”
“weren’t you in a mansion?”
“well, when you got picked up, weren’t you in a mansion?”
“who said that?”
“robin, i think.”
“robin? what does he know about this?”
“he said burke had told him.”
“burke? that’s not what i told him. he’s full of it. there was no mansion. just this nice person and the rook and the bed and the cat and stuff.”
“and love like bread,” snorted lu.
“you leave her alone!” all of a sudden mohan’s index finger was in lu’s face. “it was love, and it was like bread.”
“yeah, like bread. now that i think of it, that’s what jesus talks about, isn’t it? in the bible? the bread is his body, and that means he loves people. maybe it was like that. i’m not sure what that means. i have to think about it. hey, tomas!”
she waved at a thin, tall man standing at the entrance to the room. “tomas, come over here!”
the man detached himself from the dirty wall – everything was dirty, or at least dirty looking because it was so old and used, the walls, the furniture, the door, the floor, the dishes, and often enough the people – and ambled over to the three of them, gangly, black-clad arms dangling, black hair falling into his hawk-nosed face. big brown eyes. big mouth, big teeth.
“what’s up, ella? hey lu, hey mohan.”
the two others nodded.
“tell me, when jesus broke bread, was that his body, and was that love?”
“absolutely! everything that jesus did was love.”
ella looked at lu with a look that was both confused and triumphant.
“jesus is the embodiment of love. therefore everything he does is love. jesus was born to embody love. love needed to be seen and felt, and jesus came to this earth. that’s why his parents sent him.”
“his parents?” now ella really was confused.
“see, when they say it was his father that sent him, that was because they did not want to tell the truth. but think about it – how can he have a father and not a mother? they made love, like, they MADE it, the way guy over there makes coffee and they gave it to people but often they didn’t understand it, so that’s why they sent jesus. he told me so.”
“right. right.” ella slurped some coffee and said nothing for a while. then, “well, thanks, tomas. you cleared that up for me.”
the four of them were quiet for a while. lu looked around a little lost, wondering what was going to happen next.
“love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. love never ends.”
more coffee slurping.
“st. paul, first corinthians”, added tomas with a helpful smile.
“in that way, love is like the bread that jesus keeps breaking with us. it never ends. you don’t see bread being boastful or resentful.”
having given this proof, tomas smiled even more broadly.
mohan didn’t say much but he wasn’t stupid. he liked tomas, everyone did, but – “bread believes all things?” how was tomas going to explain that one?
“well, bread is a metaphor for love. of course, as a metaphor, it can’t cover everything. metaphors are good for illustrating concepts but a metaphor is not the same thing as the thing it illustrates. it is similar to a simile – i know, that sounds a little confusing – in that a simile performs mestoctomal economics that prefer silvicultural anomies. marx said that – “
that’s where the three saw themselves forced to stop listening. tomas was a wonderful guy, friendly, helpful, well educated, extremely intelligent. the illness had struck him as he was starting his PhD in theology at the tender age of 22. he went in and out of it, from moment to moment, he’d have a clear head for months on end and then one day it would strike him, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, then he might go back and forth a few times within an hour. it was completely unpredictable.
a minute or two into his incomprehensible monologue, tomas stopped talking. he just sat there, looking off into space, his mind occupied by the complicated tangles of his inner world.
“you know, in a way, tomas is right. what he said about love is perfect and kind and refreshing – “
“not resentful,” that was mohan, back to muttering but still paying attention.
“well, yeah, whatever, not resentful but refreshing, too. what happened there in that room, it refreshed me, that’s for sure. i can’t believe in god the way tomas did and i can’t believe that that guy or woman or whatever he or she was spent a lot of time in church – actually, i was always wondering whether she was some sort of good witch – but what happened there, that was love.
we didn’t talk much, we didn’t talk much at all. i didn’t feel like it at first and by the time i would have liked to we already had some sort of rhythm, the little guy coming in, dressing my back, checking my ankle, bringing me food and something to drink, the cat jumping on my bed, all that, and all we’d say would be how are you, how did you sleep, here, you have to finish this, it’ll help you get better, that’s it. for some reason i never asked for her name. she also put a CD player in my room that played all the music i liked, i don’t know how she, or he, figured that one out. maybe i said something about it at the beginning.”
“so what happened in the end? are you still in touch with, uh, whoever it was?”
“oh no. i have no idea where they live. i don’t think it’s here. for some reason i think it was out on the sunshine coast.”
“sunshine coast? so, how did you get back down here? did you take the ferry?”
“it gets a little fuzzy, i don’t know. remember i was still stoned most of the time back then, really until i met mohan, you know. no it’s just the occasional beer and joint but back then –“
“what? she’d give you stuff? crack?”
“no, no, but still, it’s all a bit fuzzy. really, i think it was on the sunshine coast because it all reminds me of that trip my aunt took me on when i was 9. that was the best trip i ever had, the best summer i ever had, and the place was like that.”