A New Novel in the Making
I'm working on a new novel. Here's the 23rd chapter of it. Let me know what you think about it. You find a Facebook comment form below the text. I post each new chapter when it is completed. The first chapter is here: Chapter One
It Sounds Trite
When Caroline opens the door, her parents stand waiting for her in the hallway. Their faces are stern. As Caroline starts taking off her jacket, Ruth says sharply:
"Caroline, we have to talk!"
"Fine," Caroline says and hangs up her jacket. "How long have you been standing here?"
"We saw you coming," Ruth replies impatiently and marches to the living room.
Caroline follows, and so does her father. They sit down in the couch, her parents on each side of her. There are two coffee mugs on the table in front of the sofa, both empty, and a plate with a few chocolate chip cookies. The TV is on, showing an old black and white movie, but Ruth snaps the remote control and turns it off as soon as she sits down. The sudden silence lasts for a few seconds.
"We know what you've been through, of course," Ruth resumes. "So, we've been lenient these last weeks, allowing you a lot of freedom. But enough is enough. It's midnight!"
Caroline checks her watch.
"Not for another half-hour."
"None of that, Caroline!" George butts in, almost with a bark.
"Tomorrow is a school day," her mother continues, ignoring her comment. "And why didn't you call? Something could have happened to you. We had no idea. Did something happen?"
"I just forgot the time. I'm sorry."
Ruth stares at her in silence for a little while.
"Have you been drinking?"
Ruth leans her face closer to Caroline.
"Let me smell your breath."
Ruth waves her hand like a fan between them. Caroline sighs.
"Nothing," Ruth mumbles.
"Are you happy now? I could have told you."
"Still, I can see you're not alright. Just look at your pale face and your bloodshot eyes. You're not treating yourself well. What are you up to? We only see you at breakfast and dinner. What are you doing to yourself?"
Ruth's voice has turned from anger to a tone of suppressed despair. It surprises Caroline. She blinks rapidly a few times.
"Mom, I'm alright. I promise. I've just had a lot to think about."
Ruth turns her face away to hide its saddened expression, but Caroline has already spotted it. George moves uncomfortably on his side of the sofa. He reaches for one of the coffee mugs, but puts it down again when he sees that it is empty.
"We've all had a lot to think about," Ruth says, staring emptily at the black TV screen. "That's not likely to change any time soon. We just have to go on with our lives. Together. We need to support each other, we need to stick together. I know it sounds, well, trite. But there you are. That's what we need to do to get through it." She turns to Caroline. Her eyes are wide open. "Am I right?"
Caroline just nods. So does George, still with his eyes on the empty coffee mug.
"So, Caroline, please don't go into hiding. Don't shun us. How can we be the support and comfort you need, if you do? You're our daughter. That means everything. We're here for you, and we always will be, no matter what. I hope you know that in your heart. I know we've not been that good at showing it, these weeks, although you must have needed it more than ever. We've all sort of retreated into our shells, struggling with the pain on our own. I'm sorry. I guess it's what happens, at first. But we have to snap out of it. We must."
She pauses. Caroline and George both wait in silence.
"We need you, too, you know," Ruth continues. "The only way we're going to get through this is together, as a family." The hint of a frail smile appears on her lips. "Oh, it does sound trite, doesn't it?"
"It does," Caroline confirms, returning her smile such as it is.
In the corner of her eye she sees George getting tense, his shoulders rising and his eyebrows moving to meet.
"That's life," Caroline adds.
Ruth's smile widens. She chuckles.
"It sure is, sometimes. What can you do?"
All the chapters posted so far: