Word Count: 15,013 / 50,000
Yesterday I decided that my character's semi-love interest (more like a crush that is allowed to have a moment), who screwed up in said moment, was going to turn into a good guy and come back and apologise. I did this for a few reasons: one, I kind of liked him too (I never fail to fall in love with my MC's love interests) and I wanted to redeem himself, and two, if I didn't give him at least one more scene, his presence in the novel would be sort of unnecessary. As much as I liked the scene I had written between my MC (Lyddie) and him, there was no reason for it.
So I'm happily typing away at this new scene and I'm really liking it. It's working out, both characters end up in a good, believeable place at the end... but then my bubble was burst. Because the whole reason Lyddie was even at the dance with him was to get her out of her house so something bad could happen there... towards the end of the book. After that, it was all action-packed drama and then the conclusion of the novel. My heart broke- there was no way I could get this new scene in there, not with the pace of the scene after the dance.
But the more I looked at the new scene (and the next scene I wrote between Lyddie and her guy... because I couldn't stop) the more I saw its value. A huge theme in the book is whether relationships are valueable enough to preserve over a family duty that must be performed, and Lyddie didn't have enough exposure to anything beyonf family relationships and friendships. Both of these are very valid, but the reason certain things happen in Lyddie's life is because of her mother's choices about other relationships. Lyddie couldn't begin to understand, for better or worse, why someone would make that kind of sacrifice because she had no life experiences to have that understanding. I need this in my novel, and while I'm 80% sure that I'm going to include this newly formed relationship, there are three catches to this:
a) It's going to include a complete reworking of scenes, which I'm perfectly willing to do, but I also have to get my word count up each day as well as reorganization.
b) Lyddie is seventeen and a crush that forms into an only semi-serious relationship (there will be no purple prose in my book, for many reasons). While I would never claim that someone couldn't find true love at seventeen, it might not be true love here. It's just a strong "like."
And c) Lyddie, at this point, has more experience with a boy than I do. I've actually gone beyond my own understanding of a romantic relationship already, and it' going to be hard for me to take it further as far as even emotions go, simply because... I don't know. This is embarrassing for a twenty year old to admit. Let't get off the subject and look at today's WIP.
So what you need to know is that Lyddie's mother has been out of her life since she was six. Lyddie has deduced from the behavior of her father and aunt that her mother ran off for her own personal desires. Whether this is true or not is revealed at the end of the novel, but Lyddie is pretty bitter about what she believes to be true.
“Before we go onto our next test, Lyddie, I wanted to ask you a few questions.”
For the first time, Dr. Philips seems unsure. “About… your mother.”
I blink. Aunt Kelly must have given him a heads up. Otherwise, how could he have known that this was a sore point with me? I can tell from his expression that he expects me to be ruffled by this and I won’t give him the satisfaction. I sit up straighter and clear my throat. “Okay. What about her?”
Dr. Philips consults a manila folder lying flat on his desk. I want to know what’s written in it, but I can’t see from where I’m sitting. “Well, I know that your mother left you, your father, and your sister when you were six.” He looks up for confirmation.
“Yes…” I mutter grudgingly, hoping he’s not going to check in for my reaction after each fact.
“And then a few months later, your aunt Kelly moved in to help take care of you.” He says it like a statement, but doesn’t move on until I give another perfunctory confirmation. “How did you react to suddenly having another mother figure in your life?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t remember how you felt about another woman stepping into your mother’s place?”
I let out a sigh. “I didn’t see her as stepping into my mother’s place. I was six; for awhile, I didn’t really understand that my mom had even left me. My dad never actually told me what happened, so, for awhile, I just assumed she was on a really long trip.”
Dr. Philips picks up a pen, poised to record my life story. “So how did you find out?”
I raise an eyebrow. “I asked.”
I shrug. “Everyone. Dad. Aunt Kelly. Julie. My teachers. People at the grocery store. Everyone I thought might have seen her.
“And what were you told by your dad and aunt?”
“Well,” I begin. “Every time I asked my dad, he looked like he was about to cry. Sometimes he did, though he always made excuses about dust and allergies. The only thing he would be able to get out was that it wasn’t my fault and I should never blame myself. I wanted to know more, but I didn’t like making him sad, so eventually, I stopped asking him altogether. So I asked my aunt, and she told me that my mom wasn’t able to do her job anymore. I didn’t know what that meant.” I pause, then admit, “I still don’t know what that means.”
Dr. Philips is scribbling in the folder and suddenly I get an idea. “Do you know?” I ask, so suddenly that his pen jerks across the page.
“Well, you’re one of the only outside people that knows about my family and the lanterns – do you know why she left?”
The doctor hesitates for a moment. “Lyddie, I have nothing to tell you about your mother that you don’t already know. As I’ve said, the rules are put in place for a reason. From the outside, the job seems easy, even trivial. But once you’re doing it yourself, you’ll find out that it’s not. Neither is raising a family or even having a serious relationship. Put those together and you have a recipe for disaster.”
“I don’t get it. Why couldn’t I just tell my hypothetical family about the lanterns and get help from them? It would make the job a thousand times easier.”
“So it seems. But something you may not know is that, with each outside person that is told, the security of the lamps diminishes. They took a great risk telling me enough that would allow me to evaluate candidates accurately. So your mother telling your father about them was -”
“Really, really bad.”
“Precisely. And even if she hadn’t, the strain that the lights put on any relationship your mother had would have been difficult. A romantic connection often thrives on experiences, and those are limited when half of the couple is required to work twenty four hours a day. Similarly, any job suffers when there are distractions, and, as you can imagine, a romance or a family is the ultimate distraction.”
“So instead of choosing one over the other, she just bailed. Responsible,” I remark wryly.
Dr. Philips clicks his pen and sighs. “It seems that way, doesn’t it?”
“And that’s it?” I probe. I don’t want to accept that what I’ve been told for the past eleven years is the truth. I guess I wanted to learn that my mom went off to have an adventure. That she was a spy and was called off on a secret mission. Even that she was harboring a secret so grave that she had to run away from everything she knew and start a new life. Anything that rescinds the fact that she abandoned her husband and two young daughters because they were a hassle.
“Lyddie?” Dr. Philips’ voice breaks into my thoughts. “What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking that this sucks,” I answer. “My mom abandoned me for no better reason than she was stressed out. How is that supposed to make me feel? She didn’t just hurt me; she broke my dad’s heart. He never seems truly happy. And you should see the look on my aunt’s face whenever the subject comes up. She hates her own sister. Did my mom even consider how her running off was going to affect the rest of her family? The family she wanted so badly that she broke all the rules? She just decided to go start a life of ease and left the rest of us to suffer.”
“Well, while I think your mother made some poor decisions, I don’t think you should be so quick to judge. Her situation might not be as pleasant as you imagine.”
I practically tip my chair over as I lean toward him. “Do you know where she is?” I demand.
Dr. Philips looks taken aback by my question, but says calmly, “No, I don’t.”
“Could you find out?”
“Why would you want me to do that? Do you want to contact her?”
“I -” I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what I’d do if I had an address or a phone number for my runaway mother; I don’t want to speak to her. But having a concrete locality, proof that she’s somewhere besides where she’s supposed to be, gives me some sense of stability, as strange as that sounds. It’s a fact, and I can deal with facts. I know what to do with them.
“No,” I say in answer to Dr. Philips’ question. “But I’d still like to know.”
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t help you with that. In fact, I don’t know if anyone can – as far as I know, her whereabouts are unknown.”
Suddenly, I’m tired of talking about this. Every attempt to get anyone to discuss my mother has just led to a wall, and I’m sick of trying to force my way through. What difference will it make anyway? “Never mind,” I sigh, slumping back in the chair. “Are there more tests?”