It was started November 27, 2013. The first draft was finished yesterday. Sometimes writing is also not writing. Most of the time it is writing though and once I got moving on the story again it came together, more or less. I have to package it up and send it off to people who will rip it to shreds and I will get angry at for no apparent reason before I recognize that they are making good points. Writing can be hard, rewriting is always hard. You can’t help but love what you created. It feels good to be finished the first draft.
The title has changed it is no longer called Britannia, it is called Concrete Memories. Here are the first few paragraphs. Anyone interested in helping edit drop me a line and I will email you a copy in the format of your choice.
He could have gone to her grave side. He could have gone to where she lived the last thirty years of her life. He could have visited with family and spoken words about how wonderful a woman she had been. He almost thought her death left him unmoved but for the sudden slowing of time and the insistent demands of memory. He did not plan to drive anywhere, not a conscious plan, he arrived and knew where he was and what he wanted to see.
He turned right off St. John onto Gervais. The turn would have been impossible when he was young. Forty years ago St. John dead ended just past Oxford with the Mahoney house on left and nothing but woods behind their place. The St. John’s dead end was woods but if he veered a little to the right he could walk between the trees and brush and cut by the Leary’s backyard to Laurier Street. He used that short cut when he delivered the morning Gazette or Sunday Express. Once on Laurier if he cut behind the Swallows’ place it was an easy walk through to Gervais and home. If he tried to go straight through from the Mohoney’s it would have been a good ten minute walk through fallen timber and scrub. Once through it he’d find himself at the dirt ruts which lead to the gravel road and he would be almost home. Home was a one floor house with a front and back door, black shingle roof and a silver aluminium chimney. There was also a white, clapboard garage with a carport after thought to the left and listing in the same direction.
There had been a creek running through the woods and a large pond. The pond croaked with leopard frogs and whined with mosquitos in the summer. In the winter the pond’s black ice hosted pick up hockey games. There was another pond farther back in the woods where the ice was bigger and better. He and and some other boys would sometimes go there to play. It was hard bringing shovels through the woods to clean the ice and the echoing cracks of the thick ice and freezing trees scared him more than he would admit. At other times of the year he would be on the look out for leg hold traps that Old Peter the trapper set for muskrat. When he walked the dogs he would steer clear of the water and Old Peter’s trap lines.
Harmon eased the van to a halt in front of the low white bungalow opposite the house he had grown up in. The bungalow had been built sometime in his teen years. A French family had moved into the house shortly after it was built. The woman had been nice but he did not like the man. He rarely liked men and never held it against the man that he did not like him. He looked across the street at the house in which he had grown up. The awkward burgundy and white two tone aluminium siding was now white vinyl and the front door had been moved to the side of the house overlooking the driveway. The Rusco aluminium windows and doors were gone but the house was still recognizable. It was where he had grown up. The sidewalk was still there, a narrow strip of concrete barely wide enough for one person to walk and dead ending against the asphalt driveway. It looked as if it might be the one he had helped build.
It was a weekday. The street was empty and there were no cars in the driveway. The closing door of his twelve year old minivan echoed loud in the emptiness. He felt like he was invading his own past as he crossed Gervais onto the pavement of 394 and took two quick steps to the concrete sidewalk beside the drive. The dark green inch wide dot at the bottom right corner of the sidewalk confirmed what he thought. He had put that penny there. He’d brought it back from England the summer of his cousin’s wedding. The old pennies weren’t worth anything then because the new money had come out. Instead of his hand print or writing in the concrete which his mother said would weaken it he had pushed an English penny into the soft wet surface.
The relief of Britannia was not visible, the penny could have been anything. Harmon hunkered down for a closer look. He couldn’t resist brushing the penny with his index finger. He looked up at the path. There were patches where it had been resurfaced but there was no doubt in his mind, this was, as impossible as it seemed, the sidewalk he had helped lay almost forty years before.