The Perfectionists - Chapter 8 - The Apple - Day 8 of #freewritemadness - NaNoWriMo

in freewritemadness •  last year  (edited)


The Perfectionists

Chapter 8

The Apple

Of course they talked about it the following morning. One of the traditions she and Hal have maintained religiously is to linger in bed, at the start of each day, to discuss the events of their dreams from the night before. Which dreams, more often than not, turn out to have been a single dream, shared between them, and vividly remembered. So they have a kind of second life together. A life more malleable, and freer of constraints, and, in some ways, more intimate, than the waking life they share.

Usually, when they talk like this, the two of them recall different but related facets of the same experience, and though each may have details to fill in for the other, the core of the story remains intact, just as in waking life. At first, this conversation was no different: Hal remembered the castle dream exactly as she did. Until she came to the part about the crystal display case. He didn’t remember there being somebody inside of it. He remembered it as being empty.

Though she knew that it wasn’t his fault, she couldn’t help but be frightened by the fact that he didn't remember the figure in the case. They began to argue about it, but as usual neither of them really wanted to fight. She’d been about to accuse him of lying, but instead she bit her lip and just looked at him, tears springing to her eyes. He rubbed his stubbled face and shook his head, heaving a deep sigh. Then he raised his eyes to meet hers and smiled impishly. “So you like the idea of me lying in a glass coffin?” he teased. She glared at him and pushed him so hard he almost fell off the bed. Then she jumped on top of him, and they started wrestling, and he ended up kissing her, and that was the end of the argument.

But the next time they fell asleep together, she found herself standing, again, in the same strange room, open to the sky, in the high reaches of that enormous castle, holding hands with him, staring out across the void at a large wooden ship that was sailing toward them. Its figurehead was a delicately carved female with flowing hair and a long serpentine tail, holding an apple in one hand. The woman’s face looked familiar, but Eve couldn’t quite place it.

Though she was mesmerized by the approaching ship, her curiosity got the better of her, and she managed to break the spell long enough to look back over her shoulder at the glass case, and realize with a shock that it was empty. Just as Hal had said it was. Maybe she’d only imagined the figure inside of it the night before. Maybe she was that frightened of losing him. So frightened that she was starting to see him dead, or as still as death, in places where he wasn’t.

She turned her attention back to the approaching vessel. Though its sails were full, it seemed no closer than it had been before. All night long they stood there, she and her love, hand in hand, side by side, saying nothing, eyes glued to the mysterious ship.

She woke abruptly, with a headache. Hal had left a note taped to his nightstand: Was called in to work early. I miss you already. xoxo

She groaned and fell back against the pillows, hands pressed to her eyes. After a few minutes she rolled out of bed and padded clumsily to the bathroom to splash water on her face. It was when she looked into the mirror that she remembered where she’d seen the face of the figurehead. It was her own.

That had been this morning. After that she’d had classes, and then she'd forced herself to work on her thesis, 'On the Impact of Dreams on Waking Life', for several hours. But there was only so much room in her mind for school, and eventually she was unable to resist picking up her research on the mythology of Eve. The original Eve. The one for whom she’s been named. The one with the apple.

Because the truth is she’s afraid of going to sleep tonight. Afraid of what she’ll find this time. As beautiful and intriguing as the room at the top of the castle is, and the ship, and the sky, there’s something about it that she wants to run from. She wishes that she could step right off of the edge of that room and drop into empty space, to fly off to another part of the dreamworld, like she usually does when she isn’t happy where she is. But if tonight's dream is anything like last night's, she'll find herself unable to move, unable to leave, both too fascinated and too terrified, feet rooted to the polished, inlaid floor of that high room eyes on the approaching ship. She doesn’t want to feel helpless like that again. Helpless to save herself, or him. Helpless to avert the disaster that approaches them, inexorably. Taking its sweet fucking time.

That ship is in no rush to clinch the deal. It knows they aren’t going anywhere.

Eve sighs and returns to her reading. There’s something about this particular reimagining of the story of Eve that sends shivers of recognition down her spine.

He gives her, and himself, over to innocence, because he refuses to be the agent of her destruction, and because he fears that it will be impossible to love, with the weight of everything that is to come, and everything that has already been. He does it because he fears what he is going to do to her, and what he has done.

So what is it then? What is Hal hiding from her? What 'knowledge of good and evil' is she missing? Is Hal, to her, as God is to the original Eve?

Certainly he played a part in creating her… on a purely physical level, she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. And then, later, once she was already here, he saved her from herself, by coming to her in the Cocoon. Clearly she would have died trying to return to the dreamworld, if he hadn’t gotten through to her. So she does owe her life to him. Several times over. And for these reasons, among many others, she knows that he loves her.

But then… what is this terrible thing he’s going to do to her? And perhaps even more unsettling: what is it that he’s already done?

“Oh my God, this story is such a downer” the queen of the gods mutters, rolling her eyes. “You do realize that there has to be something to work with or it isn’t going to go anywhere? What kind of fantasy are we supposed to cobble together from this? We’ve already done Adam and Eve to death...”

Her husband opens his mouth to respond.

And God and Eve”, she adds, anticipating what he’s about to say. Couples get to know each other pretty well over the course of several thousand years.

Zeus sighs, shaking his head. “What did you expect? We’ve done everything to death. Fuck me, I could really use a drink right now. And a bite.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do”, Hera replies, pouting fetchingly: “Fuck you. But come on. You have to admit that this is wasted effort. I think you’re actually just reading it for entertainment, at this point.”

Zeus shrugs. “Passes the time”.

She scowls and throws a statue at him.

“Stop breaking the statues”, he growls.

“Why?” she asks defiantly. “They just repair themselves overnight, anyway. We’re immortals. And so is our house, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“Yeah, but it’s disrespectful. Where’s Ganymede? I need a drink.”

“Disrespectful to who? Us?”

Zeus has to stop and think about this for a minute. “Disrespectful to the glory of Mount Olympus”, he replies at last, triumphantly, as if retrieving the phrase from the dusty, cobwebbed recesses of ancient memory.

“What glory?” she retorts, a dangerous edge to her voice. “We’re the only ones here! Well, you and me and Ganymede. And the occasional nymph. I think that last is the only part you really like.”

Zeus groans. “Not this again!”

“Yes this! Why do you think we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for role playing games? You made a mockery of our marriage at every opportunity, when the Olympians were worshipped, and beloved, and feared, and now that we’re forgotten and ignored…well, things are no different, are they? You’d rather spend your time chasing nymphs than loving your faithful wife, who is HOT by the way, in case you hadn’t noticed! And willing to do pretty much fucking everything… Holy Hades, we wouldn’t be out of options at this point if we hadn’t done it all already…” And with that she collapses on a nearby couch, face in her hands, and sobs.

Which is when Ganymede shows up, carrying drinking vessels, a pitcher of nectar, and plates piled high with ambrosia. He places a plate on the small table at Hera’s elbow, then fills her cup and leaves it for her to drink when she’s ready. Then he smiles at Zeus, placing a heaping platter before him, and hands him a cup brimming over with nectar. Zeus grins right back, and takes a monstrous bite, his eyes rolling back into his head with pleasure at the taste of it, washing it down with the drink of the gods, which he finishes in one gulp. “Ah!” he breathes, with gusto, “This stuff never gets old!” Ganymede is standing at the ready, and immediately pours a second cup, which disappears almost as quickly.

The king of the gods has got himself a buzz. He turns to his wife, the queen, who is still sobbing quietly into her hands, and his face softens. He stands up, walks over to her, and takes her by the shoulders, lifting her chin so that he can see her lovely tear stained face, looking into her eyes affectionately. She gazes back at him for a brief minute, tries unsuccessfully to smile, then bursts once more into tears.

He finds her lips and kisses them softly. “Let’s just do ‘hot for teacher’ again”, he murmurs.

She nods, nestles her head up against his chest, lets him carry her to the bedroom. But the tears don’t stop coming.

©2018 Bennett Italia, all rights reserved.

It's National Novel Writing Month! Along with sixteen other freewriters from @freewritehouse I've accepted the challenge of writing an entire novel in one month. The others are: @amelin; @botefarm;; @grow23; @improv; @kaelci; @kaerpediem; @linnyplant; @mariannewest; @ntowl; @stinawog; @carolkean; @byn; @kipswolfe; @aislingcronin; @nonsowrites.

Each of us must write 50,000 words total, which breaks down to 1,667/day, in the month of November.

This is not as easy as it sounds. Many experienced writers take at least a year, sometimes three or four, sometimes as many as ten, to write a novel, and here I'm expecting myself, a newbie, to do it in one month. So naturally I've lost a lot of sleep over this, up in the wee hours of the morning tap-tap-tapping at my laptop keys. But I'm committed to following through, because: 1. it's fun; and 2. it's helping me to become a better writer, which is really the point. My intent in doing this is to push my own envelope, and... yeah, let's just say that plan is working. Almost too well.

It's been less than a year since I started writing fiction. I've gotten pretty good at short pieces, but the longer ones I still have trouble with. So a 50,000 word novel is reeeeeaaaally a stretch. I've been instructed not to worry about editing, by the incredibly supportive @mariannewest (thanks MW!), but... I think if I didn't edit at all the posts would be completely unintelligible, given my current level of sleep deprivation (amusingly, I wrote "DERPivation" just now, before noticing and fixing it ). I'm trying to maintain a good balance between just getting the words out there, and doing enough bare bones editing to communicate the story. It's multilayered storytelling involving the interlaced lives of characters who are also writers who are also readers who are also characters. So I lose track a lot, but moving forward hopefully it will become easier to trace the through lines between the various characters and plots being presented.

That being said, the piece is, of course, still basically in the rough draft stage, so there are bound to be inconsistencies.

Thank you for checking out this ongoing story, I hope you enjoy it!


For a chance to WIN SteemBasicIncome, read and comment on my #freewritemadness posts NovMadFan.gif For more information visit the @freewritehouse


In case anybody's wondering, this is my 85th 5 minute freewrite. (Disclaimer: even under normal circumstances, these usually take me significantly longer than 5 minutes to write and edit. And given that November is novel writing month, "significantly longer" has taken on a whole new meaning ).

Today's prompt is "small talk", but I didn't use it. Well, kind of I did :D

Word count for this installment is 1758.

*Come take part in the festivities at @freewritehouse! Lots of contests and other fun stuff for both writers and fans *

Many thanks to the incomparable @mariannewest for hosting these wonderful daily freewrites :)

Horizontal rulers courtesy @cryptosharon


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So we're all just puppets to the GODs. #NovMadFan Bruni likes this introduction to your new characters. 🤭

SO many characters! I'm having trouble keeping track of them honestly. They are all bugging me to tell more of their stories, but they have to take turns...

What a humorous way to bring in Zeus and Hera. Uh oh. Does this mean there will be "The Fall" soon? OMG! This should be very interesting to see how this is all played out.
This resident cat is an anxious #NovMadFan. : )

:) yes, I think "The Fall" will definitely be an element of what's coming... but maybe not in the way you'd think! Thank you so much resident cat, I'm glad you're enjoying the story. The support really helps! 😌

Oh, this should be very interesting. I am happy that I could help a wee bit. : )

Hey man, thought you should know: You have great blog posts but they may not be getting seen as much as you like. I came very close to unfollowing you for two reasons: 1) You resteem too much. I want to follow you, not who you're following. 2) You use the same picture for all your original posts making this account look like spam.

I actually took the time to open a post to see what you're writing so now I can see that you are legit. Not everyone may be doing this for you. I suggest creating a new, original picture for each of your new articles. It would even go a long way if you made more than one picture. Put all your ads at the bottom. The beginning of your post reads like marketing, which smacks of spam. I opened the page to see what was original about it, so you're lucky I took the time to scroll too!

Anyway, I like your writing style and I look forward to seeing more from you.

Agreed with all your points. :)

hi @cryptosharon! Thanks for the heads up, good to see you :)

Thank you @artopium! That is some really good feedback. These posts are different from my usual freewrite posts, in that they're chapters of a novel I'm trying to write in one month, which is quite a challenge. That's why the same pic on each one. I've honestly been so overwhelmed with this undertaking that I haven't given much attention to my layout, and you're right, it looks like spam. I'm going to go back and take all the event promo stuff off the tops of the posts and move it to the bottoms as you suggested. I've also drastically shortened my introduction text on the newer posts. And I think I'm going to give the chapters titles as well as numbers, to distinguish them from each other. But I am going to continue using the one pic as that's the way I usually do it when writing serialized fiction.

Normally I hardly resteem at all, but I'm trying to support the other writers this month. So it'll be back to my usual clean blog feed next month, but in the meantime I'll definitely take your advice and try to tone it down :)

I'm glad you checked to see what the post was about, even tho it looked like spam, and that you liked the writing! I've been posting original poetry, fiction, non-fiction, songwriting, visual art, and performance since shortly before the beginning of this year, so I definitely don't want it to look like I'm shitposting lol. Thanks so much again for the heads up, and I look forward to checking out your blog :)

Hey man, absolutely. And I've started reading chapter one. ;)

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