Thursday, October 11, 2007

3000 Miles from Graceland, Part 9

Jenny spent most of the morning out looking for Kevin. It seemed a futile gesture, but she couldn't handle being in the same house as Rod any more. She checked all the neighbors' houses, then all of his friends' houses.

He wasn't at any of them. All of his friends had disappeared, too.

The pain of talking to her own friends and neighbors and seeing the pain in their eyes as they said they didn't know anything, that they couldn't find their own children, finally overcame her. It was simply too much to take.

She finally decided that maybe being around Rod wouldn't be so bad. Maybe she could convince him of the gravity of the situation. Maybe if she'd just ask, he'd be there for her.

He had been once, after all. Before they got married he'd been kind and caring. They were young, broke, in love and ready to take over the world. She'd convinced herself that she was living in a movie or a book and that she had found the one man in the world with whom she could actually believe in the old, hopeful happily ever after.

Her mother had told her it wouldn't be like that. She'd said that all men were the same, they came on strong, acted all romantic, stayed up all night talking, did all those things that made them seem great right up until the wedding. Then they'd just start watching football all day on Sunday. Once the kids came they'd start looking to trade in for a younger model.

Jenny had just let it roll right off her. Her father had died when she was five and her husband had run off with Jenny's kindergarten teacher, after all. Not everyone had the bad luck with men that she did. It just wasn't possible.

The football season started exactly two months after she and Rod had returned from their honeymoon. He'd gotten one of those NFL packages on the dish and spent twelve straight hours every Sunday parked on the couch. During the baseball playoffs she'd barely been able to get him to talk to her.

Then, during the last three months of her pregnancy with Kevin, he'd simply stopped looking at her. He didn't start again until nearly a year after she gave birth when she'd finally managed to get most of the excess pregnancy weight off.

She knew, too, that his company had put him in charge of hiring. The percentage of young, attractive girls at his job had gone up considerably since then.

Jenny knew her mother would have given her an "I told you so" if she ever knew. But cancer had taken her before her grandson was born, before everything had completely fallen apart.

She would have given anything to hear it, too. After her mother got in her little jibe, she would have held her arms out and let Jenny collapse in to them like she was still a little girl who needed her mommy. "It's okay," she could almost hear, "You don't have to go through this alone. Mom is here for you." But she wasn't. Jenny was on her own, abandoned.

She'd never met her grandfather. Her father had disappeared without a trace when she was five. Her own husband might still be in the same house, but he had left her, too. All she really had any more was Kevin.

Now he was gone, too.

Every man in her life had left her.

Every single one.

With a start, Jenny realized she was standing in front of her house, crying. She had no idea how long she'd been there.

She took a hesitant step toward the front door, then stopped to look inside, afraid the house would be empty and cold. Rod was sitting on the floor in the front room with his back to the big picture window, working intently on something.

"Maybe," she said to herself, feeling a tiny spark of hope growing somewhere deep down inside herself, "Maybe it's not too late for Rod and me. I know, somewhere deep down, he still loves me." She sighed. "Maybe he just needs to be reminded."

She wiped her cheeks dry and walked in to the house. Rod was surrounded by a small pile of books and looseleaf papers, writing something on a legal pad. Their laptop sat next to him and she could see that it was opened to a YouTube video called "Rapture: Are You Ready?"

"Hey, Rod," Jenny said.

He looked up, a slightly confused expression on his face. "Hey, Jen," he said, "I didn't realize you'd left."

"I..." she felt a brief surge of anger that he could be so obtuse, but managed to keep it down. "I've been gone all morning."

He shrugged. "Sorry. Been busy."

She damped down another surge of anger. It would do no good to start yelling. "What are you working on?" she asked, hesitantly entering the room, hoping that maybe he was trying to work on finding out where Kevin was.

"Figuring out how to make it through the Tribulation," he said, eyes flashing with excitement.

"The what?"

"The Tribulation. It's what's going to come now that we've been through the Rapture."

The little spark of hope she'd felt just a minute before flitted away. All the anger she'd been trying to suppress flared up in its place. This time, though, she didn't even consider fighting it.


Geds said...

On an unrelated note, I could use some help. I need (okay, more like "want") some people who are the sort of thoughtful readers I expect to see around here and at Slacktivist to take a look at a novel for me.

It was originally written to be acceptable to Christian publishing houses. The general plot follows a man who realizes his life has no meaning, goes off in search of something different and finds God.

It originally had the climax that ended with the magic words and all the B.S. expected of "Christian fiction," but I couldn't stand it. I thought I'd have to give up the book, but now am thinking of trying to get in with one of the religious fiction imprints at a major house and go from there.

This has given me the freedom to change the book around so it's closer to what I want it to be. The plot is still the same, but the concept of what God is and how to get there has changed. I'm not so sure of the flow or continuity at the moment, though.

So that's where everyone here comes in. If anyone wants to read it, send me an email at geds81 (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send you an electronic copy. If you're someone I'd know, please identify yourself according to whatever handle you use here or at Slacktivist just so I know. Payment will be in the form of gratitude, as I'm pretty much broke.

I'm not really trying to find anyone to edit it extensively, anyway, I'd just like some feedback from a more diverse audience than I generally have access to.

Also, at some point in the next few months I believe I'll have the first draft of a novel that I'm working on right now done. I like to think of this book as a testimonial to the loss of faith. Anyone who's interested in knowing more about that, let me know.

Rhoadan said...

Have you considered throwing this to the folks at Making Light? Teresa Nielsen Hayden is a professional editor, and many of the commenters on her site are quite knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

Andrew N.P. said...

Just got done reading "the story so far." You mentioned earlier that Rod is a stand-in for LJ's Gary Stu leads. On that note, let me just say that "Rod" is a great name for such a character. Hee hee. Rod.

Okay, that's all.