Aborted Works in Progress (and a Friday Snippet)

One of the things that has struck me recently is the sheer number of aborted works-in-progress from my past. It feels really strange, now that I’m completing a whole story every 5 weeks, and that’s a lazy pace. Some of these works-in-progress I aborted because I lost interest. Others were just beyond my skills at the time. Many of them grew in scope until they were projects too large for me to fit into my schedule. Of course, having recently reprioritized slightly, it’s much easier to find time to write. So maybe I’ll be able to complete some of these, because there are a few I’d really like to complete.

Here’s a snippet from one such work, a (projected) novella-length science-fiction story called In a Secret garden.


A snippet from…

In a Secret Garden

And so Marie shivered as she felt the summer evening sun fiery at her back. She and Peter made their way up the front walkway, for Marie a walk of a thousand steps. The old house loomed in front of her, a threat and opportunity.

It was just an old house, but not just. Because the shades didn’t cover the windows. For as long as Marie could remember, every house was the same, shrouded, dark. The blinds let only meager sun rays peek around their edges, and those would be blocked out too if possible. Grey walls inside always reflected the dingy hues of an incandescent bulb. Marie had never seen the sun shine through. When she was a girl, she would wonder why houses even had windows. What was the purpose?

Once, when she was 5, she pulled back the curtain on a moonless night. She only wanted to catch a glimpse of the city’s new passenger shuttle on its way into space. She got a scolding worthy of a felony. She was told never to look out the window. She was reminded always to keep her school books inside her carry-on and never to talk to strangers. She felt the burdensome sadness of a child who’s been naughty yet understands neither how nor why.

When she was 6, Marie got her first real lesson. A man in a dark suit peered in through the front doorway. He talked to her father, then her father called for her. The man asked Marie some questions about a girl at school. Did they play together much? No, they did not.

“Have you ever seen Mr. or Mrs. McGuire? Her parents?”


Father was wearing his poker face.

The man said thank you and left.

The McGuire girl disappeared. Word was she moved to a different town and was in foster care.

After the man went, Marie’s father took her up in his lap and held her head against his chest. It was the only time she remembered him trembling or crying. And Marie remembered in his eyes the same feeling she had felt before, that she had only wanted to see the sky, that she didn’t like being scared, that life was unfair.

Even then she had heard there was a time before the cameras, a time when people were not afraid of each other, not afraid to open their windows. She began to dream. She imagined seeing the outside air in the trees, smelling hot sun rays in the morning, tasting of the milky-way at night. And she promised herself the impossible, that someday she would live in a place she could see the world outside, have it light the room with day, and not be afraid. She knew such a place was possible.

It was a childhood fantasy, a childish fantasy. Now she was grown. She knew how to be careful. And careful was not traipsing through a strange neighborhood. They were not supposed to be here, and they didn’t know whom to trust and whom to avoid. It was not safe, like at home. Her next door neighbors were on the level, discreet. The tenants across the hall were harmless hermits.

Even Mrs. Crane posed no real threat. Mrs. Crane was a busybody and a zealot. She’d turn in her own son, even if he hadn’t done anything wrong. He probably had, of course. Everybody did. Not anything serious, mind you, but improper. Everyone had their little secrets, some bigger than others. But Marie knew enough to avoid Mrs. Crane, even if the rumors weren’t true. People said she caused her own husband’s disappearance. But you know how rumors start. All anyone knew for sure was that he left her. She may have had something to do with it, but involving the authorities? No. He probably just got fed up and made for the door.

That wouldn’t happen to Marie. She felt a smile sneak onto her face. She squeezed Peter’s hand.

Other Friday Snippets

The way Friday Snippets works is that fiction authors can leave a link to their own snippet on others’ blog posts that are part of the meme. Many of the participating writers are using one of Mister Linky’s Autolink Widgets to streamline this process. See “Friday Snippets” at Holly Lisle’s blog for more information.