Are you all too young to remember that old Neil Sedaka hit from the 60s? Maybe you remember one of the covers. Everybody from Freddy Fender to Ruben Studdard on American Idol has sung it. The song’s been on my mental playlist recently because I’m party to a breakup. In fact, you might say that I’m the god of this breakup. The heroine of my NaNoWriMo book breaks up with her husband of five years. Theirs is not a highly emotional break up. It’s more becalmed sea than roaring tempest.
Still, goodbyes are never easy. I’ve found that they are not easy for the writer either, at least not for this writer. I wanted to show a relationship ending between two people who loved one another but had never been in love with one another. One is moving on to a new life; one fears she has nothing to move toward.
I didn’t capture what I wanted, but since NaNo is not about revision but about meeting goals, I succeeded in capturing 707 more words towards my goal of 50,000 (current total: 18,830). This scene and I have some major breaking up to do, but that’s for the future when I start revisions. Right now I still have 31,170 words to go on this #@%**& first draft, which seems more foully excremental with every reading. Wish me luck.
The First Draft of the Scene:
“Broken.” The sound of her own voice jerked Saja Hamilton from sleep. She pressed her hands tightly against her head. Why after all this time were old memories invading her dreams? The dull headache that had sent her to bed early was now steady hammer blows of pain. She weighed the relief a pill would bring against the worry she would see in Ben’s eyes. A particularly vicious blow above her left eye made the decision for her. Muttering obscenities in four languages, she staggered toward the door.
Ben was sitting at his desk staring at the telephone. The distant look in his eyes changed to concern when she entered the room. Without saying a word, he pushed her gently into a chair and flicked off the overhead light. Saja closed her eyes, feeling her heart keep pace with the waves of pain.
“Here.” Ben’s words were brisk, but his look was troubled as he handed her a glass of water and a pill.
She waited for the medicine to do its work. The silence was strangely soothing, devoid of the tension that had filled all the silences in this apartment in the three months she and Ben had shared the space as exes who couldn’t quite exit. She had almost dozed off when he spoke.
“I talked to Vic. Dad’s ill again.” He paused. “He asked about me. He wants to see me. She thinks he’s ready for a reconciliation.”
“He knows he almost lost the chance for one. You’re leaving.”
Saja’s words were a statement, not a question, but Ben chose to respond as though she had asked about his plans.
“Yes, I promised Vic I’d be home this week. She’s been patient.”
“So you and your Victoria are planning a summer wedding.”
“We hope to.”
“Be happy, Ben. Saja’s voice was suddenly fierce. “I do want you to be happy.”
“I will be. I’m ready to go home. Maybe it’s selfish, but I find I want the life I turned my back on years ago. Marriage to Vic, practice with my father, golf on Saturdays, church on Sundays.”
“And a child?”
“Maybe. Vic’s still young enough, or we may adopt. Vic’s brother and his wife have two daughters born in China.”
“Life in Chesney, Ohio. You once said you’d never go back.”
“I’m not going ‘back.’ I’m going home, but I know I’m not the same man who left Chesney seventeen years ago. The town’s not the same either, or the people I left there. But the connections are still in place. I can go home. You can too.”
“I don’t think so. It’s different for me. You have Vic and your father and a practice you’ll find rewarding, even if it’s a little dull.” Saja added the last bit with a twisted smile.
“You have people who love you.”
“But no one is waiting for me. An empty house and good friends who have full lives without me. Gentry’s not for me. I haven’t given up hope of talking Hammersmith into letting me return to DOM.”
“I hope you won’t succeed. I’m afraid you’ve used up all your extra lives, little cat. There’s a lot you can do for DOM here in the states, and there are children who need your skills here too.” Ben caught her hands with his and raised them to kiss her fingers. “I want you to be happy too. I do love you.”
“I believe you. Life would have been simpler if we had been honest enough to admit that we were meant to be friends, not lovers.”
“I can’t regret the comfort we found in each other when the world seemed comfortless.”
“Comfort’s not enough. Not when your heart belonged to someone else.”
“So did yours.”
“Maybe. But he was not as faithful to old vows as your Vic.”
“You left him without a word, sent his letters back unopened, refused to see him when he flew to Crete.”
“We fought all the time. I didn’t see any way to compromise when we wanted such different lives.”
“Well, if not Brody, there’s someone else for you. Just don’t close your heart to possibilities.”
Saja squeezed his hands without replying. She was making no more promises she couldn’t keep.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo 2009? Have you ever written a breakup scene or a #@%**& first draft? Have you ever read a breakup that you found particularly memorable?