The truth is, after reading my post headline, I’m not actually sure what I’m working on. I’m not sure at all. Ever since completing and now trying to promote Little Milestones, there’s been little happening in my writing world. January was spent getting ready for the spring semester as I’m teaching a course I haven’t taught in a while, so I’ve needed to spend a lot of time preparing for my classes.
One night, however, the idea of these four characters popped into my head, and the idea of a book starting and ending in a bar took hold. I’m not sure AT ALL what is going to happen to these people yet. I’ve been outlining a little and thinking this through. Last night, however, a new idea for a novel came to me, which has led me to wondering where I go from here.
For that reason, I’ve decided to share a very preliminary draft of what the first few paragraphs of a new novel might look like. What do you think? Could this go somewhere?
Let me know what you think.
PRELIMINARY, POSSIBLE, MAYBE IF-IT-EVER-HAPPENS NEW NOVEL IDEA
This story begins in the bar of a dark restaurant that is nestled along Main Street in historic Annapolis several weeks before Christmas. Four people who have never met are sitting in different locations in the establishment, categorically drowning their sorrows over four different types of drinks: a dark lager; a deep, red, pino noir; a dry martini; and a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks. The night is young, and light snow begins to fall outside the paned, large windows that look upon the street where people walk at hurried paces wrapped in coats and hats and scarves, yet the four aforementioned people sit content not to move for hours.
In the corner, with his hat neatly positioned on the adjacent, empty seat, sits Nick Bellows, a 42-year-old divorced banker who’s been miserable in his career for twenty years, and even more miserable since his wife of ten years left him for his neighbor. Apparently, they’d been fooling around for a couple of years behind each of their spouse’s backs. Perhaps her attraction to his neighbor, Jake, a fit runner and triathlete, had more to do with Nick’s inability to be a good husband, as he spent far too much of his free time gambling their money away and drinking to the point of it becoming less of a social exercise and more of a pattern. And yet on this night, Nick contemplates the mistakes that led him here to drinking a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks.
Eva Levoni taps her foot to the R.E.M. tune that reminds her of being a student in college—and now she teaches college. She curls her fingers around the dry martini and slowly brings it to her lips. She plucks the toothpick with the olive on it and slowly draws the olive across the plastic stick with the tips of her teeth. She can’t remember if she had time to eat lunch, the whirl of the semester wreaking havoc on her fried brain, but she assures herself she will get a bite to eat from the bar menu. She feels the warmth of the gin slide down her throat, and she wonders if she’ll have the fortitude to grade one more paper. She’s also staying calm despite that fact that her boarder is moving out tomorrow, and she’s enjoyed having her. As it’s the Christmas season, no one has answered her advertisement to rent the apartment on her property, and she leans on that rent payment to help pay her bills. Unmarried and untethered, her partner of ten years, Bill, left her in August to move back to Iowa to be reunited with his high school girlfriend, whom he’d reconnected with through Facebook. Eva takes another sip and tries not to think of Bill. At all.
Lily Webster checks her watch and takes a sip of the wine. She’s been waiting for half an hour for her blind date to show up. She checks her phone. No message, still. When her employee mentioned this fix-up, she had not wanted to pursue it. She tried successfully three times to avoid having to go on yet another blind date. However, after Sarah had badgered her for the tenth time, she gave in and agreed to meet this guy, Paul, Sarah’s boyfriend’s buddy. A clothing and accessory boutique owner of a store just up the street on Maryland Avenue, Sarah thought she and Paul, and entrepreneur himself, would make a smashing pair. Lily wasn’t really in the mood for another relationship—at least it felt as if she’d just gotten out of one, but that was three years ago when…she found herself still unable to utter his name…the pain was still much too vivid for her. She checks her watch again, another ten minutes have passed, and still no sign of a tall, dark, handsome man who apparently liked all the same things she did, according to Sarah. Nope. No sign of him yet.
Reid Jones sips the head of the dark lager the server places in front of him at the bar. He’s watching the highlights of last night’s Redskins game on ESPN. He wonders when his team will ever win a Super Bowl again, it’s been so long. His buddies are supposed to meet him here at eight o’clock, but he got here an hour early, so he orders his beer and slips off his coat. It’s been a long day. He helped move his parents into an over-fifty-five community even though they’re well over fifty-five, more like almost seventy, but he was glad they finally sold the house. He and his sister, Emme, helped with the clean out and hooked them up with a real estate agent they trusted—a friend of Emme’s. He knew this was the right thing, but even he had to admit it was difficult to say goodbye the only home he ever knew growing up, a big traditional home with a wrap-around porch in Murray Hill. He wished he could have bought it from them, but he hadn’t saved enough…didn’t have enough. Sometimes he felt as if he just wasn’t good enough. He takes a swig of his beer as he watches the Redskins quarterback get sacked again. Someday this team will be good, he thinks.
©Stephanie Verni, All Rights Reserved
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Communication at Stevenson University. She has authored five works of fiction and one academic text on Event Planning. Her character-driven books are typically set in Maryland to showcase the beauty of her state. Connect with her on Instagram at stephanie.verni or on Twitter at @stephverni. Or, visit her Amazon page at Stephanie Verni, Author.