Losing Emmy – Excerpt

 

Story Overview.

Emmy and Charlene are twenty-one year old twins. They are connected by sharing the same genes, the same hairbrush, even the same bed, but they couldn’t be more different in personality or ambition. Emmy is delicate and feminine whilst Charlene is more of a goth. With Charlene being the older twin by little more than a minute or two she is the protector, having always fixed her sister’s problems, but now Emmy is dying of cancer and it’s the one thing Charlene can’t ever fix.

“Losing Emmy” is a story that is touching and bittersweet. It highlights life’s joyful and crushing moments, plus those that will forever remain unwritten between the margins of abandoned diary pages. The girls show us that life and death are also ‘twins’. That death can never eradicate love, and finally, what lives deep inside us always finds its way back home.

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Emmy’s life now hangs precariously on a string which continues to fray little by little each day and we both know that when your time is up, it’s up.

That word death leaves most people quivering in fear, but for Emmy and I, it’s been a long awaited visitor who hasn’t quite decided exactly when he’ll walk in the door. Actually, some days we thought he was closer than others. It was that particular faceless beast that taught us that life is something you cling to breath per painful breath, especially when it is crawling towards you a hell of a lot faster than you anticipated.

Just eight weeks ago Emmy and I were seated together in a stuffy windowless office when the cold, harsh, reality was delivered to us by Dr Sentoya, her radiologist. He is a broad-shouldered man with an impressive crown of white hair which somehow hilariously contrasts the thick dark hair on his arms. The man also dribbles a little when he speaks.

He presented himself as some almighty God that morning, as if he was about to deliver a verdict on Judgement Day.

Emmy and I waited with our hands tightly clasped together. I couldn’t look at her face so instead I focused my gaze on a half eaten bagel that was sitting on his desk. My eyes also searched for the obligatory framed photo of a beaming wife clasping a couple of kids; but there was none. A thought crossed my mind… maybe this guy would never know the pain of losing a child.

He tapped his pen three times on a sheet of paper, then flung words across the desk that hit us both like bricks.

I’m so very sorry. We’ve done everything we can. There is nothing more we can do.”

Her hand instantly tightened its grip on mine but there was no change in her expression. We had both known that the last batch of treatment really was her last hope. We had literally clung on to it like a child might cling to a brick wall with short stubby fingers, in the hope of reaching the ball when it is just within his grasp. Emmy’s ball fell on the wrong side of the wall that day.

I drove home straight after that meeting, shaken and stunned. The sky was glorious and the rich green fields looked beautiful on either side of us, yet Emmy couldn’t even look up from her lap. I wasn’t sure whether she was just trying her hardest to block out the pain, or if she had been rendered speechless and devoid of any feeling at all. Her catatonic state made me want to lean over and shake her shoulders so hard; just so she would scream, or cry, or something.

Just finally let it all out.

It’s okay to feel whatever you need to feel,’ I had whispered. ‘It’s okay to do that now, Emmy.’

But she wouldn’t.

And she still hasn’t.

Emmy’s suffering would soon be over and that’s when mine would begin. I still don’t know what’s coming next or how I’m going to live without her because there is no study or guide book I can buy to teach me that.

When I think about life without my sister, my mind can’t seem to connect the images which it has so painstakingly tried to re-arrange and prepare. Nothing I envisage feels right or possible, or real. My life feels like a dot-to- dot puzzle without the numbers that tell me which direction I need to go in. 

On that long drive home I had stared at the windscreen in silence, totally cut to pieces by the fact that I truly didn’t know how I was going to get through this.


An excerpt of “Losing Emmy.” Coming this Christmas to Amazon.

Publisher: Charlotte Green Publishing, United kingdom.

©Carla acheson. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Final Final Final Edit

A discussion about the stage of ‘final editing’ on twitter prompted me to create this post. In fact, I wasn’t just prompted to blog, I was compelled to make the whole thing a statement and reminder of what we must go through to get to the end point. The proof of which I present in the mug below.

This shows all ‘new’ writers out there that editing  (and all the zany backed up versions of it) is about as much fun as checking your monthly bank statements. Though it does become a part of our lives, along with drinking too much coffee or tea.

 

Yes I know that I sometimes swear at myself for lying when I tell people I am currently working on the final edit,  when actually I’m just sitting on my phone telling people. I swear, however,  this time, I actually AM getting it done and that’s a fact.

One last thing…

What is the final edit exactly?

Well there never would be one if you didn’t simply decide that you were never going to change the manuscript again.  At some point you have to say.. “THIS is what I’ve achieved and it’s the best I can do, and I never want to read it again unless I am forced to at gunpoint.” That’s the final, final, final because nobody wants to really die after putting in so much hard work. That’s when you either self-publish or sub it along with your query letter and  move on to the next project with momentous relief.

 

 

 

 

 

Life and Death in Writing

I cried in my bed last night. I read the last few chapters of ‘The Time Travellers Wife,’ once again. It made me think of life, death and all the hues inbetween.

My review of ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ in another blog post was made prematurely. I believe I gave it a good review when I should have given it an excellent review. I was disheartened by a few things, but then again, just like life, books can have their rough and bitter edges, and will give us occasional words or sentences we might prefer to skip over inattentively. To be honest, I cried over the sad letter Henry wrote to his wife (such letters ought to come with a box of kleenex).

I was blown away. Niffenegger took an ordinary couple and made them extra-ordinary. Not just for their dedication in trying to live a normal life within Henry’s transcendental and universally mind-blowing illness, but as a reflection of humanity, their endurance teaches us that we can and do survive the many cruel blows along the way.

And all for what?

Well for love of course.

Time travelling became the norm for these characters, and the consequences of that were sadly accepted long before any bitter-endings arrived. This is the cream of characterisation. Whilst most authors settle on less impossible scientifically brain-puddling themes, the message is the same everywhere, we endure all, because we must.

When I created Maggie in ‘The Last Gift,’ I wanted her to overcome a life of slavery and upper class brutality, even though thousands didn’t survive it. But if she hadn’t my book would have closed its doors by Chapter Two. Maggie had nothing to live for, really. Possibly all she had was the (less than perfect) air which she breathed and the protective love of her kind parents, who too frequently had troubles of their own to contend with. The fact that my heroine smelt the scent of death every day only served to make her a stronger and more resilient human being.

In the story, Maggie lives on to witness and experience better things, whilst many of her loved ones perished. No matter what century we live in, we can relate to that. To love and death. Its equal intransigence and totality. It is the sum of all things of which we care and write about.

I relate to death in fiction because I feel I am always sitting within it’s ever present sneer of inevitability. I know it will grab me one day no matter how many crunches I do on a weekly basis. La vida es asi! Through books we should be able to visualise the brutality of life and its beauty; the same with death. As a writer I will always strive to comprehend the two, and then my aim is to be able to make my reader feel what it is that I have learned.