West Walk: Excerpt

OK so instead of provide a blog post tonight along the autobiographical themes of my life I’m going to share with you the beginning extracts of the novel I’m currently attempting to write. Enjoy, leave feedback, hopefully leave you begging for more.

 

Prologue

When she woke up the fog had set in. Nature had created an opaque cloak that the city seemed to be hiding underneath. It was dark, it was cold, and it was silent and peaceful.

Most of all, it was magical.

 

Chapter One

It was winter in London. The beauty of autumn was fading fast into the bleak, stark, muted shades of grey that any winter here can be depended upon to produce. Everything becomes dull, the darkness can be overwhelming. With commuters often leaving the house in the dark hours of the morning and staying within the confines of their offices until the sun sets. For nearly everyone in the country the winter doldrums had set in, for Elena it was no different.

Elena was habitually thoughtful, she would often use the mile long walk at the end of her working day to organise her more torturous thoughts. Frequently getting caught up thinking about things she would rather run and hide from or about her battles ahead at work. When she arrived home she would seek distraction in any way she could. For a long while she had been on auto-pilot, moving from one day to the next attempting to stem a malignant flow of thoughts.

Elena had been getting much better. Her recent break-up was still more than capable of filling her with sadness. Yet she’d forced herself to reconnect with her friends, spend more time with her family and slap on a smile from time to time. It had been working and slowly the pattern of her days was changing, happiness was taking hold of the times where darkness had once prevailed. It was a process she was unfortunately familiar with.

She had been living in a house share with three housemates in Ealing for the past six months. Her steel-blue gaze was oddly vacant as she walked the familiar path from Ealing Broadway to her home.

Elena had been pleased with herself, she hadn’t given her much thought over the past couple of months. A snippet of information had reached her on this day that forced her thoughts down an unhappy path and she asked herself a string of questions that she had never considered before.

It is human nature to sometimes think ‘What if?’ there are even some of us who will torment ourselves with an endless string of doubt and uncertainty. Most normal people will find a healthy way to put these questions to rest, they’ll tell themselves that everything happens for a reason, they learn to be grateful for what they have in their lives, knowing that every decision to date has led them to be the person that they are today.

Now that Elena was home she was flitting around her room while shut away from her housemates. It was a regular pattern, it’s not that Elena is particularly shy or that she didn’t enjoy the company of other people, there were just times when she preferred to be by herself. She was good at keeping herself busy, however tonight she seemed restless and couldn’t seem to switch off a malignant stream of thoughts turning over in her mind.

She moved about her room insisting on putting everything in order, nothing less than perfection would be acceptable this evening. After about the third time of slightly adjusting her laptop into a perfect right angle with the edge of her desk she gave up and slumped on the sofa and switched the TV on. It was exactly what she’d been trying to avoid doing since the moment she stopped keeping herself busy she knew the malignant thoughts she’d been stifling with menial activities would take that centre stage part of her mind.

The moment Elena had gotten home from work this evening she changed into jeans, an old t-shirt and a pair of flip-fops. Her hair was shoulder length and full of bouncy curls she could never do anything with but let them fall where they may. Her bright blue eyes looked over the TV planner and decided that there was nothing good on so she’d watch re-runs of her favourite sitcom. As she stretched out on the sofa she thought about calling her mum for a chat, however noticing the time then thought better of it. It was nearly 10pm and Elena was dreading a long day at the central London office that would be full of meetings at work the next day.

I suppose you might call Elena attractive, she was somewhat plain in appearance and never really dressed well enough to show off her petite, womanly figure. Elena lived for the comfort of her favourite pair of jeans and trainers. Her idea of getting dressed up would be wearing her best trainers, fitted jeans and some sort of shirt however for work however she was forced to make a bit more of an effort.

Perhaps the most striking thing to note about Elena was how much just one smile could transform her whole appearance and her unusual combination of the darkest brown hair and bright blue eyes. Typically Elena had a stern look about her, giving the impression of being someone you wouldn’t like to be on the wrong side of, however the moment she would smile she would be transformed. When she smiled she looked like a different person, cheeky and mischievous.

Elena looked very stern this evening as she gave in to the thoughts tumbling through her mind. She was angry with herself for these thoughts, she was caught up thinking about her ex-girlfriend and how things hadn’t worked out. It had been over six months now and every time Elena thought she’d laid the whole messy affair to rest something would pop up and open the wounds fresh again.

This time she’d heard a snippet of information through a friend who had heard from another friend, already the thought process was maddening. Why did everyone have to know each other’s business is lesbian-land? Even if you thought you had met someone completely new it would only be a matter of hours before you discovered they dated your ex or used to look after your first girlfriends cat while she went on holiday.

Elena’s ex had turned out to be a hasbian and was now dating a guy she had grown up with, it was so very predictable and Elena was tormenting herself with a constant rebuttal of ‘should have seen it coming’ and ‘all the signs were there’. This however wasn’t the news that was causing Elena particular stress this evening, it was the new knowledge that this happy couple had been carrying on for months while Elena had desperately attempted to patch up their failing relationship. The betrayal let bitterness sweep through every fond memory they had shared until she loathed the very thought of her ex and hated herself for ever loving her in the first place.

Elena attempted to distract herself from these thoughts again, instead of trying to put her living space in order she got out her materials and started work on a canvas that had been lying in the corner of her room for a few days now. She scraped her messy curls back into a ponytail and twisted it into a bun held in place with a pencil and got to work.

This was a much better use of her time. She had always planned on using this piece of canvas for a Christmas present for her older brother Ryan. He’d recently moved house with his young family and had always admired a piece Elena had done in college, she was intent of replicating her earlier masterpiece as a housewarming present for him and had been putting it off for months. Ryan and Elena were only separated by two years in age, though their lives couldn’t have been more different.

It was getting on for around 2.30 in the morning when Elena started to pack up her art supplies. Finally happy with the progress she was making, she let herself crack half a smile as she stepped back to admire her progress so far and thought that Ryan would be so surprised when she gave this to him on Christmas day.

Elena started getting ready for bed and was even more pleased that she wasn’t feeling quite so bitter and resentful after her evening of creativity. As she peered into the mirror and brushed her teeth she was instead thinking about those differences between her own life and her brother Ryan’s.

Her mind was never idle. So as she climbed into bed that night willing herself to switch off and fall asleep quickly, she was instead thinking over how different her life might have been if when she was just 16, she never had that experience, the one that led to her coming out to her friends and family. Would she have continued dating guys? Would Ryan be the only one in their family married with kids?

Elena just couldn’t imagine her life any other way than how it was now. Even with all the drama that she had been through she knew that being openly gay was the only way she could imagine living her life. If she wasn’t, she’d be denying a part of herself that all her future happiness seemed to depend upon. Elena’s ideals were the same happy ever after that most people dream of, just without the prince charming, she’d spent years imagining the perfect happy ever after with some presently unknown woman of her dreams. So as she fell asleep that night she wrote off her musings of a simpler life where she’d never come out to anyone as a flippant insignificant thought that she’d forget about by the morning.

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