I’ve passed the half way mark in the middle of what is supposed to be a week of doubt, hand-wringing and procrastination. Instead, this story keeps on soaring. The plot is clarifying, motifs arise, characters gain depth and richness, and I can slow down enough to occasionally write prose I am not ashamed of.
Malcolm’s life was like a mystery, a question, a riddle. At times, Maggie felt she held it in her hands, a naive, clumsy girl with Venetian glass.She never meant to break it. He didn’t know how to fix it.When all the right answers go wrong, the best strategy may be playing to lose.
And for those who might be interested, an excerpt…
Maggie gazed up into the night sky, stared until it blurred, stared until a moving helicopter, Sirius, Betelgeuse, half a moon, became doors of memory. He was just like that. Glimpses like stray flashes of light, as if Malcolm were a dark mystery, as if the person she probably knew best in the world was a stranger. There was always something new to find out about Malcolm. And this shock had been part of knowing him as long as they’d been friends, from the day they met. September 8, 1999. He was still 13, she was 14. The tall, new boy in homeroom; she had thought he was cute right away. Shy, maybe. He had only looked at her obliquely when she answered to her name at roll-call. That was it till second day, when they took refuge with each other over flat cheeseburgers and soggy fries in the mayhem that was the social viper pit of ninth grade. Close-up, he had zits and really dark brown eyes that followed every tick and nuance as she spoke. More freckles than zits, to be fair, black eyelashes and thin lips that curled and curled again. He was definitely cute.They loved music, but different kinds. He didn’t read, in other words, he wouldn’t, while that was about all she mostly did do. And write, which back then was maudlin, rhyming poetry. In another year she’d discover free verse, but not yet. They’d known each other about a month when she let him read one, and she did that because when she caught him sketching in math class one day, he simply passed her his notebook. Turning page after page was like being in a museum; the world went away, fundamentals of algebra faded to the sound of dust settling over civilizations, and beauty rode on quiet wings across all the years of time. His trust made her trust. Looking at the shaded pencil drawings of their classmates and teachers, spread out in her hands, was like holding some part of Malcolm himself, some special, secret part that wasn’t dark even if it was mysterious. She wanted to be his best friend forever.Even before he asked her to write him a poem about the wind.