PicoWriMo is going well, and I've passed my original target, although my current short story seems to want to be a novella.Hopefully I'll get it 80 to 90% written within the month. Excerpts on the community by day, and gathered here for reference:
Michael drifted between sleep and part-waking. Days passed, measured by visits from the consultant, from junior doctors, from a steady stream of nurses. In between those visits were the ones from the band, his family, his old friends. Once or twice he thought Jimmy might have been there, at his bedside, except hadn't he met Jimmy first outside the hospital, when he'd been discharged the first time? After that other accident, the one he remembered as clearly as ever, but that had seemingly never happened.
At last, a week after the crash, he woke properly and learned the price he'd paid to bring his friends back.
"A birthday. I do so love birthdays!"
Michael spun round in his chair at the half-familiar voice, almost toppling towards his heavier side in the process. The guy was hatless, and wore a smart pinstripe suit, but there was no mistaking him for anyone but Michael's lift from a journey that hadn't yet happened, and a meeting in a churchyard that wouldn't now happen.
Summers set down the chair he'd carried over for Patricia, then bounded around the table to clap Nigel on the shoulder. "Many happy returns, dear boy. How are you all keeping? Well, I hope. And this must be Michael." He extended his right hand, then hesitated and extended the left instead.
Michael reached out cautiously, and they shook hands as if strangers.
"Monty Summers. We met before, but I fear you were unconscious at the time."
"Monty was the one that called the ambulance," Patricia said. "We're all very grateful to him."
It was time he found Jimmy, Michael decided. He'd spent hours failing to fall asleep, in spite of the amount he'd drunk and smoked that evening. After the first accident he'd given up everything except alcohol and coffee. This time, although he rarely shared joints that the others were passing round, he found it oddly reassuring that he could skin up one-handed. Besides, dope seemed to be the only way he could banish the feelings from his missing arm.
There was no guarantee Jimmy would believe him, of course. He hadn't before, but Michael suspected they'd end up friends, no matter what circumstances they met under. First of all, though, he'd go to the hospital with the others, and meet this miraculously-recovered friend of Monty. He had to find out what trickery was involved this time, and hopefully prevent them all making a deal that they'd regret later.
(Having met Monty's sick friend, Michael has now gone to find Jimmy...)
"You used to be a guitarist." Michael blurted the words out before he'd properly considered them. "In a band."
"And who told you that?"
"Your hands. The calluses on your fingers came from more than just picking that up occasionally." Michael pointed to the guitar he could just see propped up behind where Jimmy was blocking the door.
"Bang to rights." Jimmy took a half step back. "So what can I do you for?"
"I need to talk to someone." If this had been the old Jimmy, Michael would have been tempted to ask for a manly, mates-in-this-together kind of hug. But this was a new Jimmy, one that knew nothing of Michael's history, much less their previous friendship.
(First, more of Michael and Jimmy...)
"These friends you're staying with in Norwich, are they part of the band?"
Michael nodded. "Roger and Patricia live near the outpatients clinics I'm going to." He'd had appointments to see an actual therapist as well, but so far those had been rescheduled three or four times. How could he talk about his feelings when what had happened to him felt unreal even to him?
"And how's that working out for you? Would you like a splash of something in your coffee, by the way?"
"I usually take it black." Michael started to spoon sugar into his mug.
"I've got Jack Daniels, and I can call out for a pizza if you don't like drinking on an empty stomach."
"Go on then. To both, thanks. I... I like Four Seasons, with extra anchovies. And you're right," Michael continued as Jimmy got up again. "It's not working out as well as it could, staying with the others." He wanted his old flat back, but he had a feeling Mr Patel would have found a new tenant by now. It was hardly suited to him in his current state either, not when he struggled enough with regular household tasks in Roger and Patricia's better fitted-out kitchen.
(And then the start of the scene I expected to be writing all of today. Michael the next morning...)
Patricia was curled up on the sofa, reading a textbook, when Michael walked downstairs. She set it on the floor, yawning and stretching, and proving that she wore only a pair of skimpy black knickers under her oversized goth-kitty T-shirt.
"At least I'm dressed. Where's Roger?" Michael flopped into the armchair furthest from Patricia, torn between not looking at her and wondering if he was awake enough to make coffee for them both.
"Gone to London, to draw up new contracts. You want juice?" She sprang to her feet, and padded across to the far door, planting a kiss of Michael's forehead as she passed him.
Michael followed. Proper breakfast suddenly seemed like a highly sensible idea, so long as he kept himself on the opposite side of the kitchen table to Patricia. It sounded as if they'd decided already to invite Simon into the band, but he needed to find out exactly where that left him and the new songs he'd already half-composed in his head.
(First off, Michael and Patricia have been cooking breakfast together...)
"Are you sure you don't want bacon?" She speared a piece on her fork, and held it temptingly close to Michael's lips.
"Go on then." He chewed it slowly, savouring the smoky, salty taste-texture. "You're very friendly today."
"Friendly? We've always been friends."
"Forward then. Are you flirting with me, or what?"
"Don't you want me to? I always got the impression you fancied me, but were too shy to come out and say anything."
"I did. I do. It's just..." You died. What if she'd come back wrong? That happened all the time in horror stories. What if the price for getting his friends back was more than just the loss of his arm, and he hadn't been told the rest yet?
(And from a little later in the same morning, with warnings for foreplay and general freakiness...)
"I used to sneak looks at you, when you took your shirt off on stage." Patricia moved up Michael's body, her knickers rough against his over-sensitive dick, and took hold of the hem of his T-shirt. "May I?"
"If I can see you first." Michael took hold of her T-shirt, twisting the lower third around his wrist and pulled it over her head. He threw it onto the floor, and ran his hand down her arms. Her skin was cold, waxy beneath the soft downy hairs speckled between her elbow and her wrist.
Michael had a flash of memory. Of feeling skin like that before, in the hospital mortuary. He scooted backwards to the far edge of the bed, his erection wilting even faster than he could rezip his jeans.
"I'm sorry." It's not you, it's me. But that was one huge cliché, no matter how true it was right now. "This is all moving too fast for me. I need to get out, get some space."
(I posted an excerpt from this day's work at my LJ and then...)
The band, a three piece, were new to playing live, obviously so, but they showed promise. Their covers had just enough of an original twist to make the musicians stand out without alienating the less receptive sections of the audience. The two original numbers they played made Michael jot some details on a beer mat and stash it in his pocket; he'd Google them the next day, and see what else they had out.
Michael turned to see a girl slide onto the bench seat beside him. "Hi, yourself."
The band were leaving the stage. There'd be a short lull while people topped up their alcohol levels, and then the headliners would be on. He might as well indulge in a little flirtation until the crowd at the bar thinned out again.