Friday, January 26, 2007

Current Novel Excerpt: A morning routine

This is from the novel I'm working on now. It's not polished, but I felt like sharing something that isn't from my somewhat awful NaNo piece. This takes place early in Chapter Two, which is set in early April, 1986. As with all the excerpts posted to date, this is very first draft-y. The writing is, perhaps, a little overly clipped and terse.

Beside the bed is a nightstand, upon which rests a digital alarm clock. It tells the time in angry red characters, blockish and terse. Like many mechanical objects of this period, it lacks elegance. It displays numbers using only straight lines and right angles. It has a radio built into it, but Baranatalo does not use this feature. The radio and the time and the noises it produces at a scheduled time are all it can do. It cannot determine the day of the week, or the month and date. It is unaware of time beyond a 24-hour cycle which it repeats and repeats.

Anthony Baranatalo presses the “snooze” button on the alarm clock and moves to a sitting position on the bed. Pressing the button means he has nine minutes before the alarm shrieks and cries again.

He rubs the sleep from his eyes, the last shred of a dream fading from his mind like a blob on his retina caused by looking too long at a bright light. He sits there at the edge of his bed with his head bowed, waiting for the next crash of his alarm which signals the beginning of his day.

When it does, it breaks the spell holding him motionless, his arm stretching out absently to silence it as he rises to his feet.

Baranatalo moves into the bathroom, cranking both of the knobs of the shower full on and causing water to pour from the head of the shower before adding a thin strip of toothpaste to his brush and brushing his teeth. There is a mechanical quality to his actions. When he has finished moving the brush against his teeth, he spits three times into the sink before pouring a capful of mouthwash into his mouth. He gargles it while turning “C” knob counter-clockwise to increase the temperature of the water streaming from the shower head. The shower begins to shriek, emitting a high-pitched steady drone which Baranatalo can no longer hear, any more than he hears the lumbering, industrious sounds of the El train a block and a half away. The sound from the shower is heat and pressure.

Baranatalo gets into the shower, throwing his underpants onto the floor behind him as he lets out a long, slow breath and feels the water warming his body. Steam rises from every surface the water touches, and Baranatalo’s skin turns a deep red as he lathers and rinses, then lathers and rinses again. When his hand presses against his torso, it leaves a white reminder of its presence for several seconds, his true skin color reappearing beneath his hot shower skin.

Once he has completed the requirements of the shower, he moves back into the bedroom, the excess water from the shower dripping from his body and onto the hardwood floor, as he does not possess a bath towel. He selects from his closet the leftmost of the identical white dress shirts which is slightly rumpled before he even puts it on, but more so afterward, wrinkled and clinging to his wet skin. He dons a pair of slacks over a fresh pair of underwear and sits on the bed to don black socks and shoes. He transfers his wallet from the previous day’s pants and places them into the hamper next to his bureau, then returns to the bathroom.

Baranatalo wipes his hand across the mirror to remove the remaining steam, creating a reflective but blurry surface on the glass. He slathers shaving cream across his jaw with the other hand, rinsing both hands afterward in cold water from the tap in the sink. He shaves quickly, scraping the blade in quick rows across his cheek, around his mouth and down his neck. He rinses his face in the cold tap water and watches his blurry, steamy reflection in the mirror for a moment, warily, as if expecting his reflection to do or say something. His mouth is slightly downturned, which is its normal position. He pushes his hair back onto his scalp, away from his sightline. His large, melancholy eyes gaze back at him, awaiting the same thing. Neither of them speaks, and so he rubs a green deodorant stick against his armpits, reaching under the shirt to cover first one, then the other with a thin layer of chemicals and antiseptic scent.


He Who Does Not Subscribe said...

This is nice, Mr. T, very nice.

I like the detail, the imagery, the vivid quality to the words, the phrases. I like this a lot.

I do believe I would like to read the first chapter and then the rest of those 5,654 words.

Unknown said...

A good descriptive snippet that left me asking for more. You show a confident style in places - you should let this shine through.

Unknown said...

Yep definitely want to see where this is going. I look forward to reading more.