Originally hosted on Boy Meets Boy Reviews
This scene was more seriously overhauled than deleted. In the first draft of “Portraits,” Jocelyn was the dark and brooding Joshua and Rina was Maeve, who honestly didn’t have much of a personality in hindsight. They also knew each other in high school. The book also started on the door step of the biggest conflict, so I had to back it waaaaay up and let Jocelyn’s family live.
Moral of this story: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water if you realize your project has major problems. Mine for the gems within and build around those. 🙂
I inch away from the girl speaking as she leans on the counter and talks to the bartender. She’s so small and simply dressed that I didn’t notice her between the three others. The bartender has her attention, so I take the moment to really look at her.
Her green eyes are familiar and her dark brown hair is in a cute pixie cut that makes my heart skip. Her nose is slightly crooked with a faint scar along the right side. She crashed into a tree and broke it our freshmen year of high school.
It’s Maeve Fischler.
She takes the glass with a smile, but the bulky dwarf on her other side turns in his chair and bumps into Maeve’s arm, splashing the water onto the counter. Looking around for napkins, her eyes rest on me for a second, but I look away, spotting a dispenser within arm’s reach.
“Here,” I mutter, handing it to her with my face still turned away.
“Thanks.” As she mops up the water, I light up another cigarette and keep my body angled away from her. She nudges with me the napkin dispenser. “Can you put this back?”
“Thank—wait…” She cranes her neck to see my face. I try to swivel out of view, but she’s too fast and my range of movement too limited. Her eyes get wide with recognition and I know I’m busted. “Joshua! Joshua Ricc—”
“Maeve! Fancy meeting you here!” I exclaim, trying to cover up my old name. “What brings you to the Time Between?”
Maeve blinks like I asked the question in Mandarin. “What brings—Joshua, what are you doing here?”
One of the girls yells, “Mae, come on,” in a drunken slur.
Cupping her hands around her mouth, Maeve replies, “I’ll be along in a sec,” and hops into the barstool the redcap vacated. “Joshua, are you real? Am I dreaming?”
“Nope,” I sigh.
“After the accident you just vanished. What happened?”
I should just run. I could leave, drive away and blend back into the city for the three months I have left. These girls aren’t safe here though and I can’t bring myself to abandon them.
“It was a lot to deal with. I needed space,” I say. Someone across the bar wears a Los Angeles T-shirt. “I went to California to live with family.”
Maeve drums her fingers on the counter as I tap the ashes of my cigarette into the tray. “That’s it? No reason why you didn’t say ‘good-bye?’ No reason why you didn’t…” She sighs and runs a hand through her hair. “Okay, so you’re back. How long?”
“Are you staying with friends?”
I shake my head.
“Are you going to college? Working?”
A quick glance reveals that her friends are still fine for now. Just dancing together under the spastic lights and having a good time. If only I could figure out a way to get them to leave that wouldn’t draw attention.
“Helloooo!” Maeve lightly punches my shoulder. “Earth to Joshua! What gives? You disappear for two years and now you won’t say a word?”
“What is there to say, Maeve?” I snap. “My family died, I freaked out, I ran, now I’m back until I form another plan. That’s all.”
Maeve cocks her head and her eyebrows disappear under her bangs, one slightly higher than the other. It’s a silent way she has of saying “bull shit.” I see that she has perfected it in these two years.
“Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge.”
Maeve groans and rolls her eyes. “Your parents and sister dying are not ‘water under the bridge!’”
I ignore her, more to seem apathetic to the faeries around us, and take a drag on the cigarette. “What’s new with you? I imagine you wrapped up your freshman year of college, right? Still pre-med?”
Maeve glares at me. “Joshua—”
Her drunk friend barges in again, grabbing Maeve around the waist and holding her a bit too tightly. “Mae,” she whines, “We brought you so you could learn how to have fun!”
“Yeah, Maeve,” I chime in. “Go have some fun.”
She keeps on glaring as her friend drags her off the stool. “Joshua, seriously. Tell me what’s going on with you.”
“Go dance for one song and we’ll talk,” I say, giving her a little salute. “Promise.”
Her “bull shit” face is back.
“Have I ever lied to you?”
Somehow, that works and she goes off with her friend, looking back at me every few seconds. Soon, she’s so deep in the crowd that she can’t see me.
Too bad the answer was to my question was, “Yes.”
Purchase “Portraits” wherever you buy paper or electronic books!