SOLVED and About Chapter 8
Chapter 8 Whirlwind, when Book Imitates Art, but first!
I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for yesterday. It’s so hard when you think there’s no way out of an impossible-to-live-with situation, but I think I’ve come up with a solution that will work (powered by your good wishes and prayers). I’ll detail it on my Ruth Agle Facebook page, because now I need your help in figuring out how to accomplish the deed. THANK YOU.
Chapter 8 is when the true story really begins. Whenever I’m entering a life-altering situation, that first step is always a big deal to me. Literally. I always use my right foot.
The first time was when I stepped into my first day of fifth grade in Cedar City, Utah, after having moved there from Laie, Hawaii. I was wearing shoes with soles made out of what felt like dried rubber cement, boingy and soft with a thick, slightly higher heel, and I felt so grown up – a big change from Hawaii, where we often went to school barefoot. I later discovered that one shoe was a half size larger than the other (someone had switched them in the box!) but I proudly wore them anyway, and I loved them. As I entered that school I looked down at my feet. Right foot first over that threshold. A New Beginning. I’ve used my right foot ever since.
Hazel is the first to take a step into the Hideaway and I’m certain she used her right foot too. And upon entering this house, she saw what I saw. She missed what I missed. At first.
A DEAD BAT.
Knowing what I know now, I’m certain that bat hadn’t been dead long. Anything that monstrously huge that can fit through a hole the size of a pencil eraser is not made of much so would shrivel quite quickly. Which is precisely the reason that most cats who are otherwise excellent hunters will not bother with bats. For all their size, there’s no feasty meat!
I don’t think our realtor would have mentioned that bat if Julie or I hadn’t spotted it first. She tried to shoo us into the living room pointing out this feature and that. But we noticed! She assured us that it was, “Probably a fluke,” a sentiment I clung to.
The dead bat was actually on the window seat, poor thing. I know the exact spot to this day, and that’s how it originally was in the book. But Nina had drawn the bat (in one of the few illustrations we were able to reuse from the first book) down on the floor so I changed the text. Much better! Because in addition to the bat, we get to see Marlene’s thin ankles, just as I had imagined them!
As Hazel, Ruth and Marlene move through the house, they’re moving into familiar territory that I know like the back of my hand. I think to make something real to you as a writer and therefore real to a reader, you need that. This recent situation that has caused me so much grief and tears, the kind where you can’t stop crying no matter how much you try that thankfully doesn’t happen often, reminds me of the last time I cried such tears: After commissioning me to write a book, my brothers came to Iowa.
They wanted to get photos of my house for the website (this was in the very early stages) and I proudly showed them around. Looking at it’s shabby self, and staying with my sister Julie in her much grander place, they insisted we used Julie’s house instead. I can see why! Julie’s house is GLORIOUS, and she has excellent taste! It’s bigger, with more rooms and you could get lost in it and it’s on a much larger piece of land. I would have wanted to use it too.
If I had lived there. But I didn’t.
At first I balked. And them I crumbled. No. NO. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put myself (Hazel wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye at the time) there with any realism. I cried for days, so strongly did I feel, just as I had recently. My brothers graciously gave in and it was like a New Beginning. Right foot first.
Just like now. It feels so good to be myself again after so many days of not and I hope I can make this work. There truly are angels among us.
Tomorrow, Nina’s art! And some hidden treasures and differences that lie therein.