Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Mocha Life

Okay, not really, but it's probably the title I should have gone with. Oh, let me explain:

Today is the day I update the next Tib story, which I have done. Go read it! Here's a link just in case you can't manage to get your mouse up to the tabby thing: The Kitchen Table.

Quite a while ago, I wrote the second chapter of Tib from a different perspective. It was a writing exercise for a writing group and went along with some theme or other (although, I can't remember what that theme was), and I had "The Tunnel" written already, so I thought I would just continue that story by jumping to Tib's mom. As I was writing it, I figured out that I didn't want any of the story from Tib's mom's perspective. I'd stick to either Tib or the man with no eyes. However, I finished the story anyway. So, as an extra special treat for one day only (okay, that's not precisely the truth), you get to see both versions of the second chapter of Tib. Tib's version (the real version) is up in the Tib tab. His mother's version is below. Read them both, and let me know what you think!

Life Is a Mocha

She sat at the table cradling the less than warm coffee mug in her hands wondering what had happened to her life. Where had it gone? She decided it was the like the mocha she was holding, the mocha that, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get to compare in the least to the ones the cafĂ© in town made, slowly losing its heat. From moment to moment, you couldn’t tell the difference, but, if you weren’t paying attention, you’d suddenly find it was cold. You could reheat it, but, really, it would never be the same. Like fried foods. That was her life. Lukewarm going to cold. And she had never noticed it happening.

She remembered being beautiful. She remembered when men would fight over her. Literally. She hadn’t appreciated that, at the time. Had hardly noticed it. Had not realized what her life was then. And she remembered when it had changed. Michael. Devilishly handsome and not far removed from the devil himself, though she hadn’t known that at the time. Not that he was bad, that wasn’t it. But, if the devil had started as an angel, Michael was… Well, he wasn’t far removed.

He had taken her old life and given her something else in return. Neither of them had known it, at the time. If only…

She sighed heavily. If only she had left well enough alone and not insisted on the truth. She had come to the conclusion, since then, that truth was overrated. But, really, how was she to know? It’s not like there was some kind of handbook with a warning, “Hey, your lover is more than human; leave well enough alone. Don’t ask questions.” But she had asked questions. Over and over and over again until he had finally told her. And it had cost her her life.

And given her a new one. Two new ones, in fact, although neither of them had known that, at the time. At the time… But, really, would she have done anything different even if she had known she was pregnant? She had spent the last decade trying to tell herself that that was so, but she knew it wasn’t. She knew then just like she still knew, now, that she could not have gone on with Michael not knowing anything about him. She would have lost him with or without the truth from him. Still… Why had he told her? He could have just disappeared and left her wondering what had happened to him. It would have hurt her, yes, but, at least, that was something she could have recovered from. She had never recovered from the knowledge he had given her.

And here she was contemplating how in the world she was going to pass that knowledge on to her son. She didn’t want to do it, which was why he was about to turn 11 and knew nothing of his father. But he was about to turn 11, and he had to know. Had to be prepared. 11... She still didn’t understand why 11 was so important, but she knew there was truth in it. Could feel it.

As if thoughts of him had summoned him, the screen door squeaked open and slammed followed by the house rattling slam of the front door. That, of course, was followed by the crash of his backpack as he tossed it into the chair in the hallway, and the chair slammed into the table next to it. No matter how many times she told him not to throw his backpack. Sigh.

“Tib? Tib is that you?” She wondered for a moment why she asked that question everyday when he came in. It’s not like it was going to be anyone else, and there was the backpack. Really. If it was someone else, would there really be the backpack? But she compulsively asked. Everyday. She wondered, not for the first time, if that was because Michael had broken some ability in her to trust reality.

“Yes, Mom! It’s me! Who else would it be?” Just like everyday. Well, except those days when he said, “No, Mom! I’m someone else!” But today wasn’t one of those days. He sounded as if he had had a bad time coming through the tunnel, today. Not that he didn’t always have a bad time, but some days were worse than others. She didn’t understand that; it was just a tunnel!

She heard him start up the stairs, “Tib, come here, please!”

“Aw, Mom! What? I don’t want to do my homework, right now!”

“You know the rules; homework, first! But this isn’t about homework. Just come here!”

“I didn’t do anything!”

He still wasn’t coming back down the stairs… She sighed and shook her head, rolling her eyes at the repetitiveness of this scenario, “I didn’t say you did anything! Just come here!”

His footsteps fell more heavily on the stairs than they really needed to as he came stomping his way back down. Any chance to actively demonstrate his disapproval, after all.

“What, Mom?” as he came into the kitchen. Her mocha was completely cold, now, but she didn’t notice as she took a small sip.

“Sit down. We need to talk.”

“Mom…! I have things to do!”

She snorted without meaning to, “Video games are hardly something you need to do.”

Tiberius just glowered at her the way he did when he had no response to her. Generally, because it was hard to argue against the truth. Even when you didn’t like it. Something she knew well.

She stared back at him, finally saying, “I said ‘sit down.’”

Tib dropped into a chair as if he was a marionette that had just had his strings cut. She sighed again. Every time he did that, she had visions of the chair collapsing under him, impaling him on the wooden pin cushion it became in her mind as it broke apart. She shook her head and sighed, again, but held back her normal response. She had other things to talk about.

She looked down into her coffee mug, only just now realizing that her mocha had lost all of its heat. Not even half gone. She frowned at it, got up, and dumped it in the sink. From behind her, Tib said, “Well?”

She turned around and looked at him, leaning against the edge of the counter, “You turn 11, next week.”

He shrugged, “Yeah, so… It’s just another birthday. It’s not like I get to have a party or anything.” He said that with such bitterness, and she wept on the inside. Sometimes… sometimes keeping him safe just cost too much.

“I know… I’m sorry…” She stopped short of trying to explain it all to him, again, since there had never really been any explanation to go with that. She sighed. Again. She looked Tib in the eyes, “It’s time you knew about your father.”


  1. I'll never look at mochas the same way again. Though I prefer mine frapped.

  2. Her version is compelling, but when I read Tib's version I see why you would stick with it and leave her out.

  3. I think the shadow spiders win out over curiosity about Michael. Just.

  4. I agree completely with Shannon. I can see why you chose the Tib version, and while this version is definitely not bad, I can see how the Tib version is much more compelling. The part with the shadow spiders and the end line especially, 'Then, she said the last thing he ever thought he'd hear from her lips...' seem to hit a lot harder and really drive the chapter home.

    Also, re: the comments we've been exchanging, I'm sending you an e-mail with a snippet of my new novel, so you can see how I'm working with present tense.

  5. I rather like iced mochas. I also like hot ones. I guess it depends on what you prefer.

  6. Mutt (I think that's better than saying "Bulldog"): I'm not sure what frapping is.

    Shannon: Well, it wasn't actually a matter of choosing between the two versions. I just decided that I don't want to have multiduinous perspectives. I think the overall story will be better if viewed only through the eyes of Tib. Well, and the eyes of the man with no eyes.

    Sarah P: You'll get your chance to meet Michael soon enough. :)

    Bryan: Well, the kids in my creative writing class loved the shadow spiders and immediately started making them on the table while I was reading.

    Michael: But do you like luke warms ones?