Some of you may know that I’m writing a novel-length (novelised?) version of my popular(ish) short story, Graves. I reached a bit of a milestone with that this weekend, and I thought I’d share it with you here.
The working title for the novel is “Where We Belong“, which reflects that the story has become about more than just graves mysteriously appearing in people’s backyards. It’s very early days yet: I’m only about a third of the way through the first draft. The final novel, if all goes to plan, should arrive at the end of next year.
What happened this weekend is that I completed the first draft for the parts of the story that happen beyond the timeline of the short story. The rest of the first draft will comprise expanding (and writing afresh) the events as they happen in the short story (with plenty of additional tweaks and surprises) and weaving in the morass of new themes, plot points and characters).
But why have I brought you here? Because I finally wrote the scene where the first grave appears and, even though it’s a first draft and therefore barely readable, I wanted to share the moment with you:
Aaron watched the morning sun creeping over the horizon, laying its golden blanket across the sea. He made himself some coffee and headed into the garden. There were some weeds appearing in the flower bed down by his fence that he wanted to dig out before they felt inclined to stay.
He stretched his legs as he slipped on his knee pads. It was a cool morning and his joints were complaining. Weeding wouldn’t ease them any, but he had already put it off for a few days.
He wouldn’t have turned down Bill’s help. While the extra pair of hands had been useful, Aaron had privately been pleased to get back to the solitude of his morning routine. He couldn’t deny that Bill trouble him. Nice enough chap, but his return to the island was, in Aaron’s mind, unquestionable the herald of darker times.
Aaron shrugged off the thought with a hearty swig of coffee, and set out across the lawn.
He knew instantly that something wasn’t quite right. There wasn’t an inch of his garden, front and back, that hadn’t been tended by his own hand. He spent a healthy portion of every day, the same time every day, in his garden. He knew when the flowers were ready to open, he knew how every bush and tree hung, and he knew the way the light fell.
It was the shadow on the side of his house that caught his attention first. A small section of wall, in the corner of his eye, that wasn’t struck by the morning sun in the usual way. There was something blocking the light.
Aaron stopped, staring at the object embedded in his garden–his garden!–that was throwing its shadow against the wall of his house. It was something familiar, and yet something that didn’t have any place in his garden. He struggled to understand what it was doing there, how it had found its way onto his carefully managed property.
It was a gravestone.
And if you want to read the original short story, it’s free and available from Smashwords (as well as iBooks, Google Play, and various other non-Amazon outlets).