See that photo up there? That’s me, right now, at this very moment.
The following quote is also very fitting:
“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”
― Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
I have definitely struggled and suffering through many things in my short existence on this Earth, and this one will definitely not be the last.
Truth be told, I almost gave up on this novel entirely. I told myself last week that “I just needed a break.”
Well, here we are, another week gone by. I have nothing to say for myself. I have no excuses. Nothing to say, or write.
Except that today, I finally picked my head up and put my fingers to the keyboard again. I may have only written for 15 minutes today, but in my book, I totally call that a win.
And tomorrow – The very last day of November 2014 – I will write again.
Last year, the last day I saved the Word document that contains my 2013 novel attempt was on November 25, 2013.
This year, that “Date Last Modified” section will read November 30, 2014.
And I won’t stop there.
Enjoy excerpt #4!
Working Title: “Discussion of Differences”
Current word count, as of this writing: 15,341 words
“Lizzy – I’m sorry. I didn’t want to be mean, but it’s so true. You’re so close to the end! I’m just looking out for you, that’s all.”
Bethany heard sniffles and then a deep breath.
“You’re – You’re right, B. I’m just so overwhelmed. Stressed. Exasperated. Done. Finished!”
Bethany sighed. “I know, Lizzy. I know all of it. Believe me, I’ve been there. We all have – Even Will. We all had some kind of senioritis, especially toward the end of the last semester. But hear this – You can do this. You’re so close. Just buckle down and endure these last few weeks – I promise that the end result will be so worth it.”
Lizzy sniffled and considered her words carefully.
“Thanks, B. Really. It’s so great to have a friend like you. I feel more of a connection to you than anyone else, which is probably why I’ve been texting you non-stop for the last six days. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I just get into a groove of feeling the need to write out everything that I’m currently thinking. I simply forgot that you have these things called work, and your own school, and your life with Will and your family. Will you accept my apology?”
Bethany then realized she’d been holding her breath. As she let it out slowly, she also considered her next move.
“Lizzy, of course I accept your apology. But – You need to make a commitment to me.”
“B – Anything. Anything for a friend like you.”
“Please, for the love of everything holy, text me only once a day from now on. I don’t care if it’s a novel, but consider it a reward, of sorts. You can text me at the end of every day, but only when you get through all of your classes, all of your homework, and any other obligations that you have. Do we have a deal?”
Bethany could almost see Lizzy, see her making that face when she’s seriously considering something.
“You got it, B. Anything to save our friendship!”
Bethany chuckled. “Lizzy – I wasn’t going to end our friendship. I’m just a worried mother hen right now. Do you understand? Anyway, I look forward to your end-of-day texts!”
“B – You rock. I feel so much better now. When’s the best time to text you?”
“Um, any time before 9:30 p.m. After that, I’m asleep. Got it?”
“Okie dokie. I’ll text you tonight then! Thanks, B. You’re an awesome friend.”
“Alright. Let me eat my food and I’ll get back to work. I’ll text you back tonight to let you know that I got it and read it. Now go pass those classes!”
Bethany could almost see the smile returning to Lizzy’s face.
… Bethany almost felt bad that she had such a close relationship with Hunter – They were pen pals, too – but they both knew it was completely platonic. Both of them cared about their significant others too much, along with their friendship, to jeopardize anything.
Bethany just stared at Hunter’s last message for at least five minutes before tapping the screen to write a reply. Whatever she wrote, she had to do it quickly – Her lunch break was almost over. At least she’d been able to scarf down her sandwich while talking with Lizzy.
Finally, in the last two minutes of her lunch hour, Bethany felt confident in her thoughts.
Hey there. I hope you had a good lunch break. I just spent three-quarters of mine talking with Lizzy. Yes, actually talking with her over the phone. I don’t want to get in the middle of anything between you two, but I wanted to be transparent with you. That’s what friends are for – I don’t want to keep any secrets from you. I completely understand if you don’t want to share or talk about it.
Bethany let out a frustrated sigh, peppered with relief. She always felt better when she actually communicated her thoughts and feelings – Whether it be through spoken word, or written. She just didn’t want to hurt anybody.
Hunter had far more freedom at his job – He was able to stay on the FlixelFlaxen throughout the day, unlike Bethany.
He always got excited when the new message icon popped up. He really did enjoy Bethany’s conversations. After all, he had never expected to be friends with her after her graduation more than three years ago. He was immensely grateful for her friendship – She’d gotten him through some dark times, ones that she didn’t know about. And that included issues with Lisanna.
He read B’s latest message once, and then paused before reading it again. He always like to read things more than once.
He took off his glasses, closed his eyes, and pressed his hands to his face. His worst fears were becoming reality. Lizzy was a super senior. Over the last several weeks, he had noticed her withdrawals increasing at an alarming rate. He knew she was struggling, but he had no idea how to help her.
“Oh, fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck! Now B knows. Now what?”
He had to distract himself for a few minutes before replying to her. Luckily, he knew Bethany was working on a big project this afternoon, so he had more than enough time to consider his response to her.
After a lopsided combination of a little bit of video editing and quite a bit of anime, Hunter’s head was clear enough. He didn’t like replying to Bethany on impulse, if he could help it.
He took a deep breath as he poised his hands over the keyboard.
Interesting. First of all, it’s not your fault – I know that Lizzy’s gotten super close with you since last we met at Bill’s. And that’s great! I appreciate you letting me know. And being honest with me. Keeping secrets is never a good thing – Even between friends. Not to worry though – You’re not getting between us. In fact, you saying something has actually been helpful. It’s made me realize that there’s more of a problem than I had originally thought. Let’s work together, if that’s okay with you. I think you want to help Lizzy as much as I do. What do you think?
Hunter finally breathed out as he clicked Send.
“Now, the waiting begins. Until then – More distraction!”
… Bethany couldn’t respond right away. She needed to mull this over, maybe even talk to Will about it. But there was another pressing thing on her mind: The next meeting. It was just eight days away!
As she drove toward Will’s house after work, she spoke potential responses to Hunter aloud. She knew something would eventually bubble up to the surface.
Bethany parked in Will’s driveway and hustled inside – It was really starting to be autumn, with the crisp chill in the air. She kissed Will as soon as she crossed the threshold, and then excused herself to the bathroom. She had logged into the FlixelFlaxen before she’d left work, and was ready to reply.
Look – I completely understand how you feel. You know full well that Will and I were in a LDR before I graduated. I desperately wanted Will to come visit me every single weekend, but I knew – We both knew – that wasn’t practical. I personally don’t think it’s practical in your case, either. I think you should be as supportive as possible, though. Visit her every other weekend. It’s only six weeks until the end! You both can handle this, I know it. I want to help, but I want you to make the decision. Let me know what happens.
Hunter was gaming – as usual – when the notification beep interrupted his music. He paused the game and clicked over to the FlixelFlaxen. He’d gotten really good at skimming Bethany’s messages, so it took less than a minute for him to get the gist.
His response was lightning fast:
Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate it. You’re right, in a way. We both want to see each other every weekend, but I don’t think it will help anything. It is only six more weeks. I’ll see if she wants me to call her more often – Maybe that will help during the weeks that I can’t visit her. She definitely needs all the support that she can get. Thanks again – You’re a great friend.
Bethany smiled and went to sit by Will’s side, as happy as a clam.
As Bethany and Will settled into watching the newest episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” Bethany drifted off into dreamland again, visions of all things Europe dancing in her head.
The next day marked a week away from the next get-together. Since it was a Saturday, Bethany devoted most of the morning to writing everything done. She switched back and forth between the computer and her special Europe journal. After the first meeting, Bethany and Will had gone to Target the following week, and Bethany wandered into the stationery aisle. She scanned the journals and notebooks until Will heard her gasp. Bethany had found the ultimate 7-subject notebook. Yes, there are notebooks that go beyond the 5-subject kind now!
… Bethany thought it was just perfect – There were actually enough sections to cover all the bases. There were six equal sections, one for each person, since Bethany was delegating roles for everyone. Then the seventh section was reserved for general planning, wish lists, doodles, photos – Sort of like a European Pinterest board, but on paper.
She couldn’t wait to start writing in it, but she was whisked away by Will to the bedroom for some overdue sexy time. It could wait, but not much longer. They would all meet up the following Saturday, and there was still so much to do and prepare.
However, she couldn’t wait for everyone to see it. She even tried to hide it from Will, but that didn’t work so well. He could tell that she was really excited, and that buoyed his spirits. For some reason, he was having an inkling that Saturday’s meeting was not going to be as stellar as Bethany and the others were anticipating.
He tried to mask it, but it wasn’t easy. Because he and Bethany had been together for over four years at that point, she’d gotten really good at being able to tell when something was wrong with him or if something was bothering him. After all, Will was one of the most easy-going people she’d ever met, so it wasn’t really hard to perceive when something was different.
Will finally came to the conclusion that he had to let Bethany know of his suspicions. He spent the first part of the week trying to rehearse what she was going to say, because he knew that Bethany would likely react really strongly. She didn’t take kindly to uncomfortable situations, and more so if they blew up in her face all of a sudden. He decided he would take her to dinner and attempt to tell her his thoughts that Thursday. He figured it would give her enough time to react to it and process it before the meeting took place. That was his hope, anyway.
Thursday night, they met at Will’s after work like usual. Normally, they went out to dinner as a couple on Fridays, but Will liked to pull a surprise every so often, to keep Bethany guessing. That night, they decided on Outback. Will drove, and even though he was holding Bethany’s hand and chattering like everything was normal, in his head he was desperately trying to formulate the right words. He knew this wasn’t going to go well.
After they ordered their salads and steaks, they were making small talk about work. They had mutually decided that their conversation about Europe would be minimal to none between the two of them. They agreed that they could talk about their own wants and wishes, but nothing that involved the group. It was all about fairness. Then, the conversation suddenly fell off a cliff, and Bethany heard Will swallow and breathe deeply.
“Will? What’s wrong? You look worried.”
He cleared his throat – It was now or never.
“Bethie, I am worried. I’ve tried to find or come up with the right words all week long, to try to tell you this carefully or gently. But, I’ll just be straight with you – I know that’s how you like it.”
It was Bethany’s turn to swallow. She instantly got nervous and edgy whenever Will was nervous – It generally wasn’t a good sign.
“Will, honey, I appreciate that. I really do. You know me so well. What is it? You know that you can tell me anything, right?”
Will nodded and bowed his head a little. He didn’t want to meet her eyes, but he forced himself to do so.
“Okay, here it is. I’ve had this inkling that this meeting on Saturday is going to be a disaster. I don’t know why or how or what, but that’s just my gut feeling. I don’t know what to do.”
Bethany’s eyes softened. She stroked his right hand with her left, and with her right hand, cupped his chin and kissed him.
“Sweetheart, I can tell you’re worried. I am too, a little bit. I think it’s because we’re going to start talking about the real details now. You know, the money aspect is a big one …”
Will nodded. He felt his gut untwist a little.
“The fun party planning period is ending. But, we’re all friends. We’ve been through some tough times already – Remember how worried we all were when Bill’s mom had that stroke?”
Will nodded again. He started to breathe normally again.
“Everything will be fine. If we do disagree, so be it. We don’t have to plan everything in one Saturday. Actually, we can’t do that. There will be many more Saturday meetings before the official adventure begins.”
Bethany smiled. Seeing her grin restored Will’s confidence and faith. He cupped her chin and kissed her longingly.
“Whew. I feel better. Don’t you?”
Bethany nodded vigorously.
“I keep saying it because it’s so true – Talking it out is the way to go.”
“Well, that was perfect timing. I think I see our waitress coming with our food. Let’s enjoy our meal and think about something else for a change – Like maybe having sexy time when we get back to your house?”
No one could wipe the grins off their faces.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂