Here are some of my personal favorite parts of the first chapter of my novel, “Swimming.” Disclaimer: I’m kind of in love with dialogue. 🙂
“Where were you last night?”
Her question was so abrupt I almost choked on my poorly cooked casserole.
She nodded, knowingly. “Interesting. And yet, somehow you are never around when I need you.” Sarcastic smile. “So what were you doing exactly? Stalking Landon Miller?”
I rolled my eyes. “No. Of course not. And don’t be rude just because I’m not asexual.”
She rolled her eyes. “Whatever. It’s all just one big waste of time. A fool’s game that I just would rather not be a part of.” She took a sip of her Coke. “And that still doesn’t answer my question.”
“What question? The one which makes me into Glen Close from Fatal Attraction?”
“No. The one that calls you out as a flaky friend.”
I sighed. “For one to be flaky, one would have to actually be asked to do something.”
“And for one to be asked to do something, one would actually have to be around to ask.”
“What can I say? I’m a busy girl.”
“And once again, busy doing what?”
“Am I on trial? Do I need to have an alibi or something?”
“No. Just curious.”
“I heard curiosity killed a cat once.”
She gave me a slight smile, acknowledging my wit, but nothing more. She would not be taken off course just yet. “I tried to call you several times last night.”
“Sorry. Guess I missed them.”
She shook her head. “Were you at some loud party where they couldn’t be heard?”
“Are we done with the Inquisition? Because this is getting really old.”
She leaned back in her chair. Deep inhale. Slow exhale. “Fine. I try to take an interest in what you do and you shut me out. Typical.”
I laughed, short, harsh. “That’s not taking an interest. That’s trying to be my own personal GPS tracker.”
“Well is it my fault that I have a compulsive need to know what is going on with everyone around me?”
She laughed, brief yet genuine. “So I guess your whereabouts will remain a mystery.”
“A girl has to have her secrets.”
“Fine. Keep them. See if I care.” Of course she cared, she always does. Her constant need to be in the know was one of the few tiresome things about her. Usually I simply gave in, gave up, gave way to her barrage of questions. But not today. Not this time. It was all too important.
“I tried calling David too.”
I paused in mid-bite. “David? Why?”
“Because you two are surgically joined at the hip. Figured he either was with you or knew how to find you. But he did not answer either.”
“Guess he was busy.”
“Seems to be a common theme.”
“Are you going to tell me why you spent half of your night trying to call me?”
She shook her head. “Nope. I can keep secrets too.”
Carmen always knew how to play me.
“And where were you last night?”
The subject change to me was so quick I had to scramble for clarity from my mental haze. “Where?”
“Yes. Where. As in, where could you have possibly been at 11:30 at night?”
The constant questioning regarding my whereabouts was beginning to wear a little thin. “I was…out.”
“So I am aware. The location is more of my concern.”
“Does it really matter?”
Dad opened his mouth. Paused. Exhaled loudly. Then, through clench teeth, “It matters if you’re out screwing half of Newport.”
I came close to laughing out loud. Again. Apparently my sense of humor was becoming increasing more morbid. But not nearly as sadistic as my father’s. Imagine, Abigail the Slut.
“I assure you, my new occupation is not lady of the night.” David giggled.
Dad, unamused. “Clever. For such a smart girl, you certainly don’t seem to know when to give a straight answer. I’m running out of patience.”
“She was with me.” His response startled both of us.
“With you?” Dad gave a wry smile. “Somehow I sincerely doubt that.”
“She was, though, with me.” David had always been an awful liar. “She came to watch us practice.”
Dad shook his head. “I thought Abigail had sworn off swimming.”
“I just swore off competing.” I gave David a meaningful glance. “Figured that there was more to life than ribbons and ‘attaboys.’”
“You’ve never gone to one of his practices before.”
“Well a girl is allowed to change her mind.”
“That smartass mouth of yours is really starting to piss me off.”
So what now?” His soft voice shook me out of my stupor. I didn’t expect him to speak first. But I was immensely relieved that he did.
“I don’t know. That’s what I was going to ask you.”
He laughed, one his soft, low laughs that reminded me of a whispering breeze. “You’re asking me? That’s really rich.”
“My well of knowledge is completely barren.”
“Reassuring.” David sighed. “Aren’t you supposed to be the oldest? With age comes wisdom?”
“I’m the oldest by like, two whole minutes. Sadly, I didn’t learn a whole lot while I was waiting on you to grace the world with your presence.”
“Well, we must admit, the world didn’t get awesome until I came around.” He grinned, big and wide. I couldn’t help but grin also.
“Whatever. All that exposure to water jocks has given you a big head.”
David nodded in agreement. A few moments of silence passed between us.
I sighed. “To be honest, I’m just as confused as you…if not moreso.”
David looked at me for the first time since I had entered his room. His soft brown eyes captured my own. Fear, true and real, lurked beneath their glassy surface. I wanted so badly to take it from him, to make the shadows go away like I did when we were kids.
“We have to tell someone.”
I shook my head vigorously. “No. That is the last thing we want to do.”
“It’s just going to get deeper and deeper you know. Soon we’ll be in a hole that we can’t dig ourselves out of.”
I laughed. A little too loudly. “Since when are you such the pessimist.”
David gave me a half-smile. “Since lying became my new way of life.”
“Which you are really terrible at by the way.”
“Sorry, but I’m not the one who was in theatre.”
“I took one acting class as an elective for one semester. Good choice though-so many movies I almost canceled my Netflix account.”
“We’re not going to discuss this seriously are we?”
“Guess that whole twin ESP thing is kicking in.”
He sighed. “Well, if we’re not going to have a real conversation, can we just shut up in general?”
“I think I can oblige.” I turned my attention back to our dull film. “Don’t worry. Soon this will all blow over and everything can go back to normal.”
David snorted. “Is that what we really want?”
I smiled. “No. But it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.”