I’ve just finished day 1 of nano 2012 and my wordcount is 1995. It would have been more but I broke the cardinal rule of nano and edited heavily. 😦 Major no-no, but hey, I’m easing into it right?
Anyway, I’ve written the prologue and scene 1 of chapter 1. Just because I choked myself up with the prologue, and because the writing isn’t too bad, I’ve decided to post it. And no, before anyone gets the wrong idea, it is NOT autobiographical!
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Miira sat on the back deck, looking out across her beloved Durai for the last time. She had timed her farewells to coincide with the magical time between day and night when the light seems to glow neon and even the air feels alive.
Spears of electric orange and gold lit up the trees, making the gently swaying branches look as if they were on fire. Closer to hand, the rose beds spread out below the deck sparkled like gems of many colours against the backdrop of deep green fruit trees and emerald grass. Out beyond the cultivated gardens a herd of alpaca glowed white against dusty grey green of the deep forest beyond. The distinctive colour of the native eucalypts marked the boundary separating Durai from the wildness of the bush.
A chorus of cackling drifted up to the deck from the gum trees and Miira smiled, even as her throat tightened up. There was something so right about hearing the kookaburras laughing at her. They knew humans were just a transitory part of their world…
When Miira had inherited Durai from the Old Lady there had been other properties holding back the bush, but one by one they had all fallen prey to neglect and the fires that raged across the hills every few years. Now only Durai remained, its stubborn resistance a challenge to the elements. It had been the first property to armour itself against the hungry fires spawned by climate change and it was appropriate that it should also be the last.
In the morning the curators from the National Trust would arrive to take formal possession of Durai. They would create a time capsule with the property safely coccooned inside its ten acre force field. The land inside would become a safe haven for all the living things it sheltered and the house would watch over them all, an enduring testament to the Old Lady’s determination to keep her home safe.
…and my love too…
The thought that Durai would endure, thanks to her decision, made the moment of leave taking a little easier, but nothing could stop the silent tears flooding Miira’s cheeks as she said goodbye to the only real home she had ever known. She had loved Durai just as much as the Old Lady. Perhaps that was why Emmi had willed the property to her. She must have known that Miira would never let Durai die. In her will she had written, “Protect Durai and it will protect you and your children’s children forever. Live long.”
“Forgive me Emmi.”
The Old Lady had wanted Durai to remain a home, a place of laughter and joy, a place where children could roam in safety, chasing blue tongue lizards and peering at spiny echidna while happy dogs yapped from a safe distance. But Miira had never had children and now she never would.
There would be children running through the grounds of Durai in the future but they would not be allowed to explore and play. They would visit, with their parents, to experience what life had been like in the past, before climate change had turned the world mad. And when the crowds were gone, Durai would rest empty and silent. But at least it would remain its own, unique self, a tiny world within a world.
When Miira had put Durai on the market there had been many bids from developers who scented huge profits from such an historic property. They would have kept the house, and a tiny slice of the gardens, but the rest of the property would have been razed to make way for a domed community for those wealthy enough to live ‘outside’.
The developers had offered Miira astronomical sums for Durai but she had turned them all down, accepting instead a far lower bid from the Trust. Developers and Trustees alike had been astounded. The Trustees had praised Miira for her generosity, promising to make Durai a place of quiet, understated beauty for countless generations to come. None had seen the sadness behind her smile.
Emmi would have been devastated to see Durai become a museum. That had never been her intent. She had assumed Miira would marry Gem and have lots of children. She had also assumed Miira would live into her 100s, as she herself had done, but there are some things even money can’t buy. Gem had died at the age of 32 and Miira had never remarried, never had any children. Instead she had gone back to work, giving her love and compassion to others like Emmi. Right up until the curse of her generation had finally caught up with her.
The Toxic Generation. That was what they were called now, but in Miira’s youth they had just been ‘the poor’. Or the Refugees. Displaced and homeless, Miira’s people had come from all over the Pacific and beyond. They had all been survivors of the environmental shipwreck of the 2080’s but reaching dry land had not been the salvation they had expected. Food, jobs, accommodation, all these things had been scarce and so the Refugees had quickly become an underclass of the hopelessly poor.
Whole industries had sprung up to feed and clothe the Refugees and no one had complained about the chemical laden, engineered food those industries produced. Many of the children of Refugees died young of inexplicable diseases but no one connected the dots. Not then.
Miira, with her Eurasian ancestry, had been healthier than many of the Refugee children of her generation and had fought her way out of poverty. She had studied hard and had eventually become a professional, a nurse and care-giver to the rich. With a career and money had come better food, and by her late twenties she had looked as healthy as the great, great grandchildren of her clients. Behind her healthy tan however, Miira’s body was already beginning to succomb to the damage of her early years. The cancers afflicting her generation were growing.
Emmi had known about Miira’s background but she had not connected the dots either. She had never had a sick day in her long, long life and could not conceive of a whole generation dying by their early forties. And so she had left Durai to a woman who was diagnosed with her first life threatening cancer at the age of forty-six.
Since then, Miira had had multiple organ transplants but still the cancer marched on, moving from one organ to the next as if contemptuous of the battery of weapons modern medicine threw at it.
Thanks to Emmi, and Durai, Miira had outlived most of her generation, but now there was nothing further medicine could do for her. In a year, two at the most, she would join all the others who had gone on before her : Gem, her family, her childhood friends, the students she had studied with and the colleagues she had worked with… all gone.
Sniffing in exasperation at her maudlin thoughts, Miira wiped her face with her sleeve and took a deep, unsteady breath. She had had an extraordinarily lucky life! So what if that life was going to be short?
A sudden breeze wafted the scent of roses up from below and Miira closed her eyes as she inhaled. Those riotous roses lived short lives as well. Yet what a glory they packed into those few, precious days…
“And it’s not over yet!” Miira said as she gazed out over the darkening garden.
As if in response to her words, a last determined beam from the setting sun burst through the trees and made the roses explode in colour once more.
Miira acted without thinking. Her hand slapped down onto the touch pad on the arm of her wheelchair.
Had she been quick enough?
Pulling her glasses down over her eyes Miira mumbled a command and suddenly Durai’s last gift filled her vision.
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p.s. Thank you to everyone who tweeted about Candy Korman’s freebies. She’s still in a dire situation but I’m sure she is warmed by your kindness.