Worldbuilding is our theme today for Snippet Saturday. You’ll have to forgive my lateness. I was up late writing on a book I’m trying to finish and today, well, I still haven’t gotten to it. Taking care of bookkeeping from last month, and all…
I know when I used to think of worldbuilding, I would think paranormal and sci-fi and fantasy, etc… But I didn’t think contemporary. But, I’m a contemporary writer for the most part and worldbuilding does go into it. I have a contemporary stock car racing world. I have a small town in North Georgia of construction type workers and their kinky counterparts. I have another small Georgia town of bad boys and girls just waiting to be shown just how good bad can be. These are my worlds that I have created, my fictional worlds and it stuns me now that I didn’t ever think about that before about a year ago.
When we read fiction, I don’t know about you, but I want a few things out of it… 1. I want to be transported into the story, no matter what time-frame or genre. I want to be transported. I want to see it with my own mind’s eye. 2. I want the characters, especially, especially, ESPECIALLY the female characters, I want them to be real enough that I can relate to them. Other readers want complete and total escapism. I’m good with that. I want someone I can relate to, someone I might like to have coffee with. I don’t relate well to the majority of female characters in fiction, but that’s just me.
When I’m creating these books, I am wanting there to be a mix of realism and fiction. This often gets me into trouble because, I either get called on the carpet for it being too real or not real enough (condoms come to mind and there will be a blog post on that soon). In my books, I let my characters talk how they’re going to talk. It’s not with proper English, it’s not with the prettiest of terms, it’s not with the most political correct ideas…
And I pick a world, the South (though I have ventured outside it from time to time), that I know well. I know its history, and I have it’s twang when I speak. I write books mainly around my beloved Southern states and I bring in characters that I have encountered, met, been in love with, been hurt by, been smitten with, been left by, etc… Because the characters are just as much a part of the worlds I build as anything, and in some cases, they are the world. (And don’t y’all dare start singing We Are The World)
Why am I telling you this? Because worldbuilding means something different to everyone, I think. We all look at the books we read in a different light. How the author intended the reader to see the world they’ve created, is not always the world the reader actually sees.
So for my snippet, I’m gonna grab from The Swing. This is a world of pain, sadness, forgiveness, and love.
He disconnected the line and rubbed at the two aches, first the leg and hip that had been surgically restructured more times than he cared to think about. Then his cock. It was as near a constant ache as his injured leg. Every time he thought about her, every time he tried not to think about her, every time he slept, showered, ate… It all led to her.
When he was building the swing that hung on his porch, after he got back from the VA, it was his way of dealing with the death of Marc. It gave him something to focus on, kept him sane, kept him from losing every bit of what little desire to live he had left. He built the swing with little use of power tools, shaping the wood by hand, sanding, carving the designs on the back. It gave him his life back. He’d even managed to turn it into a small business. He now made swings for others, donating half of what he made to a fund he set up for the families and wives like Caitlyn who lost their men to war. It wasn’t much, but he was trying to do something good, trying to pay back, trying to make some fucking sense of it all. His woodworking and Caitlyn were the only things in his life that made any sense and that was fine by him.
His family had all but disowned him after he returned from the war. Marc was the favorite son. Marc had the wife, had all the promise, but when he’d followed Jethro into the Army after the attack on the twin towers, Jethro had been on the outs with everyone. Except Caitlyn. She hadn’t hated him and that got him through more than she would ever realize, even Marc’s death.
Her pain over losing Marc, her pain over Jethro’s injuries, her pain from being torn between the brothers… Even if he’d died instead of Marc, she’d have hurt just as much, maybe more. What they shared, Jethro and Caitlyn, was something that couldn’t be hidden, no matter how hard they tried. She’d chosen Marc and that had been enough. There was never bitterness or jealousy and it didn’t change the close relationship he had with Marc. But his brother was gone now…
Jethro hadn’t meant to fuck Caitlyn on the swing that day, but when she showed up like that, out of the blue and in that pretty sundress, looking every inch like summer itself, he hadn’t be able to keep from doing it. And it felt right, if that was even a good word to use. Fucking her on that swing had felt right. It was homage to life, it was finally taking, tasting, letting go. He could breathe again.
He didn’t know if she’d come back, if she meant what she’d said about being ready to try. He just knew he had to keep hoping and keep moving through the days.
He picked up a sandpaper block and set to work on the slats that would form the bench of another swing. Moving with the grain of the wood, he sanded in long, even strokes, forward and back. Woodworking had been something he and Marc loved doing since they took that woodshop class in high school. Both worked in construction after, learning how to build more, assemble, learning the tools of the trade. It was hard work, but the honesty of it made them both happy. They’d even talked about opening their own business, but then 9/11 happened and everything changed.
Jethro leaned down and blew at the dust collecting on the wood then ran his hand over it. Smooth. It was so smooth. He moved a little so he could get to the other end of the slat when he heard his name from behind. He turned and couldn’t keep the shock from his voice or likely even his face.
What the hell was his sister doing there? “Hi.”
“Surprised to see me, huh?”
“You could say that. What are you doing here?”
She stepped into the workshop, slowly looking around. “I wanted to talk to you, see you. How are you, Jethro?”
“I’m doing okay.”
“Good.” She didn’t say anything else for a while and the silence was becoming uncomfortable, even for him. But then she spoke again, her voice soft and hesitant. “I was looking through some pictures of Marc the other day after Cait had come to see me. We had lunch and sat and talked for a little while.”
She walked, starting on the left side next to the work surfaces against the outer wall. Every now and again she would touch something, run her fingers through sawdust. He wanted to urge her along in what she was saying, but didn’t. He just let her take her time, figure out what she needed to say next. One of the things he’d learned after he got out of the hospital was that he needed to learn to be more patient with people. There really only was one life everyone got and while he might not be happy at times with being alive, he was glad he woke up every morning.
“Do you know there are no pictures of you, Marc and Caitlyn together except for those taken at their wedding? I hadn’t realized that before.”
He hadn’t realized it either and he didn’t know what to say. Saying he was sorry wouldn’t do anyone any good and he wasn’t sure what he had to be sorry about.
“Do you still love her?”
And there it was. No one had ever come right out and asked it, but he’d always wondered if they knew. “Yes.” He wouldn’t deny it. Not now.
“Does she love you?”
Clarissa was standing close now. When they were kids, he and Marc called her Risi, but when she turned thirteen, she’d declared herself too old for nicknames and had demanded they call her Clarissa. He smiled at the memory of a knobby-kneed, know-it-all girl standing there, hands on her hips, facing down her older brothers with all the fury that teenagers possess.
She’d turned into a beautiful girl, with long dark hair and bright hazel eyes. She’d stayed rail thin and wore a diamond that probably weighed more than she did on her left hand. Jethro felt a pang of guilt and a bit of sadness. He hadn’t even known she was seeing anyone, let alone engaged. They’d barely spoken in two years.
And it seemed such a waste. When his parents stopped talking to him, blaming him, being angry at him, he’d somewhat understood because he was angry and blamed himself too, but he had hoped Clarissa would still be there for him. After awhile though, he’d given up that she would come around. She and Marc were the angels, the light in their parents’ eyes. The first and only time in his life that Jethro had conformed and followed orders was when he’d entered the military. His family had been proud, had hoped the Army would help him find whatever it was that kept him so restless and at odds with most people, but then Marc enlisted too and all bets were off. Their parents were pissed as hell, thinking that Jethro was influencing his twin when in fact he’d tried to do everything he could to dissuade Marc.
Clarissa had been the only one to support the decision after that, but once Marc died and their parents blamed Jethro…well, he shouldn’t have expected she would defy their wishes that he was no longer welcome with them.
She was here now though and he was glad to see her, realized how much he’d missed her, how much he’d missed his family.
“Yes, she does.”
Clarissa nodded. “Then why aren’t y’all together?”
“It’s been hard on her.”
“It’s been hard on everyone, Jethro, including you. Probably harder on you than on any of the rest of us, but… If she loves you and you love her…”
“She loved Marc too.”
“And Marc was the better man and he’d want her to be happy. He was always the more gracious of the two of you, sharing his toys and things. You were always more stingy.”
He might have taken offense had a small smile not been playing around her mouth. Marc might have been the more generous, but Jethro was always the one she’d come to when she needed a shoulder to cry on or a boy taken in hand. “I know he would and so do I. She just has to make it through this last little barrier.”
“I know you think we all hate you, but we don’t. Mom and Dad don’t. They’re just angry that Marc is gone, not that you’re still alive. You know them, they’ve always been tough with change and loss and acceptance. They don’t like either. They’ll come back around.”
“Even if Caitlyn and I get together?”
“Yes. They saw it too, Jethro. All those years ago in the wedding pictures. The camera captured you so well, the way you looked at her. Even Marc didn’t look at her in quite the same way. It was so naked, so raw the love for her on your face. She’s lucky to have had the two of you to love her.”
Speaking of love… And getting the focus off him… “Who is he? The one who gave you that rock?”
Clarissa smiled from ear to ear. “Well, do you remember Freddie Foureyes?”
Please visit these other blogs (which you likely already have since I’m the last one to the party) for worldbuilding snippets:
Now, I’m off to write and watch The Masters.