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The Story of Sharpe: The Regret of a Lifetime

About two years ago (probably more), long before my rise to stardom (HA!) with the writing of “Black Friday: A Zombie Story“, I started working on a story I called “Sharpe”. Oddly the title came from me staring at my desk, and my eyes landing on my pencil cup, where sat a permanent marker of brand name. I swear. This was the title of the story, and the surname of the main character, “Erin Sharpe”.

Erin became a voice in my head for many months, as I carried around a tiny five star in which I wrote any ideas that came to mind. I still have every single notebook I used to write that story.

Erin Sharpe’s story is still unfinished.

Simply because I made the single biggest mistake (for me) that I now know I will never make again.

In my head I had a definitive, specific end to the story. I can still picture that end in my mind as I write this. (Ideas generally come to me in clips like movie trailers or television shows. I see what happens and simply put it into words. Simply. Ha!) The end that I pictured was so very Sharpe and so very perfect. The mistake, however, came when I decided to thoroughly and completely outline the remainder of the story.

For reference, I have written one legit-by-word-count-standards novel. It was a little NaNoWriMo masterpiece (HA!) called “Darkness“, weighing in at over 51,000 words, and it is currently available on Amazon. Black Friday (also available on Amazon)was just over 24,000 words. Sharpe, the single biggest disappointment of my writing “career” was over 23,000 words, and I had so much more story to tell.

Once I’d written out the remainder of the story in short form, I then preceded to take sections and detail them “so I could remember what I was going for”. It was almost 1300 words for JUST an outline of the final third of the story (well its a lot to me!), I was suddenly “burned out” on Sharpe and her tale. I remember telling myself, “I’ve gotten it all written down, I won’t forget. I’ll take a break, and then come back!”

Eventually I stopped carrying that notebook (the third or fourth notebook), then I started getting glimpses (or inklings as my “bestest” friend and fellow writer and I call them) of ideas for Black Friday. I then started on Black Friday. And then it became Facebook popular. And then I finished it. And then it was self-published. And then… and then… and then…

“Sharpe” is filled with “and thens”, at least the story of the story. I get sad when I think of it. Oh wait. I’ve not told you what it’s about yet. Sorry about that!

Wait. What’s it about?!

“Sharpe” is the tale of a woman called Erin Sharpe. On the road, running to, or from something unnamed, and weary of travel, she stops for rest and refreshment in a small town called (I have forgotten the name of the town. DANGIT. Hold on.) Samuel (once again, this name came from a cup, but a cup of Popsicle sticks I’d used while student teaching, to call on students, true story). In Samuel, while getting “refreshments” she meets a stranger, who quickly becomes an acquaintance by way of kindness, a friendly disposition, and a desire to talk. The complete opposite of Sharpe, he convinces her, against her better judgement, to spend the night in the tiny town of Samuel. 

Thus begins a new “chapter” of her life, one with emotions she’d never experienced, fears that seemed to drop away, a past she seems to slowly forget, and a future filled with possibilities that she’d never imagined before.

The story is punctuated by flashbacks and flash forwards of her life. Which is where it got confusing for readers and complicated for me to write. In the second “part” the story shifts to a whole new focus of her life, and personally I became quite confused in the process. And if the writer is confused, you can be darn sure the reader is going to be thinking, “Huh. Wait a minute.”

To finish or not to finish. This is the question.

Perhaps someday I will complete her tale. I have no bloody idea, honestly, if that will ever happen. I worked so hard on the story, and was so completely engrossed in it, that the idea of working on it, finishing it after so long away, seemed daunting and, quite frankly, scary.

If I did ever pick the pen back up (not only did I use a specific type of notebook, but a specific type of pen as well. I still have the last pen I used) and venture back into Samuel (and beyond) to finish Erin’s tale of WOAH, what i do have written already would possibly have to be rewritten. It would at least need a complete breakdown. Torn apart Part by Part. Maybe even whole lovingly written chapters tossed into the recycling bin on my desktop.

I do plan to evetually get SOME of the story up on Wattpad, where anyone who wants it can have access to the story, should they chose to read it. That way, she’ll do more than gather dust on my Important Jumpdrive.

The First Thousand (or so) Words of “Sharpe”

I have a page on my blog dedicated to the first 1,000 words of some of my favorite or most important stories I’ve writen, finished and unfinished. The first 1,000 of “Sharpe” (more like 1900) are available on the page. But here they are, in case you are like me and a little too lazy to go there.

[1] THE COWARD THING TO DO

I ran away. I know, it’s the coward thing to do. But I never said I was brave. They all thought I was. They were easily convinced.

            The road that took me out of town was dark, rough, and muddy from the torrential down pours as of late. “It’s going to be a wet summer in Samuel.” I thought out loud. Luckily I wouldn’t be there.

            I trudged along the dirt-turned-muddy road, umbrella in hand. The rainbow colored atrocity would have to be discarded, once I left monsoon country. What was I thinking when I bought it? Right. I wasn’t.

            Luckily Samuel was surrounded by nowhere. No one would see me swimming down this deserted road. It didn’t take me long to be grateful for the funds I’d procured, despite the manner in which I procured them. My shoes weren’t holding up well. My feet were frozen, the water, or mud, had soaked into my shoes. I could feel my toes squishing in muck.

            Of course, the act of thinking these strange, random thoughts were keeping me from thinking about why I was leaving Samuel. And what I was leaving behind.

            I’d never intended on staying. For God’s sake, I’d almost gotten married! What was I thinking? Oh, that’s right, once again, I wasn’t. They’d all made me forget who I really was, what I really was. He’d made me forget. And for a few blissful months, I’d enjoyed that kind of life.

            But now I was leaving it all behind on this muddy road, this side of Samuel.

[2]  ANDY NOT ANDREW

My keen observation skills allowed me to see that he’d noticed me from across the barroom. As hard as I tried to blend in—everywhere—it never worked. It was this blasted red hair. You can’t die the bloody mess anything but red; I’d tried, with disastrous results. It was like a giant red buoy in a great ocean storm: a beacon to wayward lonely sailors looking for something to hold on to.

            He didn’t know I could see him coming. Hell, it’d taken him fifteen minutes to get up the gumption to come over. I had hoped he wouldn’t. But he did.

            He braved the open sea of bodies packed in the barroom like sardines in a can. He was timid and polite for a tall blond of his, physic. It’s in my training to determine my ability to take down a potential opponent, if the need arose. This one, I could tell, would be difficult if it came right down to it.

            But once Andy—not Andrew—Hart reached me at the bar, I realized he wasn’t the type to hit a woman. Even if provoked. Timid for a tall man—6’4 at least, he cleared his throat three times before speaking. When he did finally say something, it was the least used pick-up line of all time.

            “Hello,” he said.

            Here we go, I thought. “Hello,” I replied. I took a gulp of my Jack. I’d been with other men of Jack’s “caliber”, but none of them had treated me the way Jack Daniels always had. My relationship with Jack was the only real relationship I had. And ours was a good one.

            Skipping the small talk as he gazed at me, he cut right to the chase. “I’m Andy.” He offered his hand.

            I looked at him, then the hand he’d extended toward me. “Hello, Andy.”

            “I’ve, uh, never seen you here before.”

            “Never been here before.”

            “Oh, that explains it then.”

            “Yep.”

            “What brings you to Samuel?”

            “Just passing through,” was all I offered.

            “Through Samuel?” He sounded surprised. “You must like the long road. Have to take back roads just to find us.”

            He hit the nail on the head. “This boy’s a carpenter.” I thought. Instead out loud I said, “It’s quiet, I like it that way.” What I neglected to mention was that it was necessary to take back roads.

            “This is true,” he said as he took the vacated stool beside me. “Nothing ever happens here.”

            “That will change if I stay long,” I didn’t tell him. “It’s nice that way,” I gave him.

            He chuckled. It was a pleasant sound, I rather liked it. I allowed myself a small smile. I never got to, never had a good reason. He was still smiling himself when he said, “Well, you don’t have to live here!” he smiled again, a smile that proved that he actually liked his small town, then he asked, “Where you from?”

            “Everywhere.” And nowhere, I thought but didn’t say. “Never stayed anywhere long enough to be from there.” Honest, more than I’d ever been before, at least, and especially, about my personal life, if that was what you could call it.

            “Oh. Army brat?” he asked me.

            “Sort of.” I began to realize that I was opening up. I need to close that Pandora’s box or something awful would happen.

            He sensed my evasiveness and dropped the subject. “How long are you going to be in Samuel?” he asked instead.

            “A few days.” What?! I planned on a few drinks, some food and then back to my car, and the road.

            “Oh,” he perked up, obviously pleasantly surprised. “That’s um, nice,” he said, his nervousness began to rear its ugly head again. “Maybe I could, well,” he paused, “show you around.”

            Against my better judgment and my typical behavior, I replied with a simple, “Sure.” This excited him, because he was smiling, grinning widely in fact, from ear to ear. It surprised me because I was giving this man hope that I would be here, and I didn’t plan on being here much longer. “Don’t be so happy,” I thought, “because this won’t be too good for you in the end.” I knew that though. He didn’t. Poor guy.

            “I didn’t catch your name,” he said.

            I smiled at his phrasing. “I didn’t throw it.” He smiled. “Erin. Erin Sharpe.” Of all the names I could have given—several—I gave him that one. This was going to be bad.

            “Andy Hart,” he offered his hand once more. This time I took it.

            After the customary shake, he held on for a while, looking at me intently. I tugged my hand, not enough to pull free of his gentle grasp, just enough to let him know he still had it. He cleared his throat, released my hand, and cleared his throat again. He glanced away, suddenly shy. I signaled the bartender for my third Jack. I hold my alcohol well.

 

            Over the next hour, I learned a lot about Andy Hart. One: he hated his first name. “Andrew. I only put it on official papers. And my tombstone.”

            “Why your tombstone? Why be not be buried as who you are—not some name you hate?” I asked seriously. I know how it feels to know you’ll be buried as someone you’re not.

            “I never thought of it that way.” He smiled again.

            Two: He doesn’t drink. He’d come with friends, and was their designated driver. They’d left moments before with another large group. I eyed my glass when he’d told me. I most definitely drink.

            “I just don’t see a reason for it,” he said solemnly.

            Three: He was truthful. “Lying to someone can’t get you far. It’s like diving without an oxygen tank. You won’t get very far, and you’ll have to come out of the water sooner or later.” I understood. The deep breath of a lie could only get you so far. Eventually you’ll have to either tell the truth or lie some more. Experienced firsthand by yours truly.  Every day of my life.

            Four: Andy Hart was open. ““Secrets don’t make friends.” My mom used to say. And why speak to someone if you don’t want them to know you? I have no secrets,” he informed me. I couldn’t say the same for myself.

           

            It was getting late, the bar was clearing out—the crowd I’d hope to get lost in, that failed, vacated the premises—and Andy offered to walk me, “wherever” he’d said.

            I let him walk me to the car. “Where are you staying while in Samuel?”

            “I hadn’t gotten a motel room yet.” I told him. “I was detained.” I said, half glaring half smiling at my escort.

            “Ha!” he barked. “Well,” he paused, running his hand through his hair, “you can stay with me.” He offered then looked away quickly.

            “I think I’ll manage.” I started to unlock my car door, thinking I’d be getting rid of him, and this town.

            “Now, I didn’t mean—” he stuttered. “I have a big house, it’s just me. Plenty of spare rooms, free of charge.

            Apparently the whiskey was stronger than I was used too. “Okay,” I agreed. “Where to?”

            “Oh, wow! I didn’t expect that. Okay,” he paused. “Luckily my buddies found another way home.” I hadn’t paid much attention at the time, so I hadn’t really noticed that. “Just follow me,” he said. “You are okay to drive?”

            “Yes.” I’d driven under worse conditions. Physical injuries had been involved. My fondness for whiskey could be blamed on that.

            “Okay,” he said. “Follow me.”

 

Thanks for Reading!

-c

 

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