Wanna See Something Really Scary?

This is why Erin is a better writer than me. Even if I am more adept at pulling plots together than she is, I can never write as well as this:

But I have been writing as well, including this revision to the end of chapter three of The Young City

The centrepiece of the room was the bed, singular, narrow, laden with quilts and jutting from the wall into the middle of the room.

“Huh,” said Rosemary at last. She closed the door behind them and began undoing the buttons on her dress. “I’m turning in.”

Peter stared at her, then strode to the window, taking a deep interest in the world outside. “Gee, that’s a lot of stars!”

Rosemary pulled her skirts over her head. “Hmm?”

“No light pollution,” said Peter. “The view is as good as Clarksbury—” He caught his tongue.

Rosemary cast the corset in the corner with a thump. She breathed deep and rubbed her sides. She blew out the kerosene lamp and slipped beneath the covers, dressed in a camisole and bloomers. She felt more dressed than on a day at school. “Night, Peter.”

“Good night.”

Rosemary took a deep breath. Then she became aware of the silence in the room, and looked up.

Peter stood, staring at the bed. Finally, he turned and stepped to the other side of the room. He stripped down to underpants and undershirt, folding his clothes and draping them over a straight-backed chair. Then he came over. “Could I have a pillow and a quilt?”

“Sure.” She passed them over.

“Thanks.” He draped out the quilt on the floor, fluffed up the pillow and lay down. “Night, Rosemary.”

“Good night.”

Rosemary stared at the ceiling. Her mind whirled too much sleep. It was one thing to sleep in a strange bed in a strange room, but in a strange time? That took the cake.

But her joints ached. She closed her eyes and breathed deep. Beside her, on the floor, she heard Peter roll over and smack his lips. She faded away. Suddenly he leapt up with a squeaking scream.

Rosemary sat bolt upright. “What? What? What?”

“There was a mouse!” Peter yelled.

“Quiet,” said Rosemary. “You’ll wake Faith.”

“I don’t care! It ran across my feet!”

“What, you never seen a mouse before?”

“I never let them in my bedroom if I could help it.” Peter got his breathing under control. “Where are the mousetraps?”

“I don’t think they’ve been invented yet.”

“Great!” He threw up his hands. “Just great. Not only am I stuck in the past, but I’ve got to share my bed with a mouse.”

“Well…” She reached out and touched his arm. “You could share your bed with me.” She froze. That didn’t come out the way she’d expected it.

Peter stared at her in open-mouthed shock. “What did you say?”

She blinked a moment, then took a deep breath. “I’m serious. I know it’s a small bed, but it’s better than sleeping on the floor. Besides, it’s a cold night and we’re supposed to be a married couple. What’s Faith going to think if she finds a second bed spread out on the floor.”

He gaped a moment. Then he shook his head. “N-no. I-I couldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“It wouldn’t be right.”

“Would you rather sleep with me or the mouse?”

“You, actually,” said Peter. “Therein lies my problem.”

Rosemary blushed red to her ears. But she took his arm again. “Peter, I trust you.”

He stared at her a moment, then reached for the covers. Rosemary made room for him, but even with their arms touching, each felt the edge of the bed on their other side. They pressed as close to each other as they dared.

“That was a really girly scream, by the way,” said Rosemary.

“Well, it was a mouse,” said Peter. “Or possibly a rat.”

“Or maybe a raccoon,” said Rosemary. Peter glared at her. She laughed. He laughed too. Then their arms and sides brushed, and they stopped laughing. They stared up at the ceiling.

Rosemary took a deep breath. “So… you remember what we talked about?”


“About how we’re not ready… that still stands, right?”

“What do you think?”

“I asked you first!”

They laughed at that. Then Peter grew serious. “I think it still stands.”

“Good,” said Rosemary.

“Good,” said Peter.

Silence stretched. Then Rosemary rolled onto her side and looked at him. Peter stared back. She leaned in and Peter leaned back. “What are you doing?”

Rosemary sighed and kissed his cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he croaked.

She rolled away. “Good night.”

“Good night.”

I made this change after people in my writers group commented on my original scene and asking (quite rightly) “why doesn’t Peter try to sleep on the floor?”

Well, because I hadn’t thought of that until they mentioned it. Erin’s suggestions about the mouse and Peter’s girly scream added the necessary comedy.

Maybe I should have waited for this rewrite before sending out the original scene for the writers’ reserve grants. But then, they are supposed to be for works in progress.

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