Reviving the Night Girl's Spirits

I should mention that the Bloggers Hotstove is back, manned by myself, Greg Staples, Jason Cherniak and Stephen Taylor. Greg Bester of Sinister Thoughts was missed, but perhaps Idealistic Pragmatist will drop by occasionally to offer up some left-leaning thoughts.

My apologies to Greg for not mentioning this earlier. Monday would have been best, but I didn’t post that day. And by the time I did post late on Tuesday, it had slipped my mind. But at last I remembered, and I suggest you get yourself some podcasty goodness.



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Photograph by Stewart Bamford. Click here for more photographs…

It’s a little bit busy here. Tomorrow, I have some proofreading work to do, which helps pay the bills but isn’t something that fosters my creative energies. So posting may be slight until Thursday. We’ll see. I have watched something on television (courtesy Cameron) which will spark a really good review. Let me just say that, when the BBC’s Casanova comes out on Masterpiece Theatre, assuming it hasn’t been thoroughly bowdlerized, go watch it.

Anyway, yesterday I had a nice treat. Erin suggested that I give Vivian to her grandparents for the day and I spend it writing. Well, I spent the first half of the day doing laundry, which we had fallen behind on, so I was pleased with that activity. And in the afternoon, I started getting back to work on :The Night Girl:.

You may remember it: the first non-Rosemary and Peter story I’d worked on since 2001 (I’ve since finished the short story Sealwife and am shopping it around). It’s to my shame that I discover that the first pages are now over three years old. I used to work faster than this. But, on the other hand, I’m still working on it. And I’m pleased to say, thanks to inspiration from the Brantford Book Camp back in August, and the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, a few new scene ideas have started to bubble. Yesterday was my first chance to unleash them, and I sat myself down with my laptop at Waterloo’s Second Cup, and started writing. And I’ve included below what I’ve come up with.

The Night Girl is about a young woman named Perpetua Viktoria Collins, estranged from her mother, who finds herself working as the receptionist of a temporary agency that finds employment for trolls and goblins. Though she’s overwhelmed by the wierd work, she’s happy with it. It sure beats telemarketing. Better yet, the pay that she’s been able to land has allowed her to move out from her one room apartment above a restaurant in East Chinatown, to a one-bedroom apartment in a split duplex somewhere in the Annex. In this scene, Perpetua has just moved in. It’s still pretty close to a first draft.

Perpetua shelved the last of her books and broke down the last cardboard box into a flat panel. She stepped back and looked around her new apartment.

Her futon sat pressed up against the wall beneath the window. Her low bookshelves stood opposite. There was her desk, her rainbow-coloured laptop sitting on top of it. Her clothes were out of sight in the closet. In the next room, her kitchen stove gleamed. The bathroom was dark. In between everything was an expanse of parquet flooring. Pixel stood in the middle of the interlocking squares of wood, looking lost. Perpetua’s mouth twitched into a smile.

She frowned as she heard a low thump, and tinny signing in a strangely familiar melody.

Perpetua knelt down and felt the floor. It vibrated beneath her fingers. She lay down and pressed her ear to the wood. She wasn’t imagining it. Her neighbour downstairs was playing U2’s Beautiful Day. It wasn’t a bad song. Better yet, she could hear no kitchen noises. If a stereo played at eleven could only barely make it through her walls, she was never, ever, going to hear constant wok clanging again.

Happiness welled up in her and tickled her throat, making her laugh. She stumbled up and twirled around her big, empty apartment, whooping, arms upstretched, feet dancing on Bono’s head. Her skirt swished. She swept Pixel into her arms. The cat squawked and struggled, but Perpetua hung on tight. Until she danced into the kitchen and stumbled to a stop beside the papers on the countertop.

Pixel squirted out of her arms and ran off to hide under her bed.

Perpetua picked up a pile of cards half the size of postcards. These had been sitting on top of her lease. The change of address cards.

She was almost finished. She had ones out to her credit card company, best friend Betsy from high school, now shacked up half the world away in Vancouver, her subscription to Green Journal, and various government agencies that were interested either in giving her money or taking it away. She hated to leave these jobs unfinished.

And she hadn’t filled out one for her mother.

She bit her lip, picked up her pen and a blank card, and bit her lip again. Her eyes tracked to her phone and its answering machine, currently not blinking at her.

She peered at the card dubiously.

A knock at the door made her jump. She set the card and pen down and ran into the living room. Peering through the peep-hole, she saw nothing but the other wall, and a mat of shaggy hair.

“Who is it?” she called out.

“Um, hi!” She knew that voice. “It’s me. Fergus?”

Leaving the chain on, she unlocked the door and peered through the crack. She found him staring back, a brown bag under his arm, wrapped in white ribbon. He saw her staring and smiled.

She closed the door, unlatched the chain, and opened it again. “What are you doing here?”

He blinked at her. “Uh—”

“Come in,” she said.

“Okay.” He stepped past the threshold.

She slammed the door behind him. “What are you doing here?”

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