I always stayed away from that kind of writing --- for what reason, I don't know exactly, but I always believed it to be too difficult and felt like I wasn't good enough to attempt it.
But I tried it yesterday, and I think it went pretty well. I'll post the snippet here --- feedback is appreciated! Do you prefer to write in first person or third person? (Or is it second....I always get confused.) If you like writing first person, why do you prefer that way of writing to others? And, please --- any tips from those first person experienced writers??? ;)
P.S. It'll be a long snippet. :P
Rain pounds as I run, mud sloshing around my feet and sticking to my sneakers, water running down my face and dripping off in rivulets, hiding my tears.
No. It can't be true. It just can't be.
I collapse under a nearby tree, and hug my soaked jacket closer. As soon as I stop, a bitter cold begins to seep in, a cold that matches the chills I've been having for the past ten minutes.
No. It's not true. He's lying.
My uncle's face swims up in my mind, his greasy hair clinging to his face and his stale breath tinging my nose. “She's dead, son,” he had said. “Killed in an accident at work.”
I had not believed him, and I wouldn't start now, but … something in his words had rang true. Mom had been acting strangely lately --- not suicidal, like so many others in our family before her, but Mom had been --- no, is --- the happiest woman I'd ever met. She had started telling me that she loves me more than usual. Hugging me more often. Treating me as if she would die the next day, like every hour was her last.
She hadn't wanted to go to work today --- I remember clearly her worried eyes and distracted expression. “Caleb,” she had said to me, “Caleb, I want you to know that I love you with all my heart, and that I want you to believe in God always, no matter what. He has a plan for everything.”
I hadn't thought much about those words at the time, but now that I look back I realize that those were the last words I would ever hear her speak.
No! I bite my lip, my fists clenching. No, you will hear her speak again, you will!
I stare out from under the tree at the dark sky. Thunder booms in the distance, and rain pours from the heavens like nobody's business. It's almost like the sky is crying, harder than it's ever cried before.
Sobs well up inside me, but I choke them down. No. No, she's alive, I know it.
My conscience twinges. I know that that's a lie. I have to face the truth.
She's never coming back.
I punch my fist into the rough tree bark, and my knuckles scrape, mingling blood with the rain. But I don't care. I don't feel the pain.
I punch and kick the tree again and again, my crying drowned out by the ever strengthening thunder, until I can't stand it anymore and I slide to the ground again.
I bury my face in my hands. My bloodied knuckles are warm compared to the icy rain.
“God,” I cried, my lips cracked, my voice higher than usual, “God, why did You do this to me? Why? Don't You care?”
Lightning sizzles above me, and with it comes the memory of the last time I saw my mother --- worried, stressed, yet loving. Believe in God, always. He has a plan for everything.
I have never felt so alone, so vulnerable. I never had friends or cousins. I never had a father who cared and loved me --- I never knew my father. And now I've lost my only friend, my only companion, the only relative that actually cares what I'm thinking, feeling, or wanting.
Mom, why did you have to die?
An unfamiliar voice calls out my name --- crisper than the lightning and tougher than the tree bark, yet gentle and kind. I turn and see no one.
Sighing, I rest my head against the tree and nurse my wounded knuckles. “It's nothing,” I say to myself. “Nothing. Just the voices again.”
The voices, the voices. I hear them all the time. Whispered conversations, sometimes in a language I understand, sometimes not. I hear deep voices talking about battle plans, or evil voices talking about murder. Most people would believe that this is too much for a twelve year old to bear, yet I've been bearing it all my life.
There it is again. Most unusual. I crane my neck and look around again --- still no one. Weird, I think. I always hear voices, but they never call my name, and never ever repeat anything twice.
I struggle to my feet, focusing my attention on the darker, shadowed forest ahead. With a shudder, I remember, only a week ago on my twelfth birthday, staring out the window and seeing a pair of bright, hate-filled red eyes staring back at me. In a flash, they were gone, a cackle fading into the air, but it still scared me silly. I told many family members of it that day, which was probably not the smartest thing to do --- most of them firmly believe that I should be committed to an insane asylum.
But not my mom.
“You're not imagining things, honey,” she had told me firmly, patting my hand consolingly. “I believe you. But, from now on, let's try to focus on the good things in life, the heavenly things, okay?”
I had nodded and slept in her room with her that night in an extra sleeping bag on the floor. I hadn't seen anything else since then, but that situation reminded me of many in the past --- catching a glimpse of an angel when I was seven, or hearing two men discuss war strategies when I was eleven.
The voices were growing stronger now, though --- stronger than before, stronger than ever. I could only assume that the hallucinations (what else could they be?) of angels and red eyes would grow stronger too.
The voice returns again, firmer and not questioning. I glance around, somewhat frantic --- what if the voice was a demon, or a monster? Coming to kill me?
“Who's there?” I call out tentatively.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see a man step out of the shadows of the forest. I spin around to face him.
He is an older man, tall, but slightly hunched over. Though his hands are gnarled and his hair is streaked with grey, his eyes radiate life and energy. He leans against a tree nearby, his hands wrapped around a knobbly walking stick.
“Good evening, Caleb,” he says. “I'm glad you finally recognized that I am here.”
“Who are you?”
“You wouldn't know me,” the man says sadly. “We were never introduced --- well, never introduced that you will remember.”
I tilt my head to the side. This man knows something, I can tell. Something important. I have never seen him in my life, but he looks somewhat familiar. “Have we met?”
The man shrugs. “Yes, but you will not have remembered it. At all.” He looks up from where he had been staring at a tree root as gnarly as his hands. “I was hoping you would know who I am.”
I stare at him for several moments, trying to register who he is. And then it hits me, a strange idea, but with the way I am, totally possible.
“Are you … God?”
The man chuckles. “No, son, I'm not God.” He shuffles closer to me, his hands clenched around his walking stick, his footsteps making slurping noises in the mud. He looks at me with kind, warm eyes. “Caleb, I'm your grandfather.”
My eyes narrow.
“Where's your proof?” I ask, suspicion gnawing at my insides.
This man sighs and shakes his head. “I don't have any proof that would be of use to you … only birth certificates, and they were burned in a fire years ago.”
I snort. “Convenient.”
He doesn't respond, only moves closer, until he is right next to me. Though he is dripping wet, he smells good --- he reminds me of warm summer days I used to spend with my mother, out picking apples and cherries and taking them home to make a pie.
For what seems like hours, we sit together, our backs pressed into the tree, watching thunder roar and lightning crack like a whip, splitting the sky in two. We watch nature's display slowly come to an end, and the rain lessen to a drizzle, and faint rays of sunshine poke through the clouds.
Suddenly, he turns to me. I immediately tense, not knowing what to expect --- is he a demon or monster that wants to eat me or possess my soul? Is he really my grandfather? Why did he come here? How does he know my name, and where to find me?
Then I notice something. Something I didn't notice before.
His eyes are sharp and clear, an icy, electric blue that seems to pierce through someone's soul and seek out all their secrets.
Those eyes are familiar.
They are my mother's eyes.