I hate my brain.
No, no. Don’t even try to defend that . . . that wrinkly, three-pound lump of fatty tissues! It and I are not talking at the moment.
On, you want to know why? Fine.
INT. GARY’S BATHROOM – NIGHT. BRIGHTLY LIT BY EIGHT (DOWN FROM TWELVE) CFT BULBS.
Gary brushes his teeth, then rinses his face and, especially, his eyes with warm, soothing water to relieve the slightly sandy, scratchy feeling. On Saturday, he tore his right cornea. On Sunday, his left. He has no patience for more cornea-tearing.
He applies copious amounts of the ointment he uses to prevent more-frequent cornea-ripping. He swirls his eyes around to spread the ointment, then makes his way across the bathroom, only able to make out bright and less-bright shapes. He makes it to the door of his bathroom, plots a path to his bed, then shuts off the bright bathroom light.
INT. GARY’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Gary climbs into bed and spends several minutes getting comfortable. Pillows in just the right places. Blankie pulled up just to the right level. Breathing slows . . . he’s starting to drift off . . .
Gary snuggles into the pillow emphatically.
What do you mean, ‘no’? You don’t even know what I —
No! Whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow. When I’ve had sleep. Remember ‘sleep’? You need sleep. My eyes need sleep. Otherwise, I’ll have a hard time staring at a computer screen tomorrow.
(in a disgustingly sing-song tone)
But you’re going to really liiiiike thiiiis!
Go. Away. I’m trying to sleep.
Brain vomits out the entirety of the remaining plot points of the novel Gary and Brain have been agonizing over for several months. In detail. With red herrings, false leads, and answers to all the difficult parts they’ve been butting against. With — BONUS! — motivations for the secondary protagonist.
Gary rolls over, opens eyes, stares blankly in the direction of the ceiling.
I loathe you. Why did you wait until — ?
Yeah, yeah. I love you, too.
Listen, you should probably write all that down.
Gary rolls over and closes his eyes, snuggling into the pillow once again.
I’ll remember it.
Gary gets out of bed, stumbles through blurry darkness to blurry slightly less-dark adjoining office. The night-light in the office is green, which casts eerie shadows on the walls. He moves the mouse on his PC. Immediately, bright light floods the office — and his bleary, blurry, ointment-filled eyes — with searing whiteness. He leans into the screen, locates the blurry outlines of the Evernote icon, clicks it. Types for about fifteen minutes, eyes closed, hoping he’s making some sort of sense.
You’ll thank me, later.
Gary makes his way back to bed. At least it’s still warm. He goes to sleep in less than five minutes.
So, yeah. My brain and I aren’t on speaking terms, today.
I know, I know. It sounds like I should be thanking my brain, doesn’t it? But, you see, what it did was, it waited until after I sent my first five thousand words off for critique at Paradise Lost 6 to supply me all this. Until after I wrote ten thousand or so words of the novel. Most of which now have to be rewritten. Or at least heavily edited.
Couldn’t it have done this . . . I don’t know, three months ago?
How can one be accidentally saved? That’s the question that pops into your head when you see the title.
*** MILD spoilers follow ***
Gracie Lee Eudora Abbott is ten years old. The summer is almost over, and school is looming ominously on the all-too-close horizon. So every single day is important! But her mother, Anne, makes her and her sister go to church every Sunday. They can’t even play all morning because they’ll get dirty, so it’s basically an entire day gone out of their busy schedules of being kids in the Mississippi Delta of eastern Arkansas in the early 70s.
Gracie’s father never goes to church with the girls and their mother. And that is totally not fair. If she has to go, why doesn’t he? Sure, he gets drunk (and mean) most nights after working all day on the farms. But that’s hardly an excuse.
So it’s only natural that Gracie would ask the preacher about it. Everything just . . . kind of got out of hand after that.
Boerner’s debut novel is full of wonderful prose, humor, and drop-dead serious situations that this plucky, curious, precocious ten-year-old girl has to navigate: school bullies, death, baptism, church camp, and the mysterious fate of the man in the gray house just down the street from hers. Did he really shoot himself? Is he all right?
*** END mild spoilers ***
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and look forward to Boerner’s future novels.
The writing reminded me a lot of A Painted House by John Grisham. It has a similar feel, and it’s also from the first-person POV of a child trying to make sense of adult situations. Highly recommended.