Author Topic: Managed Retreat: Precedents  (Read 1396 times)

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Offline Rabbit

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Managed Retreat: Precedents
« on: October 04, 2017, 08:13:48 PM »
Right, so it's 4th October. Countdown has started for Nanowrimo 2017 and this year, I'm revisiting one of [desc=10 groats to the first person who guesses which!]my older works[/desc]. Now, this isn't a straight rewrite. I'm rebuilding everything from the ground up. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be working on the plot and characters and I'll be posting some bits and pieces in this thread, like scenes I've written to help me get a sense of the characters and the setting. They'll be pretty rough and possibly of little interest.

'Managed Retreat' is the working title of the novel

1. Olive: The Wedding

« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 08:18:49 PM by Rabbit »


Offline Rabbit

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Re: Managed Retreat: Precedents
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 08:17:36 PM »
1. Olive: The Wedding

By the time the wedding party was ushered into the reception room, Olive was beyond tipsy. Her glittery heels hung loosely from her fingers and she drained her prosecco glass as she watched Mr and Mrs Glue take to the floor for their first dance. A hard lump formed in her throat as the newlyweds kissed chastely beneath the disco ball, to the scattered applause of their guests. When Ryan placed his hands upon her sister’s hips and pulled her close, Olive had to look away. For a moment, she was breathless. It should have been me.

Being here was torment. There were too many people, too much noise and their first song was insufferable drivel. Olive snatched up her shoes and made for the exit. In the corridor outside, bottles of Italian prosecco waited, chilling in ice buckets. There was nobody about so she picked one up, carrying it by the neck as she stepped out onto the terrace.

Lilly had been specific about a July wedding. Secretly, Olive had wished them thunderstorms and hailstones but instead they’d seen one of the most beautiful days of the summer. Olive hitched up her bridesmaid’s dress and rammed the stupid, ugly heels back onto her feet. Behind her, a cheer rose as the song ended. Her chest clenched. I won’t cry. I won’t, she promised herself, fingers wrapped tightly around the bottle’s neck.

Further away from the party, down a path that wound through a copse of trees, Olive found a low wall surrounded by rose bushes, cast with a bronze tint by lazy golden sunset. She set down the wine bottle and hastily lit a cigarette from her clutch bag.

What would happen next? Olive sucked down smoke, arms crossed across her chest, and shuddered. They were happy, she couldn’t stop that. And they’d continue to be happy right in her fucking face. There’d probably be kids at some point. But how could she be around them, around Ryan? This ache in her chest - would that ever go away?
A strangled sob caught in her throat and she realised she’d broken her own promise. The summer breeze touched the tears on her flushed cheeks and after the first sob came another. Then another. And then she thought, fuck it all and let herself go.

Ten minutes of half-stifled sobbing seemed to do her some good. She told herself she didn’t even care how ugly she looked either, though she still dabbed away the black smudges around her eyes and reapplied her mascara. You’ve had your moment. Now pull it together, she told herself sternly, staring at herself in the little makeup mirror. Just get through this night somehow.

She lit another cigarette and held it between her teeth as she clumsily unwound the wire twist on the cork in her bottle of prosecco. A pint of cider would suit her better, she thought, and ‘secco gave her the worst hangovers but it would do. From her seat on the stone wall, Olive could see straight down the valley to the river. It was a lovely view, she thought grudgingly and kicked off her shoes. She necked a mouthful of ‘secco and almost coughed as the bubbles seared her nose. She closed her eyes, enjoying the last warmth of the sun rays on her skin. From somewhere, she heard the sound of a clocktower chiming.


She lowered the bottle and her heart skipped a beat but it wasn’t Ryan. He hadn’t left his wedding celebration to come chasing after her like some early-bird Cinderella. No, instead it was Tom, one of Ryan’s groomsmen. His silk waistcoat was undone, his tie tucked into his trouser pocket. In one hand he carried a wine bottle like hers.

“Hi,” she said quietly. She stubbed out her cigarette and placed it carefully next to her wine cork. Tom straddled the wall a couple of feet away from her and worked loose the cork in his wine bottle.

“Thought you could use a friend.”

Olive raised her drink and took a steady gulp or two. “Cheers for thinking of me. What’s the occasion?”

He pointed over his shoulder, eyebrow raised. “Did you miss the wedding up there?”

She pulled a face. “Weddings are overrated.”

“Well, you’re definitely having the most fun tonight.” His tone was dry. He propped one arm behind himself and drank deeply. “Surprised you made it this far. You might have everyone else fooled but I know Ryan and I know you.”

She froze. “I don’t… that’s not…”

“You need to say it.”

Olive picked out a spot on the horizon, to the left of the setting sun, and stared until her eyes watered. “I don’t. There’s nothing to say,” she said, shaking her head.

A warm hand closed around hers. Tom shuffled closer. His eyes were warm too and Olive looked at him then, really looked at him. The scent of his aftershave filled her senses and set her pulse racing. She could throw herself into those arms, easily.  No. Bad idea. Her lip trembled and then the words tumbled out.

“I just watched the man I love marry someone else.” She gasped. One hand flew to her mouth as if to catch the words but instead more came out. “My own sister. And I can’t think. I can’t… wrap my head around it. How badly I have fucked everything up. I never said, I should have said…”

She glanced up. Tom was watching her, his dark eyes serious and his mouth in a line. She heaved a breath. “I’ve never said it out loud before. I love him. Ryan. I really do.” She laughed giddily. “And now he’s so far beyond my reach, it’s unreal. I’ve lost him forever.”


“And I’ve nobody to blame but myself. I accept that… mostly.” She drank deeply and reached for her clutch bag. “You smoke?”

Tom’s mouth twisted in a half-smile. “Only when I drink.”

Olive offered him a cigarette from her pack, took one for herself and lit them both. His sandy hair was tousled and unkempt, she noticed. She wiggled her bare toes through the lush grass and blew a stream of smoke at the sky. Tom fidgeted beside her and took a deep breath.

“I know how you feel,” he said quietly. “There’s a girl at my office. Mad for her, I am. Only she’s seeing someone, so…” He took a drag on his cigarette and exhaled slowly. “So I came here tonight thinking I’d get off my head, just have some fun. Maybe get to know the prettiest bridesmaid…”

“Good luck with that. She’s already married.”

Tom looked at her, confused. “What?”

“Amy. Pretty bridesmaid? She got married last year.”

He frowned now. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” She paused, bottle halfway to her mouth.

He shuffled a little closer. “I meant you.” He brushed the back of his finger down her arm softly. “And I’m not… I won’t… if you don’t want to but I’ve watched you all day. You were fucking miserable. It was awful to see.”

Olive glared. “So… you’re looking for a pity-fuck?”

“No!” He rolled his eyes. “On my god, no. I just… thought maybe we could have some fun.” He raised a hand defensively. “And not necessarily sex, just… hang out, maybe have a dance. Y’know… enjoy ourselves. Together.”

She blinked. Something stirred inside. The hairs on her arms stood on end. She had a choice here. She could cry over the ashes of a relationship that never was. She could nurse her drink and her broken heart. Or she could go with Tom, take his hand and see where the night took them. The first steps to a fresh start and the chance to move on. She took another sip to find the bottle empty. Carefully she put it down and then adjusted the folds of her dress.

“Has my makeup run?”

He smiled. “You look amazing.”

Olive pulled her shoes on and rose to her feet. She stood close and twined her fingers through his. “I suppose I could stand to have a little fun.”


Offline Rabbit

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Re: Managed Retreat: Precedents
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2017, 10:18:47 PM »
An Interview with Olive Andrews

Hi there Olive. My name is Claire.
Hello Claire.
So, we’re going to have a bit of a talk here, get to know one another.
Well, really I want to get to know you.
That’s… weird.
Okay, maybe. The thing is, you are now a character in a story I’m planning to write and I need to know what makes you tick. So just answer these questions as best you can. Take your time. If you don’t know or you don’t want to talk about something, that okay. We can always come back to it another time. Let’s start. Introduce yourself.
Hi, I guess. My name is… well, my parents named me Olive, after my grandma. It’s not a name I’ve every really liked. When I was a kid, I was Olly and I guess that shaped me a bit as a child. I was a bit rough-and-tumble, what you’d call a tomboy. Running riot around the neighbourhood with my friends, causing mischief - harmless mischief! - and playing games. Having epic adventures.
What about your family?
My mum and dad are pretty normal. Dull, maybe. They know what they like and they like what they know. Set in their ways, if you like. I have an older sister, Lilly (she got the good name!). And she liked staying indoors, playing with her toys or whatever. Basically, there was one daughter who was always clean and well-behaved, did well at school and didn’t make a lot of noise, and there was another who… wasn’t, or didn’t. I got bored easily.
You think your parents played favourites?
I mean, they never said it out loud but I did notice it more as I got older. It felt like they didn’t want to engage with me that same way they did with Lilly. I wanted to go places, explore things. They were all happiest at home. So I started trying to be more like Lilly, and there were some things about that that worked. I found out it was nice to wear a skirt sometimes or a nice shirt if I felt like it. And I tried to find things I could do quietly with my family in the room, and I found I quite liked reading books and drawing even more. But in other ways, it was a disaster trying to be like Lilly. Again, I got bored too easily and frustrated. Lilly didn’t make it any easier. We always bickered. And I’d start impersonating her behaviour to take the piss and get a reaction from her, try and make her flip out and behave more like me.
How is your relationship with your family now?
Really not good. I don’t know if I’ll speak to them ever again.
And why is that?
Because of Ryan.
Ah. Tell me a little about Ryan.
He was Lilly’s husband but he was my friend first. We worked together. I was bored to tears in that job but he made it worthwhile. He was probably the reason I stayed as long as I did. We’d goof together in the office or have an evening down the pub talking about music. We had a lot in common.
You liked him?
As a friend, at first. But I… don’t know. I’d been burnt by someone not long before, who played around with me. I thought I was being cautious, that I valued having a friend more than a lover. And we had so much fun together, I didn’t want to change anything in case I ruined it.
And then what?
And then Ryan met Lilly. And being Lilly, she didn’t have any of my hangups. They just clicked, I guess. She went out of her way to invite him to a family barbecue, which I didn’t mind. I thought we’d get to hang out and it wouldn’t be weird, but Lilly monopolised him all afternoon and by nightfall, they’d had a couple of drinks and she was asking him to go to the cinema with her to see a scary film. And that was that.
So fast?
Well, maybe I’m biased. But yeah, the next time I saw Ryan alone, he raved about how great Lilly was. We were in the beer garden at the pub. I remember, it was a clear summer night and it was quite mild. I was slightly buzzed and enjoying myself. Ryan looked up at the stars and mentioned something about how we’re all made out of stardust, because the atoms in our bodies were made in the hearts of dying stars and wasn’t that cool? And I’d heard that fact before and I wasn’t sure I really thought it was true, but I remember that moment because I was looking at him as he looked at the stars. His mouth hung slightly open and his eyes gleamed in the darkness. I looked at the profile of his face and I felt something. I realised that, actually, I wanted to be with him. Properly. And I debated with myself whether to act on it.
Are you okay?
Yeah. It just… still all hurts so much. I only left him alone for a second to go to the loos. I wanted to collect my thoughts, decide if I really wanted him or if I was just drunk. But I decided, yes. He was worth the risk. So I went back outside. I wanted to walk right up to him and kiss him, full on the lips, or climb in his lap and hold him close. But when I got out there, he was on the phone to Lilly. She was out with some friends and wondered if he wanted to meet up with them. And I think that’s where it fell apart.
Go on.
I should have told him, right there. Said, don’t go meet up with Lilly. Stay here with me. But I froze up. Of course, being Ryan, he invited me along to go hang out with my sister. In fact, he begged me to go with him because it would be awkward if he just turned up on his own. So I just went with it. And that was it. Two days later they were a couple.
Tell me about the wedding.
Oh god. It was about as awful as you’d imagine. By that point I’d accepted that he’d chosen Lilly and I knew I couldn’t do anything to change his mind without being that bitch who ruined her sister’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid, for fuck’s sake! And he’d never given any indication that he even remotely thought of me as anything more than a friend. I wished more than anything that he’d see it in my face, but it never happened. I was heartbroken and I couldn’t tell anybody, so I ended up drinking too much. There was this guy there, Tom. He was a cousin of Ryan’s. We knew each other reasonably well, we’d hung out quite a few times. And he just knew. He sat with me outside and listened while I poured my heart out. He is a good guy. He told me to go back inside, have a drink with him and a dance. He was pretty bummed out about a recent breakup and he wanted someone to have some fun with.
Well… we did have fun.
You slept together?
We were both very drunk. But it was… nice. There was no shame in it, nothing bad. We parted ways the following morning with the most monstrous hangovers and I don’t think either of us regrets it. I think we both just needed it. We saw each other again over the next few weeks, and we enjoyed ourselves. But then he started talking to his girl again and they patched things up so things just fizzled out.
I’m sorry.
No, like I said. It was okay. He managed to take possibly the worst night of my life and turn it around. I can’t fault him for that.
And Ryan?
Jeez… well. He and Lilly were perfectly happy for a few months, as far as any of us knew. I mean, he and I had stopped hanging out alone around the time he started seeing Lilly. Then about three or four months after the wedding, he came to my house in the middle of the night. I heard this knock on the door and there he was. I mean, it was exactly the kind of thing I’d dreamed about him doing for years but I never really thought… and so I didn’t really know what to do. So I invited him inside. He’d been crying. I made him some tea.
Why was he there?
He said they’d been fighting, him and Lilly. And that wasn’t so unusual for them. They’d bicker and snipe behind closed doors, he said. But that night had been particularly bad. She threw a plate at him and told him to get out. So he did, without his wallet or his phone or anything. And he’d sat in his car, crying and thinking. And the conclusion he came to was… well, he said it. “I chose wrong. It should have been you.”
Yeah. It was special, like a moment out of a movie. I almost dropped my tea! And for a moment, everything went out the window. I didn’t care that he was married to my sister or that he’d just had a massive fight with her so he probably wasn’t quite thinking straight. I kissed him, like I always wanted to.
Aww! Couldn’t have written it better myself.
Oh haha. But it didn’t last long, that magic.
Oh… oh no, I’m sorry.
I looked into his eyes and I realised that I didn’t want to be that person. I couldn’t be the one to break up Lilly’s marriage by stealing her husband. It didn’t matter how little I liked her, it didn’t even matter that she was my sister. It was wrong. It was a line in the sand and I wasn’t going to do it.
So what did you do?
I told him so. I said I wasn’t going to steal him away and I wasn’t going to have an affair. He pleaded with me. He only wanted me. I told him that he had a choice; he could either go home and find a way to make it work with Lilly or he had to leave her. I told him that I’d waited this long. I’d still be here if he chose me. And I kissed him softly and told him to go home to his wife.
Wowzers. And then what?
... I don't think I'm ready to talk about this yet...
Are you sure?
*stiffled sobbing*
It’s okay. Don’t cry. I’m not going to make you talk about this bit if you don’t want to. I know what happened. I wrote it, remember?

There, there. Alright, we'll pick this up another time.

-interview terminated-


This is actually the first time I've done one of these. It was definitely an interesting experiment.  :read:


Offline Rabbit

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Re: Managed Retreat: Precedents
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 06:08:13 PM »
Here is a cover mock-up, which probably remains my favourite part of the pre-November prep activities!



Offline Phoenix

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Re: Managed Retreat: Precedents
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2018, 02:03:29 AM »
In both of the posts you've put up in this thread, I've really felt for Olive's character. She's been written and described so well!
The character bio really helped get inside her head a little, and learn about her history without revealing too much.
I really felt for Olive, and the history she had with Ryan. A beautiful piece here Rabbit!
Do you have any more to post up at all?  :lovedance:


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