I promise you there is a Thursday Thousand story at the end of this, but my introduction is a little bit longer than normal.
Hopefully, this title stands true.
As I’m starting this post, it’s 3PM on Tuesday, 4/16. My intent is to post this at the end of next week. While I’ve been pretty active on this blog and definitely going crazy with my reading, I haven’t been writing. I’ve talked about this a little bit here and there, but it really became obvious the other day while I was writing a post for my quarterly check-in for 2019 goals. I’ve completed one out of four goals, and the one I completed was just editing a novel. I said in the post that if, by May, I still wasn’t writing, I was going to take some steps to fix whatever was going on, but I’ve decided to start now.
So, this morning, I sat down and finished editing the remaining chapters of bookstore boys. I’ve been working on adding more French into it because I watched Call Me By Your Name again recently, and immediately felt like the Bellerose’s didn’t speak enough of their native tongue. Well, I finished that, and it has been a really fun journey dipping my toes back into the French language, but then I thought, now what?
I’m going to finish this damn novel. If I write a chapter a day, I’ll have this finished by next Friday. I got it to about 60k, and it’s really not supposed to be that long, so it’ll probably end around 90k, which is so few words that I’m really frustrated that it’s still incomplete.
Well, it’s a little after 3PM, and I’ve written about 4k today. I tacked on ~500 words to a chapter I’d started previously to finish it off, wrote 3700 for the next one, and then I outlined each of the last eight chapters in specific detail so I know exactly what’s going to go in each. Until tomorrow, then!
oh my godddddddd
work things that I just can’t even begin to express my frustration on, so I didn’t get a lot of time today. I had some serious goals–read 9 cantos of Purgatorio, read a full section of Book of Joy, start Carry On, write my Thursday Thousand short story (which will be up by the time you read this AND I HOPE IT MADE YOU CRY #sorrynotsorry), and work on bookstore boys.
I did one and a half of those things. I read 5 cantos and wrote the short story, which was way sadder and took me way longer than I anticipated, and then I had a work meeting about a super exciting yoga project I can’t wait to share details about, so I ended up doing nothing for bookstore boys. Yikes.
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new liiiiiiiiife, for me, and I’m feeling gooooood. (Thank you, Michael Bublé, that song is constantly stuck in my head.)
Alright, let’s do this. Today’s goals are similar to yesterday’s, but I’m cutting down to only 50 pages of Purgatorio, which probably means about 4 cantos, still the section for Book of Joy, start Carry On, AND edit what I’ve written for bookstore boys this week, as well as write the next two chapters since chapter twenty-four is the beginning of the end and my notes literally say “this is the bad chapter, proceed with caution.” I need a lot of sad music today, guys.
ALRIGHT I DID IT
not the bad chapter, I’m on break before that
I wrote the chapter right before shit hits the fan, and my goodness let me talk to you about writing for a second.
I’m so tiredddddd
But, like, don’t let that fool you. I very, very much enjoy the fact that Émilien is French and I can just research away and make fun foods and have a general blast pretending I’m French for a hot second. But wow, that was a lot of work for, like, one page out of seven for that chapter.
Today is going to be a sad day.
TODAY was actually the sad day.
Back up a little, though. So I meant to write a really sad chapter on Friday, and then I found out that I needed to get a new car. Suffice to say, I wrote nothing on Friday because I was a mess of panic and anger, so the sad chapter actually happened today, and it was Very Sad.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but a character dies, and the scene was awful to write, and you can almost feel the whole chapter that something terrible is coming because it’s all just too good. And, because I like atmosphere when I write, I chose a very specific song for this chapter.
On repeat. The entire time. OF COURSE IT’S SAD PIANO AND FRENCH
Did I want to kill this character? For the first time ever, no. I so very much did not want to that I tried every other possible thing to avoid it. I spent half a drive to New York trying to figure out how not to kill the character, but it’s necessary, and it sucks, and I’m mad.
And now I think I’m done for the day because I’m sad and tired, and that’s not a good combination. (Although it probably is for the upcoming chapters.) I now officially have five chapters left and four days to write those to stick to my goal of finishing this by Friday, so fingers crossed I get at least two done tomorrow.
dropping another music rec on you because y’all today is some serious doom and gloom
It’s just before noon, and I’ve written two chapters, which means I only have three left in total! My goal was to write two chapters today, too, since I was a little behind, and I’m feeling like I may have one more in me, but I have to take a break for now because seriously, those two chapters were heavy. They didn’t even amount to much more than 3500 words, either, but it’s all the fallout after the character’s death, so the atmosphere is just seriously trying to drag me down and knock me out.
The next chapter should be a little bit lighter, and then the last two are fairly decent, so I’m hoping they’ll happen pretty quickly. And don’t worry, this definitely has a happy ending, we just have to struggle a little first.
9:15AM–Okay. I might be posting this blog today. Stay tuned.
I texted my friend and said, “I’m putting Will in the ugliest possible sweater for the last chapter, THIS IS YOUR WARNING.” I found it, and it’s pretty bad.
10:25AM–ONE DOWN TWO TO GO
11:20AM–I HAVE CHILLS
AND THEY’RE MULTIPLYING
no seriously my heart is going SO FAST right now
full body chills
I’m about to write the last chapter. Will is happy, and Émilien is back, and all is about to be right in the world again.
I’m gonna actually post this tomorrow and talk about this then because I am WIPED.
Alright, so it’s about 8:50AM, and my plan for today is to dive into the last eight chapters that I wrote over the past week or so, edit them into first draft worthy, and then call it a day. Currently, I’m at 22,850 words written in seven days (86,431 total), so I’ll update in a bit at what I’ve added, and then we’ll get a final word count and thoughts.
11AM–AND WE’RE DONE!
A total of 1200 (exactly) words were added, bringing the final word count of the first draft of the weight of us up to 87,631 words. It has 29 chapters, 16 of which are in Will’s POV, and 13 of which are in Émilien’s POV. I wish I knew the statistics for how many French phrases/words/sentences are in there, but alas, I do not. A lot. In almost every single one of Émilien’s chapters, there’s at least one small instance of French. Sometimes more if he’s near his parents.
It’s about a lot of things, but mostly, it’s about love and loss and how those two things coexist. I was going to give some final thoughts, but instead, because it’s Thursday and because I’m feeling really accomplished right now, I thought I’d drop something unexpected. For now, know that I’m enormously pleased with how this story has turned out and that I am 100% turning back to magic after this. My vibe is already starting to drift to sister witches, so who knows, maybe I’ll challenge myself to finish that next.
And, if you’ve made it this far, welcome to the Thursday Thousand! Every week, on Thor’s Day, I will be posting a short story (hopefully) written in advance. The only parameter is that it be, at minimum, 1000 words long. It can be any genre, any length beyond that, and even contain mild cliffhangers!
Why? Because some of these will turn into novels, let’s be honest here. Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!
This week, I’m taking us all the way back to June of 2018 and the first time I ever met Will and Émilien.
And, because it’s Will and he talks about music in the very first pages, here is his favorite song by his favorite artist.
There was a sharp tap from overhead—tap, tap, tap—three beats in quick succession, soft and rounded in sound like Eve had been biting at her nails again and wearing them down.
Will didn’t look up.
He’d reached the end of the first section of his book, and was absolutely furious with how it ended. The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, it taunted him at the start, like he was about to dive into a complete story. He knew, just from glancing through the book, that the other sections were written in different styles. The next one was letters, and then there was one that was just natural prose, but this—this monstrosity was either going to end up in his top ten favorites or a forgotten pile of books shoved into the back of his closet to never speak of again. He was vaguely certain that it was going to end up in the former, but that was only because as Eve tap, tap, tapped, Will flipped rapidly through the pages until he came to the last section, also conveniently titled The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, to find that the half-sentence at the end of the first part continued as the first half-sentence of the second part.
Will stuck his thumb in the book and looked up.
Eve’s blunt nails went again—tap, tap, tap—though her attention was focused somewhere in front of her. She had one hip settled resignedly against the counter, her fingers pressed flat against the counter after her second round of taps. On the ring finger of her right hand, a giant oval amber glittered in the blistering sunlight of midday. Her other fingers were bare but for the forefinger, which sported not only a tiny, shimmering piece of opal, but an equally tiny gold band that wrapped around her middle knuckle with an upside down triangle in the center. Will couldn’t fathom what purpose a knuckle ring served, but she always seemed to be stacking them around her opal.
He followed her hand up along her brown arm, still pale from the winter, and to the loose sleeves of her blouse. She’d been trying to herald in summer all winter, and now that spring was finally here, she’d all but abandoned every sweater she owned. The blouse was a dusty pink, and a few strands of her black hair had slipped beneath the collar of it as they tumbled out of her sagging ponytail. Will blinked, frowned at her ponytail, and tried to figure out how long he’d been back here. Eve only ever put her hair up if she was unboxing, and the only time she ever unboxed was when she couldn’t be bothered to find him.
Eve tapped three more times—tap, tap, tap—before she looked away from whatever had caught her attention and finally down at Will. Her brown eyes were rimmed with expertly done mascara, cat eyes, and just a dash of glitter at the edges of her eyes. Her lipstick was nude in an effort not to clash with the dusty pink shirt, and a small silver anchor bobbed at her throat as she swallowed. She looked like who Will thought his mother might have been given the chance. “Are you ever coming up from under there?” she asked. It wasn’t hostile—Eve was never anything less than kind—but Will could hear a little edge in her voice.
“How many people are there?” he asked, though he didn’t move. The counter was like a box, just off to the center of the main floor of the bookstore and over to the right, four walls that were at a height with Will’s waist and the bottom of Eve’s ribs. There was a little, hip-high, swinging door that they passed through to get into the box. The door was the bane of Will’s existence, and he used it as little as possible. Will was wedged into the corner farthest from the door, a pillow folded around his lower back and a hat pulled low, nearly covering the tops of his ears, the bottom of it resting against the frame of his glasses. He hadn’t conceded the winter to summer yet, and was struggling to hold onto his sweaters. The one he had on now was one of his favorites, and he saw this register in Eve’s face as she frowned a little.
The sweater was delightfully warm and definitely too thick for the spring weather trying to thrive outside, but the shop was cool behind the counter and in the stockroom downstairs, so he could get away with it. It was an ugly color, mustard yellow and cable knit, but it was big around his wrists and high enough in the collar that it hid the bruises near the base of his throat. Not nearly enough, it seemed, for Eve’s dark eyes had fixated on the collar, and her frown deepened a little.
“Sweetheart,” Eve said softly.
Will snapped his book shut, and the sound of it shook them both out of what she might say. Eve pushed away from the counter, tapped all five fingers once against it—this made more of a thudding sound—and waited while Will collected himself. He dog-eared his page, set it on one of the shelves closer to the top of the counter, and unfolded from the corner. There was a stool behind the counter, a little rickety and definitely terrible for his back, but Will was oddly fond of it. Eve had often remarked that he should just drag one of the armchairs behind the counter when he felt like hiding, but that felt like too much of a concession that that was what he was doing, hiding, and the stool felt like a nice compromise. That, and getting one of the armchairs out of the fiction room, through the doorway that lurked behind the spiral staircase, and over to the box was something Will didn’t think he could accomplish. He reached for the stool now, but Eve let out a heavy sigh and turned to face him fully.
Will stopped, blinked. “Do you want me to take over?” he asked.
“There are twelve people in here,” she said.
Will nodded his head once, grabbed his phone and a pair of wireless headphones from beneath the counter, and disappeared. Eve would manage the front of the bookstore, fiddling over the displays until they looked perfect, ringing people out at the register, going back to the displays in a huff of aggravation, and occasionally wandering off to check on him. Unboxing days were Will’s favorites. They were normally Thursdays unless there was a holiday, and it was the only day of the week Will could get away with ignoring everyone. On any other day, he had to use his Customer Service Voice, had to help insouciant partners-in-crime pretending they actually wanted to be there, had to not wear his headphones and Look Very Busy. But on unboxing days, Will was often seen toting around large boxes of books to arrange into new displays that Eve would later tinker with, re-shelving whole sections, or disappearing for hours on end in the children’s section since everyone seemed to forget the alphabet whenever they came into a bookstore. The customers who did approach him learned quickly that he would rarely hear them asking him questions unless they physically got his attention, and even then, his expression was likely to be sour and his help was likely to be limited to pointing. Over the years, with a fairly regular customer base, they learned to just let him alone on Thursdays, but after he’d made the transition from part time and in high school to full time and in college, he’d had to train a whole new slew of customers who came during the daytime.
Will spent the next two hours in their stockroom, sorting the boxes into different piles, setting new releases with blue covers aside for a display idea, and trying to decide who he liked more, the Smashing Pumpkins or the Talking Heads. After two hours of the same punk rock melodies on repeat, he called it a draw, switched to Sanders Bohlke, and convinced himself not to rewind the beginning of Pharaoh over and over again as he started shelving Young Adult downstairs. He loved that line, though, when the guitar finally cut in—young hearts swallowed in the thick of it—and he ended up rewinding it three times just to hear it all burst apart before Émilien was standing next to him, leaned in close enough that he could hear Bohlke lose all control.
Will swallowed a strangled noise, and gently leapt to the side as Émilien cackled good-naturedly and snatched a book out of his box. “Eleanor and Park,” Émilien read aloud, “Come on, are we really resorting to just using the character’s names as titles now? We can’t—oh, there’s another one?” he broke off as Will gestured at the box. Émilien dove to his knees, rifled through the box, and triumphantly flung another book up in the air. “Althea and Oliver,” he said, “Tell me there’s a third.”
“Well, technically,” Will started.
“It has to be just their names, none of that Love, Simon bullshit.”
“That’s not what it’s called,” Will pointed out.
“For shame,” Émilien said as he rocked back up onto his feet. He tossed Will Althea & Oliver, shelved Eleanor & Park, and then smashed his shoulder against the bookshelf so that it groaned a little. “Par-don,” he said, the second half of the word going heavy, when Will glared at him, “Is it Thursday? Is that why you’re listening to depressing music? When are you done being morose? Can you come out and play?” This last question, he let his voice stretch high so it sounded as childlike as it was meant to.
Émilien, like Eve, was pretending it was already summer and not still budding spring. He was in a pair of severely ripped jeans, patches of his winter-pale skin showing up along his thighs, bony knees, and one little bit of hairy shin. They were snug tight to his legs, the hem of his forest green shirt settling around his waist as he finally stopped moving. That was not even to start in on the flip-flops, which Émilien was wiggling his toes about wildly as Will blinked in bewilderment at them.
“It’s not that warm out,” Will said as he looked back up at Émilien’s face. Émilien was all sharp angles and quick smiles, the line of his jaw strong, the slope where neck met shoulder bleeding seamlessly into defined muscle, and the arch of his nose a little crooked. He’d broken it when they were eight, ran headlong into a brick wall, and screamed bloody murder about his stained Reptar shirt all the way to the hospital. He had dark brown eyes, eyebrows that he liked to waggle right before he suggested something mischievous, and a mess of brown hair that curled around his ears and occasionally fell in his face.
“But we’re going to the beach,” Émilien said, “And I hate sand in my socks.”
“I’m working,” Will pointed out.
“It’s past noon!” Eve shouted down to them, “Take a lunch break, and bring me back curry!”
Will scowled at Émilien, who was hefting up his box of books and deftly carrying them back toward the stock room. “Thanks, Evie!” he called out before he ducked into the stockroom. The bottom floor, which was only accessible through the spiral iron staircase, was one big room in an L-shape, with children’s tucked into the back, middle grade along the wall, and the regular young adult taking up the rest. Through a small doorway right next to the staircase, the stockroom opened up, complete with boxes of books, a small, rickety table where Eve sometimes hid to go through their finances, and a flourishing tea station that Will had slowly been creating. Up the stairs, the main floor was level with the street, and then the stairs continued to the third floor, which was split in half with used books and an abandoned, and likely dusty, very small studio apartment.
There was no winning when they were both pitted against him, so Will trudged back up the stairs until he was spat out onto the main floor. It was a wide space, the huge floor-to-ceiling windows on the front faced east so the sun poured in at all times of the day. Along the back wall was young adult fantasy and sci-fi, against the far wall was nonfiction, tucked into a corner near the front door was poetry, and then all along the wall next to the box was local authors and history, science, and any other mismatched thing Eve could think to put there. There were a few displays set out, an empty swath of room on the countertop of the box where Will had planned on putting the blue books, and a doorway set behind the stairs that opened up into the back of the main floor, which contained adult fantasy and sci-fi, a doorway made out of books that Will loved dearly, and the fiction room, which contained his favorite armchair and a round window looking out on the ocean. Upstairs, there were stacks, boxes, and rows of used books, all separated by genre as best as they could manage. Will preferred the fiction room, where people sometimes stuck poetry amongst his favorite titles, and Will sometimes left it.
The front of the main floor, where the displays were, was overgrown with plants that Carter kept bringing in. She was Eve’s niece, and the only other full time employee. The other two, Liana and Jolene, worked nights part-time and the occasional weekend when they needed extra money to cover college books. There were large potted plants in the corners, self-contained ones hung up from the ceiling when Carter had wobbled precariously on a ladder she borrowed from the coffee shop down the street, cacti interspersed through one of the displays that faced the sun, vines trailing through the fiction room, flowerboxes along the windows outside, and an abundance on the actual counter, which Eve was dutifully moving to the side as a teenage girl set a stack of six books on the counter. The girl’s smile was uncontrollable, and Will immediately liked her.
“Red curry,” Eve said as Will stopped at the side of the counter and refused to go through the swinging door. Eve grabbed his bag from beneath the counter, set his book on top of it, and pointed at him. “With baby corn.”
“Baby corn is gross,” Émilien said as he came up from the stairs. The girl with the books went wide-eyed and stared openly at Émilien. He was hard not to stare at, particularly when he got that look on his face, a crooked smirk that meant he knew he was being ogled. Will pretended to gag as he shoved his book inside his bag, grabbed Émilien by the elbow, and dragged him out.
“She’s underage,” Will said even as Émilien opened his mouth to argue.
“Barely,” Émilien said, “Bet you she’s at least a junior. I don’t see her mommy paying for those books.”
“Probably been saving up her allowance,” Will said, which was unfair, and which Émilien recognized by letting out a holler of laughter.
“You’ve been around too many people today, you’re turning nasty,” Émilien said before he hooked an arm around Will’s shoulders and drew him close. Will let himself be hugged, though he shrugged up his shoulders in defiance. Émilien just jostled him like the punk that he was, and only let go of him once they were splitting up for efficiency’s sake. Émilien took the café because he liked flirting with the baristas, and Will took the Thai place because they knew his order.
He didn’t even have to order, just smiled at the girl at the register, who turned to holler back that the bookstore boy was in, and went to sit at one of the rickety tables. He dug Cloud Atlas out of his bag, sunk so that his shoulder was pressed against the window, and paged over to the next section, Letters from Zedelghem.
Émilien always managed to sneak up on him because Will was used to him. They’d grown up together, met when they were five and just old enough to make the decision of friends for life. Émilien had scraped his knee on the wooden planks rocking across the bridge at the playground, and he was sitting in the middle quietly crying when Will found him. He wasn’t sucking his thumb like Will did when he was upset, just sitting there with one of his legs folded under him and the scraped one bent. His crying face was hovering over his knee, and as Will watched, Émilien blinked one of the tears down onto his knee. “What are you doing?” Will asked.
“In Chamber of Secrets, the phoenix tears heal Harry’s basilisk wound,” Émilien stated matter-of-factly. He blinked one more tear onto his knee, sighed heavily, and looked up. “Have you ever read Harry Potter?” he asked.
“I read the first one by myself last month,” Will said proudly.
“By yourself?” Émilien exclaimed before he scrambled to his feet and demanded to know Will’s secrets. Émilien was still learning how to read, and definitely hadn’t mastered chapter books yet, so he was instantly fascinated with the fact that Will could and had. At the end of those first few hours together, Émilien’s mother, a beautiful and extraordinarily tall woman that Will would call for Lette for several years because he could not, for the life of him, figure out how to pronounce Violette the way she did, like a flower was rolling off of her tongue, would smile when her little five-year-old told her that they were coming back to the playground tomorrow because Will was going to show him how to read.
When Will went home that day, and his mother—short and with red-rimmed eyes from crying that morning, her voice hoarse from screaming and her shirt torn at the sleeve—asked him how the playground had been, Will didn’t tell her about Émilien. He’d made that mistake once, with the only other friend he’d ever had, and he’d never seen that friend again. Will kept Émilien a secret, and though Will was sure that his parents knew about him now, he hadn’t dared breathe a word about the boy that was slowly becoming something much more in those first years.
Émilien was the only one that was ever able to sneak up on him, though, which was why Will was so startled when he looked up and found someone sitting across the table from him. “That must be some book,” the stranger said.
Will blinked at him. Will was still sunk against the window, and his shoulder had gone warm from the sun outside. His hands were wrapped around the book, holding it tighter now that he was being pinned under a microscope. The stranger was someone Émilien would do a double take for, stubble across his jaw, dark hair parted with a thin white line, the rest rifled through messily, and cool blue eyes. He smiled as Will kept staring at him, and it was incredibly disarming.
“Bookstore boy,” the girl at the register sang. Will neatly leapt out of the booth, his book clutched in one hand and his bag in the other. He threw the strap over his head so the bag banged against his hip, shoved the book inside, and fled with his order. On days that Eve wanted curry, she paid, and they had her card on file, so it was an easy getaway. Will didn’t look back until he was halfway down the street. The door to the Thai place was just opening, and the stranger stepped out. He was in handsome jeans and a rich red shirt swallowed up by the leather jacket wrapped around his shoulders. He threw a smile Will’s way, who jerked around to look across the street and very carefully did not run to where Émilien was standing, one foot kicked up behind him, two drinks in hand, and a croissant dangling from his mouth.
“Don’t look,” Will hissed as he snatched the croissant from Émilien and started walking quickly away.
“Oh, I’m looking,” Émilien said. Will would have smacked him if his hands weren’t full with curry and croissant. Émilien was walking backward next to him, one of the drinks pushed against the corner of his sunglasses so they tipped up his head a little. “He’s new in town,” Émilien said before he let the sunglasses clatter back down, spun on his heel, and fell in step with Will. He took the croissant back, which had a Will-sized bite in it now, tore the rest in half, and then ate both halves anyway.