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This is a little peek at my Nanowrimo novel, entitled Enter.  Hope you enjoy.  Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.  🙂

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When the sun rises on my night’s vigil, I know I am not alone.  It doesn’t matter that Ethan is sleeping in his rumpled bed across the tiny, messy studio apartment.  He’s still here, and I’m not alone.  It’s a good feeling.
 
I get up from his old, comfortably sagging couch and go into the kitchen, pour myself a glass of water.  I don’t want to wake him.  I know all the backstory will wait.  I’m just content to know he is there.  That he cares for me.  More importantly, that he knows my story and believes me.  
 
I wonder what it would be like, after all this time, to really sleep.  Just a nice, full night of peaceful slumber, no longer hounded by nightmares.  To lie down in one place, one time, and wake ten hours later in the same place, the same time.  
 
For two and a half thousand years, give or take, I haven’t been able to count on that one simple invariability.  
 
Not that I’m complaining.  If God chooses to deliver me from certain death, I think sleeping through a hundred years is wonderful.  Who am I to question the mode he chooses for his earth-shattering miracles?  I’ve long since ceased trying to understand the whys and wherefores.
 
But Ethan is a scientist, if a believing one.  He’d like a few answers, and I wish, just a little, that I could give him some.  
 
Like why I have been leaping my way through history.  Like why the embodiment of evil I have the misfortune to call a husband turns up everywhere and every-when I go.  
 
Daon Nazaratus.  The villain who started it all, who lost me my family, my roots in time, everyone and everything I knew.  He was there at the beginning, in ancient Babylon, and he is here, now, in this very city, waiting for me to appear once again.  
 
Except that this time, I know, somehow, it will be the last time.  Maybe then I’ll finally get to sleep.  For real, this time.
 
Ethan sits up in bed, rubs his thick dark curls, reaches clumsily for the dark-rimmed glasses he keeps on the nightstand.  Only then does he see me, remember slowly, smile.
 
“Good morning.”
 
“Good morning yourself.  I hope I didn’t wake you.”  I smile back at him, despite my slight reserve.  I’ve only just met him, after all.  But even the little we’ve been through together is enough to make me happy to see him, to share his company.  He’s the first person I’ve ever trusted with my story.
 
“Not at all.  I need to get up, anyway.  Got stuff to do.”
 
“Yeah, I’ve got to get to work, too.  Can’t be late on my second day.”
 
There’s a shyness between us.  Like he’s afraid to ask if he’d just imagined all the things I told him last night.  
 
“Did you sleep at all last night?” he asks in disbelief.
 
“I told you.  I’m not a big fan of sleeping.  There’s the dreams and all.  Besides, I do plenty of sleeping … you know …”
 
“Yeah.”  It’s sinking in.  I can see it on his face.  But even though he believes its true—that I am essentially 26 centuries old, rather than the 20-something I look—it’s going to be a while before he truly accepts it.
 
He rolls out of bed in a t-shirt and shorts, grabs a pair of denim pants and a sweater from the floor, and heads into the bathroom.  “I’ll just be a minute.”
 
I busy myself with finding bread and toasting it.  His toaster is not too different than the ones I saw before, a century ago, so I don’t have any trouble.  I figure out the coffee machine, too, from my new job yesterday.  By the time he emerges, dressed, shaved and combed, I have a plate of toast spread with jam and a mug of coffee ready for him.  He doesn’t have a dining table, so we sit on the couch.
 
“Hey, thanks.”  He takes the toast and crunches into it.  “I probably would have been too lazy to eat any breakfast.  Couldn’t do without the coffee, though.”
 
“And you scold me for not sleeping.”
 
“I know.  They do say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
 
“Do they?  I suppose it makes sense.”
 
“Oh yeah, I forgot you won’t get many cultural references.”
 
“Not unless you’re talking about history.”  I hunch my shoulders and take a bite of my toast.  
 
“That sounds perfect to me.  I’m a history student, don’t forget.  Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong century.”
 
“Me too,” I say.  We both burst out laughing.
 
The clock on the stove says 6:49.  “I have to be at work soon.”
 
“I’ll walk you down.”  
 
He takes my plate in his free hand and dumps the dishes carelessly into the sink.  I follow with  the mugs, more gently.  After lifetimes spent in servitude, I can’t break my old habits.  
 
The coffee shop where I got my new job yesterday, where I first met Ethan only 24 hours ago, is just downstairs, a block south, and across the street.  He was having a date with his guitar and the sunrise.  I was waking up for the first time in a century, on the park bench next to him.
 
I remember the first time I woke after my long slumber, when I slumbered under a Babylonian moon and wakened to a Persian sunrise.  When I closed my eyes on slavery and certain death at my wedding feast and opened them on freedom and life a century later.
 
If only I had been as free as I’d thought myself then.  But Daon had lived on, defying nature and God, to hound my waking and sleeping ever since.  
 
If the feeling I had was to be trusted, it wouldn’t be for long.
 
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Here’s an excerpt from Slumber for anyone to read, enjoy, cut up as you see fit.  🙂

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“Benjamin has come to speak with us about your betrothal,” Father said with a heavy sigh.  
 
“I hope you told him, as I did, that there is nothing to be done.”
 
“We did,” Mother said.  “But he will hear none of it.”
 
“I told your father that another of Daon’s concubines has died.”
 
“I know.  I saw her body.”
 
All three turned to me in surprise.  
 
“Why did you say nothing?” Mother asked, taking my hands.  
 
“I had no wish to make your cares heavier.  It changes nothing.”
 
“It only strengthens my resolve to set you free somehow,” Benjamin said, striking his palm with his fist.  “I cannot leave a friend and a daughter of Zion to the mercy of that evil man.”
 
“You’ll get yourself killed thinking like that.”  
 
“Nevertheless, I agree with Benjamin,” Father said gruffly, stroking his beard.  “Something must be done.  I can’t let my daughter go like a lamb to the slaughter.  Benjamin says this girl was sacrificed in some arcane dark ritual.”
 
“There is no evidence, but the girl was wounded in a marked way, the exact same way as the last two, or so I am told.”
 
“Is your source reliable?” Mother asked.
 
Benjamin nodded grimly.  “And not at all prone to exaggeration.”
 
“This is madness, Father.  Tell him not to do it.  Benjamin, I have accepted my fate, and if Adonai chooses to rescue me, I trust in him to do it.”
 
“But what if this is Adonai’s rescue?”  Benjamin leaned forward and held my shoulders, and his hands were gentle and warm, not at all like the cold grip of Daon’s claws.  “Don’t you see, Eliora?  He brought me to you at just the right time, so I could save you.”
 
“It’s too late to save me,” I insisted stubbornly.  
 
“No.  I won’t believe that.  I can’t just give up.  I love you, Eliora.”
 
I gaped at him in surprise.  Mother gasped, and Father nodded in grim confirmation of what he’d already suspected.  
 
“I love you,” Benjamin repeated.  “And I won’t let Daon take you, not even if it means my life.”
 
“I can’t ask that of you.”  My voice caught in my throat.
 
“You don’t have to.”  His eyes echoed the covenant in his words.  
 
He dropped his hands from my shoulders to pick up one of my hands, and kissed it fervently.  
 
“Bless you, boy,” Father said, laying a big hand on Benjamin’s head.  “Would that you were my son.”
 
“If Adonai wills, I may be yet.”
 
He looked at me in question, and I blushed.  I hadn’t considered the possibility, given the circumstances.  I still didn’t think there was a possibility.  
 
Did I love Benjamin?  I supposed I did.  Or certainly could.  I loved him as a friend and brother.  Enough to wish him far from danger.  Enough to be honoured that he would stake his life for mine.  Enough to want to prevent him from just such a sacrifice. 
 
“If you love me, then wait.”  I said at last.  “Do not spend your precious life on a futile rescue.  Daon is much older than I.  It may be that he might die soon and leave me a young widow.  Then I will be free to marry whom I choose.  Wait until then, Benjamin.”  I knew the wild fantasy of my words.  I fully expected to be Daon’s victim long before I had the chance to be his widow.  But I was not going to let Benjamin know that.
 
“And leave you at the hands of that pagan butcher?  Even if he dies within the year, you could still forfeit your life.  And what if he lives into old age?  What then?  No, I could not abandon you to such a fate.”
 
He turned to my father, still holding my hand in both of his.  Apparently my part in this conversation was done.  
 
“I don’t have a plan yet, but I’m working on one.  I won’t ask you to join me–if I were to die she should still have someone to watch over her.”
 
My mother gave an incoherent cry and I began to protest.
 
“No, beloved.  My life is mine to spend how I will.  And if I choose to spend it on you, then comfort yourself knowing it was gladly given.”
 
He rose from the floor and clasped my father on the shoulder.  
 
“I must return.  I have much to think about.”  He embraced my mother and then turned to me.  “Don’t despair, Eliora.  Adonai is with us.”
 
I watched him go, bemused.  “Hard-headed man,” I muttered.  My father laughed.
 
“But he is a good man,” my mother said.

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Here is the opening scene from my first draft of a young adult novel called Slumber.  Please pick it apart and let me know what you think.  🙂

It was not at all unusual for a girl to balk at her prospective groom. After all, it was rarely her choice, even if she was not a slave like me. Some might throw a tantrum. Some might demurely accept their fate, hoping their husband might at least leave them as a young widow. Some might run away or devote their lives to the service of some god or goddess rather than face marriage.

The unusual thing about my betrothal was my parents’ objection. In fact, nearly everyone in the room objected, though they dared not say a word. Even my mother and father were silent, though they looked frantically at each other with dread. But no one would speak against Hassimir’s choice of husband for his pretty maidservant. Still less would anyone in all of Babylon contest a generous offer of marriage from the great Daon Nazaratus. At least, not to his face.

I knew all the other maidservants were thanking whatever gods they served it was not them. Every parent in the room vowed additional sacrifices for sparing their own daughters my fate. Even Hassimir looked a little apologetic as he led me to a cushion and bade me sit down, cross-legged. But he would never say no to such a generous bride-price. Nor would he refuse Daon. No one would.

Daon Nazaratus crossed the room to stand over me, looking down his gaunt nose with hard black eyes.

“Istara, slave of Hassimir, daughter of Gahal of Judah, I claim you as my bride.”

I stared daggers at the floor, my cheeks burning. My name is Eliora, not Istara. Someone save me from this.

“These treasures and more I will shower upon you when we are wed.” He spoke the ritual betrothal words, opened his hands and let fall a spill of gold and jewels that glittered like a snake’s eyes in the hollow of my lap.

I kept my eyes fixed on a whorl in the stone floor, and the jewels were only a mass of shining lights through the film of my tears. I did not see, only felt Daon’s lascivious stare rest on me before he turned and concluded his business with Hassimir. My old master was just as pleased as my new lord with the transaction. He gazed at the gold-leafed treasure casket Daon’s slave carried with the same lust I saw in Daon’s eyes when he looked at me.

When the masters left, the only sound in the room was my mother’s strangled sob.

“Alright, back to work,” Hassimir’s slave master said. The room emptied quickly. We would speak later, in the dark of the night, in the slave quarters. Then my parents would pray. Then they would weep over me. For now, we must forget. Forget we had hearts.

We Jews were good at that by now. At least while the masters of Babylon watched.

Really, I mean it! Please pick it apart. And feel free to submit your own pieces for peer critique, if you are brave enough. 🙂