Those who have read my previous blog already know of certain things that nag at me, things that have worked their way in deeper and deeper--like a splinter. As I was writing and working on a character today--a character who just got her world turned upside down--for some reason I remembered an email I sent a bit over a year ago to a blogger whom I had only just began following. Maybe it was presumptuous on my part, but it was meant to be from the heart. Fortunately she could sense that, and she decided to share it in her blog.
In my email to her, I talked about those blasted purple panties. For those who aren't familiar with the story of the purple panties, you need to understand this: my aunt was murdered. There is no polite, graceful way to segue into it. Murder doesn't tend to segue, it crashes in on your life when you aren't looking and blindsides you. It tears a hole in your world. Or at least it did mine. The hole ripped open in my world on November 13, 1998. My aunt worked in a prison; an inmate murdered her.
As I explained to Eden in my email to her:
I ordered a copy of the autopsy. For some reason, I was gripped by the need to know exactly what happened.So here I am, finishing the final few chapters of my book, and I start thinking about all of this. Perhaps it is me picking at old wounds that have never properly healed. Or maybe I am parceling out my emotional baggage onto my characters. Whatever it is, these are the writing days that make it feel as if I am using my blood for ink.
The autopsy came in the mail...so many crisp white pages. A diagram of a generic female stared back at me; her every wound meticulously documented. She was stabbed sixteen times. Her aorta severed. Her death would have been swift.
Then her killer locked them both in a storage closet off the prison kitchen and barricaded them inside while he made a superficial attempt at suicide.
I read the pages over and over, but the only things that I can still remember about it was that, even though she smoked her lungs were perfectly clear and healthy, and she had been wearing purple panties.
For some reason, the purple panties haunted me. Perhaps it was the stereotype of a nagging mother reminding her child to wear clean underwear "in case they got in an accident." Who the fuck cares what your underwear is like if you are dead?! No. That's not it... When I actually let myself acknowledge it, I know...
That morning was like any other. She got up, tugged open the top drawer of her dresser, and picked THAT pair--whether haphazardly or by design--and she had no idea what would soon happen. She had no idea that this was to be her last day on this earth. The idea that bad, terrible, painful, life-altering days start out exactly the same as the boring, mundane days...this is what keeps me up at night.
Because when you are in the middle of it...you don't see it coming.
Some days writing goes smoothly--every line is perfection.
This is not that day.
Certain characters will not survive, and I am haunted by those blasted purple panties.