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Vitae Lampada - what about this opening?

Turning at the lights, Jon remembered the first time he saw someone dead. He was young; it was not a peaceful passing away in sleep and he felt guilty. He let himself imagine the ghost and the reason it might be angry with him. Then he approached the body and a sensation like electric tide sizzled through him, left him with ringing ears and a hot puddle in his stomach. Shock, of course, but the same thing happened when his front tires crossed the boundary into West Bridgford. It made him oversteer the next bend.
He put the car right on Trevor Road, and looked for positives. In eight years the houses and gardens hadn't changed. Under strong sunlight the scene gave off vapours of self-assurance. He breathed deep. He needed to; this meeting was set and if he failed to show the result would go to TB whether he was the better man or not. His resolve held until he reached Tudor Square and couldn't recognise any shopfronts. The curbs had developed bigger curves. A system of new roundabouts forced him off his route, past the police station, and he began to wonder if his car park would still be there.
It was. He parked in his usual place. The first thing he noticed, getting out the car, was unusual stillness. Someone who worked for the council once told him standard noise reduction in Nottingham was thirty-two percent by the second day of the average weekend. However they measured it, this was more. It weighed in momentous and pending as the pause before the starter’s pistol, mixed with a gravity of commemorative silence. There was no traffic. No one walked in the park or along Central Avenue or went in the Co-op. It lasted maybe fifteen seconds. Jon observed it with his door open and his hand resting on his floppy hat on the bonnet. It fit his situation so perfectly he moved his lips to shape the word ‘yes’.
He was not talking to anyone. Why did he need to make the point? Because he was here?

I still see this as a bit 'thin', if you will. I was aiming for an opening sentence that had more drama and would mirror the end of the book. The dead person Jon sees is Trevor's father, shortly after his suicide. Now maybe this isn't the best memory for Jon to have, given that I want them to be a bit wary of each other, and Jon a bit 'holier than thou'. In fact, this may be the only place you see these opening paragraphs. But doesn't it demonstrate how hard writers work to get their beginnings right?


January 2015



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