Beryl and the books

Little known fact about me. I want to write a book. I want to write a book so badly. The problem is I. am. terrified. by the prospect. There is a voice in my head that yells so loudly when I think about writing a book. That voice tells me I have no idea how to write a book. That voice tells me I have no idea worth writing a book about. This voice tells me no one will read it.

I am trying desperately to quiet that voice. The only way to write a book is to start writing. Last year, I tried writing every day with a dear friend and one challenge we gave ourselves was writing an adventure tale. 

This is my tale. I hope by sharing it - by just putting my words OUT THERE - I'll realize that starting is the hardest part ... but not as scary as the voice makes it seem.

So, here you go. My adventure tale. 

  Photo Credit:   anderson.r.b   via   Compfight     cc

Photo Credit: anderson.r.b via Compfight cc

Beryl had always hated her name. Her parents had been in the Peace Corps in Kenya when they heard fantastic tales of the famous aviator Beryl Markham. A famous horse trainer and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, Beryl Markham was one of Kenya’s most famous transplants. When a baby girl arrived years later and far from the African continent, her parents had remembered the famous adventurer and named their daughter Beryl. 

Now, the name felt like a taunt. 

Beryl’s life was full of many things – dirty diapers, sleepless nights, a never-ending to-do list – but adventure was not one of them. She had grown up surrounded by tales of world travel and cloaked in the legend of an adventurer. Yet, she had never left the state of Kansas. She had had a normal childhood, a happy marriage, and a beautiful daughter of her own, but adventure? She didn’t even have time to read about adventure much less pursue it. 

Reading felt like a luxury now. She was lucky to grab 15 minutes in a row and missed long afternoons getting lost in a new novel. Now, all she saw were books she wanted to read but would never get to – a new Oprah pick, a fascinating memoir praised on NPR, even the racy must-read all her friends were talking about at the gym. The books became one more item on her to-do list, one more thing taunting her … just like her name. 

Collapsing on the couch after a hard-fought nap time, Beryl was making a list in her head of all the household chores she needed to accomplish before the baby woke up. Empty the dishwasher. Run a load of laundry. Clean the sink. She glanced longingly at the book her husband had left on the couch. Touted as the nonfiction Moby Dick, it was the true account of danger and excitement on the high seas. Only in this version, the ship was not hunting a whale – it was hunting the whalers themselves. 

Beryl reached out for the book. Her fingers dropped lightly on the cover when it happened. 

Salt water. Ice cold winds. Adrenaline. Rain streaked her face as she looked out across a dark sea to see pinpoints of light sinking behind the waves. Someone was screaming at her.

“There they are! We’ve almost got them!”

She jerked her hand away. Her heart was racing. What had just happened? 

“I’m going crazy,” she thought. Was she hallucinating? Had she passed out? She looked over at the book. It seemed to be pulsing. She reached out and grabbed it. 

Again, she was pitching forward and rolling back. Time was moving quickly. She saw the boat ship out and the hunt for the poachers. She felt the exhilaration of the pursuit and joy of the victory. She felt everything, experienced everything, only everything passed in front of her as if on fast forward.

“Drop the book!” she said out loud.

Then, just as suddenly she was back in her living room, the book sitting open on the floor. Without thinking, Beryl ran to her bookshelf. Was this a fluke? What about fiction? She laid her index finger lightly on Pride and Prejudice. Suddenly, she was surrounded by candelabra and twirling figures and a man was watching her from across the room. Overwhelmed with excitement and frustration, she blushed and felt herself lift her finger off the book. Next, she dropped it on The Worst Hard Times – a historical account of the Dust Bowl during the 1920s. Her nose filled with dirt and her eyes watered. She began to hack and felt desperation rising up in her chest. She lifted her finger.

Beryl was approaching the Harry Potter series when something caught her attention. Her computer was sitting quietly on her desk across the room. As she turned to face it, she thought. If she could take in the information contained in a book, what would happen if she tried to take in the information on the Internet. ALL the information in the world. Would she just feel what was on the screen? Would she touch the computer and nothing happen?

Without thinking, she reached out and placed her hand on the screen…