Cheesecake samples, and the novel I’m not writing

New York CheesecakeImage via WikipediaI found this over at LL’s place, and I thought it was a great idea. Sometimes we get caught up in the serious-ness of writing and forget that it is fun. LL claims she is not a fiction writer, but the snippets of fiction that I have read on her blog make me beg to differ. LL’s fiction samples make me want more!

It’s like skipping lunch, then around four-o’clock you’re in the supermarket, and as you’re feeling that deep growl in your empty belly someone in a white apron and a hairnet offers up a Dixie cup with a tiny sample of New York cheesecake. Just as the piquant zip of that morsel of sweet-tart delicacy is melting off your tongue, you’re hit with the burning desire to eat the whole piece. Your tastebuds are teased and then you find yourself realizing you’re starving, and Cheesecake is the only cure for your affliction. Actually, I want the whole darn cake! LL, please? Consider digging out that spring-form pan and giving it a whirl?

And then, this morning, I found another sweet sample being offered by A Simple Country Girl. I came, I read, I went away with my appetite whetted for more (and, oddly, with a Janis Joplin song inexplicably playing in my head). These savory little morsels of fiction are like the finest of imported cheese, rich and creamy tidbits skewered with a toothpick and offered on a tray, leaving you wanting to buy a box of Table Water Crackers and a beautiful wedge of goat-brie. I did that once, you know. And I’m lactose intolerant. But that sample left me wanting more, as Country Girl’s sample left me longing to know more about her Wrangler-wearing, pickup-driving protagonist.

Come on, girls. Don’t leave me hanging!

So, with that, I thought I’d better join in the fun. If you can’t eat a whole wheel of double-creamy goat brie, then I guess you may as well set up your little folding table, cover it with a white paper table cloth, and set out your own sample in Dixie cups. So, grab a spork and enjoy (or, push your shopping cart one-handed as you desperately seek a trash can in which to toss the Dixie). Here is a bit of the novel I am not writing, and have not been writing for nearly a year now.


An hour later, John sat tall on his Abba’s shoulders. He had already told his Ima how sorry he was. He hadn’t meant to worry her. She was so pretty, and when she was worrying it seemed like she was little and he was the grown up, wiping her tears and comforting her. He liked to comfort Ima. He had been playing off in the green fields with some new lambs, in the stone sheep pen where the woolly sheep lay hot and lazy in the late afternoon heat. The lambs were little and soft, so much softer than the big sheep, and one of them had suckled his fingers when he put them in its mouth. It tickled and felt so strange, because the lamb had no teeth. Its mouth was bumpy on top, its little tongue had curled around his fingers and it had sucked hard, greedy, with funny smacking noises.

His Abba had whipped him for going off to play with the lambs without telling Ima first. But he had not whipped him very hard, John had not even cried and Abba had seemed proud of that. Now Abba was taking him back to the sea to check on the boats, the fishermen would be working again once the sun went down and the air cooled off. John knew that Abba was the best fisherman on the lake, his boats were the best and biggest boats and he had many men who fished for him in the proud, dark, wooden bodies that cut through the waters of the lake. John loved riding on high on his Abba’s strong shoulders, looking at all the boats and the lake, seeing the men on the shore stop to nod at Abba with respect. He chanted to himself, with the rhythm of his father’s footsteps, “John ben Zebedee! John ben Zebedee!” He was high enough to see all the boats, tied and bobbing by the shore and even a few still fishing out on the lake. There weren’t many fishermen left working now, most were already home for dinner and the shore was a delightful open expanse of foot-churned sand. When they had first left the courtyards of home he could smell the dinner-smells of fish and bread and onions on the warm wind that always blew over the lake, but now they were closer to the water itself and the smells of the village were covered by the live-wet smell of the water.

Hands clasped in his Abba’s thick, warm hair, he turned his small face to the sun. Low and gold and warm, it was sliding slowly down the horizon. The light seeped through his closed eyelids and he saw crimson and breathed deeply the tangy lake air. The air made John happy, it woke up something excited in him, made him sit up tall on Abba’s shoulders and bounce. His legs wanted to run. He bounced harder, up and down and up and down as Abba walked towards the lake, until Abba laughed and let go of his legs and reached up with his big, square hands, swung him off his shoulders and set him on the warm sand of the shore. Feet on the ground, John turned and hugged his father’s leg with all his might. His father was so big, so strong that his little arms couldn’t squeeze hard enough. He laughed, a sweet sound that mixed and tangled with the lap of waves and the burbling trill of Sandpipers calling from the scrubby growth that bordered sandy shores.

Dashing away, John picked up a twisted stick of driftwood that caught his eye near the water’s edge. Oh, the fresh air! The wind ruffling and tugging at his hair, the golden light that glinted on the water and seemed to pour warmth over his head and shoulders, the laughing-loving eyes of his father following him. It was too much and not enough, all at the same time! He sprang with joy at the lapping waves, swinging his driftwood-sword at the water with all his might. The driftwood struck the waves over and over, smacking with a satisfying, wet sound as he charged and jumped and charged again. The driftwood sword flew through the air and crashed into the water, the muscles in his thin arm sang with the resistance as he pulled the stick through blue-green waves. The water was an enemy, the water was an army, the water was Goliath in bedtime stories about king David, and John was the king himself diving it back, back.

Along the waters of the Sea of Galilee, Zebedee stood apart from his son and felt the same wind breathe over him. The sun was beginning to set in earnest, throwing sparks of fire…orange and red and gold…off the choppy surface of the lake. He stood watching the boy swing at the waves, saw him parlay and retreat and strike forth again. The beauty of his son, the abundance of life in him, the gold light that etched his small shoulders in warmth and made the boy seem gilded, made Zebedee’s love a hard and solid thing. A hot stone burning in his chest. He wondered, with the sweet detachment afforded parents of the very young, what John would one day forge as his sword, at what waves would he advance.

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2 thoughts on “Cheesecake samples, and the novel I’m not writing

  • August 20, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    So lyrical. Look at you! 🙂 (You should leave your link in the link-up thing under my post, so others can know this is here.)

    I loved the lambs suckling his fingers and this, oh this… “the dinner-smells of fish and bread and onions on the warm wind that always blew over the lake.”

    Really nice. Thanks for sharing it.

  • August 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Hello. Girl.

    You knock my socks off. And wouldn’t you know it, my fav part is also the lamb.

    And thanks for the compliments, but mine really isn’t all too terrific. It is 8 years old. I need to do some cutting and stream-lining, but hey, I am not writing a novel…



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