I’ll admit that once I realized that the first draft of Men in Caves was finished, I felt a bit ambivalent towards it. The pages are hiding in a beautiful folder that I bought at the McClung Museum, all tucked up nice and pretty. The folder itself is a work of genius: it’s of a thin sort of smooth plastic envelope that gently wraps itself round a stack of papers. It’s also in a delicate William Morris pattern, all red chrysanthemums and deep green ivy. Scrumptious as that folder is, the first draft is so frustratingly messy that I’m not sure what to even do with it. There’s gold in there, I’m sure of it. But how do I get to it? How do I sift through the gravel and the silt to get to what’s true? Is it destined to become one of those novels that sits in a drawer?
I don’t think so. I don’t think my characters are done with me yet. They’ve been SO patient, really.
Right this very minute Justine is sitting on her bed, waiting for Blake to come home for dinner. She’s decided she’s done with Adam and wants to pour herself into loving Blake again. She’s carefully picked out a white silk nightgown from her lingerie drawer, glad that the musty smell that covers everything in the cold foreman’s cabin hasn’t seeped into the delicate fabric yet.
The cabin is quite chilly; the woodstove in the living room never quite chugs forth enough heat to their bedroom. On top of the white nightgown she’s wearing a starry sort of silver-white bedjacket, quilted and warm and tied at the front with a huge blue satin bow. She doesn’t like that it’s covering up the sweetheart neckline of the nightgown, but once Blake gets home and into bed she can take off the jacket (and the itchy, wooly socks on her cold feet). She’s planning on seducing Blake before dinner, before she even pours water in a pot to boil, before he even pours himself a cup of coffee from the percolator. Blake hasn’t touched Justine in over a week, sensing her distance and jumbled, sad sort of mood. He knows she sometimes falls into a cave in her head and has to sit in the dark a while.
Justine’s getting bored waiting for Blake, and decides to lie down on the quilt. It’s hard not to think of Adam. Outside the window it’s dark already, and a sort of smoky blue moonlight is filling the tiny bedroom. The air is quiet, too, and Justine knows if she draws the curtain she’ll see hundreds of snowflakes. Mid-November, already snowing and already the sunlight is starting to disappear before the table is set for dinner.
So anyway, these gorgeous people are still wandering around, waiting for each other, waiting for me to finish what I started so that they can get on with their lives. Soon, rabbits, soon.