I mentioned in my Writer’s Process post that I have a novel in the works about a modern day prophet. Below I’m sharing with you the opening pages. In order not to break up the flow, this is a longer blog post than usual.
The entire novel won’t be written for some time, but I’m curious if you find it understandable. I’ve been told by my writer’s critique group that they need more information, but I didn’t want to do an info dump. More details will come throughout the plot line. Let me know what you think. Thanks, and hope you enjoy it.
by L. Virelli
Max Greenwood, May 20, 2028
Leaning forward with elbows on my knees, I clasped the diary of a dead woman in my hands and released words with a heavy breath. “Why me, Julia?”
I rested alone on a park bench overlooking a lake where morning mist hugged the water’s surface. A paved trail from the cemetery behind me led to a path around the lake. Green rolling hills lay beyond. Lining the walkway, vivid lavenders reached for the dawning sun. Late spring exhaled enough damp air to require a light jacket.
I slipped my fingers through my dark hair and pulled strands into spikes. My ex-wife, Lana used to hate this nervous habit of mine. I slumped back on the bench, still clinging to Julia’s diary. She left it to me in her will. Two weeks had passed, and I still couldn’t bring myself to read her revealing words. I usually lived for this type of information, so why hesitate now?
The reason for my apprehension wasn’t buried too deep. I hoped to avoid what Julia intended for me to do with her journal. I had researched her mentor, Joshua Cane, for personal reasons, nothing more. She wished for me to write about him. I was a trained journalist—a war correspondent. Writing about a hippie-like modern day prophet did not fit my profile. Why did Julia and Joshua choose me to tell his story?
Society’s tumultuous battles and upheaval of the past decade brought on a longing for spiritual connection. People began to discover the writings of a man named Tobias Jones. He claimed to have received enlightenment from the prophet, Joshua Cane. Both of the men were born over one hundred years ago and had long since died. Julia knew them.
Her diary held revelations from Joshua that could make a profound difference in the ravaged world of today, but who am I to write the man’s story? I’m forty-two years old, and this would be a complete about-face for my career.
I write about heroes of battles, not heroes of peace.
A gust of wind out of nowhere whipped me in the face. My hands tingled beneath the book’s leather bound cover, until it grew warm under my touch. “Okay, Okay.”
I opened the journal and recognized Julia’s signature in the upper right corner. From there, I flipped through then let it fall to any page.
April 17, 1960
I found Joshua sprawled on the ground in the alley bleeding from his mouth and swelling around his eyes. Cyrus was laying there beside him like a limp rag doll, wheezing.
Oh dear Lord…I want to record this in my journal, but my hands are shaking…I can barely see to write through the blur of my tears. The scene, it was horrific. I couldn’t process it, still can’t believe…
I dropped to the ground and lifted Joshua’s head onto my lap. I could barely catch my breath. I wanted to scream, cry, get help and pounce on those monsters who did this, all at the same time.
An agonizing groan gurgled in Cyrus’s throat, and he choked out words to Joshua, “I’m sorry.”
Being the all-loving spirit he is, Joshua told him he forgave him…said that Cyrus’s effort to save him was his salvation.
I had to pull my hair away from sticking to my wet cheeks.
I heard a woman’s shriek come from around the corner. Oh God, it was Joshua’s mother, Isabella. She and his aunt Marta darted into the alley toward us.
Isabella fell at her son’s feet sobbing.
Marta gasped and cupped a hand over her mouth. I screamed at her to call for help.
Joshua ordered her not to go…said it was too late.
Oh God. I cried. I can’t believe this happened to the greatest man I’ve ever known. How will I—how will any of us go on without him?
His gorgeous turquoise eyes dulled to gray. My tears dropped into his blood soaked hair. He told Isabella and me to take care of each other, that we were family.
We heard Cyrus’s breath rattle and knew he had died. The three of us women wailed like we were being tortured.
Joshua’s eyes shifted from me and focused on something behind my head. I looked, but didn’t see anything. I heard him whisper, “Okay, uh-huh. Forgive them.”
That’s when—God help me—Joshua died.
I slapped the book shut, snuffing emotions that tried to surface over the tragic scene.
Julia’s voice whispered in my head, “Messengers of peace are often reluctant.”
I gazed out toward the lake again and knew. The story needed to be told, but not by me. Julia and Tobias would tell the true story of Joshua Cane.