It's been a week since my last update, and I have been squeezing as much time as I can into writing. Three Days was going to be maybe half the size of Loving Rowan, but you know I can never judge how many words I'm actually going to write. It's currently just under 25,000 words and I have a lot more story to tell.
I'm also 15,000 words into something new, but more about that at a later date.
The weird thing about this is, for a change I know where I'm going with Three Days. My previous books, I've always had a rough idea of how things will go, but write on the fly. While I'm still creating story as I go, I know exactly how I'm going to end Three Days and it's the exciting thing of fleshing out the rest of the story that I'm doing now.
So, this might change completely. With Loving Rowan, I revised the first three chapters heavily in editing as they weren't quite right. This feels different, but is still subject to completely change. So, in it's rough unedited form, here's the first chapter of Three Days ...
I never meant to hurt her.
That sounds crazy when I think of what I put Rowan through.
None of it made sense until so much later, when I sat in the prison cell, the realisation of what I’d done hitting me like a freight train. Consumed with thoughts of getting her back, I wanted to reset time, take us back to the way things used to be. Though, Charlie’s death had made that impossible.
Now, I sat in the same cell I’d inhabited these past three years, thinking about how to put things right. Memories of what I did haunted me. I still dreamed of a happier time, when Charlie, Rowan and I were three musketeers. Charlie was dead and even being friends with Rowan was so far out of my reach that nothing would ever be the same.
I looked around the walls, drab and that same uniform grey the whole damn building was painted in. These were the walls I’d stared at so many times wondering how my life had gone if I had done things differently, and it was when I closed my eyes the memories came flooding back.
Charlie, my beautiful blue eyed girl. The one who committed to love me every day of my life, the one I let down so badly. It wasn’t that I had any doubts, but seeing Rowan with another man left me on edge. I didn’t know I wanted her until I couldn’t have her.
I was stupid, immature, desperate, and I lost the two people who meant the most to me in the whole world.
Standing, I took one last look around the cell. I wouldn’t miss this place, and yet I’d learned so much about myself while sitting inside these walls. It was time to get out of here.
With all formalities aside, I made my way to the gate, pausing to look around the big, almost empty car park leading to the road. I shivered. Never coming back here again.
My parents stood either side of the car, waiting. At sight of me, Mum yelped, and ran, throwing her arms around me and hugging me tight. “Let’s go home,” she whispered.
Before all this, I’d had a good job, a good life. Now, I had to start again, find a way to exist with this criminal record for this crazy thing I’d done. I couldn’t imagine doing it now, the guilt overwhelming at times. To take Rowan away from her family had been cruel, but at the time, I couldn’t see past my grief and confusion.
Charlie. I still dreamed of Charlie. Our wedding day blighted by my resentment over Kyle, Rowan’s date. My bride had walked down the aisle, covered in satin and lace, and all I could see was Kyle, his arms wrapped around Rowan as if he possessed her.
From the moment she found out about Charlie and I, Rowan had disowned us, leaving our shared house and running away to start a new life of her own. Between then and the wedding, I’d been bothered by her not being around, in the early days of our lives we’d been inseparable.
Charlie had noticed how distracted I was at times, but I told her it was just nerves over the wedding. I played down my fears of losing Rowan in my life, but inside I was falling apart, torn between the two women I loved. As it turned out, I lost them both.
The car ride was long, and I remembered how Rowan used to travel in this same car all those years ago. My dad had this huge sentimental attachment to the old HQ Holden he drove, and prided himself on keeping it going for all this time. Rowan, Charlie and I would all sit together in the big backseat, Charlie and I often teasing Rowan about the way she fell asleep on every long journey.
I closed my eyes, unable to count the number of times I’d find her slumped over, held only by a lap belt, her head on my lap as she dozed. Sometimes, when no one was looking, I’d stroke her hair and wonder what life would bring us. The first girl I ever kissed, the first girl to make sense.
“Shit. We shouldn’t have come this way,” said Dad, waking me out of my daydream. The long, rural road took us past the place where my parents used to own a beach house, the last place I saw Rowan.
“It’s okay, Dad,” I said, gazing out the window. Remembering her screaming at me, remembering those last moments as the police came stomping in, saving her from me, her former best friend.
“I’m sorry, Andrew. I know this must be upsetting for you,” he said, pressing his foot to the accelerator as if trying to get away as quickly as possible.
“I just have to live with it,” I said. I looked up at the rear view mirror, catching his eye, seeing the sorrow in his expression. He didn’t want to make me relive what I’d done, but I would never stop, regardless of his actions.
“Sweetheart, we know you’re not a bad person. You did a bad thing,” Mum said.
I nodded. That had to be the understatement of the year, but somehow it was reassuring.
We went past the orchard where Rowan’s parents lived as we drew close to home. The big old white house stood high among the trees. Every place was steeped in memories of our childhood, and despite my parents trying to take care of me, I wondered how long it would be before I had to leave to stop myself drowning in those memories.
Rowan’s father was out by the boundary, and waved at Mum and Dad as we went past. At least my actions hadn’t screwed the friendship Mum and Dad had with Rowan’s parents, but I knew it had been strained for a while.
Home still looked like home when we got there. The grounds were immaculate, my mother was a stickler for the garden to be neat and tidy. The house still looked new, thanks to my father’s sometimes obsessive cleaning of it. They’d lived in this place for thirty years, and you could have sworn it had just been built.
My room was still the same as it had been when I lived here. Back before Charlie and I got together, before the mess that followed. The single bed below the window, the window I used to climb out to run down the road and see Charlie.
In the corner were some boxes. I recognised them from my old apartment. We’d packed it up before I’d gone inside, and I’d forgotten they were there.
I opened the first one, pulling out a photo of Charlie and I. It was one of our engagement photos, and she was beaming, the love radiating off her like the sun. There I was, gazing adoringly at her. If only things had stayed that simple.
The longer I looked, the closer I came to tears, feeling the weight of my grief overwhelm me as if it were happening all over again. I had so many regrets about the past, but none about loving Charlie.
I had to start a new life without her, and I had no idea how. All I knew was that I was alone, and I had to deal with it without flipping out again. Doing it once had cost me far too much.
It cost me everything.
Ariadne Wayne is the pen name of an overworked, often exhausted mother of two who frequently turns to the internet for relaxation. It doesn't always work...