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May. 16th, 2006 @ 09:17 pm Scout
Current Location: Oberon, California
Current Mood: moodymoody
Current Music: How's It Going To Be ~ Third Eye Blind


Scout Patterson was not an easy character to write. Detached. Deluded. Deceived. At the opening of Scent of the Roses I think she was as much a mystery to herself, as she was to everyone else. Probably the only thing that saved her sanity over the years was the fact that she’s an Aries: they don't waste time with looking too far into the future, they just go ahead and do what needs to be done.

Scout is direct, unpretentious and to-the-point, if a tad self righteous. She cuts to the chase, boils everything down to the basics, and always wants to know the bottom line. As Marsha would be quick to point out, she and Lucy are quite a bit alike in that respect.

Despite all the lies she told Nick at the start of their relationship, Scout is essentially a very honest, straightforward person. I think this is what he’s sensed about her all along. It’s the real reason he always believed her, no matter what: because he knew she’d never lie about the important things. And they almost always agreed on what counted as important things.

I still can’t believe I kept them apart for twenty years––how mean was that? *grin*

Tonight’s excerpt is from Chapter Four, and it's a flashback. Normally, I love flashbacks, but this scene is one that I think worked better as I’d originally planned it, as part of a prologue to the book. I changed it on the advice of a good friend, and because the book’s current opening line (Scout Patterson had been running away from home for twenty years.) has always been one of my favorites.

This was actually my second attempt to write a prologue for Scent––obviously the book didn’t want one! The orginal prologue ended up becoming the prologue of Book Seven, Visions before Midnight. (You can read it Here.) Where it works much better.

Now, on to the excerpt:

"Scout? Can you hear me? Come back, now." Marsha’s voice called her out of darkness.

A thick, groggy darkness that had come from nowhere and obscured her sight. But, as her vision cleared, Scout’s heart began to pound. What was going on here? Only an instant earlier, she’d been in study hall, her mind doing its best to drift away from the history text she was supposed to be reading. Now she was here, on a couch in the nurse’s office.

The familiar, sharp-sweet scent of antiseptic made her stomach flutter. Desperate to understand what had happened, she tried but failed to pierce the darkness that stretched within her mind, wide and impenetrable, between now and a moment ago.

A very long moment, to be certain, but just the same –

"Scout!" Marsha repeated, more urgently, her freckled forehead creased with worry.

"Marsha, wh-what are we doing here?"

Marsha shrugged and looked away. "Well, uh, you sorta passed out. Tell me, what’s the last thing you remember?"

Scout dragged her thoughts back through what suddenly seemed like a thousand years of blankness. "I don’t know. I guess . . . I was trying to study but Claire and Amy were arguing about some stupid old song, I think and— Oh, I know. It was Mandy. Claire was claiming it was about some girl named—"

"Damn. I was afraid it was something like that." Marsha chewed on her lip for a moment before continuing. "Okay, listen, don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine, I promise. It’s just that . . . well, the nuns kinda think you’re maybe on drugs, or something."

The nuns? A faint alarm began to ring in Scout’s mind. Something was wrong with that, as well. Surely, she didn’t belong here, anymore? She needed to leave—right now. To run away and never come back. She shifted on the couch, squirming beneath the intolerable, warm heaviness that had settled in the region of her heart. There was something hauntingly familiar, yet still not quite right about this conversation.

"Drugs? Just because I fainted? Oh, come on, Marsha, that’s stupid!"

"I know. But, you see, you didn’t exactly lose consciousness. At least – look, I’ll explain everything later, okay? Just for now, if anyone asks, tell them you were sick. Or, no, wait, I’ve got a better idea. Tell them you were asleep. And you were, like, sleep walking or something."

Sleep? She was asleep. She had to be, because it was years since high school…this had to be a dream.

"Marsha, what are you talking about? This is insane! What’s going on?"

The arrival of Sister Mary Francis, the school’s tall, grim faced vice-principal forced them to cut their conversation short.

"Miss Quinn. You have someplace else to be, I presume?"

"Yes, Sister." Marsha’s voice exuded polite innocence. "I was just so worried about Scout."

"Yes. Well. So are we all. You may go now." The nun turned frosty eyes toward Scout. "Miss Patterson, your stepmother is here to take you home."

Caroline.

But how—
Scout’s eyes flew open, she all but sprang off the couch. Her sudden movement dislodged the cat who’d been sleeping on her chest. She recognized where she was now. Home.

No, not home. Merely back in Oberon. And it was starting again.

©PG Forte 2006, All Rights Reserved.





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