Working Title: The Appointment: Lost & Found (Book 1) (Volume 1)
This Book Is In Development
Depression has swept across the nation since the initiation of the lockdown. The public has been systematically deprived of anything that brings them entertainment, or allows them to express emotion. When an utterly hopeless Jacob Johansen receives an invitation to attend a mysterious appointment at an anonymous facility, he agrees, considering he has nothing to lose. He takes this opportunity to peel himself away from the drab repetition of the day-to-day routine he's come to know and reignite a sense of purpose in his life. Jacob agrees to go forward with a series of tests in which he is immersed in a dream realm that reminds him of the man he was and shows him the potential of the man he could become. As Jacob engages in his own self-exploration, he is met with the sober realization that his own actions, decisions or avoidances could have a ripple effect, deeper than any dreamer could have fathomed.
There's a lot going on here in chapter 1, but this has always been my favorite part. More then the destination. More than the goal of making it to the other side... the power of an old memory coming back. And what it means to remember it. The protagonist hasn't been able to experience or remember anything beautiful in over a year, and here he is able to catch a glimpse of one of his favorite childhood memories, which entails spending time with his pretty and very attentive babysitter at a young age. All the smells. All the tastes. Touch. It's all there. I think we all have a memory like this we've likely forgotten. Or maybe we remember it vaguely. But it's full of fog. When I read this scene, I'm able to fall back on some of my own memories and smile.
Ron’s day is off to a bad start. Blinded by frustration after another argument with his wife, and heartbroken that his marriage may be over, he accidentally crashes his car on his way to work. Dazed, he takes the train the rest of the way, where he is quickly delighted by the presence of another rider, Courtney, whose smoldering smile makes him remember what it feels like to be wanted. What seems like a new friendship quickly turns into temptation, leaving Ron torn with internal conflict and guilt. But when his new friend starts to seem a little off, he begins to question her motives. As one seemingly harmless favor leads to another, Ron soon finds himself wondering if Courtney really is who she says she is, or if she's actually part of an elaborate setup.
This small, but meaningful moment is easily one of my favorites. I wrote a handful of flashbacks for this story, and I love them all, but this one in particular is quite special to me. I love how an ordinary household object can transport you to another place in time. Remind you of your past. Small moments that time allowed you to forget. Ron needs this reminder. It helps push his mind forward in the right direction again. Re-think his priorities. This kitchen plate serves as a reminder of where he and Kate once came from. Where they started. The way he used to look at her. The way she looked at him. The way she made him feel. The difference in her touch. Nothing beats the excitement of being a newlywed, buying your first home, expecting your first child and then bringing them into the world. All these firsts can feel like old news a decade later. But the feelings are still there, buried. Ron just needed something to remind him. In this scene, this old, plastic plate becomes a magical time machine. The real question though, that I hope people will ask themselves, is did Kate give him the plate on purpose, or was it just a random coincidence? I leave it to you, the reader, to decide.
One of the more enjoyable aspect of marriage is playful banter. When you poke fun at each other and push each other's buttons. There’s always a certain level of truth behind it, but you don’t actually want to hurt the other person’s feelings, so it’s taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes banter is taken too far, and feelings do get hurt. In this scene there's a couple different emotions going on below the surface. Things have been tense between Kate and Ron, so they are using this moment as a source of enjoyment, even though it could turn ugly at any moment, because of all the lingering resentment. So there’s a bit of an emotional tug-of-war going on. A battle between what is a joke, and what isn't. And then of course there's Ron's desire to be physically close to his wife. Kate pressing her chest against his in the kitchen so that she can get a better look at the cut on his head proves to be nearly too much for Ron to handle. They're both testing each other and they don't even know it. Or perhaps they do. How often do we do this ourselves, in real life? How often do we “act” with our significant other, in order to get the results we’re hoping for?
Loneliness is a re-occurring theme in this book. I wanted to explore it. Not so much the obvious examples, like people who are depressed, reclusive, anti-social, introverted, etc. I was more interested in people who appear to be happy on the outside, when really they're dying on the inside. How many people do we know, even friends and family, who only appear to be happy, when really they're miserable. It's kind of scary and sad to think about. The real you vs. how you portray yourself to others. I think we’re all actors to a certain extent. We alter our personalities for different people. We hide. We have to in order to survive in this world. To keep things even-keel. The characters in this book often portray themselves dishonestly. But their true selves also have a habit of slipping out unexpectedly. Sometimes out of anger. Other times, such as this scene here, it comes out of happiness. They've reached a comfort zone. I think this probably happens to everyone sometimes, especially when you're in the company of others who secretly feel the same; desperate to share their true selves. And as wrong as it may be for these two people to be standing together, cozy underneath the stars, it's also a moment they obviously both feel they need to survive.
In this scene, Ron is relaying his self-proclaimed rules for marital satisfaction to his new friend, Courtney; a woman he met on the train earlier and is still with because she asked for a ride home. He believes that all married couples would be happier if they just followed these basic rules. Ironically, he's telling her this in the midst of some fairly harmless flirting. But I think there is a lot of truth to what Ron tells her here, especially his emphasis on respect. If a couple doesn't respect each other through thick and thin, then the relationship is much less likely to succeed. As Ron lists his rules off one-by-one, he thinks he's doing Courtney a favor. Sharing this great knowledge so that she may take it with her and use it. And that may in-fact be the case. But for me, the real question is, even though he truly believes what he's saying, is he really following the rules himself? He appears to be on the surface. But isn't he disrespecting his wife somewhat by concealing the fact that he's spending time with this other woman? Even if they are just talking? Something to think about...
Brief, yet wonderful interactions with strangers... These moments can have quite the impact on us. You never know when you’re going to cross paths with someone new and connect with them unexpectedly, and then never see them again. And that's okay. I truly believe we can learn a great deal from these experiences. These strangers can be just as important as the people we see every day. They just serve a different purpose. By learning something about them in those few moments, we're also likely to learn something new about ourselves. It doesn't have to be expressed verbally, either. A meaningful, heartfelt smile can last an entire lifetime. When it's over and they’re gone, you might find that you miss them at first. And that's okay too. Longing is good for us. It builds heart and character. Not everybody that touches you on some level is meant to stay in your life forever. Just know that somewhere deep down inside, you needed them at that particular moment, and they needed you. You just didn't know it. That's the beauty of human interaction; another small, minor miracle of life.
Back to the beginning, when everything is fresh and new and full of color. When you don't plan on falling in love that day, even after you meet the person initially, it just sort of happens. It hits you hard. The chemistry is undeniable. Then you lose all control of yourself and just...love every second of it. Granted, that high you feel won't last forever, but it will stay with you if you let it. Embrace it. There's few things in life more enjoyable than looking into someone's eyes and knowing with absolute certainty that there's nothing you wouldn't do for them. That's why it's important to remember how things began. What road brought you to where you are today. Every decision leads to a door. Some new, some old. Whether you choose to close them behind you or not, is entirely up to you.
In the midst of an intense, verbal battle between two people, it can be difficult to express yourself properly without coming off as mean or disrespectful, especially when you're frustrated and emotional. It's difficult to communicate your frustrations without placing blame on the other person, especially when it's someone you love and adore. Blame will only cloud the their ability to sympathize. It will cause further resentment. Blame makes people defensive, which leads to words or phrases you will later regret saying. Even in the heat of the moment, it's so important to resist the urge to blame one another, so you can reach a mutual understanding, and remember why you love each other so much. Once you do that, almost anything can be forgiven.
I'm sure anyone who's been married or living with a partner for several years know's this feeling. The complicated emotion of feeling alone, even when you're together. I hit on this concept more than once in this book because I think it's a common problem in marriage, especially when your lives revolve entirely around routine. When communication is lacking, and your both busy with other things all the time, it's easy to forget about each other, take each other for granted, and forget how to act around one another when you are together, let alone support each other. In this scene I tried to capture the awkwardness that can occur when two people are no longer on the same page, but desperately want to be.
Everything has a beginning and an eventual end. Sometimes that beginning is wonderful, sometimes it isn't. But fortunate couples will experience a perfect moment early on, between the two of them, when everything just clicks...messy as it may be...and nothing else matters.
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