Sometimes a great opening never becomes a novel–even for an award-winning author. A.S. King was kind enough to share one beautiful beginning that never bloomed into a book.
By the Light of the April Full Moon
Lillian Hinnershitz sauntered down the blacktop wearing nothing but a cotton nightshirt and a pair of dull-green foamy slippers that were four sizes too big. If you listened closely enough, you could hear her humming softly to herself.
At Spring Street, she ran into Gerald Moore. He lived at the same nursing home as Lillian, but she wouldn’t know that because Lily lived in her own world now, since 2005 when she had her second stroke. Gerald was in a striped flannel Sears pajama set, complete with a green button-down cardigan sweater and tartan slippers.
When they collided, time stopped.
He said, “Here. You must be cold. Take my sweater.”
“Thank you,” she said, stopping to fit the cardigan over her shoulders.
“Was a nice night for a walk, wasn’t it?”
“I miss the birds, though.”
“I think I’m in love with you,” Gerald said, not looking up from the pavement.
“I think I’m in love with you, too.”
“Let’s get married.”
Lily squeezed his hand. “And have a baby.”
And so began Lily and Gerald’s journey backward through time.
It was a small and simple ceremony. Gerald wore his tartan slippers and Lily went barefoot.
Fred Heller, in room 114, was still a pastor, so Gerald dragged him from his room at six in the morning and sent him to the activity room with a cup of decaffeinated tea. Lily found Erma Gilbert, who played piano during chapel services when she wasn’t scratching her severe eczema, and got her to come along to witness. Before the seven o’clock breakfast round up, they were married. Nurse Dora was so touched she picked a handful of daffodils from the over-mulched flowerbed at the home’s entranceway for a bouquet. She turned to the aide and said, “How cute is that? They get old and do like kids do at recess.”
At breakfast, Lily looked around and noticed how many people she didn’t know. She felt as if she had just pulled herself out of a gray fog and onto a movie set she’d never seen before. She took off her glasses and nothing appeared blurry. Also, her knees did not ache for the first time in twenty years.
They skipped afternoon activity time in order to consummate their marriage. Neither of them had made love since the first Bush presidency and when they finished, they collapsed into the adjustable bed, curled in each others’ arms, and fell into a sweaty, love-induced sleep.
It was when they awoke, the trouble began.