Nanowrimo Day 21: A Love Story Within a Love Story


So how are all my Nanowrimo peeps doing?  I’m basically finished my story and I’ve wanted to post a section but honestly I don’t feel like any of it is that strong so I was hesitant to do so.  I’ve posted a few of them but it was my first time writing fiction and controlling the voices once they had switched places was very difficult.

I’m still mulling over and will do for some time.  I plan on using it as a concept and then writing more based on the idea and characters I created.  I’ve certainly learned a lot from creating an entire story.

One interesting thing about writing is you can start writing a character that is an aside and the longer you get in the story the bigger the character gets (and smaller in some cases).  Has anyone else seen this in your writing?  Well, I did.  I could end up writing a whole new book about a side character that I ended up bonding with.

The two main characters of my story are 2 women, Marnie and Becca, one is married, Becca, and the other, Marnie, is single.  I wanted to create a love interest for Marnie and as any rom-com will show you nothing is cuter than a single widower.  I don’t know if that is true in real life but ever since Sleepless in Seattle it’s pretty much a mainstay.

Finally, I ended up with a man named Josh.  He’s a single Dad who comes to the rescue of Becca who has kids the same age as his son Ben.  Eventually he gets to know both Marnie and Becca and becomes a friend to both and Santa does a little matchmaking!  At the end of the book he finally tells both girls about his late wife Mary, and their story together.

It kind of ended up being a love story within a love story and I enjoyed writing it.  It’s a tragic love story you might say but I don’t know if any love story is truly tragic.  Love gives hope and a complete human experience or at least so I am told.  I have yet to experience it myself.

There is also something inherently corny about romance.  You listen to anyone’s love story and it seems pretty cheesy but it’s also endearing and joyful, and a Christmas story definitely needs lots of joy!

So, Josh’s love story came together and I’ve decided to share it with you.  As a nanowrimo story it is very, very rough so please be nice.  I’m not sharing it for critique but more to keep you aware of what I’ve been working on.

Here it is

Josh and Mary’s Romance

“If you don’t mind my asking what happened with your wife” said Becca

“Yes, what happened? Can you talk about it?” said Marnie.  She started to talk but Josh was looking at Marnie while listening to her.  She started to tear up and that made Becca cry and Josh as he began to tell the story.

“Well, we met at a coffee shop.  It was about 2 blocks away from both of our jobs. She worked as a secretary for a big wig CEO downtown and I was in the mailroom at an office building- the one with the triangle top and like 20 floors.

It was quite the job making sure everything got where they needed to go.  Sometimes the basement where we would sort the mail would be so hot I would step out to get coffee just to have a break and cool down.

I know sounds funny cooling off getting coffee but that’s what I did. On the other side, Mary was constantly given chores and errands by her boss.  She’d get the dry cleaning, pick up her kids from school, even work at the soup kitchen for her boss and sometimes she ended up as hot and bothered as me at work.

Fortunately her boss sent her to get coffee often at the same time I was taking my breaks and I started to notice her.  She was pretty with black hair and blue eyes that sparkled like sapphires (I know that is cheesy but it is true) and a great smile.

Sometimes she would wear bright red lipstick and it would make her whole face pop out and I found myself thinking of those red lips all day long.

At the time she seemed way out of my league, like someone from a fairytale or the pretty girl in high school who only dated the captain of the football team”

“So how’d you get the courage to ask her out?” Marnie asked..  Just then I came into the room and Josh smiled as he saw me.

“That’s the funny thing is I never could quite do it.  I always worried that she would think I was so forward to ask a girl on a date he had just seen at the coffee shop.  Plus, she always seemed very busy so it was hard for me to catch a moment to talk and smooth into it.

  However, sometimes I would catch her looking at me and she’d smile and nod.  Finally one day she came up to me and said ‘what kind of coffee did you get?’ ‘tall low fat cappuccino with nutmeg and cinnamon.  I actually hate nutmeg and cinnamon but my boss likes it so that’s what I have to get’.

I said ‘why don’t you just get something else for yourself and something for your boss?’

She sighed and said that her boss was a real tool and if she didn’t taste the coffee first and make sure it was up to par there would be hell to pay.

I told her that I had worked at a place like that and it was the worst.  Then we bonded over our bad work stories.  Before you knew it we had talked for 20 minutes and her phone rang.  It was her boss and I could tell she was getting chewed out for taking so long.  ‘I’m sorry.  I will be right there’ she said into the phone.

You could see the weight off a job she hated on her shoulders.  It was like a black cloud had settled over the coffee shop.  I wanted to make things better for her but before I could offer help she looked at me with a sigh and said “hey would you like to go to dinner sometime.  I have a good feeling about you and would like to chat more with you”

“Sure” I said.  “I’d love that.  Tonight?’  I didn’t want to miss a moment to get to know this person and I’d sat enough times in a coffee shop to know that it was a once in a million girl.  It was my chance to make my life happen.

I know I never thought I would feel that way again but lately I’ve been allowing myself to have new experiences and have a window in my heart open for love again.  It’s hard because I don’t want to replace her because nobody will but I know she wants me to love.  She wants me to be happy.  She always did.”

Both Marnie and Becca can’t help but blush at his speech.  After all , he was talking about both of them but he kept looking at Marnie so I felt confident that the idea of having both of them in the room for the date was a good idea.

“So we went on our first date and then dated for a 2 months but too be honest we didn’t even need to wait that long.  We knew it was right.  There was no doubt.

I told my Dad that I wanted to ask her to marry me and he thought I was crazy but he said ‘if you know you know and you have to go for it.  We will certainly be behind you.  At the time I was a poor guy in the mailroom so I couldn’t afford much of a ring.

I was watching the home shopping network and they had some cubic zarchonia rings and I thought they looked pretty nice and I could pay for one, so I bought it and took her to the coffee shop where we had met.  She had the red lips that I loved so much.  At first I got really nervous because I knew she could say no and I couldn’t bear it.

When I got nervous she thought that I was going to break up with her.  She started to tear up and I thought she was breaking up with me and she said “just spit it out.  Just say it!”

I looked at her with surprise and wondered what she was talking about.  Figuring I had nothing else to loose I pulled the ring box out of my pocket and showed it to her.  ‘Mary, this is the place we met and I remember looking at you and your red lips and thinking I could never get a girl like you.

And then one day you talked to me and we vented about our crazy bosses and it was like you weren’t just the pretty girl but your heart was big and you were funny, everything I could have hoped for.” I told her ‘I love you and I will love you forever.  Will you marry me?’  To my surprise she started to cry and took out the ring.

“It’s not a real diamond.  I couldn’t afford it.  I am sorry.  I hope you are not disappointed” I said with hope in my heart that maybe these were tears of joy not ‘I’m going to break up with you tears’ then she smiled, smiled with her red lips and said ‘I couldn’t love it more if it was real diamonds because I love you and yes, I will marry you’.”

I’ve always thought that life was made up of moments, like a collage that we piece together with hopefully enough happiness to make it all worth it.  You don’t know how many times in the last few years I’ve thought of those happy moments and they have made it worthwhile.  I certainly would never take it back, even knowing the pain that would come.  Never”

“So, then you had Ben? Were you nervous about having a baby? How long had you been married?”

“We had been married 2 years and had almost finished our degrees.  Mary had 1 quarter left and found out she was pregnant.  We were so excited but she was determined to finish school out, pregnant or not.

I’ll never forget her crossing that graduation podium pregnant and glowing, for reason than one.  2 months later she went into labor and we had our beautiful baby boy.

She was the one who thought of the name Ben because she had loved the old Benji movies from the 80s with the loyal, kind dog.  After seeing what she went through I told her she could pick any name she wanted as long as it wasn’t something weird like Nature or Canyon.  Thank goodness she had more sense than that.”

“When Ben was about 6 months she took Ben in for his check-up.  Things had been hard but we were managing to stay afloat.  She was doing some tutoring and bookkeeping on the side and I was a marketing clerk at a prestigious graphic design firm downtown.

I knew that Mary had been feeling tired and a little pale lately but I saw all my other friends with babies and they seemed to be going through something similar.  I thought in a few months the worst of it would be over and we would be ok.”

“Then Mary told the doctor what she had been feeling and said that there was a pain in her abdomen that wouldn’t go away.  She was a tough cookie and hadn’t wanted to make a big deal of it but now that it had lasted months she was worried and asked him what he thought it was.  He sent her to a specialist to get some tests and turns out it was uterine cancer, stage 4, untreatable.

We had 6 months to a year to live and so we all the sudden had mere months to enjoy our baby and pile in all the memories we could, at least while her health remained strong enough to do anything.  We went bungie jumping and traveled to New York and saw a fashion show.

It was her dream but when we got home from the trip she went downhill fast and in a matter of 2 weeks she was gone.  When she was in the hospital she had her red lipstick on and she kissed Ben and left an imprint with lipstick on his bald head.  I have the picture here. “

Josh pulled out a photo from his suitcoat and it was a beautiful woman with red lipstick in a hospital gown. She was glowing and holding up her baby with big red lips on the top of his head.  It was priceless.


21 thoughts on “Nanowrimo Day 21: A Love Story Within a Love Story

  1. This excerpt is a little difficult to engage with here: being out of context, and lacking the lead-in that undoubtedly takes place throughout the story up until this point, it kind of feels like a data dump. But I can see Josh having one fewer kids than Marnie has been unexpectedly coping with, and that he’s been afraid to ask her to be involved, because as far as he knows, she’s been this high-power career woman forever. Then he’s puzzled to start getting really good parenting advice from Becca-in-Marnie’s-body, and by the time Santa switches the women back, Marnie has had enough OJT with Becca’s kids that she’s ready to take on the challenge of mothering Josh’s crew, and eventually evening up the number with one of their own…. Like you say, it’s just cheesy-corn romance…but sometimes cheese corn is exactly what you’re in to mood to nosh on!

    (I’ll be interested in what you think of how the romance-within-the-romance works in “Irish Firebrands.”)

    1. that’s interesting insight about Marnie’s OTJ training. I think I can build more of that in the story. The character Marnie get’s a big gift at the end, a food truck, that will help her manage her own business, her own hours. I think this will help her be in a spot where she can be open for a relationship.
      It’s been hard to find clips from the book that made any sense out of context but I thought this story within a story had a few moments that I liked. I really might write a full book on this Mary/Josh romance. I like the idea of people escaping work in little gasps and just looking at each other is a break from the mess (work and escape from work are themes I really relate too).
      I also like the moment where he gets a CZ ring and it is perfect in her eyes. I’d like to work that into a full story because diamonds don’t matter in the least.
      My plan is to take Irish Firebrands with me on thanksgiving vacation. I’m excited to read it. It sounds really exciting.

      1. I think you’ve got the potential to become an entertaining novelist. It’s a good sign to me, when an isolated rough draft excerpt like this one can let the characters step into my head, however briefly, and present themselves as three-dimensionally as yours did, and let me see them doing things, the way I watched my own characters inside my head. (I’ve read too many agented, professionally published doorstops full of characters that were just shadow shapes thrown on the wall, or made of cardboard, or just plain “meh,” and I hope I’ve avoided that in my own books.) BTW, if you ever take a vacation to see your ol’ mission stompin’ grounds, let me know. I’d be pleased to put you up in my guest room – that is, if you don’t mind sharing it with my cat, who thinks it’s HIS den, but who LOVES people and will prove it within minutes by dying at your feet if you don’t notice him. You can bring your copy of my book, too, and I’ll autograph it for you. (Maybe by then I’ll have a copy of yours, that you can autograph for me!) ;D

        1. thank you! That’s so generous. I definitely mean to come out when they finally get the temple done. I swear it’s taking forever.
          Thank you for the compliments on your writing. I really appreciate it especially on something so rough to find the positive. Thanks

    2. I also like the idea of a girl with black hair, blue eyes and red lipstick. I want to expand upon that visual. It’s fun when you capture that character in your head isn’t it?

      1. One fun thing I did was to find a “construct your own caricature” website, where I assembled feature elements to design approximate faces for my two main and two strong secondary characters. I think I might run a giveaway competition someday that’s based on the contestants building faces like that for Dillon, Lana, Frank and Medb, and seeing how close they come to the faces of my Imaginary Friends.

        1. that sounds interesting. What is the website? That would be really fun to do. Was just talking about this with Enders Game. I always pictured Ender as older than the 8 he is at the beginning of the book. I’ll be curious if the movie captures what I captured or what was written because the actors look older.

  2. Without reading anything else in this blog post, I must tell you… I read the title and immediately thought “Loveception”. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie Inception, that is your homework for the weekend 😛

    1. Ha! Inception is one of my favorite movies but I love the idea of loveception. It’d be like love actually and inception combined

      1. Hmm, it’d be a good movie with Liam Neeson and Leonardo DiCaprio… I’m not even sure how the story would pan out, but something tells me it would be pretty damn good! Maybe Neeson teaches DiCaprio all he knows about Loveception, who further goes on to control not just the heart, but the mind in Inception :O Whaaaaat!

        1. I like your style! The screenplay is running through my brain right now. Certainly better than what most of what Hollywood pumps out.

        2. That’s not hard!

          The Hollywood concept:

          1) Does it exist? If no, avoid. If yes, adapt.
          2) Can it be a sequel? If no, avoid. If yes, write.
          3) Can it be merchandised? If no, avoid. If yes, $$$.

          I’d say if I see another remake I’d puke, but something tells me I’d be in some serious health issues with the number of adaptations, sequels and remakes they’re putting out. Who needs an original story when we can retell the existing ones over and over? Right? Right?!

          I hate Hollywood.

        3. I am so with you and I think we can add to that anything based on games, video games or amusement park rides.

        4. Depressingly so… but yes. Soon they’ll be making movies, based off games and then releasing a remake of the game. Eww… Even comic books are coming up. What can you do I suppose? As long as my novel is one of the ones that makes it into a movie, I’ll be over the moon 😛

        5. You’ve hit the 50k!? Sweet, bust out the bubbly and get some well deserved rest… unless of course you want to write more!

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