Here’s another excerpt from the Appalachian Trail book I’m working on. It takes place on my birthday, a little more than four months before I left for the hike.
I wrote this bit awhile ago, but recently revisited it. It’s unique for a non-fiction book, because — in addition to their external dialogue — I also reveal both characters’ inner monologues.
That’s questionable, because I can never know what someone else was actually thinking.
That might be a problem for someone who requires that every single word, thought and detail of a nonfiction book be completely accurate. I’m not really that person, though. I think that, as long as I get the big ideas right, a little bit of leeway can be okay.
The big idea here is that what we say and do don’t always match what we think. And, also, that the two characters in this scene are thinking two very different things.
Her thoughts are an educated guess from lots of conversations and interactions. My thoughts and both our words are a sampling from that night, as best I can remember them. The situation was real. I think that’s pretty good for nonfiction, but I’m always interested in what you think about that.
I’m also hoping that by me putting this section in third-person, it kind of gives it a more fictional feel. Most of the book will be in first-person.
I’d love it if you left your thoughts below, and join me as I continue to write by signing up for my newsletter, and following me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Thank you for reading, and here’s the excerpt:
“This is the sweetest card anyone’s ever made for me,” he said, laying in bed with her, holding the birthday card she had given him five minutes earlier. I think I love you, he thought. His heart was overflowing, but he knew it was too early to say those words.
“I’m glad you like it so much.” She smiled. “Thank you for being so easy to write sweet words for.” That’s the sweetest card you’ve ever received? she wondered. It was fine, but…
He nestled into her shoulder. “Do you remember when we met each other the first time?” he asked. I could sit here with you forever, he thought.
“Of course, I do. My friends and I came up to you at the bar because we recognized you from teacher training.” Why is he asking me this? I should go to sleep so I can workout in the morning.
“What did you like about that conversation?” Please never let a day go by in which I can’t see her blue eyes.
“You made me laugh.” She slid her arm underneath him, and rested her head on his chest, rising and falling with his slow, rhythmic breath. “You were joking about the Mets beating the Nationals.” Why did he stop shaving his back?
“I remember.” I want to tell you how happy making you laugh makes me.
Their voices were silent, but their thoughts weren’t. Bodies touching, but worlds apart. He had no idea he had no idea what she was thinking. And she knew what he was thinking, but didn’t want to think about it.
“I’m glad you had such a good birthday weekend.” she said. I have so much fucking work to do tomorrow.
They had sex for the third-to-last time and then they went to sleep. He fell asleep thinking about how perfectly she fit into his arm. She fell asleep thinking about how much work she had to do in the morning.