One of my favorite parts of writing fiction is in building up the characters. Creating an entire person and their life, with vivid details that paint a picture in the mind of the reader, is what brings a believable realness to the character. Describing the characters in a way that allows the reader to connect and identify with them is part of what makes a story enjoyable.
Continuing from chapter 2, today’s excerpt gives details into the background of ex-pastor Brian, and his wife Sarah:
Sarah asked Kirie, “Would you like to help make some cookies and hot chocolate for the men”? Kirie giggled as she thought about Jason and Lee being “men”, and said, “I think they would like that”. As she was helping Sarah navigate the wheelchair through the doorway, the boys were returning carrying long planks of wood. She grinned as she teased them, “If you men work really hard, you can have fresh cookies and hot chocolate for a reward”. And with that, the girls headed back to the house, following along the cement walkway Pastor Brian had put down so that Sarah’s wheelchair could move along without getting stuck in the mud in the spring.
When Brian and Sarah had first been married, Brian had taken a job as a long haul driver delivering fuel. He was earning a good paycheck, but he often spent days at a time on the road, away from his new bride. His plan was to save up enough money to retire early so that they could travel the world together. Other than the time apart due to his job, their life seemed almost like a fairytale romance. They were truly and completely in love, and very happy.
Brian and Sarah’s dream of raising a family together was already on its way to becoming a reality by the end of their first year of marriage, and everything seemed perfect in their life. Although Brian’s job kept them apart for days at a time, it also afforded them uninterrupted days in between.
Going into the winter months was always a busy time for the fuel companies, making sure the remote towns had a good supply of heating and cooking fuel. There were often times when the roads were impassable, sometimes for several days, due to the frequent snowstorms. So the deliveries were critical for their customers’ survival in the months of sub-zero temperatures.
Brian did not relish the idea of being gone for an entire week, but one of the other drivers had broken his leg and could not make his deliveries. So Brian had been asked to cover the additional route, and knowing that the extra money would be very helpful, he accepted the job.
Since this trip was going to be for an entire week, he asked Sarah to come with him. The cab in the back of his truck had a bed that was large enough for two people, and he thought it would be nice to have Sarah along with him. And since she had always wondered what it was like for her husband to be on the road, she accepted. She said, “It will give us a chance to see what traveling together will be like for when we retire”.
Though being cooped up in a small space was not as comfortable as their home, and the bed was not as soft, the young couple made the most of it, enjoying each other’s company. Sarah greatly enjoyed the scenery and the wildlife they encountered, remarking that it was like an Alaskan safari adventure.
On the fifth day of their trip, as they were about halfway to the next town, a terrible snowstorm hit. This was the kind of unexpected storm that brings extreme winds and heavy wet snow. The roads were getting slippery, and making it hard to see the road at times. But the truck was outfitted with heavy duty snow chains that gave good traction, and Brian decided to keep pushing onward. Since they had to slow down, the trip was going to take longer than planned, and Brian was a little anxious about getting the delivery in on time.
Even though it was getting late and he had been driving for almost 16 hours that day, he joked with Sarah about his ability to survive off of his thermos of coffee for at least a couple of days. Sarah was getting tired, so finally Brian suggested she climb in the back and get some sleep. She agreed, saying he should join her for a nap. But he didn’t want to stop. So she climbed into the bed alone and quickly fell asleep to the rhythm of the large diesel engine.
Brian pushed on through the night and into the early morning, and was about 2 miles away from reaching the town of Ashburg. As the truck was winding its way down the last steep hill coming out of the mountain pass, Brian could feel his eyelids growing heavy. He thought about stopping to get some fresh air and stretch his legs, but since he was so close, he decided to keep going. Unfortunately, this was a huge mistake.
The next thing Brian knew, he was jarred awake as the big rig scraped against the guardrail. As he woke up, he instinctively hit the brakes as he tried to get his bearings back. But the truck was already beginning to slide and drift sideways. Brian turned the steering wheel, trying to guide the direction of the slide, but it was too late.
When the truck slammed into the rock cliff on the other side of the road, it lifted up on the driver’s side, and the impact of hitting the hard rock caused the truck to flip over. The steepness of the hill and the speed and weight of the truck caused it to keep sliding forward, right through the guardrail and down over the embankment. Brian yelled Sarah’s name as he heard her scream, and then everything went dark.
**End of Excerpt**
There is still much work to do today, so I will check back in the forums later today. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed the reading so far, and I hope you will join me on the project. And feel free to share any comments, opinions or suggestions you may have. I’d love to hear from you!
Read well, and write on! – Amber Lea