All writing is in the editing, and as I'm only a couple of edits away form my final draft of my dissertation I thought I'd share with you one of the scenes which didn't make it in. This was the first ever scene I wrote for my dissertation, and was inspired by something which happened to me as I sat outside reading over the summer. Originally, this was going to be the first scene of the story, and I still really like it as an opener, but it just didn't work with the rest of the story.
She sat, staring at the dead mouse. She had been halfway through her homework when she noticed it and, completed homework in a small pile, she examined it from a distance. It was about half a meter to her right, laying on its side, its limbs not quite stiff in the way people say limbs are when an animal dies. It was strange dusty brown colour, like cobwebs had tangled in its fur as it scurried through a crack in the wall. There weren’t any flies around it – and she knew from walking past road kill every morning on the way to the bus that flies tend to gather pretty quickly – so she guessed it couldn’t have been dead for very long, yet she was pretty sure it had been dead before she sat down to do her homework. She thought it looked small, although she was sure it was no smaller than the average field mouse and besides she had thought that her grandmother had looked small too, so perhaps everything looked smaller in death.
It was at this thought, the memory of her grandmother lying in bed, looking all the ways you’re told dead looks, that she collected up her work and moved inside the house. It was midday in early June, and Britain was in the middle of an early summer. Not for the first time that year, it was noticeably cooler inside the house. As she sorted her work into the relevant folders she had the nagging sensation that she should have probably moved the mouse, just in case one of the local cats decided to have an afternoon snack. Not that they regularly ate dead things – there was no fun in that – but you can never know what an animal will do, and she wasn’t entirely convinced that the mouse had died from natural causes, what with the quantity of rat poison which sat hidden in every barn and garage in the area. She pulled a plastic bag from the tube full of them – the tube that her grandmother had sewn for her mother one Christmas – and went back outside. The mouse was still lying there.
Not that she thought it would have moved, but being alone in the house had a funny way of making her nervous about things she wouldn’t normally be nervous about. She crept over to it, as if she didn’t want to disturb it, and, placing her hand in the bag, picked it up. At first she didn’t think she’d got up, but as she lifted her hand she felt its fragile weight slip through the plastic and it hit the ground again. She gave a small squeal. It looked up at her and she screwed her eyes tight as she picked it up for the second time, this time getting a firm hold and pulling the sides of the bag up and around it before she could drop it again. She tied off the bag and dropped it in the green bin outside.
Tomorrow's post will be a beauty one, but I haven't quite decided what it'll be about yet, so you can tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below if you have any requests.