Shocking as it may seem, meetings about intellectual property can sometimes be a bit boring. I have a personal rule that I don’t do any writing when in meetings, no matter how boring it gets. Instead, I doodle. Today I ended up drawing two of the main characters from my WIP – Sally and Grace. Both women get their own point of view expressed in the story. Grace is basically a nice person. Sally is, frankly, a nutjob. She’s also a ghost. What makes Sally unusual, for a ghost, is that she’s not actually dead. Her body is in a coma. Grace is the only person who can see Sally. The two women are about as different as can be, but they’re forced together because Sally needs Grace and Grace is too nice to leave Sally to be alone. Oh, and both women are in love with the same man.
The idea for this story came from a single image. Two women, sitting on a bench next to each other. They were very different people, but they had become unlikely friends. One of them was alive, the other was a ghost. The ghost was in her wedding dress.
I suppose I should mention something about the hero, Peter. I rarely doodle my male characters because they never come out the way they are in my head. Peter designs bespoke databases. He’s tall and blonde and very kind. He fell in love with Sally within the first ten minutes of meeting her. Since the accident that put her in a coma, he’s been visiting her daily. She’s been in a coma for nearly a year at the start of the book, which means he’s actually known her for longer while she was in a coma than when she well. It’s not quite how he imagined married life was going to be.
Grace meets Peter through fund raising for the hospice where Sally is being cared for. She’s familiar with the hospice because both her parents were there at various stages of their illnesses. She’s still grieving her mother, who died about 3 months before.
Here they are, when they first met:
Grace steadied herself with her hands on the back of the chair. “I think,” she said, carefully. “You’re a ghost of some sort.” She didn’t believe in the supernatural. But it was hard to not believe in someone who was standing right in front of her. Ghost was the best explanation she could come up with.
“A ghost? Don’t take the piss. I’m not dead.” Sally looked around the room. “Where is this place? And who is that poor cow in… the…” The sentence ground to a halt as she realised the implications. She walked over to the side of the bed and glared at the patient. “That’s not me.”
A thousand questions clamoured in Grace’s head. What had just happened? How was it possible? Was this woman dangerous? But as she watched Sally’s stricken face, she felt sorry for her. Seeing a ghost was probably nothing compared to the shock of thinking you were at your wedding and suddenly discovering that you were really in a hospital in a coma.
“You could check the chart at the end of the bed…” she suggested.
Sally gave her a short glare and walked over to the end of the bed. “Sally XXX?” She opened her mouth.
“You’re married to Peter,” Grace said.
The frown on Sally’s forehead deepened. She lowered herself into a chair in the other side of the room. Grace wondered if she would fall through it, but she didn’t. She put her head in her hand and was quiet for a moment.
“So all that stuff, in the nothingness. It was real. And now I’m here.” Sally looked up. She gestured towards the silent figure on the bed. “But I’m also over there.”
Grace had to admire the way Sally was dealing with this. No tears. No hysterics. A bit of swearing, obviously, that was excusable in the circumstances. “Yes.” After a moment she added. “I’m sorry.”
“Why? Is it your fault?” The eyes narrowed. Suddenly the face wasn’t so much pretty as scary.
“No. I’m just…sorry. It can’t be nice for you.”
“No love, I’m in coma. Of course it’s not bloody nice for me.”
“No need to snap at me. I just happened to be here when whatever just happened… happened.”
Sally paced back to the bed. “Shit. Where’s my hair gone?” She reached up to touch her own blonde hair. “It looks like crap. All the blonde’s grown out. How the fuck did it get like that?” She leaned forward. “And what the hell is going on with my skin. Jesus wept, it looks awful. Don’t they moisturise people in here?”
Right, best get back to it, I guess. I’m nearly done. I just need to work out how it ends!
PS: If you can think of a great title for a love triangle involving a woman, a man and the man’s not-quite-dead wife, please let me know. A the moment it’s just called ‘that ghost book’ or worse. You’d really be helping me out.