As I have mentioned before, deleting sections of hard-won scenes and chapters is tough. It’s more than tough. It’s on par with self-flagellation. So, to help counter my struggles with this process a little bit, I’ve decided to use my blog occasionally from now until publication as a place to showcase some of the work that will not be making the final cut in the novel. Also, I’m just really excited about this work and am ecstatic to be able to give you a bit of a sneak peek into the universe that is Withered World.
The following was originally the start of a chapter and the introduction to Aster, one of the pivotal, albeit secondary, characters in the book. I hope you enjoy it!
When Aster closed her eyes at night to dream, her mind was filled with nothingness, an absence so great, that it wove its way down to her soul and remained with her when she awoke each day. It was strange to imagine carrying nothing around inside of you, for one would think that nothing carried no weight. But for Aster, nothing was not simply a stark hole. It was an invisible mass that festered within her. This nothingness was especially keen as she rode the public transports each day for work. It was heavy like a stone that buried itself in her stomach, her heart and her very soul.
People got on and off the transport, each with their noses to the ground, wearing the same bland hemp cloth. They didn’t question it, these little drabs of color, brushstrokes of tan on a bland canvas. One moment there and, in an instant, gone like smoke. Only those with wealth and power could distinguish themselves. Those individuals didn’t walk around in sheaths of dun. They could afford to own frayed vintage strands, colorful fabrics from days long gone when people used dyes and wore colors that dazzled. These pieces were highly coveted and the rich draped them artfully around them like talismans.
Mesmerized by the colors of those paltry strips of dyed fabric from generations ago, Aster wondered what it would feel like to grasp a strand in her own hand. She wondered what each color would look like up against her dark skin or tied in the splay of curls on her head. Sometimes she tried to imagine what it would have been like back in the days when dyes were not outlawed and people wore every color imaginable. She imagined a world bathed in color was a world alive. But the experience was too far from her own life to be properly imagined.
Aster had a hard time imagining what each color looked like for all she knew was the tan of her clothing, the warm glow of her skin and the gray slats of the City. How many colors were there really in the world that was awake and awash in life? Where did they all come from? These questions had plagued her since childhood and each time they arose in her mind, she felt dizzy. It wasn’t the colors, or their absence, exactly that bothered her. It was what they represented.
Bent by defeat, Aster leaned her forehead against the cool glass of the transport window. Outside, crumbling streets and sky-high buildings flashed by as she was taken from the outreaches of the City towards her job in the mayor’s office. City Hall, by contrast was tall and shiny, composed of repurposed steel shipped in from cities long ago forgotten and collapsed. Aster had never been to the world out there, the world beyond the City or No Man’s Land, or even the Farms where he friend Bram grew up. But in decades and perhaps centuries long past, humanity existed across the breadth of the landscape, from ocean to ocean, and perhaps even beyond that on continents long ago lost.