A few months ago, I posted an excerpt from my current WIP (Work-In-Progress), a middle grade (multicultural) historical fantasy. That snippet had been a dialogue, an active exchange, among several characters in the novel.
This time, I thought I’d post a piece of narrative.
Opinions, critiques, suggestions? Please send them my way!
I looked out the window and saw the sky still gathered close in an inky, dark cloak. A soft breeze entered into my room stealthily, and the sheer curtains at the windows billowed in response. The calming scent of raat ki rani – Night Queen – filled the room. Nani had planted that shrub underneath this bedroom’s window when Mom was a child.
Taking a deep breath, I began to plump up my pillow getting ready to go back to sleep, but my hands stopped in mid-air. I knew I was alone in the room, but I sensed another presence. Driving away the perfume of the Night Queen, a bitter, oily unpleasantness pervaded the room. Taking shallow breaths, I slowly turned.
I could barely make out its form, leaning leisurely against the wall next to one of the bookshelves. I scrambled up to the head of my bed, and screamed. Only, no sound came out.
Clutching the bed sheet to my chin, I waited, unable to peel my eyes away from my shadowed companion. Run! The more intelligent side of my instinct prodded, but my body couldn’t seem to obey. A soft whimper escaped my parted lips.
A soft glow crept out of nowhere, joining me to the specter in a soft pool of light. It was as if the two of us were on stage in an eerie production and were being spotlighted for an unseen audience crouching in the gloom around us.
A man, I realized, short and dark-skinned, stood leaning against the wall, arms folded against his chest and ankles crossed loosely. He seemed so much at ease, I wondered for a moment if I were the trespasser. My eyes took in the details, almost unwillingly, as if they had no control.
He had a trim beard and a shaved upper lip. His hair was rolled into a bun at the nape of his neck and held in place by a small polished wooden stick. He was wearing a white dhoti – a long cloth wrapped around the waist that covers up the legs too – while a light robe, dyed a deep indigo, draped over his left shoulder, leaving his right one bare. He wore shiny beads in his ears. In short, he was dressed as if for a costume party, the theme being ancient India. The sense that I was starring in a drama intensified.
The man’s body and hair were shining, as if they were oiled. He didn’t look bulky; in fact he was rather small. But one look at his shoulders and hands, with ropes of muscles sticking out, and I knew he could crush me like an empty coke can if he so wished.