Not a Moment to Waste!

“I’m afraid to die before I’ve really lived,” he said.

Funny the things you talk about on late shifts.  We stood over our tank of coating suspension, the peristaltic pump chugging the soupy, white mixture from one tank to the other.  I don’t know why we were talking about death–death by drowning, death by fire.

I paused.  In my hand, the hose bucked and splattered goop on the shiny steel receiving tank.  “Yeah, I know what you mean.”  But in my head I thought, but how do you know that you’ve really lived?  As I thought over my twenty-four years, I realized that I’d packed lots into them.  I’ve travelled, I’ve graduated from college, I’ve written a book.  But had I really lived?

A couple weeks later, a school friend’s nineteen year old brother died in a drowning accident, and it brought the subject back to my mind.  My own brothers were going out to the lake, and inwardly I shouted don’t go!  I want to keep you here!

I suspect that the years we have are never enough once they’re gone.  I had twelve happy years with my Grandma (Mom’s mom) before she died of cancer.  But when I think about her I remember that, the last day I saw her healthy and alert, I spent playing video games.  Would that one more day have been enough?  No.

It annoys me that people say “Two more days until Friday.”  When I catch myself saying “My shift is half over,” I rebuke myself.  Heck, we spend tens of thousands of hours at our jobs, but we’re so eager to just get them over with.  My Grandma (Dad’s mom) told me, today, that the older you get, the faster they go.  It’s like being pinned to a railway car, flying downhill toward a brick wall (she didn’t say that–I did).  But we are unmindful.  We try to make our railcar go faster!

What are the chances we get to the end of our lives and decide we’ve ‘really lived’?

I’m realizing that I need to be a heck of a lot more deliberate with my time.  I’ve got to dream, then make goals, and then work my butt off before my railcar reaches the bottom of the hill.

Dan Waldschidmt said “We all want that extra 6.25 years of conquest.  But when we have a zillion minute by minute considerations just to decide whether to stay in bed or get up and ‘conquer,’ most of us choose comfort.  It seems small at the time–after all, it’s just one hour.  But the results are life changing.  Literally.  The decisions that you make hundreds of times a day build your future.  They all count.”

I’m not doing well in this area right now.  After the release of We are the Living, I hit a big-time slump.  I’ve yet to pull out entirely.  My blogging has been sporadic.  I have little interest in social networking.  I don’t feel like writing.  My new project has been neglected for days at a time.

It’s time to kick my own butt.  If I can make myself go running after an exhausting workday, when my knees hurt, or when it’s cold and raining, I guess I can make myself write (do what I love!).

There isn’t a moment to waste, is there?


Over Before it Began? A Work in Progress Excerpt.

The following excerpt is from the novel I am editing, a zombie/disaster novel (yes, zombies–me, writing a zombie novel. As if!).  

I heard screaming—female screaming–before I’d got halfway down the corridor. I froze in my tracks. The scream cut off. I heard a low murmur of voices. I took the last few steps and pushed the door open.

The hospital went quiet. There was a huddle of dark heads around one of the beds, but I could not tell what had happened.

“Kayla.” Liam’s husky voice came across the silent room. My leaden feet moved, and I tiptoed to his side. He was propped up in bed, Hemmingway open across his knees. His eyes were a wide, face paler than it had been, making the bruising around his eyes more prominent.

I sat down on the mattress. “What happened?”

“She woke up. Started screaming.” He gulped. “I guess I was similar, but I don’t remember.” He reached out toward me and his hand was trembling. “Kayla…I don’t know why I think this, but is that Simone?”

I turned toward him, my mouth slightly agape. Simone? Didn’t he know? Simone was dead. I had seen her die.

He took a shuddering breath and continued before I could answer. “Because hearing her screaming like that… it reminded me of something. Like a dream.”

“I can go see,” came out of my mouth. It wasn’t Simone. Who was I kidding? But I just… I just couldn’t blurt out to him “Simone is dead.” I turned my head to see if the attendants were still around the bed. Enzo was sitting beside the bed, bent over, speaking in a low, soft litany.

“Go see.” Liam’s voice was gently pleading. “I need to know.”

I heard a story, a grief, a regret. I reached out and touched his good hand, where it rested beside the book, and stood up. I padded over to Enzo’s side and peered down at the bed. The woman looked up at me with wide eyes, surrounded by dark bruising, so huge in her wasted face. Her throat worked and she croaked out something.

Enzo lifted her head and eased a glass of water to her lips. She sipped, sputtered and sipped again. He laid her back against the pillow and her face turned back to me. I scanned her features—hard to recognize through the bruising. Her hair, well, there were only patches of it. But it was dark. Simone had been blond. It wasn’t Simone.

“Kayla.” Liam’s voice, softly insistent.

I stumbled toward him.

He looked up at me. “Not her?”

I shook my head.

His face fell into resigned sorrow. “Not her.”

I sat down and held his hand. Tears trickled down my face, but Liam did not cry. He stared into space. “She died. I remember now,” he said quietly. He turned to me. “She died.”

“Yeah,” I breathed.

He looked away again. “She deserved to make it. She was…”

He sighed, and I wondered if I had missed something. I remembered the night, locked in the closet of an Italian farmhouse, Liam crying like a small child, Simone cradling his head and kissing his hands. I bit my lip and gazed at him from under my lashes. “Were you…?” I trailed off. I was afraid to ask. It was none of my business.It appeared Liam hadn’t heard me anyway.