Behind The White Gate is my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. I wrote it in one month. I changed and edited it million times during the next eleven over more coffee than I care to admit to. And more may be to come. This version I am sharing, it gives a piece of me to you. I am open and love any feedback you might have. If you wish to share it personally you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I am that kind of writer who can tell you what I write..or what I am writing is about. But I will say that this one came to me by passing a white gate on a daily walk to a job I hated and letting my imagination go wild, combined with the coming of womanhood and the women in and out of my life through out the years who had shaped, molded, and influenced me, for the good or for the bad. There are also intertwined lessons in life we often learn the hard way and their shaping of oneself and there is the old “Nothing goes according to plan.” It is being lost and becoming grown up and recognizing yourself in others around you…especially those you tried to be the least like. It is often the lack of denying any longer all that has made you…all of it.
Behind The White Gate is secret’s that aren’t secret, controversy we face today and are just now beginning to speak of but in many homes still in hushed tones. It is shame that you carry and hide from only everybody else who also has their own. It is memories of childhood perceived as an adult. It is letting go. It is changing. It is forgiving, but also not forgetting.
It is raw emotion and no giving excuses.
It comes from a place deep of them that I hope resonate on the page for the reader.
It is fiction drawn on very real emotion.
Past that, maybe you can hep me explain it better.
I will release over time, the Prologue, and then chapter by chapter. I had previously released some bits and pieces. This new full chapter by chapter release will be named WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1 (and so on). You can easily search in the search bar for all pieces and keep in order as released.
Currently I hope this will go to publish sooner than later. I am in the search of, and have been researching for, a Literary Agent. Feel free to contact me at my email above.
Thank you for reading.
Peggy J. Davenport
Just Thrown into the deep end. Sink or swim.
From my earliest years when my papa taught me this, as a restitution for my own bad mistakes even then. For being defiant against what was a valuable warning.
That is what I’m doing now, I think. Galveston floods trying to sweep me away. Paying my restitution for my mistakes.
Two weeks prior. They said “Head down that hall and out the green door.” And suddenly I was out. Free. And terrified. I know had to face why I had spent two weeks in jail and waited for a judge to decide my fate. I had acted in self-defence was the final verdict. But still…I had the blood of my husband on my hands And his child inside my womb.
Terrified didn’t even begin to cover it.
I stood a split second. No one was here. I hadn’t expected them to be. I had already not allowed them to visit or be in court. But I was disappointed and saddened even so. I had refused to speak to them during this time. I had left them sixteen years ago…why should they have jumped an airplane to meet me here now? Why make such attempt to reach out to me now after pushing them away for sixteen years? I couldn’t face them…..not then….especially not…
I let out my sad and disappointed breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding…and stepped out. Praying to a God I didn’t believe in for direction. I moved in a numbness, in a shocked daze with no ability for thought or plan, which was usually my specialty.
I half believed that I didn’t deserve to be out in the sunshine and the free world to begin with. No matter what a judge had decided. I believed they had made a mistake just as I had. I believed this was all a terrible terrible dream and yet when I closed my eye’s I still saw the blood…open and I squinted into the sun I had nearly forgotten about. I walked fast paced to nowhere. No clue where I was going or what I was doing.
I felt that all eye’s that turned my way anywhere I went, as I stepped onto the bus to take me in a direction I hadn’t even paid attention it went in, knew I was a criminal…even if the judge claimed I was innocent, I felt the blood of a man on my hands….no matter how much I scrubbed, I felt it.
I felt people recognize my face from the newspapers that I knew existed about the incident and I saw fear in their eye’s. As afraid and terrified as I was…people feared me. I almost turned back, I had waited too long but realizing that if I turned, I was lost. I caught my reflection in a window and couldn’t recognize myself. That girl. She looked lost. Lost and hollow eyed. The look of fear in a wild animal captured that split second before they turn toward their fight instinct. That girl in the reflection…I didn’t see the fight instinct. I just saw the fear.
Lost. Yeah…that was it. This feeling. Lost in a way that the street signs didn’t make sense to me. Like they were foreign or I suddenly couldn’t read. Lost of direction. Lost of strength and energy. Even lost in faith in something I had held even if not in God, and belief for what I wasn’t sure, for I kept praying to God to direct me. I felt so numb. But the feeling that crept in past numb was terrified and past terrified was lost.
I stepped off the bus and it seemed that even if I had no idea where to go…somehow my feet did. I ended up standing on the sidewalk staring at what was once my very own home. Still was by name. The concrete sidewalk in front of the door remained stained. I sighed and prayed that God would send reprieve my way…or me to reprieve.
Again with this God of which I didn’t believe in…or at least trust worth a damn and never had.
But I felt like I should shatter into a million pieces if I didn’t hold onto something and I didn’t have anything to hold onto.
Seeing the blood stained sidewalk where I had killed my own husband had my lungs filling up with chlorine. Stinging my throat…filling my lungs. I struggled with my arms to the surface, with my feet to feel the bottom to kick against but I couldn’t find it. I was drowning from no water at all…but the image in my head ….the pureness of feeling physically to my body….I was drowning even as I stood in a perfectly sunny southern California afternoon.
I would go back. I was safer there. I belonged there. I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I couldn’t bring myself to step over that stain and slide my key in the door and enter into what could never be my home again. Back. Just that word was what was the light at the surface of which I swam toward.
The chlorine filled my lungs. I stopped struggling. My arms went loose and I floated in the water. The sun shining through the surface. So close. So far.
I couldn’t even see his face then, his curly wild hair that I’d loved so much or his crooked charming smile. I couldn’t even see the anger in his eye’s that came later. Standing there at that moment, drowning in no water, I only could see the blood.
This was my deep end. My papa’s lesson of consequences to my actions. As the sight of the blood pulled me down under I awoke to the knowledge that I’d lost him…my love. My best friend. Not when the blood fell onto the ground, but I had lost him long ago when he had changed, the blood was just when there was no longer any hope to hold onto. When he’d become broody and hard and always ready to boil over in anger. A lost person himself I’d thought then. He had lost who I’d known him to be. Now he still pulled me down underneath the current rather than up as a love should do and out to air. I lost him again right then. How many times was I going to have to lose him?
And I stopped swimming for him. I had swum for him for so long as his pull would drag me down to drown. I had been drowning for a long time…I had spent so much time just below the surface, just seeing the glimmer of the sun above but not being able to reach it…not being able to help him. I tried to leave that day. I tried to leave that day to prevent him from killing me…not as protection of myself or even my child but to save him one last time from him not to go through what he would if he killed someone.
In the end I ended up killing him when trying to save him. Now…I stopped swimming for him. I let go.
Into the deep end.
The image shifted from drowning to one of my clearest earliest memories of when I was six years old I would hold onto a big floaty ball and kick in the pool of my visiting grandparents condo on Galveston Island. I kept kicking my way and ending up in the deep end. My papa would sternly instruct me not to leave the shallow end because if I let go of the ball I could drown.
But again and again I was being very defiant that day and would return from the shallow end to the deep, so finally my papa reached down from the edge of the pool and snatched me up, took away the ball and threw me straight into the deep end of the pool. As I splashed for the surface in shock and surprise, sputtering and choking, I looked at him and saw anger, no…not anger precisely.
On his face and in his stance, standing at the edge of the pool, he looked ready to jump in should I not surface but as I looked up at him…my head just bobbing above surface, he looked down and firmly said “If you want to continue defying me you will learn the consequences of the deep end. So sink or swim! ” He said.
I swam that day.
Now…turning away from the blood stained sidewalk, those words resignated in me once again and the determination that I felt not to fail the test I’d felt at age six filled my body now as if a day hadn’t gone by. Not to sink but to defy him to take the chance that I might just drown to prove my own stance, yet not drown. His memory and his words came strong and I realized that, aside from the blood and the shooting…the accident…I didn’t know what else to call it even though I felt it was an accident, and it was, at the same time…I am at a loss of what I really feel about it.
I had made bad life choices that led me to this situation and past all the other previous ones that had at one point or another left me dumbfounded, and I was now paying those consequences of my actions and choices. And often of my own defiance I would drown. Now I was left to sink or swim after having put myself into the deep end.
Extra defiant because of my papa’s image standing beside the pool burned in me and I was determined not to let him save me. I would not sink. I had no choice but to swim.
With that image as I stood across from my building in California, not able to even step over the stain to pack a suitcase I felt my papa’s image calling to me, answering me a direction. Maybe it wasn’t God I’d been praying to after all, but my father.
Now, sloshed down two miles of road and through what felt like two hundred miles of rain, I stood staring at those white gate’s for God knows how long. I had come home. There was nowhere else my fathers image would send me…not since it was his image that drove me away sixteen years ago.
It was raining and I was drenched, only one suitcase at my side holding new clothes I’d bought rather than to step over that bloodstain. All that I had left with then and all that I returned with now. Memories of the last days here flooded around me like the torrential rains. Memories of papa’s funeral and the fight and shouting in the last days. Memories of me flying out the door and it slamming behind me. Leaving it all behind forever. Sixteen years prior. I stood here at thirty-four years old now…left a girl then. Though I had thought I’d known everything…back a woman. Knowing now I knew nothing at all then, knew nothing at all now. Coming back had never been the plan, but now coming back a not at all well put together-show them that I was right- and had made it- and certainly not a great life to flaunt in their faces- kind of coming back…but a tail between my legs- drenched in the rain with only a suitcase and a murder to my name and most surely not a shred of dignity kind of way.
“How long are you going to stand there before you finally suck it up and walk through?”
I turned to the voice behind me that I would know anywhere…and sixteen years later. My older sister, Sas. Always the studious one. Funny that I became the writer, I once wrote to her. “Not funny at all” She had written back, ” art runs in your studious veins but not in mine.”
She had walked up behind me from the sidewalk with an umbrella which she put over my head as she reached down and lifted my suitcase and started forward expecting me to follow.
Life comes in chapters. I had closed so many chapters before today and now…I began another one but I wasn’t sure how long or fast this one might last just yet or if it would be one ripped out of the book before it even began.