Been off that track…

It’s after six in the morning. I haven’t slept. The in-laws are supposed to be coming over right around the time Bob has to leave for work so his dad can beat Joel the Obstinate and Cursed Jetta (TM) into submission.

Or hook up his battery charger.

Whichever.

It’s Monday.

I’ve been working on a story project for the past few months that is a very slow slog. I am actually quite in-like with what I’ve written on it so far. One of the issues I’m running into with it (aside from the never-ending writer’s block in general) is where exactly I need to end it. My original plan had a pretty clear cutoff, but the farther I get into it, the less sure I am of where that cutoff should actually be.

Kate’s dad dies. (Yes, another Kate…shoosh.) Her Jewish-When-She-Needs-To-Be mother decides the family (five kids, plus spouses and offspring) needs to sit [unofficial] Shiva following the Catholic funeral. (There’s a reoccurring discussion of hypocrisy in the Baylor family house.) In the time they are together, things come to a head between Kate and her over-critical mother—and again with the even more overly critical grandparents. There is also the issue of the youngest sibling’s addiction problem resurfacing and the strain it’s causing on his marriage. And Kate’s ex-husband is suddenly back in the picture. She called him to tell him about her dad and now things are changing.

Things were supposed to end as life was starting to return to normal post-bereavement. Then the Kate and Ex-husband Marc aspect started to take up more importance. And for awhile I thought I knew where to cut off the story with that—entertaining the prospect of reconciliation. But the more I fill in the story, the more I realize, more needs to be said.

The big question being: how much more?

I could possibly condense it into a…lengthy…epilogue. I guess it would depend greatly on just how much conflict I want to dredge up between them in the process. Marc is the one who ended things and if he wants his wife back, he needs to regain her trust. Trust is something that Kate struggles with beyond measure for many reasons. It’s going to be a monumental feat on both sides of the table and clearly not something that is going to [realistically] happen overnight. But slogging through the everyday mundane aspects of life while that trust is rebuilt doesn’t really make for a very interesting story. I could go so far as to tell it all the way to them living together again, and possibly getting remarried, but aside from intermittent conflict…it would be kind of boring. (Not that the Cliff’s Notes is all that exciting as it stands, but I’d read it.)

I could also divide the story into parts that would make a significant time jump less jarring, but it’s really actually two separate stories. The plan as is, is about the death of her father and how the family copes in the early days. The reconciliation is basically a spinoff of that. The overarching story isn’t Kate and Marc. It’s Kate navigating around her mother, interactions with her brothers, and finding a (new?) place for her ex-husband, all while trying to come to terms with her dad being gone.

At this point I’m probably just over thinking everything and I should really just shut-up and WRITE.

“Mom, relax. Everything’s fine.”

Marc watched Kate as she walked out of the kitchen, phone pressed to her ear. He shook his head, turning to Darren sitting at the counter, finding him eyeing him critically.

“Gotta say, it’s kind of weird seeing you here. This is where she really picked up and started over—new house, new car, new dog. It was when she finally started showing signs of life again. Now suddenly…you’re back…and here.”

“I don’t know if back is the right word,” Marc rubbed his chest absently, leaning against the counter behind him.

Darren sat up straight, “Are you saying this is only temporary?”

No,” Marc’s eyes widened and he shook his head, “God I hope not. I’m just…right now I’m letting her dictate how things go. I don’t want to force anything on her. If she tells me to get lost, then I will. I don’t want to, but I will. I can’t hurt her again.”

“Do you want her back?”

“More than anything.”

“Have you told her?”

“Sort of. I’m kind of afraid to. I don’t want to scare her off.”

“I don’t think you’re going to scare her off. She invited you into her house. She might not be ready to just pick up where you left off, but she’s opened the door to the possibility.”

“And how do you feel about all this?”

“Me? Why should my opinion matter?”

“Because it matters to her. If her brothers aren’t happy with it, it’s definitely going to influence her feelings on the matter.”

“Not as much as you think. But we’re all pretty much on the same page on this so far. If you’re over your selfish-prick-existential-crisis, then we’re cautiously optimistic something good can come from this. Something broke in her when you left. She’s gotten better over time, but she is not the same person she was with you. Since you’ve been around, there are definite changes in her. Signs of the old Katie we thought were long gone. If you break her heart again, we will kill you. But if you’re here to stay—in whatever capacity you both agree on—then welcome back. Believe it or not, we all missed you.”

Marc swallowed hard to dislodge the sudden knot in his throat, “I’ve missed you guys too. I didn’t realize just how much until I saw you all again. I really hate that it took losing your dad to make this happen.”

Darren sighed tiredly, nodding, “Dad really loved you. He was devastated when you left. But he was always a strong proponent of better late than never. He would have loved to see you and Katie be able to reconcile. But I think he’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’re here to take care of her now that he can’t. She’s by no means helpless, but she doesn’t need to be so goddamn independent all the time. She could stand to give up control once in awhile.”

Marc snorted, shaking his head, “She never gave up control when we were married.”

“Fair point,” Darren shrugged, “But she could use a partner to share the load. Even better if it’s someone who knows how to take care of her properly when she really needs it. She’s tough as nails and a whole lot tougher than she gives herself credit for, but she deserves to be taken care of too.”

When I first starting working on this project, every time Kate and Marc were mentioned together (in the story, in my head, wherever) it sounded strange to me. It bugged me for a long time before I finally figured it out.

Kate and Marc are the “famed” Jenkins siblings producing music almost exclusively for Chance Records artists.

They are in…a lot…of different stories.

Seven…if I go through all my folders and find new, old, and stalled projects.

I’m so used to them being brother and sister, pairing two characters with the same names together in a romantic capacity just seems a little weird.

Doesn’t mean I have any plans to change those names.

But weird nonetheless.

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