Working hard on Valentino this week.
Screenplay is complete and optioned. Novel is taking a little longer than I expected. Sometimes it’s easier to work from scratch.
Here is a sample of the prologue/first draft:
(Copyright Laura Hesse 2017 All Rights Reserved)
“Díi Xáahlaat dei uu kyáagaanggang” Haida prayer
The island’s coastline was desolate.
The tall cedar and fir trees that marched like stick soldiers in small squadrons along the rocky shore toppled as the full fury of the storm struck with cannon ball force.
A yellow Labrador wearing a bright pink life jacket dragged a semi-conscious girl out of the rolling surf and up onto the beach. The dog’s tail hung limply between its hind legs. It circled once, and then twice, before laying down beside the girl, and closing its eyes against the icy rain that stung its exposed flesh.
The girl’s face was pasty white, her hands wrinkled and swollen. Her long dark hair was plastered to her face. The sound of her chattering teeth was broken by a sad whimper until that too was swallowed by the howling of the wind and the crash of angry surf.
The girl clung to life, her sunflower yellow survivor suit being one of the only things keeping her alive, the other being the dog who fearlessly guarded her against the drawing of the dark. She and the dog stood out like colorful beacons against the blackness of the rocks and banks of seaweed that surrounded them.
The dog’s ears pricked forward. It heard a faint clip-clop sound approaching from up the beach. The dog sniffed the air, and then wagged its tail. It was a scent it knew well. The clip-clop sound grew louder and louder. The dog’s tail wagged harder and harder. It whined and stood up. Its body was calm and the dog panted, appearing to grin as it did so.
A huge red and white hairy face loomed out of the darkness.
The dog let out a happy yip of greeting.
The red and white paint horse with one eye starting to glaze over with a milky film lowered its head as it approached the dog and unconscious girl.
The horse showed no fear of the dog so the dog decided to show no fear of the horse.
The dog whined a greeting and wagged its tail as the horse nosed closer. The two sniffed, and then the horse switched its attention to the girl, ruffling the girl’s hair with its breath.
The dog returned to its place, lying beside the unconscious girl, head and one paw resting across her chest.
The girl, sensing an alien presence, moaned softly, and pulled her knees up to her chest, curling herself into a protective ball. The dog adjusted its body and curled around her as best it could.
The heavy rain turned into a hard drizzle and the wind slowed from a tempest into a brisk breeze.
The horse snuffled the dog gently once more and then stepped carefully sideways, shielding both the dog and the girl from the remainder of the storm.
As one, the horse and dog become silent sentinels, watching over the girl through-out the long hours of the night.
Farther up the island’s coastline, sixteen year-old, August Pete, washed up on shore. He appeared dead until he slowly opened his eyes. He groaned and dragged himself onto the beach.
August staggered to his feet, beating himself around the chest with his arms to try get some warmth into his body. He shivered uncontrollably. His short cropped raven colored hair draped like wet noodles down his back and neck. He knew he was in trouble. Hypothermia had set in.
He slipped away from the beach and walked head down into the driving rain, angling inland. He knew he had to find shelter. His chances of survival were slim at best if he didn’t.
He stumbled on the slippery rocks and fell. He struggled to get up and trudged on.
August finally found a tall fir tree and crawled beneath its boughs.
August tugged off his wet boots, rain slicker, and life jacket. The earth beneath the tree was dry. He dug until his nails broke and his fingers bled, finally carving out a cocoon shape about a foot wide and four feet long. He curled himself into it, brushing the earth that he had just dug out over his body, and then pulling the rain suit and life jacket over top of that. He curled himself into a ball and began to sing softly.
The cold made his mind sluggish.
He struggled to remember the words of the ancient Haida song that his grandmother had taught him.
“Díi Xáahlaat dei uu kyáagaanggang. My Spirit calls out, come and take a look to see what I need,” he sung, finally remembering the words that he should have known as well as his own name.
“Díi Xáahlaat dei uu kyáagaanggang. My Spirit calls out, come and take a look to see what I need,” he sung once again, more strongly than the first.
August closed his eyes, remembering too his grandmother’s words of warning.
“Be careful what you pray for,” Grandmother Pete said to young August. “The spirits can be tricksters. What you want may not be what you think you need.”
August knew that the spirits would decide if he was meant to be rescued or walk a different path. Only the spirits knew.
August let the warmth of Mother Earth engulf him. He prayed silently that he wouldn’t be joining his ancestors any time soon, for dying alone beneath the fir’s limbs would break his mother and father’s hearts.