Twenty days, thirty-four chapters, and 93,446 words later, and I’m finished with NaNoWriMo for 2013. Well, there are a couple of ends to tie up. Namely, I need to donate to the Office of Letters and Light, so they can do this again next year, as well as do all the things they do between Novembers to encourage writers, particularly young writers, to write. Then, when the time comes in a few days to verify the word count to “win,” I’ll need to upload the rough draft to their word-counting bot. I think 43,446 words is a good cushion over the 50,000 goal, don’t you?
And lest we forget, later, a few months from now, comes the editing and revising piece. Though I don’t do a lot of research for a NaNoWriMo project while I’m writing, I do some perfunctory research to verify dates and events, so there’s a lot of work ahead of me to dig deeper than Wikipedia for some things.
Today’s word count was “only” 2,177, which also happened to be the “least productive” day of the twenty days I spent writing those 93,466 words. I averaged more than 4,600 words per day, and in terms of the quantity of the output, this has been my most successful year of NaNoWriMo. The quality, of course, remains to be seen after revisions.
Today’s final chapter was Chapter 34, The Lady or the Sheik. Before I post the excerpt, let me thank everyone who began following the blog, who retweeted Tweets about this NaNoWriMo experience, and who commented on or liked specific excerpts. Those are the things which keep me writing.
Here is the final excerpt:
Then, the tunnel widened into a larger “room,” but before she entered, she held up a fist to stop Yuri and Kolya. They had switched on the lights attached to their rifles as well. She pointed to herself then to her eyes, then pointed forward, telling Kolya she would go see. Rifle up, she entered the room and saw Abdullah struggling with someone then she heard Alexei’s voice telling Abdullah to leave him alone.
She put her light on Alexei, now barely ten feet away, and looked upon a stranger. Then, a shadow shifted as an AK-47 nosed past her. A rifle barked twice, a figure fell back into the dark, and she left it to Kolya to figure out. She lowered her rifle.
“Alexei,” she said.
His eyes slid away from hers, a hand came up as if to ward her off.
“Alexei, it’s me. I’m here,” she said.
“Do you have to haunt me in the daytime now?” he said. “Leave me alone to get the revenge you seek.”
“I’m not the one seeking revenge, and I’m not a ghost,” Mai said.
From Kolya’s or Abdullah’s radio or both, she heard, “Daisy, Daisy.” They had twenty minutes to live or die.
“Look at me, Alyosha,” she said, then harsher, “Look at me!” She took a step toward him then saw his finger move to the trigger of his AK. “Alexei, shoot me, and I will fucking haunt you.”
Mai moved until she could look into his eyes, the only thing about him she could recognize. The lean, lined, bearded face seem to belong to someone else, but the eyes were his.
Abdullah moved to Alexei’s side and began to murmur to him, low so only Alexei could hear. The flat glare Alexei gave her didn’t waver.
“Look, you bastard,” she said, interrupting Abdullah, “I haven’t cut throats and shot Taliban over half this country to stand here and have you think I’m a fucking ghost. I clawed my way out of hell with the sole thought you were waiting for me, and where the fuck were you? Spending Russian money on mercenaries and who knows what else? I get shot, I meet your girlfriend, I find prisoners Dostun murdered, and piss off the Vice President in the process, and you stand here and won’t even speak to me. Well, fuck you, Alexei, and fuck your bin Laden vendetta. You put that gun down and talk to me, or, since we’re in a Muslim country, I’ll get an Islamic divorce, right here, on the spot.”
Something flickered in his eyes, and she knew him well enough to know he was processing her words, balancing her presence against his emotion. Abdullah murmured to him again.
“All I have to do is say it three times,” she said. “I divorce you.”
He didn’t lower the gun, and Mai heard Kolya, of all things, praying in Russian.
“I divorce you,” she said, taking a step closer.
His eyes slipped away from hers again, but he lowered the rifle. He glanced around, his expression uncertain, as if he were unaware how he came to be in this place at this time. When he looked at her again, his expression was wary.
“In Islam,” he said, “that only works for men.”
“That figures,” she replied.