Idea : I wanted to write a romance. I had just read Twilight (which I liked) and thought, well, if I’m ever going to sell anything, I should probably try writing a teen romance. (Didn’t work out so well.) I had the idea of a girl who sees 2:55 in the future before that time, and because I couldn’t stand the idea of writing just a plain romance I added in that so at least it would be fantasy.
Process : I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2009. Other than a very basic plot paragraph, I didn’t plan it before then.
Edited? : I’ll say Yes. Just recently I went through it in detail to change the plot, change a few characters, remove unnecessary plot elements, clean up the grammar and dialog, and rewrite a bunch of sections.
About 3 Minutes
Another 3 Minutes
3 Minutes Later
———– Read some! ———–
Chapter 1: Prelude
“Naomi, you know you don’t always have to say ‘two-minutes-and-fifty-five-seconds.’”
“I mean, no one cares about a technicality like that. Just say ‘about three minutes’. You can see ‘about three minutes’ into the future….”
I can see two minutes and fifty-five seconds into the future.
My parents aren’t aliens or prophets; physically I’m normal. It stands to reason, then, that as an infant I was placed under a curse.
You’ve heard of people who’ve been cursed. Some like Ella, because of a well-wishing but ditzy fairy; some like Harry, because a seer read more than tea leaves; some like Gollum, because he picked up a shiny ring. In the end, they all ended up getting the better of their curses and living happily ever after. Except Gollum, he’s a poor example, take Frodo instead. Whatever the reason, these characters managed to turn things around, get rid of the curse or fulfill their destinies, whatever it took. But… Harry and Frodo had clear paths to victory. Destroy the Dark Lord, destroy the ring — those were specific goals. There was no kind old man to tell Ella how to get rid of her curse, she had to figure it out on her own.
And I’ve tried, I have.
I’ve told myself you must not see the future or you must see the future but reverse psychology doesn’t work, nor does pleading or living a year with eyes closed. To be fair, my curse is mild compared to the ones I’ve mentioned, and I can for the most part get around it by shutting my eyes. I considered making myself actually rather than purportedly blind, but my parents caught on and talked me out of it. Even if I can’t see what’s happening now, in sync with my ears or my nose or my movement, I can still see: the snowy peaks are still as beautiful, people still as complicated in their features. I was five years old, so the argument went something like ‘No!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘No!’ ‘Ok….’ in their favor. I never seriously considered it again.
I see two minutes and fifty-five seconds into the future.
Not at will, not at random, but always. If I’m looking right at you, I don’t see you in the present, I see you as you will be — rather, how the space I’m staring at will be — 2:55 from now. Why 2:55 and not a round 3 minutes is beyond me, but then so is the whole issue. Maybe it’s a complicated and ancient curse that was 3 minutes but has been thrown off by Earth’s rotations. I like to imagine someone orchestrated it, that it’s not a random mutation, because if it was written, it can be erased.
At first my mother couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I wouldn’t respond to visual cues, or I would at what seemed random times, but I’d react to the sound of her voice. She knew I wasn’t blind because I would watch things, it just wouldn’t be at the right time. I’d cry for food, then stop before they actually brought it to me, groping the air for what I saw was in front of me. Dad thought I was mentally retarded, at least that’s what Mom says, though Dad denies it. “I just thought you were different,” he said mildly when I accused him.
My parents learned to interact with me primarily with voice and touch, and eventually by watching my behavior picked up that something was off with my data processing centers. Not that the signals were slow, but that I was seeing space action before it happened. To their credit, they didn’t take me to a doctor and demand to know what was wrong, but figured it out, saving me from a sure fate as the modern Little Albert. They told people my vision was poor, and kept me at home with them most of the time. Well, not Dad, he is often away from home, off on one of his ‘missions’ as he calls it. He’s a photographer, independently and for a few local magazines, always taking weird and not very lucrative assignments. Mom, on the other hand, works at home as a programmer. I spend most time around Mom, but we don’t have much in common. She spends a lot of that time talking about computers and webpages and the internet — I understand it, I can use the MacBook in the old schoolroom with some difficulty. I have to use the speaking cues because it relies so much on accurate visuals otherwise, and I don’t like it. I once tried out a computer for the blind, but I wasn’t in sync with that either. I guess I’m not a computer person.
I am sensitive to sounds. If my mother guides me through things like the computer, that works out all right; her voice is soft and low, bringing back memories of when she sang lullabies to me. I used to hear her calming voice for hours every day. She schooled me at home until I was 12, that’s when I told her I didn’t want to see her anymore. We were arguing about math problems, and I said there was no way I could do math because I was stupid.
“You are not stupid,” she said in a hard voice, snatching my pencil away from where I was doodling.
“I am. I don’t get it. I hate lessons. I want to go to school and have friends.”
“You have friends. Besides, school is all about lessons.”
“No I don’t, and you are a mean teacher!”
Dad got home not long after, when Mom was still trying to calmly explain to me that I was going through a teen breakdown and I was still yelling at her. All Dad had to do was swoop me out of my chair and take me over to the piano, and I thought myself to be calm again. Dad first started teaching me piano when I was 4, and still kept up the act even though it took him only a couple years to teach me all he knew. He can play pieces like Moonlight Sonata and Mozart’s Minuet because he has practiced meticulously. For this incident he brought out a trump card: Pachelbel’s Canon. I was calm at this point, but still irritated.
“Mom always tries to teach me,” I complained, yearning for a sympathetic ear. “But it’s things I already know, or stuff I don’t get.”
“Why don’t you get it?” he asked, closing the Bethoveen book at Für Elise to hold down the music.
“I don’t know — I just don’t get it.”
“That’s no good. You always have to try and give it your best — do you expect to be able to play this canon the first time through?”
“No. Show me the right hand.” I grabbed his hand and placed it clumsily on the keys.
He tsked me, finger going back and forth like a metronome. “Confidence, Naomi. Putting up a good front for people is important. That’s how I met your mother.”
“Through the piano?” I asked in an incredulous squeak. Mom laughed, then got up from the kitchen table to pull out the makings for dinner. They always take turns cooking, which is OK because frankly neither is better than the other.
“We worked for the same company,” she explained, examining a cracked spoon, “a jewelry merchant.” She paused.
“Latasyr,” he reminded.
“That’s right. I was talking about broken banner code on the website, and your father joined in the conversation like he knew all about it. I didn’t learn until our second date that he was a photographer and had never programmed anything in his life.”
“Seems like misrepresentation to me,” I declared articulately.
“Nonsense,” Dad said, rumpling my hair. “It’s called tact.”
I smoothed my hair back down.
“Stop trying to take away her honesty,” Mom reprimanded. At this point I saw my brother trudge in the door, and I remembered what my previous thought track had been.
I folded my arms, intending to be stubborn. “I still want to go to school,” I said, watching my dad play out the Canon though he hadn’t started yet.
“Naomi,” Mom started, surely ready to change my mind, but my dad shrugged. “I don’t see why not. It would be a good experience, to see if you’re ready for so much sensory overload.”
“I’ve taken ballet,” I objected, offended, “I know what it’s like to be out of the house.” They laughed at me, but I knew they’d let me have my way so I was very pleased about it.