Some things never make it past the first draft when you write.
Sometimes a favorite idea, a favorite passage, a turn of phrase, must be sacrificed to the Gods of Writing. This was the case with my original opening for my upcoming story The Fourth Act. I wanted to use a beloved bedtime story to act as a moral compass for my protagonist, so I began to craft a fairytale about angels living in the Ural Mountians of Russia. There was a point to my fable that would bring the story I planned full circle—that is until a friend read the first chapter and talked me into making it suspenseful rather than mystical—and the fairy tale was cut.
I still have the fairy tale rattling around in my head, unlikely to ever see the light of day, but not everything was scrapped—the following is a scene between Michael (Misha) and his beloved Grandfather—a relationship that influences Michael’s choices later in life…and one that did make the final cut:
“Tell me a story.” I pleaded, plucking at his frayed cuff. My grandfather pretended to glower at me, his brows meeting over a nose too crooked for his face.
“It is late Misha. No story.” He peeled back the comforter on my bed, drawing back the navy blue field of yellow stars and white comets and I slid between the red sheets and tried again.
This time he patted my head, gently urging me down onto my pillow. Lips bristly with hairs the color and texture of broom straw poked me as he kissed my cheek. His breath tickled my nose carrying with it an echo of tobacco smoke from an ancient elk horn and burl pipe—the pipe as gnarled and carved as the lines on my grandfather’s face.
“What is it you want Misha? It’s late…”
I could see the pretended impatience. He always made time for me, always trying to fill the empty space left vacant by the absence of my parents—both now a vague memory, just faint imprints on my juvenile heart.I knew he was mine for as long as I wanted him…for as long as I could keep my eyes open.
I shifted on the pillow trying to find the uncomfortable spot.
“Please, deda…tell me the one about the angels!”
Brows furrowed again and he grunted, settling onto the hard wooden chair pulled up next to my bed.
Abandoned Prologue to The Fourth Act By LE Franks