You all have heard me say how much I love the revision process–even more than drafting at times. But an uncomfortable part of the revision process involves killing your darlings–slicing way all of that extraneous shit that doesn’t move the plot forward. Sometimes this is hard because you honestly love those tasty little bits, but that doesn’t mean you should keep it in your novel. It just means that it’s time to start a folder for your novel scraps.
Below is an excerpt from the Your House, the free short story my newsletter subscribers will get in April. You might recognize bits and pieces of this as deleted scenes that I shared before that has been reworked into a story of it’s own. But that is what Free Filth is all about–me making use of all those little darlings. So if I’ve learned anything from this exercise it’s to kill your darlings, but don’t delete them!
Here’s the blurb:
With two ex-fiancees under her belt, Elijah understands why Yves is more than a little gun-shy when it comes to the subject of marriage. That didn’t mean he’d given up on the idea of her in his house and his bed for the rest of forever. So there is only one other option on the table—cohabitation and when Yves tells him about her eviction notice, he’s sure that moving in with him will appeal to her more than moving back home with her mother. Right?
Yves hates the idea of moving. Her shitty little 8th street apartment is more than just a place to live, it had become her sanctuary when she left her abusive ex, Cesar Soares. But Elijah’s suggestion to move in with him feels like she is once again compromising too much of herself.
Later, after the dishes were washed, the food put away, Elijah and Yves had made their way back to his condo. The dinner table conversation was still on his mind, but he was struck by how perfectly happy he was in the moment. They were on the living room couch with Coltrane on the hi-fi and a glass of whiskey between them, Yves was helping him review a few resumes for editors and all he could think was that he wanted it to be this way all the time. He saw them spending innumerable nights together like this, envisioned coming home to her in the evening and waking up next to her in the morning. He wanted it so badly that his heart ached at the thought. He thought about what Brahm said. How he needed to just be vulnerable and let her know how much he wanted her here.
Fuck it, he thought then took a deep breath. “Move in with me,” he blurted.
Yves set aside the resume she was thumbing through and looked at him. “What?”
“Move in with me.”
She laughed. “Elijah, stop asking me to move in. You know that you don’t really want to live with me. I’m a slob. I would drive you insane.”
“Yes, you are a slob, but when you’re not here I miss the mess you make. You make my place feel lived in. You make it feel like a home.”
“Move in with me, Yves. I’m tired of running to your place in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when you could be in bed beside me. Move in, sweetness.”
Stunned into silence, Yves looked around. He hoped that silence meant she was quietly considering the idea.
“There’s no room for me here. Where would I put all my clothes? Where would I write? And Mateo practically lives with you now. What will Shoshanna say to this?”
“Let me handle Shoshanna. And it might be a little tight, but we could get your clothes into the closet into my closet. I can store my off season stuff. And as far as your writing–that’s really not an issue, is it? I’ve seen you write in the middle of a crowded subway station in Midtown. You can write anywhere. Besides, if we find that it’s unbearable we can look for a bigger place… together. What do you think?”
She swallowed hard then looked at him. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Elijah frowned and sat forward in his space on the couch. He was trying hard not to get angry, but her stubbornness wasn’t helping. “Why not?”
“Well, we just started this and I think it’s just too fast.”
“Too fast? Yvie we’ve been seeing each other for a year—“
“And we’ve been fucking it up that whole time!”
“So we focus on not fucking it up.”
“Easy to say but, not so easy to do. What if we have another fight? You’d kick me out and I would be the one with no place to live.”
“I wouldn’t do that to you—“
“You might. If I pissed you off enough, you might. And you say that I should let you handle the Shoshanna and Mateo thing…but she barely tolerates me around him as it is.”
Elijah took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She frustrated the shit out of him. Why couldn’t she just say yes? “Look. I know you haven’t found a place yet. You have to move out in a couple of weeks anyway. I know you don’t want to move back home with your mom. Why can’t you just move in with me? You could keep looking for another place and if it doesn’t work out, you can still move out on your own.”
“Because I there is no room for me here–“
Elijah shrugged. “So we’ll buy a bigger place.”
“You’ll buy a bigger place. I can barely afford the rent on the places your realtor is showing me.”
He nodded, beginning to feel a little exasperated. “Okay, so I’ll buy the place and you can furnish and decorate it but, it will be ours. The home we make together.”
“You’re talking crazy,” she huffed then stood and went into the kitchen.
Elijah followed her. “”What are you afraid of?”
“What makes you think I’m afraid?”
“Because you’re starting an argument.”
“I’m not starting an argument. You asked me to move in. I said no. There’s nothing to argue about.”
“You haven’t given me a reason why.”
“I told you. There is no space for me here.”
“I told you we could buy a place with enough space for both of us.”
“And I told you that I don’t want you to buy me a house!”
“I don’t understand. I have the means to do it and I want to do this for you—for us. Why is that so offensive?”
“I don’t want your help, Elijah. When and if I ever buy a house, I want to be the one who owns it. Me. I don’t want to live in a place bought by some man.”
Elijah flinched then anger flared. “Some man? Is that how you think of me?”
She rolled her eyes. “You know what I meant.”
“I don’t know what you mean, but I sure as fuck know what you said. Am I just some man to you?”
“No! I just…”
He threw up his hands. “If you come back at me with that independent woman bullshit I swear I’ll break something. This is not about feminism.”
“It’s not bullshit, Elijah. I just don’t want to be put in a place where someone can have that much influence over my livelihood. I want to take care of me.”
“Well, we have a fucking problem then because I want to take care of you, too.”
Her shoulders slumped. Why should something like that make her sad?
“You don’t owe me anything—”
“Jesus Christ, Yvie! It’s not about owing.” He closed the space between them and looked in her eyes. “I love you, woman. Part of loving you means I want to give you everything you want and need.”
“I have everything I want and need. I just want you.”
“And I want you…in my bed every night. In my kitchen. In my shower. On the other end of the couch.” He sighed and pulled her into his arms. She resisted for a moment, her arms hanging at her sides, but finally she embraced him and buried her face into his chest.
“I hear what you’re saying. But can’t you understand that I just want to try to do this for myself?”
Elijah sighed. This was not a fight he was going to win. “Okay, I get it. Just know that if you can’t do it yourself, I’m here to help you and that I want this. Okay?”
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