The Art of Mirriam Neal

The Eigengrau Update: I Won NaNoWriMo

That’s it. That’s the update.

Okay, not really; I do have more snippets. But I am SO pleased to announce that I wrote 50,000 words in half the time I usually do. Literally most months I’m squeaking in at the last minute, writing my fifty thousandth word at midnight on the thirtieth.

I love this novel so incredibly much. If it were a person, I’d marry it in a heartbeat. I’m also pleased to announce that it’s getting probably the best reaction from a NaNo novel I’ve ever had. Potentially from any novel I’ve ever written, at least from the first wave of wonderful beta readers who help keep me motivated and enthusiastic about sending regular chapters.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had an idea for a novel that wasn’t tied to a series or previous ideas I’ve had, and it’s giving me a fresh kind of energy I haven’t felt in years. I am, to use a word I have massively overused this past few weeks, STOKED. I hope you are, too.


Uh…yes.” Gavin pushed away from the wall. If she didn’t know better, she might have thought he looked concerned. Then again, having somebody pass out in front of you after revealing that you know their secret was probably a little rattling, even to the most stoic of people. “Hit the floor, even.”

Randi reached up to feel her teeth, but Daryl’s voice interrupted her.

“You didn’t lose any teeth. I checked.”

She lowered her hand. “Good, because I can’t really afford dental.”

“Yeah, exactly, but none of us could tell you were angry. You just went from looking laid back to wailing on him.”


“So most people aren’t an on-off switch. It’s a gradient, like; you could tell if I was getting mad at you. Or if I was mad at you. It’s…how you act doesn’t always match up with how you feel and it can make you kind of uncomfortable to be around. Plus,” she added, then winced and forged ahead faster to leave the second ‘plus’ behind, “I think you like intimidating people.”

One of his eyebrows twitched upward, but it didn’t look skeptical. It looked like agreement.

“I’m surprised he’s with you,” said Jesse, bending close to Randi’s ear so she could hear him over the music and full house. “He and Daryl haven’t dueled to the death yet?”

“Not yet.” Randi rested her elbows on the bar as Jesse walked around it, pulling out two beers and setting them next to her arm. “Daryl’s been kind of on edge all day, though. Since Gavin showed up.”

Jesse hummed a single note. “And Gavin? What’s he been like?”

That was the bizarre thing. “Not…awful.”


“You don’t need to look all smug about it. It’s not attractive,” she retorted.

Randi smiled a little as she watched Travis take his phone out of his jacket pocket. He worked seamlessly with Harbor; he always had. If Harbor wanted something described, Travis would do it without question, if he hadn’t already preemptively done it. If Harbor needed Travis to show something to everyone else, Travis would. You would never know, watching them, that they hadn’t interacted much in over half a decade. It was like they had never stopped speaking.

Declan had been bizarrely quiet during the conversation. He stood next to Daryl’s chair, his hands in the pockets of his jeans, chewing on a toothpick. She didn’t know how he always wound up with a cigarette, a toothpick, or gum; but apparently her subconscious was a generous provider.

It unnerved her when he went into thoughtful moods. He had always been clever, more clever than she was, but it was a cleverness he rarely used. He had once told her he didn’t need it; and he was right. He had sex appeal from a disturbingly young age and he had used it to his advantage; he could be charming when he wanted, he was daring and popular. Way more popular than any sixteen-year-old should have been.

He had a good brain, but who needed a brain to get ahead in life when you had everything else?

None of them said anything for a long moment. It had been an open secret in Cedar Grove; the violence of Daryl and Declan’s father. Declan was the one with bruises and anger that overflowed the banks of his personality, flooding everything he touched. Some of that anger splashed onto Daryl, but she never had the bruises. She had a brother who prevented them.

Daryl rolled her eyes, but Randi could tell she had already decided to apologize before Jesse said it. Even so, this was Daryl. She did kind things for people all the time but managed to act as if every single one of those deeds was a great inconvenience. It had always baffled Randi, how somebody with such a large heart thought they could protect it by acting like it was small. Daryl had hand-sewn Randi’s prom gown just because Randi couldn’t find one she liked that fit, and her exact words when she offered had been, “Forget this crap; I’m just going to make you one. If you walk into prom looking like a garbage bag I’m going to shoot myself.”

She couldn’t believe she was this worried about him, but her mind kept lobbing horrible thoughts at her and she couldn’t bat them away. Thoughts like ‘What if he dies without knowing you didn’t hate him?’ or ‘What if he’s in a coma for the rest of his life and you never get to talk with him again?’ Not that she had ever really ‘talked with him.’ They had spoken to each other sometimes but speaking to somebody and speaking with them were entirely different things. Ordinarily it didn’t feel like such a big difference.

Right now, sitting under the florescent lights of the hospital waiting room listening to people cough and wishing the air smelled less like rubbing alcohol, the gulf felt as wide as the Grand Canyon. A giant, splitting chasm, yawning black and endless and threatening to swallow her whole.


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