The Set Up:
Cayden and Laynie, friends since childhood, meet up again at the funeral for Cayden's mother. They're in their early twenties, still in college. I wanted to show a relationship that was a friendship heavy with history...something that I could mold into a romance later, if I needed to.
So here is my deleted scene...
People trickled out and by midnight everyone had left the house; his mother’s funeral finally over. Cayden sank into the dark leather reading chair by the fireplace in the library and let his head drop back and stared up at the ceiling. He saw Laynie out of the corner of his eyes standing by the picture window that overlooked the driveway rotunda. Arms crossed in front of her chest, she leaned a hip against the wall, her lips pulled into a frown.
“Your step-dad is leaving?” She asked. “Did he bother to talk to you at all tonight?”
Laynie and his step-father had a hate-hate relationship.
“I avoided him, not the other way around,” Cayden murmured. He leaned forward, snaked a crystal bottle of vodka off the wet bar, and pulled out the stopper. “I found some pictures.”
Laynie looked over at him with knit brows. “What kind of pictures?”
Cayden took a pull on the bottle and shuddered. He held the crystal stopper to his bruised eye like a kaleidoscope and looked at her. She lit up in a dozen facets of light. “The kind private detectives take of cheating spouses,” he said quietly.
“Oh, Cayden,” Laynie whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
Cayden shrugged and swished the alcohol around and around in the bottle. “This isn’t new information, Laynie.”
“I know, Cayden,” Laynie murmured. “Still must hurt though.”
She walked over to him, sat on the coffee table opposite him, and put her hands on his knees.
“They were fanned out on the floor in front of the tub,” Cayden said and his voice caught in his throat. His mother’s pale arms floating in scarlet water flashed behind his eyes. A tremor quaked his stomach. “I picked them up after I called 911.”
“You told him? Your father?” Laynie asked. “When?”
“About two seconds before I got this,” Cayden said wryly and pointed to his black eye.
“What happened?” Worry lined her delicate features, pulling her pink lips into a frown.
“He was making noise about my going back to school early,” Cayden said. “He told me I needed to get my head back in the game.”
“That’s horrible,” Laynie spat. “Your mom just died!”
“Yeah, well, we argued and he shoved me, and I punch him, and he returned the favor,” Cayden said quietly. “He wants me to move out by Monday. He wants to sell. ”
“But you grew up here!” Laynie said indignantly.
“I grew up in various ‘boarding schools’,” Cayden said and made quotes in the air with his fingers. “I spent summers here.”
“We spent summers here,” Laynie murmured. “Coming here is the only thing that kept me sane.”
Cayden reached out and ran a hand through her dark hair, feeling the silky softness wind through his fingers. “Kept us both sane,” he whispered.
Laynie cocked her head to the side, looking up at him at an angle. She smiled and then said, “Teresa told me you haven’t eaten in a day or two,” Laynie said finally. “She said you haven’t slept either. She said you wander around the house at night.”
Cayden let his hand drop to his lap and encased her hand in his. “You worry too much.”
“No one worries enough about you, Cayden,” she said exasperated. “You need to stop drinking. You need a decent meal, and you need to sleep.”
Cayden put the bottle on the wet bar and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. He hit his sore eye again and winced. He looked at Laynie through bleary eyes.
“I can’t sleep,” Cayden answered. “I can’t stop my mind from churning, and I can’t lay still. If I do nod off…I see her, Laynie.” His breath caught in his throat. “I see her just… floating in the tub.”
Tears burned his eyes and he got up and walked to the window, and he wiped them away, angry. He put his hand flat against the glass, holding himself up and keeping his back to her.
“Oh, Cayden,” Laynie said behind him, her voice breaking. He heard her get up and then her arms were around him and she hugged him with her head against his shoulder blades. “Come here.”
“I should have seen…” Cayden breathed. “I should have known.”
Laynie was shaking her head. “No one saw this coming, Sweets.”
She pulled him around by his hand and led him back to the couch. She sat down on the end of the couch, pulled a pillow to her lap, and patted it with her hand.
“Come here,” she urged him.
Cayden sat down next to her and after a few seconds let himslef topple over, his head landing on the pillow. Sighing, he looked up at her face. She smiled and ran her fingers over his eyelids, closing them. Laynie stroked his brows, humming something. Cayden took a breath and his throat ached.
“Just rest your eyes for a minute,” she whispered against his cheek. “Only a minute, and then I’ll stop bugging you.”
Three days of exhaustion hit Cayden all at once, and he floated along on the sound of her breathing. Her perfume, the feel of her sweater on his face, the warmth of her legs under his neck, all of it slowed him down, and his mind drifted off.
The last thing he remembered from that night, the night of his mother’s funeral, was being in Laynie’s arms.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this scene, the characters, and whether or not the emotion rings true. I might turn this into a novel in the 1st person, Laynie's POV, or maybe Cayden's?
I encourage you to take a trip to see the other awesome entries at My Literary Jam and Toast. Unil next time...Go Write!
Photograph by maveric2003, Uploaded on February 17, 2007.