NOTES FOR NOVELS I’LL NEVER WRITE
By Adrian Potter
Working Title #1: “Full Moon Etude”
Synopsis: Bandmates sleep together for the first time. But is their romance a mistake?
After sundown, she is ridiculously hip to the blues, their contrast with night’s matte background. Surely the nocturnal sky is not just devoid of color. On a striped mattress in a studio apartment, they make lovely music. The moment exhales. No one is safe. All deities understand is desire. His shatterproof soul gathers mist as he realizes life is comprised of tiny concessions. His mouth gagging on that fact.
Working Title #2: “Apocalypse Survival Guide”
Synopsis: A man roams an American city in shambles after a cataclysmic event.
I grow leery of everything. Faint noises. Empty warehouses. Feral cats. Survival. Fear is a knapsack I lug around and keep tossing things into. It's a form of insanity I carry with me, some days heavier than others. Everything can go wrong and inexplicably will, one mishap after another falling in succession like a row of dominos. Post-catastrophe, I wander through ruins thinking I am the sole survivor. I move reluctantly, alone in a new crumbled world. I carry my backpack, unaided, even with an injured arm.
Working Title #3: “The Grief Manual”
Synopsis: Male protagonist seeks solitude while trying to make sense of loss.
Midnight is punctuated by flickering neon along the avenue. Loved ones become ghosts, haunting him with cumbersome apologies. Nothing resurrects the dead, but the living can always choose to join them. Suicide is not the answer, but neither is drinking himself stupid. To survive, he becomes well versed in the art of departure. Just a man in a sweatshirt, hood up against the cold, walking towards uncertainty.
Working Title #4: “Vanishing Act”
Synopsis: A missing hooker’s secrets spark scandal in a small town.
On the boulevard, a man offers a fistful of dollars and thrusts his fingers down her half-buttoned blouse. Nightfall becomes a tyranny of rumpled bed sheets and unwelcome advances. Temptation is sometimes a locked door, other times a cracked bottle that lets sanity slowly seep away. At the corner bar, men know the inside of her mouth by feel. Recognize the scent of seduction by the approximation of lilacs. She opens up her body for them, one after another in the dark, then holds resentment under her tongue like a topic for later discussion. By morning, a suitcase floats along a riverbank, empty except for scuffed stilettos. Police ask the standard questions. Nobody answers. Silence provides a poor substitute for the truth.
Working Title #5: “Haunted Moments”
Synopsis: A man encounters paranormal activity after moving into an old manor.
It feels like a hoax, but everything is real: white specters and flickering lamps. Stereo static and screen doors opening on their own. Ask where the spirit goes after death and she says someplace, eventually, her voice fading to a note that resonates in the inner ear. But tonight, she’s an understudy of darkness, a ghost in the shadows who sounds alive but isn't. Kiss her and she tastes like a broken fever, sickness, night sweats. Antifreeze draining on a country road. Doubt inhabits the space between seconds, the shine of headlights as a red pickup casually crosses the center line. Imagine, if you could, the unsettled dead. A beautiful soul bathing in sorrow with paradise only a transgression away, yet completely out of reach.
Working Title #6: “Confessions of a Dying Flame”
Synopsis: Despite being committed, a couple’s relationship grows stale.
In any case, you are always here, tremulous yet turbulent, full lips dyed the hottest shade of red. I am a seasoned sparring partner who rarely flinches, can withstand a good punch. There is nothing to do with such beautiful emptiness but wallow inside its void. With you, I am tethered to idealistic expectations. How I would like to believe in the myth of happy endings, of mercy. And I said I do. I do. Nevertheless.
Adrian S. Potter writes poetry and short fiction. He is the author of the fiction chapbook Survival Notes (Červená Barva Press, 2008) and winner of the 2010 Southern Illinois Writers Guild Poetry Contest. Some publication credits include North American Review, Obsidian and Kansas City Voices. He blogs, sometimes, at http://adrianspotter.com/.