A Confession and a Commitment
I came perilously close this weekend to doing something I promised myself I would never do when it comes to the writing of this story: cheat. Cheat myself, cheat you my readers, and cheat Karen and Laci as characters, both of whom are dear to me, having been an almost daily part of my life in one way or another for two years now.
Luckily, I caught myself in time.
I had given myself a self-imposed deadline of sorts to get Chapter 13 completed and posted. That led me to stay up all night forcing the story. I was in the midst of patting myself on the back for my herculean efforts when I went back and read what I’d written. I was utterly appalled. It was drivel; it was terrible; frankly, it was unmitigated garbage. It looked like I was merely phoning it in, and it shocked me to think I in any way thought it might be made acceptable. It wasn’t capable of being made acceptable.
All of you, my loyal and faithful readers, have come to expect a level of, if not excellence, then effort from me in what I write and offer to you. I have always promised I would never give you anything less than my very best effort. I have always striven to do what my son used to say he’d do when facing a really big hockey game: leave it all on the ice. Give everything. Don’t leave the ice with anything left in the tank. Don’t be a slacker. I almost let myself become a slacker, a cheater.
I think the majority of my most loyal and devoted readers, along with me, long ago came to understand that, while the story ostensibly takes place in a relatively short span of time, the time progression is largely irrelevant. It’s the story, the 21st Century, erotic version of Pygmalion, the growth of the characters, that really matters, regardless of the time progression. That’s especially true of Laci.
This is, more than any other, Laci’s story, her journey from a life of seeming hopelessness, despair, and squalor, the near loss of her precious gifts by taking an almost inevitable path of destructiveness, the only one seemingly open to her, and her redemption. It’s the story of her finding hope, support, and love from a very unlikely source, someone who is willing to risk everything she has to rescue and redeem a human diamond in the rough on the verge of being buried in the slag heap. The sexual aspect long ago, at least to me, but I suspect a good many of you, became, if not irrelevant, than secondary. It happened when it was supposed to, and we peaked in like vicarious voyeurs. I was there, as I think most of you were, to experience Laci’s redemption, and Karen’s ultimate raison d’etre.
Nowhere is the need to be very careful so critical as it is in this installment. This chapter is the unofficial end of the beginning, the denouement in dramatic fashion of all that’s led up to it. I cannot cheat even a little in this chapter. As Karen observes in a snippet that won’t make the cut in the final product for purely technical reasons, “[she] was struck by the way Laci seemed to straddle two worlds, the childhood one of Teddy bears, naïveté, and innocence, and the adult one she was moving inexorably toward whether she wanted to or not. It’s up to me to get her there in one piece and better off than when I found her.” This comes close to the heart of things.
It’s simply too important for me to allow myself to cheat even a little bit. That means making some very hard decisions about what does and doesn’t belong, what’s important and what isn’t, and hoping I get them right. I’ve done that all along, and this time, more than any other installment except Chapter 7, it’s vital for me to make sure I leave everything on the ice. No shortcuts, no cheating.
That, dear readers, means you’ll have to wait a bit longer, but I like to think you’d prefer it that way. This is a technically demanding installment, but even more, it’s an emotional draining one. I have watched, every bit as much as you, Karen and especially Laci grow over two years. I may be a step or two ahead of you, but that’s it. I’m usually not really sure of what’s going to happen until I arrive at the next step and start working. I may think I’m in charge, but usually I’m not.
Thus, I ask your forbearance if that’s required, and be patient with me as I attempt to give this everything I have. If I promise you anything, dear readers, I promise to always – always – give you the best I am capable of giving. Anything less would be cheating.