The other day someone asked me me I was working on in my NaNo novel. I said I was writing a scene that introduced a trans-woman character. They were a bit puzzled as I’d also told them I was writing the scenes set in Nova Scotia. Specifically in Sydney in this case.
They were a little surprised that there might be trans-people on the east coast. Which was one of the reasons I wanted to bring that in to the story. They questioned how big a role this character played because being trans was one of those issues that required a narrative justification. They felt it was like Chekov’s gun.
This ‘narrative justification’ is one of the reasons that for too many years and in too many novels queer characters had to backstories about coming out. Regardless of the fact that hetero’s rarely took readers through their first awareness of the opposite sex.
In reality there is more to the lives of trans, queer folk than how they became who they are. Every minute isn’t spent in rehashing their personal histories. The fact that a character sexuality is irrelevant to wanting a latte is no reason not mention their sexuality. Readers can handle the whole world. if they can’t it’s not the author’s problem.
So I wanted a character to be trans and to be ordinary at the same time. My queer characters don’t waste much time dwelling on coming out they are too busy dodging bullets. I’m too busy creating characters who are real as opposed to ones that have be ‘narrative justification’ for existing.
The writer who asked me this listened for about two minutes, nodded in agreement, then went about their own writing for the next half-hour. Another confirmation that few people want to know what you’re up to because what they are doing is always more interesting to them.
I’m jumping to November 12 with this sample. In the story it falls a few days after the dust incident I posted yesterday. This is one of the ways plotting works for me because when I wrote on November 3 I did not think that scene was leading anywhere than some stoner jokes. Even as I wrote this I had only vague idea, I took a break for a walk and while I was out the air-born fungus came to me.
As you can tell I haven’t filled in names for every character. The Dr.’s last name is a real name though.
Exhausted Dan sat in the gate waiting area. A flight attendant woke him to let him know his flight was boarding.
“Thanks” he said. His throat hurt when swallowed his saliva. This was no ordinary cold. Should he ask for a surgical mask? He stumbled through the narrow aisle to his seat. At least with a window seat he wouldn’t have to get up until Toronto. He was sweating profusely and as the plane took off he was racked with trembling.
“Don’t fly much.” his seat mate said. “I used be terrified too. “Looks like you need a drink? Or have you had one too many already.”
Dan didn’t have the energy to answer him. Would they mind carrying him off when they got to Toronto. He painfully turned his head to look out the window and fell asleep again.
Once again an attendant had to wake him.
“We’re in Toronto, sir?”
Groggily he unbuckled his seat belt and pulled himself over the seats to the aisle. “I’m not feeling so good.” he slurred.
“He’s had too much to drink Shirl.” another of the attendants said.
“Oh no he slept from take off.”
“Did you have a carry on?” The attendant asked. “Is this yours in the the over head?”
He nodded yet but didn’t recall putting it there.
“Get medic.” she said. “This man isn’t well. You just sit there, sir. Someone will help you.”
“Okay.” Dan whispered.
“Is there someone meeting you?”
He fumbled to get his cell phone out. “Jermy Mox ..”
Talking became increasing painful. He turned the phone on and handed it to her.
“Jeremy?” she asked looking over his contacts list.
Two security men came down the aisle and supported him as they took him off the plane.
“Who is he?” One of them asked.
“Daniel James.” the other attendant said. “He has RCMP security clearance.”
“Doesn’t keep them from getting blind drunk.”
While they were helping him off he could hear the attendant with his phone talking on it but couldn’t make out what she was saying.
“Here’s your phone.” she put it in his jacket pocket. “Mr. Moxham will meet you at the exit.”
“Jeremy Moxham?” one of the security asked.
“Yes.” the attendant answered. “The one and only.”
“Maybe we can get an autograph.”
“Ask the drunk.”
They rolled him down the covered ramp way. Dan sensed going over carpet then bumps to a marble floor. How did he get into a wheel-chair. He tried to wipe the drool off his mouth before Jeremy saw him in this condition. His arms didn’t obey him. Dimly he could see Jeremy. It was as if he was at the end of a long noisy hall that got longer the harder he tried to focus.
He woke is a cool dark room. The bed sheets were tucked so tight around him his arms couldn’t move. His eyes adjusted to the dark. There was light from under a door opposite the foot of the bed. He became aware of something pinching the index finger of his left hand. A sharper pinch annoyed the back of that wrist. He wanted to scratch it but his right arm wouldn’t move. Something was holding it to the bed.
The door opened and a nurse with a face mask and plastic eye visor came in.
“Are you coming to Mr. James?” She turned the lights on.
He automatically shut his eyes but the light that came on was dim. Bright enough to see the room.
“I’m Doctor Bim. You can call me Yvonne.”
Two more similar gowned gloved and masked medical personnel came into the room.
“Yvonne?” his throat was still sore but not hurting as much.
“Oh good you can talk.” she said as one of the others undid the restraints on his arms. “We had to keep you from pulling out the intravenous. I suppose you don’t remember that?”
He flexed his arms as best he could without disturbing the finger clip and needle on his left hand.
“I vaguely recall being taken off the plane. Jeremy Moxham.”
“Yes Mr Moxham met you at the airport. He rushed you here.”
“You’re in isolation at Sunnybrook. Infectious diseases.”
“Until we were sure what you had come down with. Two of your co-workers have also fallen ill.”
“Sandy?” he didn’t quite understand.
“No Jen C and camera man.”
“Cold Canada! I had no memory of that until you mentioned it.”
One of the medical personnel made notes on a clip board.
“Sandy?” Dr Bim asked.
“She’s my manager at the Depot. So what do we have?”
“I’m waiting on blood tests. You all had very high fevers, swallowing difficulty, motor function impairment.”
“It was that dust!” he sat up then lay back heavily as blood rushed to his head.
“Dust?” she asked.
“Yes. We thought it was grass pollen, something like that.” He was exhausted again. “Can I get some water.”
“Sorry.” one of the m p said. “I’ll get an orderly to bring you something.
“There’s no rush.” Dr Bim said. “You were severely dehydrated. That’s why the intravenous drip. Your kidneys were shutting down. Same with the others.”
An orderly gave him a bottle of water and a straw. He drank enough to wet his throat. “That’s better.”
“Dust?” Dr. Bim asked.
“Talk to asst prod at Q. She can give to all the details. I’m pretty sure Crpl of the RCMP division took samples. There might even some on my shoulder bag. I was wearing it when it happened.”
He quickly told them about the interview with Morrison and exploring the storage dome.
“We got out of there the moment the dust flew.” He said.
“So it was inhaled?” The note taking intern asked.
“Yes. We were giddy for some hours afterward. Stoned.”
“So you experienced visual and sonic distortion?” note taker asked.
“How long did that last.” Dr Bim asked.
“By the time I went to bed. I felt normal in the morning. I felt fine until this morning when I woke up with a sore throat.” As he described the progress of his not feeling well note taker kept track of what he was saying.
“It wasn’t this morning.” Dr Bim said. “You’ve been asleep for some forty-eight hours.”