The Memory of Stars written …

Eidyia’s note: It has been nearly two years since I started blogging here at body, remember and as I (triumphantly!) posted a few weeks back, I’ve now finished the story I began 22 months ago. I have been in an endless cycle of edits and re-writes since the moment I (symbolically) typed – The End – and it has been a new challenge to approach the story as a reader, to consider my writing from the outside – in, this time.

One of the biggest changes to come from the editing process is my realisation that body, remember doesn’t just belong to Maggie Valentine anymore. Though MV remains dearest to my heart, the stories of Anna, the widow, and Lucy, the young woman who triggers the tragedy at the heart of the novel, have allowed me to express ideas and philosophies that I am passionate about.

This is a story of women. The novel explores issues that the women of my universe have been directly affected by – desire, infidelity, betrayal, violence, choice. Each character has lost something even greater than the man she loved, something deeper, and the novel is the story about how they get it back. Separately. And ultimately, together.

All three women are flawed no doubt (there are some … interesting … choices going on!)  but they are also resilient. Thoughtful. Sensual. Brave. Just like the women of my universe, in fact.

body, remember started out as a love story. And it remains so. I’ve just broadened the definition, changed the constellation. So many of you came here via the struggle of I know you don’t watch me walk away. It is my sincerest hope that you stay with me and my girls as we explore what happens next …

Oh! And the whole point of this latest post was supposed to be this. The story belongs to three women now, and the original title body, remember feels like it only expresses Maggie’s part of the journey. So I’ve changed it. The blog remains body, remember but the novel that has grown out of it is now called … The Memory of Stars. A little phrase that has stuck with me since I scribbled it down, right at the start.

Here’s the cover page of my manuscript, and the much-revised prologue (endings, of course!) … from the end, the story begins …
The Memory of Stars by Jacqueline Bublitz

Endings

Did you know that the light we see from certain stars is really just the past finally reaching us? That for our most distant stars, their light survives – even when the star itself no longer exists?

Sometimes it is simply the memory of stars we see written across the night sky. A glittering memorial to all the stars that used to be.

Which is why I look up when I want to find you.

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Cleave

The first time somebody breaks your heart.

Not just the pulls and strain that muscle endures – but this. A tear. Right through.

(The first time you understand what people can really do, this history of holocausts and butchery they teach at school – you remember the foundation shake, the devastation. Nothing – or life – is ever the same.

And now it’s  you).

Balloon Girl, Red Heart by Banksy
The Girl with the Red Balloon – Banksy

The glare of your gold band

For seven years we were lovers.

For seven years you shucked me from my skin, shook me loose and left me scrambling for the pieces. Everything I had ever learned receded in the glare of your gold band. I spent years riding my freedom with the curb of this bit.

And as your sign flickered on and off I measured my days by whether your vacancy was illuminated. My greatest love was no less than my greatest folly.

What would they say if they knew just how much I gloried in the farce.

Image by Joanne Piechota
Image by Joanne Piechota

The fall comes from living

Are we each born with a moral compass? Do we all start pointing due north, and waver throughout our lives, swinging back toward the centre in our best moments, spinning furiously at our worst?

Your god tells you that we are born in sin, that we climb out of the darkness and head toward the light. I am inclined to think the opposite. That we are pristine and shiny when we meet this life – that the fall comes from living. We learn to deceive, to bend and twist the truth to get what we want. All of us. We lie to ourselves and each other in a hundred ways every day, and we get better at it the deeper we go.

We did try in our better moments to change our course, Mack. To go our separate ways. We tried to live by those commandments your god made. But the needle would not stay fixed, it would jump and start every time we were alone together, or too long apart. Tracking our bearings against each other’s cardinal points, we couldn’t help but come back. We were constantly pulled in, always finding the way back to our own due north. We so often left that compass spinning.

Sometimes no further navigation is required.

You only ever told one person about us. And you never told me who it was. You followed the fundamental rule of an illicit affair, the only one required to ensure it survives. You kept it a secret, and tightly. But I have always wanted to know just what you said in this one reveal. What pieces of our history did you entrust to this other person? I know only that you made this singular confession. I wonder, which version of our story did you decide to tell?

There is so little you would share with me. So little I know of what you loved. Just those careless, incidental pieces you collected, and returned to me as I lay across you.

You always clutch at your wine glass Maggie – you never put it down. Look at those pictures from your sister’s wedding. God, it’s like an erotic embrace. I’m jealous of that glass, how you hold it. But it’s no wonder you are always half gone, Mags. Ha! Your eyes flash when you’re angry, don’t they. There they go, now. I always know I’m in trouble when I get that look!

Laughing when I tried and failed to wound you in return, deflecting any arrows I would fire at you with a kiss to my nose.

Good lord Maggie, you’re challenging today. Exhausting even. The kiss would travel down. So exhausting. Pour yourself another glass of wine, and I’ll rest my head right here a while, okay? See if I can find a way to make you like me again.

Did you use moments like these to translate a girl you knew, a girl who could make you laugh, even as she set your moral compass spinning?

Or are these the stories you would tell? How we so often fucked in the park at night, how I loved the leaves stuck to my legs, the awkward scramble, the moving of my face to the dirt. How I could make you come in velvet bars and midnight taxis, and up against bathroom walls. Is this the version of me that you left behind? Was I the lover in your story, Mack?

Or did you say that I was merely your eager and available whore.

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Editing, editing, editing the book. And refusing to kill all of my darlings …