A moving short story about finding yourself, fixing past mistakes, and forevers...
When Eli was twenty-four, he thought he had it all: the job of his dreams, the man of his dreams, and a future that would last forever. But Mike had different plans, and he left Eli to follow them, breaking Eli's heart.
Eight years later, Eli and Mike cross paths, but a personal tragedy in Eli's life ensures any chance they had to reconnect slips away.
Eight years pass again, and Mike is back. Eli had finally started to hope that he could find happiness without Mike, but now he must make a decision: play it safe and risk living the rest of his life pining for the one man who made him feel whole, or risk everything on the hope that the third time is the charm.
"I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry."
I stopped stirring the white sauce and watched the bubbles rise and burst. After a long, silent moment, I let go of the wooden spoon and reached over to turn off the gas under the pan. It was too late. I could already smell scorched milk. Slowly, because my balance had disappeared, I turned to look at Mike. He looked the same as ever--dark curls like little horns on his forehead, violet-blue eyes rimmed with long black lashes, clear fresh-cream skin. For one stolen moment, I told myself he was talking about something simple like finishing the small rock garden we started planning last Christmas.
His smile was gone.
I opened my mouth to ask... I wasn't sure what. Probably something inane like 'What can't you do?' I looked behind him and noticed two suitcases standing like toast soldiers next to the door.
"I have that conference in New York."
I brought my gaze back to him but the sentence still didn't make sense with what was going through my head. I blinked, knew it was too slow, knew I was too slow, too tired, too overworked, too... everything, to understand what was going on. Yet I knew what he was going to say next.
"You forgot that too, didn't you?" Mike said, a mix of hurt and cynicism flickering over his features before they once again settled into blank stoicism. He sighed and ran his hands through his hair, the little horns sitting upright for several seconds before sinking back to his forehead. "In another life, this might have worked. We'd always be together, you and me."
The words had weight, like they were supposed to mean something to me. I thought we were working. I thought we would always be together. I thought...
About E E Montgomery:
E E Montgomery spends her days managing a library. Being surrounded by books and planning ways to encourage others to read is one of the joys in life.
A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news; there’s a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance somewhere.
You can contact E E Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com.
I did an interview with Steamy Guys After Dark (they've since moved to Pretty Sassy Cool) when the book was released and have posted an extract of that interview here:
Tell us a little about In Another Life. It seems like a deeply emotional journey; was it a fun book to write?
I’m not sure I’d say In Another Life was fun to write. It was compelling. I heard Katy Perry’s The One That Got Away on the radio while I was driving and had to turn the radio off so I could think about it. When I got home, I logged into iTunes, then put the song on repeat. Every time I listened to it, a bit more of the story came out of the fog. I never watched the YouTube video of the song – I didn’t want to be influenced by someone else’s interpretation. After four days, I sat down at the computer and met Eli. The emotions the song had built inside me consumed me for the entire time and I simply had to help Eli find his happy ever after.
Eli’s future had to be Mike – no one else was as perfect for Eli as Mike but their love for each other was too big for them when they were so young (more for Mike than Eli). They had to grow into it. Unfortunately Mike couldn’t work out how to do that together and they both had to suffer for it.
Give us your twenty second elevator pitch about In Another Life.
When they were young, Eli and Mike fell in love and thought it would last forever but Mike left Eli devastated and alone. Eli rebuilds his life but after meeting Mike twice over the next sixteen years, Eli realizes he’ll never love anyone else the way he loves Mike. When Mike begs for another chance, Eli gives it to him. This time, it works.
What was your favorite part to write?
The beginning. The argument between Eli and Mike flowed so easily it felt more like a revealing than writing. I knew exactly how they each felt about the situation and the argument from the first word. They both feared that what they felt for each other wasn’t enough for the long haul, but they approached the problem and a solution to it from opposing directions. It was that combination of similarity and opposition that sucked me in and kept me putting the words on the page.
How do you build your characters? Do you know every single detail of their lives?
Usually when I first begin a new story I know very little about the characters. Usually I can visualize only one scene and how they perceive that part of their lives. By the end of the second page (or, sometimes, the fourth chapter) I need to know more. That’s when I sit on my back deck and watch the clouds go by. Sometimes a character’s history and personality reveals itself to me in one sitting. Other times, I’m still spending time on the deck as I write the last scene. I spend a lot of time throwing possibilities into the air around me and discarding the ones that don’t sound right for that character. I’m sure my neighbours think I’m odd, especially when I jump to my feet and yell, “It was the kid in year 7; the one who left just as Mike was starting to trust him”.
At some point in my writing I have to put what I know on paper. I write character profiles, usually in the form of an exposé. With shorter works the profiles focus on the present, the time of the story. When I’m writing a novel or novella though, I need to know the background behind the character’s attitudes and reactions. In those cases I track back at least to grandparents. By the time I’ve finished, I know what the characters were like in school, what they like and don’t like and what parts of their history are still influencing their decisions and actions.
One thing I have trouble with my characters is keeping their physical appearance consistent. I spend so much time inside their heads, I forget to look at them. I write physical descriptions in dot point form and often colour code things as well to help me make sure they at least have the same coloured hair throughout. I’ve often thought of using some sort of cartooning program to create avatars but I don’t want to use time I could be writing instead. I rarely use photos of real people because I don’t want my characters to be influenced by them.
How would you introduce Eli to readers?
Meet Eli Jones. Eli is intelligent, sensitive and incredibly loyal. He’s the type of man who truly loves only once in his life. He’ll give his life to that love but he won’t debase himself for it. He’s no one’s doormat.
What is it about Mike that Eli finds so compelling?
Mike understood Eli right from the beginning. He didn’t make a big deal out of Eli’s drive to succeed because he had the same drive.
Mike complements Eli perfectly. Eli cooks, Mike cleans. Eli reads, Mike plays the saxophone. Eli solves problems, Mike provides the problems. They laugh at the same things and are horrified at the same things. Mike is warm and doesn’t mind Eli putting his cold toes on his calves. Eli knows nothing about gardening; neither does Mike, but he’s willing to give it a go if Eli will help. Mike loves to snuggle and smells… perfect.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Eccentric, optimistic, irreverent.
When did you write your first book and what was the title? Did you always want to write?
I’m still writing my first book. It’s a science fiction story called The Third Line. It’s set on a planet that is killing Her inhabitants because they don’t treat Her right. It has so many elements I’ve never seen before that I have no point of reference to make sure I get it right. The storyline is good, but the writing isn’t. It will be—as soon as I put the time into doing a complete and major edit. There are a number of chapters that need to be rewritten, not from a plotting point of view but from a writing point of view.
I’ve always loved writing. My favourite part of primary school was just after the holidays when the teacher would tell us to write a paragraph about what we did over the holiday. I never did anything amazing but I always wrote way more than a paragraph and, yes, I’ll admit it, I made a fair bit of it up. I remember writing a story about going on a balloon ride—about twenty years before I actually did it.
I tell people who ask, that I was thirty-six before I worked out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’d been writing with serious intent for several years by then. No one said I had to be a quick learner!
Do you have any interesting writing quirks or rituals?
I’m not sure how to answer this one. Everything I do feels perfectly normal to me. Would people think my deck-sitting and almost Tourettic outbursts a quirk? What about the way I sing to the sheets as I peg them on the line? That activity always gives me the best story ideas, even if I always sing the same song (Canticle—Are You Going to Scarborough Fair).
I mostly edit at home where it’s silent.
I do my best writing in cafes. I frequent a number of cafes, but there’s one I go to more than any other. After nearly four years, the owner and I are on nodding and smiling terms. He’s one of those wonderful people who understands implicitly that not everyone wants conversation with their tea and scones. As soon as he sees me walk in the door, he pulls the grapefruit Tiro from the refrigerator and the teapot from the shelf. He knows what I like.
What's the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Get over yourself and rewrite it. They didn’t use those exact words but the meaning was clear. After I spent a few days in a sulking snit, I realized they were right and… got over myself.
What is the one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t think there’s anything surprising about me at all but I have friends who disagree. I’m passionate about equal rights, child protection and making sure the orange rinds are cut finely enough for the marmalade.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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