NaNoWriMo Sneak Peek: The Custom House by @gertysk


The Custom House

(Title Subject to Change)

Written by G.L. Tysk

NaNo Excerpt

Hiram thought back to how Hannah would sit silently at the table, scraping food in one pile on her plate, from one side to the other, twirling her fork. She must have been eating, he thought, and tried to call up an image of that fork lifting a morsel of food to her mouth, and could not. Violet and Priscilla ate, sometimes sullenly, sometimes messily as with all young girls, especially since Rose more often than not did not come to supper. But not Hannah.

"She can't be dying," Hiram repeated. "No, not her. Not Hannah. Please."

"She can be cured," Dedham said. "But we must remove her immediately."

Hiram said, "Re-remove?"

"Is there anywhere that you may be able to send her where she may reap the benefits of a quiet environment, fresh air? A relative's house, perhaps, a trusted friend's?"

Hiram pressed one hand to his forehead. "I...I have no family left in New Bedford. My wife's family lives in Cambridge...she's visiting there right now. Are you saying that I should send Hannah to Cambridge? Alone?"

"I would be glad to accompany her, of course," said Dedham, and Hiram thought savagely, I'd kill you before I'd let you near Rose again, but he didn't have to make good on his murderous intent, as Hannah's hand quivered in his, and she whispered: "I'm not going to Cambridge."

Dedham said, "Miss Merrick, you must. You are gravely ill. The-"

Hannah said, "If you send me off to Cambridge, I'll die."

If she'd cried out those words with all the passion that she'd had when she refused to take Nathaniel's room, Hiram would have tried to soothe her. But her voice now was so thin, so wooden, no emotion at all. He shuddered.

"Miss Merrick-" the doctor began, and Hiram gripped him on the shoulder.

"She's not going to Cambridge," he said. "You heard her."

Dedham said, "Mr. Merrick, your daughter is ill. She is not in her right mental state...I would not be so quick to trust the word of a child, and especially now."

Hiram said, "Hannah is not going to Cambridge." He pushed himself to his feet, pointed one finger at Dedham, his hand shaking. "You tell me what I need to do to make her well again. But I'm not sending her away."

"I don't know why your daughter isn't eating," said Dedham. "But I know that if we don't intervene immediately, you will lose her."

Author Bio

G.L. Tysk was born in Chicago to Hong Kong immigrants. She was raised in Texas, moved abroad to Japan, and now lives in Massachusetts with her Norwegian-American husband. This muddling of multiple cultures drives her to explore the effect of cultural exchange and diversity in her writing. She's particularly inspired by the history of American whaling in the New England area.

In addition to writing, she works as an artist and photographer in the greater Boston area. She is also a member of a local Japanese taiko drumming ensemble.

A message from the author

Thanks so much!! Again, this is a great idea. I stayed up all night writing for NaNo (I was trying to do 12K words in 12 hours!) and am a bit sleep deprived, but it's so worth it.

Ger Liang Tysk