Here’s a very rough draft of the opening chapter of my next novel, William Goodfellow. A tale of hope, self-discovery, disillusion, repentance, acceptance, and peace
William Goodfellow dashed the hoe from his hands and stared at the earth packed beneath his torn fingernails. “This is madness. I am a man, not an animal,” he cried, and fled his field of corn and the blazing sun that burned his head. William’s farm animals howled and barked, and mooed and clucked in amazement, stamped their paws and hooves, and scattered from William’s frenzied flight. His daughters Patience, Prudence, and Pandora clung to each other and sobbed, “Father. Oh father, whatever is wrong?” Pleasance, his dear, dear, wife, wrung her hands and rocked in her chair. “Poor William. Poor, poor William.”
William Goodfellow ran to his barn and climbed to the hayloft where he flung himself down among the bales of hay and sobbed into his arms. “No, no, no. I cannot do this any longer,” he wailed. “No more will I work my fingers to the bone, work them ‘til they blister and bleed and the nails peel away. I will not break my back and burn my skin in the midday sun for nothing, for a pittance. There is a life for me beyond dawn to dusk in the fields, and drought and famine, stubborn mules and ravenous crows. I must leave this place, leave my dear, dear Patience, and my loving, unmarried daughters and seek a better life elsewhere. But, where? Where can a man such as I find a better life? What can I, a man unlearned in the ways of the world, do besides work in the fields, plowing and hoeing, and reaping and sowing? Oh, what can I do? Oh God, what can I do?”
William Goodfellow sobbed and wailed, his shoulders heaved, tears trailed down his dirty cheeks, his heart ached and his bloody, blistered hands clenched and unclenched as his soul poured out its anguish and hurt. William’s mournful wail echoed from the barn, floated to the farmhouse, across the fields, and into the ancient forest surrounding his homestead where it subsided and faded and sank into the moist, living soil, unheard, unheeded, unknown. William Goodfellow was a man, not an animal.