I ended chapter two with ideas a-plenty and scenes unrolling ahead of me in my mind. For the most part these are still there, and I look forward to writing them, however for a while there, on finishing chapter two I was, for a moment, strangely at a loss as to how to continue. I followed my marathon 718 word finish the day before with a poultry 59 words to begin it. I then ended up with two days off. But I’m back. I’ve separated Hanna and Hannah again (how long can I keep this up? – no really, don’t answer that…) and I’m getting a chance to explore some different character relationships now that I’m back in the Northern Capital. I’ve even broken the first 1000 word mark…

Current wordcount: 36,834

Ben perches at the edge of the table in the living room scratching at his notes. Around him there is a cacophony of conversation as Helen tells her family what happened on that night, and tells an adaptation of the truth of what followed. The questions keep coming, the explanations echo in response. The sound is layered over Ben’s mind, he presses his fingers into his forehead and leans closer to the paperwork but it is useless – he cannot concentrate.

He looks up. Out across the room, he sees Helen, his sister, silhouetted against light from the window, explaining. He sees his father, mother, listening, concerned. He sees her two friends from the holiday, Hannah and Alice, sat at his sister’s feet enraptured by the tales of her adventure. He sighs quietly to himself and shakes his head. It’s not even the true story, but some abstraction – just where does she get the ideas? And how does she make a fantastical tale of staying alive for nine days in the wild sound more credible than the fantastical truth that she now hides…?

Ben looks down at his paper, the notes and graphs in front of him. His eyesight is out of focus, his understanding blurred. The cacophony of conversation intrudes further into his brain. He wipes his brow with the base of his hands, anguishing under the inability to concentrate on his thoughts. He sighs deeply, and audibly. For a moment his family look up, questioning his wellbeing—

“I’m fine.” He shakes his head, and pushes his papers together into a pile. Rising to his feet so that the chair he’s been sitting at scrapes back across the floor, he stacks his papers and books and pens on top each other, cradles them up in his hands and shuffles out the room, muttering his apologies.