IRL, I’m still wrassling with bCourses (may almost have the critter tied down). In the meantime, no new words written in the novel, so here’s an early scene I plan to cut from the first draft of part 1.
Deleted Scene, First Draft, Part One, Eyes on the Mountain
After the ceremony celebrating the installation of her painting at Sony Corporation’s Tokyo headquarters, Maggie went shopping near Mt. Fuji in a small district that specialized in local artists’ wares. It was there that she saw the kokoro box.
The proprietor of the shop, a bent-backed elderly woman in a dove-gray scarf, pulled the brightly colored box out of the display case and laid it across a silk pad on the case’s glass top. “Hand made,” the proprietor said, rotating the wooden box slowly so that Maggie could view each of the four sides and the top and bottom all covered with paintings of cranes flying across natural and artificial landscapes rendered in vivid jewel tones.
Maggie smiled. “It’s beautiful.”
The proprietor nodded and opened the first box to reveal another nestled inside. She lifted the second box out, set the first box aside gently, and opened the second as if handling a great treasure. Inside sat a third, still smaller box.
“It’s like a Russian doll,” Maggie said.
The proprietor fell silent, her hands still, then coughed softly. “I see. But.” Her hands moved again: a fourth box, a fifth. “I think, not Russian. Not doll.”
Maggie watched, enchanted, as each box was opened to reveal another, each new box smaller and differently decorated than the preceding. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten ….
The proprietor set the tiny eleventh box in the center of her wrinkled palm, cocked her head at an angle, and looked at Maggie out of the corner of her eye. She held the box up, as if inviting Maggie’s close attention.
“Is that the last?” Maggie asked, bending down to study the box. It was made of whitish wood carved so that the surface was bumpy like chicken skin. One of the bumps was dyed a soft blue.
The proprietor raised a finger and pressed the blue bump. Instead of opening like the others had, this box unfolded to lie flat; the four sides separated at the seams and fell away from the center, one side carrying along the hinged lid, which lay equally flat on the woman’s palm.
In the center of the flattened box sat a diminutive carving in dark wood. Maggie leaned closer.
“Kokoro,” the proprietor said, lifting the carving out and placing it into Maggie’s hand. “Means ‘heart’.”
Maggie ran her forefinger over the wooden carving. It was a shoe. An empty baby shoe.
Like a pallet knife to the heart, the memory came: Samuel, her precious baby Sammy, face gray in death.
Maggie closed her fist gently around the carving. Her other hand shook as she reached for her wallet.