The great room where my first novel once lived now sits empty and silent. That room in my mind is still perfectly arranged just as it appeared on the day my novel left home.
My novel slept in a mahogany Victorian canopy bed with rich, light-blue satin pleating overhead. The quilt that covered my novel at night was expertly pieced together by a whole gang of Amish craftswomen. An old-fashioned hot water bottle warmed my novel's toes. In the morning, my novel's maid came in to poke the fire until it crackled cheerfully behind an iron screen.
My novel liked to sleep late. My dissertation, by contrast, was an early riser who awakened at 5:30am for his morning run. My indolent novel stretched, turned over a few times, waiting for me to come in with her coffee on a silver tray. My novel drank her coffee with cream but no sugar.
My novel left my home carrying a valise and wearing an emerald green walking dress handsewn by one of Philadelphia's finest tailors. She's young: she doesn't know the disappointments and trials that may await her. When she looked over her shoulder one last time, I wondered if she had derived her dewy skin from me--if, as I sat there giving her life, I began to wrinkle like the picture of Dorian Gray. If that's what happened, she's welcome to it. Age will not wither her.
I will keep my novel's room exactly the way it is for a while, to welcome her back if she should need to return for a short respite, as so many adult children do these days. Eventually, though, that room will start to change. The house of my mind has only so many mansions. I will need to allow a new novel to take up residence, and when it does, I will rejoice in the variety and splendor of its furnishings. Perhaps it will be a boy child, this time.