We often see a book begin with a ‘Prologue’. Why is this? It’s usually because the author wants to start at a critical moment in their life, a turning point, and it doesn’t fit in with the chronology of the rest of the story. So it precedes ‘Chapter 1’.
Here is an extract from one of my client’s life stories. It’s a work in progress but has a lovely feel and engages the reader at an important moment in the writer’s life. Her name is Ros, and she has kindly agreed for it to appear here:
PROLOGUE (by Ros L)
I watch you kneel in the dark, your lips moving silently as you bow at the altar of your God. Waving sticks of incense about your body in a fashion clearly familiar to you, yet so foreign to me, you move through the gloom, whispering incomprehensible words. At the back of this cavernous space I stand motionless, not knowing where I should place my feet; petrified at the thought that I might offend you in this temple that is so sacred to you.
Other worshipers begin to crowd in, their silent murmurings becoming louder. As they enter, they catch my gaze and stare me down, unashamedly and I lose sight of you. I want to get out of this place. With the incense growing thick in my nostrils, I glance behind me but a group has gathered at the entrance and there is no way through. The assault of voices is interrupted by an ear-splitting gong, ringing into the tropical night. Where are you? What am I doing in this strange place? I begin to panic. My hands and body clammy. I am so far from the things I know and love.
Suddenly the air erupts into a calamitous explosion of sound, fireworks that drown out everything around me. I raise my hands to cover my ears, desperate to escape the onslaught and scan the crowd in search of the man who has just become my husband.
And then I see you, standing beside me. I feel your hand in mine, gently guiding me out of that place into the dimly lit streets of Lahad Datu, the town which was your home and which would become mine and that of our children in the years ahead.
* * *
Twenty eight years later we return to the little Chinese temple in Lahad Datu town. Incense fills the air again as worshipers gather to celebrate the coming New Year of the Snake and again I stand at the back this time with our three kids in tow, watching as you kneel for the last time before your gods. By now your ritual has become familiar to us and there is no fear in our hearts as you glance back in our direction indicating your readiness to depart. What a life we have spent. I reflect on the path we have walked together.