By the time Celia on the Run was published, I had rearranged, removed, and reworked almost every scene in the book. The process took a couple of years! So what happened those lines and paragraphs that got cut? They're somewhere buried in my files, but today, for the first time, I'm sharing one of the scenes from the novel that didn't make the final cut.
This scene was from chapter 6, when Nick and Celia are in the wild and carefree part of their road trip across the US. They have to lie, cheat, and steal to get by because they have no money and are technically runaways, but they're having a great time at this point in the story.
I still love this scene, so why on earth did I take it out? I removed it because there are an awful lot of scenes with Nick and Celia scheming and stealing. They get into a fair amount of trouble during the course of their trip, and I didn't want the reader to get distracted by all the mischief they get into in order to survive on the road, and miss out of the character development. This story is all about the characters, who they are, who they say they are, and who the become during the trip, not about all the laws they break and the people they swindle.
**Deleted scene from Chapter 6 of Celia on the Run**
The bells on the convenience store door jingled in chaos, announcing Celia’s arrival. That was her way, abruptly disturbing the peace with every door she opened. With a walk a little perkier than usual, she marched right up to the clerk, while Nick trailed closely behind, her eager-to-please shadow. Following a frustrated smile and a dramatic slap on the counter that was intense enough to rattle the cheap lighters out of their display, Celia said, “There’s something seriously wrong with this map,” and unfolded a road atlas.
The clerk, who’s crooked nametag read Aaron, adjusted his glasses and managed to get out “Where are you…” before the pretty young girl before him cut him off with a wild hand gesture toward the map. “I mean, these crackpots sold us a map that’s completely ass-backwards. Where the hell’s Albuquerque?”
Nick swallowed hard, avoiding eye contact with the clerk, the man they were about to swindle or rob or who knew what else. Celia hadn’t exactly shared her plan, she only said, “I’m hungry, we need gas, and we have no money,” before exiting the car just moments earlier. As Celia went on and on about how the map wasn’t to scale, and the clerk kindly tried assisting, Nick felt Celia stuff something into his pocket. He looked down in disbelief as she shoved another candy bar into his jeans, all the while chit-chatting with the clerk, who had given up on explaining the highway connectors at this point and was now eating up all the flirting Celia was throwing his way. Nick had never shoplifted before, but certainly this would count, though it wasn’t his hands doing the crime, just his pockets.
“So you’re saying we need to get back on route 40?” Celia asked, twirling her brown hair between her boney fingers. “Are you sure?” she asked in a helpless way that was more than believable.
“Well, yeah,” Aaron began again. “It’s really the only road between here and Albuquerque. You were going the right way, just a little further than you thought.”
Celia traced her finger over the road in question, the road she knew darn well was the only road to Albuquerque, and entertained Aaron with some more ridiculous but playful questions while she discretely helped herself to a lighter, a pack of gum, some crackers, and few sticks of beef jerky which she somehow managed to slide under her tight shirt without breaking eye contact or conversation. She was a pro. She even angled herself in such a way the security cameras would only ever see her face, and her back. Nick watched in amazement, truly impressed with this wild child next to him.
Loaded down with about twenty dollars worth of junk food and whatever else was in reach from the customer side of the counter, Celia folded up the map, satisfied and ready to go. A larger woman in a bright flower print dress entered the store, barely clinking the bells on the door, and smiled at Nick and Celia, waiting to see if they were finished at the counter before approaching. “Go ahead,” Celia said, oh-so-politely, gesturing for the woman to take her turn. Celia continued to smooth out the map, just to have something to keep her hands busy.
The new customer addressed the clerk, “Good afternoon to you. Forty dollars on pump number four, please.”
“Certainly,” the clerk replied, accepting the cash. The woman turned and smiled at Nick and Celia again. She was one of those people who must have been raised to be kind to strangers, no matter how suspicious they looked.
Nick whispered to Celia, “Are we leaving or what?” They were standing by the door with their stolen goods stashed in every pocket, which threatened to rustle in their wrappings, or worse, fall to the ground, and they hadn’t yet paid for the gas they desperately needed. Before Nick could ask any more questions of the always-scheming Celia, she shoved him towards the customer at the counter, causing the woman to spill her soda all over her flowered dress. Horrified, beyond embarrassed, Nick said, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, ma’am”, which he absolutely meant, and reached for some napkins to help clean up the mess he’d caused. The woman assured him it was okay, just an accident, but he simply couldn’t stop apologizing. Nick's protruding ears were hot red. He turned to where Celia had just been standing by the door, ready to give her a pissed off look for doing this, but saw she was gone, and hadn't disturbed a single bell on the door upon her exit. As Nick helped Aaron and the woman mop up the soda from the already sticky floor, he glanced out to see Celia pulling the hose from pump number four all the way around to the other side, to pump number two, where she was now filling up Nick’s parents' car, most definitely forty dollars worth.