I must hold back the truth to prolong the excitement and mystery. The MC is nervous about his engagement to the mysterious woman—he can’t figure her out and he doesn’t want to. She’s after his skills. She’s smart and she knows who he is and wants what he has to teach. Does he lie to her? Yes, but not often. He should appear wise beyond his given age of 31.
They’ve dated for one year (originally three years, but I think he’s more a man of action—he’s lived long enough to make decisions quickly, not ponder them for years, or remain nervous or indecisive about his decision). She’s from a wealthy, if dysfunctional, family. He tells her little of himself. He’s seemingly wealthy, but he won’t talk of his family or anything that happened to him past the last ten years. She tells him everything, and looks for an emotional opening, trying to find a deeper connection with him.
He works at a used bookstore, buying back the books from the customers, and stacking the shelves. He doesn’t seem to need the money—he takes her out to fancy dinners and shows, something a stock boy in a used bookstore could not afford—but she watches him cash the checks each week. He leads a simple life of working, meditation, and reading. He has friends in the neighborhood, mostly people he runs into each day—the newspaper stand owner, the Italian restaurant waiters, the school crossing guard he passes each morning during the school year, as he walks to work. He knows intimate details about each and they count him a friend even if he never talks about himself beyond his daily activities, which, for them, is enough information for their causal relationship. He doesn’t have any educated friends, and he resists her efforts to include him in her circle of professionals and artists.
He has a love of fine foods and expensive clothing and paintings. His apartment is small if well decorated. He lives in Columbia City and spends most of his days in this small neighborhood in the southern part of Seattle. He ventures into the more chic areas at night and on the weekends. He doesn’t drive, but he uses the same yellow taxi driver. He hates driving. He spends at least three hours every day locked in his study in his apartment. The shades are drawn, and he refuses to show his girlfriend (Kelly?) the inside of his sanctuary. He tells her that—maybe—he’s working on his great American novel in the room. He calls it his sanctuary and jokes about its insides, revealing details about it that are more lavish each time she asks.
Even when he sneaks into his study when his girlfriend is staying over, she is never able to get a glance into the sanctuary. She has tried to be sneaky, but even when the door is open, and she has a clear view, she can’t seem to make out the insides. There does appear to be light inside, and she can’t figure out why she can’t see beyond the open door.
The MC is not sure why she interests him so much. He acknowledges that she reminds him of his young self, but he also knows that that isn’t a particularly good thing. He had weird ideals when he was young, and that’s certainly not something he wants to encourage in her.
A thought: what if I reverse the relationships for this story? The narrator is not the one with the secret—it’s the girlfriend with the secret, and the narrator is trying to figure her out to get closer to her. The narrator doesn’t understand what he’s getting into. Perhaps that’s why she finds him charming. She will share her secret with him, which will introduce this world to the reader. As to the end—I’ll have to think on how that works in this situation.
Originally (as I planned the story while walking through the park), the girlfriend knew something of the MC’s secret and she was more of a predator. She of course liked him (he is charming because of his acquired wisdom and worldliness), but she wanted the secret from him. She had studied him and she thinks she knows what he is. Either way should work—and this will give a reason for the mystery (except from the meta-fiction, why does the narrator keep this from me since he appears to be telling this after the mystery has been solved dynamic).
By the way, I’m purposefully leaving this vague—the secret, that is—to keep me interested in writing this story. I haven’t tried this before, but it appears to be the best of both worlds: I get to post about everything I write, and I keep the reader enough in the dark that I don’t feel that I’ve already told the important aspects of the story. These are notes and a synopsis of the story, in case you hadn’t figured that out yet (although, after the title, and rereading through the notes, it would be hard to confuse this with anything but notes).