And your thoughts, your thoughts, your thoughts…they chase you while you walk down the street and yell at you over the TV and sing to you while the radio plays and finally, late at night, eyes are burning, streaming, they catch up and whisper and it’s the loudest thing you’ve heard all day.
He pulled herself up, after a few moments of reflection. That was all he seemed to do in those days. Feeling tired and tired of feeling. Worried that he’d amount to nothing more than a treatise written on a foggy shower door, gone in an instant and invisible forever.
Excerpt from a short story I finished a few weeks ago.
“I’m working on a book. It’s hard to finish, and I think that’s because it’s hard to get focused. I’ve had a lot of trouble focusing lately. Ample trouble. Sufficient trouble. I’m thinking of writing a book about this girl who tries to write a lot of books, but never finishes them. I’m thinking that I’ll try and get it published without including the ending so that it’s really ironic, or something.
“It’s tremendously artistic,” the critics will say. “Terribly literary.” And they’ll take a drag off a cigarette and lift a glass of wine to their lips.
Maybe the real irony is that I’ll never even start it.”
…I’m working on a flash-fiction piece (1100 words) which Must Not Be Published Online - anyone willing to give it a quick critique (i.e. is it worth submitting?) - answer the question or send me an ask @ thedrawbridge.tumblr.com/ask. Please?
Cause I’m driving down the highway and I’m already thinking should I be doing this? Should I be going there?
And the lakes and the rivers and the ponds and the streams are rising up through the air. Ghostly apparitions rising up, cloudy fingers, misty and inscrutable - saying don’t come any further. No, no, turn yourself around.
Looming up and over the highway, surrounding me in a foggy bank and I’m thinking what choice do I have? I have to keep going.
When She Got There
She thought that when she got there, she’d be home. Well, that’s what she thought. Don’t blame me. Don’t shoot the messenger. Don’t even hurt the messenger. Don’t even look sideways at the messenger, because I’m just telling you what she thought.
She was wrong, of course. There was no home. Just this foggy old feeling of what home would be like.
At first, she was startled, and then she thought perhaps she could make it a home. (Like I said, don’t shoot the messenger.) She set about seeing things through new eyes, whatever that means, trying to find beauty trying to be surprised and happy at seeing old, familiar things in a lovely new iridescent way.
But now she’s tired of seeing the old, familiar things because the iridescence faded and everything looks shabby and unkempt. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it was home. But it’s not home, now is it?
Before All Of This
Prompt: UNLEADED - Write about finding a gas pump in a post-apocalyptic environment, in any perspective. from tumblrfiction.tumblr.com.
There’s a certain serenity in the aftermath. It comes later. There is, first of all, this unstoppable need to talk about it. To relive it and relive it and relive it until every detail has been remembered and everyone in the room knows your story inside and out. It happens to kids whose heads are momentarily pushed under the waves and when they struggle against the dizzying tide to run sand-caked legs up to their parents, they tell it over and over. The helplessness, the sensations of being pushed under, the scrape of the sand against their back.
It’s the same with an earthquake, and after you ask, ‘Did you feel it?’ and if they are unlucky enough to have escaped unscathed you fill them in. I was upstairs, the room shook, it was incredible.
It’s a little different with a disaster you can see coming. You prepare for a hurricane, for instance. But you still talk. You ask if we’re going to evacuate or be those few, silly remaining people who will end up with their house blown over or standing on the roof somewhere waving homemade SOS signs. You wonder if you’ve got enough bottled water and whether it’s for a hurricane or a tornado that you’re supposed to huddle in a bathtub with a mattress over your head.
Talk, talk, talk. Rehash. Talk some more.
But eventually the talking stops and the wave is forgotten as thousands more roll in and the earthquake becomes a distant memory - something to be checked off on a list of ‘Oh yeah, I did that.’ And the hurricane is a reminder or fear and the incredible strength of nature and that maybe next time you’ll evacuate. But no one wants to talk about a bad thing for the rest of their lives. And it’s funny, because as soon as you stop talking about it - as soon as you stop striving to keep it real and alive - it disappears. It’s hard to hold onto the bad things. They get filtered right out.
But when the reminders are all around you - it’s also hard to forget. I think about that when I see the abandoned houses and the minivans with the soccer mom stickers and the ‘I’m A Proud Parent Of…’ stickers. I think about it when I see a gas station - the pumps abandoned, and the cars there keeping them company; drained of life and destined to remain here.
And before all of this, I remember, there was Ebay. There was Ebay and there was 99% user feedback - because, despite my best attempts, quietgal3214’s pacage simply didn’t get there when I said it would. And there was a little gasboy red antique pump for sale which I wanted for my living room. I wanted to be quirky. I wanted to be different. Before all of this, I think - but then my mind stops suddenly, conscious that I’ve reached my quota for the day. My quota of only a few “before-all-of-this’s” because too many of those and in no time I’ll be gone and when I meet people on the street they’ll just shake their head at me and think, ‘She was different, before all of this..’
She had picked up the postcard at the art museum because it reminded her of a younger version of herself. She had gone home and taped it to the windowsill. Beneath the window, above her desk. It was a garden scene, with four little figures huddled around something fascinating. She couldn’t see what it was.
She was in the foreground, in a long white dress, with the sleeves rolled up and her hair undone - trailing down her back. She was crouched down, balancing on the balls of her feet, her arms dangling over her legs. To her left was her littlest brother, pointing in delight at the ground; one hand on her shoulder to support himself. Standing on one leg for no reason. Next to him sat her other brother, cross-legged - rapt, absorbed, spellbound. And quiet. Always quiet. And there, to the side, her sister. A baby, one shoe missing, lying flat on her belly; heedless of wrinkles, heedless of dirt.
Surrounded by flower pots and stone walls and the kindest of shrubberies. Not the sort of forest that made her quake with imagined monsters and villains or the kind of bushes that tempted with poisoned berries or the kind of shrubs that pricked skin and tore at clothes. It was a sweet-smelling, kind forest. That beckoned with rustling leaves and gently swaying branches and delighted in revealing hiding places and blackberry bushes.
A door slammed shut somewhere in the house, startling her. She looked up a few inches from the postcard, out the window. Thinking of the line figures. Shallow and one-dimensional. She thought about the real figures. The brother who slept in funny positions, and once a day showed up at her door with something exciting to tell her. The other brother who was serious and absorbed and quiet. The sister who was still the baby (even though she wasn’t really) - slightly more heedful of wrinkles and dirt. Frequently with one shoe missing.
There was fiction, she thought. Paintings and enchanted forests and gardens, and then there was reality - without which we’d have nothing to paint.
Based on a prompt at yeahwriters.tumblr.com - this is a copy of the postcard I picked up at the Prado last year - ‘Pequeños Naturalistas’ by José Jiménez Aranda.
Today, I finished the first draft of my first novel! It isn’t a literary masterpiece, and it doesn’t expose the depraved depths or the exultant highs of the human soul but it *is* fun to read and I *am* proud of myself.
Yay! Yay! Yay! This is such a great feeling!
Any fans of Regency Romances?
The first thing she noticed was how small everything seemed. How narrow the staircase, how shallow the steps, how small the bathroom…
It had seemed a lot bigger in her memories. Perhaps because, in her memories, she was smaller.
The trees had grown. She remembered planting them, or, really, watching her parents plant them. They had been the same height then, the trees and her. They had grown up together, and now they were far beyond her reach; tickling the sky.
The backyard had used to be multi-purpose. A living room, the African Safari, a rainforest, a field, a place to tuck in imaginary friends for the night. It was smaller, too. The grass was scraggly in places, but a bright, vivid green where the sprinkler his it.
The trees gave shade now. She had been able to stand over them before. She kept coming back to the trees. The house hadn’t changed much, or the yard, there were still twelve steps up to her old bedroom and wild morning glories around the edge of the property.
But she had changed, and so had the trees.
Based on a prompt at yeahwriters.tumblr.com
There are things we’re all dependent on. Water. Sleep. Sustenance.
But you? You’re dependent on something more than that.
Has anyone told you that you have too much imagination? That the world in your head is bigger than the world outside it?
(Have you ever thought about all those worlds that we imagine? All of the alternate realities? All of the expectations we have that are proved wrong? Where do they go?)
Has anyone told you that you ask too many questions? That you should get your head out of the clouds?
You’re too dependent on ideas. On notions and whimsies and fairy-tales.
I keep remembering the time you took that to heart, the time you said you’d be more serious. And you were more serious. I hated that about you. Get back in your head, I wanted to scream, things are nicer there.
Water, sleep, sustenance and ideas.
Triplets and Eighths
She saw love around her before she even knew what to call it. By the time she realized what she had witnessed she had learned a few lessons. That taking it for granted was a silly thing to do (but that she would probably do it again). That hearing, “I love you, too,” was better than saying, “I love you,” because what could be worse than saying one without hearing the other?
She saw love break down around her. As if she was an observer, hidden from sight, in a glass ball witnessing love break down and build up all around her. Swirling like musical notes on some invisible score, with some invisible conductor - in eighth notes and triplets up the scale and down, obedient to the baton.
She felt love before she knew what it was. All kinds of love. Love for family, love for friends, love for things. She felt bad about that last one. Like maybe she should just like things, not love them.
She wasn’t ever sure what other people meant when they said love. She wasn’t sure what it meant to them, or if it was the same definition that she used. It didn’t matter though, in the end, because when she said, “I love you,” and then heard, “I love you, too,” well, what else could?
Prompt at yeahwriters.tumblr.com
She isn’t sure that she can write it. Frankly, she’s not even sure she can think it.
Change has happened before, she thinks. She’s trying to work herself up to the acceptance phase. Change has happened before, and it hasn’t been so bad.
It’s the finality of the change. It’s that the decision is out of her hands. It’s that there is a clock which is inexorably ticking down: maliciously, cruelly, inexorably ticking down. Six months, six weeks, four weeks, three weeks and three days. It’s not going to stop.
So for a while she thinks about the things she’s about to lose. About the trees with their funny leaves, and the photo above her bed which is going into a box. Packed up smiles, wrapped in bubbles, hidden from view, smiling somewhere beneath cardboard. The thought drives her crazy.
She writes her name in each of her books. She gets lost there for a little while, lost in the books. She runs her finger along the edge of a dusty frame, and smiles at the photograph there. Sitting on the floor, smiling at a photo, surrounded by books with her name written carefully on the inside cover. She panics for a second, eyes fill and she pushes the tears away and swallows carefully.
She takes pictures. Endless pictures of nothing, really. She carefully adjusts the saturation levels and the exposure and converts them to black and white and they are still of nothing, really, but they look more artistic that way. Coffee and more coffee. Papers everywhere. Change everywhere. She shoves the word to the back of her mind.
You should finish packing, someone tells her and she smiles and nods and feels the panic latch onto her heart and her mind. She folds her clothes and puts them away, thinks about which dresses will be packed and used and which dresses will be packed and stored. She thinks about changing seasons and changing temperatures and decides that she’s had enough of thinking. She’s not sure she can write about it yet. She’s not even sure she can stand to think about it.
Based on a prompt at yeahwriters.tumblr.com (as most things are…)