Friday, June 30, 2017

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.



(Prompt)

It’s a jumping off point. It’s a suggestion.  A shove in the right direction. An invitation to a different kind of inflection. A new voice. A new character. A new story. It doesn’t matter where you start because it is far more important where you end up. 

See, it’s like a road trip with no road signs. That’s the best kind. You might get lost, but think of all the things that lost people might find. It’s enough to blow the most complex mind. 

Take it and run with it. See how far it gets you. See if you know where you’re headed or if you have the guts to let chance take you where it will. 

Don’t tell me it’s a slog. That it’s all uphill. Because I don’t buy it. Prompt or not, you gotta move. 

Stasis is a killer. 

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

43 comments:

  1. You don’t want it, but it doesn’t seem like you have much choice in the matter. It slips in between the ridges of your brain, self-indulgent pain. You can tell yourself that it’s not a contest. You can tell yourself that you’ll be happy … for everybody.

    Ain’t nobody immune to jealousy.

    It sneaks up on you. It gets you when you’re not expecting it. Just when everything seems sanguine and pure and optimistic. Your brain sneaks in, sadistic. And you find yourself chasing away feelings you never wanted in the first place.

    It’s not a race. There are no winners or losers. Not in the way you think about it. Aren’t you tired of being given trophies? Wouldn’t you rather just relax, watch the clouds float by?

    I know, much easier said than done.

    But think about this. For every person you’re jealous of, there is probably someone jealous of you. For the person you are or the things you do.

    Don’t believe me? It’s true. Jealous of such an astute observation?

    I get that, too.

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  2. "You might get lost, but think of all the things that lost people might find."

    Yes!

    I love this piece so much. Thank you for getting us off to a great start. <3

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  4. Part 1

    She waited a week before revealing the secret.
    I don’t remember much after Liz sat me down in the living room to tell me. I could see she had something going on, though. Distracted, quiet, even moody. I’d asked several times before she finally told me.
    “Oh, I’m just tired’s all,” she’d say. Or, “Nothing. Everything’s fine. Do you want there to be something wrong?” Eventually, after a week of this, I just stopped noticing, at least with any intent.
    That’s when she dropped the bomb.
    “I’m leaving here,” she said.
    Not, “I’m leaving you,” but, “I’m leaving here.”
    “Liz, what’s going on? I’ve noticed something’s wrong for over a week, and now, ‘I’m leaving here’?” I said, not sure if I should lean in or rock back like I would if punched in the face, which is what this felt like.
    “I, I can’t do this anymore. It’s all too much,” she said. She couldn’t look me in the eye, but I could see hers darting about the room as if looking for some means of escape other than through me.
    “Can’t do what? What’s too much?”
    “This, here, everything.”
    “Us?”
    “I don’t know,” she said. “I guess it’s…”
    Her phone, which she held in her right hand, rang with a ringer I’d not heard before. She took a quick glance, rolled her eyes to the ceiling and took a deep breath.
    “I’ve got to take this. I’ll be right back,” she said. She got up from the chair and moved one room away into the kitchen.
    My mind raced, trying to make sense of what was happening. But even through all the questions ringing in my mind, I could hear her whisper from the kitchen.
    “No, not yet… No. I’m trying, but it’s hard… You don’t understand… I told you not to call… I’ll call you when I’m done… No.” Then a muffled something that sounded to me like, “Love you.”
    I got up from my chair and walked toward the kitchen, where liz quickly whispered< “I’ll call you later,” and cut off her call.
    “Okay, Liz, what the hell’s going on? The detached behavior for the past two weeks, telling me you’re leaving, the secret phone calls? If you’ve got a beef with me, at least have the decency, the balls, to tell me straight up. There’s nothing you can’t tell me, okay? We’ve been through too much to keep secrets from one another, especially something as obviously disturbing as whatever’s on your mind,” I said.
    She wandered over to the coffee maker and poured herself a second cup. Black. And if Miss Sweetness and Light was going to drink her coffee straight, I knew I’d better brace myself.
    “Please sit down, Bobbi,” she said, pointing to the kitchen table. With the squad of chair legs on the tile floor, we each settled into seats on the opposite side of the old wooden table my mother gave us when Liz and I moved in together.
    She looked at her refection amid the steam on the ebony surface of her coffee and took a deep breath, which caught in her throat.
    “There’s this man, I met,” she said.
    Finally, I knew what was coming.
    “I met him on the Internet and we’ve been talking to each other for a month at night while you’re sleeping or engrossed in some TV show,” she said, which felt like a backhand to my reddening cheeks.
    “A man? You’re leaving me for some man you met only a month ago?” I said a little too loudly. Now I felt like throwing a weak backhand. (Cont.)

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  5. Part 2

    She stared into her mug some more and looked like the steam had condensed in her eyes and was dripping down her cheeks. If she ever left me, I felt sure it would be for another woman. After all, she’d left her boyfriend two years ago to be with me and I was anything but a man.
    I got up from my chair, it’s legs squeezing in protest to my sudden explosion of energy I’d been tamping down since Liz began her harried silent treatment.
    “Fine,” I said. “Go. I guess I never expected a pretty girl like you could stay with troll like me forever anyway. But never for a man, even if you are bi.”
    “Stop it, Jay,” she shouted. “I’m not leaving you for another man. I’m not leaving YOU. I’m leaving here to finally meet my father, you idiot. But if that’s they way you really feel about me, then maybe I should.”
    Her anger had brought the color back to her soft white cheeks. The skin I’d come to adore. I was hurt, but once again, I’d hurt her worse.
    “I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure. I’ve been living without a father my whole life. It left me feeling rejected. You know how my analyst says that’s why I always ended up with what she thought were father figures. She even included you in that group,” she said.
    “Well how about that?” I said. I’d never been the most feminine woman, but I was far from anybody’s even desperate surrogate for a runaway father. My turn to roll my eyes.
    “Jay, I love you. But I have to see what it’s like to have a father, see what Kevin’s all about. He says he never wanted to leave me, but Mother, the domineering bitch, chased him off with her lawyer brother and threats from her family. I’ve been searching all my life for the truth. Now I may have found it. I’m almost sure I’ve found my father,” she said.
    “You couldn’t tell me this?” I said, rather more weakly than I thought I could.
    I thought you’d ridicule me, a 30-year-old woman searching for her Daddy like I got lost in the mall.
    “No, honey, I wouldn’t. I’m sorry to hear you felt that way.”
    “Well, I’m leaving Tuesday for Vancouver. That’s where he lives, Vancouver,” she gave a kind of ironic chuckle and said. “But I’ll be back, I promise. I only took a two-week leave of absence from work.”
    “You couldn’t even tell me that?”
    “No, I really was afraid of your reaction. And I’m glad you seem to be taking it so well. That you understand why I have to do this.”
    “Not really. Not with my history of being tossed out at sixteen by my old man when I came out. But I won’t stand in your way, even if this dude is some fraud serial killer who’ll take you away from me permanently,” said, surprised at the catch in my voice. “But let me help you pack and take you to the airport.”
    Which I did, with the teary bon voyages and long hugs and kisses you might see in the movies when Johnnie marches off to war.
    A week later, I got her email saying she indeed was leaving me for another man. The father thing had been true, but the Internet affair and three-day business trips to Vancouver and Seattle had been to see some guy name Bret. I shipped her things to her and that was that. She’d already packed her secrets and took them with her a week before.
    Like I said, she waited a week before revealing her secret. It just wasn’t the week or the one I expected.

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    1. Wow, Joe. There is so much here - I feel like this wants to be a much longer piece. Don't get me wrong, I like it as is, but there is so much to unfold!

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  6. He thought he’d feel something. Satisfaction. Elation. Guilt. Horror.

    Something. Anything.

    Instead, it’s as if his heart has been hollowed out with a spoon.

    He goes through the minutiae of everyday life, does his work, sleeps sound at night. But he feels…nothing. It would be enough to terrify him, if he could feel terror.

    No one seems to notice that he’s forgotten how to feel. Perhaps it’s because the people who surround him now have never really known him. They don’t know that he used to laugh easily, that he was always ready with a joke or prank. They don’t know that he had earned a bit of reputation among the ladies as a bit of a romantic. They only know the staid, somber man he’d become. It’s not such a long way from there to this empty shell.

    Sometimes he sees a chink in the box that’s built itself around his emotions. When he lets himself think too much about the old man. The pity in his hooded eyes, his perfectly calm demeanor. The way he’d forgiven Nate for the unforgivable.

    The old man had only shown one moment of weakness: he’d asked for news of “his boy.”

    “Before I go,” he’d said, “I just want to know that’s all right.”

    Nate hadn’t had an answer for the old man, and he’d been unkind enough to say so. Then he’d fired his pistol and put an end to the old man. He hadn’t realized he’d be giving up his own life, too.

    It was a small price to pay.

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    Replies
    1. Damn! Mad power. I like this piece a lot, G

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    2. Thanks, G! I'm loving using 2minutes to get to know my characters better!

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    3. Wow... yeah, this hurts in all the right places... well told!

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    4. There's a lot going on, and I sure want to know more about it.

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  7. Man, how old do you have to be before you stop burning the roof of your mouth, son? For reals. I get enthusiasm, but there’s a difference between not blowing on the pizza and just shoving it in there. There’s a difference between an annoying burn and blisters that won’t leave the roof of your mouth for a week.

    Part of me respects it. Because you keep going. Hurt or not, there ain’t no stopping you from getting at that pizza. Part of me is sad. Where did you grow up that you had to eat your pizza so fast? Was someone trying to take it? Are you just that savage? I can respect it.

    But I don’t understand it.

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    1. I like it a lot... I can practically feel those burns on the roof of my mouth... and with three brothers, well, yeah, I ate fast . Thanks, by the way, for the reminder that the small things in life are what give our characters texture. Sometimes I forget that.

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    2. We 've all got those sequences, those weird reflexes, though. don't we?

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  8. The water has numbed your legs. The sun has blinded you. Burned you. None of this matters, because: fishing. It’s like a penance. The price you pay. The water might turn your feet to stone, the sun might burn you right up, but there might be a trout under that limb. Or the next one. Or the next one.

    You keep stringing those ‘next ones’ together, and it’s easy to find yourself far downstream. It’s easy to remember that you didn’t wear sunscreen.

    Summer’s still young. Your skin isn’t ready for the direct assault of the sun.

    It’s easy to lose yourself beside a stream. Mothers worry about it. Fishermen try to get lost. Me? I try to avoid the sunburns, but not if it means I can’t get lost. The water feels good on tired feet. And there are so many spots on the water if you keep walking. Lots of daylight left.

    Whether it hurts you or not.

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    1. You know I love your fishing stories... another one for the Zen of Fishing book.

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  9. It’s always sitting in the corner of the living room. Throwing off weird glow from the lights. It’s never in tune because tiny fingers like to turn the keys no matter how many times I warn of the danger of broken guitar strings.

    I guess some things you have to learn for yourself.

    I learned the whole thing for myself. To calm my brain. I learned chord diagrams out of books. I learned “The Hits of the Sixties” and I loved the ones I didn’t know because I could give them my own melodies, my own rhythms. Then, I realized that anyone can write a song.

    Good God, that saved my life.

    I play my guitar a lot. It’s easy to reach for. I know where it is. Sure, I’ll have to tune it, but that’s a small price to pay for a free voyage.

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    1. I love this. I love what it says and what it doesn't say. What it means. The story it tells. <3

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    2. Music... the closest thing we'll know to heaven in this life... and you told that story in so very few words...

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  10. This is an excerpt from a longer piece I'm trying to write about our hundred and fiftieth birthday tomorrow. Stories within stories.
    __________________________

    Friend, grab a cold one, join us by the fire under the riotous stars, listen to the popping sap. Strum this here guitar for us. But first, here's my stolen story of the Thunderbird...

    One early fall the salmon didn't appear in the river. Thunderbird waited, but nothing. He asked the people, and they told him a great orca had blocked the mouth of the river and was swallowing all the sockeye. Enraged, Thunderbird flew to the river mouth, but there was no whale and no red fish either. Then he saw that the people had poured their dark toxins into the waters and brought disease to the fish, killing most of them. Now more angry than ever, Thunderbird flew out over the great waters and spied the fearsome orca. He hovered above the whitecaps and spoke to the mighty whale, once his enemy, and they came to an agreement, a truce. Thunderbird lifted the immense whale and flew closer to shore, where he dropped him from a great height. A wave of dreadful size moved like a locust plague toward the coastal homes of the people and began to level them. The people tried to run but many drowned. Then Thunderbird flew to the coast mountains and began to beat his mighty wings together many times, bringing forth a terrible storm, and the land itself began to shake and crack, and the people further inland were brought down until only two remained, a man and a woman. Thunderbird flew to them and saw they were terrified. He said, "Rebuild, but do not forget. This cannot happen again, or your kind will pass from this world." He named the man Father Tremor and the woman Mother Tsunami. Twenty, thirty, fifty generations followed and remembered the tale told by the great Father and the great Mother of the people, retelling it over and over, until a new people arrived from the east and called the land Cascadia. But the new people wouldn't listen to the old tales and began to pollute the waters and burn the forests again, brought sea lice and deadly beetles, a wasting sickness to the elk, toxins for the bees, and wouldn't listen to reason even when the rumble of thunder in the mountains became ominous and the seething saltchuck swelled ever more restless. And this is where we are now. If Thunderbird abandons his patient forbearance and revisits the whale, when the edge of one slips beneath the other, this land will be wiped clean for a last time, and it would all have been for nothing, with no one left to tell the tales and only wolves and ravens to hear the last few echoes deep in the sacred and soon to be silenced forests.

    You never liked that story, come to think of it.

    Afterward we blink at the music of Crash Vegas, wonder if we missed something resplendent, something drenched in the fragility of love, and get back to work. Especially now they changed the rules. Once knew a couple bought a house on unemployment. Saskatchewan, granted, but still.

    Relax. There will be a fresh atrocity soon enough.

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    1. I like the feel of this story... fable and reality intertwined... and of course, you ended with a good cliffhanger.

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    2. Exactly what Leland said. This is so powerful. Please let us know when the full piece is done!

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    3. This one's right in my wheelhouse, David. I especially like how you bring us crashing back from native fable to a present very real reality.

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    4. Damn, it got pretty long, but here it is, for anyone willing to wade through all those words!

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    5. I love it, that's all the blending of the Thunderbird tale with the kind of surreal atmosphere of the present.

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    6. Damn. I totally agree. You know I love the fable vibe in short form. And I LOVE that close...

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  11. Back to the Future(sorta)
    The prisoners filed into the high chamber, their faces hidden except for their wide, unblinking eyes. There were twenty, without need for shackles. Their frail grey bodies grown too weak for flight, their long-fingered hands clutching fitfully at those ahead and behind, as much for balance as reassurance.
    A bailiff removed their hoods and as they stared unbelieving around the chamber, the elders rose in solidarity.
    One stepped forward and cleared his throat, his voice rusty and unfamiliar sounding even as it echoed in the chamber. There would be no telepathy today, nor any misunderstanding.
    “ Before us stand the chief offenders” he announced. “Have you anything to say before sentencing?”
    Something like a ripple passed among the prisoners, whispering like an ominous rain. No spoken word came forth.
    “This day, we witness our failure as human beings. Our bodies are in decline, our muscles atrophied, our pigmentation gone. Because of your disregard for the gifts of this planet it, too, is dying and our species can only reflect our crimes. We once called it evolution, we now know our folly. We lost our opposing thumbs to better adapt to our technology, our ears through lack of listening. As the atmosphere became less breathable, our chests narrowed and internal organs shrank. The frontal lobe of the brain diminished, changing the shape of our skulls. We have become shadows of who we once were; monsters in a dying world, a collection of fears and instincts and primitive needs. We have lost spontaneity, the ability to plan or make decisions, and are kept alive only by technology and greed. And we had the arrogance to call that evolution. Or worse, privilege.“
    A resigned murmur moved through the room, punctuated only by the many names of God. The elder raised his hand.
    “As those who led the world in the aftermath of the Great Uprising, vowing to invoke the past, you successfully staved off any hope of true evolution and engineered our doom. Nature cannot exist in chains and there can be no redemption for those who have murdered the future by seeking the past. Humanity existed on this, our earth for six million years. You have destroyed it in less than a thousand.
    “Therefore, it is the decision of this council that you have earned your fate. And so we sentence you to the whims of your earthly ancestors, back to a time where civilization was in the first throes of birth. You will witness endless war and murder and sacrifice. The rape of the land and the slow, deliberate poisoning of the waters. You will see savages sacrifice their children and mothers mourn, even as they watch their warriors slurp the blood of infants. You will witness disease and death and horrors such as only we humans can make. And they will be your teachers. They will call you Alien and Hero and Savior.
    “And they will worship you like gods.”


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    1. Goosebumps... and this is my favorite phrase... I had goosebumps on goosebumps when I read it: "... punctuated only by the many names of God."

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    2. Thank you much. Not my usual territory. :)

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    3. Wow. This is like Cormac McCarthy meets DUNE. Love it!

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  12. Thanks for coming by last night, Grandpa. It was good to see you and to catch up. It's been too long. I still can't believe how the dogs took to you, even though they'd never met you before. Mom always used to say I was half dog, and I guess I musta gotten that from your side of the family.

    I remember when I was a boy and how when we visited you Fritz was always at your side, how he looked up to you with his puppy-dog eyes.

    I remember how Mom whispered that Grandma made you choose between her and the dog, and you chose Fritz and moved to the basement.

    Dad said Grandma was being a bitch and Mom said that if she was, maybe you'd still sleep with her. I didn't understand why they laughed until I saw you again and you explained that a bitch was a female dog.

    I'm sorry I didn't visit you more, Grandpa, and I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when Fritz died. I didn't know until years later, when my Lassie died, how much it hurts when your best friend passes on.

    You look better than the last time I saw you. The sparkle's back in your eyes. Walking better, too.

    Thanks again for visiting, Grandpa. I need some sleep now, but I'll be seeing you again real soon. The doctors say I've got about a month. Give Fritz and Lassie a kiss from me.

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    1. </3

      You and your damn feels, Leland! Always with the feels.

      (This is beautiful even if it does make my eyes prickle.)

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    2. So sweet...Just love the whole perspective

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    3. Agreed. My Paupa called my Dad Fritz. Always loved that name.

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  13. He read it through, one last time, and then he hit "submit."

    He took a deep breath. The story read like fiction, but only he knew how close to reality it was. He was pretty sure it worked as fiction, too, but the readers' responses would tell him that.

    He clicked refresh. No responses. No "like," no "love," no smiling face. Well, it was a holiday weekend.

    He got up. Stretched. Got a cup of coffee from the kitchen. Took a package of ramen noodles from the drawer. Sighed.

    Clicked refresh. Nothing. Maybe he'd lost the touch. Maybe his muse took a summer break. Maybe his muse had surrendered.

    He started another story, but his self-doubt clouded whatever story might have been there. He clicked refresh again. No reactions.

    He sipped his coffee, now cold. The refrigerator hummed in the background. The ice maker dumped a clowder of cubes. No, that wasn't right. A clowder of cats, but what's the collective noun for ice cubes? He googles. He dusts off an old dictionary. Nothing. He declared a new collective noun: a berg of cubes, like an iceberg.

    Refresh. Nothing. Maybe a walk would help. He called his dogs, who looked warily at him. It wasn't time for a walk. The oldest didn't seem to like that he used an adverb. Sloppy adverbs. Find the right verb.

    Outside, the birds quieted as he walked past them. Only the mourning dove continued her song. Perhaps she lamented his loss of creativity, or perhaps the loss of his tenacity.

    Back inside, the dogs backed away from him. They weren't used to the fear on his face. They knew something was wrong.

    Refresh. One comment. "Nice!" He said it aloud. "Nice!" Was that sarcasm? Enthusiasm? An exclamation point masqueraded as clarity, but hid intent.

    He rummaged through his desk, looking for a fresh notebook. Maybe writing by hand, with a pen, would refocus him. His beloved fountain pen had no ink. Fifteen minutes to find a fresh cartridge for it.

    Why did he write, anyway? Was it for recognition? No. Well, sometimes. No. He liked recognition, acknowledgement, the same way he liked it when the dogs noticed he was breathing. He'd breathe even if they didn't notice, but it made it seem like it mattered.

    Refresh. Nothing.

    Years later, he'd remember this day. The Day of Doubt he'd call it. The day he stopped giving a damn about readers. The day his characters spoke directly to him. The day he knew none of it mattered to anyone but him.

    Refresh. Nothing.

    And still he wrote. There were many notebooks to fill.

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    1. Man, I love this piece and can totally relate. This line: He'd breathe even if they didn't notice, but it made it seem like it mattered.

      Yup.

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