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.
The water ran thick and fast, brown like chocolate milk. Bobby looked at the water with wonder and fear. Above him, he heard an eagle cry. The eagle was not happy with the water. Nothing was happy with the water. Adults watched the news and talked about rising floodwaters. They saw images of the massive flow tearing trees from the banks of the river they had all trusted. It was shocking on television. It was downright terrifying in person.
Bobby knew this stretch of water well; he had fished it for years. Normally, you could throw a spinnerbait across to the other bank if the wind was working in your favor. Now, the other bank was a ghost, devoured by the appetite of the water. He would not be able to throw a lure even halfway, and, if he did have his rod, he wouldn’t have attempted to throw anything in the water. It would be an insult. And there was a part of him that was convinced the water would pull him in, too.
Most people weren’t worried about the fish, but Bobby was. He tried to think about it rationally. He knew that things like this happened. He knew that Mother Nature tended to take care of her own. But he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on beneath the turmoil on the surface. What do you think with your tiny fish brain when the slow, clear water you are used to is turned into a churning nightmare?
He wanted to reassure them. And he was too young to realize that this meant he really wanted to reassure himself. Sure, folks were losing their homes. Jeremy’s trailer was already gone. Somewhere downriver. They’d never find it. Bits and pieces of it would wash up on the shore miles and miles away. He wondered about the baseball trophy they’d won. Maybe a big bass would eat it. Maybe it would be lodged in a tree or picked up by the frustrated eagle trying in vain to spot something shiny in the chocolate sludge.
He knew it was time to head home – there was talk of evacuation even in his neighborhood now. His mother would be worried sick, but he’d needed to come look at the water. The water had always been there for him. It wouldn’t be right to abandon it without so much as a goodbye.
The sun was dropping now, and Bobby picked up a long stick. He threw it into the river where it promptly disappeared, end over end, sucked into the maelstrom and confusion. He tried not to imagine that it was a house, a trailer, a car that was in the wrong place at the wrong time - maybe with someone trapped inside it.
He tried, but he failed.
#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...
Your flood story is well-timed, and well-written. The rhythm of it echoes the floodwaters. I really like it! One tiny suggestion... You could lose the last three words of the last sentence, and I think it would be even more dramatic. Thanks for a great story!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Leland. I think that's a good call. I changed that last sentence a few times and still didn't like the feel of it.Delete
Love this sentence: "What do you think with your tiny fish brain when the slow, clear water you are used to is turned into a churning nightmare?"Delete
Funny how we all get different parts caught in our minds/hearts, or in this case, throats—I almost literally choked on the unexpected truth in the line "He wanted to reassure them. And he was too young to realize that this meant he really wanted to reassure himself."Delete
Reading it again, and Leland is spot on. From a purely rhythmic point of view, I wonder if you could add a mild curse word:Delete
Hell, he tried.
Or (maybe too cute?):
Aw, hell, he tried.
I Love the way you've genuinely mastered how to think like a kid. Utterly authentic and only people with real experience of children can do it.Delete
What everyone else said. Also, told like someone who's been there. Hit close to home.Delete
My phone chimed. 3:47 in the morning.ReplyDelete
“Close the curtains, Jacob.”
I didn’t recognize the number, but in a fog, I got up and closed the curtains in every room of the house.
“Well done, Jacob.”
I was naked, in the kitchen, with the phone in my hand. “Who is this?” I texted back.
“Someone who is watching out for you. Now, go into the basement, Jacob.”
And so I went into the bowels of my recently purchased 1920s house.
I crouched down.
And then the earth began to shake. Like an earthquake, but more intermittent. Like...
“Bombs, Jacob. Nuclear warheads.”
I shivered. I asked no questions. At last the shaking stopped.
“It’s a good thing you have water and food, Jacob.”
“Previous owners. They were preppers. Months of food and water down there. You’ll be fine.”
“Who ARE you?”
“It all depends, Jacob. Angel or demon depends on your frame of reference.”
“How can texting still work?”
“LOL. I don’t actually need cell towers.”
“What about everyone else? Did you warn them?”
“Only you, Jacob.”
“I’m afraid of being alone, Jacob.”
I heard a noise in the furnace room. I jumped from my crouch, and I watched the doorknob turn.
Oh, I like that twist at the end. And I really like that the story is told mostly through dialogue. And ... yeah, it's terrifying to think about, but also very timely.Delete
What JD said. The mystery person's voice is very clear, even in such a short piece.Delete
Holy crap. This is wonderful and terrifying. And so, so clear.Delete
I got that same creepy vibe I got from "The Monkey's Paw." Stellar stuff, Leland.Delete
Blew me away. Concise perfect improbable...Love it!Delete
Great little tale - loved the feel of that voice!Delete
This is what all happened in one night, give or take.ReplyDelete
"Elise, you are bleeding."
One Friday. A dream of a train ride. Suburbia deep into downtown.
"I don't care anymore."
Neon sobs and menstrual facades. Smeary and hidden.
"But you should."
Come with me. Come. This will be a story of concupiscent abstinence, a modest fleshy tale wrapped around unchaste bones. Sinless and degenerate, a miscreant jest, forbidden.
"I will tear your stupid pink-vermilion flesh with my yellowing teeth."
Are we now just laughingstocks? Vague punchlines in so many cosmic jokes? Stooges in some frothing, galactic burlesque?
A life reduced: sex or not. Yearning or dread.
"You are so depressingly weak."
This is the moment we all thought was coming, a fugue formed on a spectral hill; we grow our gardens here, bleed our victims, and love each nod and gesture highlighting so many mirror-image blastocysts. We surpass ourselves.
I was your friend, and I marveled at the sunlit canopy above while clamorous street cars hissed and passed, leadenly clanking, iron-faced.
"You were my friend," you said. "I loved you."
Although none of this was ever layered in flesh upon so many phantom bones. It only came to pass in labyrinthine dreams.
"I no longer know what you're trying to say."
"Me either. But trust me—it still needs to be said."
"I can't keep doing this. It's an endless stream of dreams, each one second-guessed by the next. We're bamboozled by timelines. All of our nows browbeaten by our thens. Just let me be, and wait while I sip this exquisite coffee and divide this pie with a fork. Where were we?"
"Here. In a Pacific Northwest reverie."
"Two heaped teaspoons?"
"Very good. Clever."
"God forbid you'd laugh."
Some sectioned limb unfolds itself so close to the horizon, we default into sweet-girl doom-pixie love—Eliza Doolittle, Amélie, Zooey, Rooney, more—ignoring such reality, a reach-around from callused arachnid palms, an imposition, all our aspirations paramount, flames of love sustained, a path portrayed and then proclaimed, so easy to unlearn each living segment of our drastic narrative.
"My name is Eve, and I'm an addict."
"You really don't want to talk about that slimeball Adam."
The serpent slithers far beneath the palm fronds and the cedar boughs, only glancing back when blent and gusted love is finally defined: our hearts are filled with pain, and situational awareness aims to spend our buoyant, airy capital.
"Call me. Call me now. Okay?"
Elise is seeking not vengeance but balance. She seethes a culinary phalanx. Plays herself in video games complicit and askance.
This timorous howl is poetry right now. Wait until the sockeye find their wild elusive thread, triggering our western coastal shimmer, blare, and thunder. Gift to us this roiling tidal squirm, breathe from us this raw, rare planetary air, drop rain squalls over and upon us. Welcome, grey wolf. Welcome, spirit bear.
O Earth. O endless love.
Elise has left. Her bloodstain remains. A vaguely carmine map of shadow blame.
This place is likened to some flippant home, a shell-like choir of intravenous drones, a cenotaph, dark and fatalistic brickwork; some distilled, some lost, some wretched absent aching monument.
A path. Follow it. Follow it and sing your verification song, your signature, your cultivating aplomb.
Before us is the tale itself. Then follow it…
We are none. Our shaken ranks resist decoding. Unscramble this, our fury. Our purest fury. Our one kilometre stare. Our relatable and incandescent rage.
Something emerges from the trees, hunches ungainly across the trail, slides queasily into the oily lake.
I Feel like this: "I no longer know what you're trying to say."Delete
"Me either. But trust me—it still needs to be said."
Only word I've got is gorgeous. It's like getting into a not so solid boat and drifting on your river of language. Wild and wonderful and weird.
LOL, yes. I actually laughed when I wrote that line. Even by my standards, this one's especially impressionistic!Delete
Yes. I love this one. The structure and tight language. And I agree with Teresa, drifting, only the waters are a little choppier than usual, the rapids a little more rapid. I like this voice a lot.Delete
I love peeking inside your head. Those words...those pictures!Delete
Thank you, my friends. :) Sometimes, I think I see words the way kids see those plastic balls at McDonald's. Did anyone get my Twin Peaks gag?Delete
(A two-parter. Part One)ReplyDelete
Toby had built beautiful homes into the unlikeliest of places, fit rock against rock to craft the finest stone walls; he’d even designed a treehouse that disappeared into the branches. But nature always has the last word.
Yet you can’t tell a client that. Not when a windstorm uproots a mighty oak from waterlogged earth and smashes it through the roof of a back porch that had been one of his favorite projects.
He knew from the forecast it would be bad. He knew what those conditions meant for the things he’d worked so hard and so long to create. It meant phone calls. It meant backbreaking hours of excavation and reconstruction, insurance and zoning headaches, and more thoughts that perhaps the business was becoming more trouble than it was worth.
But he couldn’t think of that now, as he wound his truck through the debris on the road leading up to Ms. Brandon’s house. Jane. Nice lady, divorced, about his age. She’d been a sweetheart to work with, never once balking at his vision or his price or his schedule. She’d inherited the house from her grandmother, and the only improvement she’d asked for was a screened-in back porch. A place she could sit in the warmer months with her books and her lemonade and her cat, a pudgy Persian who was not as young as he used to be and therefore couldn’t be allowed outdoors. And she was willing to wait for him. Which made Toby want to move heaven and earth to help her then; and to help her now.
She was standing on the front stairs when he pulled up. She looked a lot smaller than he remembered, her dark hair long and loose and wet from the rain. Her hands were clasped together as if in prayer. He almost felt as guilty as if he’d caused the storm that toppled her oak. As he swung out of truck, he said, “I’m so—”
“Simon got out.” She wrapped her arms around her chest and started fast-walking toward the back. He followed. “The tree broke one of the screens,” she said, “and he must have been so terrified he bolted out, and now...”
Holy yikes, Toby thought, getting an eyeful of the damage the tree had done. The trunk had crushed that roof. She was damn lucky it hadn’t killed them both.
“Are you okay?” He scanned what he could of her, looking for cuts or bruises.
She nodded fiercely, then her gaze raked the length of the oak, which surpassed that of the porch by a good eight feet. “Yes. Fine. A little shook up, maybe, but Simon...”
“You think he’s up there?”
As if answering, he heard a small yowl. He thought it would be easier to spot a white Persian cat among the green oak leaves, but it was one dense tree and one scared cat.
“Simon, baby, it’s going to be all right,” Jane said, in a kind of tremulous purr that made Toby want to fix every problem in her life. Then to him, “Can I use the ladder on your truck? I tried already with Gran’s, but it wasn’t tall enough.”
“I’ll take care of that.” He hated the way his voice came out, the way his chest puffed of its own accord, like some kind of superhero. Idiot. “You just wait there and try to keep him calm so he won’t run off.”
It took some doing, and he had to shinny up the length of the fallen tree and past the roof line, where he hoped there was enough trunk to balance out his weight, and Simon and the tree gave him a few decent scratches, but eventually Toby got him down and settled in Jane’s arms.
“You’re bleeding.” She tipped her chin toward the front of the house. “Come inside, I’ll clean that up. It’s the least I can do.”
Soon Simon was fed and sleeping off his adrenaline rush. Sporting four new Band-Aids, Toby sat with Jane on the front porch, where she’d brought lemonade and a sketch pad. He watched her hands as she picked up a pencil. Those same hands had been so tender on him; why hadn’t he noticed last time the depths of her gray-blue eyes or the sweet huskiness of her laugh as she teased him about rescuing cats from trees? Funny tricks, the mind plays. What it lets you see or not see. Like the patterns in the way a rock wall fits together.
He pointed at the pad. “You want something different on that back porch, when I fix it?”
“No, I love it just the way it was. What I’ve been thinking lately”—she began to sketch the slope of the lawn—“is a little stone path leading up to a gazebo.”
“I think we can do something like that. But maybe something more like this...”
She handed him the pad and pencil, their forearms brushing a spark in transit. The blue devil tails of the storm gave one last flick as they departed from west to east. Nature, as always, having the final word.
You know what I especially love about this story? How we, the readers, realize he's fallen in love long before he does!Delete
Sweet! I especially like this:Funny tricks, the mind plays. What it lets you see or not see. Like the patterns in the way a rock wall fits together. I do not have that sort of mind myself, but I sure married a guy who thinks like that!Delete
"Funny tricks, the mind plays. What it lets you see or not see. Like the patterns in the way a rock wall fits together." - Ain't that the truth!Delete
And nature having the final word. Yes, indeed.
Yep. I agree. And I like the authentic sense of urgency, realism and need in this piece. Really reads true. I loved the line T&L highlighted too!Delete
And sometimes not,
Dragged inside and out,
Our intestines flowing
Screwed into ourselves
Forced out upon a myth.
It's a sometimes dance,
A memory long abandoned
In a box
Sealed, never remembered
Lest the fear of it
Erupts into something new.
This is so solid. "It's a sometimes dance" - that line hit me like a ton of bricks. It's just beautiful.Delete
Thank you :) Life is a sometimes dance :) And sometimes sleeping!Delete
I run a line
I run amock,
The time taken, a rush
Of evocative dance;
A bee hum ina frantic rhythm -
The time to take a chance
On the askew
Forever. We rip it up in
I don't mean to diminish the whole piece by dwelling on one bit, but goddamn those first two lines are good. It sets us up for the rest so well.Delete
Thanks! I think you're right. I think they are the best bit :)Delete
The ache is too consistent,
A dumb fuck you to the world.
Feed me lies,
So the silence can be filled
By something other than my voice.
Feed me truth,
So I can believe in trust again
And the idea you might understand me.
Feed me warmth,
Something I can hold on to in the chill,
Feel you move beside my sleeping soul.
So that I might never be alone
And I lose the desolation of being one.
I love all three of these, Vickie, but that last one got to me on an almost visceral level. Too close to home, maybe? lol "Desolation" is the exact right word there. (The third line is genius, in that it can be read in so many ways.)Delete
Thanks D. Often I'n not sure what I'm writing about! I think of a character in a situation & it spins off. I guess this one is alone & not sure whether to take a chance on relationships any more. But they'd like to feel less cynical about it.Delete
I'm going with that last one! Whoa how well I can relate to that, especially on those days where I feel like I'm all output and no input! Terrific!Delete
I very much love that last poem. Every line connects with me.Delete
This one. LOVE. For some reason I totally heard a Fugazi sounding riff in my head when I read it.Delete
Thanks, Teresa. I wasn't sure where I was going with it, but that seemed the place to finish.Delete
Thanks lbclark. :)Delete
Thanks JD. I had to look up Fugazi! :)ReplyDelete