NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (1)

     Days on this Red Dwarf world were similar to what the Ancestors used to call a month on some blue marble planet they lived on.  That’s why they picked it.  Terra’s people had colonized several worlds, integrating the planetary “Refugees” they discovered on each new planet.  Cognizant of the importance culture and tradition in a group of people, the Ancestors fit wherever they went because their core Participant-2014-Square-Buttonvalues and religion required them to always think of the betterment of others and the perpetuation of life.  Ordinances were the scripture of any people, connected to the central foundation text, and designed to envelope each new set of Refugees so that the colonies could thrive in shared partnerships and organization.  Disregarding or breaking ordinances was unheard of, and Terra could count those repentant ones on one hand in her lifetime.  To find herself among them was devastating and haunting.


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

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#HeyWriters

I’m taking the MOOC on “How Writers Write Fiction,” over at http://courses.writinguniversity.org/course/how-writers-write-fiction and having fun.  Last week’s class was on opening lines and I discovered two wonderful methods that I used to create the following one liners.  Would you keep reading after these?

She died.   

Once when they were young, upon a ragged, makeshift boat, time was thin and they knew their childhood was drowning.

Someone obviously failed to take their medicine this morning.

Glass jars lined the shelf, their dead fruits preserved for posterity.

Papered plants, in a little plastic wrapped box, ignored the tiny inked warning; their unbroken seal read, “Nothing about this cigarette, packaging, or color should be interpreted to mean safer.”

The flashing clock lied its message into the cold grooves of my tiled soul; the window poured grief out of rhythm.

The wet metal railing above the whirring pavement below left a water line on my jeans.

The Writer’s Grave

There is a well – a reservoir that stores the great and lofty ideas of a writer.  Its depth requires an air tank and its miles from shore to shore – a sturdy vessel.  And while this repository of “what ifs,” insight, and observation is easily navigated while driving, waking, or standing in the shower … it does not lend itself to a map nor does it beacon in lucid moments at the keyboard.  White squallThis wealthy ocean, this Shangri-La cool drink of creativity, exists in just that moment, that exact spot in the time-space continuum, where fear flees and boldness declares white squalls of edgy inspiration – drowning the willing victim in new worlds and unexplored feelings.  A fickle sea when set as a destination.  A happy grave when found in distracted efforts into Otherland.  To die a little in that resting violent sea of throbbing neurons … every writer longs for that little bit of death each time they sit lively to perform their art.

George Mowgli – 9

He’s back.  If you haven’t followed George from the beginning of his adventure, feel free to seek out his stories by scrolling down to the “Be a Seeker” box on the right side and typing in “George Mowgli.”  You can also start from the very beginning by clicking here.


Her cackle from some location below elicits an involuntarily response, pushing the left side of his nose and mouth into a sneer.  “No doubt she’s turned on the stupid box and is laughing at some brain-sucking sitcom.  She’ll probably find it imperative to try and repeat the scene to me later.  Won’t matter if I’m engrossed in a good book or napping.”  He pulls his face out of the sneer as if putting a long abandoned piece of laundry back in its drawer.  Matter-of-fact.  No point letting more bitterness creep in.Airwalk Men's Mason Mocassin Slippers

In about three hours, Micah will either shut himself in the garage (AKA his workshop), or he’ll change into something similar to what he’s already wearing and head to his idea of a night out.  Thirty-eight years old and he’s still playing Dungeons and Dragons with kids ten or fifteen years younger than him.  Such a disappointment.

The moccasins that are his house shoes await him somewhere in the darkness above.  He should have put them on when he came down for breakfast this morning, he knows that now.  The climbing, always the climbing up and down, it was all he could think about after his morning ablutions.  “Is this what athletes go through before every game,” he wonders, “or maybe soldiers before a battle? Knowing they’ve done it many times before, but worried they might just be all tapped out?”  Another step … and then another … almost there.

Lavie

Love Liebe 1You – who take me into the wilds of life and show me sunlight on a tree-hidden lake.  You – who reads me tiny of your conflicted soul and shares me tears from your tender love.  You – with your pillow swept hair and hard-earned freckles.  I love you.

I drifted in near wakefulness while still nestled in your lingering warmth.  And you came to me, curled up to me, and asked me.  Such tingles traveled from my ear to my neck, where you kissed me and planted your wet eyes.  It traveled to my muscles and rolled round my heart, electrified my back and legs and I had to stretch that morning stretch.

You – who bandage my fiscals and cover my scars, you water my passions and snip my anger, and you cook me sustenance and talk to me of spiritual things – the question was answered before it was asked.

Yes, Lavie.  I will marry you.

 


Photo by böhringer friedrich (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Eight Seconds

The incessant engine humming, no – more of a roaring moan, will probably echo in my head for hours after I land.  That guy looks as nervous as I feel.  “We can do this, Joe!”  Yeah, that smile looks totally forced, but thumbs up buddy.

I can’t imagine this would be very comfortable without these packs on our backs.  Makes a good spot for resting my head while we wait to reach altitude over the jump zone.  Oh, wow.  Stomach isn’t having that right now.  Better sit up and think happy thoughts.  This helmet feels tighter all of a sudden.  Let’s do an equipment check again to get my mind right.  Yep … check, check.  This harness itches right here.  Heck, I’d wear a suit of armor if they guaranteed me nothing bad would happen.

Oh, Lord.  They’re moving around up there.  Okay.  Okay.  It’s happening.  Stand up.  Shuffle forward.  Here we go.  Please, God, I know the doc said six to eight months.  But I really think I want all of it I can get.  Let me make this jump okay, please?

“What? … Oh, yes.  Yes, have it right here.  Okay.  Yes, I count the seconds and then pull this.  Right.  This one for back up.  Got it.  Yep.  … Where? … Oh God … yep … okay.”

That wind is not at strong as it was last time.  I could practically fall out here.  My finger tips are probably going to be bruised as tight as I’m gripping this door.  Not looking down yet.  Not looking down.  I wish he’d just push me out.  Oh man, he’s saying it.  Here I go.

“YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”  Be a starfish and count you dumbass!  Shit.  I’m falling.  This is great!  I’m probably at ten seconds.  Okay.  11-one thousand … 12-one thousand … 13-one thousand … 14-one thousand … I can’t wait to tell everyone I’ve been doing this.  17-one thousand … 18-one thousand … 19-one thousand … I wonder how many people are out of the plane so far.   24-one thousand … 25-one thousand … feels so freeing, not like the first few jumps.  28-one thousand … 29-one thousand … 30-one thousand … all I could think about was whether my chute would open, how tight the harness felt, and how much my eyes were watering (even with the goggles on).  All that in just three seconds.

Wow … 35-one thousand …36-one thousand … it’s like google earth in person.  Zooming in people!  Zooming in!  40-one thousand … 41-one thousand … screw cancer … 42-one thousand … 43-one thousand … I’ll buy Katherine a huge diamond ring before I tell her so she doesn’t argue about saving the money for the medical bills … 46-one thousand … 47-one thousand … I’ll write that book I’ve been messing around about for all these years, and … 50-one thousand … I’ll tell my brother I’m sorry … 52-one thousand … and as it turns out she’ll be available again in 6 – 8 months, dude … 54-one thousand … ouch, that chuckle hurt with all this air flow slapping into me under this pack.  57-one thousand … almost … 58-one thousand … reaching …59-one thousand … here goes, brace for whiplash.

No.  What is this?  Some kind of test?  No, no, no!  Steps!  Follow the steps!  There’s time.  There’s time.  Look – you’re still above 1000.  Do the steps.  What the … I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that.  The line is too messed up.  Stop panicking; I can’t believe this is happening.  Not fixable … right … okay.  Next.

Reach to the right – there it is.  Got it.  Now find the left – got it.  Arching back, pulling … damn this thing is hard … pull that thing.  Okay there it went.  Main chute cut.  There it goes.  Damn.  Pull left!  Pull!  C’mon dammit.  This is NOT happening!  God please!  Is anyone coming to help me.  Do they see me?  Wait – where is everyone?  Flatten … stretch … fall slower.  What was I thinking?  What was this supposed to do for me when I had this idea?  Confidence.  I was supposed to get some strength to face the cancer.

SkydiveroverEslovSweden

By Degrer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


I’m gonna’ die.  No one can help me.  The reserve won’t open.  I’m almost at 1000 feet.  What was it they said then?  About 7 or 8 seconds.  Far cry from 6 – 8 months.  Maybe I should have told Katherine.  Will Doc Peters tell her now?  Oh no – will the insurance cover this?  Glad we have the supplemental and the savings.  She can always sell the other house too.   God, thanks for giving me Katherine before this.

Dave will figure it out.  Maybe he’ll read my papers and get the apology he’s been needing.  Katherine’s strong, she and the kids will be okay.  Oh, please Lord, don’t let this hurt.   Let it be quick when I hit.  Maybe even finish me before I hit?  Please don’t let it hurt.

Maybe that’s the best thing.  No weeks or months wasting away in front of everyone.  No long term pain deadened by the drugs.  Guess I’ll never know what smoking pot feels like now.  Focus – 1000 feet.  Close your eyes.

The smell of grandma’s house.  Mom’s lasagna.  The look Jesse gave me, smiling eyes and tongue hanging out with joy, whenever I’d play ball with her.  The waves crashing in rhythm on the beach.  Sun shining.  Our first kiss.  She knows me.  Katherine holding Jamal.  Lunch together in the tree-house, spying on Ayesha and Tim next door until they spotted us.  All of us giggling so hard it made tree-house shake.  Katherine’s face when I pulled up on Tom’s motorcycle.  Jamal scraping his knee the first time, I was his hero.  I love you guys.  That time whe


 

I needed to post content hurriedly this morning and didn’t have time to edit this.  I will touch up any grammar/spelling issues in the coming days.  This started as a response to a writing exercise called “Epiphany” in Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  I cheated a little and then went rogue.  I also got the idea for the ending from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars where the main character talks about how her favorite book ends.  I recommend both books.

A Writer’s Bubble

Shiny new apple

By Janine from Mililani, Hawaii, United States (shiny new apple Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A vinyl kitchen chair, circa 1972, peers across the cluttered table.  Uneven piles of books and skewed papers cascade toward the edge of the tabletop.  A laptop is anchored on a place mat opposite the spying chair, it’s screen open and blazing word shadows on the writer’s glasses.  A once rolled newspaper sits atop a down-facing open book, which straddles an off-kilter stack of other books – all of it off-center on a mismatched chair.

The bulletin board by the light switch dangles its captives: a book of stamps, several bills, business hours for the local library and a restaurant 20 miles away, and a visitor’s pass.  A phone sits below, on the floor – inches from the wall jack as the snaking cord attests. Its red battery charge light glares defiantly, as if daring any corner table that might one day arrive on a white horse.  In the corner, three rolls of Christmas wrapping paper are leaning like a tent over a forgotten roll of scotch tape.

The tick-tick-ticking of the gas heater, shutting off as it meets the thermostat’s goal, keeps time with the car engines tutting by outside.  The headspace crunching of crackers being chewed interrupts the otherwise pseudo-silence in the room.

She types all this sporadically, pausing only to slurp coffee or scratch, her left knee bouncing from time to time.  The other three quarters of the room are behind her, but she doesn’t turn around.  She doesn’t look or study what is not in her fan of head swivel.  She types; she reaches for her cell phone and checks the time; she types.

Her eyes fall from the screen to her hands and she continues pushing the words to the screen.  She notices the muscle memory of her fingers and thumbs and how they work in unison, almost separately from the rest of her body.  She doesn’t hold a favorable opinion of these pudgy extensions of her arms in the day to day.  But she notices their shape when positioned like this – doing this.  The right corner of her mouth lifts.  Her hands are sexy when she writes.


 

This piece was inspired by a writing exercise called “No Ideas, But in Things” in Brian Kiteley’s book The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  I highly recommend it to those of you who have a day job that rattles around in your head when you’re finally home and trying to write.

The Croissant of Self-Consciousness

La parisienne almond croissant
What I love about this story is the extreme concern the narrator has for what others think, yet most of the concerns stem from his or her own prejudices and opinions about weight and others.  Also, I was careful not to expose the gender of the main character, but how fascinating that most readers will assume it is a female.  Enjoy and please tell me what you think!

The little cardboard box is small enough to stay on my lap during takeoff but large enough to be a nuisance.  When it is clear the box will not fit the seat pocket under the tray table, a tradeoff occurs between the newly deadened cell phone and the absorbing book that beckons, “What will he do next?  How will he live?”  The book wins and, before the plane finishes its taxi to the runway, the story resumes its previous bombardment.  This makes the eventual task of opening the little box and erasing its need to exist a carnival of, “Everyone’s watching.  How can this be done to avoid looking gluttonous and fat?”

Inside the box is the almond croissant the Library Bistro was pushing this morning before the light rail trip to the airport.  None of the other passengers on this puddle-jumper are endowed with such a little culinary treasure.  The tiny bag of honey mustard pretzel mix will be the extent of their gourmet experience.  That and a little plastic cup with limited choice of beverages will be the only “food service” this hour flight has to offer.  But the box must be deposed, its internal croissant dissolved without waste.  So the plane rises, and the show begins.

Among the plastic utensils, the spoon can be dismissed.  The fork and knife are essential to avoid smears of orange marmalade  on clothes, hands, or worse – the face.  Armies of napkins are strategically positioned.  As if this feature is not distracting enough, the Library Bistro provided black napkins – a clear message that to dine there is to join in the artistry.  In a “to-go” kit for plane travel, however, the message is, “Look at me!  No really, look!”

While the knife is barely a match for sawing the hefty pastry into three manageable sizes, at least it stays put in its box like an assistant in a magic show.  The passenger to the right is a saint.  She ignores the whole debacle.  This still leaves the entire left flank on the isle as spectators, not to mention the bustling stewardesses.  A premonition of their opinions, clay sculpted judgements of this spectacle, buffet the air.  But drink service has ended and the clock is ticking before trash service begins.  The show must go on.

Ever so gracefully, a little dab of marmalade here, a poke with the fork there, leaning in for an attempt at a humble bite of the thing.  Oh, how this must appear.  “Doesn’t look to be hurting for nourishment.”  “Don’t think that qualifies as diet food.”  Fully formed ceramic thoughts whiz past and smash into the seat back as I plod on.  Half gone, nearly finished!

What else must they see?  The new wedding band on my fork hand sparkles in the fake light.  At least they piece together, “fat and lonely.”  The latest shower gel assures a pleasant smell, so there’s that.  The last little corner of the croissant flakes apart and fingers are forced to deploy to ensure delivery of the rebel to its doom.  Sticky fingers result and black napkins aren’t ideal for cleanup in this particular scenario.  Praise the airline management (or whomever makes such decisions) for their distribution of little white cocktail napkins.  A couple dabs of Sprite does the trick, and the mission can be resumed.

The little cardboard box is handy for repackaging the napkins, the plastic utensils, the small ramekin of marmalade, and the last remnants of crumbs.  A few swishes and two gulps finishes off the Sprite and finally the tray table is ready for the approaching attendant.  A relief settles as the box drops into the rolling trash receptacle.  It occurs to me that I don’t even recall how the thing tasted.  But a clear area and a book to escape any leftover remnants of pottery tastes like survival. The croissant is dead.  Long live the croissant.

War with Me

Every night I wage a war.  The enemy crawls into the room and begins its familiar bombardment, first with feathers and then with rubber bullets.  In a matter of minutes I’m surrounded by fire breathing dragons screaming with urgency – I must enter their realm.  I refuse, at least for a few more hours.  It’s about the fight, yet I don’t even know where my objection starts in me.  This battle makes no sense and doesn’t do me any good.  But somehow, Sleep has become my enemy.

Its army comes at me as if I’m expecting it.  Like I’ll throw myself at their mercy once the grenades are thrown.  I shake my head and pop my lids open again, a yawn stretches me but I stay connected to the wakeful world … with my eyes.

Two days ago I went to the eye doctor and he tells me I have slight cataracts in my left eye and the onset of macular degeneration in my right.  What’s left to fight with if I don’t have my eyes?  The monster approaches tonight and my weapons start to ache.

All these years, for reasons I don’t comprehend, I fought sleep off.  It isn’t insomnia; it’s a conscientious, albeit an underground and seditiously layered response.  My mind wants to stay rapt with the happenings of the day or the fantasies I’ve missed while doing the responsible job thing.  It wants to read new depths and experience different worlds, scan new perspectives and flex different thoughts.  It’s crosshairs are a pair of blue peepers I’ve had since I was born.  Now the weapons of choice are losing their effectiveness yet the enemy is in no way breaking its stride.

It certainly occurs to me (on a regular basis, should you question my clarity on this matter) – sleep would assuredly heal my situation,  or at a minimum slow this eye-death process.  Would that I could allow myself to be taken prisoner.  To surrender.  The sheets and the pillow call my weary body.  Why can’t I give in?  Shell shock?  Post traumatic stress syndrome?

But I still fight.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop this madness.  No doubt if I could just figure out what started this war for me, I’d be able to agree to a cease-fire, draw up a peace plan.  Resolve to do what’s best for my sanity.

Alas, I fear that peace may never come.

George Mowgli – 8.5 (Note)

Dear Readers,

 

George needs rest before continuing his perilous journey into the recesses of his mind.  He is taking a brief hiatus while his writer attempts to create something from scratch for a mystery writing contest.  He was a bit appalled at my thirst for competition, but when I mentioned I wasn’t 38 years old and still living at home his objections fell silent.  I apologized for hitting below the belt, to which he replied he probably wouldn’t feel it anyway.   I believe he has a much better sense of humor but I was careful to laugh politely out of respect.

In an effort to compromise, I allowed him to leave a forwarding address in case anyone wants to write him.  You may address any comments or questions to him below and I will be happy to serve as his personal secretary until his return.  You’ll also be happy to know that he guilt-tripped me into slapping up some poetry since it is National Poetry Writing Month.  So feel free to stay tuned for some flow.

 

Sincerely,

George’s Writer

George Mowgli – 8

His palms are slippery.  He turns his right hand over, barely recognizing the mottled exterior, the soft-skinned canvas of his lifelines loosely draped around the bones and swollen joints.  Like ghosts in his mind, a false duet of memories and the present, he can still make out the muscles of his youth as he twitches his thumb.  Days were when his calloused hands put in time at the lumber mill, returning home with nubby, dirt encrusted nails as evidence, scrapes and bruises the “war wounds” of their service.

A bar of Lava soap, wrapped in the dirty imprint of this or the other hand from those days, still convalesced on the shelf in the mudroom.  He thinks about tossing it once in awhile.  Recollections of the texture, the solace of that gritty lather under soothing warm water, prevent  further consideration.  Comforts of the past.  He splays his fingers and turns the decrepit looking thing away from his view, wafting air along the sweaty underside as best he can.  He dares not loose his grip on the railing yet.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 7

He’d wanted to name the baby, “George, Jr.” but Sarah whined it wouldn’t do.  Not poetic enough.  Not ear catching.  What would the girls at work think?  Looking back, he was certain she’d only agreed to have a baby because she wanted an excuse to stop working and stay at home.  It was clear, once the mission was accomplished, she was ill-prepared and had as much motherly instincts as a harp seal.  He’d watched one of those television documentaries on the creatures and experienced deja vu when he discovered the mothers abandon their defenseless babies vulnerable to predators, alone on the ice after only twelve days.

Now he knows what that must feel like.  Hadn’t put two and two together back when she forgot Micah was playing on the sun porch and locked the door.  Poor kid had nearly fainted of dehydration by the time she realized.  From all accounts over the years, Micah could have been one of those poor little babies that baked to death in the back seat while his mother lollygagged at the mall.  But for the strange ironic brew he’d come to accept where good things happened to bad people and bad people happened to good ones, Sarah would be seeking all manner of reporters and gullible ears to question “Why on Earth any legitimate legal system would put a poor mother behind bars for an innocent mistake that had taken her child from her bosom of love …”  Her flair for drama and talent for overlooking reality was cemented in the fabric of his familiar.  Try as George may, he can’t get the stain she leaves on his attitude to wash clean.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 6

It would never be said of his son – Micah, “A chip off the old block.”  A  middle-aged man of pale complexion and reddish brown hair – these and his glasses were the only traits that could be claimed as ever being shared between the men.  His son’s exterior was a contradiction.  One could easily make out his hefty midsection, still within the socially accepted picture of “average,” but gaining.  His choice in the latest alternative band t-shirts attempted a distraction to the mismatched area in contrast to his spindly legs and scrawny neck.  Lanky but graceful – his straight, wiry hair sat atop his globe as a wig might.

It was clearly his own hair; its roots visibly clawed into his head nearly a full inch behind where his forehead should have ended.  It seemed to follow a set of standing orders as it cascaded back and then, in tune with gravity, down the sides of his head in the form of a sort of academic-looking mullet.  That pasty, waxen forehead was accentuated by his choice in eye-wear.  Dark wire rims joined his cartoonish appearance, and together they defined the word, “spectacles.”  At 38, the boy had not acknowledged his adulthood, it seemed to George.  He dressed in rust colored jeans that hugged his legs, the shirt bloused over the waistline.  Wore suede construction boots with the ensemble.  “As if he’s worked a day of manual labor in his whole, enabled, meaningless life,” mutters George, as he counts and thinks, and waits for his lungs to join him once again in this life.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 5

George reaches up and pulls himself up again.  Amazing what energy can be found in those “cringing moments.”  His left toe catches the ledge as he brings it up and his right arm swings itself forward on its own volition to counterbalance his imminent demise.

Sarah had a mole that could be mistaken for a cold-sore.  She tried to apply her makeup to under accentuate its redness.  Lingering just above her lip and southwest of her right nostril, it could have become her trademark.  Entering her 40s  she should have accepted the “opinions and rumor mill be damned” attitude that is a right of passage most other older women enjoy.  Instead, her collaboration with her flamboyant beautician produced a pair of eyebrows – reminiscent of the golden arches – relegating her mole to a sideshow in the vaudeville that was her presence.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 4

He parked himself in denial years ago.  A stereotype behind the wheel, he refused to ask directions and insisted on reading his map any damn way he wanted.  It was upside down.  He smoked his smokes and drank his drinks and chuckled at the naysayers who warned him of death.  Now he smirks, and thinks, “They were still wrong.  Its not the death that means anything.  Its the landscape.”  His lungs confirm this assessment.  Bristles of perspiration tingle him all over, under his tummy rolls, beneath his unmentionables.

His real name is George, but today he thinks of himself as the boy raised in the rainforest (or was it a jungle), surrounded by pitiless wild animals with only the thought to devour him, or ignore him if a better meal is in view. It fits rather well given the selfish, oblivious nature of his son and ex-wife. These stairs are his daily hell. He is too proud to refuse or complain. The 38-year old man who still lives at home, his son, remains a “mama’s boy,” which explains why he remains clueless and disengaged from his father’s plight. His ex-tormentor, Sarah? He divorced the woman 18 years ago. The only difference George had been able to enjoy was that she’d moved out and occasionally (he’d begrudgingly learned of her debacles through their son) played the fool for all to see, flirting with the butcher at the supermarket.

He was actually in line once at the front when he’d heard her cackle.  He’d instinctively whipped his head toward the hideous but familiar squawk as one would turn at the sound of screeching tires, only to see the encore.  “Oh, hellooooooa!” she waved her entire 63 year old body at the poor man behind the meat counter.  “God help us! What is wrong with that ridiculous witch?” George snarled to himself.  The timid Mr. Schultz, caught in the middle of handing a more sane customer a pound of salami, had issued forth an awkward cough.  It was sort of the thing you would expect to happen after realizing your credit card was declined, or you’d locked your keys in the car.  Susan had turned to the lady friend she was with in line and giggled like a school girl, as if the camera was on but her mic wasn’t working.  She hadn’t even noticed her friend’s mouth agape or her pink cheeks of embarrassment.  Oblivious!

 

READ ON –>