Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dimples - NWW Photo Prompt

This is a post in response to a photo writing prompt from New West Writers. - We're just supposed to write something related to the image or words in the prompt (or related to someone else's story). See their website for more details and to read other entries (hint: check the comments for each prompt). Enjoy!

     The music had carried her away, as it always did. She'd watched his hands move as he played his violin, cradled tenderly between his chin and shoulder. And he had seen her, she knew. When he'd looked up from the front of the stage after his piece, his eyes had flashed in recognition and he'd smiled, the dimples on either side of his mouth deepening momentarily.
     Once, she'd believed they'd be together forever. But it had been almost sixteen years and she hadn't seen him since that terrible night. Until now, when he'd come to find her standing in the theatre lobby at intermission.
     "How are you?" he asked and she felt suddenly shy.
     "I'm good." The silence grew a second too long and she blurted, "You played beautifully, as always."
     He accepted the compliment with a graceful nod of his head. "Do you still play?" he asked.
     A flash of memory. The two of them playing together in the small, local symphony. A lifetime ago.
     "No." She dared to meet his gaze, then looked away. "I got busy with other things."
     "What things?"
     "Ready, Mom?"
     She turned to face her daughter, back from the restroom already. It struck her then, how much her daughter looked like her, as the girl gazed up at the stranger. Until the dimples framed her hesitant smile.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Camino Interlude - NWW Photo Prompt

This is a post in response to a photo writing prompt from New West Writers. Alright, it's from the photo writing prompt that's already been replaced by a new one on their site - But I'm not going to let that stop me! The idea is to write about where the photo (or someone else's story about the photo) takes you. So here goes....

Camino Interlude

I'd walked 30 km today, a new record for me! I'd claimed my bed for the night, put on the 'clean' outfit from my pack, and hung my only other clothes up on the line after washing them, along with myself, in the shower. I'd already been to the local restaurant (maybe the only restaurant in this tiny picturesque town) serving the 'Pilgrim Menu'. I'd eaten dinner at 7, ravenous, and ridiculously early for the local Spanish population. But it felt late for someone like me who'd found myself wide awake and sneaking quietly out of the albergue at 6 a.m. so as not to disturb my few fellow pilgrims who were still sleeping.

For dinner, there had been the usual choices of starter (salad), entree (fish), and dessert (fruit). And, of course, the requisite glass of wine, which in this case, came in a large beer stein. It was wonderful wine, a rich, red rioja that slid down my parched throat far too easily and, to my surprise, I finished it all. My fellow pilgrims, Dietrich and Alexandra, enjoyed their dinners too and suggested we end the evening visiting the local church, which was holding a gathering of pilgrims where we could pray together for a continued safe journey. I declined, saying I needed to go to bed after such a long day and the meal. Not to mention the wine.

But Alexandra wouldn't hear of it. We'd walked together for part of the day, we three, and she was insistent that we should go together and receive a pilgrim's blessing too. Let me just say that, on the Camino, your fellow pilgrims become your family. And I couldn't very well let family down, could I? Despite my misgivings, I wandered to the church with them and went in. It was a beautiful old brick building, small, but beautifully decorated. Along with the other twenty or so pilgrims, we took our seats. The priest spoke mostly in Spanish, exuding good will and beneficence.

The small church was hot, despite the evening hour. The meal and my fatigue made me sink, boneless, onto the hard wooden bench. The wine in my system whispered sweet coaxing nothings and I soon found my vision blurring, the candlestick on the altar becoming nothing more than a metallic glow in the dim light. My head sunk slowly down onto my chest and, until I found myself lying sideways across Dietrich's lap, I knew no more.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Writer's Life

A Writer's Life

A man checks his roommate’s internet browsing history and finds searches for slow-acting, untraceable poisons and how long it takes to suffocate someone with a pillow. He knows his snoring’s gotten worse, but would she kill him for a good night’s sleep?

A woman asks her husband to duct-tape her wrists together and put her into the trunk of their car. Is she getting kinky on him, or maybe just losing her mind?

A teenager finds an article on common arson techniques and how to determine the cause of a fire. His mother has made notes on it and circled the key points. Is she planning on burning down the grow op next door?

In all these scenarios, the answer is no. It’s just a writer doing research. The most mild-mannered writer may have read about things, or even done things that would make you think twice about hanging out with them. But relax, it’s all in the name of good storytelling. As writers, everything we see, read, do, hear (and yes, overhear), becomes possible fodder for that book we’re writing. Nothing is sacred. Though for the sake of our relationships, names have hopefully been changed to protect the innocent, or the guilty, as the case may be. Sometimes we even do our research by accident.

Something happens to us and we use it, after the fact, to put some believable action or emotion into our writing. Often the things we use in our writing are painful incidents, things most people wouldn’t dwell on. But not writers. No, we take these unpleasant experiences and hold them up to the light, study them, examine them from different points of view. And then we use them. I like to think of it as not wasting all that pain, inconvenience, and angst.

A couple summers ago, I sprained my ankle. Well, not just sprained it. I tore a bone chip off, smashed my face into a concrete wall, put two teeth through my upper lip, scraped my ankle, and got cellulitis which, if not treated promptly, can apparently be lethal. I spent 3 weeks commuting to the hospital twice a day in a wheelchair for IV antibiotics before I worked up to crutches, a cane, and finally being able to limp into my physiotherapist’s office. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, but then it occurred to me.

This was perfect research for the badly wounded protagonist of the novel I was revising! Suddenly, it was all worth it. Well, maybe not worth it, but at least now my injury has a silver lining. So, if I start making notes while you talk about your messy divorce, don’t worry, I’m on your side. It’s just that I've got this new character, see….