Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friction Fiction

And, no...I don't mean that in the dirtiest of ways,
like in the old days.
I just like the sound of it.
And I feel like writing a story...
And if you see yourself between the lines, don't be too flattered--
there are pieces of everyone I meet, scattered through my writing like chunks of flesh mixed with rich, dark earth...human compost!! Haha!!

Julia didn't so much step into a room as rush into a room--not because she was in a hurry, but in the manner of a river rushing through a suddenly opened dam. The wildness of her once-natural-now-bleached blonde mane was the outward projection of the inner friction between her serious, inquisitive nature and her rampant desire to constantly be pushing her physical limits. She wrangled horses, castrated pigs, shot and cleaned deer, elk, moose; she shoed horses and ran dogsleds. She was a woman in a man's world and the fire in her pale green eyes was half laughter half stubborn determination. But none of that even entered the awareness of the patrons of that dingy, small town bar as her presence gushed through the creaking wooden door. Whether smiling or scowling, she lit up a room and all eyes naturally found their way to her.

"Hey, Willy. Gimme an herbal tea, wouldja? Fucking fence." She tossed a pair of well worn leather gloves onto the bar and took off her heavy sheepskin jacket, dropping it over the chair back on the bar stool. She yanked the clip from her hair and tousseled it, then tucked part of it back again.

Sitting quietly at the bar, at ease with the world and with himself, was Eric. He was the son of a Senator and had grown up in DC. He had never really had to make his own way in life, caught in the steady flow of money and priveleg, but with college a couple graduation a few years past his rearview mirror, he was starting to feel the need to push beyond the trust funds and private school life and become a part of the raw, often painful "real world." He chatted amiably with the bartender, and alternated between watching the football games on the various TVs and reading chunks of text from a book on the history of economics in America.

She hadn't yet noticed him, and of all the people in the bar, he had probably taken the least notice of her. And then...

"Football? Aw, fuck football, Willy. Can we change one of these to something a little less...ya know, caveman-esque?" She sort of rolled her eyes, and laughed--just a hint of the room-filling laugh she was famous for.

"I'm watching that." A quiet, steady voice; not arguing, just stating a fact.

She almost didn't hear him, then turned, with a serious look on her face to investigate the source of the voice. What she saw was a man of wiry build, not too tall, with blue eyes nearly as big as the Montana sky she had just stepped away from. He had lashes like a girl, and a mop of almost-curls, joined by a fresh-looking beard.

"You're watching all 4 games?" She was suddenly aggressive, and took a step nearer to him.

He was startled, but not intimidated. "I am. And reading this book."

"Impressive." She flopped down in the stool that stood between them and put her feet in his lap. "Whatcha readin?"

Her heavy, mud-clad work boots left a smudge across his leg and dropped suspiciously manure-like chunks of mud all over his lap and the floor.

He smiled at her--not just any smile, a warm, genuine smile--and said, "Get the fuck off me." He paused a beat, then added, "Please."

She laughed, this time the full, hearty laugh of hers that everyone who's ever met her could pick out of a crowd, even after many years: a whooping, guffawing laugh that makes even mourners chuckle. She drew back her feet, brushed off his lap and stood, planting her hands on his shoulders and bringing her face so close they were almost touching. His heart skipped a beat…and a half. She smelled like rain and wind and fire—not smoke, fire. He felt himself being sucked into her and he leaned into it.

Their noses bumped and she laughed again. "Pardonez moi.” With a smooth, sleight of hand type motion, she slid the book from the bar behind her up against her back and stepped away from him. She tossed him a taunting smile before she plunked down beside him again, this time with her feet on the stool on the other side of her, so her back was facing him.

Eric sat stunned for a moment. Who was this girl? This woman? She was a ball of energy—fully controlled, but sizzling under the surface like a raw electric current.

His heart was racing now, and he knew he was engaged in some sort of game, but he didn't know the rules or the strategy or even, really who the players were. Because, obviously, he didn't know her, and in this context he suddenly felt unfamiliar with even himself.

*******

Dammit, Ok, I know I've done this before: This feels like the start of something, but now I'm distracted, done for the moment. I always promise to come back, to write more, but it usually doesn't happen. And when it does...somehow the story never really feels the same, or goes anywhere. Fuckin fuck.

National Novel Writing Wha--??

So, I'm kinda firing up the writing kiln again, and it feels
grrrrrrrrrrrrr
ate!

I can't remember if I posted the story I wrote for my creative writing class on here, but I submitted it in revised form and I feel like it's starting to shape up.
I would love to turn it into a book.
Shrug.

Also, some friends and I came up with a friggin sweet idea for a children's book--photographs by my lovely lanky husband v2.0, story by moi, moi-meme et je!

Plus, I picked up a fun little pre-Christmas gig at my friend's artisan jewelry store/gallery, which will usher me into ski season!! For which I'm duly stoked. Skiing! Woot! Also, Zumba-ing my friggin' heart out lately and exercise always makes me feel invincible---powerful, strong, happy!
So, yeah.
Life.
Rocks.

Now if only I could grow the stones to email or worse, call, my ex and ask him to negotiate on some financial/travel matters for the kiddos....
Guh.
Thanks, but, I'd rather have a speculum shoved up my inflamed urethra!
(believe me, not as fun as it sounds!)
(and did I actually spell "speculum" wrong, or does blogger just not have it on file?)

Ok, in honor of the impending ski season, here is a poem I jotted out today in 10 minutes in class. It is done in the Pantoum format, which basically means that lines 2 and 4 from the first stanza become lines 1 and 3 of the following stanza, and so on...also, they are 4-line stanzas.

Hit it.

Ski Season

The chairlift sways
Up I go
The wind cuts through me
Up and up

Up I go
So I can come down
Up and up
So slow, so cold.

I will come down
so fast and then--
slow and cold
I'll go back up.

So fast I swish
from left to right
Slow and cold
From bottom to top.

From left to right
I zig and zag
From bottom to top
I slowly ride up.

I zig and zag
down the slope
I slowly ride up
til the light fades out.

Ok, so I departed from the exact format a bit here and there, but I LOVED writing with such circular, repetitious flow!
I will do revisions on this one, definitely.
The theme fits the format very well, don't you think?
The textbook describes this format as something that makes you revisit an idea and skiing is just that--round and round, suffering through the slow crawl to the top, so you can race down the snow!
I will spice up my language choices to give better visuals and tighten up some of the places where a line seems too long.
Mostly, it was fun.
It was maybe the first time I felt the thrill of the Math that is the invisible structure of poetry...

Ok, if you have any time left, here is my revision of that story, which I have now confirmed I did NOT yet post here:

They stood with throngs of people moving around them in at least two directions, his hands slipping on the handles of the heavy duffel bag in one hand, wilting tickets in another. He stood before her, agitated but tongue-tied.

“Grand Central Station.” He paused, eyes flickering over their surroundings. “We’re a walking cliché.” He attempted a smile, but it came out more like a grimace.

“Nothing about this is cliché,” she said. He nodded, mouth forming a straight line.

“So what do we do next?”

“We already talked about that. Nothing.”

“Yeah.” He paused, opened his mouth, then closed it again, handing her the duffel.

“Don’t forget to write?”

She sighed, snatched the tickets from his dangling arm. “Enough with the clichés.” Her tired eyes had hardened, willing him to stay out—far outside of her. She was not only in a hurry to get onto her train, she was in a hurry to not be seen with him; it wouldn’t do anything for her reputation to be seen with a civilian, especially one so young.

She glanced at the clock, the ticket. Her body shifted almost imperceptibly away from him, the precursor to a step.

“Don’t go.”

“Jim.” A sigh, laced with impatience.

“Stay.”

“Jim. We decided.”

“I want to un¬-decide, then! I want to—I want to…” He swallowed hard, and started to back away. He was angry, ready to fight for her, ready to beg, but the look on her face stopped him cold. Time passed like a fun-house mirror, each second a lifetime.

He said her name softly, then.

“Rachael.” Like a prayer, or a wish made on a falling star.

She turned away from him, willing herself to melt into the swarm of uniformed bodies making their way with purpose around them. She pressed forward, every step feeling like the future engulfing her, when an arm reached through the shield of bodies and stopped her progress. Again she found herself face to face with the boy she had pretended to love.

“Ok, Jimmy. Ok. Say your piece, but then, really. I have to go or I’ll miss my train.”
He looked defeated then, maybe realizing for the first time that it truly was ending. She would leave, and he would go back to being a lonely boy in a city full of people who didn’t understand him.

She hadn’t understood him, either, but he had interpreted her silence as a warm blanket of soft security enveloping him, instead of the brick wall hiding her true feelings that it really was. Rachael had needed a few weeks to recharge her batteries before heading back into the battlefield and it was just pure luck that they stumbled across each other. He had a private dorm room, and she had been looking for a place to hide from the world, from its ugliness and its heavy demands on her. She was only five years older than Jimmy, but she had thoroughly used up those five years—military training and rapid advancement in this time of unprecedented war. It was as though the whole planet was caving in on itself, each country viciously trying to consume each other country in its path toward the sky.

“Take me with you!” He nearly shouted the words, his eyes widening in disbelief at his own impulsiveness.

Rachael stepped back, sharply glancing around. This isn’t happening, she thought. “Jimmy…you know it doesn’t work like that. You know that can’t happen.”

“But I—I—” She knew which nefarious ‘L-word’ was on the tip of his tongue and she had to act fast.

She braced herself, so she wouldn’t roll her eyes or employ a sarcastic tone. “Jimmy, I will never forget you.” She was so convincingly sincere that she almost believed herself. I should be an actress instead of a soldier, she thought. She kissed him once, lightly, on the neck and ran her fingers across his childishly stubble-covered cheek and turned away again, this time forcing herself to move as though with regret.

Some romantic notion in the boy was satisfied. The tension left his body and his shoulders slumped. He closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath. Even though he was forlorn, his perception of the world remained intact and he was free to move forward through his own life. She had changed him forever, but would forget him as easily as stepping through a door onto a train.

“Captain Moralez.” The nearest soldier saluted her and a hush fell as she stood before the sea of anxious faces.

“At ease, soldiers. We have a long ride ahead. Let’s all just get some rest and I’ll have orders for you at oh-six-hundred.”

Rachael took her seat and pulled out a notebook and a stack of maps. She already knew how unlikely it would be that any of them would make it through the next attack, but until she had different orders, they would proceed with the original plan.