Friday, November 9, 2012
Hold Me Closer Tiny Pantser
I have no idea for a post today -- my pseudonym broke my brain after having to go on a blog tour and come up with a whole bunch of posts that were supposed to be creative and amusing and interesting and free of typos. Not sure how successful that was on any count...
Meanwhile, instead, here is something I wrote earlier.
Remember I shared some of my drunk pantsing with you guys a while ago? This is from the same story. I call it SWUP: Slightly Weird Untitled Project. Still don't know where the hell it's going, but I suspect it will end badly for all concerned.
I’m the shadow in the rain.
I’m the whispering in the walls.
I’ll be the last thing you see coming.
If it took nothing but heat and hate and wanting, the Men would be dead. A fireball would rip through the Camp. It would buckle the tin on the roofs. It would blister the paint on the walls. It would catch the Men and make them howl. It would bend their spines and crush them in its burning fist like dried leaves. It would consume them.
I raise my face to the grey sky.
The Captain squats down beside me. He rests his elbows on his knees. His hands dangle from his loose wrists. “You okay, Ryan?”
I shuffle closer.
He exhales slowly and it sounds like weariness. He releases it into the air. “You ever hear the story about the scorpion and the frog, Ryan?”
“You know what a scorpion is?”
The Captain’s mouth curves into a smile. His eyes shine with a laugh he can hardly hold back — can’t he see the shed? Can’t he see right through the walls? Can’t he see Mitchell, feel him, even from here? “Okay. We’ll make it about a spider. A spider and a frog.”
I watch while he rolls a cigarette. His tanned fingers are dexterous, practiced. His gaze travels the fence line. “So there was this spider, and it wanted to cross the river.”
I lean toward the sound of his voice, and I fucking hate that I do that. I should be burning but I’m wilting.
“It was a venomous spider.” The Captain lifts the cigarette to his lips. He runs the edge of the thin paper across the top of his tongue. He is still watching the fence. “It knew that if it tried to cross the river that it would drown, but its children were across the river. A frog saw the spider waiting by the water, and came and asked what was wrong.”
The old man at the T-House used to tell stories, but not the same as these. The old man used to tell us about when he was young and his back wasn’t bent and he ruled the town and we laughed at him and jeered at him and threw rocks on the roof on the T-House.
Bang, bang, bang. The rocks would hit the roof and then slip down the gutters of the corrugated iron, rattle, rattle, rattle, bigger and louder and more, until it was thunder.
Shut up, old man, shut up, we yelled, and drowned him with our storm. Our thunder made him small, small as we were when the whole grey sky growled at us and flashed its jagged teeth.
I didn’t listen to the old man’s stories. I never waited open-mouthed for his words. I never let him draw me in like a fish following the dip of a feather across the surface of the water. I lean towards the Captain, towards his spiders and his frogs, because these words are clever words. They’re the same simple shape as spiders and frogs, they make the same noise, but put them together and then you see there were other words hidden behind them the whole time.
The Captain turns the cigarette in his fingers and catches the end between his lips. His hands pat his pockets until he finds his matches. A dry rasp, a flare, and the sweet, heavy scent of sulphur curls up my nose. The flame dances in the Captain’s grey eyes and then it’s gone. Smoke settles over us.
“So the spider asked the frog to take her across the river to her children.” He smiles slightly as he remembers I’m there at last. He turns his gaze on me. “The frog didn’t want to, because he knew the spider was venomous, but the spider begged and pleaded. Eventually the frog agreed to swim her across the river, and they set off.”
I hunch my shoulders and look at the dust between my boots.
“Halfway across the river, the spider bit the frog.” The Captain’s smile is still hovering around his mouth. “The frog asked the spider why it bit him, because now that he was dying the spider would drown as well. I can’t help it, the spider told him as they both slipped under the water, it’s in my nature.”
In the silence that follows I wonder what I’m supposed to make of that story.
I wonder if the Captain thinks he’s the spider or the frog.
I wonder which one I am; if there’s any sting left in me at all, or if I’m just too tired and drowning slowly.
What are you working on this week?