Yes, it’s been a while. Yes, I haven’t been writing. Yes, I failed to do the writing prompt for the past week or so. YES we’ve been buried under several feet of snow. Yes, I’m sorry.
No, I didn’t start my 30-day challenges. No, I’m not dead. I’ll be back soon.
My boyfriend and I were featured on a website! Check it out!
Prompt: Write something – minimum two paragraphs – that combines at least two of the following elements: Identical twins, a magic wand, a locked closet, a broken wristwatch, peppermints, a hug that goes too far.
It was a stunning and singular cruelty, to be standing there in the cold as the sky bled out.
The pleasantries had been delivered, the condolences expressed, the flowers felled in sympathetic and nonchalant display. But I couldn’t feel any of it, however hard I tried. Nothing could touch me, save for the plastic smile I glued to my face and the sodden wool of my winter coat. It didn’t matter, I suppose. When all was said and done, there truly was nothing that would move me.
I touched the cold timepiece in my pocket, something like reassurance rearing up within me before hitting whatever barrier was holding me back from feeling. Without seeing it, I felt the cracked glass of its face, the worn leather of its band, and I had to turn away, overwhelmed by something I couldn’t understand. I was the only one left.
Except for him. I didn’t recognize him; I didn’t really know anyone who had attended the event that afternoon, but I felt that I should know why he was still there. Unlike the rest who had hurried into the warmth of a tepid reception hall, he stood behind, a solitary gargoyle amidst the stones that surrounded us. Some acute sadness occupied his entire being, reaching beyond even the formal precept of the entire affair.
“I guess this is it,” he said, startling me from my reverie. I blinked at him, unsure if he was talking to himself or me.
“‘It’?” I asked, tasting the word like an unfamiliar candy. I stepped beside him, noting his fisted hands and wanting to do more than simply stand there.
“Goodbye, I mean,” he went on, as if he hadn’t heard me. “This is goodbye, and all that.”
“You’re not very good with words, are you?” I said drily, almost before I could stop myself. To my surprise, he laughed. It was a bitter, self-deprecating sound.
“No, I’m not very good with words.” He shoved his hands into his pocket, tilting his head back. “Or goodbyes for that matter.”
I glanced at the headstone, unsure of what to say. It was drizzling, and a gray fog was creeping in, although I wasn’t sure if it was a physical one or something I dredged up to match my mood. I touched the watch in my pocket once again, seeking anything to draw upon, but at the same moment that I realized I no longer wanted to speak, he spoke again.
“I’ll miss you,” came his heavy whisper. “I guess that’s all that I can really leave you with.”
I felt the numbness ease within me, a curious feeling that was at odds with the thickening fog. Was I reaching past the shock of the event and feeling something more than nothing? What was this newfound strength that drew me closer to his side?
“And I guess I’m sorry, too,” he continued, paying no attention to my distance. Was he apologizing to me? Or to the headstone? “Sorry for everything I didn’t do in time. Sorry for not being a better brother.”
“That’s okay,” I found myself saying, though I don’t know why. Maybe in my newfound feelings, I wanted to deliver comfort to this stranger. “There’s no need to be sorry.”
He glanced up at last, his gaze meeting mine and then sliding past. His eyes were as dry as bone.
“Andrew?” I whirled around and watched as a young woman approached, an umbrella over her head, the mud sticking to her heels. “Why are you still out here?”
The man – Andrew, such a familiar name – walked past me to stop her before she came closer. She looked over his shoulder at me, confused and not a little wary. The fog was thickening around us as I attempted a half-wave, only to stop and look away, embarrassed.
“Is everything alright?” she half-whispered, looking at him again. The man smiled, a plastic smile not quite as practiced as my own.
“Just having a moment, that’s all,” he replied, taking her arm and turning her away. They disappeared down the lane long before I realized they were gone. Feeling suddenly and acutely alone, I turned back to the headstone, reading the inscription with some new sense of alertness, of recognition. It had a simple inscription, with a name:
Here Lies Alexander Lorde
Brother and Son
With patience wait-perforce to die
And in short time you’ll come to I.
There was the sound of running footsteps, and I didn’t realize what they were until he was right beside me again, pointedly ignoring me, his fist held out over the open grave.
“I almost forgot,” he said. “This was yours.”
He opened his hand and the broken timepiece fell to the dirt. I knew it immediately – the broken crystal face, the worn leather band – without seeing it as the darkness grew until all that was left was his face and the watch. The wristwatch was mine; his face was my own, and I stared and stared as he turned and walked into the oblivion.
I have the first responses to my group’s prompt! Once we have them up somewhere nice – like a WordPress blog, for instance? – I’ll link to it here.
In the meantime, entertain yourself with my virtual quote collection at my pet project site, Lilt and Leisure: http://liltandleisure.wordpress.com/
When I was in middle school, my best friend and I were fascinated by the concept of the four elements: earth, wind, fire, water. We spent endless hours discussing the powers and attributes of each, fighting over which of us wielded which element (because, let’s face it, every character and scenario we envisioned included us as the main protagonists) and what the limits of physics were for the universe we were invariably crafting.
Ultimately, we created a universe strikingly similar to the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender (and believe me, we kick ourselves every day for not being more creative/ballsy/lucky/progressive in selling that to someone) and started writing our book.
Now, we were eleven, maybe twelve, so of course the language was less than Shakespeare-esque, but even in our infantilism we discovered something precious, gorgeous, and inevitably life-changing: a love of writing.
It has been well over a decade since penned what we called The Elementalist (catchy, eh?), and I still hearken back to that moment when I decided that I loved designing worlds and peoples from the recesses of my mind. It gives me strength to remember that I was once creative and inspired and full of hope and possibly literary ingenuity.
On Friday I went to dinner with an old friend and he brought up the power of language – the topic of my senior thesis, my very favorite subject of discourse when involved in anything literary and creative and powerful – and I mentioned that, as part of my thesis, I postulated that the power of the pro- and antagonists in Macbeth really only manifested in conjunction with the words they used. Language is a powerful, corruptible, and infinitely malleable tool that can tear even the most hearty of people asunder in its use. The witches used language to control the nature of the plot; Lady Macbeth used language to steer Macbeth’s fate; the very author of the story used words that break your heart and simultaneously give you hope and frighten you senseless.
And it got me thinking. Language is magic, and it takes very little to inspire a person to use the words they use in everyday discourse. I miss using language for anything more than the gobbledegook of conversation and nuanced platitudes.
I suggested to my friend that we try to jumpstart our creative juices by forcing ourselves to write something, anything, every day. He lengthened that to a week – let’s be realistic, here – and so was born the group that will eventually be named but at the moment wanders darkly. My friends Julian, Trev, and Anthony have already signed on to the project, making us the four horsemen (the four elements?) of this endeavor. Every week one of us will assign the others a prompt, and everyone will have a week to write a response, whether it be one paragraph or three pages. We’ll post it somewhere (not on my blog, but I’m no stranger to managing another blog), comment on it, critique it, and generally use it as an excuse, a reason, a challenge, and a triumph.
I’m the first prompter; here’s what I entreated my brethren to reply to:
Write something in minimum of two paragraphs that combines at least two of the following elements: Identical twins, a magic wand, a locked closet, a broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far. Make at least one of these elements a main plot point.
Challenge yourselves too, dear readers, and post in the comments. I’d love to see what you can come up with.