For my creative writing class, I have to submit a 10-20 page piece. I have a couple of weeks on it, but I have a piece that I kind of want to use for it (it'll get workshopped in class). So...would you be so kind as to read this fragment of it for me, tell me how it sounds? I'd rather not submit something and have my class think I am completely fucking insane, or something of the like.
Here it is, the first 3 or so pages of something I don't have a title for yet.
Something. Reach a hand out, flex the fingers just to feel the skin stretch and strain against the cold (but I never knew cold and he always did and didn’t like it so we must’ve met halfway and that was how we defined it: cold). Turn over. Fragments: something: grayish eyes bouncing their light off the trees and an owl perched on his shoulder. He says, a whisper quieter than if he’d said nothing at all, “You could go if you wanted.” The blackness of something--something used once to stop boats their uselessness fills in the gaps left by his words as his mouth continues moving. The owl flutters its wings. Hoots.
“There was a nest of great horned owls that lived in the tree in front of my house.” I say it. He smiles to it. “I liked sitting on the driveway at dusk and waiting for them to fly out.” Smile again and a new chuckle. Blue filaments, light, filing towards the owl; it looks back at him. Laughter from one or both and I feel warm. Smells of dense soil, orchard soil late in the growing season: watered and rewatered and rewatered again, perfect mud and horrible footing. It’s cold. My feet, for no reason, feelings they’ve no business muddling in down in their nice cool mud while my body shivers. Enjoy that soil, baby.
In the morning I’ve made pancakes, and I look up what an owl means. Change; fluidity of life, as it turns out, to which I rub my nose with the back of my hand (it’s cold) and my mouth’s corners twitch hard upward.
“It’s almond blossom season.”
“I know.” My nose doesn’t hate this time of year like most others’ who’ve lived their whole lives around the trees. Maybe it’s because I never accepted that the body would slowly be beaten down by the pollen rather than build up a yearly immunity; that’s how it should operate. My hands find a rough patch of denim to slide into because it should be colder but it’s not. I’m outside anyways, and the sky is effervescent slightly-green blue, the specific cool kind that slices meanly at your eyes. That blue looks nothing but honest, so I keep my hands in my pockets and hope for rain.
The car’s silver like those disgusting bugs (fish? silverfish) that eat at bookbindings and the glue of wallpaper (we get those bastards in the house every winter and the earwigs replace ‘em in the spring) but it makes me want to go anyways.
“Thinking of going somewhere?”
“Nah.” I am a liar: in my head I’ve been picturing the hundreds of places I’ve been that aren’t here in this house, with its disgusting equinoctial infestations. A city that emerges from urban highway rolling into sensual hills filled with lusting green and you can feel its inhabitants writhe (pulse) to the city’s movements from the foothills where it spills out pure vibrating breasts heaving towards the sea (the bay). Then: someplace so isolated and dense and free anyways that I stumbled upon sex (“stumble” is an apt word not for the circumstances of discovery but because certainly it lead to some deep falls later on, my grace forever affected), unleashed something triumphant and heathen from somewhere soft and filled with the sound of heavy breaths that tumble out onto heaving breasts and on towards some deep wetness; twigs snap around and I shone a flashlight into the dark in the afterglow but there was nothing to reflect it, so I turned it off and moved over to the other sleeping form which was just that: sleeping--so I just slept alone. And then: walking to the old-style water pump in the cold and the dark (god-fucking-damnit it’s summer why’s it so cold up here), stumbling on stones and branches and as I clumsily pass hearing a loud, thick lapping at the river--flup flup flup--that stops curiously as the distance between me and whatever extremely large looming beast (or monster) is over there closes like its mouth--flup flup fl--and I return to ridiculous shelter in moonlight that forces me to shed, one by one, all of my various security constructs (bears don’t lap like that deer are too small must be a cougar cougar shit it must be a fucking cougar) and my pace quickened with my pulse.
“Nah,” I say again and push my hands deeper into my pockets. My feet twitch slightly, toes cracking beneath my shoeleather and I step further down the slight angle of the driveway. I am no liar; I don’t really want to go back to any of those places, anyhow. They’re just pretty carrion, slowly decomposing into a mass of uniform and oozing sap, like blighted almond tree bark split by thick viscous amber, vicious and bitter. But their containers are still pretty, and if I can enjoy the places in my head as just places and not settings per se, I don’t have to pay attention to the hatred that happened in them.
My name’s being called and I choose to ignore it, though the tone is getting more mean and full of warning with every syllable. I kind of like the way those fluctuations of warning dance together: hon-ee HON-ee hon eeHONwherereyouGOin. Right at the end of the driveway. Left onto Nan. Right onto Jeppson (past the uncomfortable low-income units). Right onto Toomes. Left onto Kiernan. Long gravel road, sidewalk on the side of the street I’m not on, wait for cars to clear and listen to make sure there aren’t any barking guard dogs near and then sidestep through the gaps in the trees (somewhere in the back of my head I’m always [every damn time] aware this is a crime and farmers will always have guns before they have the chance to see that I’m just some girl).
Looking for dogs reminds me of when I was almost a woman--or maybe I was, since it was after the stumble that I’d really taken to orchard-walking: I’d done it my whole life, but only really when I needed to clear my head; or maybe once you’ve dabbled in sex your head always needs clearing--and walking through the orchards out here. It was summer, so the trees were green and tortured with the tightly holding drops of ripe fruits. Cracking the dull greenish shells was always satisfying, then, because you got to see the little sad gem of a budding almond, pretty and golden-brown without the beautiful fullness, like brown eyes.
(I didn’t know my own eyes were hazel until someone pointed it out to me, not even a boyfriend just someone, maybe even the optometrist--I thought they were just dull brown but then I was fascinated and actually looked and Jesus, light amber brown and green like Sierra sweetgrass and even some pretty yellow honey-colors and then spots of teal, too. My friends [girls] thought it was really, really unusual that I hadn’t scrutinized every goddamn square inch of self I had, and I blushed but secretly took pleasure in that small gesture of late self-discovery.)
I’d been walking the seam of the orchards, Hammett Road (or Drive), just ambling and letting the valley summer lift its hot, dense fingers over my brassy shoulders while the occasional car zipped past, rumbling over the shred of asphalt gravel. A few of them infuriated the summer’s humid pregnancy to stir, slipping around my body a merciful cooling lace of wind that was there and gone, the valley having regained her staunch composure. I crossed over the canal, a cool non-liquid green vein of murk flowing under a weathered “No Trespassing” sign, and veered hard to the left, across the gentle slope of Hammett’s eastern end. Of course there were more orchards over there, and like all the other orchards in Salida, it was an almond orchard: green leaves flitting over the rich ripe shells of its clinging spring-conceived fruits, trunk finely lined and rough, a thick gray hide that occasionally was broken with hardened glowing bubbles of sap too thick and airy to flow down (so they froze there waiting to fall from gravity instead of fluidity). I peeled one of the sick oranges from its wound and played with it as I let myself diffuse into the walking.
It smelled bitter, which is a switch that people who haven’t had the chance to spend their lives less than a block from acres and acres of almond orchards tend not to expect; for whatever reason, bitterness comes to mind in the consideration of almonds, probably because of its extract. But the orchards are fermenting in earthiness, thick and hooded with the moisture of immense decay in the summer--and in the spring, light and fickle and sweet-smelling, not dry but just warming up from the winter.
This is somewhat of a dark piece, even for me (who, may I remind you, practically deals in depressing shit): it's a hypothetical exploration of what would happen if I end up married to some monstrous jerk, in my hometown, forever, without a career or children or anything. It's a little bit of a feat to write--honestly, I didn't want to think about it for the first few chunks of dialogue, but then the husband character just fell flat; he was your typical grade-A asshole and it's never that simple. I was getting annoyed with the narrator because I actually ended up thinking, "God, you're with him because...?" NOT a good sign.
Second note of experimentation: first person PRESENT. Oh god. I usually hate this tense and everything it stands for, and have never really extensively tried it myself. But if it works, it tends to REALLY work, so I'm giving it a shot. Thoughts on that?
And third: It's not incredibly apparent in this chunk of text (I'll probably post another excerpt later on, when it's more complete), but the third thing I'm really trying to push here is the way a victim of abuse tends to take everything on him/herself, to the point where the other person matters so much that he/she doesn't really matter at all; everything is in relation to the deficiencies and actions of the victim, and the partner becomes just a strange continuous stream of reminders, of fear and anxiety that is looked upon with idolatrous love that has no obvious reference to reality. Because of that, the "husband" figure is never addressed directly in the piece (not by the narrator--he's just literally never given a name or even a pronoun to be attached to). He is reduced to nothing in the writing, and at the same time, he is clearly a source of pain and extreme conflict for the narrator. I thought it would be an interesting experiment for me.
So there you have it, now that I've talked for far too long. Time to pack a little! Apartment move-in is in a week or two!