R U READY 4 MORE “CLAUDIA CAN’T THINK OF A GOOD BLOG SO YOU GET GARBAGE THAT SHE WROTE IN THE PAST”?
2 HOT 2 HANDLE
So back in 2006, during my first semester of college when I was sure I knew everything and had the whole world figured out (you know, like all 18-year-olds do), I took an intro theatre class in which we had to get into groups and perform a 10 – 20 minute play. All the other groups chose parts of famous plays or a published skit that had been written to be performed in that amount of time.
Not my group.
No, my group had to suffer through me wanting to write my own play for us to perform. Because that how I rolled back then.
So I wrote this piece of garbage called “Marionette” that, at the time, I thought was absolutely brilliant.
I was an idiot back then.
But anyway, in part to torture you readers and in part to torture myself by reminding myself of just how obnoxiously pretentious I was back then, I present to you: Marionette!
Scene: a darkened theatre. As the lights are brought up, this scene is observed: the walls are a rich, deep red—much like thick velvet curtains. A bar with four barstools but no bartender is set up on the left side of the stage. A small coat rack is next to the bar. A partition separates this from a row of four seats is set up on the front right of the stage. In the extreme left barstool sits RICHARD, a man in his early 30s with dark hair and a healthy complexion. To his immediate right sits HELEN, is wife of three years. She is 28 and has a shy, quiet aura about her. Both are dressed in relatively expensive clothing, an indication of their wealth. Both have a glass of whiskey in front of them. Two other glasses remain full and correspond to each of the two empty seats beside them.
After a few moments, a small commotion is heard, and HAROLD and MARY enter the stage from the right. HAROLD is a younger man, 27, who, like Helen, appears quite shy. His wife of six months, MARY, is 25, and a very pretty woman. The couple’s dress is less fancy than that of Richard and Helen. As they enter the scene, Richard and Helen notice them and motion for them to come over.
Throughout this scene, the “arguments” between Harold and Mary are lighthearted, with no real meaning to them. They argue in the way an old couple still deeply in love would argue.
RICHARD: Well, hello! Nice of you to show up!
MARY: (with regret) Are we too late? What a shame…that darn car…
HELEN: Did something happen?
HAROLD: (taking off his jacket, helping MARY with hers, hanging them up) We had a little car trouble on the way over. Car broke down and no one could get it fixed. Hello Richard. Helen.
RICHARD & HELEN: Hi.
MARY: I told you you should’ve taken it in when it started making those noises a month ago, Harold. You’re such a penny-pincher.
HELEN: We ordered drinks for you, anyway. Come sit. (they move over to the seats. MARY indicates for the couple to move over. They do; MARY sits to the right of HELEN. HAROLD is forced to sit the furthest away from MARY, on the left of RICHARD)
RICHARD: Here. (slides one drink to both MARY and HAROLD. HAROLD takes a sip, but, MARY, seeing this, takes the glass away from him)
MARY: Harold doesn’t deserve any.
HAROLD: (lightly, without any real meaning) Come on now, Mary.
MARY: He’s had enough to drink already. (slides his drink across the table to herself) It’s a good thing we weren’t in an accident (drinks) Though I would’ve probably preferred one to all the trouble we had tonight.
HAROLD: It wasn’t that bad.
MARY: Yes, it was. That car…
HELEN: What kind of car is it?
MARY: An awful car. Cheap car. The kind a farmer owns, or something. Not something people like us should ever have to own.
HAROLD: It’s worked all this time, hasn’t it?
MARY: Being stranded out on the road waving to strangers for help is not how I wanted to spend my evening.
HAROLD: Oh, you enjoyed it. I notice you didn’t complain when that blonde fellow offered us a ride to the theatre. I saw the way your blouse “fell open”. (to RICHARD, laughing) The little fox. I have to keep my eye on her at all times.
MARY: (to HELEN) He’s drunk. Had some whiskey before we left. (to RICHARD) You wouldn’t mind giving us a ride home tonight, would you? I suppose, if worst comes to worst, we can leave Harold behind here at the bar, seeing as how he’s the cause of this whole mess.
MARY: (to HELEN and RICHARD) If he weren’t so thrifty we’d have a nice car. And nicer clothes. I apologize for this shawl; Harold bought it for me.
HAROLD: If I had the money to buy you a nicer shawl, I would, but I don’t.
MARY: You have the money, but instead of a new shawl for me you’re choosing to have the car fixed.
HAROLD: The car’s a necessity—cashmere’s not. Besides, weren’t you the one complaining about the car in the first place?
MARY: It’s an awful car. You should learn how to spend your earnings better.
When you earn the money, you can make the decisions, but until then…
RICHARD: Six months into marriage and they’re already fighting about money. (laughs) Sounds like a good start.
MARY: Oh, we’re not fighting.
HAROLD: No. Nothing to fight about.
MARY: Why, just yesterday, Harold got a $300 paycheck from his piano playing, didn’t you, Harold?
HAROLD: Indeed I did.
MARY: And that’s in addition to the $450 he got for just signing on with the company. (laughs) I’m sure that’s even more than you’re making, Richard!
HAROLD: Oh Mary, don’t say that; it’s rude.
MARY: It’s just an observation, Harold, don’t start getting worried.
HAROLD: Still…it’s not polite to say those kinds of things.
MARY: Richard doesn’t care. (to RICHARD) Do you?
RICHARD: Not at all.
MARY: See? And I’m sure Helen doesn’t mind. (looks at HELEN, who shakes her head) See?
HAROLD: Well, it’s the principle of things, Mary. You shouldn’t say things like that.
MARY: Oh, you’re useless. (turns away from the men and towards HELEN. RICHARD and HAROLD make idle chatter between each other as the two women talk)
HELEN: Can’t you get the car fixed?
MARY: Hmm? Oh, we could—except Harold’s such a miser he won’t let us use any of the money saved up. None of it.
HELEN: Have you got a lot?
MARY: Oh, we have plenty. Over $700. He just won’t let me touch it. Just yesterday we were walking down 5th street—you know, where all the shops are?—and I pointed out this lovely necklace in a jewelry shop window display. A beautiful necklace—and you know what he said? (laughs). He said he’ll have to wait until we get enough money saved up. Can you believe that? With over $700 in the bank? The old miser. (drinks. The focus shifts to the men; the women make conversation between themselves as HAROLD and RICHARD talk)
RICHARD: So how’s the new job going so far?
HAROLD: Real good, real good. I’m working for this theatre company downtown. They were looking for a person to play the piano accompaniment to a show. It worked out great, I got a $200 starting pay, which’ll help pay for the car repair. Though don’t believe Mary about the actual amount of money I’ve earned. She tends to exaggerate when it comes to our financial status.
RICHARD: Mary does that, too? (laughs) Helen likes to tell people that I’m the next Rockefeller. (drinks) Really, though, you’re lucky with Mary. She’s a sweetheart.
MARY: I keep hearing my name. What’re you two talking about?
RICHARD: Money. Harold tells me he’s earning quite a bit from the new job.
MARY: (to HAROLD) See? You have no excuse for not getting me that necklace.
HAROLD: Now Mary…
MARY: (to RICHARD) I bet you would buy it for me, wouldn’t you Richard?
RICHARD: How much is it?
MARY: Oh, it doesn’t matter.
HAROLD: Don’t listen to her, Rich.
MARY: I’m sure you could afford it. Even better, I’m sure you’d buy it for me.
RICHARD: Maybe I would. (smiles at her, then looks at HAROLD and indicates that he was just humoring her)
HAROLD: Now you’re stuck. She’ll hold you to that promise.
MARY: I wouldn’t have to if someone would get me the things I want. Perhaps it’s Richard who loves me, not you.
HAROLD: Now Mary…(the two smile at each other, but HAROLD’s smile is not truly genuine…there is some pain behind it)
RICHARD: (looks at his watch, trying to break the obvious tension caused by MARY’S last remark) Well, I suppose it’s time we were going.
HELEN: Yes, I suppose so. (the men move to the coat rack and remove the coats)
MARY: (as she is given her coat by HAROLD) I suppose we should pay you for the ride.
RICHARD: (putting on his coat) Not necessary. You’re our friends.
MARY: Oh, well. I’m sure Harold would be too thrifty to pay you anyway. (HAROLD smiles shyly at this; he and MARY come together and link arms as they, RICHARD, and HELEN exit slowly)
Scene: Harold and Mary’s home. The wallpaper is a drab yellowish-white, the floor accented with several small throw rugs. Off the left of the stage is the door to the house. A medium-sized table sits in the center of the left side of the stage with a single chair next to it. A small window is seen above the table. To the right of the stage, a small end table with an empty glass on top of it sits. A decorative cloth is thrown over the end table, blocking the audience’s view of the whiskey bottle hidden underneath it.
As the lights come up, HAROLD and MARY enter from the left door. They have just returned from the marionette show.
MARY: What a lovely evening, wasn’t it, Harold?
HAROLD: (distantly, removing his coat and setting it on the table) Yes, it was.
MARY: They’re so fun to be with, Helen and Richard.
MARY: We should buy them something—a present for being so kind to us.
HAROLD: (with the same distance in his voice) Yes. (looking about the room) Where’d I put the whiskey?
MARY: (ignoring his question) It’s too bad we missed the play. Like I said, though, it’s your own fault for being so miserly. (laughs) You’ve always been that way, though. So protective of your money. (moves toward the radio and turns it on. A popular jazz song is heard playing) Dance with me, Harold. (MARY moves to him and he automatically moves to dance with her. MARY hums along with the music. HAROLD remains distant) You know what? This is the first time we’ve danced since last year at that ball. Remember that? (no response. The music switches to a piano tune) Here’s a piano song. (listens for a moment) I bet you could play it better.
HAROLD: (emotionlessly) Bet I could.
MARY: What’s wrong? Why are you so down? (Draws him closer) You should be happy; you’re making all that money with the new job.
HAROLD: I play piano, Mary. Not a lot of money in that.
MARY: Don’t be ridiculous. You’ll work your way to the top. (they are silent for a moment)
HAROLD: Why’d you have to tell them about the necklace, Mary—make me look bad?
MARY: What necklace?
The necklace you wanted me to buy for you. Why’d you tell them about that?
MARY: (remembering) Oh, that. It was just a little story, dear. To lighten the mood, you know? They didn’t take it to heart.
HAROLD: And then you went and asked Richard if he would buy it—it’s obvious he could and he would.
MARY: (laughs at this, pulling HAROLD closer to her) Who cares if he would buy it or not?
HAROLD: (quietly, still obviously upset but trying not to show it) It just makes me sound bad, is all. Makes it sound like you’d rather be with Richard.
MARY: (laughs) You know what your problem is? You’re too insecure. (smiles, trying to lighten the mood) And drunk.
HAROLD: I’m not drunk anymore. It’s worn off. But a drink sounds good right about now.
MARY: You don’t need a drink. (She and HAROLD move apart. HAROLD begins to search around for the whiskey bottle as the song ends. A new song comes on the radio. As the song plays, MARY moves to the chair in the middle of the stage and begins taking off her outer clothes) Remember that time when we went to the coast for Christmas—it was right after we were married, remember?—and I saw those pair of earrings in that shop near the restaurant and you wouldn’t let me have them?
HAROLD: (still searching for the whiskey) Yes, I remember.
MARY: (laughs) I kept begging and begging you to buy them for me, but you were so determined not to let me have them.
HAROLD: (stops searching, reminisces with MARY) It was near the end of the trip. I only had sixty dollars left and those earrings cost fifty-two. I kept telling you if I bought them we wouldn’t be able to get home, but you wanted them so badly I ended up selling my pocket watch so I could afford both the earrings and the tickets home. (smiles, then laughs) You guilted me into it.
MARY: I was crying.
HAROLD: And that man came up to us on the street and grabbed you in his arms—nearly knocked me down—thought I was hurting you. (laughs. MARY laughs, too. HAROLD pauses) That man—I remember you said he smelled good—good and strong. You’ve always had a thing for blondes. (smile slowly fades)
MARY: (not noticing this) It was a lovely evening.
HAROLD: (dully) Yes, it was. (pauses, continues searching for the bottle) Where’s that damn whiskey? (MARY, by this point, is wearing only her dress, her coat, stockings, and shawl is rested on the table next to her. She is holding a small object in her fingers and is looking at it with interest. HAROLD looks about for a moment longer and finds the whiskey bottle under the end table. He brings it out from underneath the table with an “aha!”, then brings it to his lips, about to drink. Before he can, he notices the object MARY is holding. He lowers the bottle before drinking) What’s that?
MARY: (looks up, surprised. Closes her fist around the object as if to conceal it from him) Hmm? I don’t know, I—
HAROLD: Let me see it. (moves to her, opens her hand, and picks up the object. Examines it) This is Richard’s diamond tie pin!
MARY: (innocently) Is it?
HAROLD: Yes, it is! What—how did you get this?
MARY: (looking down) It—must have fallen into my pocket.
HAROLD: That’s impossible.
MARY: No, it’s not.
HAROLD: Even if the tack were broken it would be unlikely. Is the tack broken?
HAROLD: Then you must’ve taken it!
MARY: Why would I take it when we have all that money—?
HAROLD: Oh, give it up, Mary. We’re not with Richard and Helen, you don’t have to keep saying things you know aren’t true. There’s no one here to impress. (pauses, begins pacing) All that money. What money?
MARY: Are you saying—?
HAROLD: You know we don’t have any money, Mary. You know that.
MARY: Not even the $300?
HAROLD: No, that’s gone, it’s—gone.
HAROLD: It’s just—(harshly) Things for the house, Mary. Things we need. That’s what I spent it on; money’s to spend, not to save to show off.
MARY: Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that we needed the money for things like that. I thought it was extra. (a little defensively) It’s not like I know much about money, anyway, Harold. You said so yourself. (HAROLD doesn’t answer, his eyes are downcast. MARY looks down at her hands. This brings HAROLD’s attention back to the tie pin)
HAROLD: Well, if you didn’t take it, and since it obviously didn’t just fall into your pocket, that means he must’ve given it to you.
HAROLD: The tie pin!
HAROLD: Why would Richard give you his diamond tie pin?
MARY: He didn’t give it to me—
HAROLD: The only reason would be—(stops, realizes what the reason would be.) Are you and Richard…(he pauses, frowns, and looks at MARY. She understands what he is implying and is shocked)
MARY: No! Never! Why would I be with anyone else but you? (no response. MARY gets up, moves to HAROLD, who has turned partially away from her. She puts her hands on his shoulders) I would never be with anyone else, Harold. Never.
HAROLD: (after a pause) The tie pin?
MARY: I swear it fell into my pocket.
HAROLD: (turns to her) Don’t lie to me.
MARY: I swear!
(long pause. HAROLD stares hard at MARY)
HAROLD: Fine then. (breaks his stare, takes a short drink from the bottle, then makes a face) Did you buy this? It’s awful.
MARY: No, I didn’t.
HAROLD: Tastes dry.
MARY: It’s probably old. You shouldn’t be drinking, anyway. Tonight’s the fifth time this month you’ve gotten drunk.
(another long pause. HAROLD drinks again)
HAROLD: The blonde man. On the road. Why did you signal him over, Mary? We didn’t need him; I could’ve hailed a cab or something.
MARY: The car was broken. We needed to get to the theatre. He was the first one who stopped.
HAROLD: Did he remind you of that guy on the coast? Is that why you signaled him?
HAROLD: The blonde man on the coast. The one who took you in his arms. I remember you didn’t turn away.
MARY: I wasn’t even thinking of him.
HAROLD: We were just talking about him.
MARY: But I wasn’t thinking of him when that man stopped to help us tonight. Why are you so suspicious about this? You were fine about it when we were at the theatre.
HAROLD: I think you know why. I can act in front of an audience just as well as you can.
MARY: It’s not an act—
HAROLD: Yes it is. You were flirting with him nonstop until we got to the theatre.
MARY: I don’t see what you’re getting so defensive about. All I was doing was being nice to him. (pause) I think you should stop drinking.
HAROLD: Did he also give you his pin?
MARY: I told you, Richard’s pin must have fallen into my pocket—
HAROLD: Don’t lie! (pushes her violently. She falls backward into the end table, knocking it and the things on top of it off. She remains lying on the floor, her face shielded from HAROLD. She begins to cry, holding herself with her arms)
MARY: Harold…(pauses, gets no response) Have…have you no shame? (looking at his back. Harold glances at her; a sense of reality overtakes him as to what he’s just done. He goes to her, picks her off the ground, and draws her to his chest. He stands holding her, muttering)
HAROLD: Oh god. Mary. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. (MARY continues crying, but doesn’t pull away) I just—god. I want you to be mine, Mary, only mine. I want all this other stuff to end. (pauses, looks down at MARY while still holding her) I’ll stop drinking, Mary, if that’s what you want. I’ll stop. I’ll stop drinking if you say you’re mine, okay? Okay, Mary? Say you’re mine. (he holds her by the arms, looking into her eyes. She is still teary-eyed, but she looks at him. She doesn’t say anything, she doesn’t smile. HAROLD continues to hold her, muttering her name. Finally, she looks up at him and sees in his eyes genuine remorse. She smiles, and nods)
MARY: I’m yours.
HAROLD: (pulls her to him again, rocks her slightly) Good. Good. Just me and you, Mary. Just me and you.
(Lights fade to black)
Scene: the same theatre. A marionette show is taking place. The action of the show is in the general direction of the audience. All characters, while watching the show, look out into the audience. RICHARD, HELEN, and MARY are returning from the bar to their seats as the lights of the scene are brought up. HAROLD remains in his seat, obviously irritated and touchy. He has not had a drink in over a week. Richard, Helen, and Mary each carry their drinks to their seats.
HELEN: That intermission wasn’t nearly long enough. Barely enough time to get a drink. (sees HAROLD sitting rather stiffly) Would you like one, Harold?
MARY: Oh, no, Harold’s not allowed. He’s given up drinking.
RICHARD: Is that so? Well, congratulations!
MARY: Don’t congratulate him yet, Richard. He’s only been at it for a week now.
HAROLD: (bitterly) I don’t see why you can drink while I can’t.
MARY: (cheerfully, noting that RICHARD and HELEN may hear) That wasn’t part of the agreement, dear.
(HAROLD is about to angrily retort, but RICHARD speaks first)
RICHARD: Don’t be too tough on him. Mary. It’s tough to stop something you’ve done for a long time. I should know. I was a gambler for years.
RICHARD: Yes. Ask Helen.
HELEN: He was. Took him months to tone it down.
MARY: When was this?
RICHARD: Oh, a year or so ago. When I met you.
HAROLD: (awakening from his anger, staring at RICHARD) First met her?
RICHARD: Yes. I’ve known her for about a year now. Before you two were married. She’s the one who introduced us to these plays.
HAROLD: Is that so.
RICHARD: Yes. It was a good alternative to gambling. (laughs, looks at MARY, remembering)
MARY: You had an addiction… (laughs, puts her arm around RICHARD) And here I thought you were perfect!
HAROLD: Yeah, well, he’s not, Mary. None of us are. (all three of his companions look at him strangely. MARY removes her arm from RICHARD. Then, before she has a chance to say anything, music sounds in the background)
HELEN: (points into the audience) Look, it’s starting! (lights dim)
MARY: (aside, to HAROLD. HELEN and RICHARD hear none of this conversation; their interjections are simply about the play. When speaking to each other, both HAROLD and MARY use harsh, angered whispering) Will you calm down? You’re acting like a child!
HAROLD: Is that all you do? Flirt all the time?
MARY: I don’t flirt. I was just being nice.
HAROLD: (quietly) I feel awful. I wish I had a drink.
MARY: Well, you can’t have one. It’s our bargain.
HAROLD: I see you’re holding up your end nicely. (mocking her) “And here I thought you were perfect!”
MARY: I was just being nice. Can’t we just watch the play?
HAROLD: Nice. If you’re just being “nice” to him, why is it you didn’t tell me that you knew him before we got married?
MARY: I didn’t think it mattered.
HAROLD: You lied.
MARY: I didn’t lie—I just never said anything about him. (pause) And while we’re on the subject of truth—
MARY: (breaks her concentration on HAROLD, looks at HELEN. The anger is completely gone from her voice) Yes?
HELEN: Which puppet is that man from Chicago controlling? You know, the famous puppeteer?
MARY: I’m not sure. Probably the jester. Watch his legs—they said he does a lot of movements with the legs. (pauses, makes sure HELEN isn’t watching, then turns back to HAROLD) I might add that you weren’t completely truthful about the $300 we had.
HAROLD: You never asked about it.
MARY: You never asked about Richard.
HAROLD: They’re completely different things!
MARY: No, they’re not.
HAROLD: Yes, they are, Mary—money and fidelity are two very different things.
MARY: (raising her voice) Don’t you—(realizes they’re still in the theatre, quiets down again) Don’t you ever question my loyalty to you, Harold. At least when we’re in public. Besides, you’re blowing this all out of proportion. After all, I knew him before we were married. It’s not like I went with him while we were married.
HAROLD: So you’re admitting you went with him?
MARY: No! Stop being so suspicious!
HAROLD: It’s only suspicion when you’re not already sure it’s happening.
MARY: (surprised by his answer, but trying to blow it off) Honestly, you’re like a jealous little boy. Now be quiet and watch the play. (MARY looks away from him, and turns to RICHARD. Almost instantly her face changes from anger to contentment) Which one’s the puppeteer from Chicago? We can’t figure it out.
RICHARD: I think it’s that blue one with the checkered pants. The one over there. See the way his legs are moving? (points)
MARY: (looks) Oh…oh yes, I see him. (watches) I believe you’re right, Richard. That must be the puppeteer from Chicago. (smiles at him) You certainly have an eye for the little details.
HAROLD: See there? You’ve just proven my point. You wouldn’t stop flirting with Richard if I gave you $1,000.
MARY: Well, we’ll never be able to test that theory, now will we, seeing as though we don’t even have $300!
HAROLD: Maybe if you didn’t beg me to buy you every single bauble you see, we’d have more money.
MARY: Why are you blaming this on me?
HAROLD: Why don’t you get Richard to buy you things? You and him seem pretty close. Are you going with him now?
MARY: I’ve had just about enough of this, Harold.
HAROLD: Well? Are you going with him?
MARY: I’m not speaking to you anymore. This is pointless.
HAROLD: Answer me, Mary.
HELEN: Oh, look!
HAROLD: Why don’t you answer me?
MARY: (trying to ignore HAROLD) What is it?
RICHARD: How awful!
HAROLD: (growing anger) Answer me!
HELEN: The string to that puppet’s arm—
HAROLD: Come on, Mary! Answer!
MARY: (to HAROLD) Be quiet! (to HELEN) What happened?
HAROLD: Answer me!
RICHARD: The string’s broke! His arm’s just dangling there!
MARY: Which one?
HELEN: The jester! Oh, that’s awful!
RICHARD: He’s completely useless! He can’t do a thing!
MARY: (looking at HAROLD) Kind of reminds me of someone.
HAROLD: (looks at her angrily, then almost hatefully) Okay, that does it. (stands up, grabs MARY forcefully by the arm, and drags her to her feet)
MARY: Harold, what—
HAROLD: Get up. (they struggle a bit; MARY doesn’t want to leave)
RICHARD: (noticing the commotion) Where’re you going?
HAROLD: We’re leaving. Mary doesn’t feel well.
HELEN: Doesn’t she? Oh, what a shame! (to MARY) What’s wrong?
HAROLD: She’s sick. I’m afraid we can’t stay for the rest of the play.
HELEN: I’m sorry. I hope you feel better, Mary.
HAROLD: (looking at MARY) I hope she does, too. (he drags her out. MARY’s shawl is still draped across the back of her seat. RICHARD and HELEN look after them)
(Lights fade to black)
Scene: Harold and Mary’s house. HAROLD walks in from the left door quickly, dragging MARY by the arm and slamming the door behind him. They go to the center of the room, where HAROLD roughly releases MARY.
HAROLD: Well, what a wonderful way to end an evening.
MARY: Me? You’re the one who caused the scene, dragging me out like that.
HAROLD: It’s better than you prattling on about how awful a husband I am.
MARY: I have good reason to, after the way you treated me tonight. What’s gotten into you?
HAROLD: (hint of sarcasm; thinking MARY should know why he’s upset) I gave up the drinks, remember?
MARY: That’s no excuse to drag me around. Think of how they see us now. They’re our only friends in town, and think of how they see us now. A pair of Neanderthals. It’ll be a miracle if they ask us to go to the play again.
HAROLD: Pour me a drink.
MARY: No. Why must you drink all the time, especially in front of company? It makes you look desperate. Richard doesn’t drink.
HAROLD: Richard’s perfect. I’m not.
MARY: Richard’s not perfect.
HAROLD: You said he was. You said so yourself. Why don’t you go have an affair with him?
MARY: You’re ridiculous. You’re just cranky because you haven’t had anything to drink.
HAROLD: I don’t have anything clouding my mind. And I’m not being ridiculous. I can see that you’re already having an affair with him.
MARY: (highly offended) I am not! Where did you hear that? It’s not true! Richard’s in no way better than you!
HAROLD: You were thinking that, though. Of course, you’ve thought that about all the other men you’ve been with. (pauses, looks up) How many men have you been with, Mary?
MARY: (shocked at his behavior) You’ve lost your mind!
HAROLD: I know of seven. Are they’re more? (counts off on his fingers) There was George, the clerk. He was the handsome one. You always said he had a nicer face than me. And Clyde, the romantic. Always buying you flowers. More flowers than I ever bought you, you said.
MARY: (looks away) Stop it!
HAROLD: And then there were those three in a row, those rich ones. Who were they? Frank, Ray…can’t remember the third one. They all had more money than me, didn’t they?
MARY: (feebly, quieter) Stop.
HAROLD: And then there was—(cut short by a knocking on the door. MARY looks out the window)
MARY: It’s Helen. For god’s sake, be quiet! (lets HELEN in. The two walk into the room. HELEN is carrying MARY’s shawl)
HELEN: You left in such a hurry you forgot this.
MARY: Oh, thank you.
HELEN: Are you feeling any better?
HAROLD: She’s feeling fine. She’s dandy.
HELEN: (looks at HAROLD strangely, then back at MARY. She doesn’t notice the contemptuous look MARY shoots at HAROLD. Smiles) That’s wonderful. Richard and I were quite worried.
HAROLD: Richard!…that’s right. We mustn’t forget about Richard, Mary. That puts the list at eight, doesn’t it?
MARY: Harold, be quiet!
HELEN: What list? (HAROLD raises his eyebrows and smiles)
MARY: No list. Thank you for bringing my shawl, Helen, I appreciate it.
HELEN: Not a problem. I do hope you’re feeling better.
MARY: I am. (smiles at her tensely, wishes for her to leave) Well, thank you again.
HELEN: Goodbye, Harold.
HAROLD: Goodbye. (pauses, then looks up) Helen! How long have you and Richard been married?
MARY: (quietly but harshly) Harold, shh!
HAROLD: You and Richard. How long have you been married?
HELEN: Married? Well…going on…three years now, I think.
HAROLD: Three years! Three years, you hear that Mary? You went with him what, a year or so ago?
MARY: (to HAROLD) I’ve had just about enough of you and your lies.
HAROLD: My lies!
MARY: You’re a liar!
HAROLD: (laughs) Well, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black!
MARY: If you say one more word—
HELEN: (quietly) Richard? (MARY looks at her) You—you went with Richard?
MARY: (quickly) A different Richard.
HELEN: (hesitatingly, piecing things together) You knew Richard before you and Harold married…we were married, though, Richard and I. (pauses, looks at her) You…?
HAROLD: Don’t put anything past her, Helen.
HELEN: I know you’re a flirt, Mary. (laughs nervously) My god, you’d flirt with any man—and you do, but…I know you wouldn’t do that…would you? (looks at MARY. MARY looks at her, then looks down)
MARY: (hesitates) Helen…
HELEN: (disappointed and angry) Here’s your shawl. (hands shawl to Mary, who hesitatingly takes it) Goodbye. (walks off)
MARY: Helen—(door slams. To HAROLD) You see what you’ve done? You’ve done the very thing you’ve tried to avoid! Social disgrace!
HAROLD: I only told the truth.
MARY: It’s not the truth, and you know it! My god! Don’t you care about me? Now I don’t have a single friend in this town.
HAROLD: You don’t need friends when you’ve got men.
MARY: Stop it. Just stop it. Now…I’m sure you can call Helen and get this all straightened out—
HAROLD: No. I’m not your puppet, Mary. You can’t pull my strings and make me do whatever you want me to do.
MARY: I’m not—
HAROLD: Yes, you are. You’re always doing this—you’re always making me look like the bad guy while you get off scot-free, looking like an angel. I’ve got news for you, Mary—you’re not an angel!
MARY: (glares at him for a moment, then looks away) I don’t know why I stay with you.
HAROLD: I was beginning to wonder that myself.
MARY: (shocked) Harold!
HAROLD: (standing) Come on, you must know what a big flirt you are. A big, fake flirt. Always making me seem like the lesser man whenever we’re with others.
HAROLD: (mockingly) “If Harold were as rich as so-and-so, he’d be a better husband. If Harold didn’t drink like so-and-so, he’d be a better man.” I’m always in second place with you. I can’t win.
MARY: You’re being ridiculous.
HAROLD: Am I?
MARY: Harold, it’s not a competition—
HAROLD: It is a competition! God! Everywhere we go I feel like I’m put in this position where I have to prove myself to you! Every damn place we go! You make me look like this horrible man for not buying you a necklace we clearly can’t afford, you make me put on this charade whenever we’re out with your rich friends, but I’m never good enough for you, I…I work to keep with you, Mary, and, and…(pause, continues, with growing strength and anger) Every time, you sit there with that smug look on your face like you own me. Like you own me and the rest of the men of the world. We’re like dogs to you, and you love to pit us against each other so’s you can get a high out of betting on which one’s gonna come out alive with the prize. (pauses, looks away from her, and then back at her again, continuing) You know where that $300 really went? Huh? I spent it all on booze. You want to know why? Because I can’t stand your childish games of pretending we’re something we’re not. This last week of being sober made me realize…I can’t stand sitting there sober while you tell all your friends that we’re richer and better off than they are when the exact opposite is the truth! You’re a fake, Mary, and you keep dragging me into your little charades, making me look like the charming man that’ll do anything to please his wife. We’re the perfect couple until we’re alone, then you can stand me just about as much as I can stand you! It’s like we’re living two separate lives! It’s not so bad when I’m drunk, but when I’m sober I’m—I’m sick of it! I can’t stand you when I’m sober, Mary! I just can’t goddamn stand you! (long pause. He turns away from her, but remains in the same spot. MARY, in a state of shock, goes up behind him and gently puts her hand on his shoulder)
MARY: …Harold…my god…is that what you think of me?
HAROLD: (turns around to look at her, while simultaneously backing away so that she’s no longer touching him. There is resolve mixed with fear in his eyes) I love you, Mary, but…I can’t stay with you. I—I can’t do this anymore. It’s killing me. (moves as if to go, then stops and turns around. MARY, for a moment, thinks he’s going to her, but instead, he moves to the end table, pulls out a bottle of liquor, and then turns again to go. MARY grabs him by the arm.)
MARY: Harold, stop! You can’t do this to me! You can’t just leave—(door slams) Harold, come back! Please! (collapses into chair pathetically, holding her hand out towards the door through which HAROLD exited.) (feebly) Come back. (pauses, listens) What’s that? Tires screeching? (gets up, looks out the window. Pauses, then turns away from the window) He’s gone. (moves to the chair, sits) He’s gone.
(Lights fade to black)
(MARY enters, alone. RICHARD and HELEN stand, look sympathetically at MARY for a moment, then go to her. There appears to be no hard feelings or anger from HELEN as she and RICHARD embrace MARY and comfort her)
HELEN: Mary, dear…we heard about Harold. We’re so sorry.
RICHARD: Terrible blow. We feel awful.
MARY: (reserved) Thank you both. I can’t tell you how much this means to me…when I heard that he was in a car accident after he left the house, I can’t tell you what I was feeling. (smiles feebly) You know what he was doing, don’t you? He was going to get me that necklace. You know the one I’d asked about? He was going to the jewelry store to buy it for me. What I don’t understand is why he was speeding so—the jewelry store doesn’t close until late. (more somber) That’s what flipped the car, his speed. It’s stupid, really. A silly old necklace costing him the use of his arm. (looks as if to cry) Just after he got that job as a pianist. (teary-eyed, pulls out handkerchief)
HELEN: But at least he’s alive.
MARY: (distantly, but with a slight smile while wiping her eyes) Yes. At least that. (they stand silently for a moment)
HELEN: (taking her hand and leading her toward the seats) Here dear, sit. (MARY sits, RICHARD sits beside her) I’ll go get you some water. (sighs) It’s a shame…the play won’t be the same without Harold. (exits. MARY and RICHARD remain. RICHARD puts his arm around MARY quietly. MARY looks at him and smiles)
MARY: No. No…it won’t.
(Lights fade to black)
SHOOT ME IN THE FACE
So you all should love it when I have absolutely nothing to blog about, as that usually results in me dredging up some embarrassing piece of nonsense that I wrote/drew/acted in the distant past in order to fill the day’s blog post quota.
Example: Today’s post, in which I scan the pages of a children’s story I wrote in first grade. It was a coo story, because I was all about the coos back then. I wrote/illustrated the story in first grade, but in 1997 (fourth grade? Third grade? I dunno), I made a “fancy” copy of it where I typed out everything in Word and re-drew the illustrations to make it look better than the original first grade scrawl. I also made all the “official book info” by copying almost directly from the inside page of a Babysitter’s Club book.
So enjoy. (Note: their names are pronounced “heeb,” “OH-lay,” and “peeb”)
Plots are hard when you’re a first grader.
(I’ve been digging through all my old Word documents, which is why I’m posting about this seemingly random topic today)
When I was in junior high, there was some Moscow-wide teenage poetry contest thing going on. I entered a few poems because why the hell not.
Turns out both poems ended up winning (the poems were judged with the author’s names removed, and both of the winning poems in whatever category I was in happened to be mine).
So as evidence of the nonsensicality that was this contest, here are said winning poems:
I am Gray
I am a cloud.
I am a crowd.
I bring tears.
I shadow fears.
I have been torn.
I am the morn.
I am your heavy load.
I am the wind’s sorry ode.
I am the cold.
I am old.
I bring the night.
I am fright.
I am the way
I am gray.
What is this little black point of ink
that seems so insignificant?
What is this thing…it makes you think?
And lets you start again.
It’s in this sentence.
Maybe you’ve discovered its importance?
But it’s there when you speak and
And start again.
It stops you.
And keeps you from running into infinity.
And if you’ve learned by the book,
this black point of ink will dance at the end.
I’m goddamn Walt Whitman.
(Apologies to Walt Whitman.)
I deleted my NaNoWriMo novel because IT IS GARBAGE AND SO AM I.
Edit: I also deleted my NaNoWriMo profile because EVERYTHING I WRITE IS GARBAGE AND SO AM I.
So I don’t have too many “large” sections of my story yet, but I did kind of write out short descriptions of the ten different types of ghosts featured in the story. So that’ll be my excerpt I suppose. ONWARD! And keep in mind that this is all rough draft, unedited nonsense. And it probably won’t even be in the “final” draft of the story anyway; it was just a good place to kind of stop and describe the ghost types.
The encounter with the suspected Drone that afternoon had left him shaking; upon returning home, he quickly dug out his Bureau manual – something he hadn’t touched in years – to check and see if he had actually seen a Drone and not just an unusual looking lower form of ghost.
However, he was familiar enough with the lower types that he suspected the latter not to be the case. The lowest type of ghost, the Ghostlet, was one he had seen since he was 21 years old. His first encounter with this type of ghost involved all the typical encounters with Ghostlets. Nick had been playing video games in his basement when he’d heard a commotion upstairs. Upon investigating, he found an odd, clumsy being stumbling about in his kitchen, knocking over things on his counter and opening and shutting every cabinet it could find.
Luckily, Nick’s childhood fascination with ghosts had carried on into his teen and early adult years, and he was studying to become an employee of the Bureau of Death and the Deceased. He recognized right away that the being was a ghost and, specifically, that it was a Ghostlet. The characteristic clumsiness, as well as the way it stuttered when it finally spoke to him after he’d calmed it down, suggested as much. After much stuttering and sputtering from the ghost, Nick eventually gathered that he wanted out of the house, but had forgotten how houses worked since becoming a ghost. He had been opening and closing the cupboards to try and find the exit. Nick had led it to the door and the Ghostlet, clumsily grateful and apologetic for the mess he’d made, disappeared down the road. Nick had never seen him again.
But he’d seen many Ghostlets since then. Apart from the clumsiness and stuttering, he knew them to be characterized by their close appearance to their human counterparts. They were, of course, the ghosts closest to the living in terms of timeline. Thus, they held on to their physical human forms, sometimes even appearing indistinguishable to humans for those who were near enough to their deaths to see them. In fact, the Ghostlets had been one of the last recognized ghost types, as those who didn’t see them felt no experience – good, bad, or otherwise – from them, and those that could see them would often confuse them for living beings rather than ghosts.
But the Phantoms were different. The next step up, the Phantoms were the “stereotypical” ghosts that a lot of people thought of when they heard the word. A Phantom ghost was one who had lost all the “flesh” of a human and, unlike a Ghostlet, stood like an almost transparent projection of a human being. Social, drawn to humans, and naturally curious, the Phantoms were the ones most often accidentally photographed and the ones that many haunted house claimers used to justify their assertions that ghosts lived in a property. As harmless as a ghost could get, the Phantoms were usually the most benign of all ghost types. Their friendliness led to a particular law being passed that stated any house occupied by a Phantom could also, should both parties agree to it, be occupied by a human or multiple humans as well. Of course, as is the case with any other ghost, only those close enough to their deaths could see the Phantoms. They were common – not as common as Ghostlets, but a ghost that was seen frequently by the common person and by those in the Bureau.
Standers were Phantoms but with social anxiety disorder. That was the lighthearted way Nick’s manual had treated them and how it explained the difference between them and the step from which they evolved. Shier than Phantoms, Standers were usually stranded amongst people solely due to the reason that while many felt as if they could float through walls and floors at this stage in their existence as a ghost, moving through solid, non-organic objects was something that didn’t happen until a ghost was, at the very least, a Blue Type. But the Standers always seemed to be confident in their ability to warp physical space around them and were always disappointed when they’d planned to use this ability to escape sticky situations but were instead left to deal with the people around them, many of whom able to see them.
The next progression, Blue Types, were another general ghost stereotype. Blue Types were the first ghost stage able to transfer through matter, and thus were the ones that often appeared sliding through walls or beneath rugs or between stories in a house. True to their name, these ghosts emitted a soft, blue haze about them. Blue Types were commonly lonely and liked to be around people, but were more elusive than the Standers, as they could finally fade through a wall or drop through the floor when they no longer felt like being social.
Blue Types, like most ghost types, were often very quiet, their presences felt more by sight and touch than by audible cues. However, as they progressed in age, the Blue Types became Drones, the loudest of all the ghost types. The sign that a person hadprogressed from being able to observe the Blue Types to being able to observe the Drones – and thus, the sign that a person was that much closer to their own death – was not seeing this new type of ghost, but rather, steadily becoming aware of a low, persistent, unreal hum that seemed to be emanating up from the ground wherever the person went. The sound came from the sidewalk, from the pavement, from the garden, from the trees. It was all-encompassing and, for many, something that was difficult to deal with during the first year or so of having to get used to it. In fact, though it took a couple of years to do so, doctors and psychiatrists finally correlated the relationship between when many individuals progressed enough Witness Levels to be able hear the Drones and when many people tended to experience mid-life crises.
Ghosts that progressed past Drones quieted down once they entered their next stage: the Haunters. Haunters floated. They floated everywhere. They followed people, followed cars, followed flocks of livestock around farms. Perpetually curious about the human world they’d left behind, Haunters were always observing, and doing so quietly. In fact, a great number of people nearer to their deaths than most tended to appreciate the Haunters the most, as they were the calm, quiet sanity that followed at least a decade of having to hear the Drone’s low, mournful whine.
Once a ghost progressed to a Soul Slick, they stopped being bound by many of the laws of nature. Soul Slicks were small – the smallest, usually, of all the ghost types – and failed to resemble their original human form even in the most basic sense. Abstract, elusive, and commonly quick to move from location to location, the Soul Slicks were usually the ghosts responsible for misplaced items, objects moving without seeming to be moved by anything that could move them, and for many mirror experiences involving ghosts.
Soul Slicks, after a substantial period of time, became Whispers. Television static that seemed to talk, voices on the phone line that seemed to be there behind the steady drone of the dial tone, garbled words that crawled out of the sink drain as the water sucked and spun down – these were the work of Whispers. This form of ghost was fragile, fleeting, and difficult to capture, even by someone who was advanced enough towards their own death that they could clearly see them. Most were too fragile to attempt a possession, and the rare Whisper that managed its way into the being of a living being usually had little time to do anything with the body before the being’s life expelled it as if it were a poison. In general, as it stood, Whispers possessed no desire to interact with living things. They were, in most cases, a higher level version of the Standers.
As gentle, fleeting, and shy as the Whispers were, Screamers were the exact opposite. It was common knowledge that a ghost could not cause the death of a creature in any way (apart from, perhaps, a human having a heart attack from fright – which in itself was rare, since everyone spent their lives with ghosts and thus were rarely startled by them). However, if a human came into contact with a Screamer, it was not unusual for them to feel like this common knowledge was about to meet the ultimate test.
Screamers were aggressive. As such advanced ghosts, many of them were attached as strongly to their respective residences as any human would be. It was widely assumed that Screamers, like every other type of ghost, knew that it could not cause mortal harm to a human. However, very few of them acted without the restraint provided by this knowledge. Reports of Screamer encounters usually involved some sort of struggle or trauma – being thrown down stairs, getting slammed against walls by the ghost as it hurled itself through behind, furniture thrown about and causing blunt force trauma, and various other injuries that resulted from the interaction of an overly aggressive ghost and a terrified human.
Then there were the White Lights. The top level. The end. The point at which there was nothing beyond. Nick’s manual had had a surprisingly thick chapter on the White Lights, despite the fact that the first sentence of the chapter somewhat shamefully admitted how little humans knew about this final ghost form.
All information about White Lights, he’d read, had had to be gleaned from those rare and often traumatized individuals who had, for some reason or another, seen their White Light as they faced the brink of death but who had then been grabbed and pulled back into the world of the living. These people, few and far between, all seemed to have slightly different experiences with their respective White Lights. Some said their Light spoke to them. Others said that their Light was silent, but had beckoned them closer with a cold, bright, finger – like appendage. Even others said that their White Light had appeared so far off in the distance that they had the compulsion to run towards it in order to not let it escape.
So remember a few days ago when I blogged about NaNoWriMo and mentioned that I’d update that post with a plot summary?
Well, I’ve got absolutely nothing of interest to say today, so I’ll just post that plot as today’s blog.
Because I can.
Okay. So the world my story is set in is exactly the same as our world now, except everyone knows and accepts that ghosts are real and exist among the living. In fact, everyone can see ghosts, but when a person able to see them and what types of ghosts they’re able to see depends on how close the person is to his or her own death.
It’s like this: ghosts are classed into one of ten types, depending on how “old” they are (that is, how long the ghost has been a ghost) and the properties that they have. Ghosts range from Ghostlets, which are the “just dead” ones who still resemble the people they were when they were alive and are super clumsy and awkward because they’re not used to being ghosts yet, to White Lights, which are the oldest known ghosts and have the job of ushering people through the final stages of death (which is why many people who survive a near-death experience say that they saw a white or bright light). The closer a person gets to their own death, the more types of these ghosts they’re able to see. People start with seeing Ghostlets and progress from there.
While ghosts and humans get along (in most cases), the government has decided that it’s a good idea to keep humans and ghosts separate as far as living spaces go. This is the job of the Bureau of the Dying and Deceased. Many of the people in this Bureau basically act like realtors for ghosts, ushering them to dwellings that are unoccupied by humans.
My main character, Nick (named, of course, after my awesome friend Nick who seems to have dropped of the earth. Hi, Nick, if you ever read this!), is an employee at the Bureau. He goes around making sure that ghosts have proper living spaces and remain out of the living spaces of humans. Of course, he can only work with the types of ghosts he can see—which, at the beginning of the story, are just the three “youngest” types.
However, Nick notices that his ability to see older and older ghosts is progressing very rapidly for someone his age, which suggests that he is quickly approaching his own death. While the progression differs from person to person (e.g., one person might be “stuck” seeing a certain type of ghost for a much longer period of time than another person), he knows that his own progression is abnormally fast. So he spends most of the story trying to figure out what might be causing him to progress so quickly towards his own death. He knows he can’t stop the progression, but he at least wants to see if he can slow it. A lot of this involves Nick talking to ghosts of various ages/types to try to figure out what’s going on with himself.
Haha, it sounds so dumb when I write it out like that. But I’m having fun with it so far.
Heyyyyyyyy, it’s that time of the year again: NaNoWriMo!
So I’m not currently super confident about my idea, but that might mainly be due to the fact that it was what I wanted to do last year, but ended up not even getting started on it due to extraneous circumstances (read: school). That gave me a year to kind of mull it over in my head, which usually leads to making the idea worse rather than better. So that’s a bit terrifying. I prefer to be, in the terminology of NaNo, a “pantser.”
So we’ll see how it goes. I’ll update this with a plot at some point.
NANOWRIMO STARTS IN FOUR DAYS
I HAVE ZERO IDEAS
(Quality blog post.)
For the past few months, I’ve had a very strong urge to write a story by hand, like I did way back in elementary school before I learned how to type. Ever since I started writing in Word rather than on paper, I’ve always written things (especially fiction) out of order. This has been the case every NaNoWriMo (and is why going back and editing Prime has been such a pain, haha).
I actually don’t think I’ve written a fictional story in order in over seven years. At least.
It’d be an interesting challenge to see if I could still do it. I have one or two stories in mind that I’d like to try it with—who knows? Maybe it’ll happen.
The NaNoWriMo website has been reset, meaning that NaNoWriMo 2015 is approaching quickly!
I’m preeeeetty sure I’m going to participate this year…that might change due to school stuff if necessary, but barring that, I’m totally going to do it. I think my idea for this year’s novel will come from a dream I had awhile back. It was about this realtor in some town out in the desert who not only had to act as a realtor for the living inhabitants of the town but for the dead ones as well (the ghosts). That is, he had to figure out how best to divide the real estate market between those who wanted to live in houses and those who wanted to haunt them. Every time he screws up, someone ends up living in a haunted house.
It’s a pretty dumb idea, but I like the title “Ghost Town Realty” for it even though it’s not really a ghost town he’s dealing with.
Blah. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m in the mood to edit “Odor,” that short story I wrote about the anosmic dude who got an implant in his brain in order to be able to smell. When I wrote it back in 2013 I really just wrote it to write it, if that makes any sense. I’d been wanting to write about anosmia for a long time, but I had always approached it from a non-fiction standpoint and could never get anything written. But once I made it a fictional account, writing about it became ridiculously easy and free-flowing. I think I wrote the original story in about two hours, then edited only a few things afterward.
Thus, it’s not perfect. Far from it. But I want to edit it so that it can get closer to perfect, because it’s a very personal story and I just want it to be told right.
Anyway. I didn’t have anything else to blog about today, so you get that little snippet of thought.
The SCP Foundation is an interesting concept for a website. It’s a place for creative writing that allows for people to create “SCPs”, or things/creatures/phenomena that require special containment procedures. The SCPs, therefore, are all fictional, but each entry is written as if the thing is real.
From the site:
“We are the last bastion of security in a world where natural laws rapidly break down. We are here to protect humanity from the things that go bump in the night, from people who wield power beyond mortal understanding. We are here to make the world a safer place. We are the holders of wonders, and the caretakers of dreams. We are why the world continues.”
Here are some good examples:
Give it a read; some of the entries are really interesting. But don’t read it alone at night, ‘cause some of the entries are also really disturbing.
So I’ve edited 45 more (single-spaced) pages of Prime since I started working on it about a month ago. That may not sound like much, but it’s 45 more pages than I’ve edited in the past year and a half. (Blame Nate, he’s giving me the motivation to write/edit.)
I seriously doubt I’m going to ever do anything with it (mainly because it will still be crap even after the 30th edit or whatever), but it’s nice to be working on it again. As crappy as Prime is, it’s my baby and I love it.
I’m pretty sure hell has just frozen over, as I’ve decided to go back and edit Prime some more. I was on an editing streak way back in summer of 2013, but then I stopped because I got to a rough part at the end of one chapter and I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there to get to the next chapter I’d written. And being me, I didn’t want to just skip a part and continue editing—I wanted to edit everything in order.
So I just…stopped.
But I’ve had the urge to work on that story for about a week now, and today I finally just went back and started where I’d left off. I finished editing the chapter I’d left and then continued on. Is the edit good? Not really. But it’s better than what it was, and it’s not like there won’t be more drafts of this nonsense (if I don’t just get completely sick of it and delete it off the face of the earth) in which I can make things even better.
That is, if an 80-or-so page setup for a really horrible “divide by zero” joke is even capable of being bettered.
So yeah. Prime’s still around and it’s finally going to be worked on again. Yay for everyone.
So today I spent a lot of time packing for the move (when am I not packing for a move?) and I came across an old story I’d written in a journal in first grade. I’d like to share it with you because a) I want to demonstrate that my writing ability has in fact not improved since first grade and b) I have nothing else of interest today.
I remember we had to write a story about Halloween for this particular writing assignment, but other than that it was pretty open. My incredibly creative title for this thing was “The Poisonous Pumpkin.”
Once there was a boy named Jacob. His dad said, “Son, we are moving to Pennsylvania! But first we must buy some pumpkins, for it is getting close to Halloween.”
“Okay,” said Jacob. “Give me some money and I’ll got to the store and buy six pumpkins.”
“Okay,” said his dad. “Here’s six dollars, one for each pumpkin. Put on your coat.”
“Alright,” said Jacob. “Bye!”
Soon he got to the pumpkin selling place. “Here’s six dollars for six pumpkins!” said Jacob.
“Okay,” said the pumpkin seller. “Pick your pumpkins.”
So Jacob found the best six pumpkins. He was about to go home when he saw a pumpkin with a scary face and lips already carved out. He put back one of his pumpkins and took that one.
When he got home his dad had already packed. “Come on, son!” he said. “Put your bike and the pumpkins you bought in the back of the car. By the way, that’s a very strange pumpkin you bought.”
“I know,” said Jacob. “It was already carved. Can you believe it?”
“Now son, don’t start making up stories.”
“Now let’s go!”
So they got into the car and drove off. Finally they reached Pennsylvania. Jacob got out of the car. “What a house!” he said.
“Don’t forget the pumpkins,” his dad said.
“I won’t.” He opened the back door of the car…”Dad?” asked Jacob.
“The pumpkin with the face already carved out…”
“Yes?” said his dad.
“Is the window open?” asked his dad.
“Yes,” replied Jacob.
“Well, it probably fell out the window.”
“But we didn’t hit any bumps!” said Jacob.
“Yes we did,” said his dad. “The gravel road.”
“But those were just little bumps,” said Jacob. “Even I barely felt them.”
“Oh, let’s just forget about the pumpkin.”
The next day Jacob woke up. [best line in this whole damn story.]
“Come on Jacob!” Said his dad. “You don’t want to be late for the first day of school.” Jacob got up, got dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast. Jacob saw the old dry leaves out the window and remembered the crackling he heard that night. But before he could say anything to his dad, the school bus arrived.
“Hurry!” said his dad. Jacob got his backpack and ran outside. But the poisonous pumpkin was watching behind a bush. He knew that when Jacob got home he would have a friend with him, and that he could poison Jacob’s friend.
When Jacob did get home, he did have a friend named Andrew with him. Andrew was spending the night.
“Let’s go upstairs and play,” said Jacob.
“Okay,” replied Andrew.
They played until it was time for dinner. When Jacob and Andrew and his dad went to bed, the door opened.
“Did you hear that?” said Andrew.
“I sure did,” replied Jacob. “My dad’s asleep. Let’s go down and see!” They went downstairs, turned around, and looked out the door. There was the poisonous pumpkin with a can of pop and an ax in his vines.
“Run!” said Jacob. Jacob and Andrew ran as fast as they could, but the pumpkin came after them, waving its ax.
“Dad!” yelled Jacob. “The pumpkin’s alive!”
Suddenly, the as slipped from the vines and flew in front of Jacob. He quickly grabbed it. Then he ran after the poisonous pumpkin. The poisonous pumpkin was drinking his pop and spitting poison at Jacob. One shot almost hit him. After a long time of running, the pumpkin got tired. Soon, it collapsed. Jacob chopped him up and burned him. The poisonous pumpkin was never heard of again.
Riveting. Man, that plot skips around like a scratched CD and then just crashes and burns, doesn’t it? Also, I love how the pumpkin has to infuse pop with the poison in order for it to be effective. And that he needed an ax, too, like as a backup. Way to write a villain, Claudia.
There are indeed illustrations for this, but they’re even more embarrassing than the writing, so you don’t get those.
Do you see this?
Do you know what this is?
This is the page count/word count for the longest coherently-themed story I’ve got on my computer right now.
Do you know what the story is? It’s freaking fan fiction.
What is wrong with me.
Hey, so tomorrow is the halfway point of NaNoWriMo 2014, which is traditionally (not really) the day I post an excerpt. But tomorrow I’m hoping to hit 500 miles and thus I’ll be dedicating my blog to that.
So let’s break (non-)tradition and post an excerpt today!
So here’s the setup you need to understand the excerpt: I’m writing about TREES! Specifically, I’m writing about six giant redwoods in the Grove of Titans in California. The basic plot (so far) is this: Hesher is the oldest tree in the grove at 2,762 years old. Dooser, the tree growing next to him, is quite a bit younger but is the tallest tree in the grove. Since the two trees grow so close to one another, they are practically best friends.
One night, Hesher secretly tells Dooser that he is tired of living—he’s lived so long he feels like he’s seen everything and is tired of every day feeling the exact same. He doesn’t tell Dooser to kill him, but he tells him that it would be a great favor to him if ever an opportunity would arise for Dooser to somehow shorten his life.
(I know that sounds like the most morbid, emo plot ever, but Hesher is looking at death from an optimistic standpoint—he realizes that he’s been alive a very, very long time and feels in part like it’s time for the next step, which is to become part of the earth once more and be recycled back into nutrients for other trees).
Anyway. One night there’s a pretty bad wind storm that’s powerful enough to shake even the redwoods. After some thought, Dooser determines that this is one of those opportunities Hesher had been talking about, so during a particularly big gust of wind, Dooser lets one of his larger branches fall on Hesher. This causes the older tree to collapse (he was partially rotted through in the lower portion of his trunk) and he is mostly uprooted once he falls to the ground
The other trees, of course, are extremely upset by this, as they know that Hesher will now die a slow death on the forest floor. Some of them blame Dooser and claim that the “accident” was no real accident. Dooser, however, keeps quiet about this, as he knows that if he tells them about Hesher’s wishes, he’d be disrespecting him and his authority as the oldest tree.
Following this storm, there is an extremely hot and dry period with no rainfall and very little relief from an abnormally hot summer. Dooser starts been spending his nighttime talking to the fallen Hesher, keeping him company, but one night Hesher falls asleep as the sun sets while Dooser stays awake at night. However, he realizes that Arrodine, the tree across the grove, is awake and he starts talking to her. The two are about the same age and have been friends for a long time, but they had grown apart recently, partially due to the branch incident. This is their first one-on-one conversation in a long time.
(Note that this is unedited NaNoWriMo blathering, so apologies for the lack of quality.)
But one of those rare nights during which Hesher slept, during the midst of the drought when there was still no rain in sight, Dooser found that he was not alone in the dark. Around sunset, Hesher had fallen into a sleep that had started out restless but progressed rather rapidly into a deep, motionless sleep. It was rare for trees to be completely still, even when asleep, but Hesher was so completely exhausted that there was not even a flutter of his leaves, save for the bit of motion caused by the winds that managed to make it to the forest floor. Dooser didn’t know if Hesher’s stillness was due solely to exhaustion or to the death that was slowly taking over his body. He didn’t want to think about the latter option.
But as he stood towering into the night sky, unable to sleep as always and keeping a watchful eye over his fallen friend, he realized that Arrodine was awake across the grove. He couldn’t see her, of course, save for the dim glow of moonlight flickering against her leaves and coating the rough edges of her sheaths of bark in a velvet-like glow. But he could tell by the way she was moving that she wasn’t asleep like the others.
He ventured to speak to her, but as soon as he spoke her name he knew it had been too soft for her to hear. He was so used to speaking to Hesher, who was much closer and much quieter (Arrodine would have to hear him over the rustle of her great mass of leaves; Hesher wasn’t able to move his leaves like he used to) that his voice now naturally took a quieter, more gentle tone than it did during the day.
But to his surprise, the large tree answered from across the grove. “Dooser? Are you awake?”
He gave a rustle of his branches in confirmation. “Can’t sleep?” he asked her, relieved to find that he wasn’t going to have to spend the night alone in silence.
“I can’t,” she replied. There was a hesitation before she spoke again. “I…I’m thirsty.” Though there was an undertone of shame in her admittance to this fact—she never liked to admit discomfort—there was also a great sense of relief in her voice. Dooser suspected she would probably never admit such a grievance to any other tree in the Grove.
“I’m thirsty, too,” Dooser said, hoping to validate her complaint by stating that he felt the same way. “I wish it would rain. We all need it so badly.”
“I hate this drought,” Arrodine said. “I hate not having enough water. I hate being so dry. It makes it easier for the bugs—” She paused, giving her massive trunk a quick torque—one that was enough of a twist to disrupt the dozens of bark beetles that had chewed their way through her dry, brittle bark and had made a passage to her inner trunk. They scuttled out and over her rough surface, their shells glittering in the moonlight, and disappeared into the forest floor from whence they came.
Arrodine resumed her sentence. “—it makes it easier for the bugs to latch on and chew on my bark. They’re trying to get to my heartwood. I’m surprised they haven’t yet in this dryness.”
Dooser looked across at her. She was no more illuminated than she had been when they first started speaking, but the twist of her trunk left her leaves in motion and they glimmered like twinkling stars against the dark night. The great presence that was her trunk groaned and creaked as it settled back into place. For a brief moment, Dooser’s attention turned to Hesher, whom he could see slightly better owing to the tree’s supine position on the forest floor. Hesher was clearly illuminated by the moon, and Dooser could tell that he was still in a deep sleep. He was in such a sleep, in fact, that a conversation with Arrodine wouldn’t wake him.
So Dooser spoke again. “I’m sorry about your beetles,” he said earnestly. Arrodine had been plagued on and off by the bark beetles and similar other pests for as long as she had been growing opposite of him. What made her more of a frequent target than any of the other trees around her, Dooser didn’t know. Perhaps it was because the sheer size of her trunk made it almost impossible for her to monitor every inch of it every second of the day. Dooser himself had a hard enough time doing that, and he was probably a fourth of her size, volume wise. He tried to change the subject to something a little bit more optimistic, though he found himself unable to talk about anything but water. “I can’t wait ‘till it rains.”
“Neither can I,” she replied. “I almost forgot what it’s like to drink from saturated soil. My roots are as deep as they can get and they’re starting to run out of moisture. If only there was a way to get closer to the ground in order to dig deeper and—” She let her sentence trial off. Dooser felt her glance toward Hesher, who lay as close to the ground as any redwood could possibly get. He realized that she didn’t find it appropriate to talk about such a thing when their oldest member lay dying on the forest floor.
“Do you think Hesher will make it ‘till it rains?” He asked, thinking about the fallen tree.
“Dooser! It’s not right to talk about such a thing. Of course he’ll make it to the rain.”
“You don’t know that,” Dooser countered. “I don’t know that. I don’t think even Hesher knows that. It depends on a lot of things.”
She spoke after a bit of hesitation. “Like how many roots he has still functioning,” she eventually said, as if to rationalize what factors were needed in order for the old tree to live until the drought had ceased.
“And how deep they are.”
“And whether or not there’s a fire.”
“Don’t talk about fire,” Dooser was quick to comment, shuddering at the thought of flames ripping through the dehydrated forest. “It’s too dry for there to even be clouds. No chance of them, so no chance of lightning.”
They were quiet for a moment or two.
“I’m starting to think that half the forest won’t even make it until the rain,” Arrodine said finally. “It’s so dry. We’re so thirsty. When the sun comes up in the morning, I think to myself, ‘this is it, it’s going to start turning around today, it can’t be this dry forever.’ But then I see those firs behind you—there’s five of them—who sit in a sunny patch all day long—I see the dread that overcomes them as the sun’s rays hit the very tops of their branches and then slowly descend down their entire trunks. They’re suffering, Dooser. They’re brittle and they look almost ready to collapse. And as the day goes on I see no relief in the dryness, and the sun just keeps shining on those firs. They’re so relieved when the sun goes down. So am I. I’m starting to like the night more and more.”
Dooser didn’t quite know what to say to this. “It will rain,” was his weak, unconvincing response. “It always rains. I’ve been through bad droughts before. It always rains.” He stopped. Arrodine said nothing in response, so he said, “I like the nights, too.”
“I hear you talk with Hesher,” she said softly, almost gently, as if she were forbidden from doing so. “Every so often I wake up for a few minutes or so; you’re always talking when I wake up like that. Do you talk to him a lot?”
“Every night,” Dooser replied with a bit of caution. He didn’t want to accidentally make her feel guilty for not speaking to the old redwood as much as she had when he’d been standing, but he also didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that it was one of his branches that had downed Hesher in the first place—a fact about which he was sure the other trees thought he should feel guilty. He added, “does that bother your sleep?”
“No,” she answered. “Not at all. I like the sound of it, of the two of you talking. It’s almost—” She paused, thinking, and Dooser suspected she was going to say that it was almost like old times—like when Hesher had still been standing.
But instead she said, “It’s calming. I like hearing conversation when I wake up. It makes the nights not as lonely, especially now that I’m starting to prefer them to the day.”
They were silent for a moment, with nothing but the dry sound of their branches swaying in the hot wind. Even at night they couldn’t escape the heat in its entirety.
Dooser said, “I miss talking to you, Arrodine. Remember how we used to talk at night so often?”
“I do,” she replied. “I miss it too.”
In the silence that followed, a memory was shared between the two trees: a memory of their younger selves staying up well past sunset until the others of the Grove went to sleep, and then, in hushed tones, discussing anything and everything they could think of. Apart from Hesher, Dooser’s relationship with Arrodine had been the closest relationship he’d ever had to another being. The fact that they had been slowly drifting apart in the sense that their nightly conversations had grown more and more infrequent—not to mention shorter and shorter—was a fact that he hadn’t wanted to face up until this point. But here it was, staring straight at him.
Across the Grove, he heard Arrodine shift her branches restlessly. Was it the silence getting to her? Or the memories? Or possibly just the heat?
“We should start talking like that again,” he said to break the uncomfortable silence.
“I’d like that,” she said.
“It will be just like it was, back when we were younger. And shorter,” he laughed, referencing himself.
She laughed, too. “And smaller.” She creaked her trunk for emphasis.
“We should talk again soon,” he said, excited about the prospect of revitalizing his relationship with the large tree across the Grove.
“After—” It was Dooser’s turn to stop himself. After what? He couldn’t help his gaze from traveling down to Hesher. The fallen tree lay still in his deep sleep. For now, he was oblivious to the heat still hovering in the air, making the other trees and plants and creatures uneasy and uncomfortable. He was oblivious to the extreme lack of water plaguing the forest, this by virtue of the majority of his roots either being ripped from their anchoring or simply snapped as he had fallen. He was oblivious to the passing of time that would once again bring a new day and would bring him, thus, one day closer to his death.
And he was oblivious to the fact that this inevitable death of his was now being used as a marker in the future—a point at which Dooser could resume his nightly talks with Arrodine. He felt shame at even hinting at such a thing wash over his body, but Arrodine was quick to attempt to repair his blunder.
“After the rain?” She suggested.
Dooser heaved a sigh of relief, though he was sure that she was just being kind and had realized that he had unconsciously been referring to Hesher’s death.
“After the rain.” He ruffled his leaves as she did, trying in vain to relieve himself of some of the heat. He peered up into the night sky, its color a deep, velvety blue-black dotted intermittently with the pinpoints of stars. Even in the vast expanse toward which he reached, into which he towered further than any other living thing as far as he could see, Dooser could not escape from the heat. He could not escape from the here and now.
He let his branches come to a shuddering standstill, listening as the dry, browning leaves crackled against one another until they all became silent, not to speak again until he wanted them to, like a million dying creatures waiting for an excuse to voice their last thoughts.
He sensed Arrodine looking across at him and he looked back at her, the massive tree swaying her branches and creating the slightest breeze. Her leaves, like his, crackled like death.
“I hate this drought,” he said.
And happy midnight kickoff of NaNoWriMo!
So I’m definitely doing my tree story. I have no idea what the plot’s going to be yet, but I have two character names in mind. Considering this is the most I’ve ever had planned out before a NaNo, I figured why not.
Be prepared for a lot of tree posts.
(I tried to think of a good pun but I failed. Great start to the new month, huh?)
My NaNoWriMo this year is going to be about trees.
Probably from the perspective of one (or more) trees.
Because hell, when has any one of my NaNo novels made any damn sense?
(Sorry, I got nothing today)