Category Archives: Writing

NONSENSICAL TITLE TIME

Huh, this looks intriguing.

2,500 words is…not a lot. And the word counts get smaller with each round. But I guess that’s only if you do well enough!

It’s also pricey, though, so I’m not sure.

But it’s a challenge. I seem to only be able to write under the pressure of a challenge or deadline.

WE SHALL SEE

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URGE to WRITE

Dudes, I have had such a serious urge to write ever since NaNoWriMo ended. It’s freaky. I haven’t had just an urge to write in a long time.

More specifically, it’s an urge to keep working on my NaNo story, even though the thing is a piece of garbage and will never amount to anything.

Much like its creator.

But still. Maybe I’ll just have to keep working on it anyway. It’s really only like 30% – 40% done as far as the full story goes right now. Which is weird, ‘cause most of my NaNo stories (read: all of them) are at like 90% completed story-wise by the time I hit the 50,000.

ANYWAY. Time to write.

 

The WriMo has Ended!

Heeeeeeeeey, guess what? I actually won NaNoWriMo this year! The last time I won it was in 2014, which is way too long ago.

  • Total words: 50,250
  • Percentage of total story complete: I dunno, maybe 40%?

This is also the first WriMo where I’ve felt like wanting to continue to work on the story after the month was up. It’s also the first time I have a story that would actually work as a novel-length thing. Prime, Google, and Arborhood would all work better as novelettes, probably.

WORD CLOUD!

12-01-2017

NaNo Soundtrack??

Aloha, bitches! NaNoWriMo is almost over and I have a very good chance of actually winning for the first time since 2014. Which is pretty cool.

So to distract myself from everything (especially Annabelle), I present to you the short but sweet set of songs that I would consider to be part of the “soundtrack” to my NaNo project this year. There’s not much, but there are a few tuned in tracks (ha), so let’s do it.

Clair de Lune (Debussy) – This is the song I hear in my head when my main dude (Apollo) goes out on the main deck during a cool, calm night and witnesses the captain up on the main deck already, staring up into the stars as if asking them what his purpose is in everything. Kind of a special little moment between the two characters without any sort of interaction at all.

Where We’re Calling From (Doves) – This song plays when they finally reach the edge of the earth. It emerges out of the fog; at first they just hear the rumbling of the ocean breaking over the precipice, then as they get closer, the fog clears up a bit and they see the great chasm below that is the abrupt edge of the world.

10,000 Miles (Mary Chapin Carpenter) – This song hurts my soul, but it’s perfect for the one of the main ending scenes (the one I posted on the 15th, actually). I wanted the end to be a very heart-wrenching experience for Apollo, and this song fits it perfectly.

 

 

 

Nano Excerpt 2017

HEYOOOOOOOOO

So it’s about that time in November where I annoy you all with an excerpt from my garbage bag of a NaNoWriMo story. SO LET’S GET TO IT!

Context: so this story exists in kind of a future world of ours where science has actually provided proof* that the earth is, in fact, a disk-shaped object rather than a spherical one. Basically, the timeline went from flat-earthers to, as I’m calling them, “round-earthers” (people who were convinced that the earth was a sphere, like we know today) to “disk-earthers,” or people who have come to accept the new scientific evidence that the earth is a disk.

The problem is that (for a number of reasons) no one has ever actually seen the edge of this disk. This story focuses on one crew who is trying to do exactly that: sail to the edge of the earth so as to obtain demonstrable proof of the fact that the earth is flat (and to, you know, explore, as explorers do).

[Edit: I had a different excerpt here originally, but I hated it and like this scene a little bit better.]

So the crew does turn out to be successful in their mission and they do in fact stumble upon the edge of the earth (though it takes them much longer to do so than their captain, McCasey, told them it would). However, once they see the edge of the earth from their ship, they are unable to get very close due to some extreme weather conditions that exist in the tumultuous atmosphere at the edge of the planet. So McCasey (who’s headed three previous missions to the edge of the earth, all of which had failed for one reason or another) has run the ship aground on one of the tiny islands near the edge and selected a group of men to proceed on foot so that they can get closer.

This scene is actually near the end of the story. Due to the amount of time it took for the ship to actually reach the edge of the earth, a lot of the men on the ship started doubting McCasey’s ability to lead (as well as his sanity; he starts getting weird and reclusive as time goes on). A decent number of these doubters are included in the small exhibition group that goes with McCasey to get to the edge on foot. Really, the only two people in the group who don’t doubt his abilities are the ship’s doctor (who’s also McCasey’s old friend) and Apollo. Apollo is the cartographer who’s been brought along to map the edge of the planet. He’s the only “disk-earth skeptic” on board and is one of the only cartographers around who still actively makes globes. He’s aboard because he’s one of the best cartographers in the world and because, upon hearing about the opportunity to sail to the edge of the earth, wanted to go along with it because he wanted to be there with others when it was revealed that there was, in fact, no “edge” because the earth was really round. Despite the fact that he and McCasey had vastly differing views about the shape of the earth (at least until they actually got to the edge), he and the captain became very close.

Anyway. A few days before this scene, there was an accident on their journey and two of the other men got killed. This really divided the group and basically set everyone except for the doctor and Apollo completely against McCasey. With the weather and conditions getting worse, everyone wanted to press on as quickly as possible, but McCasey still wants Apollo to do what he’d been brought along to do: sketch some maps of the edge of the planet. So he suggests that he stays behind with Apollo while the rest of the party continues ahead of them.

This scene occurs after a particularly rough set of days where McCasey and Apollo were stuck in near-blizzard conditions in sub-zero temperatures. They’re both very weak and sick (particularly McCasey) and so Apollo decides to set up their shelter for the rest of the day/night so that they can get a fresh start the next day. So he does that and the two hunker down for the night. Basically what happens here is McCasey knows that he’ll probably be the death of both of them if he keeps going in his injured/sick state, so he chooses to wander off into the snow instead.

I’m being really vague because I hate this freaking story and I know it’s no good, but the 15th is Excerpt Day, so y’all get to suffer through this thing with me. Also, this is me writing about something I know little to zero of (ships n’ stuff n’ exploring) with no time to research much (NaNo is writing, not research!) and zero editing.

So…enjoy.

(Nate, don’t read this, it’s terrible)

Apollo awoke to the sun blazing its way through the thin fabric of the tent and a looming feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. That familiar hint of alarm was slight and it barely caught his attention, but it was strong enough that he did notice it.

It took him a second to register that he was alone. McCasey wasn’t beside him as he slowly transitioned from being half asleep to feeling a bit more awake. Figuring the captain had already woken and was outside of their makeshift shelter, Apollo took his time getting up. He was warm – finally – and he had no desire to end the feeling until he absolutely had to. Taking advantage of McCasey’s tendency to rise early and to stay awake after doing so, Apollo helped himself to the captain’s portion of the blankets and wrapped them around himself, reveling in the cocoon of comfort he knew would have to be broken in order for them to continue their journey to reach the others.

He sunk down into the blankets with the intention of staying in them as long as possible, which meant until McCasey returned to the shelter and prompted him to pack up to continue their walking. But as he lay back to try and catch a bit more sleep in the interim before the captain’s arrival, Apollo realized that the barely perceptible feeling of dread he’d experienced upon waking had transformed itself into something stronger. It felt now more like a pulsing ball of worry that was starting to eat at his stomach.

Apollo tried to rationalize this dread that had seemingly come out of nowhere. It was likely it was just a manifestation of his feelings regarding the whole second half of their mission. Ever since they had stepped off the ship to continue their journey on foot, things had seemed to go wrong at a fairly consistent pace. First the shock of how difficult it was to breathe in the thin atmosphere at the edge of the planet, then the rough going through the snow and wintry conditions, then the accident and deaths of Johnson and Davie.

The fight between Pauls and McCasey had truly been what separated the group, but the actual physical separation had come when McCasey had insisted on Apollo’s completion of the map and his unyielding desire to remain with the map maker until he finished, forcing the others to go ahead under the direction of Pauls. There was also McCasey’s second injury of their journey by foot, which had made it all the more difficult for him and Apollo to catch up with the faster moving group of crew.

Still, though, McCasey had remained optimistic throughout all of it, and had assured Apollo that if they got early starts and were able to keep up a steady pace during daylight, they would be able to catch the rest of the crew in less than four days, five max.

Where was McCasey?

Thinking of the captain made Apollo realize that the man had yet to return to the shelter. Surely using the bathroom or just getting some fresh air wouldn’t normally take him so long. Maybe his injury was slowing him down.

“Captain?” Apollo called it from inside without moving, not yet wanting to release the warmth from his cocoon of blankets. He waited for a moment for a response, and when he got none, he called again.

“Captain? Sir? Are you out there?”

The feeling of dread in his stomach was boiling now; Apollo unwound himself from the thick blankets and tossed on outer jacket as quickly as he could to try to contain the heat still radiating from his warmed body. He poked his head out of their shelter to see where McCasey was.

“Sir?” He had to shield his eyes from the sting of the blowing snow, the storm having come in quickly on the fast- moving morning wind. The sun, which had woken him with its brightness, was now muted by the dense clouds above him. But even without the stinging blaze of the sun in his eyes, he couldn’t see the captain anywhere.

“McCasey, sir? Are you out here?” Apollo ventured out of the shelter now, more earnestly scanning around their shelter to see if there was any indication of where the captain was. He plodded around a bit, eyes blinking away the stinging snowflakes, looking. Had McCasey gone back in the shelter behind him, and Apollo had just missed him?

“McCasey!” Apollo spoke a bit louder. He turned to check behind him, and that’s when he saw the footprints. They were unmistakably McCasey’s and were fairly fresh, though were quickly being filled with the rapidly falling snow. For the briefest of moments, the thought flashed through his head that McCasey had gone on without him, trying to catch the group by getting an earlier head start than he could have if he’d waited until Apollo was awake.

But this thought disappeared as quickly as it arose as Apollo realized that the tracks McCasey had left were going off in the wrong direction. Rather than heading in the same direction that they had been going when they’d stopped the night before, the footprints went off in a perpendicular direction – nowhere near where the others were and nowhere near anyplace that Apollo could think was worth going. 

“McCasey!” Apollo called. Nothing answered him but the wind and its whipping through the falling snow. Apollo took a few bumbling steps in an attempt to follow the footprints, then called again. “McCasey!”

Nothing. More earnestly than the first time, Apollo attempted to run in the direction of the footprints. He grunted, the newly-fallen snow making the otherwise natural action incredibly difficult and tedious. In a manner of less than a minute, he was gasping for breath and struggling to stay upright.

Had the captain been trying to scout out a route to follow and mistakenly gone off in the wrong direction? Had he just gone outside to get some fresh air and gotten lost in the falling snow? Had he gone further away from the shelter than he’d originally planned, and in trying to get back, gotten lost in the near white- out conditions? The circumstances of the weather and of their predicament made all of these options possible. But as Apollo continued his vain attempt to follow the footprints, which were rapidly disappearing under the falling snow, he knew that none of these were what had really happened.

Apollo was gasping from exhaustion and from anger now, his tear-filled eyes straining to follow footprints that were little more than shallow indents in the thick snow underfoot. He gritted his teeth and, with every ounce of strength and every molecule of oxygen he had in his body, he lifted his head and yelled.

“Coward!” Apollo shouted it into the falling snow, his voice breaking with a sob. “You coward!” But as soon as the words burst from his lips, he regretted them. Stumbling, he finally succumbed to the heavy snow around him and collapsed to the ground. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into the snow, shaking, hot tears falling from his eyes and burning through the cold whiteness beneath him. “I’m sorry.”

The coldness that had been so all consuming a mere five minutes ago had now left him. Through his tear-blurred eyes, Apollo could see the rapidly-building snow begin to pile around his lower arms as he remained motionless and kneeling in the snow. For the briefest moment, he succumbed to it, accepting his fate as the white flakes began to bury him. He was content to be consumed by it.

But in another minute that feeling was gone and replaced with nothing but numbness. Somehow he pulled himself up and out of the snow. Somehow he made his way back to the makeshift shelter and climbed inside. He made no effort to warm himself in the blankets and instead remained on the cold, hard floor, shaking from cold and fear and anger.

Time passed. Apollo knew not how much. His eyes were glazed with tears, his mind clouded with a numb feeling of shock and fear. But the cold finally returned to him and, shivering, he crawled beneath the shelter of the blankets that he had left to go search for the captain. And as his body warmed, his mind seemed to come back to him.

Perhaps McCasey would return. Perhaps this was nothing more than a mistake. A quick survey of the captain’s belongings suggested he had taken nothing with him when he departed. It had been a scouting mission, Apollo thought. It had to be. He would return, hopefully before dark.

But the approaching night showed no inclination for lenience. Beneath his cocoon of blankets, Apollo watched the shadows as they moved along the walls of the shelter, bending as the sun traveled on its low arc through the sky. Around what Apollo assumed to be five in the evening, he consumed his portion of the dinner ration, his eyes never moving from the door of the shelter, keen still on seeing the shadow of the captain approaching from outside.

McCasey was not back by nightfall. The sun sank, darkness filled the void left by the departing shadows, and Apollo used precious lamp oil to keep the tent’s hanging lamp as bright as possible all night—a lighthouse in a sea of snow and cold. As much as he tried, Apollo did not make it through the night awake, and was ashamed when the sudden brightness of the abrupt morning of the edge of the earth startled him into a wakeful state. Momentarily panicked, he glanced around to see if any of the inside of the shelter had been disturbed, suggesting that the captain had returned in the night. Finding nothing, he stumbled free of the blankets and unzipped the shelter door to get a glance outside.

The snow drifts had piled up so high during the night that Apollo actually had to push away a decent amount of snow from the other side of the door to even be able to see out, but this and the fact that there were no visible signs of footprints outside suggested what Apollo feared but what he had seemed to know all along.

McCasey had not returned.

*This involves a whole bunch of nonsense that I’m not going to get into here, so just take it as fact in the story.

Panic! At the Winco

So NaNoWriMo’s actually going decently well this year. I got way behind on like day 2 but was able to catch back up and have been pretty steadily on pace for the rest of the days.

The thing that’s the best, though, is the fact that I’m doing a lot of my writing at night after Nate goes to bed…which means that half the time I’m in my weird half-awake/half-asleep state of mind where I do and say things that I later have no recollection of doing or saying.*

I’m only about 17,000 words into this thing, but here’s some nonsense that has snuck its way in due to my weird half-sleep brain.

  • I spend half a page talking about Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts has absolutely nothing about this story. I’m writing about explorers on a ship. No Girl Scouts. But my idiot brain made this really dumb transition from talking about the usefulness of the scientific method to talking about whether or not it’s a good idea to force little girls to join Girl Scouts. Because the two things are so related.
  • Pretty sure phrases like “tender throat” belong in erotica, not in this particular story.
  • HAHAHA, so my main character’s name is Apollo, but apparently there’s been at least three separate instances where my half-asleep brain has misspelled “Apollo” so terribly that auto-correct has changed it to “appalling.” I agree, auto-correct. Appalling.
  • Semicolons; so many semicolons.
  • Parts of this really read like a bad porno and it’s making me seriously reconsider the genre.
  • Genre: “Adventure.”
  • There are swaths of this thing that I honestly don’t remember writing. When in the hell did I write half of this?

GOD THIS STORY IS TERRIBLE

*For example, not too long ago I was browsing Reddit on Big Compy late at night and the next thing I know I’m waking up on the couch having zero memory – zero – of when and how I got on the couch. It’s actually kind of scary when this kind of stuff happens.

WRITING IS HARD

UGH I’m already way behind on my NaNoWriMo words. I should be at 6,667 words today to be on pace, but instead I’m at 3,407.

Balls.

The worst part of NaNo is just getting started. Like, once I’m at 7,000 to 8,000 words, I feel like I’ve got some momentum and some actual substance to a story and can go from there. But until then?

Me @ 9:00: I should do some writing.
Me @ 9:30:
Me @ 10:00:
Me @ 10:30:
Me @ 11:00:
Me @ 11:30:

Me @ midnight: WELL I GUESS THIS DAY IS OVER

Get on it, Mahler.

Oh, right. NaNoWriMo.

That starts in a few days, doesn’t it?

Hell.

Well, I have an idea, even though it’s a garbage one. Though that kind of describes all my NaNo ideas, so…

I’ll give it a shot. Might not be able to win this year because of the combination of work, my walking goal, and the fact that Nate and I just bought Rock Band, but hey. WE’LL SEE I GUESS!

Hola

So I totally forgot to mention this when I found it a month or so ago as I was cleaning out the crap in my closet, but I found a story I wrote way back in 4th grade.

It’s a bag of trash and there’s 52 pages of it, but I’mma type it up all pretty and post it for you as a blog at some point down the road, ‘cause that’s what my blog is for: humiliating myself.

Hoorah!

Claudia’s Dumbass Poetry: Junior High Edition

I wrote a lot of really crappy poetry in junior high.

And since I have nothing interesting to say today (what else is new?), you get said crappy poetry.

Enjoy the cringe.

Chicken
My chicken longs
For a pair of tongs

To pull it out of the pan.
If it were alive
It would strive
To get out of the pan if it could.
It would, if…
It had a head, some feathers, and a knife.
And I said to my chicken,
“Hey, get a life!”

Go to the John
Johnly Conley
Puddin’ and pie
Hung the wash
And now it’s dry.
Wish he still had both his eyes
Johnly Conley
Cannot cry.

Jason Valdez
You might believe this guy is great.
Totally wrong!
Can’t you hear?
Sleigh bells, jingle jangle!
Home again, jiggitty jig.
What to do?
Chaos?
Child’s play,
But what the hey!
Blasphemy!
Stale bread,
Random dread.
Why?
Because!
Jam on biscuits.
Huh?
Say that again, randomizer.
I wasn’t paying…
Attention.
Open up!
It’s Jason!

Jellyfish
Jelly, jelly, jelly…fish!
Looming through the deep
Glowing as it creeps.
Has no brain, no heart, no lungs
Last low tide on a rock it clung
Hung there for 2 minutes or 3
Released it’s suction, now it’s free.
Jelly, jelly, jelly…fish!
He will sting you if you wish.

Life
You shan’t be deceived by the dawn or the night,
Dream small and live large shall be of your might.
Take the sin from your mind and replace it with hope,
Give much of your laughter to repel hatred’s rope.
Hold your love dearly or it might slip away,
Like shepherds with sheep so they don’t go astray.
Live your life with a purpose and not an excuse,
Make sure that your hands get a lot of good use.
Live without judging, but have lots of bliss,
Don’t go off the path and be taken amiss.
Be prepared to find pain and not simply power,
Don’t just smell the roses, stop and kiss a flower.

When the Bulls Come Out
When the sun goes down and the bulls come out,
The moon does shine without a doubt.
All sheep walk on a moonlit path,
While parakeets take a moonlit bath.
The stubborn boar is in this, too,
He lives right by the rendezvous.
The mighty bear, the timid snake,
All come running to partake.
This joyous fest, one time a year,
Rises past the Troposphere.
The stars shine brightly down on them,
All is peaceful, no mayhem.
The from the distance comes a noise,
Which made all the animals poise.
Then out came man, oh yes indeed,
Riding on his noble steed.
He cleared out all the trees and grass,
All creatures did run, so now, alas,
The moon does shine without a doubt,
When the sun goes down and the bulls come out.

I TOLD YOU

YO DAWG I HERD U LIKE GARBAGE BLOG POSTS

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

Anyway.

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!

ACT I
Scene 1

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.

HAROLD: Mary…

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!

RICHARD: Well—

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…

RICHARD: Necklace?

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)

(pause)

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 2

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.

HAROLD: Mm.

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?

MARY: …No.

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.

MARY: Where?

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.

MARY: What?

HAROLD: The tie pin!

MARY: Harold…

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?

MARY: Who?

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)

 

ACT II
Scene 1

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.

MARY: Really?

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—

HELEN: Mary…

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?

HAROLD: Mary.

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 2

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!

HELEN: Pardon?

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: Harold—

HELEN: Richard?

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.

(HAROLD laughs)

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.

MARY: Harold!

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.

MARY: Please.

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)

 

Scene 3

(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

Heb, Ola, and Peb

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.

Proof that Junior High-Level Poetry Contests are Jokes

(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.

Insignificant
What is this little black point of ink
that seems so insignificant?
What is this thing…it makes you think?
It
stops.
And lets you start again.
It’s in this sentence.
And this.
Maybe you’ve discovered its importance?
Maybe not.
But it’s there when you speak and
stop.
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.
Period.

I’m goddamn Walt Whitman.
(Apologies to Walt Whitman.)

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

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.

Geist, Geist, Baby

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.

Anyway.

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.

Plot Whole

HI AGAIN.

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.

NANOSTART

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.

NaNoIDunno

NANOWRIMO STARTS IN FOUR DAYS

I HAVE ZERO IDEAS

AHHHHHHHHHHHHSLDFJSLDFSAFL;HFLKSDF

(Quality blog post.)

Written Word

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.

 

NaNoWriMo restart!

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.