Sunday May 9th, 2010

The exercise:

I just had a glance at the archive and realized it's been too long since we played the random CD prompt game.

So go find a song you like and use its first line as your own, either in a poem or a short piece of prose.

And on this 700th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice I would just like to confirm: Greg is as hilarious in person as he is in his writing. We had a great time yesterday and it was a pleasure to finally meet him.


Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra

The summer wind came blowing in from across the sea and tickled the hairs on my arms before continuing on to dance with the tall blades of grass on the hill behind me. The coarse white sand was warm between my toes and the blue sky was flecked with the darting white and grey of screeching seagulls.

I looked once again to my left and then to my right, hardly believing that I was alone on such a beautiful stretch of beach. I had abandoned my car at the side of the road after spotting the gleaming white sand at the crest of a hill a half mile back. I wasn't entirely comfortable having the car out of sight but I'd only seen two or three other vehicles on the road all day.

Besides, it was so peaceful there. So perfect. If there had been food in the car I would have done up a little picnic and whiled away the afternoon in quiet contemplation of life and everything else.

But there wasn't anything other than a half empty bottle of sun-warmed water and lunch time, according to my grumbling belly, was approaching fast. With a sigh I turned away from the sea to head back to the road.

I don't think I can overstate my surprise when I was confronted with the business end of a handgun.

The man holding it said nothing, only motioned for me to lay face down in the sand. I did so without hesitation, too interested in saving my own skin to feel anger or shame.

He fished the car keys out of the pocket of my shorts and tapped me gently on the back of the head with the gun, a silent reminder to stay where I was. I heard him retreat slowly, the sand beneath his shoes crunching loudly in my ears at first and then gradually fading.

I didn't move until I heard the car rumble to life and accelerate away to the south. Pushing myself up, I turned and sat facing the sea as I picked grains of sand out of my forehead and knees.

It turned out I didn't have to leave that little piece of paradise quite so soon after all.


Greg said...

I'm now trying to remember if any of my writing here has been funny... I fear it may not have been. Well, I'm sat in Vancouver airport using their (astonishingly good) Wi-Fi, waiting for my flight to Kamloops. I think there's about 20 people on my flight -- because that's all that can fit on the plane, which is a Turboprop. This will be smallest plane I've yet flown on.

I'm fascinated by your story, Marc, it builds nicely to its climax. I rather like the white and grey screeching gulls as well, I remember them well from trips to the beach as a child. The insouciance of the narrator is quite interesting too, (s)he stays really very calm all the way through. You may have to run a continuation of this piece sometime!

Well, as I have no music readily to hand, I shall use one of the songs playing in the restaurant yesterday as my prompt:
Tom Sawyer by Rush

The scruffy, intelligent lad in the denim cut-offs had spent ten minutes so far trying to persuade me that whitewashing the fence was so much fun I should be begging him to let me have a go. I, for my part, was faking RSI and was considering introducing a war wound, something shrapnel-related perhaps. Tom Sawyer, for that was his name, was unimpressed.

-- ah, I have to go, my flight is boarding.

Heather said...

-- I'm incapable of choosing a favorite song. It's like asking which child is my favorite. There are too many variables, shifts of whim, and moods to compile in order to come up with a tidy resolution. I went with the one I've heard at least 500 times in the last week as my children have prepared for their quickly approaching performance: The Good Ship Lollipop.

I've thrown away my toys. Every last one of the filthy, distorted, torturous reminders of what I lost. The now bulging black garbage bag is the only real shape amongst the devastation. Mostly ashes and some jagged pieces of what use to be the white picket fence that kept small dogs out and the tulips in are sticking out of the ground. It's all that is left of the home I grew up in. The rest of the debris was hauled away by relief workers yesterday.

As I scan the ground one last time, the enormity of the event starts to sink in. There are no walls to keep it out. No trees to block the cold wind that has started to blow. Even the Johnson's privacy fence is gone. I smile at the memory of the browning Cedar fence and the boys I made out with behind it as a teenager. I wonder if anyone has contacted the Johnson's. Surely they would still be in Wisconsin at this time of year. Of everyone in the neighborhood, they would handle the news best. They were in a safe place and their most valuable items are with them. Their loss would be minimal.

A gust of wind blows off the ocean, lifting the side of my hair and tossing it roughly in my face. I push it behind my ear, shivering a little bit from the bitterness of the wind and the situation. I hear the soft revving of an engine in the distance. I sigh, knowing that they will be here soon. No one is allowed in or out without the escort of a relief worker. Still, I don't move toward the assigned pick up location. I just stare at the nothingness around me, lowering my head when it becomes too much.

I see something near my left shoe. It's dirty, but I can make out a delicate line in the ashes. I bend down to examine it and am surprised that it is still intact as I lift it out of the soot. My mother's locket; the one she put on every morning after her shower and lotion. I cradle the small silver heart in my gloved hand. Tears spring to my eyes. Carefully I open it, assuming the hinges are weak and are likely to break. On one side is a picture of my mother from my last visit and the other is a picture of my father.

My tears flow freely as the wind tugs on the chain. I fold it all into the palm of my hand. I don't care about the rules anymore. I am taking this with me. I glance around to make sure no one is around. The sound of the truck has been steadily getting closer, but I believe I still have time. I unzip the top of my suit down three inches to expose the collar of my shirt and drop the locket inside. It catches in my bra. I say a silent prayer of thanks and quickly turn away from the nothingness, keeping my eyes trained on the orange flag.

I march quickly to it, sniffling. I see the five others of our group are on their way or already waiting. As I approach, I can see tear stained faces through the heavy glass of the helmets. What speaks the loudest is the sadness in their eyes. I look away from the others afraid they would see something different in my eyes. The truck pulls up and slowly we climb in. Someone says, "I was against this war," as we pull away. There is heavy silence and for me, cold metal pressing against my chest.

--Sorry! Weak ending, but I have to be done with this for now.

Marc said...

Greg - then let me assure you: your writing here has made me laugh plenty of times :P

I hope your flight was smooth and the tiny plane didn't bother you too much :)

I'm glad you liked mine and I've actually already thought of a continuation for it, so I suppose I'll have to get around to it sometime.

I liked yours as well, short and interrupted as it was :)

Heather - I can only imagine how badly stuck in your head that song must be :)

That's a great scene you put together there, with some wonderful images and lines. I really liked the line about looking away so the others wouldn't see her own expression.

And don't apologize for the ending! I almost always struggle to bring mine to a decent conclusion before I carry on for ten or twenty pages.