Monday August 30th, 2010

The exercise:

I do believe it's time to bring back the random book prompt for a second visit.

So grab a book, steal its very first line to use as your first line, and then make it up from there (giving credit where credit is due, but of course). Feel free to click on the tag at the bottom of this post to see how things turned out last time around.

Right now it's raining outside and I'm pretty sure it's the first time it's done that here since the wedding night. Oh, timing, you are an enigmatic beast.


First line from: Blue Horizon by Wilbur Smith (I haven't read it, just found it on a shelf; I think it's one of Kat's dad's books)

The three stood at the very edge of the sea and watched the moon laying a pathway of shimmering iridescence across the dark waters. Grey men, the three of them, both in hair and beard, but standing tall and straight against the stiff, salty breeze.

They had been waiting since nightfall without speaking; a few nocturnal seagulls and lazy waves gently slapping the beach provided the only sounds. Their eyes never left the water and had anyone been watching they would have sworn they did not blink.

But, of course, not another soul was around. They'd made sure of that.

When the ship at last arrived, traveling the moon's silver road like a starlet strolling down the red carpet at a movie premiere, only the slightest tremble of a bottom lip, of a frail finger, of a thick eyelid betrayed any hint of their anticipation. Still they did not speak. Still they did not look away.

Still they did not breathe.


Greg said...

I like what you've done with your prompt, your three grey, breathless men are a beautiful enigma. I have a suggestion, rather than a criticism: do you think that your third para. would perhaps work better if you just kept the first sentence and dropped the second?

I have no books readily to hand, and I'm currently not reading novels until I finish plotting Manderley (it's confusing enough living in that world and this without adding another one to the mix!), so this line is taken from The logarithmic integral (volume 2) by Paul Koosis :)

Art is long, but life is short. That motto was engraved in the stone above the library on Compton Road, where Adele worked as a librarian every weekend and every other Saturday. Today, Thursday, was her least favourite day as it was the day before Pension day, and the library was filled with old people with no money. They pawed at the books blindly, milky cataracts obscuring their vision, and their wrinkled hands reminded her of the monkeys she's tended in her previous job as a zoo-keeper. Now and then one of them would brave her granite face and ferocious expression to ask where the newspapers were kept, and she would direct them to the archives. She kept hoping that Leonora, the archivist, would start putting the old people into storage as well.
"Young lady," said a tweedy man with grey hair growing out of his ears, "Where might I find a book on better living?"
She sighed, and directed him to the assisted dying section instead, hoping he might take a hint. On her desk in front of her was an egg sandwich speckled with cress.
"Young lady!" The elderly gentleman was back, holding a copy of Durkheim's Suicide. "How do I go about borrowing this?"
"Get lost!" she said, reflexively. "You won't bring it back!"

(Sorry, it's an old joke.)

Heather said...

Marc- So well written, although I expect nothing less from you. I can't see the second paragraph without all three sentences. I think it would be too short and therefore lacking. Just to add to Greg's comment.

Greg- The humor is not lost on me. Love the ending. I didn't see that coming until it arrived. Well done!
So, I didn't write on the prompt. I was busy on a different venture which I know without trying is way too long to fit here. However, if you are in a generous mood or simply just the curious sort, I invite you to check it out. Who knows. I may yet write on your prompt since I am skipping my lesson tonight.


Samantha said...

Marc, it was fantastic, as usual. You are so gifted.

Greg, I love it. I often feel that way about many people.

The first sentence is from "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett.

The woods were already filled with shadows one June evening, just before eight o’clock, though a bright sunset still glimmered faintly through the trunks of the trees. Dusty surveyed the forest, only vaguely remembering the tiny boy he would occasionally see in the field behind his home. He was often of little significance to his mates, or alone, as he romped through the tall grass behind the battered wooden fence. According to his weathered grandfather, he often played in this forest.

Dusty’s ear caught a faint noise under the callings for the child. He brushed the thought away, sure it was merely an animal in its home. The child was probably only hiding, tricking his family. It was when he heard the light scratching noise again that Dusty turned and walked towards the source. He advanced, shaking his head and assuring himself that the trees, the shadows where merely playing tricks on him.

“Kevin?” he questioned incredulously. The beast that glared back at him wasn’t the child he had seen playing in his field.

Marc said...

Greg - I don't know, I kinda of like what that second line implies. To me, anyway.

And I totally understand - I'm completely incapable of reading more than one book at a time.

Great descriptions in your piece. A librarian who used to be a zoo keeper seems... appropriate, somehow.

Heather - thank you, though I think Greg was referring to the 4th para overall, and 3rd of actual writing. I was thinking the same para as you at first and only just realized what (I think!) he meant.

And I shall certainly check out your post shortly - I enjoy all the writing you do, not just here :)

Samantha - thanks very much :)

That was a great setup to your final paragraph, and I particularly enjoyed your second to last paragraph.