Monday November 29th, 2010

The exercise:

Let us write about: the night shift.

Because I just saw a truck go by, clearing snow from the road.

Had a day of rest today before hitting the renovations again tomorrow. I'll see what I can do about cutting and fitting some more window trim and then in the evening hopefully I can do some more work on the bathroom with Kat's dad.

Second last day of NaNoWriMo writing is going okay. Update to come.

Update: day twenty-nine. One more day and then... I'm going to have to take a break, unfortunately. The story will be finished, however. Just not this year. It's time to focus on other things for a little while, Christmas in particular.

I'm not very happy about not finishing the story this month, but I think I gave it my best shot. I'll be sure to let you know when I start working on it again.


Gary sat staring at his computer, the words on the screen blurring just enough to make him rub his eyes. Opening them again, he began reading the article from the beginning for at least the tenth time.

"I should just give up and get some sleep," he mutters, but he doesn't shift from his seat. The lights are out in his study, only the white glow from his laptop illuminating the crowded space. There are open notebooks and pens and pencils scattered all around the desk, and several reference books have set up a perimeter around his feet.

He had stopped being productive at least an hour ago, but he didn't want to face the morning without having accomplished something tonight. So he starts the article over for the eleventh time.

There is no wife waiting for him to come to bed - she left long ago, having tired of his inattention and the complete lack of progress he had made in his work. If he was going to ignore her for his pursuit of money and fame, she had observed on her way out the door, he could at least have some hope of attaining either if he wanted her to stick around.

Gary didn't really mind her leaving though. There was less distraction this way, no nagging feeling of guilt to bother him while he worked. It was easier this way, he kept telling himself. Over and over until he believed it. He didn't yet, but that was only a matter of time.

And so he began reading the article for the twelfth time.


Zhongming said...

Marc - well written! I like the general idea of your piece today :)

The night shift

She sat in front of the moving belt that transport raw rounded hard disk metal. Sally is in half asleep mode again, almost dozing off. She has been monitoring the overall yield and it doesn't seems like it's improving much. It should be nearly about a week since she lie down properly on her bed for a good night sleep. She just rest her head between her crossed arm on her working desk. 

"I don't care, I want to see results by next week! If it doesn't meet the requirement, get ready for pay-cut!" Her boss Nancy warn Sally about it again. 

Sally was rather confused with the attitude that her boss had displayed. Sally was trying her best and is working on it furiously to meet the tough deadline and not to mention that she continue to work on night shift without getting paid at all. She just wish that her boss can at least show some care and concern for her.

Greg said...

@Zhongming: I like how you've approached the topic, from the point of view of someone trying hard with a difficult night shift. I think the tension, tiredness and emotion come out well.

@Marc: we have snow, but nothing like what you've shown us in your pictures. However, it's snowing in the middle of London, which is pretty unusual, so it's a little exciting nonetheless.
I'm making fricot today. A hot, substantial soup seems appropriate :)
Your piece conveys ennui and weariness with someone doing something ineffectually. At first I thought it was too long, but then I realised what its doing -- and then I was full of admiration :)
I think it's a shame that the story won't finish this year (although also slightly relieved because it gives me a chance to catch up with it), but I can completely see why it might need to be put on hold.

The night shift
The meteorite impact wasn't exactly a surprise, but it's effects were. It wasn't long before the news broadcasts had the answer though; NASA announced that there had actually been three meteorites, aligned so that only the front one was visible from the observatory that had been watching it.
They struck sequentially, and caused enough devastation; two hit the ocean and the tidal waves swamped islands and coastal regions killing millions. The third struck land, the lowest part of China, and we can only guess at the cost because their government is saying nothing.
What surprised us all was that the triple impact caused a wobble in the Earth's axis, something that will die away in another twenty thousand years. But for now, the effects of that wobble has been to lengthen daytime for half the globe and shorten nighttime to just four hours.
The night shift, they're calling it....

Watermark said...

Marc: Loved your night shift piece! :) Shame about the Nano story not finishing. I was really looking forward to the ending but I can understand about the need to focus on other things. Let us know once you plan to tackle it again :)

Zhongming: Yikes!!! That is one spooky piece - only because my name is Sally and my sister's name is Nancy! I found it really funny trying to picture us both in that situation :)

Greg: I like the idea but fancy having to sleep in darkness for only 4 hours. I think I would move to the other side of the globe :)

Here's mine which came out as as a poem!

Night shift

Night shifts in splendour,
from one depth to the next,
stars shine with wonder,
night never seeks to rest,
always giving out its best,
more so with company –
found in its midst.

Night shifts bolder,
as it takes its last breath.
Dark falls darker,
to make a stand before its death.
Dawn breaks and spreads
erasing, layer upon layer
of a semi-perpetuating,
repeated night shift.

Marc said...

Zhongming - love the atmosphere and emotions in your piece today :)

Greg - great interpretation of the prompt :D

Watermark - that's lovely, I really like the second stanza in particular.

summerfield said...

i saw a figurine today of a crytal branch of tree and attached to it were three dragons, but i can only remember the red one and i can't recall the colours of the other two. strange, isn't it?

congratulations on your reaching your nanowrimo goal and more, and i and the grands will look forward to reading the remaining chapters of the jester's journey. excellent job, marc. kudos.

Today is the day, and Belinda takes out the white dress she bought last week for this trip: a white jumpsuit with a square sailor's collar and trimmed with dark blue bias tape. She slowly brushes her auburn hair, gathers it delicately behind her head and holds it with a red scarf, the same colour as her new pair of shoes. By nine o'clock, she is ready to leave although Harold has written he will arrive only at noon.

Belinda takes mental inventory of the important things in her little suitcase, among them, the wooden frame with her and Harold's picture, the porcelain trinket box where she stores the golden bracelet Harold gave her for her sixteenth birthday, the little prayer book her mother gave her when she was six, and the rosary beads from her great grandmother.

She sits in the living room, taking in everything in it so she might remember it in the days to come. At noon, she stands by the door and anxiously awaits Harold's arrival. She feels thankful for the open field that stretches far beyond, as far as the road goes and she is able to see the few passing cars and trucks. She lets her mind wander to a long ago summer and imagines that Harold, all of his 15 years, pedals his bike to bring her flowers he has picked from his mother's garden. Belinda smiles at the thought. She continues to replay that scene in her mind.

At three o'clock, she waits by the phone. Harold is terribly late. He is never late, especially when he tells her he will pick her up at noon or whatever time it is he has to pick her up. At four-thirty, she hears a car pull up, but it was only the postwoman. She sits on the step outside on the porch and stares at the farthest end of the road that her eyes allowed her to see. The skies has changed colours from blue to the gray of the sunset to the velvet black of the night and yet Harold has not arrived. Then as the night shifts into the golden hues of dawn, she stands up, goes inside the house, terribly shaking from cold.

She goes upstairs to her room, opens the drawer of her vanity, takes out a letter that came two months ago and reads its contents again: "Belinda, my beloved, I shall come pick you up on November 30. I will arrive at noon. And we will live together at last in Bath."

Then she opens a telegram that came just the other day: "Harold Benstead died in a car accident." Belinda sits down on the edge of the bed, lets her tears roll down her cheeks.

Zhongming said...

Watermark – wow, what a coincidence! Not a bad way to introduce yourself and your sister huh? And that’s a lovely poem! I think you did great on your nanowritmo, keep it up! :)

Greg, Marc - thanks very much for your valuable pointers :)

Summerfield - oh well, what a sad ending. That's the last thing i want to know..

Marc said...

Summerfield - thanks for the congrats, and thanks to you and the kids for all the encouragement along the way :)

Lovely, sad piece. Kinda breaks your heart, reading that.