Thursday November 11th, 2010

The exercise:

Since today is Remembrance Day, we're going with: memories of war.

Made some good progress on the cabin today. 

Writing for day eleven is done. Almost reached the halfway point for words!


He will never forget that muddy field in the middle of nowhere. The way the air smelled like freshly fallen rain when he woke that morning. The way it smelled like death that night.

He still remembers the sounds of the bullets as they zipped past his ears, as they kicked up dirt all around him, as they killed his friends. Gunfire still echoes in his ears, grenades weigh his jacket down, his feet are still heavy with caked mud.

He will never forget that muddy field, for he dreams of it every night.


Greg said...

Congratulations on both the cabin and the writing (I will be reading it soon, but it looks like Mark will be off to South Africa in the next two weeks or so, so everything's all hectic again. I plan to spend December hibernating this year!)
I love the description you've put into those short paragraphs, each adjective really pulls its weight.

Memories of War
"Well," Pestilence shifts his emaciated frame slightly in the chair, trying to get comfortable. "Of course I remember War, we rode together for a long time. He was a Horseman, not one of these pony-club wannabes that hang around so much these days."
The interviewer, who is hoping that the sniffle she's has ever since Pestilence sat down is just a cold, looks surprised.
"Pony-club wannabes...?"
"Well, yeah. Famine can tell you, wherever he's got to; but ever since War... went away, we've had all these upstarts. Aggravated Conflict, dresses in heavy metal t-shirts and too much cheap steel jewellery; Casualty-limited incident, pretty little goth girl with bad breath; Friendly-fire--"
"Actually we quite like him. He's groovy." Famine has reappeared holding a box of Tim Horton's doughnuts.
"Uh. Groovy?" The interviewer can see small red pimples rising on her hands and is feeling nauseous.
"Rad? Daddio? Suave? Swift? Book?"
"Fam, mate, it's the twenty-first century. Go with something a little more valley."
"He's totally teapot," says Famine. He looks tired. "Your canteen's out."
"Out of what?" The interviewer coughs and something wet and sticky dislodges in her chest.
"Well..." Famine has the grace to look embarrassed.
"Look, we've all got work to do," says Pestilence standing up. "We can come back another day and tell you more about War and how you lot got him killed off and franchised out to every snotty-nosed punk waiting to corporate as a pan-mythological entity."
"Sure, that'll be great." The interviewer's not listening, she's googling for TB on her iPhone.
"Not Friendly Fire though. That dude's totally teapot," says Famine as they leave.

Watermark said...

Marc: thanks for yesterday's comment - will be continuing it at some point and will let you know :) Enjoyed your day 11 (want to know what's going to happen next!) and loved the description in today's piece!

Greg: really enjoyed your piece today - plenty of dimensions to it :)

Allycat: thanks for your comments yesterday & really appreciate your pointing it out. It's a habit I'm trying to break out of - usually happens when I get carried away and can't keep up with the words in my head! That's when I tend to ignore my inner editor! But hey, I'm still learning the craft so will keep practising!

Here's my posting for today which is a bit long so posted it on my blog instead :)

summerfield said...

marc, i bought a new hat today and i have practiced tipping it for the end of november ;-) i can't wait to see how this story plays out because the way i have pictured the jester-dude, i have that guy scott pilgrim in my mind. that type of guy is not a dragon slayer type. heh!

i had in the past written two or three war stories, one of which was similar to yours. yours is far better though. and i don't like wars. but i wrote something recalling my experience the first time i waited for a procession at the Highway of Heroes here in Toronto. warning, as my high school teacher once told me, my essays are flat.

greg, wonderful as always. i laughed at the tim horton's bit. if that piece would ever make it on stage, i'd apply for the role of "famine" (after she's eaten all the donuts!)

ta-tah! got to wander over at watermark's before i go to work.

summerfield said...

ooops, marc, sorry, forgot to address your question about monica manning. i had the honour of reading her bio to the audience before introducing her. she was awesome!

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

He never said much about his time in the War.

He never told his parents much when he wrote back, when he came home; he didn't want them to worry more than they already did.

He told his brother a little, often after dinner in hushed tones, but he'd gone through his own share of doubts, sentiments, and memories. He didn't want to burden his brother more than he already was.

He met his wife very shortly after he came home. She knew he had been over there but never asked much. They were too focused on each other to really dwell on that sort of thing. She never pried, even after they were married for several years. She didn't want to trouble him in bringing up memories on purpose more than his memories, on their own accord, already troubled him.

He never breathed a word of his military days to his children when they were young, and only half-mentioned it when they were older. He didn't want them to know too much too soon. They had their own things to figure out, he didn't want them to know more tribulation than the world already taught them.

He did, however, tell Clara.

They met in an old abandoned shop, in Berlin, shortly after things began to wind down. How she managed to survive this mess, seemingly without anyone to look after her, and still maintain her beauty, he would never know.

He did know it was love from the first.

When he was arranging to come home, he asked if he could bring her with him.

He got a surprised reaction. "You want to bring a piano back? You know that'll be extra, right?"

He was aware, he'd saved some extra. It wasn't exactly enough, but he begged and finally they struck a deal.

"If you can get it on the ship I'll cover the rest of the cost myself."

He made darn sure of getting that piano on the ship home.
- - - - - - - - - -
Your prompt also reminded me of this:

Heather said...

All- I think it is a difficult day to leave comments of any personal nature. Writing wise, it is all good.

Greg- I appreciate the dark humor in yours.

I remember the fear that would seize me when I had to wake my father up from his unconscious position on the couch. Most people would suggest I meant a nap, but with the drugs and alcohol that flowed freely through his body, I could never be certain that was what I would be interrupting.

My sisters and I argued over who would do it. We didn't have any money (it was unwisely spent on drugs most weeks) so even flipping a coin couldn't resolve the conflict. Instead, my conscience flipped until it finally landed with the my-responsibility-to-keep-my-sisters-safe side facing up. It seemed to be a trick coin as it rarely landed any other way.

So I would approach him, stretching my arm as far forward as I could while my other arm held tightly to the wall to keep me balanced. For a short while, I used a ruler to gently tap his ankles, but I found it too dangerous after it became a weapon in his hands the second or third time. I used my hands now. My shaking hands. Tap, tap, tap. "Dad," I would call before racing back to an area out of his reach.

Tap, tap, tap again when he didn't respond. Like a Hermit Crab, I would creep a little farther in and tap his thigh. "Dad?" I would call just a little bit louder. Tap, tap, tap on his shoulder now, my heart pounding and throat dry. Tap, tap....

His hands would fly at me-- an arm twisted painfully behind my back, my back pressed down into the couch while his hands circled my neck, my face pressed against the cold glass window, these things amongst others-- on those unlucky days. But that wasn't the worst of it. It was the look in his eyes. A look of hatred, of fear, of insanity. A look absent of any compassion or humility even after he remembered that Vietnam was far behind him and in front of him was a girl who hadn't reached puberty yet.

I didn't know my father any other way until I was in my thirties. It took him that long to begin to mature. He stopped drinking and doing drugs by sheer will power. He stopped smoking with a patch. Maybe the drugs and alcohol finally laid the memories to rest. I don't know.

When I visit during the holidays, I have trouble reconciling this father with the one I grew up with. And I wonder, is this the real cost of sending people into bloody conflict? Does either side ever truly win?

Anonymous said...

memories of war
like blood-soaked ripped uniforms
never to wash clean

Anonymous said...

@Greg - Like the humorous darkness.
@ g2 - Many veterans and others could relate to that secrecy.
@ Heather - God job of bringing us palpably into the scene.

Marc said...

Greg - the donuts were a fabulous touch. Sounds like a fun group, I'd love to read more about them :)

Watermark - glad to hear! And I shall wander over to your blog momentarily.

Summerfield - ha, excellent! I think Scott Pilgrim is a pretty good image to have in your head for Jerry :)

That's very cool about Monica :D

g2 - wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Heather - gripping. Pulled me right in and didn't let me go until the final word.

Allycat - a bonus haiku! And a very good one, at that.

Zhongming said...

Another hectic day. Sorry no comments.


Memories of wars

I pay my tributes to those who suffered great deal of pain. It never fail to remind me about how cruel it is when the people are all fighting against each other. There has to be a way of compromising no matter what it is. My guess is that they've no other ways other than a war. 

I'm rather lucky that I don't have to go through such terrible times of war. When I look back at those times before my grandmother is still alive, she would usually bring me back to the scene of torture during Japanese occupation. Those days Singapore is under british colony. They did terrific job in protecting the people but was soon out of the league as the Germans and Japanese are simply too much for them to handle. 

There's an occasion where my mother actually shared with me about what my ancestors went through during those days. It was about life and death every minute, they don't even dare to sleep at night, afraid that the Japanese might just barge in anytime. They lived in constant fear, their endangered life no longer serve any purpose other than survive. 

Zhongming said...


Memories of war

It was a desperate attempt to hide and more devastating when Jack saw the man he knew, his best friend James being captured by the Japanese. Jack was hiding in the empty wine barrel when he intuitively sensed an unusual movement outside his house. The pressure of air and slight swift wind had him thinking that the army was marching in. He did not assume all of that purely by the assumptions that he had earlier. So he went to the door in his living room, pushing it's handle gently and the door made its way opened slightly as Jack is holding onto the handle with great fear in his heart. It almost popped out when he saw them just a little distance away from his doorstep leaving him with no option to decide what to do next but just find a place to hide. He wanted to tell that to James too but the Japanese have already force opened the door. 

Marc said...

Zhongming - thanks for finding the time to share that with us. It's hard to imagine having to live through something like that.

Zhongming said...

Marc - thanks for the kind words and enjoy your holiday!

See you soon!