Wednesday May 4th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the scar.

Went to the local writer's group meeting this morning and had a good time. We did a fun writing exercise, but it doesn't really translate over to here since we had to pair up and go back and forth with it. I'll try to come up with something similar though.

Did some work in the garden this afternoon and enjoyed being out in the sun. Fingers crossed, but it's starting to look like spring is here to stay.

Oh, right! As promised, here's Sir Phillip:


The man brought his car to a halt at the edge of the field and got out without shutting the engine off. After looking up and down the road to make sure he was alone, he stepped onto the grass and began making his way toward the smoking heap a few hundred yards away.

The sun hung low in the sky to his right and his nostrils were filled with the smells of scorched earth and overheated metal. A hundred yards from the wreckage the man came upon the initial impact site. The ground had been scarred by a deep, smoking rut that lead the rest of the way to... whatever it was that had fallen from the sky.

He continued on without hurrying his pace, struggling to remain calm. He was not the sort of man that believed in aliens, not that he'd ever given the matter much thought. Before that moment, anyway.

"Probably just a meteor or space junk or something," he muttered after a backward glance confirmed no one else had arrived.

When he was less than twenty yards away he was able to make out a shiny metal object, shaped like an over-sized headache pill. Two more trembling steps got him close enough to see that it had cracked open and that there was nothing - and no one - inside.

The sound of a car door slamming shut spun him around. He was just in time to see his car accelerate down the road.

As best he could tell from that distance, no one was driving it.


Greg said...

The writing exercise sounds intriguing, maybe you could do it over a period of days, a kind of longer-running exercise? Still, if it inspired today's prose, it's definitely a good one!
Today's prose is very atmospheric, I can picture the scene, and I love the bit where his car takes off, possibly by itself. There's a sense of otherworldliness going on here.
I also like the subtle way you tell us how the protagonist is feeling: the trembling steps, the struggle to remain calm. It's very effective.

The Scar
In the eyes of the Goddess are sparks,
Noetic motes that swarm like silverfish,
Overwhelming the mind of the observer
With insight, wisdom and rage.

Seduced by her subtle touch
(fingers that whisper across skin)
Perseus dreams of a conquest
That will honour Athena forever.

And as a reminder, a tactile forget-me-not,
Her fingers burn like the forge's breath.
Skin blisters and tightens, reddens and bursts,
So that blood stains his purest-white shirt.

The shock and pain are dissipated,
Pushed aside when she leans in and kisses him.
He takes up the Aegis, scabbards his sword,
And bears his scar as a holy talisman.

Anonymous said...

My first attempt at a challenge. Thanks for the opportunity!

Glen crawled on his belly through the dust to the edge of the pit, his wooden rifle gripped firmly in his right hand. He'd heard the old man digging again and this time he was going to watch him like a real spy. Maybe he was burying a body or maybe he was digging up some buried treasure. Either way, soon Glen would know whatever secret Mr. Cragsend was trying to keep.

He lay in the dirt feeling the sun on the back of his head. It wasn't a hot day, but he could feel the sweat along his hair line. He wiped it away, imagining himself as a covert operative deep in a far-off land, baking in the desert heat while waiting for the perfect moment to assassinate his counterpart. He listened to the man's shovel rhythmically plunging into the soil and then dumping. Taking a deep breath, he wriggled closer to the edge to watch.

The man's back was to him, which was fortunate, since he was only about ten feet away from Glen. The surprise of seeing the boy's face peeking at him would have spoiled the game. Now Glen could maintain surveillance without being observed. He wondered how all the spies in the movies he loved always knew the precise time and location to see their enemy without being seen themselves. There was always a risk that they would be caught, but it rarely seemed to happen.

The old man was panting a little now. Glen was surprised that he was digging without a shirt on, but maybe that's how he always worked. The pile of dirt that was building next to the hole was black and looked slightly moist. He could smell the rich earthiness of the freshly exposed soil. He focussed on the hole, trying to see what was driving the man to dig in the middle of this pit so far behind his house.

Glen heard the cry of a hawk and looked up into the sky to watch it circling the field. He wondered if it was looking for a mouse or a rabbit. They lived all over the place and he and his dog liked to chase them. They never caught them, but he had seen birds diving in the late afternoon and swooping away with small creatures in their talons, so he supposed this one was searching for its next meal.

He returned his attention to the pit and realized that the man had also looked up from his work to watch the hawk. Glen ducked his head to try to avoid being seen, but was afraid his gasp had caught the man's ear. He peeked back when he didn't hear the digging resume, dreading the prospect of being caught. His eyes widened as he saw the man kneeling next to the hole. He watched with a sense of fear and revulsion as the man drew a sharp knife along the side of his arm, blood trickling down the fresh wound and dripping into the hole. When the knife had completed its stroke down the length of the arm, the man dropped it into the hole. He reached for a first-aid kit that Glen hadn't noticed sitting next to the discarded shovel. With sure movements that indicated medical knowledge and skill, the man disinfected his wound and wrapped a bandage around his arm, deftly sealing it with tape. When he was satisfied with his work, he replaced the supplies in the first-aid kit and set it out of his way.

Glen watched in fascination as the man picked up his shovel and began to fill in the hole, covering the knife and the blood that it had drawn. The brilliant white of the bandage seemed to flash in the sun with each shovelful of dirt, contrasting sharply to the tan of the rest of his body. When the hole was nearly full, the man paused, resting both hands atop the shovel handle, and gazed down at his work. The boy followed his inspection, seeing the hole, the shovel, the bandaged arm, and the undamaged arm. That was when he saw the scar in the exact same location on the other arm. He watched as the man shook his head and continued with filling in the hole, covering up the evidence.

Glen quietly slid away from the edge of the pit and, when he was a safe distance away, rose and began running toward his house.

John said...

Lavender is a silly name for a boy, but he always made it work. When the neighbor boys threw red flowers across his path, he didn't give in. He loved his name like a little bumblebee loves a sweet flower. Lavender's love was so big that is couldn't be contained in his flesh. It would float around him like a joyful cloud. The clown eventually misted over the neighbor boys, and they swept the mocking flowers to the ditch and called him friend. Love can heal the deepest scares—love of self and love of neighbor.

Marc said...

Greg - I'm not sure where my take came from, but I'm glad you liked it :)

Wonderful imagery in yours, particularly in the first stanza.

Anon - you're welcome, and thank you very much for stopping by and sharing it with us :)

That was really great - I really liked the comparison to his movie heroes near the start and the overall tension and mystery as well. I really want to know what that guy is up to!

John - thanks for that uplifting bit of writing :)

Denin said...

Hey Marc,
I wanted to put some serious effort into a really emotional poem for my blog. In case you hadn't already figured it out from several of my early posts, a, uh, friend of mine is giving me a lot of mental grief right now. I know where I wanted to take my poem, but I needed the right thought to get me springboarded. So I browsed your archives a little. And I think this is it.


The dust is wet with tears.
And still they run.
Your eyes are red with regret.
They look strange against the brown
I am used to seeing there.

Lashing out at those who cared.
Accepting forgiveness only to strike again.
Wondering why they abandoned you.
Destroyed by the betrayal of your friend.

I watch you coil once again.
Laughter and sobbing boil in my throat, locked in eternal warfare.
Lunging, caught unprepared at the shortcoming.
The scabs on your knees and elbows
split open like blooming flowers.

Blood, dirt, and water race by my feet.
They mix and remind me of lava,
the fire carving down the weeping mountain.

Your shackles rattle and slide.
Your wrists are raw with cuts and scars.
The key sits next to you.
You choose to ignore it.

The jury announced their verdict
to allow you return to your thriving life.
But the judge overruled them,
sentencing you to four years of loneliness,
an isolation broken only by my prescense.

Anger at the judge's cruelty fills me,
and I resolve to release you.
But then I remember.
You are the judge.

Marc said...

Denin - I'm glad you found one that works, and I hope that was at least a little bit therapeutic for you. It was extremely powerful to read, I can tell you that much at least.

Best wishes that things sort themselves out for the best.