Sunday January 1st, 2012

The exercise:

Welcome to 2012! Let us begin the new year by writing about: a fresh start.

It would seem that I am sick again. Though I'm not sure 'again' is appropriate, seeing as I don't think I ever fully recovered from the last one.


Sally sat in the living room of her new apartment and stared at the envelope the young man had dropped on her coffee table on his way out the door. That had been nearly an hour ago and she hadn't moved an inch, aside from a slight jump when the phone had rung in the suite below hers.

He'd called it a chance for a fresh start, as though someone her age got such things. The place was nice though, she had to admit that. Well beyond what her old salary at the newspaper would have allowed. She wasn't crazy about the bathroom, how claustrophobic it made her feel, but maybe she'd get used to it.

Bending forward while whistling a breath out her nostrils, Sally finally picked the unmarked envelope up. It had more weight than she was expecting, but that could have been her imagination placing too much importance on its contents. Holding it in her lap, she noticed that the bruises on both wrists were completely healed. Repressing a shudder, she tore the envelope open and dumped it out beside her on the couch.

The driver's license was the first item she grasped, a small frown appearing momentarily on her face. The picture was terrible, as always, but despite the new hairstyle and color she could still recognize herself. The birth date had been moved forward by a couple years, which she appreciated, but it was the name across the top that she struggled with.

No matter what the witness protection officer had told her, she just couldn't picture herself as a Megan.


Anonymous said...

marc, thanks, yeah i'm all good. love your piece and thanks for the inspiration as always.

Fresh Start

It was a new year. The grey nomads had the movers in to pack up for a new house in a new location, and location, location, location spelled it all. 
“It’s a One year,” her numerologist had told her. Well it coincided with what they had decided together one morning over bagels and coffee.
“Mother’s gone so, well, why not?” they said. “Life’s too short not to...”
So they took the plunge.

Fresh country air, silent sleepy nights under skies heavy with starlight instead of city lights, a quiet  road on which to stroll and not a traffic light in sight...
’This is heaven,’ she thought on her early morning walk, as she breathed deeply of the salt laden air flowing in from the nearby sea. 

“ Morning!” a cheerful soul announced, walking her two terriers towards her. 
“Hi, I’m your new neighbour,” she returned. 
“Play golf?” dog-walker asked.
“Not yet,” she returned.
“Drop by on Tuesday, it’s social day,” DW suggested.
“I might just do that, thanks,” she answered, smiling all the while.

The birds were singing under a summer sun and with not a cloud in the sky she returned home and put on the coffee. “Darling...?” she called. “There you are! I just got invited to golf! We’ve only been here five minutes! How kind is that? I know we’ve made the right decision.”
“Well, hon, if that smile on your face is anythng to go by, I’d say we made the right choice having a fresh start...”

Greg said...

@writebite: That's a fascinating little vignette, it really works well with the length of the piece too. There's so much potential there, to see where it's all going to go and find out why they're making a fresh start.
Also, I hope this year is a good one for you, and I hope your bereavement can be tempered by happy memories.

@Marc: The slow unfolding of information works really well to lure the reader in and keep them interested in what Sally's doing next, and there's just enough hints in there to guess what her fresh start might be, but still be aware that there's a lot of darkness lurking in her past. Beautifully done!
And I prefer the name Megan myself :-P

A fresh start
Fifty, thought Judy. She never imagined herself at fifty, somehow in all her thoughts and dreams for the future she'd stayed fixed at twenty-six forever. Getting older had been a bit of a shock. The menopause had been an even bigger shock. And then Greece....
She looked at herself in the full-length mirror again, and decided that things weren't too bad. Nothing had gone too far south, and her hips had always been big, so a little extra weight actually improved her shape a little. She might have crow's-feet now, but her eyes twinkled like they never did when she was younger. She raised up on the toes of one foot, and pleased to see muscularity in her legs still.
"Looking good for fifty," she said out loud. The words echoed slightly in the house, a reminder that she was alone there now.
It's fine, she thought. It's your birthday, Alice will over shortly with... probably Tequila, given all the rum at Christmas, and you've still got to bake some canap├ęs for the party.
She turned away from the mirror to get dressed, wondering what you were supposed to do with a fresh start when you didn't want one.

morganna said...

Hi! I'm back -- we were very sick up until the holidays and then of course very busy. Guess what we're doing today!
Two weeks out of school
Time to go back again
Almost three hours a day
In a small room filled with
Many other children --
I'd rather be home with Mom.

Anonymous said...

greg, thanks, u2 and yes happy memories are always the answer. time will tell how those grey nomads will fare in their new locale;)
morganna, nice one!

Marc said...

Writebite - sounds like a fantastic place for a fresh start :)

Greg - yeah, I like Megan better myself; hopefully she gets used to it!

Great little piece. I think you really captured Judy's viewpoint nicely.

Morganna - hey, welcome back! Glad you're feeling better :)

Yeah, that sounds about like my reaction to the end of Christmas vacation when I was in school too.

Nita said...

Uhh, sorry about the length. I haven't mastered short. It's a goal for this year.


“You know, if you'd just sign the blasted papers already, you'd probably stop drawing that over and over.”

I used the pencil to add another curlicue to the top end of the S and put a bit of shadow under the letters before glancing up at Patty. She'd staked out her usual position in the corner of the kitchen, leaning against the counter with the coffee machine at her elbow. The one nice thing about having a roommate that worked from home was that she made coffee about 20 times a day. If she wasn't at her desk, this was where you could find her, cup in hand.

“Pour me one, too?” I was only guessing that she'd left enough in there for me, but she pulled down another mug, so I went back to lengthening the end of the X and trying to add some depth to the letters.

Six months as my roommate had taught her to add enough cream and sugar that the end result was a light tan color and made me fear for my future as a diabetic. I didn't do that with normal coffee. Anywhere else, I was a coffee-flavored coffee kind of girl, but Patty's idea of coffee was some sort of condensed version, strong enough to need a caffeine milligrams per swallow rating. She plopped it down in front of my hard enough that it sloshed over the side and onto the table.

She didn't apologize, either.

I blotted up most of the liquid with a napkin from the holder in the middle of the table and ignored her.

“Call. Today.”

“It's New Years Eve,” I reminded her. “They're not open today.”

“Tomorrow, then. Or Monday. Tuesday. Whenever they reopen. Call.”

I'd thought about using colored pencils to give each of the letters a visual texture, stripes and dots and the like, but the starkness of the dark gray pencil lines on the white paper had grown on me. It didn't need anything else.

I'd already cut the paper to the right size and trimmed it with scissors that added a decorative edge. This little piece with nothing more than four letters on it would mark the end of 2011. I slid the scrapbook I'd started this time last year toward me and opened to the last page. I'd stamped the paper with an underlying design of silver and blue, trimmed in ribbon, with tiny cutouts in the center just big enough to hold the corners of my latest addition.

I ran my finger over the words below my drawing: To Endings and New Beginnings. It hadn't been a bad year, just a hard one. I signed my name to the bottom of the page: Annalee Davis. It didn't look quite right without Cooper on the end, but I'd get used to it.

I turned the page toward Patty.

“I signed the papers last week. The divorce will be final in January.” There was no love lost between my STBX, soon-to-be-ex, and my roommate. The little victory dance she did while trying not to spill her own cup of coffee made me smile. She hadn't known him before he'd gone from the proverbial nice guy to someone determined to destroy every good thing in his life, so she had no fond memories of the man he used to be. The ten years of our marriage had been kinder to me. I had friends, a job I really liked on most days and absolutely loved on others, and a new house that I was still renovating and would keep my busy and out of trouble for a while yet. It wasn't a bad way to start a new year.

Marc said...

Nita - no need to apologize :)

Really enjoyed how that scene developed, and you managed the mystery of what was actually going on (or being avoided, as the case may be) very nicely.

Welcome to the blog! I hope you find it useful :)