Wednesday March 21st, 2012

The exercise:

Movie week continues on to Day 2 with: The Departed.

As a reminder, your writing doesn't need to (and probably shouldn't) have anything to do with the movie itself, just its title.

You may have noticed the blog has been lacking in pictures recently. Well, there's a good reason for that: I haven't been taking very many. And no, there's no good reason for that.

Anyway. Today was beautiful and nearly wind-free, so I brought my camera with me on a trip into town and stopped to take this picture of the lake:

More days like this one, please.


I move through the house, allowing my gaze to fall on anything that catches my attention. The broken coffee mug on the kitchen floor, the unfinished letter on the dinner table. There is no pen nearby and I make a note of this absence.

Could be nothing. Could mean everything.

Surveying the living room from the short hallway that separates it from the kitchen, it's impossible to ignore the bloodstained carpet. Detached. That's the word for me. I should feel something though, shouldn't I?

After all, that's my blood I'm looking at.

That's what those police offers said anyway. After they'd had my body taken away. Maybe if I'd been here for that an emotion or two would have bubbled to my ethereal surface. Maybe a memory would have been sparked.

As it is, I feel nothing. I remember nothing.


Greg said...

I love the picture, it looks like an oil painting with the sky reflecting in the water like that. You're making me wish I could find time to get out with a camera!
I wasn't expecting today's twist! I was pretty certain you were going to continue from yesterday from the point of view of a living character. I like the way you convey the detachment of the character, it comes across almost as though there's a thin, see-through membrane between the character and the scene. And 'ethereal surface' is a great phrase.
Oh, and thank-you for the comment on yesterday's haiku!

The departed
It's warm outside,
Nearly thirty in the sun
I hear the weatherman say.
I reach for my son,
But it seems he's gone away,
And my arms enclose an empty space.

It's warm outside,
But I can't end this terrible elision
It's not just my son, it's my heart.
I saw the pictures on the television;
What a way for the day to start,
Let me end it so I can end this pain.

It's warm outside,
But it's cold around me
And repeating those damn words doesn't do a thing!
I'm now alone, and I was a family!
I'm just a voice where a choir used to sing!
What did I do wrong today?

Anonymous said...

marc, great photo
greg, aw, sad,

I connected mine to “the controls” and the haiku as my continuance...

The Departed

The three friends who shared their accomodation were decidedly old so it should’ve been no surprise when ol’ Shirley dropped off the perch. 
Sure, it was sad, but she was slowly losing her mind. Too many mistakes with the iron being 
left on and what-have-you made her a liability in the group. She was ready for the nursing home but nobody wanted to admit it.

It was the morning of the funeral. Shirley’s spirit hovered over her open coffin. She liked the way they did her hair and makeup. She looked dignified in death.
The other ladies agreed. They chose the funeral home and they felt they’d got it right.
All went well that day. There were quite a few mourners in attendance. Old friends, two grandchildren who flew up for the event and one former neighbour came, too.

That night a few of them gathered at home. A special guest was amongst them. Her name was Shanti. She was a spirit medium. They invited her on purpose.
Shanti sat in Shirley’s chair and it didn’t take long to feel the presence, as the spirits of the recently departed were often keen to reappear and she came through strongly.
“Agnes! Agnes!” (Shirley spoke through Shanti’s vocal chords.)
“Ye...yes,” answered the nervous Agnes.
“You left the cream in the pantry again, dear!”
Everyone looked at Agnes.

It seemed mundane but Shirley wasn’t taking the blame for all the mishaps in the house any longer. She came back to set things straight. They checked the pantry, the cream was there alright. It was a funny way to get confirmation but that’s how it goes sometimes.

morganna said...

We fought
He left upset
I cannot forget him
He daily haunts my thoughts and dreams
I miss him so
Did he suffer as he skidded off the road?

Cathryn Leigh said...

Seems to be a lot of sadness and death about in these continuations. Well I'm hear to spread the light and Joy and try and look through the world form Young Rachael's eyes.

Oh, and to answer the question about where Rachael is from – She’s the MC of my 2011 NaNovel. She was drafted on paper a while ago, but wasn’t fully developed until I started playing with her in 2010. She’s appears in some works on Protagonize, but her story is unposted. – This is her backstory, before her life goes to hell. (in a Spaceship - grown Rahcael adds with a smirk.)

Oh and given Marc’s suggestion up there I’m redoing my Haikus from yesterday. It’ll makes things much easier to keep in chronological order. Though I wouldn’t put it past her Father to give her that sort of assignment.

Rachael’s Childhood
Chapter 3 (take two): The Usual Suspects

The books are all down
The toys are scattered about
The ship is a mess

The children line up
Point fingers at each other
Parents know the truth

Rachael’s Childhood
Chapter 4: The Departed

Rachael and her brother learned quickly that a messy ship was not acceptable. She was better at remembering it than he was. Not that it kept him from blaming her for everything.

“I know being the big sister is hard,” her father spoke one day when she was pouting her worst. “but your Mom and I are going to be busy soon and we need you to keep an eye on him.”

“Yes Daddy.” Rachael looked from his eyes to the floor, not ready to lift the pout.

“That’s my girl.” He ruffled her hair as he left.

She waited a long as she could before slipping out of the ‘play room’ to go see the Captain. She told her brother to stay put, then locked the door.

“Now how’d a little thing like you learn to lock doors like that?” Captain Robert didn’t even have to turn around to see her enter.

Rachael stopped. “Aweb... Awbsrvaton? But how you know!”

The Captain chuckled. “I can observe everything from up here. We’re departing the Chalston 8 star system now, if you’d like to watch.”

“Can I?” Rachael moved to the Copilots chair.

“Yes, but only from the play room.”

He ruffled her hair as she pouted once more. Heaving a huge sigh she went back to let herself in to where her brother had made yet another mess of the toys and book sleeves.

“Clean up,” she told him as she plopped down on a chair to watch the star system in which she was born and had lived the first 3 years of her life.

Watermark said...

@Marc: that's an absolutely beautiful photo. The scene itself it breathtaking and you've captured it brilliantly with your lens. Thanks for sharing.

Really enjoyed reading everyone's pieces today and enjoying the challenge this week :)

Here's mine:

The Departed

Those six have an uncanny way of creeping up on you when you're busy playing life. Allow me to name the names of those I blame: time, melancholy, ambition, lethargy, luck and the weather. They're like a dance ensemble moving in unison, shifting in and out of space, blending in form then separating to show their true shape. Each has its own unique way of romancing you until your consciousness is captured. You become beyond your own reach. Then by some knee-jerking event that shakes you back to your senses, you realise that you were incognito and that it’s too late.

This is what happened. Jenna had been trying to reach Sarah on her mobile all day. She had tried the night before too. And when Sarah hadn’t answered the call, she had brushed it aside, convinced that it had just been too late into the night. The sms and the missed call recorded on Sarah’s phone would suffice and soon enough, Sarah would be calling her back. But Sarah never did call her. She hadn’t even responded to her message. It was so unlike the close friend that she was.

Jenna slumped in the nearest armchair, curling up with phone in hand, rubbing her fingers in her furrowed forehead, anxiously trying to dig out an explanation. A flashback scurried past through her mind as she recalled their last meeting almost a year ago. Has it been that long, she mumbled to herself. Everyone knew of Jenna’s erratic and busy lifestyle. They also knew of her absent-mindedness and her tendency to forget, moan about the weather and fret. Those who knew Jenna well accepted that she was just the Jen she would always be. Jenna had managed to squeeze in an hour to meet up with Sarah and Tom whom she hadn’t seen in months. As she would only be in town for a few days, she had much to do before her subsequent flight. Sarah had arrived a little late, as usual, and in between the chatter and catch-up banter, Jenna had kept a timely check on her schedule. She had to be out of the cafĂ© and in a taxi at exactly 12pm if she were to make it to her dentist’s appointment. The scene froze before her in her mind’s eye; that moment when Sarah had looked up at her just when Jenna had been saying her usual see-you-laters. Sarah had held on to her for the longest moment, her eyes wide and affixed on her face, searching, almost hoping for more time. It was a look that was yearning for lost moments and unsaid words, for things to be different and for a childhood that they had once shared. It was a look filled with the memories of the years that they had spent together and of the time they had known each other. It was Sarah’s moment of saying goodbye, although Jenna didn’t realise it at the time, nor did Sarah for that matter. But that scene that Jenna suddenly recalled now, as she sat there fiddling with the phone in her hands, filled her with a cold sweat. A rising panic threatened to engulf her as she sprang from the chair, banging her bare feet on the cold laminate flooring. She paced back and forth trying to think of a way to reach Sarah. And then the phone rang.


She hadn’t even given it time to ring. There was a long pause on the other end and the seconds ticked by filling Jenna with every passing moment with the growing assertion that her fears would soon be realised.

“Jen, it’s Tom.”

Jenna nodded to herself in slow motion, waiting to hear more. She opened her mouth to speak but her mouth had gone dry.

“Jen. I don’t know how to say this.”

Jenna’s heart sank to the depths of the earth and all she could feel were the tears streaming down her face as her knees gave way. Sarah was gone.

Krystin Scott said...

She addressed the first soldier of significant rank that she laid her eyes upon.

“Lieutenant Storm” Colonel Rayne barked angrily “who is in charge here?”

Lieutenant Storm stood stone still, too surprised by her entrance and disheveled state to manage a reply.

A none to helpful junior recruit from the commissary mumbled under his breath to his companion. “She’s the Colonel; you’d think she’d know who was in charge.” When he saw her expression go from bad to worse he knew his feeble attempted at humor had been overheard.

Chloe rounded upon the recruit, all the more enraged by his insubordinate commentary. Seeing the youth in eminent peril brought Lieutenant Storm back to his senses. “Colonel, Major Knight is the commanding officer on duty.” Chloe glared at the recruit for just a moment longer before turning to give the lieutenant her full attention. “Records show he was not relieved of duty, yet he left his post at five thirty eight this morning.”

The nameless recruit was not without his wits that morning. Seeing that the Colonel was otherwise engaged he used the opportunity to make what he hoped would be an unnoticed departure. It wasn’t. Without missing a beat Chloe grabbed an apple from a discarded tray and pitched it into the air. Her bowie followed only a second behind, pierced the apple and stuck fast just above the recruits head. The young man fainted and was hastily drug from the room by his quaking companion. Chloe smirked at the sight and turned back to a now less confident Lieutenant Storm.

Anonymous said...

It's very interesting knowing that I have absolutely no idea where this story is going. It feels like a very important learning experience though I can't say why quite yet. Haven't had the time to read through everyone else's yet but hope to catch up over the weekend.

This was not the distraction Sam was looking for. Those ridiculous haikus her mother, Sandra, had practically been chanting a few weeks ago wouldn't leave her alone. She hadn't even written them. They were the final musing of famous author, Timothy Forbes, another patient at the same mental facility Sandra spent her final days at. Two deranged minds occupying a beautiful, expensive space neither could enjoy. Timothy had died on March 12th and her mother had taken up his words in a display of focus and obsession Sam hadn't seen in years. Convinced he had left a priceless message needing unraveling, Sandra quested after it in ways only she understood. Did anyone else in the world hold these words in their head after their deaths? Odd and irritating, they had settled in Sam like an unwelcome houseguest that wouldn't take a hint.

She paused at the window, staring out at the vast city she longed to escape, unable to appreciate the clear blue sky and warm breeze stirring the stale air. Too many choices clambered for attention whenever she sat still but compulsive busyness left her unable to breathe, avoidance no cure for indecision. Now that the funeral was over, the financial and legal parts settled, she'd hoped some clarity would descend. So far, the options still cycled through her head, presenting their logical, well formed list of pros and cons until she wanted to scream. Thus the busyness, scrubbing tile with a toothbrush, organizing the last of her mother's possessions, yoga practice that felt empty as she let go of nothing.

At least once a day, David would call, his deep, booming voice both comforting and anxiety inducing. She'd laugh at all his jokes and delight in the familiar until he again didn't say those three words before goodbye. This had never been a problem before but, faced with so much uncertainty and in spite of his many other actions of love during their two year relationship, she wondered if she was only kidding herself about what 'they' were to him. Together but so far apart.

She sighed loudly, knowing she wouldn't find the answer in the blank, silent skyscrapers, staring thru her as if she was nothing. A bright, perky fountain she had passed near the park a few days ago came to mind and she realized she hadn't really left the apartment in a couple days. Maybe a walk would help clear her head. Changing into her running shoes and a light hoodie, she headed for the stairs.

Anonymous said... part two does connect well with part one (although I honestly have no notion of what exactly is happening here) the trick is will it make any sense in light of prompt three?

*** *** ***

Joe hurried through the sliding doors and made his way to the big display board in the hallway just before the place opened up into vastness. The LEDs blinked and changed just as he arrived and he scanned down the list. Flight 217, destination Glagow, Departed.


He couldn't keep the curse from becoming audible and a few people standing near him pulled their heads back, affronted by his lack of decorum.

“Sorry,” he muttered apologetically, trying not to draw any more attention. “I just missed someone outgoing.” He continued by way of guilty explanation. A couple of those who'd expressed their disapproval softened their expressions. Joe looked sheepish and shrugged.

After another hasty look at the board and the time of departure he turned away and began trudging back down the hallway his hands jammed into his jacket pockets.

“Just great,” he muttered to himself, even more quietly. “Danno, in the slammer. Georgie Boy up and fucked off on the first available flight. Mitch probably shit faced at the bar and Reggie not giving a crap as usual.”

He noticed a largely unoccupied rest area along the glass wall that faced the parking and drop off areas and threw himself into a seat. He dragged out his Mobile and fiddled with the screen.

“So there we have it. The whole scheme down the crapper and Joe is gonna have to pick up the pieces.”

He looked up at the faces drifting past. People, for the most part, in the transitional state so common at airports where their minds are already off halfway to their destinations while their bodies robotically try to catch up.

He looked back down at the phone, his finger flipping through menus and documents almost of it's own volition. It stopped at a long list of names.

“OK...if that's how it's gonna be I'm calling in some favours.”

He started dialling numbers.

Aaron said...

The prompt lead me in a new direction. We shall see what happens tomorrow with the new prompt. Cool writing everyone and beautiful picture Marc!

“Good morning, Doctor. This is your new patient. His name is Jonah Huckabee. We found him lying in the streets naked and delirious, to be precise he looked like he was attempting to fly or fall. He keeps talking nonsense about wishes and the controls of everything. We're not sure what it means. Here is his background information. He was a janitor by profession. He has no criminal history. You might remember reading about the apartment fire a couple years back, Jonah here is the sole survivor. He lost his whole family and as you can see his burns were terrible. I can confirm that every part of his upper body was severely burned though somehow his lower half is barely scarred at all. I suppose it's amazing he's alive though, if you ask me, I wouldn't want to live looking like that."
"Well, I didn't ask you, Officer Smith was it? Thank you for bringing him here and for your report. If there is nothing else I would like to admit Jonah and at least make him comfortable."
"One more thing, Doctor. He has definitely departed this reality. He won't respond to anything we tried verbally, kind words, yelling, sirens, nothing. He's dead to this world. Just keeps wishing for friends and to be healed etc, etc. Anyways, there won't be any charges filed if you confirm his psychosis but if he turns out to be faking let us know. It would be just like a pervert to prance about naked hopped up on drugs and then plead insanity."
"Was he on drugs then? Did you test him already?"
"Well, we tested him and the results came back negative but who knows what drugs are around nowadays. There is always some new way to get "high" these days."
"Very good, Officer Smith. The staff and I will take care of everything from here. Good-bye."
Officer Smith and his partner leave after curt nods to the medical staff of Bennington Psychiatric Hospital. Doctor Tersei turns to examine his new patient, he appears to be talking but pitched so low as to be a whisper. Doctor Tersei leans closer to listen.
“Don’t rush me! You said this is my only chance to make wishes and after I say I’m done I’ll never get another chance so leave me alone and let me think!”
Doctor Tersei taps his lips with his finger, “How very interesting. His mutterings sound almost sane.”

Marc said...

Greg - that first stanza is brilliant. The rest of the poem is pretty good too :P

Writebite - hah, I like Shirley already :)

Morganna - aw, that's a sad little tale.

Cathryn - good call on the haiku redo, those work much better.

You paint a great picture of Rachael's childhood there, nicely done.

Watermark - thank you!

Really liked the way you brought yesterday's haiku around into the beginning of your story.

Krystin - love the way that one line at the end of the second to last paragraph sets you up for what comes next.

H.N. - sounds like an excellent opportunity; good for you for embracing it!

Neat way to work in the haiku, I like it.

GZ - well you've definitely got me hooked now. I hope the upcoming prompts don't trip you up too badly!

Aaron - ooh, that's an unexpected twist! Enjoying your tale, looking forward to where you take it next :)