Sunday April 29th, 2012

The exercise:

Write about something that is: missing.

This morning Kat's dad and I began work our latest construction project - a deck for our house. During the outdoor time of year (read: the majority of the time) it's pretty much going to double our living space. Plus it'll be nice not to be on the uneven dirt to eat dinner or relax on our chairs.

Definitely a slow start to things, but this foundation stuff needs to be right. I don't mind the project taking a bit longer if it means only doing it once. Which will hopefully be the case.


Us kids always looked forward to those rare visits from Uncle James. Not that he was particularly nice, or brought good presents, or nothing like that. It was all the mystery that he carried with him, the endless speculation that sprung up at the mere mention of his name.

Probably would have been less of an event if Mom and Dad would've just told us why Uncle James was missing the middle finger of his left hand. Heck, we weren't even supposed to look at it.

Like that was going to happen.

Me and my brothers figured he'd lost it in some kind of gang initiation, proving he was tough enough to join. Never you mind that Uncle James was as quiet and gentle as a mouse. We just figured prison had scared him straight.

My sisters came up with some total nonsense stories of their own that I hardly ever paid attention to. There was one about a horse biting it off after he waved his finger in its face one too many times. Totally stupid. Uncle James never wore no cowboy boots or hats or anything like that!

We tried to trick him into telling us what happened but it seemed like he was always one step ahead of us. I bet Mom and Dad warned him we were going to try, the snitches.

Now, though? Now we're old enough to go looking for answers on our own.


Greg said...

I'm sure plenty of people will comment to you that a strong foundation is always a good start :) The deck sounds like a really good idea; I'm guessing you'll be having some part of it shaded though, given the sunshine you get?
Regarding the meaning of names from yesterday's comments: my middle name also means 'victorious'. I have no idea what my parents were hoping for when they named me!
Uncle James seems like a simple character on the surface, but the potential to discover some really interesting stuff is hinted at really well. I like the tone of the piece, I can easily hear a teenage boy and his determination to get to 'the truth' of a mystery!

Men, bronzed by the summer heat,
Throng the market square,
Cassandra screams, her clothes in rags,
But no-one listens to her.
She tells them of the things she's seen,
The visions bestowed by Zeus,
The catastrophe that bowls towards them,
But, in the end, it's no use.
For with her gift of prophetic sight,
The Gods have cursed her too,
She's missing a way to make them believe,
And there's nothing she can do.

Anonymous said...


She pulled up Face-Time and logged. Moments later she heard the familiar call sound. The iPad’s screen lit up with two familiar faces, the younger one belonged to her grandson, the older one, his mother. 
“Hi cutie!” she said, smiling as she watched her grandie’s face light up in recognition of his grandma. “I’ve been missing you, so I thought I’d call,” she explained.

It didn’t require explanation. It was the same every week because each week this ritual repeated itself with a comfortable predictability. No one complained, everyone rejoiced that at least this modern technology made the distance easier to manage. It wasn’t the same as the real thing, but it was really close to it.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Missing – an outline

Midnight on the farm and all is silent in the moonlight. Sarah is awoken by Alice, one of the three city girls staying at the farm. The child is close to crying, claiming she cannot sleep because she lost her stuffed rabbit, Fluffy. Sarah finds out where Alice had been that day and promises she will look for the rabbit, if Alice will try to sleep. Alice agrees and goes back to bed while Sarah throws on some clothing.
At first she looks all about the yard, then near the barn, before her eyes are drawn towards the Willow grove. Sarah finds Fluffy underneath one of the Willows and she ponders stepping inside. It’s been a long time since she’s talked to Hasón, but he’ only an imaginary friend, and at twenty-two she ought to give up such things. Still she is drawn inside the ring of trees to remember her own childhood as she holds the key to Alice’s. What if she had had to evacuate and leave her farm behind at twelve?
Too late Sarah hears the far off sound of the air raid sirens, which are soon drowned out by the sound of planes. Racing for the house Sarah doesn’t make it far before the first bomb is dropped. She is knocked unconscious by the blast, hurled back under the willows.

My current thoughts for the start of Sarah’s Phoenix, which I’m in the process of trying to rewrite/revise.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

I love the way things work out sometimes... I mention Izthak and Stella yesterday, and today the prompt lets me share my first go at that story. It's one of the weirder things I've written, but I actually kind of like it (and I may end up making it weirder if I revise it for my final).
- - - - - - - - - -

He shook his head with pity and turned his attention to the counter along the perpendicular wall. Among the masses of frayed wires and jumble of mechanical parts crouched a small robotic marvel, and hopefully part of his magnum opus.
He heard a shift, and a gentle coo. Itzhak pushed himself to her bedside and lowered his chair.
“Stella?" He edged closer. Her eyes flickered to a dull squint. "Stella, can you hear me?"
She grunted quietly in response, and tried to shift to her left side.
"No no, don't do that." He coaxed her back to her back. "You don't want to do that just yet." The left side of her nose crinkled slightly in annoyance, and her eyes started to open again. Itzhak smiled in relief. "How do you feel, Stel?"
"Sore," she croaked, and squinted. "What's that noise?"
Itzhak bit his lip. "That would be a heart monitor," he said reluctantly.
Stella pursed her lips, and moved to push herself up to sitting, but immediately tipped to the left. Itzhak scrambled to catch her. She winced as he laid her back down.
"I told you, you don't want to do that just yet."
She moaned and made to reach for her left side. It was not as far away as she thought it was. Panic began to creep across her face as she started to feel the top of her shoulder with her hand, and stopped just where bone would have yielded to arm, but now yielded to pain. She hissed and turned to look, and had her throat not been so dry she would have screamed.
Her left arm, gone.
All that remained was bound in by new stitches just where her shoulder ended, where the pain started.
Stella looked back at Itzhak, her eyes wide. Worry creased his brow. "Now Stella, don't panic."
Her mouth tried to form an echo, but between her horror and her dry mouth all she could manage was a breathy squeak. He scrambled to get her a paper cup of water and to help her sit up. Stella's eyes bounced between him and the cup in his hand.
"Where's my arm, Itzhak?" she finally spluttered.
"I take it you don't remember?" He pressed the cup into her right hand.
"Remember what?"
"It's probably best you don't completely remember, honestly." He guided her arm in the complicated matter of drinking water with her non-dominant hand and forcing down a few swallows. "I can't tell you exactly what happened, but I do know you were in some kind of accident. Most of you is stable, anything injured should heal just fine."
"And my arm?"
Itzhak hesitated. "There was no saving it, shattered beyond all recognition." He eased her back. "Fortunately I had an idea."
"And what might that be?"
(cont. in next comment)

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

(cont. from previous comment)
He went over to the counter and picked up his mechanical masterpiece: a small willowy robotic hand. He cradled it gently in his own hands, and held it out to her. Stella looked at it with some reserve, and finally brought herself to touch it. Her fingers traced the veins of wire and brushed the twigs of circuitry where bones would have made the back of the hand. Impossibly small pistons made the joints between the hand proper and the fingers, while clockwork mechanisms formed the smaller finger joints. The whole thing looked infuriatingly delicate, but Itzhak couldn't help but be pleased with the end result.
Stella held her hand next to Itzhak's creation. "It's the size of my hand."
Of course it was. Itzhak had seen her hands enough times growing up together, and he had been so fond of them he figured his greatest masterpiece to date should be based on something he admired. That it could actually be used was a happy accident as far as he was concerned.
He didn't say this to her, of course, but merely shrugged. "It's usable, you know," he said as casually as he could manage.
Stella shrank away from it, as if it threatened to bite her. "What have the other doctors said?"
"I… haven't told them yet. They just wanted to put you in a cast and be done with it. They would've left your arm completely crippled."
"Let me get this straight." She shifted herself upright. "You, a second-year residency med student, snuck me out, presumably out of Emergency, amp—" The word caught in her throat, so she swatted at the air where her arm used to be and continued, "my arm, and now you're showing me this robotic thing… why?"
"You should have an arm, Stella. I want to do this for you. I can do this." Her eyes widened and she shook her head.
"No, really, I can, a whole new arm, you'll be totally fine, you won't feel a thing, I promise—"
"No, Itzhak. I'll be fine."
He hadn’t expected this. He racked his brain for justification. "But your art!” he cried. “You shouldn't have to give that up!"
Stella gave a short laugh. "Who says I should have to? I'm young, I can teach myself to paint with my right hand. And if not, then I can do something else."
Itzhak had deflated a little. He set the hand back on the counter. "You shouldn't have to, though."
"I can't be seen with something like that. You know how people are like back home, you have anything more complicated than a kitchen blender and it’s an automatic evil eye. Can you imagine what people would think of that?"
"It'll be covered, I promise." He hated the thought of hiding all his hard work. He didn’t have the materials to make new “skin” yet, though, so that proffered some comfort.
(cont. in next comment)

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

(cont from prev comment)
"I don't want Dad to have to worry about me like that, though. You see him every day, you know how much he has to do."
"He wouldn't want to see you miserable, and it'll be covered anyways, so what's the worry?" Her father had been in another part of the hospital when Stella was brought in, so Itzhak had to guess his response. He knew her father well enough, and he had always been supportive of Itzhak’s endeavors, and wanted the best for his daughter, so why worry him now?
He tried to guide her back but she swatted his hand away. "I appreciate the thought, Itzhak, but no is no. My arm's gone, fine, but you'd be making it worse."
Worse, what a biting word. "Stella, please," he whimpered.
"No, Itzhak." She tried to sit up straighter for authoritative effect, but new pain curled her to the left.
Itzhak went back to the counter and scanned its contents: next to his creation lay components for the arm, all but finally assembled; next sat a pitcher of water, beside which lay a new needle, hand-labeled "milk of amnesia."
He murmured an apology, waited for another wave of pain, and quickly found her right arm. She yelped and tensed, but quickly slackened and he laid her back. He didn't want to meet her eyes before they closed, so he returned to the counter to finish assembling the arm components.
After a few minutes, though, he couldn't help but steal a glance at her. Though unconscious, her mouth was still drawn with annoyance. He sighed and adjusted his glasses.
"Sorry, Stella," he muttered, "but I'm doing this for you."
(apologies for the spamming ><)

Krystin Scott said...

Startled Sasha turned in the direction of the yell. Someone was calling her name, calling out to her from across the court yard. Sasha scanned the area catching sight of someone she thought she recognized. Frozen in place, she watched as Janie rushed toward her. Jaw dropping in disbelief, Sasha stood dumbfounded and unblinking. As Janie neared Sasha’s mind wrestled with the vision. At last her lips parted trying to form the words, to ask the questions that demanded answers. Reaching her destination Janie stopped and looked into the contorted face of her old friend.
“Hi” Janie grabbed hold of Sasha taking her into a warm embrace. “It’s been years, what are you doing here?” The questions that poured from Janie’s lips seemed never ending. “Where have you been?” “Why did you disappear without telling anyone where you were going” “Why haven’t you called to let us know you were okay?” Janie continued on barely pausing to breathe, if she had she might have noticed Sasha never spoke a word. Something was missing. Sasha’s intense green eyes had a tale to tell all Janie had to do was shut up and listen.

Anonymous said...

Marc- I would like to know more about Uncle James and the events that lead to his missing finger. I do hope it is as fantastic as the children's imaginations.

Any guesses yet? My life is bound to get busier over the next couple of weeks.

I wrote my entry a couple of days ago for another prompt. Since I was stuck on the prompt, I opted to post it here and write something fresh elsewhere.


I pushed aside the underwear and socks hoping to find it mixed in. It wasn’t there. I glanced around the room wondering where else he could have left it. I knew I didn’t have much time, but the belt was an absolute necessity. I simply couldn't be missing. I bit my lower lip and decided to look in the closet. I found one, buried in the pile of dirty clothes on the floor. If it wasn’t the same one he had worn on my 16th birthday, it looked exactly the same and it would have to work.

Grabbing it from the pile, I ran out of the room and carefully slipped it around him. Pulling it snug, I tucked the unattached end through the loop and sat down to wait. It seemed like an eternity, but he finally turned his head and looked at me. Confusion clouded his face.

I moved closer, wanting to get the moment exactly right. “Are you ready?” I asked with my face only inches from his.

He tried to shrug away, but stopped when he felt the tension close around his neck. Panic spread across his face. Goosebumps rose on his limbs, sweat beaded on his bare chest, and he stuttered out a desperate plea. “P-p-please. Don’t.”

I smiled at him. “That sounds like a yes to me.” Stepping back, I pulled on the free end of the belt, forcing him to rise up on his toes to keep it from strangling him.

I approached him again. His face was red as he gasped for air. Tears streamed down his face. “Shhh, shhh, shhh. It will all be over soon.” I checked to make sure the loop was secured to the ceiling, that it could support more of his weight. Then I pulled the belt two more holes and hooked it together.

Standing in front of him, I watched him slowly die.

Marc said...

Greg - well there's a pine tree right next to it that'll block some afternoon sun, plus the walnut tree in the front yard will filter the evening rays. So it should be all right.

Love the poem, feels like it's been a while since you've worked that theme. Worth the wait, for sure.

Writebite - very relatable tale. The way tech can bridge long distances like that is definitely one of its better qualities.

Cathryn - ooh, I like it. Very nice work; looking forward to seeing the new version in full :)

g2 - wonderful blend of creepiness and sincerity. I dig it!

Krystin - yes, Janie, shut up so I can listen!

Anon - I shall consider further exploration on the subject, as I'm rather intrigued myself!

I do have a guess but I'm keeping it to myself for fear of being wrong :P

Ooh, that's some great dark writing. Not sure what the man's done, but I hope he deserved that end!