Thursday May 10th, 2012

The exercise:

Write about: the man (or woman) I used to be.

Inspired by something someone read at my local writing group this evening. I started to jot down the beginnings of mine while I was there, but we didn't manage to get any writing done so I decided to just get it out here.

This morning Kat and I did some work in the greenhouse (so many plants to pot up...) and then this afternoon I was back at the deck building with Kat's dad. I can almost picture how it'll look at this point, which just makes me want to work on it more.

Darn farm responsibilities getting in the way of my fun.


Craig sits at a corner booth on the third floor of the downtown library, staring out the window as the city begins its transformation from day to night. Shops close, bars open, streetlights grudgingly come to life. The sidewalk soldiers exchange their business uniforms for casual disguises.

He used to belong down there, among the eager masses. Hunting for the next promotion, the next hot date, whatever was just around the corner. Never satisfied with enough, unable to even define such a passive word. Striving, striving, striving.

There is no nostalgia lurking in these thoughts. He does not miss those hectic days, nor would he change a single one of them should some magical being make that offer. No, they were the building blocks that piled inexorably atop each other, constructing the man he had become. Take even one of those away and who might he be instead?

With a shake of his head, Craig returns his gaze and attention to the newspaper before him. The crossword puzzle is nearly finished, likely as complete as he'll be able to make it. A stubby pencil rests beside it, waiting for him to admit this.

A check of his gold wristwatch, a quiet sigh, then he picks up the pencil and begins to erase his answers one by one. Once he finishes he gathers his things and makes his way to the elevator, riding down to street level. He escapes through the front doors just before closing and makes his way to his apartment, jostled by the crowd.

A crowd he once belonged to.


Greg said...

Your writing group sounds like fun. I shall have to have another go at finding one, but round here they all seem to meet in the middle of the mornings on work-days :(
Heh, the farm turned into work? I'm not sure I believe you :-P
I love the details in the piece today, the way he erases his answers from the crossword, the subtle hints of how he got out of the crowd and into a life of his own. The description of what he's escaped from is faintly melancholy too, as though he's glad to have left, but knows that some part of him remains behind. Lovely.
[Oh, and that "their" in the second para... tsk, tsk!]

The man I used to be
Karma. They say, "What comes around goes around," and there's a reference there to the Wheel of Time. I kind of always liked this notion of a huge cartwheel, rolling inexorably on, crushing things beneath, then pulling them round, reincarnating them at the top and giving them another chance. It appealed to my gallows humour.
And then.
And then I died, a little unexpectedly, and Karma caught up with me. I had such great plans still for the man I used to be; I had more people to subjugate, more realms to conquer, adn I was seriously considering starting an R&D program to improve technology (and incidentally get some better weaponry).
And now.
And now I've been reincarnated as a one-legged syphilitic frog. I didn't even know frogs could get syphilis. I am so not amused.

Morrigan Aoife said...

At seventeen she held her first child in her arms. She went on to college, worked and somehow still managed a meager social life. Free-time activities revolved around her daughter’s needs; there was time for little else. Five years later as a college graduate, she married, but now worked more hours. Her family unit changed from two to three persons and the focus of her life moved from her daughter to their new family.

Fast forward, four years later, with her divorce finalized, she and her daughter become part of a new family, “a brandy-bunch family.” Her new husband had two children from a previous marriage and the following year they had twins, each suffering from a different form of Autism. For the past 12 years, everything she has done, she has accomplished with the goal of benefiting or the bettering her family or one of its seven members.

Now her oldest daughter is twenty one, and preparing for a life of her own. Her oldest son is eighteen and packing for college with the hopes of continuing on to medical school. Her thirteen year old step-son recently decided to move in with his biological mother. This leaves the eleven year old twins, as the only children remaining in her home.

This void gives way to free time and she often wonders who she was before she started living her life for her family. Trying to remember what she used to do before life got hurried and she started living day to day. You see I can’t tell you about the woman I used to be because she is as much of a mystery to me as she is to you. I never really got the opportunity to know her.

Marc said...

Greg - perhaps you could start your own? And then be viciously strict with who's allowed to join!

Thanks for the kind comments. I'm not at all sure how that 'their' slipped by me :/

Love the Wheel of Time description. I can't say I feel too sorrow for your narrator though, as I suspect he deserved his fate.

Morrigan - beautifully written. Thank you for sharing that.

Heather Banschbach said...

Marc- I can't help but wonder where the motivation to be outside of the sidewalk soldiers came from, but I would love to know more.

A day late, but hopefully not a dollar short with my writing:

My blonde curls bounced as I walked through the long marble corridor to the clicking of my heels. My keys jangled to the beat as the dangled limply from my hand, rests in the melody caused by them softly brushing against my skirt. I knew the men were looking at me, wondering if they had seen me before. I was more familiar to them than they could possibly have guessed.

Reaching the reception desk, I smiled at the young woman sitting at the computer. I was relieved to see she was hired within the last year. “Hello,” I said catching her attention, “I have an interview at 2:00 with Mr. Brisely for the engineering position.” Her attention slid back to her computer and she pulled up his schedule.

“What is your name?”

“Martina Mayfield.”

After affirming my appointment she said, “Ms. Mayfield, you can have a seat and I will let Mr. Brisely know you are here. He’s running a few minutes behind so you may need to wait a bit.” I smiled at the young woman and sat down in one of the low chairs across from the desk. Alternating between watching the clock and flipping through a home design magazine, I waited.

“Ms. Mayfield?” the receptionist called, “Mr. Brisely can see you now.”

Standing up, I smoothed down my skirt and picked up the small sachet I had brought with me that contained my resume, references, and other documents. Mr. Brisely met me at the door to his office and shook my hand forcefully. I tried to remain demure and not challenge the authority he was clearly communicating through the aggressive handshake. “Good afternoon Ms. Mayfield. Please have a seat.”

I sat in the chair across from his desk, the sachet across my crossed legs. He remained standing. “Ms. Mayfield, I am very sorry to have wasted your time this afternoon. I misread your resume and thought you were Mr. Martin Mayfield, the renowned engineer. Had I noticed that it was Ms. and not Mr…… Well, it’s a good ol’ boys club here Ms. Mayfield, and I don’t think you would feel very welcomed here I am afraid. It was, however, very nice to meet you. You are a beautiful woman and I am sure you will find work through another company.”

I walked in shocked silence as he escorted me back out to the reception area less than two minutes after I had left it. As my heels clicked through the marble corridor a floor beneath the one I just left, I smiled victoriously and thought, “If only he knew that the person he was looking for was the man I use to be.”

Marc said...

Heather - yeah, me too. I might have to explore this one a bit more.

Hahaha, wow, I was not expecting that ending at all. I was suspecting a blackmail of some sort for something Brisely had done in his past.

You definitely got me with this one :)