Thursday July 3rd, 2014

The exercise:

Our word for today is: perturbed.

Why? Because it's one of those words I like for no particular reason. The sound of it, I suppose.

Woke up this morning to an email from a potential new WWOOFer, looking to come soon and stay until the middle of August. Obviously we jumped all over that one, replying from my phone while I was out weeding carrots with Kat.

We had a quick Skype chat before dinner and Becky will be joining us either on Monday (preferably) or Tuesday next week. Very excited by this development.

Max did not nap this afternoon. This made for a long day for all of us. Thankfully he went to bed early tonight but I'm still missing my usual nap.



That's what I was. No getting around it, no explaining it away. Didn't matter how unreasonable, how utterly unfounded it was. The feeling was inescapable.

I guess it didn't help that I was alone. The complete lack of light probably didn't help matters either. Odd noises coming from creatures I couldn't see? Yeah, there were those too. Couldn't have even told you where in the house they were emanating from.

I should have just manned up and gone to bed. Ignored the uneasiness, the sounds, the smell my imagination had cooked up. Oh, did I forget to mention the smell?

How to describe it? A mix of gasoline, stale cigarettes, and... maybe a touch of damp earth. Ridiculous, right? I know, I know.

Should have written it off as foolishness, childish fears playing tricks with me. But I didn't. Couldn't, really.

I had to go investigate.


Greg said...

Wow, well done on getting a new helper! And impressively quickly too. And... you shouldn't need a nap at your age, they're for the old and very young :-P
A great use of language in your tale today, and I knew from the beginning that your narrator wouldn't be able to leave things alone. But then that's how all good stories start, isn't it? :)

Perturbation theory says that interesting things can be discovered from a simple problem by perturbing it slightly. A pendulum will hang still at the bottom of its arc if left alone, but if we perturb it a little, push it away from that point of lowest energy, then it swings back and forth, oscillates. And that in turn leads us to the discovery of simple harmonic motion, and to generalise this to all things that oscillate.
One little perturbation opens up a whole world of possibilities. We vary the ingredients in a cake, perturbing the recipe by a small amount, and suddenly we have a mousse. Equally tasty, but texturally different, and pleasing to both the eye and tongue. We unsolder a connection on our cheap graphics card, and suddenly it runs at three times the speed. Perturbations are a cheap way to discover things.
And that, your honour, is the basis for my defence that I shouldn't be sent to jail for pushing that woman off the ledge. I was simply perturbing her, to learn something new. If nothing else, I've learned how... splashy... humans can be!

Aholiab said...


Louis made his way through the pre-dawn stillness to the shore of the lake. He had picked up several small flat stones, as had become his custom. The water, as he approached, was perfectly smooth, with not even a single ripple defacing its surface. He glanced at the horizon to judge when the sun would crest the distant peaks.

“Looks like I beat you out of bed this morning, Mordecai.” He squatted on his heels and watched for any disturbance in the water. Though there might be dozens of fish that greeted him with their first leap from the depths, he always imagined it was the same one.

“Come on, fish! The day’s a-wasting!” he murmured as the colors around the lake began to appear.

He smiled and stood. “Too late! You’ve got to be the laziest fish in the lake!” He drew his hand back and skipped the first rock across the surface, creating tiny circles with each plink. The ripples dissolved into the quiet smoothness of the lake.

He waited a minute and then skimmed the second stone a little further. As soon as it dropped beneath the surface, the mirror-like flatness returned. “There’s your snooze alarm, Mordecai. Get those worthless fins moving!”

There was a pause as he admired the unperturbed surface of the lake, then suddenly a fish leaped from the water. It crashed back with a huge splash, instantly waking a brace of ducks that had been hidden in some nearby reeds. Their flight stirred the air along the store; their noisy ascent waking more creatures. Insects, fish, birds, and amphibians all began voicing their welcome or complaint to the morning.

“I guess that’s how we all feel about Mondays, Mordecai. See you tomorrow.”

Marc said...

Greg - well then I'm either very young at heart, or old before my time. Gimme my nap.

Love your opening and how... unexpectedly connected it is to the conclusion :)

Aholiab - good lord, I love this so much. The descriptions, the atmosphere, the whole theme of your piece.

Might be one of my favorites that you've shared with us.