Sunday October 26th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about something that has been: tarnished.

Had a pretty nice birthday today, going out for lunch with my family to our favorite local Greek restaurant and then going up to Kat's parents for dinner with her family. She made a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free cake so that everyone could enjoy it (though Max mostly focused on the icing and raspberry jam filling) created from a whole lot of eggs and a little bit of coconut flour.

Tomorrow morning I get to take the car up to Penticton for its second manufacturer recall issue repair, this one related to the power steering assist feature. I'll run a couple errands while I'm up there before heading back, but it's still a nuisance, especially with so much work left to do on the farm before frost hits.

As for right now, I've fallen behind on my attempts to catch up on comments... so I'm going to give that another go before I go to sleep.

Mine:

In the aftermath, long after the dust had fully settled, I surveyed the damage with a keen eye. The ache of loss was a familiar friend by then, and I could relegate it to background noise without too many hiccups forcing their way to the surface of my awareness.

The destruction was very nearly complete, with no surfaces managing to escaped unblemished. Corners which once lurked in darkness were exposed for all to see. Hidden places had been turned inside out with apparent relish, leaving no secrets sacred.

I stopped to examine a printed record of all the calls I'd made from my cell phone in the previous year. Saw names and numbers I'd forgotten existed.

Hiccup.

Turning away, I found myself staring at the reflection of a man I no longer recognized. A beard emerging from a face which had rarely gone unshaven for more than half a day. Clothes worn and grey had taken the place of fine threads and bright, confident colours. The posture that had once made yoga teachers envious now weak and slouching.

The eyes, though. There was still life there, still signs of a fire smouldering. It would take a mountain of work, but that gleam let me know that my tarnished reputation could still be recovered.

3 Comments:

ivybennet said...

What am I to do now that
My dreams are dull and crumbling
Around the very edges meant
To keep them strong?
How can I live with this
Cracked foundation? This shell
That resembles an atomic crash site
More than a piece of architecture?
The corner stones have been removed,
The structure quivers in the slightest
Whisper of the wind. Columns have fallen,
Broken into their separate pieces, the playthings
Of some deity’s child. The caryatids have lost
Their smiles.

This tarnished metal cage
Can in no way be
The temple I once played in
Throughout my younger years.

Greg said...

Happy birthday! When I first read your post I thought you'd gone to the restaurant first and then to the family for further food and I was slightly puzzled... now I've re-read it I understand though. That sounds like an intrepid cake... I guess cake like that is a bit like your annual doughnut?
The car is sounding like it's getting more attention than you on your birthday! Still, better safe than sorry, and at least there are a few errands to run while you're in Penticton as well. And well done on the further comments :)
There are some lovely descriptions in your work today (especially towards the end, with the yoga teachers!), and I did wonder if this was a brief revisit to the Vancouver of your earthquake story at the beginning. And the ending is delightfully ambiguous: does the narrator want his untarnished reputation back... or his tarnished one? Is this Henri? ;-)

Tarnished
Aelric, prince of Mostlybony, sat on the high black basalt rocks that shielded the Temples of the Armourers from the sea. His skin was alabaster white save for the blood-red birthmark that covered his left eye, his nose and cheek, and then swept across his chin and down his neck like a springtime wave. Hints of black stubble stood out here and there from where he'd hurried his shaving that morning, and his clothes were loose, ragged, and slept-in. In his arms he cradled his sword Thundersnatch which he'd stolen from the prostitute-priestesses of the metal gods, drawing it from their sacred altar and shattering the expensive stone into millions of fragments. He mused for a moment that he'd heard they were having a fund-raising drive to replace the altar.
Out on the waves a dark shape bobbed, and Aelric wondered for a moment if he'd heard a cry. He considered standing up and looking, but then the sword seemed to glow softly and standing up seemed like too much effort. Let whatever sailor it might be drown.
"You're sitting here?" Aelric's mother sat down next to him, a short woman with joyous blue eyes, brown skin and laugh-lines that competed with crows-feet across her face. It was hard to believe when you saw them together that they were related. "You'll catch your death of cold!"
"I'm fine, mother," muttered Aelric, hugging the sword closer. It's bare metal was tarnished with a red oxidate that might have been the blood of the dozens sacrificed on its altar-home.
"Hah, I know you'll catch your death of cold, because you're wearing no underwear."
Aelric shifted uncomfortably and gripped the sword's ivory hilt, supposedly made from the powdered and concreted coccyxs of babies.
"And I know you're not wearing underwear," she continued, a merry smile twisting her lips, "because I've never bought you any!"
"Did you want something, mother?" Aelric hadn't meant to snap, and he didn't notice that his tarnished sword had acquired a hungry lustre.
"Just to tell you that I've just remembered another half-dozen step-brothers and -sisters that you've got," she said. "You'll need to kill all of them to become Queen as well."
"King," snarled Aelric. Something about the idea of killing people appealed to him right now. He stood up. "Where can I find them?"
"Well, I drew a little map...."

Marc said...

Ivybennet - that is some seriously lovely work. It's hard to pick a favorite section, but I think the bit with the corner stones takes that honor.

Greg - nah, because it's mostly eggs and a bit of coconut flour it's actually pretty low carb. Not that I generally eat much cake, but if I wanted to go all out there would be chocolate and flour and sugar and all that good stuff :P

Hmm, I had intended for his reputation to lose its tarnish, but I like this alternative possibility...

Now these two make an interesting pair. Or should I say these three make an interesting trio?

Either way, some excellent work here :)