Monday January 19th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: breaking the ice.

I managed to get out of the house fairly early this morning, which allowed me to get to Vaseux Lake just as the sun was peeking over the surrounding hills. It's an area I've wanted to spend some time photographing ever since... probably before we even moved here, actually. I remember driving past it when Kat brought me for a visit while we were still living in Vancouver.

I've had difficulty finding the time to get there, but now that we're so much closer (and I have one morning a week dedicated to going out to take pictures) it became much more doable.

I took lots of pictures this morning. I'll probably make an album on Facebook at some point, so I'll try to remember to share the link here. But for now I'll just post one of my favorite shots of the morning:

The prompt, by the way, was inspired by not knowing precisely where the shore ended and the ice-covered water began. I played it safe, obviously.


The barrier is so thick I can barely see through it. Two feet, maybe three? It's hard to say. But there is one thing I know without doubt nipping at my heels: I can still see enough to know that the effort will be worthwhile.

I take a deep breath, ready my tools. A quick mental inventory reassures the butterflies in my stomach that I am fully prepared for the task at hand. One last shot of liquid courage. Not that I need it. For good luck?

Nah, don't need that either.

Here we go. I move through the crowd like a shark through water. People don't notice me unless I want them to notice me. Usually to get them to step the hell out of my way. I make it to the bar, order an overpriced martini, and turn to the redhead in the tight navy blue dress to my left, placing my right elbow on the bar as I do so.

"And what, my radiant sunset, shall I get for you?"


Greg said...

That's a spectacular picture, and the colours are amazing in it. It looks exactly like somewhere I'd like to pause for a while and appreciate, especially with the snow and ice. I also think you've done an excellent job on the composition of the picture, with the trees on the right very nicely balancing the expanse of frozen water to the left.
I like the idea of a morning a week to go out and find things to take pictures of. From what you've written you're not taking Max with you, so does he stay at home and get lunch ready for when you come back? ;-)
Heh, I like the way you've described the club scene and how the business of it all comes through. I'm not so sure about your protagonist's pick-up line though... let's continue your story and see what happens :)

"Radiant sunset?" Her voice is lower than I expected. A lot lower than I expected. She turns, and I realise that she is technically with a couple of brunettes who are standing near the bar, but they're leaning in towards each other and look like they're gossiping. She looks bored, and hot enough to melt butter from thirty feet. "Is that like a nuclear sunset?"
I swallow; usually the women I manage to get talking to are more the type to talk about celebrities and diets. It's the way I pick them. "All sunsets are nuclear," I say. "Because the sun is." I'm starting to wish I'd had that shot of liquid courage now. I could use the good luck. There's something odd about her throat too, I realise.
"That's not a bad answer," she says, smiling at me. Those butterflies in my stomach are back again. "I'm Natasha."
"Your throat...?" I say. I know I should be introducting myself, but it looks like there's something sticking out of it.
"You're forward," she responds. "I got this on an Icebreaker in '13."
"You were breaking the ice by hand to get through it faster?" It's a glib guess, but I'm starting to like this woman. I think she might be cleverer than me.
"Polar-bear attack."
There's an eternal moment where the noise of the bar seems to recede and there's just us two, standing slightly out of the centre of a ceiling spotlight, looking at each other. I'm sure there's a shadow of a polar-bear in the background, but that's just the decoration. I smile, and she smiles back, and there's a connection.
The noise comes back and I realise that the gossiping brunettes behind her are kissing. She picks up my drink as the barman serves it and hands it back to him. "He'll have an Old-fashioned," she says, winking at me, "and I'll have an icebreaker."

Anonymous said...

Sashimoto Yuri tried not to think about how trivial everything was. He tried not to let the part of himself that always craved a different life shine through and laugh at what he was doing. That wasn’t the path to the true Way.
In his hand was his sword. His companion sword was still nestled contently in its sheath, resting in his belt until he would practice with it. Just as Master taught him, he was holding the long sword in a way that made his hands pliable yet without play. He focused all of his intention on practicing the cuts he was recently taught on the tall icicles of the waterfall. By taking note of the size of the cut or of the piece of ice flung from its family, Yuri could tell whether or not his intention was strong. He needed to work on making his spirit reflect his body.
But then Kou’s face popped into his head and he couldn’t feel anything, not even the biting wind on his exposed skin.

Marc said...

Greg - thank you!

Max spends Monday mornings with Kat. Lunch is often ready when I return, but I'm *fairly* certain that's Kat's doing...

Yeah, I like that despite all the internal dialogue my narrator still doesn't really know what the hell he's doing.

I quite enjoyed your continuation, with its misdirection about the voice and throat and the way they seem to manage some sort of genuine connection. I was not expecting that!

Ivybennet - hmm, yet another intriguing scene. I quite like the image of practicing swordsmanship on icicles! And the reference to the mysterious Kou at the end hints at something much larger as well. Nicely done.

Aholiab said...

Breaking the Ice

Tami watched the man sitting next to her at the bar as he studied the cards in his hand. According to the name tag stuck on his shirt, his name was David. He wasn’t bad looking and seemed to be about her age. The beer bottle in front of him was from a local microbrewery, so he either had taste or was a beer-snob.

He placed a card on the bar between them and almost nervously picked up his beer and sipped. She looked at the card and almost laughed aloud. She glanced at him and wondered if he was bluffing or blushing. Most people didn’t play the “So, do you come here often?” card. It almost made her regret playing her “I need to wash my hair tonight” card earlier in the evening.

She considered her hand and took a sip of her own drink. She decided to play conservatively and see what he might be holding. Matching his card, she played her “Sometimes” card, and then made her own move by placing the “What do you do for a living?” card.

He seemed to swallow hard, and she thought she saw a thin line of sweat break out on his forehead. That probably meant that his career card either said “Lingerie Model” or “Accountant”. She wasn’t sure which would be worse and smiled to herself, wondering how he would get out of this.

Signalling the bartender, he placed a twenty dollar bill on the bar and received three new cards for his hand. He seemed to breathe slightly easier as he studied them. He looked at her, grinned sheepishly, and shrugged. The card that he laid on the pile said, “Would you like something to drink?”

Tami frowned for a moment. The rules were that the card had to answer the question, or the player had to fold. It was a stretch, but maybe he was a bartender, or a flight attendant, or a water treatment facility engineer. Any of them might normally ask that question in the course of their work. She smiled and glanced through her cards.

She no longer had her “No” card, and he had played cleverly. Tapping her cards with her fingertips, she studied his wavy hair, intelligent blue eyes, and quirky smile, then dropped her own card on the stack in answer: “How about my place?”

Marc said...

Aholiab - hah, that actually seems like a better way to meet people than the traditional bar methods. I think that in my single days I would have been all for it!