Thursday February 26th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about someone or something that is: bitter.

Back home in Osoyoos. Even with the unfinished bathroom it feels nice. And Max, quite unsurprisingly, was thrilled to spend the afternoon at Grandma and Papa's house while I did some reno work with Kat's dad.

We got the toilet reinstalled, the shower fixtures back in, and some trim and finishing work done. Still need to do more caulking and get the shower rod up, along with some other finishing stuff, but we're close. I think.

Famous last words.

Anyway. It's nice to be basically living in one place again. Even if we're only here for a week before we hit the road.


As I walk these streets. As I sit at my desk and try to accomplish anything work related. At each meal, every single bite. As I get into bed at night, remaining until sleep comes for me at long last. In my dreams.

There is no escape. It follows me everywhere, at all times.

I've tried evading its clutches with drugs. Killing it with alcohol. Distracting myself with gambling, thrill-seeking, beautiful (and not so beautiful) women. Nothing works. Nothing relieves my suffering, not even for a moment.

I am tired of it. So very, very tired.

An ending is required. A final chapter to the horror story that has become my life since you left. I cannot continue much longer. I must find a way to rid myself of the bitter taste in my mouth that appeared the instant you turned away. I must find solace. I must find peace.

I must, I must, I must...


Greg said...

Hmm, with the prompt being "bitter" and you starting off talking about being back in Osoyoos I thought you were going to be slightly less pleased to be back than you sound! However it sounds like everything's good (I"m glad you've got the toilet sorted out given that that's kind of essential!) and you sound settled in already.
Oh, and don't put the caulking off or you'll never do it. There's never a good time for caulking :)
Your narrator seems the obsessive type, which you bring out nicely with the paragraphs that keep going over old ground and recognising that it leads nowhere without ever giving hope that, perhaps, repeating them might just work this time. It's a very nice short character study!

The room is long and narrow and decorated in a Japanese style. Paper screen doors have been drawn back along one long wall to reveal a wooden verandah with steps down to a wet, green lawn surrounded by landscaped shrubs. The smell of jasmine hangs heavily in the air, and somewhere unseen water splashs gently, perhaps Koi are swimming in a pool. Inside the room, at a low table, a warlord sinks down into the lotus position; his legs cross stiffly as though old scars have made them tight, and his feet are callused and reddened from wearing heavy boots for too long.
Moments pass, and somewhere outside a bird calls; a low mournful sound that makes the warlord think of the sobbing of mothers when they are told that their sons will not come home. Another screen door is drawn aside and a young man tiptoes in carrying a tray. It contains all the elements of the tea ritual, and is placed on the low table in silence. The boy retreats, walking backwards with practised grace and never lifting his gaze from the floor, and he closes the screen door again.
"You should see the garden," says a voice, and a man who looks quite similar to the warlord climbs the steps to the verandah and comes inside.
"I can see it from here," says the warlord.
"It grows so greenly," says the man from outside. "All those bodies you ordered buried there... they fertilised it magnificently."
"Jakob," says the warlord, and then stops. This is his twin brother, and he cannot lie to him successfully.
"What? You're wondering why you're here, right? To see this. Just to see this."
Jakob kneels, and performs the tea ceremony. They both remain silent; there is no need, but the warlord doesn't know what to say and his brother chooses not to help him. Eventually they are both seated, and they sip tea.
"This is bitter," says the warlord.
Jakob nods.
"It's poisoned," he says. "You'll note we're drinking from the same pot though."
"I did it for the country. For the people."
"You buried our parents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, our sister and one hundred and sixteen assorted pets out there," said Jakob.
"The land is stronger than ever. We have no major threats to our security."
"And that will continue without us. But the blood price must still be paid."
"It is not just this tea which is bitter, Jakob."
"They will bury us both out there as well."
"You always did love that pet dog too much."

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I'm happy to report that this prompt was quite unrelated to real life :)

Bleh, caulking. If I never have to do that again I will be quite pleased.

Great scene setting at the beginning of yours, a really enjoyable back and forth between the two characters, and a surprisingly amusing ending to top it all off.

Consider me impressed :)