Monday March 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something that takes place in: the valley.

I'm scheduled for a three hour training shift at Town Hall tomorrow afternoon, which is the first assignment I've had since my run of work at the community centre a couple weeks back. It'll be nice to get off the farm and have my mind on something beside the ticking baby clock for a while.

Speaking of the farm, we went out to the garden this afternoon to seed some peas, kale, and other greens. The weather is supposed to get much warmer starting tomorrow, so we'll see how long it takes for things to start peeking through the soil.

Edit: If you happened to see the Tuesday post for however long it was up on the blog, my apologies. I'm not sure what happened there, but as of right now... no labour action is happening. So that one's been reverted to being scheduled.


"This place makes me feel claustrophobic," Kim said, wrapping her arms around herself as she stared up at the surrounding mountains.

"We're in the great outdoors," I told her, "not downtown New York. Get a grip."

She shot me a glare but said nothing. I shook my head and went back to preparing dinner. The campfire was about to bring the pot of water to a boil and I was ready to toss in the package of instant noodles. I just needed to remember what I'd done with the flavoring pouch. I think it was beef.

"I think I'd feel this way no matter where I was," Kim blurted out. "Even in the middle of the prairies. Weird, right?"

"Nah," I said. But I was thinking, Totally.

"It's all in my head anyway. I know that. It's like there's no room in my brain, it's so full of thoughts elbowing each other out of the way. So what does my physical location matter when I got this junk going on up here?"

"It's like they say," I said, patting empty pockets and beginning to be concerned about our imminent meal. "Wherever you go, there you are."

"Exactly." She watched me for a few moments, her expression unreadable. "Exactly."

"So what are you thinking about right now?" I asked, feeling suddenly uncomfortable in the spotlight of her attention.

"Right now?" she asked, her lips twitching upward into a ghost of a smile. "I'm thinking our dinner is going to taste like cardboard unless you figure out you're sitting on the flavor pouch."


morganna said...

Down in
The cool dimness
Pillbugs snuggle, worm chews
His leafy, moldy lunch, digging
Tunnels emerge as beetle works and all
The insects ... earth rumbles ... uh-oh
Earthquake! Run, hide! Digger
Comes! It's a dog's
Deep hole!

Greg said...

@Morganna: I can picture the scene perfectly, with the dog's enthusiasm and broad paws flinging mud and dirt in all directions, the nose shovelling things out of the way while they investigate. Thank-you :)

@Marc: That's an interesting couple you have there, and I like the dynamic they have between them. Kim seems to be the more interesting of the two, certainly with her views on claustrophobia, but the narrator's internal voice suggests that there's more to come. Another one for the growing list of things you'll continue?

The valley
The sky is green and the pink of an indigestion medicine; long horizontal clouds have stratified themselves near the horizon, and the sun is just starting to slip behind the distant trees. The valley below me is sliding into shadow in readiness for the onset of night, and the birds have quietened down in the trees. There's a soft breeze that seems to always start up around sunset here, and it's pleasant against my back. By my side is a hip flask that I found in the bedroom; the urchins spring-cleaned with an enthusiasm and a thoroughness I hadn't expected, and I found it on the dresser. There are initials wrought in some odd metal and I suspect that it belong to whoever owned this place before the previous occupant took up residency. I think that makes it a kind of heirloom, if you come from families where murder if the usual means of succession.
I shift, feeling the chill of the earth seep slowly through the heavy canvas of my trousers again, and reposition my feet on the large flat rock in front of me. I wouldn't roll down the hill and on into the valley if I stopped leaning on it, but I'm enjoying pretending.
I pick the flask up and slosh it, listening to the plogistonic wine inside. I'd thought it might be nice to sit out here, think, and drink. But I don't want to drink; the memory of the wine's effects are still too fresh. I think I might understand why it's being cut in order to be sold to the public – I'm not sure anyone would come back for seconds with the pure stuff.
Not for a few months, anyway.
I tried offering some to Cecily. She was sprawled on her mattress and there was a stink of ammonia in the air that made me realise she's really not leaving the cellar. She just knocked the glass away, and hissed at it when it hit the floor and spilled its contents across dirt-encrusted flagstones. Whatever she's getting from the plogiston and the Ch√Ęteau isn't the fine vintage I'm getting from the machines.
It ought to worry me more. I ought to care more about her, but here above the valley, watching the sky turn black and the stars come out, I find myself wondering if I'll have to burn her body when she dies too. Would she even notice if I locked the cellar door and pretended that she wasn't there any more? What obligations do I actually have for her now? And... when did I stop caring about her?
A flicker of light above makes me look up, and a star shoots across the sky, a growing, glowing point of light. For a moment there is silence and then it plunges into the valley and there's a bang like a cannon going off and the birds are shaken from their roosts and shrieking in the night air.
I suppose it could be an omen.

Marc said...

Morganna - hah, that's a fun one. I quite like the image you've provided for us. Well, images. But the final one in particular :)

Greg - thanks! I shall add this to the list then :)

Hah, that opening description is quite something. Comparing the sky to indigestion medicine... only you, my friend. Many wonderful descriptions follow it though, and that ending... I'd think our narrator would be moving to go investigate the impact area next!

But, from what I can recall from the first time I read this, I don't think that's where you take us next. Perhaps you'll come back to it though?