|Taughannock Falls looking over Cayuga Lake
Spring/Early summer 2010, I think
This is a weird one, from Carry on Tuesday and http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingexercises/ss/pictures.htm – prompt “And that is how I remember them”
And that is how I remember them, standing by the highway, he fussing over the tire, pretending he knew what was going on, she posing, as she liked to do, Mama’s little drama queen.
If it strikes you as odd that I can talk about them like that, the daughter I bore out of my own body, the man whose bed I shared for all the years after her birth, then remember: that moment, standing there on the desert highway, is the last time I saw either of them. I took a snapshot and told them I would walk to the nearest gas station and call for help.
To my credit, if you’re willing to credit anything to a woman who walks away from such things, I did call for help. Then I kept walking.
I hadn’t meant to. I’d meant to do exactly what I’d said when I’d headed out: call, then head back to the car and, maybe, salvage our vacation.
Call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, if you want – not the tire, these things happen, but his helpless uselessness staring at it, her prim and proper put-out expression, so much like her father. There was no helping, of course. I could have fixed the tire. I could have … well, I don’t know what I could have done for her. I’ve never known how she came out that spoilt, despite all my admittedly-amateur attempts as child-rearing. She was always his little princess; I could do nothing about her. But I could have fixed the tire.
It was his snappish defense of his inadequate male pride that did it. I called the tow truck, bought a bottle of water and a straw hat from the gas station, and took out as much money as the credit card and ATM would let me advance. I dropped my purse in the bathroom garbage can and headed south.
Statistics tell me thousands, maybe millions of people vanish every year. I don’t know if it’s true; I’ve never talked about it with anyone, not in so many words, and no-one has ever told me, flat out, that they had walked away from their life. But I know that our little town gets more than its share of paperless drifters, sunburnt and close-lipped, just like I was. I do for them what was done for me, help them find a job, help them move along, and don’t ask any more questions than I have to.
I never ask if they look back, if they wonder how their families are doing without them; I wouldn’t want to be asked about it myself. It might make me wonder how he felt, if he ever knew I’d abandoned him with another man’s bastard, or how she felt, if she knew her tantrums had finally driven her mother away. It might make me wonder if they missed me at all, or if I was truly the cuckoo in the nest, and not her.
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Quotes from Terry Pratchett Discworld novels
xposted to smallbatchicons
Edited to correct spelling!
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And that is the last of the prompts given from the Drakeathon, written!
(My parents donated and have not prompted, but everything I’ve actually gotten a prompt for has been written).
All together in a document, it’s just under 14,000 words, 27 pages of 8.5×11 with no intros and little formatting. I plan to add to this a couple already-written things, where the prompt was “please continue this story.”
Next step(s): editing and formatting for the e-book. I know at least one story needs polishing – Lost Princess of Paradisia. I’ll have to read through again to see about the rest of them.
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The last of the Drakeathon prompts is another take on Jilliko’s “Dreams of Winter.” It is between a cut of descriptions and depictions of death
Winter dreamed of death.
Let summer have heat prostration, drought, the long hot death of burning; let autumn have harvest and the browning of the leaves; let spring babble of flooding. Spring was, they all knew, about fertility, no matter how many deaths she claimed. Summer was about growth; her heat warmed the planet, warmed the people. Autumn’s harvest was food, fuel for survival. None of them really understood death. None of them knew how to kill like Winter did.
She dreamed, in her pristine palace, of the thousand cold, sharp deaths. She dreamed of the bird who could find no seeds, slowly perishing of starvation. She dreamed of the cold that slowed and clogged the blood, until the heart stopped and the body gave up. She dreamed of the quick skid across the road that looked dry, the black ice sending a car skittering like a toy across the road.
She dreamed of death, for she had been born of death, for death, about death. In her sleep; for Winter is sleep; she knew about, and was, the necessary: the renewal of the planet that comes with the slow rot of late autumn, that leads to the violent green of early spring. She was, in her dreams, the stasis of the freezer, that holds dreams unmoving, unchanging, un-growing and undying, until the thaw rescues them to rot or to sprout. She touched the tragedies and held them close to her frozen heart, the impatience of humanity against the implacability of the ice; the desperation of hunger and frostbite.
Winter slept, because the time of cold is a time of dormancy, the sleep that looks much like death, and the death, in turn, that appears to be a quiet sleep. She held the land stagnant in her dreams, never growing, never changing, the people dreaming of better times in that quiet way: Maybe someday the world will change. Maybe someday I will change. She held it all quiet, close to her heart, where it could not hurt her, where it could not grow away from her, or fall to rot. She held the land peaceful, quiet as the grave, quiet as sleep.
In the midst of the stasis of winter, the land dreamed of spring. It stretched, and heaved, under the heavy blanket of snow and ice. It put forth shoots, defying the cold and the ice, the frozen wasteland that said Winter will be here forever. The world will never change. The planet turned towards the sun, and the ice began to crack.
In the middle of Winter’s dreams, the people began to stir. They stretched, reaching, yearning for something. Yearning for change.
The snow fell, killing the shoots of green, burying the bird digging for seeds, making the roads slick and deadly.
And still the people dreamed, and stretched. And still the world turned towards the sun.
Winter dreamed of death holding everyone still. She dreamed of the quiet of starvation, the peace of stagnation. She dreamed of the cold, because she had been born of the cold, of death, of silence.
And in her silence, the world dreamed of noise, and awoke.
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