The Complicated Art of Copy/Pasting

So, here are two short writing exercises I did for my creative writing class. I’m thinking of starting something with these two, or at least stretching them out a bit.

I really enjoy this kind of writing, (eg. compact, highly emotional writing that captures a single point of the story arc —I prefer the denouement). Maybe I like that writing because I still have very little faith in my ability to write a story.

Exercise 1

She used to watch him sleep. Asleep, he was harmless; in the darkened bedroom his face was slack and unconscious, free of expression. In the mornings, his face would begin to show unease. He would awaken slowly, cut by slits of light from the blinds.

She would leave the room before it brightened, not wanting to be there as he awoke. His eyes cut her as the slats of light would cut him, a gradual and implacable discomfort in his sleep. His eyes told her everything, lapsing into hard consciousness as soon as they met hers. He would try and mute the shift by grinding his palms into the hollows of his eyes. She could not take beginning the mornings with deceit, and waited at the table instead, slouched in prepared intimacy, her hair mussed over her eyes.

He’d enter, she’d ruffle the paper in greeting. He’d take the milk and cereal out, putting them on the counter with emphasis—enough to return her riffle, but not enough to grate against the vulnerability of morning senses. They’d break the silence only once or twice—a courteous duty, delaying any feeling of failure on her part.

Putting her dishes in the dishwasher, the hollowness struck her funny and despairing, bitter like unswallowed aspirin. She remembered pressing down at his head in between her legs, willing a loss of balance towards the fall, but the feeling of his unwashed brown hair between her fingers quickly muted her. She pushed the memory away, placing her fork lightly in the silverware basket, trying to escape existence.

Exercise 2

Eleven days. The days were of a different quality, quieter, reflective. She had spent them alone, for the most part. Ann had visited on a Wednesday, and she had made tea, over which they sat and circumlocuted—neither of them wanted to get to what was on their minds. The tea was good, she asked Ann where she had gotten it, and Ann stuttered and replied “Oishi.” Some kind of unpronounceable oolong. Oishi. She didn’t want to remember it yet, and hid the memory behind other louder, brighter memories.

The teashop smelled like moist wood. That was her favorite part of the store. In the spring, people sat by the door, or outside, when it got colder, they moved upstairs, and their harsh chattering that reflected off the close walls and low ceiling made the room warmer, filled it with the present.

The teapots were dense earthenware, the light grey, blue, and green color painted on the outside of the teapots belied the heft of the pot and its tea. She would look at the pot while he spoke, nasal—with a runny nose from the tea—and then she’d flick her eyes quickly to him, so that in between things were a blur, like a visual jump from the teapot to his eyes. They were the same color as the glaze on the teapot, belying their weights.

He never noticed as he took tiny, neat bites from his shortbread, pursing his lips after each bite, so he kept the fine crumbs from spilling onto his jeans, or the table. She’d do this every time they came, the flicking. Sometimes they brought different teapots, the velvet purple stigmata of a flower, or a cracked stone-grey. His eyes would take on different colors at the time.

He’d caught her once, and had grown irritated. He had been saying something about his mother, and thought she hadn’t been paying attention.

But now he couldn’t do that again. He had put the barrel of a gun in his mouth eleven days ago. He laid somewhere in the Eastern Hill Mortuary, where they were repairing the hole at the nape of his neck, which looked like the sweet flesh of a fig, or of a tightly budded flower, deep red.

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One response to “The Complicated Art of Copy/Pasting

  1. I’m in the middle of my day and I’m rushing and I’m rushing and then I remember that you wrote something and I need to read it. I begin to read it quickly, in stride with the pace of my day. But I can’t. The writing won’t let me. I have to slow down. To read it, to “get” it, I have to slow down. So I slow down. And I am rewarded.

    Your details are immaculate, G.

    I hear what you’re saying about faith in writing a story. It’s not easy to take readers from shining prose A to shining prose B. The road between the two can feel like flat terrain. But you’re on the road, right? Might as well keep going. (And drop me an RSS via Google Reader if/when you get to your destination.) 🙂

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