Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fiction Thursday: Candle Piece

Today I set up shop early: fed the baby, got in some reading (two pages), grabbed a bagel and brought the computer to a hum in hopes of beating the garbage truck, the stacks (of dishes, mail, laundry, children's books, felt), the itch and inspiration for other projects, and dates with friends. Today, before my cup is filled to teeming (no matter how wonderful that might be), here I am with more words than yesterday, well, at least a paragraph or two more.

This Fiction Thursday piece began with a focus on using sentence fragments to suspend time (no verbs = no action or tense) and a memory from my childhood of a blue candle. Ironically, I wrote this about seven years ago, before the birth of Grey's Anatomy or reemergence of the name Addie.


The final deterioration had happened in this room. It had taken less than three months. It is odd to observe, to watch your mother weaken daily in this bedroom, as if it were these four walls and not the disease taking her little by little. The cancer had begun out in the fields before she knew to wear chemical-proof goggles or a full-face respirator and rubber gloves with extended cuffs at the elbows, before she knew the heavy white canister of anhydrous ammonia she pulled between the rows of corn while soaking the soil was poison to her lungs.

The deterioration began out there, long before any of us could see it. It concluded here. Here: her bedroom with walls like the whitewash of her youth. Clean walls with no memory of sunken cheeks and shallow breaths. No leftover notes of whispers, "Poor Addie." "Any day now." Only my memories of dim blue candlelight against stark white walls. Remnants of deep shadows, dustless nightstands. My hand on her dry wrinkled palm. My ear to her wrung-out chest. The lights off, the room soundless except for sporadic labored breath. Her extinguished eyes in candlelit glow.

And now, the room radiant bright as I pull open the dresser drawers.


Hidden in the two pages of reading I snuck in this morning was this quote from E. L. Doctorow, "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." I don't know that I see this piece as part of a novel, but regardless, I'm seeking that next pool of dark-clearing light. I'm just wondering if this time around my car doesn't need to go in reverse. Hmm...

As for that Paris bloke, rewriting out that piece (and ruminating on it a bit all day) did give me an inkling of an idea about this fellow, but I haven't sat down to experiment further yet.

I promise more light-hearted fare tomorrow. There are laughs to be shared.

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