If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



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Friday, November 19, 2010

Calisthenics

A
So I got a new book: The 3 A.M. Epiphany. It's basically a bunch of writing exercises, and I'm going to do them all and post them like a good boy. If you read them, I'll hug you. If you critique'... double it. Mind you this is just sit down and get from beginning to end writing, no nit-picking, editing or major re-writes along the way. If you're feeling froggy and want to do the exercises along with... Come on!

Anyway...

Exercise One: Write a first person story using the first person pronouns only two times, 600 words or less.      

forget that there are still stretches of dirt road this long around here. It doesn’t seem possible any more. Elias’ place is an easy two miles off of the asphalt though. He’s Mennonite, real primitive: beards and buggies, no electricity or indoor plumbing, seven kids. Mennonites pretty much own Allen County, Kentucky right over the Tennessee line—my back yard.

     Elias runs the saw mill up there. Does a fair amount of business too, between the Community and outsiders. Long Creek runs through his property. Elias has got it dammed and a twenty acre lake backed up above his mill—the power supply. He’s got the sluice, the wheel, the whole nine yard, like you stepped back in time a hundred years. It’s worth the drive just to watch him operate: all those crazy levers, the belts howling and blade screaming—just an insane amount of power from something that flows through your fingers.

     There are usually some kids out in the lake, fishing or cruising around in the little hand powered paddle boat. It’s always quiet, but not this quiet. There’s no one around back either. The mill wheel is clicking just enough to keep it from getting water logged on bottom.

     It’s ten degrees cooler down in the mill. Elias has been cutting Cedar; the damp air is heady with it.

     “Anybody home? Elias? Joshua?”

     Joshua is his oldest, quiet—well quieter; they’re all pretty quiet around strangers—good kid, strong as an ox.

     Nobody’s around.

     The house sits back away from the mill, hidden but for a bit of gray roof and brick chimney. It’s a walk, but nothing like the drive in.

     There are clothes on the line: two blue-grey dresses, white bonnets and a small pair of black trousers. No dog. A half-dozen plump, gold Orpingtons are scratching up near the porch. The buggy is in the barn. There’s only one Belgium in the lot though, so maybe they’re out with the wagon, doing some light work that doesn’t need both of the big horses.

     Around back of the barn there’s about three acres of slow rise before the property climbs its way into a squat hill. The hill has long since been cleared of timber and replanted with fruit trees and grape vines. Elias’ wife makes jams and jellies to sell. The vines are black and bare, soon to be cut back for winter.

     Top of the hill is an enormous white oak, its branches low and long—a property marker most likely—and it looks like most of the community is gathered under it.

     A funeral? Where are all the buggies?

     The wagon and Belgium is up on the hill too, backed under one of the Oak's thick branches. Three men are standing in the back of it, Joshua and Elias, but the other man’s face is harder to make out, like he’s wearing a bonnet, but why? Joshua and Elias seem to be holding the man—helping him down out of the tree.

It’s strange what the mind doesn’t want to accept—what it ignores—when it thinks it can’t possibly be seeing what it is seeing. Things like rope and two mile stretches of dirt road that take you back in time. It's their damn business. Whatever was going on. I don't want any part of it, and pull out on to the asphalt and head toward the State line... home.  

6 comments:

  1. Well, you thoroughly creeped me out so I guess it's good.

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  2. Well, O. F. here's your double hug, to add to your being 'creeped out'. Sorry about that... it's just where the story wanted to go. It really is a cool saw mill, promise.

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  3. Very interesting piece of writing! I enjoyed reading it :) My only qualm was that I thought perhaps you should introduce the first person narrator a little earlier in the piece, so that the reader can tell that this is not a 3rd person narration. But, other than that, I saw no fault with it! For such a difficult assignment, you tackled it very well!

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  4. There, how's that Emmy?

    Good advice... considering it was in the book and I ignored it... defied it more like. Now I have two 'I's' and a 'my'... I fail. Oh well.

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  5. I don't know nuttin 'bout that writing stuff all I know is I got to wrapped in the story to proof read it.
    It ended with goose bumps.

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