Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Writing Workshop Lesson 5: Elmore's Rules

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. That’s Elmore Leonard talking. He gives more good advice here in his “10 Rules for Writing,” posted on Mystery Ink’s site.

The author has a new one out, The Hot Kid. You can read about it on Leonard’s own weblog.

I like his “Rules” because the first thing he talks about is the writer getting out of the way. Ironic to be talking about that here, since I tend to be a central character in so many of my own stories...but then, I did spend 20 years writing other people's stories first.

Many beginners find it difficult to keep themselves off the page, even when the story isn't about them. I read a news story in the campus daily the other day that was less about the student who died in a car wreck and more about the reporter who knew her and how she felt about the girl's death. The focus was way off. Too me-me-me.

One of my standard assignments asks students to write a story about a “dramatic moment." But they cannot use the pronoun “I” at all.

Tougher than it sounds. But it sure makes for more interesting reading when students have to figure how to convey drama, especially when it happens to them, without I-ing all over the page.

Leonard’s first three rules:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.

I encourage you to read the rest of his advice. See if you're already following his lead.

How are your writing projects coming along? I’d love to know what you all are writing. If you don’t mind sharing, one of your assignments this week is to post a couple of paragraphs of whatever you’re typing these days – just enough to tease our interest in your work. Be sure you also include a title, if you have one, and maybe a few words to describe whether it’s fiction or non, poetry, comedy, drama, whatever.

“Be bold and all the forces of the universe will collect to aid you,” said Goethe. So if you can constructively critique each other, I’d welcome that, too. Via comments on this post.

And here’s an extra little warmer-upper for this week. From the site of WRAP (Write Around Portland) come these writing prompts to use when you need a nudge into the creative process. How would you finish these openers? (Post your answers in comments here, too.)

The secret of this (object)...
I could tell from her coat...
When I'm alone...
You might think I...
Fall brings me back to...

Do some good writing this week, y’all. Check back tomorrow for a new story (I hope). And come back Thursday for some new Word Snobbery.

    19 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    meh, enough with the assignments. You've lost me, I'm out...

    2:01 AM  
    Blogger Gene said...

    I'd love to respond, but I'm too busy poring through some statistics. That said, my friend who is pouring through other statistics has begun to smell of mildew. Life ain't all a truckful of turnips.

    8:05 AM  
    Anonymous Ted K said...

    Today's work from a dissertation on civil religion in the early American Republic.

    President Jefferson articulated a new approach to civil religion, emphasizing republican virtues and the blessings that Nature had bestowed on the nation through geography. Jefferson famously claimed that the constitution erected a "wall of separation" between church and state, a statement at first appears to say more about Jefferson's ability to think in metaphors than it does about actual understandings of civil religion in the early republic. However, the statement also reminds us that the categories "civil" and "religious" are created by society, that societies change, and that the precise bounds between the civil and the religious are constantly shifting. Jefferson was one of many hydraulic engineers, shifting the current of society in order to put more land on his side of the river of church and state. As he did so, he did his best to redefine the terms of the debate, especially the language of national Providence that Washington and Adams had used before him. Jefferson only once invoked the God of punishment and retribution, in 1785 when he condemned slavery in Notes on the State of Virginia. For the rest, Jefferson played up the God of Nature who implanted freedom in human hearts, the Nature created by that God, and the course of human events. Not for Jefferson the ritual "God bless the United States of America" at the end of every formal appearance. Jefferson mentioned Providence, blessings and the Divine in both inaugurals and five of his eight annual messages. The most important blessings were granted from nature at the creation – like rights in a human being – and were thus inalienable.

    Jefferson's first few public messages referred to a "infinite Power" that shaped men's doings. Over the course of his Presidency, and especially under the diplomatic pressures that stemmed from the renewal of hostilities in Europe, Jefferson moved away from the notion of a Providence that could either smile or frown and towards a form of unconditional blessing. The nation suffered a Yellow Fever epidemic in the fall of 1805. Jefferson explained that "Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it." The plague only affects the seaport cities, only affects them when the disease is brought from abroad, and only appears between autumn and the early frosts. "These restrictions within narrow limits of time and space give security even to our maritime cities three fourths of the year, and to the country always." In short, Providence may have blessed the nation by making the epidemic short and mild, but that Providential blessing is expressed through geography and climate. And while Jefferson does not say so, geography and climate are not subject to rapid change. Most of the nation is secured from the disease, and will be no matter what else happens. Science has controlled and explained natural disasters, and by doing so has moved them out of the realm of the inscrutable Providence of George Washington and into the controlled space of Jeffersonian reason. By the end of his Presidency, Jefferson was treating Providential blessings as a form of inalienable national entitlement. The nation was a blessed location for republican self governance because of its physical situation. Geography was destiny. This was a position that would easily slide into the notion that the nation was blessed, not for anything it did, but because it was blessed – a self-perpetuating cycle of self-congratulation that would evolve into the Triumphalism of the later Jacksonian era.

    9:04 AM  
    Blogger theprofessor said...

    Don't give up! And these "assignments" are merely suggestions for getting your writing clicking. You're not getting graded, you know!

    More stories to come. I'm a servant of many masters these days.

    9:59 AM  
    Blogger SuperHolmie said...

    (This is from an essay I'm working on about collecting records. The rest of it is in my blog, if you're interested.)

    I always read the album covers, liner notes, song lyrics-- whatever came with the album. Liner notes come with CDs today but they are underwhelming, and usually full of pictures and not information. I want to read who wrote the songs, who played the instruments on each song, where the recording was made, who the guest artists were, who did the cover art, the artist's personal messages of thanks, etc.

    As I read the cover to the Tjader album, I got really sad. For several reasons. One, jazz album covers are like miniature history lessons. Lots of information written about the artist, the instrument, each song played, the clubs or studios where the artist worked, and other particulars. I feel like I need this information to enjoy the music.

    I think about my students whose musical experiences are condensed into iPods. The kids probably never read the liner notes. Certainly most of them will never play a record or even care about the history of recorded music. (And why should they-- about 90% of popular music today sucks ass.)

    7:46 PM  
    Anonymous zuleme said...

    This is from a book I've been working on for kids. I posted the first line earlier. I am thinking I will post the rest of it on my site and try to get disciplined enough to finish it.
    I have another completed work I should post on my site as I rewrite it. The first book is kind of sweet and this one is well, a little edgy. Writing the second one comes naturally, not because I've experienced these things, but because I have experienced enough of them to know how it feels.




    I walked along Main Street looking in the windows and dreaming of what I’d buy someday when I had a job. I was fourteen and planned to start working as soon as I could find someone to hire me. Then I’d buy new clothes, nice ones and nice things for the other kids. I had it all planned out. But today I just dreamed, looking at the lovely clothes displayed in the nice shops. Kids dresses that would look so cute on Lily, cool shirts the boys would love, the in sneakers. We got our clothes at the church thrift store.
    Then I came to the drugstore with newspapers in a rack outside. I stopped to browse. The Cape Cod Times had job listings, maybe I could pass for sixteen and get a waitress job after school. That’s when I saw the story.
    Accident Victim Identified as Cape Woman, the headline said. My eyes drifted idly down the story.
    “Sunday morning accident in Melrose claims three lives.”. I read. It continued. “ Speed and alcohol were to blame in a two car accident that claimed the lives of three people early Sunday morning in Melrose. Four victims were taken to the hospital where three were pronounced dead on arrival from massive trauma. The dead were identified yesterday as Margie Mac James, 32, of Falmouth Mass, Russell Peria, 35, also of Falmouth, and Sal Minetta, 34, of Teaticket. A passenger in the first car and the driver in the other car escaped unharmed.”
    The whole world spun around me real fast and I reached out and grabbed onto the newsstand. Then I started to shiver even though it was August. I forgot to breathe too until I looked up and saw the woman who ran the drugstore looking at me funny, like I was going to steal a newspaper and she wasn’t sure what to do. I put the paper back and walked down the sidewalk though my legs didn’t feel attached to the rest of me. I kept going until I reached the bench in front of the library and then I folded up onto the seat. I felt all numb so I just sat there remembering to breathe.
    Then the thoughts started to come. Momma was dead and wasn’t going to come home. What would we do?

    8:25 AM  
    Blogger Ayatollah Mugsy said...

    I am Mugsy, supreme ayatollah of Pug Life Ministries. This is the first fatwa I issued on my blog:

    For too long, they have walked among us with impunity. This scourge upon planet Earth, this deceitful, wicked class of man. They have left me no choice but to issue a fatwa! From this day forward, auto mechanics shall be a legitimate target for stoning. It is the duty of all faithful Pug Life followers to take up rocks and pelt these despicable tradesmen. No longer will they be allowed to hold our vehicles hostage. No longer will they try to charge over $2,200 for a rebuilt transmission. Fling stones, rocks, even boulders upon these evildoers. Some of you may be uncomfortable accepting the fatwa of a firebrand Muslim cleric such as myself. Some of you Christians may think this does not apply to you. So let me paraphrase the Bible to assuage your concerns: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. But then let the sinners quickly join in and rain down rocks.

    12:08 PM  
    Anonymous wayward said...

    People say that married couples start to look alike. My parents both have dark hair, blue eyes, and matching zipper scars. Dad got his first. When he was in his early 40s, he got severe stomach pain - so intense he could hardly walk. He ended up in the hospital being treated for diverticulitis. Many people have diverticulae, which are small pockets extending outside the colon. However, if something gets trapped in the pocket and can't escape, that's called diverticulitis, and it's extremely painful. In the worst case, the pocket could even rupture, leading to the dreaded bag until things heal enough for reassembly. Yuck! Given this threat, Dad decided to ... postpone action for a while, and he found an internist who said that maybe it wouldn't happen again if he avoided seeds, nuts, and chunky foods. It only took a few months for the next bout to hit, and after the second trip to the hospital, the offending portion of the colon was traded for the zipper scar.

    Mom got hers several years later. She told me once that her doctor had the personality of a fish, but he was a good gynecologist. So when she started having problems at 47, she went to him to get checked out. He told her that there was nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, Mom's assessment of her doctor had been too generous. When she went to another doctor for a second opinion, she learned that she was in the early stages of colon cancer.

    She had surgery to remove part of her colon, and her oncologist recommended chemotherapy since she was young and healthy. The chemo didn't make her feel young or healthy. Although her hair didn't fall out, she had to take steroids to combat the nausea, and those were also unpleasant. It was a relief when it ended, and so far, there haven't been any recurrences. One of my friends wasn't so lucky; her father also had colon cancer, but he didn't make it.

    Mom has healthy eating habits, and she exercises regularly and doesn't smoke. But she had one risk factor beyond her control: her grandmother had also had colon cancer. Dad told me that he and Mom were unable to offer us warranties on our GI systems, so if we noticed any problems, we should get them checked out.

    Luckily, my GI system doesn't bother me, so maybe I take after the dog. But it seemed like it might be a good idea to grace the Women's Health Center with my presence this spring for an annual exam. Well, OK, in my case, it had been almost four years since the last one, but let's not argue about semantics. I figured that they'd probably tell me to work on the weight, and then turn me loose for another year.

    That wasn't what happened at all. The nurse practitioner was very kind but she was concerned about my family history, and suggested that a colonoscopy would be a good idea. I didn't even want to think about this, let alone talk about it or actually do it, but I tried to be polite and hoped that she might just forget about it. She didn't. The next time I saw her, she reminded me that both she and the doctor thought that I should get it done. I told her that my GI system worked so well that I'd suspected that I could digest sticks and small rocks, but it didn't seem like a good idea to find out. She said, no, probably it wouldn't be. I figured that I needed to work harder on “reassuring.”

    The doctor cranked up the heat when I went to chat with her about my blood test results. This spring, they've drawn blood four times, with another order on deck next week, and I've been thinking about installing a spigot in my arm. She talked about “inflammation markers”, “anemia”, and of course, “colonoscopy.” “Yap, yap, yap,” I thought, but it didn't seem like a good idea to say this out loud. I told her that the only thing a doctor was likely to find up my butt was my head. She seemed to find this amusing, but I apparently still didn't have the “reassuring” thing down yet.

    It was time to pull out the next technique in my repertoire, the “stall.” This is where you don't refuse to do something, but you don't agree to do it right away either. Trying to sound as mature and responsible as I could, I told the doctor I'd go see a specialist within the next couple of years. (“Well, if not years, then maybe geological eras,” I thought.) “You mean the next two weeks, don't you?” she asked. Doc 1, Wendy 0.

    She wouldn't get off my back, and I wasn't too happy when I arrived at the GSLIS barbecue. Then I noticed that a really nice staff member had a scarf around her head that suggested chemotherapy. Her spouse, who'd survived cancer a few years ago, was beside her. My resentment evaporated, and I realized that if unpleasant medical tests were the worst thing I had to endure, I was very lucky.

    The procedure still didn't sound appealing, but I decided to at least read about the topic. The pink breast cancer ribbons seemed to be everywhere, and I'd almost gone up to Chicago with a friend to run a 5K to raise money for breast cancer research. But colon cancer isn't exactly a popular conversation topic.

    So it was surprising to learn that colon cancer was the second largest cancer killer in the U.S., after lung. For women, it's third, after lung and breast. Ironically, if it's caught early, the survival rate is 90%.

    When we think of cancer, we think of something growing very fast. But that's not how colon cancer starts. In fact, it often doesn't start as cancer at all, but as something called a polyp that develops very slowly. The problem with polyps is that they can turn malignant – in other words, cancerous, and that's what happened with my mom. So if you have a polyp, the best thing that can happen is for a doctor to take it out before it turns into cancer.

    There are some things that people can do to reduce their risk of colon cancer, like eating carefully, exercising, not smoking, and getting screened when they need to. For most people, this starts around age 50, but if you have elevated risk factors, they recommend starting earlier.

    One example of a risk factor is family history. Most people have a 5-6% chance of developing colon cancer in their lives, but if you have a first degree relative who's had it, your odds are about 2-3 times higher. Charles Schultz, the creator of “Peanuts,” had some family members with colon cancer, so he would have been considered high risk. But he was afraid of the screening process, and by the time they discovered his cancer, it was too late for him.

    The doctor at McKinley seemed to be pleased when I agreed to go talk with a GI specialist about the risks and recommendations. She encouraged me to restrain my sense of humor during the visit, and I promised to try. The GI folks were very efficient, and by the end of the appointment, I had a date, forms, and an instruction sheet.

    Realistically, what lies ahead will entail some annoyance and inconvenience. But so do many other things in life. Because of my family history, colon cancer screening will start earlier and happen more often for me than for most other people. But if it means never having to have a scar like my parents do, it's a small price to pay.

    12:21 PM  
    Anonymous wayward said...

    Every year, thousands of people and their bikes arrive at the shore of Lake Michigan before dawn. The Chicago Triathlon draws competitors from all over the world, including pros and Olympic athletes. This year, the organizers were attempting a world record and there were over 7500 entrants.

    A few years ago, I'd done the Chicago Tri. But since then, I'd been sedentary for a long time and was also about fifty pounds heavier. The folks at McKinley were concerned about a number of issues, and one of my friends who also had PCOS had already developed full-fledged diabetes. I sometimes remembered how it felt to go fast on the bike, and missed it. Maybe that was what possessed me to sign up for the race this March.

    Although a triathlon officially starts at the water's edge, it actually begins long before that. People log hours practicing their swimming, cycling, and running. Folks in triathlon tend to be very focused on the numbers - mileage, speed, heart rate - perhaps as a way of motivating themselves to keep pushing even when they don't feel like it. Unfortuately, my own numbers were dismal. Some of my coworkers and I went for a short ride, and the average speed was really slow. They diplomatically said that recovery rides were good sometimes. But the bike hadn't even been my weakest area - that would have been the run.

    The Second Wind Running Club organized a beginning women's running group. A cheerful sign at work read, "Thinking about running? May 2 would be a good day to start!" I figured that they wouldn't be nearly so optimistic when they saw me in action. It was a much better experience than I expected, though, and some other heavy women showed up to the first session. It got a little harder when we started running further, and some of the folks who were slower than me stopped coming. But it gradually became possible to keep going for a while, albeit at a glacial pace. The mentors were supportive and encouraged me to stick with it. They seemed really good - some of them placed in area races, and others ran marathons.

    The end of August approached like a high-speed train. Registration was at the Chicago Hilton the day before the race, and athletes with race numbers written on their bodies swarmed through the elegant hotel. Most of them looked formidably lean and muscular, but there were also some larger folks. The Chicago Triathlon is a big event for heavyweight athletes, often called Clydesdales and Athenas. After picking up my packet, I had to go stand on the scale to prove that I met the minimum weight requirements. Everyone who was going to race as a heavyweight had to do this. I passed by an embarrassingly wide margin. Oh well, I was there to complete, not compete.

    The next morning, we had to be there by 6 AM. The streets were almost deserted, except for the athletes and their bikes streaming toward the start. The race divided into waves, smaller groups that entered the water together. Our wave was one of the last on the schedule, and I hung out and watched the earlier groups. A friendly guy from Boston and I struck up a conversation, and he looked at the lines for the port-a-potties and said, "Ah, guess I'll just pee in my wetsuit." This was a great reminder to avoid swallowing water on the swim.

    Finally, our turn came. Our wave had hot pink swim caps, and the announcer said that courage for guys wasn't doing an international distance triathlon - it was racing in a pink cap! At the start of every triathlon, the same thought goes through my head: "What the hell am I doing here?" But by then, you're past the point of no return. People adjust their goggles and wait for the start signal. When it comes, the water comes alive as a mass of churning limbs. People generally don't think of swimming as a contact sport, but some shoving and jockeying for position is inevitable. Eventually you adjust to the water and settle into a rhythm. Finally, the swim ends and there's a brief sense of disorientation as you adjust to being back on dry land.

    The bike course probably has the most rules. Riders are supposed to stay on one side when they're not passing, and it's also forbidden to ride close behind anyone else. Not wearing a helmet means automatic disqualification. The pros and hard-core amateurs have very fancy equipment. For someone riding at 15 mph or more, the biggest force that they overcome is drag. So the highest-end bikes even have special wheels designed to reduce drag from the spokes. A full setup can retail for well over $5000. My closest brush with fame was being passed by some of the pros and Olympic athletes. I was averaging an unimpressive 15-16 mph and they flew by me as if I were standing still.

    The run loomed at the end. After the bike, your legs feel like bags of cement as you try to run. The only thing you can do is to push through it. At first, it seemed like I'd be able to do this. I was moving really slowly, but onlookers and other runners were yelling, "Go! You can do it!" There were more pros running amazingly fast on their way back, and I thought, "Wow." Then one of my feet started to hurt. I tried to keep going, but the pain got too bad to run. Walking was still possible, and that's what I had to do, feeling disappointed as I watched the time slipping away. But everyone was still supportive. In fact, the sense of encouragement and community may be what draws people to travel hundreds of miles to participate. A handful of athletes will actually place, but most entrants won't. However, other less tangible things drive them to return year after year.

    The disappointment over the slow finish subsided in a couple of days. With more time to get in shape, 2006 could be a much better year. And there are a lot of good races in the Midwest.

    12:23 PM  
    Blogger amulbunny said...

    I was an advance reader for "The Hot Kid" and it was one of the best books I've had the pleasure to preview in the last year. Leonard proves that writing is a craft that doesn't sink.

    I enjoy your blog. I used to English to SDC students in an urban high school and wish I knew then what I know now about writing. Ah well.

    Ciao.

    1:45 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Don't cry
    Never cry
    if you really must
    never let him see
    if he sees
    blame it on your dog
    don't love
    never love
    if you really must
    never let him know
    if he finds out
    blame it on the dog
    don't live
    never live
    but if you must
    don't fail
    if you do
    blame it on the dog

    (I really miss my dog)

    9:31 PM  
    Blogger Jessica said...

    Here are 2 poems I've written recently since arriving in South Korea a few weeks ago. I am looking for some serious feedback from someone with experience critiquing poetry. Thanks.

    You in Eagle

    With your arms twisted up in front
    of your face and one leg twisted
    around the other which supports
    you, you are supposed to resemble
    an eagle, but you look more
    like a wire hanger. In pink,
    you are a flamingo, and I anticipate
    Alice picking you up and turning
    you on your head before
    smacking a croquet ball with your head.

    In a life-size mirror mounted on the wall,
    the flamingo sees a needed adjustment
    and slides her shoulders down her back,
    creating wings like those of an eagle.

    To meditate on oneself is to meditate
    on one’s bird selves.



    Proud to Farm

    Cartoon bears run
    a three-legged race
    outside our window; Korean
    chatter can be heard
    all hours of the night.

    In the morning Korean
    soldiers are exercising,
    by the sound of it. We force
    ourselves to sleep past 8,
    and at 10 the storefronts
    are welcoming, mostly
    they are restaurants

    serving kimchi and
    whatever their specialty:
    pork in strips like bacon
    fried in front of you, then
    wrapped in sesame leaves
    or spicy chicken chunks
    served likewise. Yoon Mae

    explains that beef is expensive
    here and that this town
    of Chuncheon is well
    known for the chicken
    dish, dakgalbi. Today she
    bought me a shirt that
    reads Proud to Farm.

    Tomorrow she will help
    me find a birth attendant,
    and we will try to secure
    me a water birth, something
    natural at the least.

    7:11 AM  
    Anonymous talley said...

    A flash story that I keep trying to clean up.

    Loot

    There I was, leaning against my tired Passat station wagon at a two pump Shell station in Pahrump Nevada, trying to make my way home from a long weekend in Las Vegas. I had mistakenly volunteered to take Gramma, my ninety-two year old great-grandmother, with me for the weekend. Lord knows Mom needed a break, but I really didn't know what I was getting into.

    Gramma doesn't get out much; this was her first trip to Vegas. Her first trip out of Utah since she was a girl, for that matter. She took to it like a kitten to cream. I staked her to fifty bucks worth of quarters figuring that would keep her busy for a while.

    For two days she went from slot machine to slot machine, clutching her plastic bag of quarters, talking to anybody who didn't wander away. Over dinner she explained every slot machine system that anybody ever thought of. And at night she snored loudly in the next bed.

    I finished gassing up then waited for Gramma to come back from the bathroom. That always takes a while. I'd been hoping that we could make it on this tank of gas. I needed sleep.

    I was finished, staring off into space, and there she came. She looked excited, toddling towards me -- racing for her -- holding something up with her right hand. When she got closer I could hear her shouting, "I won! I won!" It wasn't until I noticed the station owner laughing that I realized Gramma had been putting her quarters into a condom machine.

    2:15 PM  
    Anonymous talley said...

    And in the spirit of full disclosure, because I am somewhere left of a liberal, I am struggling with a novel but couldn't find a single sentence I didn't loathe. I posted the flash because I don't much care about it.

    What a wimp I am.

    Also. Thank you for doing this.

    2:23 PM  
    Anonymous Sean The Monkey Man said...

    Sorry this is late: too many crazy work issues to deal with. Anyway, here are some random bits of narration from the script from my documentary, "Southern Fried Bigfoot!"
    ***

    Welcome to the South. It has its own unique traits…cuisine…and way of life. And according to some people, the South has its own monsters.
    ***

    Fort Worth, Texas is a major metropolitan area. Downtown Cow Town may seem light years away from the great outdoors, but the Fort Worth Nature Center, located along the shores of Lake Worth, is just a few miles away. Its welcome sign encourages visitors to leave only footprints. In the summer of 1969, something was reportedly leaving footprints, but according to eyewitnesses, it wasn’t human.

    ***
    With its size and scope, many
    parts of the Everglades are remote and can only be reached via airboat. If local legends are to be believed, this vast, wild area shelters more than just snakes and alligators. It’s also the stomping grounds of another famous Southern Bigfoot, one that has the
    distinction of being the smelliest…a creature that’s known…as the Skunk Ape.

    10:01 PM  
    Anonymous alicia said...

    better late than never...

    from "buttons and doorknobs" (working title)

    The doorknob is cool and round, like a melody that circles around the same few harmonies and can’t seem to end, a canon that never lets go. Its brass plate melts into the white door that expands higher than most doors, though is of usual width. The door is a dreamy white, with the same sort of ridges and faultlines as fresh scooped vanilla ice cream.

    “Me and the guys were eating some Teddy Grams—want to come over?” Elliot’s invitation is enticing, though I’m not sure it can beat examining exactly what makes my bathroom be the bathroom that it is. My voice is hundreds of miles away, maybe even thousands, in a South American mountain range, or a Russian winter. It is lost in time and space, though I have my breath so I breathe.

    “Laine, are you there?” he asks. I try to huff louder, to let him know I understand, I’ve followed the conversation this far. “You really shouldn’t be alone like this.”

    He knows I won’t make it to his apartment down the street on my own. I won’t be able to navigate the doorknobs and the stairs. The stairs are tricky, they look up but go down, or maybe they go up but look down. They have eyes that watch me trickle over them—I leak on the stairs, which isn’t fair. Elliot would carry me through them if I asked nicely. Elliot is nice. He doesn’t leave me, doesn’t follow me.

    “Laine, I’ll be there in a minute.” He might have said that a long time ago, but it just now registered.

    The phone is dead, dead as a doorknob. Except the phone’s dead melody is beeping rudely in my ear. I try to growl at it, clawing at the buttons. But the buttons keep moving, swirling around and around. I yank at the coiled cord, hoping it won’t come to life—reasonably it shouldn’t, but nothing is being reasonable tonight. I drop the phone even though she seems to be talking to me, telling me to hang up. I want to say I can’t, that I’m lost.

    12:08 PM  
    Blogger Willow said...

    Late and probably posted in the wrong spot.

    The secret of this desk was its hidden tape recorder.

    I could tell from her coat, and its fur collar, that she would anger the crowd.

    When I'm alone a ticking clock sounds louder.

    You might think I would have been alarmed when the police arrived.

    Fall brings me back to Windsor for the pumpkin races.

    5:42 PM  
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    6:09 PM  
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