Intros of NaNoWriMos Past: 2010

My first ever intro to my first ever NaNo novel. Eep.

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 The poster is one of ten, a hundred, a thousand anonymously distributed, paper flyers. Printed in vain. Stapled to this corkboard in the supermarket, where it’s after midnight and the cashier’s having a smoke break because the place is emptier than a graveyard on the day after Halloween. Some of the faces torn in half. Some would never even seem to have been there, except for a lone corner of a page clinging to a rusty staple, punctured into the board like a vampire bite.

The pages that do remain are covered in faces. Smiling faces missing teeth, posing for the first grade faces, cat faces, mutt puppies for sale faces.  Faces you’ve seen before on the news, and will never see again, because they will have vanished, from the board and from the face of the earth. Ghost children faces.

Battered by time, there is a blue page. It’s a photocopy of a photograph, an advertisement for something lost what seems like a lifetime ago. Black ink on blue paper, that’s all.

Beneath the title, photo. This kid sits on the floor in what is probably his parent’s living room. He could be anyone, but he looks like the childhood best friend you hung out with until high school split you into separate crowds. Behind him, a monochromatic Christmas tree shows off lights that have no life, no colour, no Christmas spirit. 

The boy is starting to get tiny black and white photocopy spots of acne on his forehead. His smile is half hearted as he sits with an unopened present in his lap. He has dark circles under his eyes, and short hair so light it can’t be anything but blonde. His mouth is thin, like a slice of nectarine. You can’t tell what colour his eyes are. It’s a photocopy.

They’re supposed to be brown. At least that is what I tell myself, when I forget. More compelling than the lacklustre photograph itself is the large, bold lettering across the top of the page. 

    MISSING, it says, as though he fell out of your pocket one day when you were walking down the street like a house key. It wasn’t like that.

    MISSING.

    Name: Dominic Sinclair
    Age: 15 years old.
    Last seen: January 29th, 2002.

If it weren’t for that poster, I might not remember my own face.

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Intros of NaNoWriMos Past : 2011

In celebration (anticipation?) of NaNoWriMo 2013, I thought it would be fun to post the intros of my previous victories and attempts. I mean, thus far, my scribbles have not really seen the light of day. So why not?
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There were two caskets for the body of my father. The wood was black, glossy, expensive. My mother and I stood graveside as the priest muttered words more to himself than to us. They were words that I couldn’t hear… Whatever. In response to what  he was saying. I assumed it was something to do with Jesus or Cover Girl or some other divinity that wouldn’t make me feel any better. Two caskets and only one grave. Beside me my mother’s shoulders shrugged really fast, rapidly is the word, sobbing without sound. She wiped her eyes and I put my arms around her, because I had seen people doing it in movies.

It was a cold spring day with a damp, frosty nip to the air. The ground was a semi frozen chocolate ice cream mishmash of grass and mud. Looked as though it might make a squelching sound underfoot. The sound a pie might make when it hits the face of a cartoon character.

Maybe that’s how I felt—as though I’d been assaulted with a giant cartoon cream pie. My stomach growled. My mother cried. This would be so much easier if they weren’t around to make the worst of it. The audience.

On the other side of the grave were the spectators. A wall of pure black and white Armani shoes and whoever purses. All wearing their over sized sunglasses, looking like bug eyed insects. Even with this, I could feel them staring at me. Judging me. I was very aware of the roll of my stomach slung over the sides of my dress pants like a moist, sweaty coat on the back of a chair.

Some of them held expensive cameras and snapped photos of the coffins, my crying mother and me, with my arm around her.  They had 20x zoom power to capture the entire moment and look on it later. Some of them had cameras so powerful they could probably see the nervous sweat on my forehead and my upper lip. The oil in my pores. The gel in my hair and how I had very much failed at making it neat from it’s perpetually messy, pizza greasy state.

They whispered among themselves and smirked when  my mother began to full out cry, wailing. Her voice cut over the priest and his talked about the endless Wal-Mart aisles in heaven. It echoes and bounced among the tombstones. I noticed a gorgeous blonde sitting in the front row with the spectators, sending messages with the phone in her lap. My mother wrapped both arms tight around me, sobbing straight on my chest. Right between my man boobs. Two coffins, a fat mother and host of people.

It was more of a sideshow than a funeral. Especially when the hot dog vendor rolled up,  his bell ring-a-linging in the silence. Nobody on the other side even twitched. If the upper crust ever ate anything it was organic, imported, detoxifying, or illegal. But the smell filled me. My stomach grumbled louder and my eyes suddenly filled with tears, like I had been chopping up onions.

The onlookers murmured and snapped more pictures. The blonde, my age, stared at me over the shade of her sunglasses. She is shaking too, with laughter.  I can feel the blood rising like a red sun over the edge of the horizon.  It superheats my face like a microwave oven, spreads across my cheeks. This blonde presses her perfect lips tightly together and raises her perfect hands and snaps a picture.

It takes four men to lower the first coffin into the dirt.

The coroner looked a us with an apologetic face and his head turned side to side from shoulder to shoulder in a shaking of his head, no.

“I’m sorry ma’am,” he has the decency to call my mother ma’am, and for that, I have to like him a little. We’re short on respect, even self respect. He has watery eyes like someone who is sick and a red nose. Sick or crying—but I can’t tell, and I’m not asking. I stand behind my mother. The coroner produces a hankie from the pocket of his jacket. He passes it to her and blows her knows. It trumpets.

“We should discuss other burial options for your husband… I heard of a story similar a county over, and to solve their problem they…. Saw fit to downsize the deceased instead of upsize the coffin.” Words are not reading loud and clear. I can’t figure out what he means, but I am sure I’m going to find out. 700 lbs does not leave you or your family with many options once you’re found dead in your living room. “He just won’t fit in one piece.”

As it disappeared into cold, half thawed, tired mother earth, I  shuddered.  The only thing left was the second coffin. After it was gone, we could move on. Pretend it had never happened. Clean our shame away, maybe find better jobs…  Our most hideous family member long gone, we might be able to step up  in the social ladder.

A flash from one of the cameras causes one of the diggers to trip. The second casket topples and out flops a meaty ham hock of an arm with sausage fingers, severed at the shoulder. My mother screams. A lightning storm of flashes, an excited murmur.

Working together, the diggers pick up the casket again and this time, carry it all the way to the grave. My mother sighs with relief, pulling herself entirely together as it moves out of sight. The flush of harassment and embarrassment slowly fades as our largest shame in a very solid and real sense of the word disappeared from view.  My father was dead and I only had a couple of thoughts in my mind: I’d date that blonde. I want four hot dogs, and thank God the man who gave me life finally dropped dead.

Intros of NaNoWriMos Past: 2012

In celebration (anticipation?) of NaNoWriMo 2013, I thought it would be fun to post the intros of my previous victories and attempts. I mean, thus far, my scribbles have not really seen the light of day. So why not?
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Image

Photo Credit: Lucky Scarf

Things she left behind: the wedding album (retro), the honeymoon album (Paris), the fuzzy orange slippers from last mother’s day, the pots and pans, dishes and all the cookware, the red dress she wore to their engagement party, the leftover decorations from last year’s new years eve party, one black heel, her peach scented shampoo and conditioner, her disposable razors, hairbrushes, nail polishes, her favourite flannel bed sheets, her celebrity gossip and house decorating magazines, the scented candles, the espresso machine, the world’s best mom coffee mug, the throw pillows they had argued over (he lost), the painting he had bought her in apology for being sore about losing, the couches, curtains, carpets and tables she had picked out, cream coloured tablecloths, glass art pieces collecting dust, wicker baskets, potted plants, half a tub of her favourite ice cream (heavenly hash), two children, and 3 million dollars.

Things she took: closet full of clothes and shoes, all of her luggage, her jewelry (wedding ring included), mother’s day cards from the kids, her plethora of cosmetic products (he saw the bathroom counter for the first time in nearly 9 years), her silk robes, lingerie, one photo album of the young ones as babies, her curlers, her favourite set of pastel towels, her favourite throw blanket from the living room, sunscreen, sunglasses, 3 million (and then some) dollars, the divorce papers.

 

He had been over all of it, exactly fourty seven times now and he had finally figured out what had really been the beginning of the end. It was all so simple: the agent of the breakdown was the lawn flamingos.

He had liked them, in their own kitschy, neon candy spray painted glory. How they watched him leave for work each and every morning, and how they were always there, a stoic, but strangely hilarious welcoming party when he got home. He liked the way they all were stranded in the middle of the green paradise of the front lawn island in a staggered line, a bunch of disorganized, loafing lawn ornaments with no purpose in life.

 

The birds didn’t worry, the birds were just birds. They were simple.  He imagined the lawn flamingos would watch the front window of the house as though it was their television, and his family was their absolutely favourite program. Each day, they could peer inside to see the daily happenings with the cast of the show. The man, the lady, and their two sons, one who was five years old, and the other having recently turned don’t-treat-me-like-a-kid-anymore-and-stay-out-of-my-room. As this cast of characters moved about in the home, the flamingos watched with poker faced interest.

They saw everything. They saw the family watch television together and argue about which show ought to be watched. They witnessed them hurry about their fire drill mornings, preparing them for the rest of the day. They saw them have dinner guests and screaming matches and even the living room get redone at the behest of the wife character, who had wanted something more “classy and put together,” which really meant a new coat of paint, and more pillows. Too many pillows. 

If you couldn’t guess, the flamingos did not much care for the set change: they themselves were not too concerned with being classy. (You may be surprised to know, but plastic lawn birds have low standards when it comes to decorating.) They had watched the woman gently and carefully rock their blanket swathed baby, pacing by the lonely midnight lamp of the living room, trying to soothe it. Years later, they watched the baby, now known as the five year old, having turned turned into a little boy, teeter down the front steps holding his brother’s hand, on his first day of school. They saw it all.

One day, they saw the man jump out of his car, the lap of his pants soaking wet with cold coffee, and run faster than he ever had into the house waving a yellow piece of paper, screaming for dear life in a tongue they were not fluent in. They watched the man and woman embrace, and jump up and down, now both screaming. The woman began to cry. They embraced. The flamingos did not blush when the man and woman began to kiss passionately, but they were horribly embarrassed when stay-out-my-room came home to find his parents on the couch, making out like they were totally in love and oh god was it ever gross.

Cheap. The flamingos were cheap and they could afford better now. After 9 years of marriage, it had to have been what had made her crazy, and it was that yellow paper that had made her see it. 

He had thought they were funny and quirky, with their painted on plastic beady eyes, their single coat hanger limb where knobby legs should have been. All the lawn flamingos had to do was stand still,  occasionally be kicked over by punk teenagers and watch their reality program on the inside of the house with the eyeball on the side of their head closest to the action. (He would always sadly upright them.)

She, on the other wing, had hated them.  From the moment she had returned from her vacation in Mexico with her girlfriend to find them on the lawn, from the moment he had played the “let them stay if you love me” card, from the moment she had been furious one night after a gloriously vivid screaming match and snapped the head off one with her bare hands. He had come to realize it was the eyesore of these tacky neon birds which had caused his divorce.

That was it, most definitely it. She had been driven crazy over the flamingoes and had served him the divorce papers. The winning lottery ticket had nothing to do with it, no, it was everything to do with the flamingoes.

This revelation came, as most delayed realizations do, in the middle of the night. He was laying in his now single bed, but literally king sized bed, staring into the void of the ceiling when it dawned on him. In a moment, he leapt out from between the sheets, hurrying into the hall, a man with a determined step in his walk.

He marched down the stairs, nearly killed himself on a compact blue hot wheels sports car and marched out onto the front lawn into the night.

It was summer—hot. He loomed over them in nothing but his boxer shorts, sweating. How had he gotten here? Divorced, on the lawn, on the edge of sanity? The flamingos had not seen this twist coming. 

He stared. They all stared back, at something of a loss for words.  By the time the flamingos had thought of a kind word to say, it was too late. That was when the man wrenched the first one straight out of the ground with his bare hands, taking hold of the anchoring wire like it was a golf club or a last straw. With the fervor of a lumberjack, an axe murderer, or maybe even a recent divorcee, he swung the body of the trembling lawn flamingo into the next doomed soul in the line of it. With a loud crack, the plastic gave away, and shards of pink fell into the grass below. The sharp report disappeared into the night as quickly as it had started.

The other birds stared in silent horror as they watched this lunatic in his feverish state let out a primal scream of fury and begin beat down each and every last one of them into tiny shards of neon pink plastic, with one of their very own.

In a blind rage he would step up to one, swing hard and beat it into the ground. Plastic flew, sweat burst across his skin, and somewhere far off, a dog began to bark. 

In the end, the green lawn was sprinkled with chunks of what had once been birds. They stood out in the grass, vibrant, pink triangle shapes, bits of molded feathers, tiny black pea eyeballs which lived long enough to see the madman bring his bare foot crashing down all of the pieces. It was by far going to be known as the worst plastic bird mass killing in recorded history.

The wild man screamed in pain worse than as if he had trodden upon a hundred legos in his bare feet. Stumbling back and gripping his bare foot, his ass hit the lawn and the pain brought him back to reality. Fading hysterical, the pink haze of fury in his eyes seemed to sink back inside of him,. Staring at the lawn ornament graveyard before him, he gripped one foot, pulling a piece of flamingo from it, wincing as it began to bleed. That was how he knew he wasn’t dreaming.

The madman looked around to see if any of his neighbours had been up to see his tirade, his dissolve of will, his moment of complete and utter madness. None. His shoulders slumped. He breathed a sigh of relief. It had been the flamingos all along. The anger fell away from him, and staring at his now completely dead audience, it was replaced by a sort of nostalgic sadness.

“I’m sorry,” he said to the birds, wiping blood off his foot and jamming his fingers in his mouth, “I’m sorry… I never meant for any of this to happen,” and just as though life had a real sense of dramatic effect and timing, that was when the neighbor’s sprinklers turned on, and his son, Stay-out-of-my-room came down the street, preparing to sneak back into the house. There are very few words to describe the reaction of a teenager coming home to their father, bloody, soaking wet on the front lawn amidst a veritable rosy murder show, but Stay-out-of-my-room had a few very good ones on hand for such an occasion.

“Dad? What. The. Fuck.”

“This isn’t what it looks like!”

But sadly, it was. 

Oct. 29/ 11:14AM/ Romanticism Class

ImageBrassy light,
these sweeping winds sling feathers
spinning wheel spells, catching raw sunlight
reflecting
the path, as page, as compass
and animal whimpers, howls, for dreams fear had put to sleep.

Whispering with the–
consonants of a shiver
in the moment while the meridians still spin
’til earth’s portrait,
kissed by valleys of fingerprints
–stops.

Another layover
turns your veins into two lane highways
slicing through rusty dirt nowhere
needle pricks of stars under skies without end,
to a trading posts at the crossroads,
that will take all you love, for all you long for.

EC Prompt: Sadness

A prompt that I took a jab at for my writing circle.

When your alarm screamed for attention, you had no eyelids.

The world, as is, today then.

Your head hangs, gallows low, in a staring contest

with the shower drain, puddles and gutters.

Tongue a sloven slurry of lukewarm paper mache,

staining your teeth with your own, rotting opinions.

Legions of soldiers, side by side, on their backs

in your veins, what a waste of a war.

No blinking, now, or you’ll miss it.

Every face in the street, just like the one,

who used the juices of your core,

to cleanse their palate.