Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Memory of the Sun

        Hello all!  I know I haven't been writing (or posting) much, but I thought it might be nice to post one of the few things I have written in this time.  

This piece was written for a challenge at CleanPlace, one of the writing forums I participate in.  The challenge was to write a piece between 700 and 1,000 words long that began on a dark and stormy night, but that did not use the words "dark," "stormy," or "night."  Furthermore, the story had to start with one of the three phrases provided.  I chose "All I wanted was the feel of sunlight." 



The Memory of the Sun

    All I wanted was the feel of sunlight on my face, drenching my skin in warmth, lending me its life-force.  Out of all the desires warring in my heart, I had narrowed it down to that one.  The sun.  Give me the sun, give me the light it brought, give me even the weakest beam trailing through a dusty room, and I would be happy. 

            But the sun and all that came with it were still hours and another hemisphere away.  And even when it came, I would be forbidden to touch it. 

            The rain drummed against the window like the fingers of a bored, impatient hand.  The only thing I could see were the streaks they made as they ran down the window, backlit ever-so-faintly by the tumultuous clouds in the sky. 

            I toyed with the flashlight in my hands, running my fingers over the rubber bubble it had for an on-button.  Was it worth it to turn it on, just so I could look at the pictures once again?  Just so I could wade through memories of the laughing, golden-haired girl that had been me only a few short months ago?  Just so I could remember with even greater clarity what sunlight felt like, and long for it all the more?  No.  I thought not.

            A vicious pounding shook the door.  I started and stared at it, feeling all sorts of horrid suggestions of who it could be creeping into my brain.  I didn’t think I dared to open it. 

            The pounding came again, then ceased.  Just when I had dared to breathe again, the door flew open.  Rain and wind blasted into the room around the cloaked silhouette.

            “Locked yourself in the toolshed again?” a familiar tenor voice said.  “Really, Jillian, you are being immature.  What are you doing indoors on such a glorious evening as this?” 

            “You call this glorious?” I yelled over the noise of the wind as I rushed to push the door closed again. 

            “But of course!  What else could it be?”  Heavy boots trod over to the window.  I could just see the outline of well-chiseled his face as he spoke.  “You’re making a mistake, staying in like this.  You should come with me.  I’ll teach you more about what it means to be a shadow nymph.” 

            Randolph…”  Honestly, I wanted to like the man.  But he seemed to have an uncanny knack for appearing whenever I least wanted him.  And how could he treat what had just happened to me so flippantly, like it happened every day? 

            “Well, why not?” he asked.

            “It’s wet out there.  Look at me.  You just opened the door, and I’m practically half soaked.” 

            He laughed.  “I suppose you would call that hyperbole?  Well then, if it is so very wet, I should stay here, shouldn’t I?  Oh, but we couldn’t have that.  You obviously want me to leave.  Very well, I won’t stay long.  But you might as well come with me.  You know you’d love it.” 

            Impossible, impossible man.  “Oh, sure!” I lashed out.  “Because being a shadow nymph is the best thing since sliced bread, and any other life you might have had doesn’t matter at all.  I don’t know why you can’t see it, but this hasn’t been the easiest thing for me, and I don’t want to go running off and getting all wet for something I don’t care about at all! 

            Randolph didn’t reply immediately.  Even his silhouette put aside the energy that normally hung about him.  The indistinct void of the tool shed became still, and the noise of the tempest outside seemed far away, removed from the silence surrounding us.  The raindrops continued sliding down the windowpane behind the cutout image of his curly head.  I knew that he was looking hard at me.  I wondered what he could see with eyes that for so long had gone without sunlight. 

            “Jillian,” he said at last, “you are one of us now.  No shadow nymph raised with humans ever came to terms with it right off the bat – but please, at least try to accept it.  It really is a beautiful thing to be.  Once you stop mourning for your old life, you’ll see that too.” 

            “But I was a child of the sun!” I cried.  My fists swung out, looking for a wall to pound on, to push against.  Some glass object fell to the floor and shattered.  “Picnics! Water-balloon fights!  Lying on the beach, watching the leaves change color, running through fields of daisies, laughing with friends, sunbathing, warm summer afternoons, rainbows, wearing sparkly earrings, fresh spring mornings, volleyball…” 

            I felt hands close about my wrists. 

            “I know,” he said.

            I stopped.  I tried to get a hold of my breath before it let out the sob in my throat that would betray me. 

            “We never forget, you know,” he continued.  “None of us do.  All those things… yeah.  All still here, in our heads.  Sometimes you’re so sure it’s not fair.  And a lot of the time, it isn’t.” 

            He let go of my hands.  We both knew I wasn’t going to struggle any more.

            “What do you do?” I asked. 

            For a second I thought that I saw his face, and that he was smiling in a slow, strangely knowing way.  But it couldn’t have been.  Everything on the inside of the tool shed was still as black as ebony. 

            “You remember all the things you can do that other people only dream about.”  He laughed – a delighted, almost bewildered sound.  “You should see, Jillian!  If they knew the things we saw and did… you’d be surprised at the number of people who would trade places with us, just to experience all we experience.  Let me take you out and show you.  Forget, just for a little while, how sad you are.  Come with me.”

            He brushed past me and opened the door. 

            And I went with him. 

 (c) Copyright 2011 Cherise

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writers and Wannabes

            How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from ‘writer wannabe’ to official writer?  When someone outside your family says it’s good?  When you get something published? 

            Everyone has a slightly different definition in their own mind.  And for good reason – I don’t think we can point to an official line and say, “Left of this line, you’re a writer.  Right of this line, you’re just a wannabe.”  I’ve read published writers who I would throw in the ‘wannabe’ category.  And I’ve read things posted on humble blogs that screamed to be in print. 

            The key, I think, is to keep in mind the fact that you always have something yet to learn about writing.  Always.  Writing is thinking, and until we’re perfect (which won’t happen in this lifetime), we will always have rough edges.  Hey, there’s a reason that we don’t read first drafts in bookstores.  Professional writers are just people who are good at fixing their mistakes.  (Eventually they get good enough that they fix their mistakes beforehand – when the story is still in their head.  Even still, who ever has prose that turns out sparkly the first time?) 

            You haven’t ‘arrived’ until you realize just how far you are from arriving.  That’s the first step toward being a great writer.  Delusions of grandeur plague all of us, but the mature among us are those who don’t believe the daydreams.