Friday, November 18, 2011

Hay. Soar. Murder.

She edged out the door, hoping not to disturb her sleeping mother. The door squealed in protest; she held her breath and turned to glance back to see if this had awakened Mam. Poor Mam, she looked so dreadfully grey and tired lying there on the small cot. And old. She looked old. But, she was not awake, thank the good Lord. Elizabeth went out into the grayish late November afternoon, closing the heavy door softly behind her.

She made her way over to the barn, which loomed in front of her, dilapidated, sagging at its sides, but still surprisingly strong and erect for such an abandoned structure. And, abandoned it was; ever since Papa died and that one never-ending late summer/early fall three years ago when she and Mam attempted, fruitlessly as it turned out, to reap the harvest and keep the barn stocked with hay for their meager menagerie of live stock.

She wasn’t sure why she was interested in going to the barn; she hated the barn. Not just because it was a physical reminder of their failure; in fact, it had nothing to do with that at all. She hated it now because she used to love being inside its wall so very much. That was ages and ages ago, when she was a young and foolish girl of eleven. After her chores were done, after the mid-day meal was eaten and the dishes were cleared, washed, dried and put away into the old Hoosier pie safe; Mam would nod her head at Elizabeth, signaling it was fine for her to go the barn to explore, play and dream.

Now, as she wandered into its musty depths, she had to brace herself against the involuntary shudder that rolled over her. How could she have ever loved this terrible place? She closed her eyes against the rush of painful memories; those that had completely overtaken the pleasant ones from her girlhood. Overcome, she leaned against one of the empty stalls for support. She closed her eyes and could still smell the scent of long gone animals. Ghost horses. What were their names? She couldn’t recall.

The sound of scuttling overhead brought her back to the present. Her eyes snapped open and upwards towards the hay loft. She didn’t want to look there and it wasn’t for fear of seeing a rat or two. Yet, as strangely as she was drawn to the barn in the first place, she found her feet moving her towards the creaky ladder that led up to the loft.

As she climbed, she got a glimpse of the double doors at the far end of the hayloft. Amazingly, despite the multitude of storms they’d had over the past several years since the barn had been in use, they were still tightly latched. Still sitting on the ground next to the closed doors was her old beat-up steamer trunk, the one that had once belonged to Mam’s younger sister.

How she’d loved to kneel in front of that ancient thing, using it as a desk of sorts, and pretend she was a famous writer. She’d written a lot of silly pieces there, young girl starry eyed notions of adventure, romance and true love conquering all. Still, she’d also enjoyed the view from that vantage. She’d open up the doors and stare out at the great wide open; looking west towards the trees that stood silent sentry in the distance or glancing up into the blue skies while dreaming she was a mystical creature, a girl with wings, who could soar like a bird over Coozie’s Creek to the south.

Now, her trunk was covered with cobwebs and rat droppings.. And, all of those silly, silly dreams? Those stupid, stupid stories? The person that she was now, the woman that she’d become, looked back into the past and felt both scorn and an immense sadness for the young girl who had no idea what was to come.

She walked over to the doors, undid the rusty latch, and flung the doors open with such force that both doors crashed into the side of the barn with a loud THUNK that echoed across the quickly darkening evening sky. She approached the edge of the loft floor; as close to the gaping opening as she dared, and peered out. The view was still breathtaking. She could see miles in every direction. To the south, the glistening silvery trail of Coozie’s Creek. To the north, the spire of the town’s church. And to the west, just visible arising from the tops of the trees in the forest, wisps of smoke from the Childress’s cabin.

“That family”, Mam had declared one day when Elizabeth was still in the habit of playing with dolls on the kitchen floor while Mam fixed supper, “Is decidedly odd”. Papa, sitting nearby, grunted; whether in agreement, disagreement or just his Papa grunt which usually meant, “Yes, my dear”, Elizabeth never knew.

As her eyes grew accustom to the growing darkness, she watched the smoke from their cabin continue to drift up, up, up to where she couldn’t distinguish where it ended and the loaming sky began. She stood there a very long time remembering what Calvin Childress had introduced her to in this very loft the winter after Papa died. Mam had been right; and Elizabeth knew now exactly how odd and how disturbed at least one of the Childress clan was.

As she recalled, her eyes narrowed sharply and her thoughts turned to murder.

Mrs. B

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Writing Exercises

Over the years, I've both attended classes and read books that purported to teach one how to write, or, if one already knew how to write, how to either instill discipline to the writing process, develop a personal style, publish something that's already been written, etc., etc. Like many explorations and excursions in my life, I would typically go gang-busters for a month or so afterwards, only to have the enthusiasm eventually peter out, to be replaced by some other new adventure.

This morning I opened up my Blog and was somewhat aghast to see I've not posted anything for almost two weeks and what I have posted in the last month or so has been relatively weak. In all seriousness, I do have things to write about; in fact, several things, many of which are in mid-production and floating somewhere on my hard drive. I also tend to wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a dream I just had and say to myself, "Wow, you should write about THIS!" But, by the time I get around to sitting down at my computer, either the ability to recall the dream or the desire to write about it has vanished; replaced by thoughts of "What is on my to do list for today?"

I do have many things I'd like to accomplish today; but, I told myself while out walking Lucy this morning that I'd allow myself until 10:00 am to "dork around" on the computer with email, Facebook, checking out various web sites, reading the morning paper, etc. After doing much of these things (except reading the paper), I clicked on my Blog and thus began this particular entry/train of thought.

My first inclination after seeing that my last post was Friday November 4th was to go to my stock pile of past writing pieces and post something, anything, that appeared (to me at least) to be relatively interesting. Of course, in fact, this is something like cheating; somewhat similar to someone using a picture from many many years ago to represent what they look like today. While browsing through these files, I came across a spreadsheet I haven't opened up in a very long time. The idea came from a class I took at Duke way back in 2004; a bunch of random words listed in columns. For the life of me, I can't remember now if the words are supposed to follow any sort of pattern and I don't know if I came up with them or they were provided by the instructor (likely a bit of both). What I do remember is, you're supposed to put each of the words on a slip of paper, put all of the slips into some sort of container, and, when you want to write but you are stuck for ideas, pull out two or three of the slips of paper and free write for fifteen or twenty minutes about whatever comes to your mind. So, pulling a few random words of my spreadsheet by way of example, I might end up with "Hay" "Soar" and "Murder" as prompts.

And, speaking of free writing, I also recall from a book I read that it is a MUST to sit down every day and simply free write. Whether it be from prompts or just what may be running through your brain, you must do it to keep in shape; similar to what working out at the gym does for your body. This is easier said than done; it's a challenge not to get distracted. Case in point, as I'm writing this, Mr. B just came home from his morning meeting and the dog is wigging out. He's going to come into the kitchen soon and start talking to me (I have 10 more minutes to go before it's 10:00 am!) and I'll, well, peter out.

I just remembered another writing exercise; it also uses prompts but instead of random words, the prompts are statements or questions, such as, "Your first car". Or, "What makes you happy?" I've actually written and posted quite a few pieces from this exercise but I think my stash of prompts has gone missing so I'll need to recreate them.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that, since I can't seem to come up with anything really fresh and intriguing to write about on my own, I think I'm going to go the writing exercise route on this Blog for a while. There may be some weird stuff that comes out of it, I'll warn y'all in advance!

Ok, time's up for now!

Mrs. B

Friday, November 4, 2011

Apollo...You've Come A Long Way Baby!

I was hanging out with Apollo this sunny afternoon and shot a quick video of him, which brought to mind THIS video of him from over two years ago when he was still a foster kitten and we had him sequestered in one of our bathrooms attempting to "socialize" him. Check out the final thing I say. Famous last words!

Apollo June 2009

Please excuse my fingers in the video below. He kept grabbing the camera string!
Apollo November 2011

Mrs. B