Sunday, February 20, 2011

Death and Politics at the end of the world

(This is the next section of my WIP 'Death and Politics at the End of the World'. The first chapter can now be found at the top of the page under it's own page it you want to catch up. It might be helpful to know that you are entering an otherworldly realm as you journey with my character. It is not fantasy nor is it magical realism although perhaps that might be a helpful touchstone... things happen that are out of the extraordinary so be prepared)
Relative State

The house gapes at me in surprise as though a stranger were climbing out of the rental and starting up the walk rather than the woman from child who once magic carpet rode down the stairs and swung on grinning screen doors. I launch myself up the wooden stairs and through the front door, silence wrapping around me in smothering folds. The contentment and tranquility of homecoming that bolstered me as I drove onto the island has been achingly stripped away and I stand alone in a sarcophagus of destitution.
            I pause, straining for the creak of a floorboard or water meandering through pipes. “Hel--lo?” The vowels rice crispy crackle in my throat. A rushing stillness swarms into the room in reply and I glance around, claustrophobic. I back toward the door anxious to escape suffocation, frightened of the flesh-eating feeling that runs up and down my arms.
            Interminable seconds later, a mattress spring groans reply and a rhythmic thump marks time as someone makes their way toward the stairs. The familiar scuffle of tattered Cookie Monster slippers make their way to the the landing until they slip finally into view; a long, audible breath escapes the confines of my lungs. The quantum dose of relief that has begun to trickle down my spine quickly evaporates as our eyes lock on the reality of sorrow between us and a tidal wave of emotion floods the room. His lips contort into familiar patterns but the customary syllables echo and bounce around the room as he stumbles forward and collapses onto my shoulder. He slides into a mournful skiffle that caroms with unintelligible lyrics. The scattered words I comprehend are lost in an echo chamber of confusion. The room swirls into turmoil, walls sway, floors arc, chairs waltz in a dizzying maelstrom of mayhem. A trio steps out from amidst the undulating drywall to accompany the lament, repeating the descant “she’s gone” in a low, solemn murmur.
            “There must be a mistake,” refusing the rain of anguish, I interject evasion. “I just talked-- she was on the phone, I told her I was coming. Everything seem- was fine. Don’t you think-”
            “NO!”  His response coagulates into intelligible words but snatch at me with disconnected tendrils “missing…days…  jumped… no body.”
            “No mistake! She’s go-o-o-ne, oh why? She’s gone” the chorus repeats contrapuntally as their arms extend in Temptationesque choreography. My gaze narrows on the ethereal centerfold and she backs off timorously, gripping her fellow crooner’s arms, quietly receding back and out of focus. The bizarre aria fades and the singers dissolve into the floorboards. The walls slink toward me, leaning silently inward anticipating my collapse. 


  1. There's a lot of imagery in your piece and some pretty complicated looking words I'm not familar with.

    I like the idea of her voice as she shouts up the staircase. I can imagine her there. :O)

  2. Hi Danette,

    What genre are you writing?

    I like the imagery here, and I rather like sound of the tattered Cookie Monster slippers.

    Have a wonderful writerly week. ;-)

  3. Madeleine: I'm glad you like that part! I actually just revised it... and I use words differently than some. I do not even always use words that I always know. I keep the dictionary/thesaurus open all the time while I write because I want the words to be like different shades of color, not just words. Thanks for you comments!

    Talei: Genre... think magical realism meets surrealism meets Quantum Physics meets my imagination and the authors who have influenced me (including Jeanette Winterson!)

  4. Wow, surrealism meets Quantum Physics? sounds meaty!!

    I like the imagery.

    Fellow crusader, Following you back, thanks for swinging by my blog.
    The Survival Mama

  5. Thanks! I post each Sunday, that is until I catch up to what I am writing!

  6. Happy Presidents’ Pets Day - the day after Presidents' Day, as I like to call it. See my blog for a good ol' howl.

  7. "grinning screen doors" I like that! Very visual.

  8. I love your use of description!!

  9. You have a wonderful and unique style! I don't know many of the words you used, but they managed to create a strong mood, just the same. Well done!

  10. I too am going to comment on grinning screen doors. I've never read this description anywhere and am curious exactly what it means? I'm trying to visualize it in my you mean that the doors are happy and welcoming? Or that the pattern on the doors is meant to suggest a face?

  11. Liz: Thanks!

    lbdiamond: Thanks for taking the time to read my piece!

    Nicole: That is really the point actually. I use words to create a mood- I choose words based on the color they add to the sentence. Thank you for your feedback!

    Michael: For a child (which is what this is referencing) grinning screen doors are doors that are welcoming. And yes it does suggest a face as the house gapes at her in the opening sentence as thought she were a stranger. Homes are more than building, right?


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