Interstellar Adventures

July 28, 2006

Reworking

Filed under: Writing — by InterstellarLass @ 8:42 am

When I met Nick, he regularly attended a Thursday night writing group. Nick writes great poetry in a kind of observational, beatnik style. He’s read me some things that have really blown my socks off. But evidently, since he met me, rather than becoming his muse, I’ve become like a bottle stopper. He doesn’t write much anymore. He’s posted some of his writing here. I wish he would post more. Especially some of his older work. He has a great voice and a great talent. I’ve let him take a break, but now I’m going to give him a kick in the pants and tell him to get writing. Momma wants a new car. Yes, I have purely selfish reasons.

And I too have been sitting on an idea for a book. Really a collection of snippets. Like if each day of your life was a piece of paper folded up in a jar, and someone was reaching in and pulling out a day, the day would be one part the story. You don’t get the whole story, just random days. I got the idea from one of Bone’s posts, asking If you could step back in time and re-experience a moment in your life what would that experience be. You can’t change it, just experience it. Why did you choose that moment? My response was the post One Moment. This will be a story in my book. But I reworked it for the Thursday night writing group, and I read this last night. I have a little more tweaking to do to it, but the meat of it will stay.

Summer Day

As the sun rises in the hazy summer morning, the house is kept cool with the air-conditioning running. My great-grandparents always keep the thermostat set high so they have a lower electricity bill. They don’t mind it warm. But when we’re here, they bump it down and keep the ceiling fan in the Big Room going, full-tilt; beaded pull-chain clanking against the light fixture.

Sliding out of the cotton sheets, I tiptoe out of the room so I don’t wake my sister. I sit down on the old rug in the hallway, pulling my night shirt over my legs, and listen to my great-grandfather work in the kitchen. I can smell the coffee brewing. Coffee pot sputtering as the water basin empties. He cracks the eggs and uses a fork to mix them. Metal clinking against the side of the Pyrex bowl. Bacon is sizzling in the cast-iron skillet on the gas stove. Refrigerator door opens and closes. The back door opens and my great-grandmother’s sweet voice calls the dogs back in. Tags jingling on their collars, toenails clicking on the linoleum, they go back to the Office.

My great-grandmother comes out into the living room to read the paper and sees me sitting in the hall. Good morning! she sings. Come have a glass of juice. I follow her out into the breakfast room. She fills a tiny glass with orange juice and I sip on it. Can I go outside and pick morning glories for the breakfast table? I ask. She nods. The old porch hinges creek, and the door bangs and bounces behind me. I run out on the concrete drive in my bare feet, through the grass and pluck several blooms from the bush cascading over the fence.

In the breakfast room, my sister and my mom trickle in. My great-grandfather finishes the hotcakes. Eat up! he said. I’ve got more on the griddle! My sister and I bet each other how many hotcakes we can eat. At least a dozen! I insist, gobbling my pancakes; washing them down with sweet-cream milk purchased that morning. After gorging ourselves, we sit back, stuffed, eyes glazed. Did you get enough? Was it good? asks my great-grandfather. Oh yes grandpa!

The day moves slowly. Rocking chair creaking as I push off the floor with my feet. What are you making? my grandma asked. I don’t know. But it’s long. I answer as I chain away with my crochet needle, afraid to try to turn it and lose my stitch. The gears on the cuckoo clock wind up and the bells chime ten times as the bird chirps.

My sister and I go to play outside. The air is thick and humid. The grass in the front is tall. Cicadas are singing in the trees. We play hide and seek for awhile until the chigger bites on our ankles drive us out of the lawn. We pluck the seed pods off the tree from out front, peeling the pods apart, trying to leave all the seeds in their little nooks. We go to check on the tomato plants around in the garden. Those aren’t ripe yet. Don’t pick them. I tell my sister as she tickles the little green tomatoes.   

Let’s walk down to Mary’s Crossing. We walk, kicking pine cones and rocks along the way; hitting mailboxes with a stick as we pass by. The wooden one-car bridge that crosses Mary’s Creek makes a great hollow drumming sound as we run over the planks, from one side of the bridge to the other. We take turns jumping, trying to make the loudest thudding sound. I secretly hope I don’t fall through. We search for stones to throw in the water, trying to skip them across the top.

Dragging the tops of our shoes along as we walk, we wander back to the house for lunch and maybe a nap. Leftovers taste better the next day; but only when they’re cooked by grandma. What we don’t finish she feeds to the animals. Do birds like fried chicken? My grandma laughs at my question. No, but they do like the vegetables. The way she says vegetables makes me laugh too.

Back inside, my great-grandpa is sitting in his barcalounger, snoring, with the sounds of the baseball game playing softly from the radio he held in his lap. I kiss him on the cheek as I pass by on my way to look through the antique photo albums. I look at them every time I come. Daguerreotype photos of my great-great-grandparents…and their parents; photos of my great-grandparents as kids. I study all the names written next to the pictures so I won’t forget who they were and how they fit in the family tree. It seems like every generation had a Paul, a Robert, and a John.

We go out for dinner. My great-grandpa always wants to go to Luby’s or Steak & Ale. Tonight we go to Luby’s. Get the cripple sign out of our car so your mom can park close. Grandpa comes out freshly dressed. He’s colorblind, but thinks he looks good in his grey pants, pink shirt, maroon vest and red sweater. He’d even shaved with his old Norelco electric razor.

After dinner, we play Scrabble. Except I have to promise all my words will be five letters or more. Otherwise I can’t play. I use the old blue dictionary a lot. Stop hoggin’ the Websters. My grandma says. Toward the end of the game I get permission to spell shorter words since there isn’t a lot of space on the board. My great-grandma wins.

Before bed, I take my bath. Even though it’s summer, I make my great-grandpa light the porcelain gas-heater in the bathroom. I soak in the old tub with the pink flowers on the bottom, listening to gas in the heater burn. Even under water I can hear my sister bang on the door and tell me to hurry up; it was her turn. My toes have pruned anyway, so I get out, pick out my favorite of the old towels and dry off.

I put on my night shirt and my mom brushes my hair. After making the rounds to kiss good-night, I lay in bed, under the cool, soft, cotton sheets. My hair was still wet. I can hear the crickets chirping in the back yard and I can see the flicker of the lightning bugs outside the window. Out in the kitchen, my great-grandma is cleaning up and getting ready for the morning. As my eyes close, my last thought is about breakfast the next day. I can’t wait to wake up for hot biscuits and fig preserves.

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9 Comments »

  1. That’s a great writing prompt, re-experiencing a moment, and you presented it really well. Love the quotes like “Get the cripple sign out of our car so your mom can park close”. HA!

    Thinking of each day as a “snippet” is a good way to help stay in the moment.

    As for Nick, maybe he just found something else to spend his … energy … on. Don’t kick him too hard!

    Comment by AbbyNormal — July 28, 2006 @ 12:55 pm |Reply

  2. Your timing is superb! I just came here to put you on my bloglines.

    Comment by Raehan — July 28, 2006 @ 2:06 pm |Reply

  3. And by the way, your post was lovely, lovely!

    Comment by Raehan — July 28, 2006 @ 2:16 pm |Reply

  4. Why does that happen? It has happened to me before too. And if you notice, when male tennis players get married, their game goes in the crapper. Why is that????

    Comment by Carnealian — July 28, 2006 @ 3:42 pm |Reply

  5. I missed the post when you wrote about the “one moment,” so it was good to read it this time around. I felt as if I was right there and I could smell the hotcaks and feel the whole day happening around me. awesome writing, Lass. I think I might try this too.. maybe. I don’t know if i’ll blog it yet, but it’s a good exercise to try out. THanks to Bones and you for passing it on.

    Nick’s poetry deserves more attention. “Daily Commute” reminded me of myself sometimes. “Dear Santa” had me laugh a little… kinda funny, that one. The AA one, about the buddy in the coffee shop, reminded me of friends and family members.
    Thanks for sharing his site with us. I hope he doesn’t mind if I poke around to read from time to time. I like to write poetry on occassion, and enjoy reading it even more. I’m not surprised he hasn’t written much anymore. I can’t write poetry when I’m feeling good, and if he’s the same way.. you wont get any good poetry out of him while he’s in this honeymoon phase. 😉
    that’s a compliment in many ways…I hope it lasts a long, long time. 🙂
    Tonight, for the first time in years, i’m going to be alone. Hub and kids will be gone, so maybe I WILL try the “if you could step back” exercise. I hope I don’t go off on an emotional tailspin with the whole thing. 😉

    Comment by Laura — July 28, 2006 @ 4:09 pm |Reply

  6. What a great idea. And, this memory is awesome. You did a great job…….

    Comment by Nancy — July 29, 2006 @ 7:55 am |Reply

  7. That’s some fantastic writing…I think you need to go for it with that book…I’ll pre-order a copy now!

    Comment by Claire — July 30, 2006 @ 5:34 am |Reply

  8. A wonderful read, IL. Excellent.

    Comment by Jean-Luc Picard — July 30, 2006 @ 5:35 am |Reply

  9. Woot! Book! You go, woman!

    Also, love the new look… I so need to update my blogroll, so this timing is perfect!

    Comment by Kristin — July 30, 2006 @ 1:59 pm |Reply


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