Tag Archives: first drafts

10 minute Tuesday: Embarrasment

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cat covering her face

I’m back!  I have been doing a lot of writing by hand lately.  Sometimes it’s just helpful to switch up those pathways to creativity.  The problem with that can be that I need to type everything I write. There are worst things in life, I’m sure.  I’ve also been reading a lot lately.  I finished The Weird Sisters and am listening to Tanavarie Due’s The Good House.  But enough about me, here is my 10 minute write.

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Only Mr. Henry would arrive at someone else’s party full of demands.  Even though I’ve made my way back down stairs, I hang back in the kitchen, grazing the veggie platter  and giving myself a pep talk.

“You can do this.  This is the last visit until Thaksgiving. It will not kill you to go back out there.”  Just then an arrow lands with a sharp “thwat” into the hedge outside the kitchen window.  “Okay, it might kill you.  But would that really be that bad?”

Daddy’ and Mr. Henry are laughing loudly at Edgar Winston who was standing next to the hedge and is shaking with nerves.  “Man up, son,” Daddy says giving him a clap on the shoulder, “You’re looking like casper.”  Edgar, who gets his pail skin from his white mother and his kinky hair from his black father, has gone sheet white.  He shakes his head and our eyes meet when he looks into the kitchen window.  I offer him a weak smile and can’t keep from shaking my head in embarrassment and relief at the thought that, hey, at least it wasn’t me out there.  Sorry, Edgar, not today.

 

Image: ‘Mooki feels shame

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Not-so 10 minute Thursday: River

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Autumn leaves at the top of the weir

I made list of worst case scenarios for a teenage girl who is slowing going blind.  I totally intended on writing about going to school with all your clothes turned inside out, but that didn’t happen. Nope.  Instead I got stuck on writing a scenario that would be embarrassing for everyone- not just my main character.

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Though I appreciate the glories of a school uniform and the lack of decision making it requires everyday, I couldn’t help but appreciate it more the morning I woke up to a dark room. Even with my glasses on and my bedside lamp shining the light in my room was reduced to an ashen gray.   Once I’d watched a documentary about the eruption of Mount St. Helens that sent tons of dirt and debris rushing down the side of the mountain. My room  was kind of like the aftermath of that: dark, the outline of normalcy still there but unseeable.

I didn’t call out for Daddy.  The last thing I needed was to give him any more reason to treat me like a two year old. Or worse: to treat me as if I was making a big deal out of nothing.  I focused as hard as I could, using my hands and memory to lead my through my room.  My desk and dresser were right where they were supposed to be, easily in reach without running into anything.  I pulled off my pajamas and considered showering.  Could I make it to the bathroom without tripping over myself?  As soon as the word bathroom floated through my mind, my bladder reminded me that I didn’t have a choice of whether or not to head there.  Unless  I wanted to spend the morning cleaning my bedroom floor, I was headed to the bathroom.

Wrapping myself in my red fluffy robe, I opened my bedroom door but stopped before I took a step.  Drawing a map in my head of the hallway that led to the bedroom was important.  Choosing the wrong door would lead me to the linen closet, the den, or worse, Daddy’s bedroom.  Trying to conjure a memory of the last time I’d actually stood and looked at the hallway, I drew a blank.  The most I could come up with was that the bathroom door might be open, while the others were likely to be closed.

“Why are there so many doors, in this place?”  I mumbled as my bladder reminded me to get on with it.  I took my steps carefully, one foot in front of the other, my arms out stretched to run my fingers against the wall. Passing two closed doors, I held my breath and focused on reaching an open one.  The picture of the hallway in my mind became more clear as I concentrated on trying to make out the shapes in front of me.

As things became clearer, my urgency to reach the bathroom increased.  It no longer felt like I had just woken up and was getting ready to use the bathroom.  It felt like I had been holding back a river all day.  I cursed myself and the glass of water I’d had before bed.

“Libby?” Daddy’s voice came from behind me, causing me to jump.  And to lose my grip on holding back the river in me. My bare legs became wet as the warm water pooled at my feet.  I started to move forward faster. With each step it became more difficult to hold it back. I couldn’t think. Reaching the open door, I threw myself into the room and slammed the door behind me.  It was too late.

Image: ‘Autumn leaves at the top of the weir

10 Minute Tuesday: school daze

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an empty cup of coffee on a saucer

I swear I wrote last week!  I have it on my laptop, I know I do.  I just don’t know here last tuesday went.  I’m taking each day with a flow.  Looking at where I left off the day before, and pushing forward.  This means that I’m not holding onto old ideas of where I thought my story was going to go. Instead I’m listening for and looking for the path as I write.  Its the first draft after all.  I get to try to figure things out a thousand different ways, right?

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“See, there! Who ever said there wasn’t room for two senior reps was wrong!” Mr. James said, his hands on his hips and a smile on his face.  Amber chuckled and smiled her overly sweet smile.    That person had actually been Amber last spring when the student election resulted in a tie for the position. Instead of having a run off, Mr. James awarded Amber and I co-representative positions. Despite the warning alarms blaring in my head, I tried my best to smile.

“Now, let’s get to business,” Mr James said.  The group- eleven thanks to Amber, or me- settled in.  “First order of business, Disability Representative proposal. Amber, take it away.”  My heart stopped.

“Well,” she folded her hands across her desk and turned to give me a broad smile before continuing to address the rest of the group, “in keeping with Hellen Emory Lambert Logan’s dedication to diversity and education, I thought it would be appropriate for us to have a rep for our classmates who are differently abled.”  She curled her fingers into  air quotes when she said the words “differently abled.” Mr. James nodded, eating it up.

“Tell us more, Amber,” Mr. James said.  I wanted to punch him in the face.

“Well, I was thinking about Libby, actually.” At once, all eyes were turned to me and I felt like a prisoner on trial.  Or a caged bull.  I held one hand in a tight fist and pressed it against my thigh. The pressure kept me from popping out of my seat and wrapping both hands around Amber’s throat.  “Being visually impaired can’t be easy for her, but she keeps going.  How many of us could possibly know what its like to be in her shoes?”

She looked around at the other student in council.  The look on her face resembled that of the woman on late night television asking for donations to send to needy children in far away parts of the world.  I could almost hear Amber say, “For the cost of a cup of coffee, you could change little Libby’s life.”  My stomach turned.

 

Image: ‘Friendship / Amistad

monday madness: blind

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inside of a prius

I got to starbucks this morning and was greeted with my very own spot!  This is amazing because this starbucks is becoming busier and busier everyday.  On Friday I had to go to a completely different coffee shop!  It was really nice, excellent coffee, really expensive flourless chocolate cake, but it wasn’t starbucks.   Goodness, I”m totally drinking the kool-aid, aren’t it.

I wrote for 2 hours this morning, over 2000 words of  story in order to write the debate. The debate is when the character has to decide whether to go forward with their mission or stay where they are.  My main character has to move forward.  She has an attack of temporary blindness while at a boutique with her best friend, and can’t hide it. The only choice she has is to tell her.

I gotta work on character stuff.  Who she is and how she responds to things in accordance to her personality.  hmmmm.

———

“Its really nice,” she said.  I could picture her leaning over her steering wheel, her eyes scanning the tree lined boulevard and the decades old homes that was my street.  It wasn’t the large estates of Michelle’s neighborhood, for sure.  I tried to peek out from beneath the sunglasses Michelle had placed on my face to ease the sun.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it didn’t matter.  I couldn’t even see the red that was the back of my eyelids.  An hour of traffic was an hour of me explaining to Michelle what Dr. Oh had said and what I was sure the real problem had been.

“Maybe you’re right, maybe its  just stress,” Michelle had offered.

“If talking about Joseph counts as stress, then I’m screwed,” I replied.  Aside from Sophie’s cold shoulder, Joseph had been crossed off the List and replaced by Troy essentially making him part of the past and not my future. Plus, I hadn’t heard from him in months.

“Your destination is on the right,” the GPS said.

“Mine’s is the blue house with dragons out front,” I told her, embarrassed at the stone creatures that stood watch over the gate to the house. Michelle was quiet for a few seconds, pull the car over and slowing to a stop.

“Nice,” she breathed.  “It reminds me of where my grandmother lived in Mexico.”

“They have bars over the windows in Mexico?”  I asked.

“No, not everywhere.  she has dragons in her garden.  The same type.”  The beeping told me that Michelle had opened the car door. I unbuckled myself and opened my door, slowly to keep it from scraping on the high sidewalks.  I cringed at the crunch of metal against cement . “Slow down,” she said, taking one of my hands, “Just lean on me when you step out of the car and I”ll help you.”

I continued to step forward, my foot catching on the space between the car and the sidewalk.  She reached out and held my hand tighter, providing me a place to balance as I stepped out of the street and on to the side walk. This time I managed to do it without falling back or breaking my ankle.  “Where did you learn to do that?”  I asked.

“TV.” She responded, closing the passenger door quietly.

“Of course,” I responded, placing my hand on the car to steady myself.  I lifted the shades and was grateful to see that the spinning and bluriness at the boutique was temporary.

 

 

Image: ‘My God! Its full of stars!

10 minute Tuesday: Big Tent o’ Miracles

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shadows in the door way

I took the day off from work for a different matter (that ended up being cancelled) so I used today for writing!  I have been at Tsarbucks since like 10:45 am.  It is 2:36pm right now.  I’m finally getting ideas about how to make Libby run the show, not just go along with the show.  Clarity is a godsend!   I’ve got to start taking notes now on what she’s doing and what her friends are doing.  I love progress.

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The tent flaps were pinned open beneath a sign.  Michelle paused in front of the tent and I stopped as well.

“‘Believers Welcome’” I said reading the sign aloud. In a whisper I asked, “What do you think they do to the non believers?”

“I think non believers are up the street at Red Lobster,” she said, then added, “Its not too late for that lunch. We could go right now.”

I took a deep breath and ignored the concern in her voice. “Then the walk across the parking lot would have been for nothing.”  I steeled my stomach and pulled us forward through the flaps of the tent.

The inside of the tent was warm enough to stop us in our tracks.   Humidity filled every spot that wasn’t occupied by a person.  We moved forward I scanned the faces of the audience as we looked for seats.  Shades of brown faces filled my vision indicating an audience of mostly Black or Latino believers.  A splatter of white faces also sat in the audience.  Most of the faces were lined with wrinkles, and eyes that looked both hopeful and exhuasted.  I stared longer at the few mothers and fathers sat next to children, some visibly disabled, some not. Michelle and I were the only teenagers in the bunch.

Image: ‘Shadows

Random Thursday: Guilt

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a building demolished by a landslide

 

Guilt does funny things to the brain.  It is best to tell the truth and breathe just a little bit easier.  That’s a really hard lesson for a teenager to learn!  Libby barely even considers it.   Lying is basic part of her life since she can’t tell anyone the truth about what her dad does for a living.  Going blind seems like just another truth she can learn to hide.

Oh, silly girl.

_________

 

I tried to peek at the passing Los Angeles scenery  and Dr. Oh’s face was staring back at me from the seat of the girl with fringed hair and odd shoes.  Dr. Oh’s knowing eyes remained even when I looked away and looked back.   I am losing my mind.

I squeezed my eyes shut and took off my glasses in order to rub my eyes shut. Opening my eyes, the place where Dr. Oh’s face had been morphed in to a dizzying blur of dark brown hair and light skin.  Holy… I slipped my glasses back on my face and tried to take a deep breath that comes in a short gasps for air like a fish left on the dock.  The smell of marijuana quickly fills my senses.  Daddy.   The dizziness subsides under the feeling of comfort.

“You cool, Libs?”  MJ’s voice planted me directly back in to reality.  My father is not at my side, but instead MJ has his hand on my shoulder and a worried look on his face.  I glance over at where Dr. Oh was sitting moments before.   She was gone, and the fringed hair girl with ugly shoes was back in her place.   She is staring at me and when I glance around I notice that so is everyone else.  Any feelings of illness and shock are immediately replaced by the  need to crumple into a ball and roll under the seats to disappear.  No more, lies, Libby. 

“I’m good, MJ,” I say.  He doesn’t ask twice, but he also doesn’t move from my side until we reach our spot.  Great, I will definitely smell like marijuana, I thought, but I am still grateful for his presence and the odd sensation of comfort his smell provides.

10 minute Tuesday: Grandmother Cummings

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Senior couple on cycle ride

Today’s 10 minute tuesday features Grandmother Cummings.  She is Troy’s- Libby’s boyfriend- grandmother.  She drives a Mercedes that runs on vegetable oil. She drinks water that has been filtered through a reverse osmosis process.  She’s Troy’s guardian while his father is away in Iraq.  She works late nights in a diner to take care of the family needs.  Troy has been known to rub her feet to relieve the pressure of varicose veins that she gets from standing all day. I’m pretty sure she smokes pot on the weekends.   She only goes to church on the holidays but sends Troy every Sunday.  I’m pretty sure she does yoga at the YMCA for exercise.

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“How’s my future, Gran-daughter in law?”  she asked  turning to me.  I took a long sip of the water, wishing it was caramel and would glue my mouth closed just for a bit.  Troy returned to his duty behind the mower, leaving me to field the tough questions by myself.

“I’m doing well, ma’am,”  I said.

“That’s not what I hear,” she lifted her eye brown and peered at me as if to reprimand me for telling a lie.   I wasn’t lying.

“I’m not dead,” I said with a shrug.  The click-click-click of the mower became faint as Troy moved further away from the driveway.

“While that is good, I meant your sight.   Word on the street has it that you’re having some sort of difficulty seeing?”

Word on the street.  I almost chuckled at the sound of it but it was too frustrating to laugh about.  By street she meant Daddy and my church.  By word, she meant rumors.  I guess there are worst rumors she could have heard.  Like the one about last Spring.

“Its getting worse I guess, but you know, nothing that a little prayer can’t fix,” I said, mimicking Daddy’s enthusiasm.  I forgot who I was speaking to because she gave me another skeptical look that said, ‘really, you believe that?’  You never can tell with some people on which side of the faith debate they fall.

“What about your future?  You’re only young once.  You’ve got to take full advantage of it before you two settle down,” she looked more emphatic then ever, as if her belief in Troy’s and my future wasn’t just stuff of wishful thinking.  I crossed my hands behind my back and squeezed out the excitement and the anxiety of that idea.  “what if all of that doesn’t work?”

My anxiety intensified.  I hadn’t ever thought of the idea of the praying not working out.  I shrugged my shoulders, and she looked both disappointed at my faithful attitude.

“You know what you need, young lady?”

“An attitude adjustment?” I said, repeating what I’d often heard T.V. parents say to their shrugging “i don’t know” attitude teenagers.

“You need a plan,” she stated, nodding her head with emphasis.  “a good plan.”

 

Image: ‘Senior couple on cycle ride