Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Through the Eyes of Grief

Thank goodness for the Writer's Collaborative in my city otherwise I might never get words down on paper. Our leader gave us a prompt called:
"Sweet And Sour"
Her instructions were to: Describe briefly a lake or a backcountry mountain trail (in other words, a beautiful natural setting) as seen by a person who has just lost a parent in a sudden, unexpected death. The last time this narrator saw the parent, they argued violently. In your narrative do not mention the death, the parent, or the argument. Do not tell a story. Simply show us what the lake or forest or street looks like to someone under these circumstances. 500 words.

When I was small we used to vacation up at Squam Lake in NH.  Those are some of my best memories but I also remember being terrified of the loons up there.  That terror is nothing compared to how I would feel about losing one of my parents.  I thought the loon was also an appropriate symbol because I would probably lose my mind if I lost my parents.  So, without furthur ado, here is what I came up based on this very very difficult prompt:) 

At dusk, a loon broke the water of Big Squam Lake.  His slick black and white coat stained the ripples with incongruous contrast.  It’s said that loons love shiny things.  If they encounter a human they’re likely to gouge out the eyes first, fixated on the gleam.  The teeth are next, depending on what condition they are in.  This loon had recently killed at least three minnows devouring the meat along with the sheen of their scales. 
The sun was setting now and the light made even the roughest rocks shimmer. The water slid off the loon’s back, eager to get away from his violence.  The loon dove again, slicing the dark water, pretending to disappear, only to pierce the surface just as the turmoil had settled.  A trout hung limply from his beak.  The bird’s eyes glittered like garnets. The beak itself shone and dripped. Each drop sunk back into the wake as the loon made his way to a pine needled shore.  
The yellowing sheaths of pine plants stuck to the bird’s flippers.  He threw the trout to the ground with a thud.  Dander of the wooded beach exploded upon the impact of the big fish.  It’s dead eyes no longer had a gleam but the beak of the crazed loon shot through the socket nonetheless.  The dagger beak then went to work impaling the body of the catch.  The gills ripped apart, the liver wrenched out, the heart cleaved into several pieces.  The red eyes served as fierce sentinels as the loon tore the body into mangled chum. 
The water lapped up to the blood soaked ground.  The remains attracted only scavengers.  They circled above, crept and crawled from below.  The loon did not bother to fight them off.  He turned away and returned to the glassy water.  The shore looked much as it had before, but the hum of scrounging insects twisted the land. The smell of fish just before rot drew crowds of vermin to the darkening waterfront.  The water too seemed unaltered but the war wail of the red eyed loon reverberated across the lake.  The warbling wail warned children to shut their eyes tight, to shroud that fatal gleam.  It commanded them to close their mouths around their pearly teeth, to protect their new found smiles.  
Night was fully formed on Big Squam Lake.  The loon’s white flecks reflected the moonlight and his black feathers faded into the shadows cast across the water.  Still, the gleam of red shone from his eyes and he wailed until the trout was nothing but a skeleton waiting to be bleached by the sun.  He called into small hours and beyond.  He whooped against the water that held him afloat.  And his signal went out to others, whose red eyes shone and whose voices hailed back the wail of the loon.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Animated Kiss

One of the most enjoyable parts of raising children is reliving what have become mundane everyday events as exciting “firsts.” 

I remember a friend telling me how awesome it was the first time her son saw a dog.  I mean, yeah, dogs are crazy creatures and so getting a glimpse of a lab for the first time must have blown his mind.  So, I try and watch out for these moments and while the trash truck is no longer the highlight of my oldest's week I am surprised by the things I forget he has never seen.

For example, when we watched his first Disney animated film with him , I, of course, picked my favorite; Beauty and the Beast.  I want to instill at an early age that brains are better than brawn or beauty.  I also wanted it to be extra educational so I rented it from the Library in Spanish.  This was very confusing since the story is set in France.  So we have like Frenglish going on.  I’m pretty sure that most of the story was lost on him.  But he loved the fight between Gaston and the Beast.  He has a strong sense of justice but a tender heart so the Beast exposing Gaston for the coward that he is yet not dropping him to his death was just right to him.  (Oops sorry spoiler alert).  

But then, Gaston sneaks up on the Beast and stabs him to death.  At this point I am a little uncertain about my choice to let him watch this.  But it’s okay because Belle is by the Beast’s side and tells him she loves him before the last rose petal falls.  Then, magic.  I am not sure how to explain this to a (then) three year old, so I said it was a type of special medicine where they shoot light out of your extremities until you get better and an added benefit of this medical procedure is that if you are a Beast the light therapy transforms you into a long haired French prince.  Again, keep in mind the movie is in Spanish and my son is 3 and not bilingual.  

Next comes the part that I had totally blocked from my mind.  G rated movies allow....gulp...animated kissing!  Horror.  What am I going to tell him about that?  My husband and I are not the kissing in front of your kids or anyone or ever type so my palms are sweating like crazy.  “Ugh No!!!”  I inwardly cringe and imagine all the awkward questions that will likely ensue.  All this as the Prince/Beast is spinning about.  

And then Belle holds his face, and he brushes away a stray lock of her brown hair.  The music crescendos.  Inwardly, I am in a fetal position trying to think of a distraction but I can’t seem to find my voice.  And then they kiss.  And somehow Disney makes the animated kiss just as sensual as a human one.  Their faces are practically one.  It seems to be lasting for at least 10 minutes.  I still can’t think of anything to say.  Then, at last it’s over and everyone is happy and all I can mutter is, “Why would they do that?” Like I don’t know what a kiss is. Like I haven’t conceived three children.  My approach is to play dumb.

What is that weird face smashing?  Must be part of the strange firework light therapy.  

Let’s never speak of this again.  

(Probably another bad mom moment)

Based on Prompt #2 from my writer's collaborative...Say It With a Kiss

Kissing uses all five senses, which makes it an extremely sensuous act. It is a beginning and an end—the kiss hello and the kiss good-bye. There are a variety of romantic puckers (passionate, wet, teasing, rough, slow), as well as thrown-across-the-room kisses, tentative kisses, friendly pecks, and the reluctant ones that children give relatives or parents' friends. The poet Tess Gallagher's book Portable Kisses evokes a buffet of smooches.

Your first kiss is often etched in memory, and so is the solitary, experimental kind that you may have practiced on your arm, your pillow, or up against the mirror. Do you remember when you first found out French kissing involved touching tongues? I thought I would gag if I tried it, and I couldn't figure out how adults, who were forever concerned about germs, would willingly do something that seemed even more likely to spread a cold than drinking from someone else's soda bottle.

Write about kissing. Besides being fun to write about, it is an especially good practice for writing scenes between two people. (Approximately 500 words)