My name—Noël—has been mispronounced, mislabeled, and mistaken since my parents bestowed it upon me one snowy March afternoon. It wasn't until a friend nicknamed me "French Christmas" that it came into focus.
How much would our lives change if we could just see things differently?
My fingers find you, little river, forced to run underground, to snake past rocks and ravines, to crawl on your belly through the forgotten black backwaters. They follow the empty channels, the beds dry and baking in the sun, until they feel your tiny little heartbeat pulsing just beneath the surface.
It will take some engineering. It will take some sacrifice. But I know I can bring the rain down, I can make you rumble and roar.
Prompt: How can you better balance your work and play?
Oh the irony of writing a post about work/play for a writing project finished before I even started ... still, @sailorscorpio designed a great way to think about where you are and what's next this fall (and before the years winds down). You can check it out here.
He smoked down to the filter. It was the only thing binding the pieces of his mind together; they wanted to split, to flee to the East and the West and the North and the South, to flood out in all directions like a glass of water spilled on a table top. But the breath, the narrow plume of smoke that passed between his lips kept them tethered, contained. Inhale. Pause. Exhale. The tiny circle of cigarette between his second and third finger became the center of the universe, a small sun the burned and glowed with each breath. It fizzled down to the end, the stars burst and died. He reached for the lighter and the pack, its lightness startling him. There was one left.
Prompt via Sara Krueger: He smoked in the dark.
The lines of the alphabet were precise, methodical, exact. There was a rhythm to them, a formula. She liked the way she could use her pencil to make the shapes in the work book come to life on her own page. These letters and the words they made were under her control, not like the things happening just beyond her window. Apple. Bear. A hard one – caterpillar. Each one an orderly little victory. She liked it so much she pressed down hard against the dotted blue lines and she felt the graphite give to the weight of her fingers and snap.
Prompt Via Sara Krueger: Studying was the only time she could lose herself.
Right under the wire he leans in, with soft full lips and Cheshire cat grin, and I feel that old familiar ripping at my center, because he knows just how to wind me up just like a clock. I was almost safe and here he is, circling me, lips curled back and dripping, like I’m prey, like I’m bait, and I like it, I like this feeling, like I’m thisclose to being devoured, even though I know what comes after is never pleasant.
Because I like it so much I stand there on the threshold letting him get so close. I taste what is familiar, and the hairs on the back of my neck rise up in anticipation. But I stand there and still I don’t say yes.
The secondhand takes a swipe and splits us open on the way down. We are frenetic: we rush, we gather the shards and with shaking fingers fit the seams, press and bind, make it whole. We are just in time: the next pass comes and we are undone again.
I can't breathe in the waiting. My fingers find the fractures on their own. It doesn’t take much to force them open. I become a million sparkling pieces on the floor.
Prompt: What if there was no need to wait until you’re perfectly formed?
She hit send. Neurons in her brain released simultaneous doses of panic and adrenaline into her bloodstream; she felt herself grow both giddy and horrified by what she had done. She had exposed herself and the entire operation for what it really was. There was no going back.
It was Friday and it was cocktail hour and the twilight was coming in through the widows violet and crooked and the mezcal draped its smokey veil over everything and our faces got honest and she leaned in close to me and said: “Let’s just write and forget about the rest.”
Prompt: How will you start the journey?
PS thanks to Sara Krueger for being the inspiration for this post!
The signs of decay come already. Joints that click and snap, silver strands in my ponytail, and a creeping distrust of memories carved in the wet cement of a mind that was long ago young and fresh. The historical events themselves are true but the stories I spun from them, stories that became the gospel by which I lived my life, are not. So halfway through I break my prayer, I accept the role of unreliable narrator. I find something new to whisper to myself at night.
We lose them in the rear view mirror. The outlines of faces, the sound of a particular pair of footsteps on a particular set of front door steps– these and all the other details once memorized and beloved become Autumn leaves rustled by a speeding car. I roll down the window, lean into the wind, use my butterfly net to catch as many of them as I can. I hoard them, pin them down by their fragile wings, label each one with neat curving letters. I keep them lined up along the wall, a silent army, I keep them close, I share these rare and dazzling specimens with the people who drop by. How did you remember?
I watch the perimeter crack and fizzle like a Fourth of July sparkler, like the long snaking detonator of a bulbous cartoon bomb. It burns and the ashes scuttle away and I walk to the edge that isn’t there anymore.
We found a way to rewind the tape and play the worst parts over again, slowing them down to point out the exposed wire, the missed line, the reflection of the stuntman in the pool of blood. It was easier to watch when you understood the mistakes.