Friday, February 27, 2009

Sunday Scribbling #152: Lost

From my (long) short story "Bitterroot," a snippet of Traci and Ben:

She saw the little feral boy peek out from Ben’s eyes—she’d once known his movements quite well, lured him out with her voice, fed him from her hand. She felt his pull, but she wasn’t sure it was her place to go there anymore. Before she calmed him all those years ago, he was a wild squirrel in the attic, crazed and frantic. Moments like these, free of the buzz of Ray-chatter, defenses down, the freeze frames of two heads in her bed almost—almost—ran to a blur of ink. She had no problem understanding the love she felt for this man when they were together; what she couldn’t fathom was the tenderness that came unbidden—most times, surmounting her willful refusal—for this demolition man who had all but destroyed her. Was she not far away enough? Was Montgomery too close? There were times she thought Atlanta, Raleigh, Virginia Beach. All with hospitals who said they’d take even her, with her sad sack withering skills, so-so evaluations, and recommendations full of backhanded and faint praise. She even made a trip up to Virginia, got as far as Charlottesville, walked around its pretty pedestrian malls, imagined herself living in streets full of gorgeous fall leaves, sat for hours in a coffeeshop, nursing a drink she couldn’t even pronounce, and then felt the unmistakable hook of that boy’s imploring eyes. She never made it to the beach.

In the old days, the boy would shiver. Sticky hot
Mississippi summer outside, but inside shaking like an icy wind had just cut through the pine trees. Lying in bed, Traci would pull him in close to her, lying against his back, trying desperately to warm something frozen at the core of him, frozen beyond the reach of human touch. She might calm the shaking, but still feel the polar regions so far beyond her wingspan. In the evenings’ progressions, lovemaking may have entered the equation, but desire and sex were never at the heart of their anguished toil, not those nights.

She saw that the shaking had taken him over, and she felt a desolation in the room that could only have been his. She wished for desire—desire she could defy, strike down, nullify. Compassion was a godawful sticky mess, and she was sick of it. Compassion was a leash.


She moved to the bed at his side, and gently pulled him onto it with her. She reached down and pulled his boots off, then pulled the spread from the other bed over them. He rolled over, slid down a bit on the bed, and pressed his head up against her chest. Listened to the beat of her heart, heard the faint growl in her belly. And slept.

Image:
Cy Twombly, The Rose (IV), 2008

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32 Comments:

Blogger bunnygirl said...

I like the imagery here and how you use words. Is the full story posted anywhere?

12:10 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

bunnygirl: I'm glad you liked the story. It's 67 pages, so I've not it posted anywhere.

If you search with this link, you'll get a couple of other excerpts from the story that I've also posted. ("A Distant Second" will also come up, which is not part of the story "Bitterroot.")

http://murat11.blogspot.com/search?q=ben

7:26 AM  
Blogger jsd said...

sure bittersweetness and covering up the more primal feeling hate

11:49 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

jsd: I ain't no therapist, but I ain't sure about that hate...too definitive for ms traci...murkier like...

11:57 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

hey paschal-
you've got lots of interesting stuff hidden away in those drawers!
i'm very interested in this female character, so self-effacing, and a lover of feral boy-men.
i have no idea what i'll write about this time... i think i might veer into fiction... sometimes you can only tell the truth by lying, right?

12:14 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Truth by lying is the mantra, Maria. Traci is a graveyard shift nurse, which should tell us plenty.

Tell the truth / but tell it slant...

2:46 PM  
Blogger anno said...

paschal, this was wonderful, that lovely combination of tender, sweet, and sad that makes me feel like I've spent a hot summer afternoon in quiet bar listening to an extraordinary unknown practice saxophone for the evening show. I loved these characters; both, though, seemed lost -- and found - somehow all at once. Funny how that happens, in love.

5:09 PM  
Blogger myrtle beached whale said...

very enjoyable response to the prompt.

5:11 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: Ben has to sell a few more Christmas trees and be visited by post-midnight Charlotte before he gets a little more found. Traci was clearly the more found of the two.

I believe that bar would be NOLA's Napoleon House, but the only music they play on the box is classical. Muffalettas and Pimm's cups'll make up for the lapsed saxophone, unless Satie gets sneaked in...

5:24 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

MBW: Glad you beached for a spell...cetaceans always welcome!

5:25 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

Excellent imagery! It brings your characters to life and makes me yearn for a good resolution, even though I suspect...

7:36 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Tumblewords: A 67 page story was long enough for these folks to get lost and come back around.

11:25 PM  
Blogger americanising desi said...

greatttttttttttttttttttt way to work on the prompt :)

take a peek into mine at
http://eternitycallsus.blogspot.com/2009/02/lost-without-losing.html

8:02 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Miiiiillllllll grrrrraaaaaacias, Ms Desi. I will certainly drop by.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

you weave a magical tale of deep dark secrets with characters that are full of mystery and tenderness.

10:15 AM  
Blogger floreta said...

great snippet and i love your writing. compassion is a leash! wow. powerful words..

12:25 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Thank you, Ms TLee. These folks do have a tendency to gather in the neighborhood. I tend to leave the door open.

2:53 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Hey, Floreta: it's good to see you: thanks for traveling over. A strong leather leash, at that. Six feet. Ain't gettin' far on that lead, eh?

2:55 PM  
Blogger San said...

The complexity of emotions and their various tuggings. "She never made it to the beach." No, land's end would be a stopping point. Too far from "the anguished toil."

Beautiful writing, Paschal. The push-me-pull-you rears its lovely head. Again. And yes, that's to be double-taken.

4:53 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: Good afternoon, sister. Believe it or not, Ms Traci has a lighter side, too, when she's on the graveyard: just ask (so far invisible, but alluded to) terminally smitten Ray.

5:03 PM  
Blogger alister said...

Glad those squirrel days are long gone, those bothering with lukewarm days long gone, so nothing but the pull of the moon can alter my path to the beach, so I can think, so I can attend to my place for once. But I can be thawed, of course, just like anybody else on this planet can be gotten at. And this piece is a good memory path to the days when I would give it all, regardless. And I wonder, is Bitterroot not finished, not something? Because it feels like it should be, like it’s wanting to be whole somewhere.
Muchness

6:26 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Muchness: Oh, it be done, girlfriend, off in the vault with all the other radioactive stuff. It glows a pleasant kryptonite green. And goes down well with penne arabiata or chili dog tofu pups. Blue heron ain't said "strike" just yet.

6:43 PM  
Blogger present said...

I love the parts-of-self idea here. Ben and Traci both seem taken over by the feral parts-of-self... he in his trapped, inability to be anything else, and she, I suspect, in the recognition of that feral part in herself.
"Compassion was a leash." Yeouch!

7:23 PM  
Blogger alister said...

Ah! Very well, then. Nine 1/2 weeks works for me : )

7:46 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

present: Parts of self works: just as they struggle to live in their worlds, they are both drawn (in the larger story) to lives of compassion that season their hearts.

Good thing compassion is not a lash...

5:29 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Muchness: Will that be the penne or the pups for you?

5:30 AM  
Blogger alister said...

Whatever you decide to tease us with from the Bitterroot menu will be fine : )

2:26 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Muchness: I'll check the larder...

3:50 PM  
Blogger alister said...

OK, good, and you know, if you happen upon any Galilee foodstuffs during your checking, or some o'them tins o'Scarred Angels and such...

11:05 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

DOM: Si, comono.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

This is really nice. Compassion a sticky mess indeed.

5:15 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Indeed, Ms Mood: bottle rocket blue cotton candy all up in the face and hair sticky, no?

6:58 PM  

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