Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blog Chain - Write...Wait. What?

Okay, so for this chain of madness, Jessica Verday actually had the gall to challenge us to write something. Pshaw. kenyit

I was suddenly so happy to go at the end. And then as the chain progressed, I wished I could have gone first. I mean, I can't compete with Avon-calling knights and the emotion of a ballad.

Nevertheless, I did what I always do. I pressed forward. Wrote something. Couldn't figure out how to put the heart in it. You see, the loverly Ms. Verday said this: Ready? This week's topic is going to make all your writers out there have to...WRITE! I want a short story people. 100 words, 300 words, 500 words, 1,000 words - whatever you're comfortable with! The only requirement I have is that the theme of the story have something to do with HEARTS. Someone stealing someone else's heart. Someone pining away for true love. A thief of hearts... Go wild!!

Yeah, wild all right. Her inspiration came from a poem Kate posted on her blog a while back.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

-Stephen Crane

I have to say that I am not the world's biggest poetry fan. But when Kate posted that, I printed it. So I can see where Jess got the inspiration. Abi posted before me, and Terri will be dazzling us with her hearts tomorrow.

So on to my story. I tried to write something light and funny and quirky and YA. Yeah, that didn't work. It sounded so forced. Sometimes the quirk just doesn't flow from my fingertips. Other times, I'm a hoot without even trying.

It must have been a dark day, cuz this is what I ended up with. It's 465 words, which I must say is a new record for me. I don't think I've ever written anything under 500 words before. Not even a blog post! LOL.

A Single Moment

He leans against the door. Waiting. Always waiting. For the most part, he’s gotten used to the waiting. The hypnotic scent of popcorn wafts down the hall. Every office should have a popcorn maker. He congratulates himself for suggesting it. Wishes they could have more time to use it. Really enjoy it.

Rich yellow light bathes him, the color of golden honey, the color of surprise and joy at a birthday party, the color of the popcorn. She’s coming.

He hears her heartbeat before the door opens. Tastes it. Breathes it into his soul.

He craves it.

If only the delicious woman in the crisp business suit didn’t have to die.

He waits across the hall. Watches.

She eats popcorn. Laughs.

The yellow light blazes to orange and he knows he won’t have to wait much longer.

Still, he hates to end her life. Surely she has a family, people who care about her, things she wants to do before she dies.

They all do.

And so he waits. His heart doesn't twitch.

Her heart beats with life, with ignorance.

He’s jealous.

And she’s going to die.

People pass, blurs of color that don't blend with the pulsing tangerine light. Only minutes now.

He’s running through a list of possible explanations for her death when it happens.

The sound is loud, even to him. Especially to him. Enough to set the little hairs on the back of his neck on end. Screeching metal, like that train wreck he waited through last week. Shattering, then moaning of wood, glass and steel.

It all comes from behind the closed break room door.

Screams cover the trembling walls. Phones are dialed. Tears fall. The door won't open. Smoke curls up from the gap at the bottom, and he breathes it in, recognizing the greasy calmness of machinery.

He abandons his post across the hall. Her pulse is thready now, barely strumming in his senses.

He needs it. Wants it. Through the oily smoke and honey-colored light, the soothing blanket of her heartbeat fades.

He passes through the wall and finds her on the floor. Thick, wet smears of red drown her. As does the car that has plowed through the side of the building. Un-popped popcorn kernels float in the oily river issuing across the hardwood, spilled from the now-mangled maker.

He kneels. Reaches down. Cradles her soul, enveloping it in the golden warmth of her pulsing heart.

It calms him. Becomes part of him. Welcomes him.

As she relinquishes her hold over life, he sends her home, his heart full and alive and beating for a single moment.

Later that afternoon, the aroma of fresh-cut grass drifts on a lilting breeze. On the park bench, his senses painted green and lush, he's waiting. Always waiting.

So...whaddya think? Tell me anything, but don't tell me you don't like present tense. It is my new love. I *heart* writing in present tense.


Rebecca L Sutton said...

This is awesome! You did an incredible job I'm amazed you accomplished so much in so few words. Love the vivid descriptions with the tangerine colored light and the smell of the popcorn and all that good stuff. Very original take on using the heart as a theme.

I think I might have to give this short story business some attention after reading this post. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

Unknown said...

Present tense didn't bother me at all and I love short stories! The language was beautiful despite the topic. I really liked it. I have a friend who writes these exquisite horrors. I don't know what else to call them. I loved the vivid imagery. Your descriptions of the scenes make it easy to feel like you're actually there watching and waiting as well.

lisa and laura said...

I love all the sensory language! And it's so funny, but I didn't even notice that it was done in present tense which means one of two things:

1. I'm just a really unobservant reader (entirely possible)

2. The story is so good that you don't even realize it's written in present tense.

Either way, I liked it! Nice work.

Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

Present tense really does grow on you after just a little while, doesn't it?

Good job!

Michelle McLean said...

K, I am totally craving popcorn now ;-) In all seriousness, I LOVED this!!! Wow, Elana - fan-freakin-tastic. LOL every short story I've read in this chain has me thinking "oooo this would make an awesome novel!" And this one is no exception; I want to know more about Mr. Waiting Man :D

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh, wonderful story! Love all the sensory stuff you have happening here - I could practically smell that popcorn (and now I am kind of craving some too.).

Oh, and my current WIP is in the present tense. It insisted on being that way. I started writing it in the past tense, but it kept shifting back on me, until I was just like, "FINE! We'll do it your way."

Janet said...

I have to agree with Lisa and Laura - I had to go back and re-read it when you mentioned your new love for present tense. Well done :)

The images and premise are beautiful ('sending her home' gave me goose bumps). And I could feel the heartbeat pulse throughout the prose, you managed to tie the theme into every sentence.

Now, I have to go and read the others - and watch for the rest. Thanks for the read this morning, Elana.

Windy said...

Great stuff - concise, clear and so vivid. (Made me want to go make some popcorn.)

And I second you on the present tense. Just started using it more and *love* it.

TerriRainer said...

DANG! That as really good!

At first I thought he was a vampire (too much Twilight, I fear), then I thought he was some crazed serial killer...I guess I'm kinda slow on the uptake, but in the end, I have to say that my guess would be the good ole Grim Reaper himself!

Really good story Elana!

:) Terri

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I have to admit, I thought at first that the protag was a vampire using popcorn to lure his prey. And then I thought the popcorn maker caught on fire; I wasn't expecting the car accident. So you surprised me. I think the present tense works in a situation like this. I enjoyed the description too. We've got some great writers in this chain!

H. L. Dyer said...

Present tense works for you, babe. =)

Elana Johnson said...

Aww...the love! *snicker* Thanks guys! And vampires? Puh-lease. I have yet to write a vampire story. That doesn't mean I won't, but I'm not sure I'm into the whole blood-sucker thing. I like reading about them, but writing them is a whole other ball game. :)

And sorry, Elky. There is no way I could make this into a novel. It's over. You'll have to invent the rest. Maybe "he" could get together with Kesi or something...

And now I can check "Make random aspiring writers crave popcorn" off my list. Mwa-ha-ha! (PS. I put in the popcorn maker because my principal bought one this year and it is heaven. H-E-A-V-E-N. Everyone should have one in their own house. Srsly.)

Annie Louden said...

I thought the guy was planting popcorn maker bombs in office buildings so he could suck the life out of dying people. So the car crash surprised me.
I liked how at the end, with the fresh-cut grass, his senses were painted green instead of the buttery yellow of the popcorn.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

This was amazing! Eerie and beautiful at the same time. It took me back to my theater days when I worked in movie house. Oh, what fun! I can still smell that coconut oil...

I didn't even notice the present tense. You did such a great job!

Jenn Adams said...

Love the story. Love present tense. Love. It.

Srsly, this story is so cool. I never guessed he would be helping these souls instead of plotting their demise. You did a great job.

Anonymous said...

Very nice...VERY NICE!!!

Elana Johnson said...

I just realized I don't have a single line of dialogue. Hmmm...maybe the guy can say something to her as he sends her home? Stewage, stewage...

Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

Lovely. Truly.

Jenn Adams said...

Dialogue, Schmialogue! I think it's perfection as is. Some mere words spoken by the compassionate, loving angel of death would just take away from the power of the story.

Elana Johnson said...

Jenn, you're totally right. I tried to add it in. It sounded unnatural. Good call, girl!

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget