dimanche 15 mai 2011

Reaching for sunlight

I have a lot of bad habits when it comes to writing, but the one huge bad (bad, bad, bad) habit is not writing enough. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down at Touchstone and wrote for about an hour. I had no laptop, so it was all long-hand. I had a character in mind, and I randomly chose a word to end the story. I eventually decided not to end the story with that word, but it is at the very core of the tale...
Here's this little piece, typed and redrafted.


The time had come. She knew she had it in her. She no longer tolerated excuses from her struggling conscience. Eventually her conscience stopped pining and settled into an eerie silence. Her cover was perfect – she didn’t have to touch a single thing about her appearance. Well, she did straighten the bow in her hair, for her to look more… perky and… angelic. That was what she was going for: the look of joyful naiveté.

Standing in the shade of the patio, she was still in the safe zone. The others were playing a game of croquet. The boys feigned disliking the game but she knew they had been looking forward to it all day, to the point of trepidation. They were mocking some of the moves made by the opposing team but tolerated only encouraging cheers when their turn came around. Typical.

The lunch table, set outside on account of the glorious summer day, was at a safe distance from the croquet game. It was deserted, except for Aunt Lily, seemingly dozing at one end, still clutching her fork on which an alluring piece of creamy coconut pie was still attached. Approximately a foot away from the coconut pie fork was a glass – still half full.

Armed with her straight bow and her innocent looks, she was ready for the big cross from the patio to the table. She thought that skipping all the way would surely not attract any unwanted attention, since everyone would surmise that she was a happy-go-lucky child, enjoying the afternoon. Watching her skip, with a straight bow in her hair, no grown-up would guess that she was on a mission. A last skip, and she reached the table. One glance at Aunt Lily and she knew she had nothing to worry about. The steady rhythm of the old lady’s breathing and the soft whistle that came out of her mouth were assurance enough.

She looked at the glass. The delicate bubbles were subtly indicating carbonation, and the color – it was… sunshine. Pure and simple. A late summer's ray captured and distilled in liquid.

She had to taste it. For close to three hours, she had imagined what it could be like, alternating between syrup and molasses but wanting it to taste like werther’s caramels, only – better than that. And now there it was, the glass within reach. The laughter and brouhaha streaming from the croquet game gave her courage to reach her arm out. But when she felt one of the boy’s head turn towards the table, she picked up a pie crumb and ate it. She knew, somehow, that eating a crumb off someone else’s plate was a minor offense compared to what she was about to do. The boy had only been distracted momentarily by birdsong and redirected his attention to the game. Her arm extended again. Her hand reached the cool glass, surprisingly wet on the outside. Now, to pick it up. It didn’t seem reasonable to drink in the open – too risky. Eyes could easily turn from the game to the table and be surprised at the picture of a five year old drinking from an oversized glass. Better to bring the ambrosia underneath the table where she would be free from hostile stares.

She lifted the glass, surprised by its weight. She realized all over again that she was meddling in grown-up business, but wasn’t exactly sure how. Being as careful as possible while also being quick, she brought the drink to the safety of the shadows. The table was thankfully covered by a long tablecloth made of heavy cotton – for all intents and purposes, a tent for the girl. She sat cross legged, clasping the drink in both hands, bringing the large glass up to her lips.
Surely, she thought, surely, this will be the sweetest nectar I shall ever taste...

Dreams of caramel crashed when the first gulp reached her taste buds. Not molasses, not even syrup! Nothing like that. She didn't understand why anyone would drink this bitter, strange drink. She stared at the glass half full of beer. She was struck again by the outer beauty of the liquid and couldn't equate the outward beauty with the vile content. She couldn't stop staring.
Sitting underneath the table one sunny afternoon, the girl had her first taste of deception.

3 commentaires:

Stephanie a dit…

Brilliant!! Loved reading every word. Out of curiosity, what was the word?

Anne Losq a dit…

the word was beer :)

Stephanie a dit…

I should have guessed ;-)