Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Short Story Story

Well, I did it, I submitted my first piece of fiction!! It couldn't have been published, but there is nothing about putting it out here after the submission is complete so here we go...

I want to be a published writer. To be a writer one must write, which takes no effort on my part. I write whatever moves me, whenever it moves me. I write for myself. It is as integral to my being as breathing, almost as involuntary and occasionally is interrupted by hiccups, catches, snorts and chokes. Writing is not the issue. If I want to be a published writer I need to write for others and that, as they say, is the rub. What do others want to read? Where do I start? These are the questions I ask myself.

I love crime novels, mysteries and spy stories but know nothing about these things except for what I have read. I feel that anything I write in these genres will just be a weak imitation of all the wonderful author’s works I have enjoyed over the years. I know about mothering (too over done), cooking (too secular), house cleaning (Heloise cornered the market) and other sundry and mundane topics of little or no interest to anyone. In the act of scanning my words the reader would be thinking of their own experiences and jump ahead, like a person finishing another’s sentences, and either know what I am going to say or have a solution which they think is much better than what I am offering.

I decide to write about love, about romance, about adventure and dreams fulfilled. Since I was four I have played out a million such scenarios, scenes of such love, passion and desire that I could write a veritable anthology on these human experiences.

My protagonist will be a heroine so I have the perspective needed to make it believable. Young, early twenties certainly, even though I am well past that age, because love in the young is enviable, in the old slightly yucky, and I want to appeal to the masses. Beautiful, because love either belongs to the beautiful or makes one beautiful, I am not sure which. Either way beauty is entwined with love and must express itself through my character’s actions as well as physical characteristics. Fecundity is integral, because the more fertile one is the more believable the love. Breasts must be heaving, tresses must be flowing, legs slim and waist tiny, eyes clear, mouth pouty and skin luminous. The trick is to make this vision of fertile perfection appear to be totally oblivious to her beauty while it stops men and women alike dead in their tracks. Gabriella is a great name for a heroine. It sounds foreign, ergo sexy, lush, angelic and lusty all at once. Gabriella it is! A heroine is born.

Gabriella is on a train. Not a new bullet train, but an ancient steam engine, winding through the Alps, in spring. She sits in her seat, absently worrying her bee stung lips, while the rhythm of the wheels on the rails and the gentle swaying go unnoticed as do the vistas of a huge magnificence unfolding in front of her. Her vision is turned inward, dreaming of Adonis and the meeting which is about to take place. For months she has been corresponding with a perfect man. This will be their first face to face and, while the thought of actually being lifted up in his arms is making her weak in the knees and hot in the stomach, she knows that the outcome may not be what she hopes for. She has kept a secret from him and today it will be out in the open, between them, demanding to be dealt with, refusing to be hidden any longer. 
At first it didn’t seem important at all. An on line flirtation gives one the chance to be someone you want to be, not necessarily who you are. As their relationship grew, the truth about much was revealed. She loved to sing, he had wanted to be a professional footballer, she couldn’t cook, he had two signature dishes, she was going to be a veterinarian for large and exotic animals and was paying for that education by grooming dogs, he was an investment banker. They both loved smooth jazz and acoustic guitar, animals and children, wine and pasta, God and their country.

How she would love to say she just hadn’t thought it worth mentioning! There would be no hiding the fact that she had chosen not to tell him. Would he stick around long enough to try to find out why or would he take one look and turn away? As she pondered the questions which she could not answer the train whistle began it’s haunting song alerting the passengers that they would soon be in Verona station.  She slid off the seat and stood on shaking legs. Turning to the window, a mirror in the softly fallen night, she studied her slightly wavering reflection. The hand tailored clothing she wore hung on her frame perfectly. Her breast rose and fell with the shallow, almost painful breathing brought on by her mounting panic. She smoothed the creases from her dress, rubbed her cheeks to bring a bit of the color back, all of it seemingly drained by the stress of the last few hours. Her lips were swollen and blood red, her eyes were dewy and her hands were shaking. With a shuddering resolve drug up from the depths of her soul she straightened her shoulders and picked up her satchel.  Watching out the window as the well lit platform came into view she searched for and found her Adonis, grace embodied, head and shoulders above the masses, his eyes searching, his lovely mouth smiling. Oh why, oh why had she not told him she was only 4 feet 2 inches tall?

Well crap, that’s not good. Where did that even come from? I tuck Gabriella away for another day, too shocked and embarrassed to continue for now. Maybe I should do mystery after all.

My protagonist has to be someone apparently weak but with a heretofore unknown strength of character and razor sharp wit and unbelievable luck which will see them through in the end. I would normally choose a woman but I am still worried about my beautiful little Gabriella so I decide on a child instead. Children are afraid of monsters, the dark, and being alone.  Children can hide in small spaces…..

Casey was in the middle of a dream about hitting a home run the next day and finally getting Misty Allen’s attention. She was the cutest girl in the fourth grade and he would just die if she talked to him. He was jogging up to her, full of confidence and swagger. His wiry red hair was smooth and soft, his little boy body looked tough in the uniform, his cap at a rakish angle on his brow he lifted his gloved hand and….his eyes shot open, confused and frightened, heart pounding.  Half rising, he grabbed for his baseball bat (which he was sure he had dropped next to his bed) but came back brandishing instead a camouflage clad GI Joe doll in his white knuckled fist. Straining toward the door he cursed his heart for banging so loudly against his chest that he couldn’t hear anything but its staccato beat. He sunk back in the bed, shaking under his covers and hugging the doll as he tried in vain to return to the safety of the dream.

Casey froze as he heard the sound of what he recognized immediately as pure evil breathing, hoarse, ragged pants followed by the sound of something heavy and wet being drug across the floor outside his door. Immobilized by terror he followed its track down the hall. He heard the sound of something bumping into the hall table, his mother’s trinkets tinkling together, a harsh curse spit out into the dark (Casey imagined the breather as a sour, sulpherous  smelling, black and slimy THING). He could feel the monster stop and listen, straining as Casey was for the sound that would let him know that the other was alert and aware of him. After what seemed like an eternity the sound of the screen door opening and slapping shut on that awful wet rasping sound released him from his paralytic fear. He knew he should have risen and run to his parent’s room or tried to make it to the kitchen and dialed 911 like they were taught in school but he couldn’t leave the life boat that was his bed. Instead he burrowed deeper and deeper into the covers clutching his doll like a baby and wetting himself while he strained to listen in case the monstrous breather came back for him.

Hmmm, a hero who wets himself and hugs a doll… I might need to work on this short story a bit as well.