WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday, Memoir

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop of excerpts, hosted by the lovely K L Schwengel.  The only rule is that the excerpt have something to do with the date. If you want to join, the link is here.  Feel free to add your link, and please go visit and encourage the participants.  I am continuing to post from my memoir here,  and it is 3 paragraphs in lovely math of 3+0=3.

I will return to other wips, or at least cheerier parts of my memoir next Wednesday, I promise!

In the spring of fourth grade, I started feeling ill and having trouble hearing, so Mrs. B, my wonderful, kind, homeroom teacher moved me to the front row of the class.  She spoke to my parents, who were unconcerned. Every Easter, my father unveiled the camera for ceremonial pictures among the dogwood trees in our front yard.  In my picture, a stick-thin little girl valiantly tries to summon a smile for the lens, not quite hiding the pain in her eyes.  Less than a week later, I reluctantly told my mother I thought something might be wrong with me, since my urine was the color of Coca-Cola.  She thought I was faking, a bid for attention, but I took an old cough medicine bottle andbrought her the proof. After much railing about the expense and bother, my parents took me to the pediatrician, whom I’d seen the previous summer when my eardrums ruptured.  Once the pediatrician verified that I had not contaminated the sample with any foreign substance, she tested it.  When she came back into the room, she was very angry, and I was so afraid I had done something wrong. Her voice was very tight, but she spoke gently, telling me I was very sick and had to go to the hospital.  Palpable frost entered her voice when she turned to my parents. “She has the strain of strep that causes rheumatic fever,  but it has attacked her kidneys instead.” She stopped, shook her head minutely, and continued.  “She has been ill for weeks, if not months. You will take her to the hospital now, and I will meet you there.”

I was in the hospital for over a week, and confined to bed for four months.  My mother stayed in the hospital with me, but seemed angry and distant as always.  My father showed the first crack in his immobile exterior that first day, turning pale and anxious as the doctors explained my illness. I knew I was very ill, perhaps dying, when my parents allowed me to have as many soft drinks and popsicles as I wanted. I found out years later that my father’s best friend had died of the same disease when they were ten years old. I turned ten the week before I entered the hospital.

I took penicillin for a year after being released from the hospital.  My parents had no medical insurance, and were drowning under the expense of my hospital stay, so the veterinarian who lived next door gave us the canine version at cost. I became the invisible invalid, ensconced on a couch moved into the corner of the dining room.  Everyone walked by me, but never stopped to talk or visit. I lived entirely in my head that summer. I planned my life, daydreamed, read books, and decided I was not going to die.

EM

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WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday, Memoir

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of KL Schwengel.  If you want to participate, post an excerpt tied to the date somehow, and add the link here. This excerpt is from my memoir.  It is much rougher than the earlier excerpts, so criticism is welcome.  It is 23 sentences for the date.

My nearest sibling in age was four years older, and the only one of us who went to kindergarten. By the fall I was 18 months old, I inhabited a dim and quiet house for most of the day.  My mother slept on the couch from the time the older kids left, to the time they came home. I crept silently into my overstuffed chair, and lived a full life with my imaginary friends and my books. I eavesdropped from under the table when my father read to my younger sister, or when my older sister or brother read for my father. In my chair, I began to trace through the pages, finally cracking the code of the letters, and, with tears of joy, the words. My parents were astounded I knew how to read when I was three.  I had received a new book for Christmas from a family friend, and proceeded to read it in the car on the way back home.  Initially, my siblings were scornful, thinking I was pretending I could read, but when they verified I was reading the correct words, no one knew how I learned.  Neither my mother or father had any idea, and questioned my siblings. All of them denied spending the time or effort to teach me to read.  I knew how I had done it, but no one asked me.

I found my siblings’ abandoned readers and dove into them, thumbing through them many times in the three eternal years I waited for school. Books were my escape, my friends, my refuge.  Reading at an early age, after years of long, quiet hours to practice, I stood out in first grade. I gloried in the attention and approbation at first, but teachers’ notice had a dark side.  At one point, my teacher told me to finish reading a story to the class, and left the room.  While the children behaved well in the classroom, even while she was gone, my payback awaited on the playground.

I was surrounded and taunted. Backed by most of my classmates, the largest boy in the class towered over me, jeering, “Spell cat, if you’re so smart!” Even in my terror, I remember thinking, what a stupid word to pick. His face shining in fury, his fist inches from my face, he demanded a confession that I had made up the story and could not read.  Faced with physical harm, I quickly complied.

EM

WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday Lost love

This scene occurs when my protagonist has made the “noble sacrifice” of sending away the woman he loves in order to protect her. Nine sentences for the ninth day of July.

I’m not liking the purple prose right now, so any help would be appreciated!

I find myself strong enough not to try to see her, or talk to her, but so weak as to wander by the gate, hoping to see her from a distance, standing in the midst of my memories as if addled. I can feel her in my arms, conjured by my longing. I indulge myself by recreating that evening in precise, jewel-like detail—the feel of the back of her neck under my fingers, which slip slightly in her silken hair; her breasts pressed so close to my chest I can feel her heartbeat. I hold the memory of her blue eyes full of love and acceptance like a candle in a dark, moonless night, knowing I will never see them thus again. Sweet Jesus, that way lies madness. I force myself away, refusing to acknowledge the scent of her which I swear on my soul lingers in the air. I leave some part of myself there; nothing so neat as a heart, all limned in lace and flowers. I drag myself away, leaving skin and blood and bone behind; when I see myself in the mirror of my room at the Stag (delicious irony), I feel shock that my skin is intact.

EM

 

Excerpts, Memes

Look meme

Last week, Jeff Clough tagged me in the look meme.  Okay, there was a small problem.  I have just begun a new WIP, and wanted to use it. The rules are:

1. Grab your current work in progress. Check

2. Find the first occurrence of the word “look.” Umm, “looked” is in a scene I had just outlined, not written.

3. Copy that paragraph and a few surrounding paragraphs. Well, here’s the outline paragraph.  “A few surrounding paragraphs,” um, well, they don’t exist yet.

4. Post them to your blog. Here you go:

Christine remembered how Estienne had looked at the church door.  He had not smiled, and his hands trembled, but his eyes met hers with kindness.  The breeze had ruffled  his dark, curly hair, and lifted tendrils of Christine’s hair to reach toward him in concert with her thoughts. Her mind wandered as the priest said several prayers, although a phrase pierced the fog now and then. She blushed at the mention of children and grandchildren. Finally, Estienne put his family ring on each of her fingers in turn, rubbing the inkstained one with a smile, before replacing it firmly on the one carrying the vein to her heart. His hand was warm,  and so solid she could remember its touch ten years later.

Her hand cramped, crushing the parchment, driving its edges into her palm.  How could he be dead?

5. Tag five other people. Um, about that. I’m really not good at tagging people.  I think these memes are fun, but some people think they are worse than root canals. So have a whirl, if it sounds like fun.  Please leave a link in the comments if you do.  I’d love to see your excerpts.

Excerpts

Imago feminae

This flash fiction was written to fit a couple of rules.  I had to use the words imago, oscitate, lacuna, miasma and synchronicity in under 200 words. I’d love to hear your honest thoughts about it, especially as it is a piece I want to expand.

“Christine, please pay attention to your spinning. It is a disaster, yet you refuse to learn. You must use both your hands in rhythm.” Christine thought, synchronicity, like Papa explained about the celestial spheres.

Her mother continued her rant, “Your father thinks because I did not bear him a boy, he can make you into one, stuffing your head full of Latin and science. How we will ever find a husband for you, I do not know!”
Stifling a yawn at the perennial subject, Christine searched through her Latin. Oscitate, yes, that’s yawning, she smiled to herself. And that hole in my spun fiber, that’s lacuna. Out loud, she said dutifully, “Yes, maman, I will try harder.” She picked up more roving to bear out her promise.
She loved her maman, but she wanted to be a scientist like her father. She wanted to discover whether the pestilence that had ravaged the world was due to the conjunction of three planets, as some thought, or from a miasma, a mala aria in her native Italian. She would be as famous as her father, some day, and not for her spinning. She would be a new sort of woman.

Excerpts

British bride WIP excerpt, playing with POV

Part of my playing about with this story involves writing a scene from each of the two main characters’ points of view.  

He watched her enter the restaurant, savoring the few seconds that he could observe her before she saw him. Although not surprised, he was briefly dismayed at his immediate physical reaction to seeing her. What a beautiful woman she was, certainly attractive in the conventional sense, but so vibrant. There was nothing pastel about her—her dark hair and eyes such a contrast to her flawless ivory skin, the deep red lipstick accentuating her mouth, whose strength balanced her face perfectly. She caught sight of him and the faint smile she wore blossomed into a full, warm one that started his heart pounding. She walked toward him, poised and graceful. He couldn’t take his eyes away from her. He reached down to kiss her lightly on the cheek, which he had to admit to himself was a male territorial thing, as he noticed the eyes of every man in the place devouring her much as he had just done

 

She had to admit that she had put a lot into her appearance before meeting him—he would certainly say that she got “gussied up.” She was more nervous than she expected to be, which she found somewhat surprising. Not to boast, but she was rather used to men’s attentions, and usually gloried in it. But then, there was something different about him-it was important that he like her.

When she went in the door, she didn’t see him at first; looking around, it was only a second or two before she saw him, resplendent in his uniform, his eyes sparkling, mirroring the smile on his absolutely handsome face. He walked over to her, leaned over, and kissed her briefly on the cheek. The kiss was soft, but had an impact all the way down to her stomach. She wanted to remember the touch of his lips forever.

Excerpts

Excerpt British bride novella

The sun was high before she woke up, but she had nowhere to be, so lay in bed lazily thinking about the previous evening and her handsome American GI, remembering seeing him across the room. To be honest, she first noticed him because he was tall and handsome, though not dark like in the romance novels, but with curly blond hair. As he came closer to her, it was his eyes that drew her gaze; they were a shade shimmering on the blue-green divide without committing one way or the other. After he disposed of the bothersome drunk, he spoke to her for the first time; his voice was a nice rich baritone with a not unpleasant American accent, neither too drawled nor too clipped. But as he took her hand into his to lead her to the dance floor, it was his smile that reached into her chest and wrapped itself around her heart. It was a smile that opened up the windows to his heart and aired out any dark corners he might have—genuine and freely given, she somehow knew that it was not unthinkingly bestowed, but was a gift to her, and only to her.

Excerpts

Excerpt from WWII British bride novella

He was lost before the music ended.  Her delicate, but not fragile, hand disappeared in his, starting the nerves tingling all the way up his arm. His other hand covered over half of the small of her back, the warmth of which raised his heart rate to a level he hadn’t felt recently save in combat. Even worse, the crush of the dance floor drew them closer together than was truly proper; although the joyousness of the celebration cancelled the affront, it didn’t relieve the chaos swirling through him as they were inexorably pushed chest-to-chest by the crush. For his own sanity, and to have any hope of talking to this vision, finding out her name before she disappeared back into the dreamland from whence she came, he leaned down to her ear, savoring the excuse to inhale the spicy-sweet fragrance of her, “Let’s go outside for some air.”

She tipped up on her toes to answer, “Yes, please,” totally unaware of what her sweet, warm breath on his face was doing to him.