Tuesday, July 28, 2009

dive's writing challenge

Okay, I'll try this. I'm always up for a challenge. Good old Dive challenged all of his readers to continue our own version of a story following his writing prompt. The writing prompt was the fifth sentence or something on page 56 of whatever book was closest to him at the time. The first paragraph is just that. The rest is mine. I cannot explain where I came up with this, but here goes:

"And again next day a thinly populated sky, losing its blue to the heat, would melt overhead, and Lo would clamour for a drink, and her cheeks would hollow vigorously over the straw, and the car inside would be a furnace when we got in again, and the road shimmered ahead, with a remote car changing its shape mirage-like in the surface glare, and seeming to hang for a moment, old-fashionedly square and high, in the hot haze."

These August days could wear on even the best of us. Whoever they were? We certainly were not dealt that hand in life. After the mine closed it was like starting all over again. As old Harv used to say, “You has to go where the work is”.

“Leroy, how much further is it to Cleve-LAND? My back is hurtin an I’m damn thirsty. “
It was hot. It was damned hot. Up in the mountains you could feel the air move. In these flatlands nothing moved. I haven’t seen a human or an animal for I don’t know how long. I shade my eyes and look hard, trying to find a service station, an oasis in this strange land of brown and yellow nothingness. Hell, I’d settle to find a patch of green shade where we could pee and stretch our legs. No mountain streams around these parts.

It occurs to me that I might never go home.

No matter how hot it got, Pine Tar Cove always cooled at night. The mine was cool as well. We started early in the morning before the sun got too hot. We was down in the depths during the worst of it. Once you took the trolley into the mine you lost your sense of time. It was black. The smell was of recently struck matches and wet moss. I could hear a constant trickle of water, but that helped cool me. I liked the sounds, the smells, the constants. It was familiar and comfortable somehow. I did my job. I never complained. People need coal for heat. I was providing a service AND I was damn good at it. I could do this for the rest of my life.

Until June 11th that was.

Shaft #27 collapsed. Two men died. Peter Harrell and Marley Scott. Both of them were fathers. They left behind widows with small children.

Shortly after, some official- lookin people with plastic badges came in and said the mine was in “violation”. Some violation of working conditions. These people screwed up their faces andlooked at us like we were shit. Who the fuck were they to judge us? They bein in some suits and shit, doesn’t make them any better.

Leroy, I need a drink!”
Lo is eight months pregnant with our first child. I have to find a stop.

I keep looking for a familiar sign. After about thirty miles of tedious earth tones, I see a green dinosaur. A Sinclair station. I slow the old Impala and guide her into the pumping area.
A young pockmarked man makes his way to the car.. He has greasy black hair and seems to think he ’s all that. Even I, an unemployed coal-miner from Tennessee thinks he is an ugly man. He props his arm on the roof of the car to see us better. He looks at us sideways and says. “Where you folks headed?”
“Cleveland” I say.
“I hear they got jobs up there.”
“Yeah, the Ford Plant in Elyria, just outside of Cleveland is looking for assembly line workers.”
“I hear Ford’s a great company if you can get in. You got people up there? It helps if you know someone. Is your woman okay? She doesn’t look well.”
I turn and look at Lo. She looks pale. She hasn’t been complaining too much but then again I’ve been lost in my thoughts. I turn and realize she’s hurtin.
“Lo, you okay?”
“I’ve got some cramps. I think the baby is comin…”
Shit. I have no experience in this.

8 comments:

Poetikat said...

It doesn't surprise me, Neetzy, that your writing is very much like a painting of words - the images layer upon layer of colour and texture - a visual feast. (I'm completely lost with the story though.)

Kat

dive said...

Fantastic!
Kat is right, Neetzy, your writing is so intensely visual.
And yay for finding a wonderfully off-kilter subject that nobody else hit on.

You really made me care for these folks. I do hope they got a job and had a healthy child and everything turned out rosy.

Oh, and I used to crave a Chevy Impala when I was a kid. Sheesh! What was I thinking? Hee hee.

Scout said...

This is really great. You make us feel for their plight—and since I sort of know Cleve-LAND, I know where they're headed, and I hope their future is brighter with the Ford plant.

neetzy said...

Well thanks everyone!

Kat,
Thanks for the kind words. The main thing I remembered from my creative writing classes was to "show" and not "tell". As far as where the story is going? I don't even know. This was just a response to a prompt. I was limited to 500 words and there is no resolution in sight.

Dive,
This was fun. I haven't exercised my creative writer in years. Thanks for all the nice things you said. I found I kind of "got into" it. I lived in Cleveland for a bit and there were lots of poor people who moved up from Appalachia. This was buried way down in the deep recesses of my brain. Scary, huh? I can't wait to read the rest.

Scout,
Thanks. I spent a little time there. I forgot how much fun it is to "get lost" in a character.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Neetzy, this is good stuff!! Like the others indicated, imagery is your thing.

My favorites:

Pine Tar Cove

&

The smell was of recently struck matches and wet moss.

neetzy said...

Katherine,

Thanks! I'm a visual-tactual person. I always thought I was an "okay" writer. I consider myself more of a visual artist than a writing artist, but I do enjoy writing for fun. You folks are all boosting my confidence so watch out! I might do more of it!

Dear Prudence said...

Great story Neetzy. Who does have experience when it comes to kids!

neetzy said...

Thanks Prudence,

I had no idea what to do when I had mine! Thankfully they turned out okay.