So what do you think? Second week in and I’m loving the #NaNoWriMo edition even more than last week. It’s really helped jump-start ideas and clarify for me scenes that I wasn’t sure about. This is so much fun. I hope you’re enjoying it half as much as I am.
And look at all of you with your five minute bursts of brilliance. So if this is what you do in five minutes, your novel’s probably done by now, right? 😉
This week, in the midst of life and NaNo and all that other mess, our own R.C. Murphy, @RCMurphy gave of herself to take on the task of judging this week’s entries. Think she had fun? Think she has any hair left?
Here are her picks in the order in which they appeared. (I used to say no particular order, but there is an order, I go from top of the comments to the bottom. So, there you go.)
Here are their fantastic entries. Read them and then vote for the winner in the poll on the right side of the page. Come back after 9:30 tonight to see who wins!
The cabin radiated serenity. I stepped up onto the porch and let the stress of the week drip from me like the morning’s dew. I wouldn’t be able to ignore the hurt I left behind forever, but for this moment, I needed to just be. Be alone, be free, be. . .Dalia instead of Kelle.
Kara had picked perfectly for my retreat. Letting myself in I felt my lips stretch in a delighted smile. Light flooded the open floor plan, shining on bright clean canvases and carts of painting supplies. And in the corner next to the huge flagstone fireplace stood an easel with the one painting I wouldn’t let her sell.
I left my bags near the door, crossed to the portrait I’d painted so many, many years ago.
My face and Lexie’s stared out at me; younger, unshadowed versions of the people we’d become. I met my own eyes, wondered if my younger self would flinch from my gaze as much as I did in the mirror. My thoughts tumbled down the path of recollection, searching for the moment when I’d veered from that bright, happy person to the shattered, dark, conflicted soul who’s just broken her lover’s heart.
I wished I didn’t know so clearly when that happened.
When I read his blog it was like looking at a painting of myself. Seeing me through his eyes, his words.
I wish I could say that he drew me as a plump, resplendent Rueben’s figure or some mystical Pre-raphaelite beauty but I can’t.
His words made our life the embodiment of an Edward Hopper picture. Loneliness in the familiar and mundane. Waiting and asking “is this it?” Hoping it isn’t, fearing it is.
I tried to piece myself together from his description of me, at once a cliche of sexless middle age motherhood but for all I could recognise myself or him in his words I may as well be staring into the dark abyss of Rothko’s colour blocks.
He has always been one of my favourite painters. The darkness can swallow you whole but at the same time shimmer and hold you in hope.
I find myself further than ever from my husband after reading his version of our life. Words I was never intended to read, but that he let others, strangers, deliberate and comment over.
I am reaching in my dark well for the effervescent thread that will pull me out, my bright streak of vermilion that is my heart, alive still, beating still and not yet turned to stone.
Penelope Price stopped dead in her tracks. The echo of her heels coming to an abrupt halt, much to the relief of the visitors around her.
Having almost an unlimited source of money and a black hole where her scruples were supposed to sit, makes for an interesting time traveler.
The plans she had made were all working quite well, thank you very much.
It was the little things–the unexpected things—that were a direct result of her meddling with the fabric of time/space that always shocked her.
She stared at her discovery.
She was meeting her contact with a line into Mussolini’s new government. Penelope was about to close a deal to sell the 20th century dictator microchip technology.
“It must have been a side journey,” she thought.
The little Italian weasel of a go-between–Carducci—had insisted on meeting somewhere public.
Three years ago, she thought. That mistake with the time settings. She though she’d left before anyone noticed.
But obviously not. She began to laugh.
The Sistine Chapel in Rome was as public a place as any.
And there, on the ceiling, was a perfect representation of Penelope…in her 1930’s costume.
“Michelangelo, you old dog!” she said.
She walked into the room not knowing what to expect.
“Why have you brought me here?” she asked.
He put his finger on her red lips, hushing her, then he took her hand and pulled back the curtain. She gasped.
“How…how could you?”
“I’ve always loved you,” he said.
“No,” she said firmly. “You’ve never loved me. You want to possess me, just like that vase or the rug.”
“If I want to possess you it is because I love you.”
She ambled over to the painting, how could he have known I would wear this dress she wondered. It was an incredible likeness of her, she reached out to touch it, to run her finger over the brush strokes. She sensed him move behind her.
“I will always love you. It will be so much easier this way.”
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“We will be together forever.”
“I don’t understand.” Suddenly she felt dizzy and disorientated, the painting loomed over her. “What’s happening to me?”
“You’ll see in the end, it will be better this way. Now I can protect you and look upon you whenever I want.”
She felt her body float. “What’s happening?” Then she screamed as she realised she was being sucked into the painting.
“I love you,” he mouthed.
The farm was just like I had left it over a month ago, merely a heap of charred wreckage that still stank of smoke and burned meat.
The memories of my childhood didn’t come as fast as they had the morning after it happened – I barely recognized the stone slab my mother used to set me on while she washed our tunics in the summer sun. I almost walked right by my old bedroom without a second thought, the gouge in the door where Ralf had pushed me into it had burned to ash along with everything else.
Did my time in Caer Guorthegirn really erase an entire lifetime of memories? Or did they never exist, because I was too busy ingesting potions and hallucinating things that were never real. Even those hallucinations faded soon after they had happened, like a dream you wake up in the middle of.
My head was filled with nothing. Even to myself, the past seventeen years barely existed.
I was in my parent’s old room, the corner of the house that looked like it had been spared the most from the Saxon’s razing. A portion of the wall still stood, a false barrier to the elements and forest our farm was nestled among.
I started going through the rubble, searching for anything that would tell me where my mother had gone. My father had already succumbed to the unforgiving English winter and the starvation that came with it. If only I had helped him save more of the food and livestock instead of taking a trip with the brown fairy. Things might have been different.
I turned over a blackened piece of wood paneling, and the charcoal crumbled through my fingertips. Underneath, surprisingly untouched by fire or water or snow was a fibulae, engraved with our family crest. A stag looking back at me over his shoulder, and surrounded by floral inlays that were crude in craftsmanship but beautiful to me.
Underneath that was a rolled up cloth, which I carefully unfurled, not knowing how fragile it was. On it, were two boys, one well into his teen years and the other a handful of years younger. It was Ralf and I, sitting stoic for whoever the artist had been. Both of us gazing at my current self, their expression unwilling to reveal their thoughts.
I unfurled it the rest of the way, and felt tears forcing their way to my eyes. My throat seized, and all of a sudden it became difficult to breath.
In the corner, scrawled in ragged ink was “Geoffrey, of Willingdon.” My father’s own hand had crafted this. A hand I thought was incapable of doing anything but striking me down for my failings or working the land relentlessly and joylessly.
I don’t know how long I sat in their old bedroom and clutched the painting to my chest. But before I knew it, night had fallen and I knew I had to move on. There was no shelter here for me anymore.