Trifecta Fiction: Seeking Graceful Closure in a Generational Gap

There she stood, in that dream space of familiar unfamiliarity, gazing upon a fair-haired young lady displayed in a breath-taking formal dress, likely dating to the early 1900’s, with a hand-tatted lace chemisette collar matching the gloves spilling over her wrists. Mounds of navy taffeta swirled about, pulled up into a small bustle in the back. A satin sash gathered it all in, with dainty pearl buttons carefully placed as opulent accents. The woman’s hair was elegantly piled upward in a loose pompadour. She had a fancy parasol opened to cover her in the mist, though it looked too elegant for anyone to actually consider using.

Danielle searched the beautiful profile questioningly, wondering who she was – until the other young woman turned directly towards her, her gaze soft, loving and kind. She extended a gloved hand to Danielle’s face, fingertips gliding across her cheek, brushing away a tendril of hair. Danielle gasped at the flawlessness of the woman’s skin, the way her bright blue eyes glittered and danced, rather than being faded to gray and sunken back into her head. This woman’s lips were full and vivid, her skin was the peachiest shade with the rosiest of cheeks. Danielle wanted to call the woman by name, but the only label she knew for this angelic creature didn’t suffice.  This beauty could surely never pass for anyone’s ‘Granny.’ After a few seconds of consideration, the best she could conjure was, “Mary?”

The other young woman’s eyes twinkled, her lips spreading upward, as she nodded her head, her face radiant. She took Danielle’s hand, gently pulling her back towards an ancient stone that could serve well as a make-shift bench. Mary carefully sat sideways, one foot crossed over the other in such a lady-like fashion that Danielle felt archaic and without any sense of grace at all. Mary daintily closed her parasol and leaned it against the rock, taking both of Danielle’s hands. Her eyes searched Danielle’s face, intent on finding something specific there.

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This one’s a little rewrite of a scene from At the Water’s Edge, in which my protagonist, Danielle, is wrestling with an important life-altering decision…and about to engage in a life-altering (as in, she might not have hers anymore) action. She’s in her current predicament after trying to honor her now-deceased grandmother’s final words to her. Or were they?

I’m submitting these 333 words in response to the Trifecta Challenge for Week Ninety-Three, in which the word was:

GRACE (noun)

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.d4MOL4ll.dpuf

And thanks to a lovely invitation from my lovely friend, Kir, I’m also submitting it to WriteOnEdge’s Write at the Merge, with this week’s theme: “The Space Between” (the pause between two events).

The Overly Ordinary Life of Megan Scott Sceates

Henry, do you know why I make my bed every morning?

Nope, Eggs. For the life of me, I’ve never figured that one out.

I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you make that distasteful pun.

For the life of me…at least you got it. Anyway, so why do you do it, Eggs? Make your bed every morning, I mean – not ignore my great sense of humor…though I’ve never really figured that one out either.

That’s just it, Henry. I’m not sure anymore. I mean, let’s face it. I’m going to walk out this door and go live my extremely ordinary and boring life for the rest of this particularly long, dull day. Then I’m going to come home and go through my extremely ordinary and organized ritual to prepare for the next extremely ordinary and boring day. In between, I’m going to unmake this bed, climb into it, sleep while remaining in an extremely ordinary and boring position through the night, possibly to have a dream I won’t even recall because it’s so dull and…ordinary. Then I’ll climb out of this same bed at the same extremely ordinary and boring designated time and remake this bed. It starts all over again – day after livelong day for the rest of my…well, you get it…life. What’s the point? It seems too dull to even make a point.

Hmm, that wasn’t too bad a pun! But you’re scaring me, Eggs. This is how people talk who end up in my position.

What are you so worried about, Henry? I’m the one talking to a dead guy who answers back. Of the two of us, doesn’t that make me the freak here?

I guess you’ve got a point – a pretty dull one, though.

Don’t you have somewhere to be, Henry? Perhaps haunting someone else?

Oh, yeah. Let’s see. You’ve accused me of being in your imagination. After hearing how boring and ordinary that is, I feel kinda’ offended. Thinking I won’t accompany you to work today.

______________________________________________________________

333 words, to be exact, for this week’s Trifecta challenge.

This one comes from an excerpt of a short story I’ve been putting together here & there – Life Beyond the Late Great Henry Sceates – who, coincidentally prefers to be called Hank. His widow, Megan, also prefers not to be called Eggs by him. Despite their many differences, breathing being the main one, the two can’t seem to let one another go. Megan’s intro explains all that, including the name disputes. I’ll have to work on sharing that portion one day, if anyone’s interested.

This week’s word was suggested by Marie Nicole. Have fun with it and we’ll see you on Friday.

FREAK (noun)

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.

Groundhog Apocalypse

Bill slowly crawled out to give yet another year’s worth of prophesy, noting his ascent felt stiffer…tougher than it had been in years past. He glanced around in great dismay at the meager gathering. The crowd, as usual, greeted him with their backs, more intent to listen in giddiness to what his twin brother, the false prophet from Punxsutawney, had to say. Hadn’t it dawned on them that a true prophet wouldn’t be carried out in such pomp and circumstance? Had Elijah resided in the palace of King Ahab? Heavens, no! Wasn’t it rumored that the Christ-child, himself, had been born in a stable? From where else but the ground, then, would a groundhog come to deliver a life-altering prophesy?

That was the problem, though. These mortals weren’t even believers of the prophesy. They no longer possessed an understanding of what it even meant. Most of them no longer toiled the earth to bring in their harvest; so why would they know to trust one who traveled beneath its surface? One who could bring them news of expectation for sowing from above? They treated the groundhog, instead, as a 6-week weather boy. And they didn’t even interpret that news correctly! Had they not enough sense to recognize if he were to see his shadow, that meant sunshine – which translated to good weather and warm soil? Apparently not. And those beloved, authentic interpreters of the prophesy had long disappeared – or tried to profit for themselves with something they called a Farmer’s Almanac.

Bill was tired and discouraged, yet that couldn’t prevent him from delivering this year’s devastating news. The tunnels had been crawling with it for months, as more and more groundhogs disappeared into the depths of despair, ne’er to be heard from again. The rumblings had become more prominent this morning, the day after Bill had found the old carving in the gnarled roots of the ancient tree of wisdom. There, he had read the interpretation. This would be the year – the year of the great catastrophe. His fur ruffled under his slumped shoulders as he grimaced with the thought of telling the people that the Day of Reckoning had fallen upon them. But he didn’t feel altogether guilty. They’d brought it on themselves – with years of pesticides and other wastes they’d tried to hide inside the earth’s bowels.

He’d caught glimpses of the results, avoided the forms that slithered and weaved through the lower tunnels. But those lower passages were now overcrowded. Those foul creatures had nowhere else to go but up, up, onto the upper-side of the ground’s surface. Bill knew it was his duty to warn the light-dwellers who in carefree, numbing fashion were apparently deafened by that great fireball in the sky.

As he stepped from his hole, his squinted molar eyes rolled with the laughter of the people. He heard them jovially declare that Phil (the false prophet) had not seen his shadow – there would be 6 more weeks of good weather!

“You fools!” he chattered in words they refused to hear. “Your time is up! They are coming at any moment to swarm you!”

At his proclamation, the earth began to rumble underfoot.

“Earthquake!” someone in the crowd screamed, as the people began to scramble, rushing and collapsing over one another. (Fortunately, they were too sparse in number to cause any damage too great.)

“No! No!” Bill threw up his small front paws to attract their attention. “You must listen! This is much, much worse than that!”

He ran up to the dignified elders who had paraded out the false prophet; but even they were inching back in fear, confused by Bill’s desperate actions. “Phil’s loose! He’s acting rabid!” They ran from the scene, as Bill worked furiously to chew the false prophet from his box and get him to safety.

“Dude…” grinned his twin in gratitude, obviously academically dumbed down from all the imprisoned years of human contact.

“We must hurry, Phil! Come with me!” chattered Bill.

“Nah, dude. There’s a hole over there with my name on it.” And off scampered the false prophet, left to his own demise.

“Where do you want to go?” came a small, whispery voice from behind Bill. He turned in great surprise, afraid this young girl wanted to capture him and take him home as her pet.

“You must go,” he snarled, hoping to cause her to back away and run off in fear.

“You said a minute ago that I should listen – to you,” she narrowed her eyes in suspicion.

“You can understand me?” Bill looked back, shocked.

“Why, of course I can understand you, silly,” she rolled her eyes impatiently. “Why else would I be talking to you if I didn’t understand you?”

The earth rumbled again and began to crack open.

“We must go…now!” yelled Bill, allowing the little girl to scoop him up and run, taking him to her car where her parents were frantically yelling her name.

“Where should we go?” the girl inquired, climbing into the car as her mother squealed for her to let the groundhog go.

“West. The East coast has already been taken,” Bill grimaced, wondering how he could’ve relayed the news any earlier. News that…

The zombie groundhog apocalypse had begun.

rabid groundhog
Located at: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jeEFp1EVIAQ/Tyq0B4pr9_I/AAAAAAAAAn8/M-pQf9DYr2U/s1600/groundhog.png

I’ve Been Tagged as ‘The Next Big Thing’

(Er, you do understand this isn’t about weight gain, right?) And, by appropriate southern states terminology, it’s actually ‘The Next Big Thang,’ but when you’re braggin’, you wanna’ make sure the rest of the world can understand you too.

I’m actually not bragging on myself nearly so much as I am the person who took the time to throw some encouragement my way by making this nomination – and some other folks who I’d like to take the time to pass the baton forward and maybe some of them will run with it.

the-next-big-thing

I greatly appreciate the gift of exhortation, and especially appreciate MommyVerbs directing her particular gift towards me. She told me to “Engage the Day!” Thank you so much for “verbing” me!

In her post, she explained that The Next Big Thing involves bloggers who either have a book under their belt, or are in the process of writing one, or should be writing one. What a great compliment to receive!

And, yes! I do have a novel I just recently finished! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share. My best current share is that I finally figured out how I wanted to classify its genre this week – as mystical realism. I’m currently working on its sequel, as well as another unrelated novel between work on my dissertation. But this first novel is closest of all to my heart, and I can’t wait for it to find its way into yours!

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Apparently, there are some specific questions that I’m supposed to answer in order to officially accept such a Big Thing – Next. So…here goes:

What is the title of your book?

At the Water’s Edge

Where did the idea come from for your book?

Its background comes from many personal life experiences, one of those being the loss of a daughter for whom I wanted to provide with her own life venture; another coming from the loss of my grandmother’s Irish father to her in her childhood. The mystical portion was the impetus, sparked by a recurring dream from various times in my life. And its setting in the reality context of the story (versus the supernatural one) came from my ‘little-brother-like’ nephew’s shared fascination in our family’s Irish heritage, which he was studying prior to losing his battle with leukemia in his early twenties. I wanted us to be able to make this trip to our ancestors’ homeland together, and I wanted (perhaps needed) a way to express restoration in the midst of loss.

What genre does your book fall under?

As I earlier mentioned (bragged?), I’ve just decided it belongs under the genre of ‘mystical realism’ (more often referred to as ‘magical realism‘ – but Ireland is a mystical place, as are the book’s experiences).

Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

Funny how my characters have lived among me for these past three years to the point that I can see them clearly in my mind. However, I can’t place a finger on specific actors that match those characteristics. I would want the Donnellys to all be authentic Irish actors.

Setting: It begins briefly in Dublin, then transitions to the Lietrim/Sligo region of the Irish Republic.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

My tag-line rolls into three thoughts. Here they are:

Restoration. All souls need it in a broken world. So much so that some unknowingly seek it out – not only for themselves, but also for others.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m in the process of query letter submissions to literary agents. This process is helping me learn to better summarize my overall project, but I know I still have much to learn in the area of appropriately marketing my work (since it wasn’t written as the product of a business mindset – which may be the greatest struggle for many writers).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The concept for this novel was birthed in early January 2009, and although I had completed a massive amount of it within months, I had to set it aside due to the demands of my doctoral studies. I got around to penning the final words on September 1, 2012, when my characters (and one of my test readers) demanded resolution to their story (or just their freedom from being held captive in my brain – who could blame them for that?).

What other books would you compare this story to?

I’m fairly certain I was strongly influenced by all the Sidney Sheldon books I read in my earlier years – his many female protagonists, with their unexpected adventures and romance always in the way, so to speak (but I guess Sheldon’s Genie is the closest he got to mystical). 😉

Though there are a good number of mystical reads around, and a good number of suspenseful adventure journeys that include a romantic element, I haven’t personally run across a similar read to this. (If I had, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to write about it, I suppose.) The main characters are interconnected from an historical past of which they aren’t even aware; while being influenced from a mystical dream that has occurred their entire lives, yet neither can bring themselves to reconcile (much less admit to) such a connection in reality. This element of uncertainty/denial actually serves to move the story forward.

Who or what inspired you to write the book?

At the Water’s Edge began as a personal expression for processing some losses in my life, while honoring those precious loved ones – all of whom have inspired me, one way or another – throughout my own life’s journey. This is a surreal tale, though, combining both natural and supernatural elements to speak to the importance of relationships with both those in our present and the ancestors of our past. After all, what’s life without a little magic sprinkled in?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Readers are likely going to feel pulled along in indecision with Danielle in the decisions she’s going to finally have to face, both practically and relationally, as they become drawn into the lives and experiences of the Donnelly family with her.

I’ve included excerpts from the Irish bard of my story’s area, W.B. Yeats, particularly seeking to embrace his style of sharing the love of his land, drawing his reader into both the content and context surrounding his subjects.

It’s my hope that, through the descriptive aspects of the landscape, the people, and this region’s poetic elements, readers particularly of Irish emigrant descent might allow their souls to make that magical, ancestry-laden connection with the Emerald Isle.

And now…I would like to tag these folks as…. “The Next Big Thing!”

  • Marla at TravelingMarla surely has a fun, inspirational book in the works on her transformative experiences.
  • Joe’s a Poet and He Knows It (joe2poetry) – with a book of poetry! And he’s bloody Oirish too. 🙂 (I may be pushing it again.)

  • Tom at Cobbie’s World continually inspires me and others with his observant and gracious comments and feedback. I always enjoy reading his shared thoughts and bet you would too.

  • There are, of course, so many more talented bloggers whose work I read & with whom I have the privilege of interacting. It’s an exhaustive list. I’d invite you to peruse my “Whispers & Shouts” section for some of my more prolific commenters, as these are generally the ‘writer-types’ who actively interact on my blog.

  • And if you have a recent project in the works or under your belt that you’d like to brag about, have at it in the comments section! We’d love to hear about your ‘next big thang’!

Dream big,  -jody