exercise: N 2.9

N exercise 2.9

1
The bunting is still in the muggy, stagnant air. Each coloured triangle is coated with a thin layer of grit, so fine as to be practically invisible. The drooping lines of festive decorations run around the perimeter of the lot, and not one of the triangles moves. They just hang, motionless.
It’s too hot even for the birds. There must be some up there, in the trees, but I haven’t seen a one all afternoon. Sometimes their singing is so loud, so jarring in its cacophonous overlapping, that I have to bring customers into the dealership itself to be heard. Today, though, there’s no sound at all. No screeching birds, no passing cars. The sidewalk is empty, baking. The brutal sun is hidden behind a sheet of smoggy grey cloud, saving us from the worst of the heat, but it makes the world grey, too. A flat, lifeless grey, hanging over everything.
At three o’clock I’m sitting in my tiny office, reclining in my chair, my arms dangling at my sides. My computer has put itself to sleep, and the chime at the door of the dealership hasn’t tinkled in days. I peer through the slats in the window, rubbing at the grit with my shirt sleeve, to see if Mr. Masabusi is out for his daily walk, even in this heat. There’s no sign of the old man or his walker with the sliced tennis balls.
Drooping back into my chair, it seems the place has somehow grown darker. It’s not for some minutes that I realize the bulb in my desk lamp has burnt out. I wonder when it happened. I’d not noticed it flickering, even once, and yet the few assorted papers scattered across my desk are in such a murky gloom as to be unreadable. I brush them aside into a rough pile at the edge of the desk. A moment later, I sweep them onto the floor, and there they stay. I recline in my chair, close my eyes.

2
The bunting flaps in the warm, friendly breeze, sparkling and giving colourful life to the perimeter of the lot. Blues and reds and whites wink at the customers browsing the cars, giving the whole place a festive vibe.
Birds and squirrels fill the vibrant green trees surrounding the lot. The birds are a riot today, each little creature chirping its heart out, calling to one another. Even the squirrels seem extra chittery today, as though sharing some exciting news happening amongst the denizens of the trees. Birds and squirrels race from tree to tree, streaks of colour and sound. Their chatter nearly drowns out the voices of the customers, and my own, but we all smile and strain to speak over the chirps, laughing about the noisy creatures.
The sun shines gentle rays on the lot throughout the day, and at three, as always, Mr. Masabusi, gripping his walker, the slit tennis balls scooting across the pavement, shuffles by. He waves at me, calls out, asks how the wife is. I tell him that she’s nearly due and he grins, maneuvers his walker over to where I’m showing a hybrid four-door to a young couple, and Mr. Masabusi interrupts us briefly to shake my hand. The couple smiles at this, and we all wave goodbye as Mr. Masabusi continues on his way.
I make several sales under the golden sun, even stay late to close a deal with the young couple, who are eager to get their new hybrid home. I baby it with a fresh coat of polish just before they drive away, and the vehicle gleams in the evening sunset. As their new red tail lights disappear over a hill, I wave, a genuine smile on my face that I couldn’t get rid of if I tried. I quickly organize the outstanding paperwork on my desk and skip out into the pleasant evening, drive home with the top down. My wife greets me with a grin.


Logan Bright

Writing Exercise: 1st person of a fantastic event

wex-novakovich5e8-loganbright.pdf

Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e8

I shared a room with a sibling, but we humans were the only creatures on board not grouped by God into specific, uniform pairs; couples that would some day repopulate our churning blue world.

After the fortieth day of sunstroke and nausea, the waters steamed and rose as vapour into the sky, back from whence the deluge came. The rocky ground was damp only for a short time: soon the sand was sizzling as we had known it before God’s great retribution.

My father deconstructed the ark once the animals were let free. The fine planks of polished wood were transformed in his capable hands into a stout home, cool enough inside to protect us from the searing sun, as well as from the sand gnats, which had multiplied and filled the arid desert.

My siblings and I tended a small vegetable garden. We had only a few seeds each from father so we watched our charges carefully, delicately coaxing what green we could from below the brassy sand.

I was to play my own role, of course, as were we all. We were each paired with a sibling by my father, under watchful eye of God. We each bore many children, who aided us in the growing gardens as they came of age. We crafted many tools, rude and simple giving way to subtle and sophisticated as our techniques sharpened. Cheerful puffs of smoke went up to God from our clay chimney on every chilly evening.

My father lived a number of years after the floods had gone, many more than were accountable, but he was after all a mortal man, and in time, he died. His children and grandchildren, and their children yet beside them, we each felt a great heave in the earth, the firmament itself shaken by death rattles – we were stricken, all, in the moment of our father’s death.

A calm, quiet rain fell in the desert that day. The crops were painted a glossy green by the sun, hidden behind a soft curtain of cloud. The day hung without shadows for many hours.

When the rain stopped and night came on at last, we arrayed our father upon a simple pyre, built of the planks of our home, of our ark. It bore him so that all could see his earthly repose. As the eldest, it was my privilege and my burden to ignite the pyre.

With the moon came the first of our visitors. The old dogs and their offspring approached and stood with us. The flames licked the planks at the base of the pyre, cracked nourishing kindling. Now a pair of cats arrived, followed by others. They joined us in the pulsing ring of light around our father. The flames crept higher, consuming the planks on their quest to reach God.

Other creatures came. Owls and mice and snakes, old enmities put aside a final time, as they had been when we bobbed upon an endless sea as one.

Flames soon reached the hems of my father’s robes, but his face was at peace and untroubled. The courtyard filled with animals, but quiet reigned: only the snapping of the flames broke the night’s silence.

When my father rode the black smoke high into the heavens and the creeping sun splashed the desert pink, the animals turned and went out. They returned to their plains and forests, burrows and nests. The fire burnt down to embers, and by true daybreak, even those were gone.

I built a home of my own, of stone quarried from the desert by strong grandchildren. They are readying my pyre now, in the sunset’s golden light; building it of scrub and brambles, the bounty of these lands. Soon I will go to meet my father, go with that black smoke into his waiting arms, and the gardens below will flourish yet, until the day the rains return and do not stop.

The folks are getting older.

My parents’ mortality is becoming ever clearer. I see them but rarely, these days, and when I do, the age is written all over their faces; in their movements, in every pause in conversation, in the desire (or lack thereof) to engage in certain activities.

They’re getting up there; my dad is nearing 60, and mom isn’t far behind. They look older than that, though, or at least, not as young as many do at this age. Lifestyle accounts for a good portion of this, I’m sure. Both smoked for years and years – in fact, my mom still does to this day. They drink rather heavily and indulge in ‘a wee puff’ now and again in the big garage. They eat fairly well, nowadays, though my dad has a sweet tooth more formidable than my own, and it demonstrates its pride at his waistline. Mom, too, is looking doughy; blonde hair turning ashy grey under the layers of reactionary colouring. Dad’s hair is almost completely greyed out now, along with a significant portion of his beard; climbing from the bottom as though to meet the ruddy orange of his moustache in a final battle in which the pigmentation stands no chance.

They say things like “I love you” a lot more often these days. Dad never used to say it, growing up, but after his mom died he adopted the practice in a big way. I’m glad, too, because one day they will be gone, and it’s nice to hear that kind of thing, y’know?

I don’t know what I’ll do when they pass on. Same thing as ever, I guess – just get along, as it were. They’ve been so supportive my entire life, to this very day, and in a way I miss them already.

They’re coming for a visit on Sunday afternoon, after I get off work. I’m sure I’ll notice some new shred of evidence pointing towards their eventual demise, another little jigsaw puzzle on the march towards death. I love them both and I hope they realize how much they mean to me.

-LB