Writing Exercise: ‘We’ and I’ and ‘You’

wex-novakovich5e14-loganbright.pdf

Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e14

We hadn’t been down to the lakeside since the surgery but on that wine-red harvest moon last year I knew we had to go. It was a cold October and we bundled into insulators, put mittens on your hands. Overdid it, really. I was sweating in the cool lake breeze and you were flushed. I like that. The rosy splotches on your cheeks seemed so full of life. You were breathing easily, too, better even than at home. The sludgy water lapped at the banks and we dared to dip our toes. We splashed our trouser cuffs when we yanked our vulnerable flesh from the stinging cold water.

We walked a while then. You counted twenty-two red-text plates on cars and I only got to seventeen. We shared a slice of pumpkin pie at a sit-down restaurant. You drank only water, and I had a whiskey that shut the cold away outside like the touch of your hand.

We returned to the apartment savagely late; hadn’t been out that late since we were kids and sending long texts like 90. You lit candles, stubby ones with burnt black wicks, and they fought hard in our cold room for a while. I smelled the lake breeze, it came home with us over kims and kims of walked concrete, the cool breeze laced with the thick oak-resin smell of the things that flow in the waters. We put the stereo on. You kissed me every time Pharrell sang the word ‘happy’ and I kissed you every time his backup singers did. We were rolling on the tatami mats before the song was done. The speaker hummed and buzzed in rhythm with our writhing bodies.

When we were through you held me in your good arm. I felt low rumbles in your chest, your cells moving around in there on crucial, routine business. I turned on the lamp and it bathed us in the ruddy glow of the grand harvest moon. We laid in that glow a long time. It was then that you slipped back into malady, I think. You rose when the sparrows came to the windowsill seeking their morning treat.

The sparrows don’t come around now and I don’t know why. I fed them just as you did.

Your surgeon told me he did the best he could, him and his team; he introduced them all to me by name. Their credentials whirred past me, flowed right past my consciousness. You held my hand. I felt those delicate fingers in mine, friendly and warm like good whiskey. The surgeon’s team said you were gone, of course, I knew that, but your hand in mine at that moment was more real to me than the sharp white room the surgeon had corralled me into to deliver bad news.

We went back to the lake that night. It was much warmer than before, with your hand in mine the whole walk. You were breathing well, clear and easy. I was sweating in the stagnant heat. No cool breeze, no scent of oak-resin came up from the brown-grey lake.

We ate pumpkin pie. I had water. We walked home again, a circuitous route, and again you bested me in plates. I’m getting closer, but I’m always missing some.

We put the stereo on, Pharrell of course, and knelt onto the tatamis. We kissed for every ‘happy’ and I felt your lips on mine.

You held me in your good arm when I awoke. Your cells burbled and worked deep inside your chest. I pressed my ear hard against it, to hear them all, to feel their energy pulsing through you into my bones, my marrow. I reveled in your sonorous hum.

There was no illness when you awoke. We held hands through breakfast. You are here with me always. I miss you.

Writing Exercise: 2 POVs; a horse and its owner

wex-novakovich5e10-loganbright.pdf

Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e10

1

I was in my private stable enjoying my daily brush down when a grey car I’d never seen before pulled up the gravel road to the barn. My human put the brush aside and stepped out into the sun to greet the driver. My human seemed perplexed, like he didn’t expect to any visitors that day.

Two other humans got out of the car, both of them plain-faced, dressed in drab suits. The driver showed my human a fold of paper from her pocket and for an instant my human, who should have been inside finishing my brush down, looked terrified. He tried to hide it but one of the female’s eyebrows shot up on her hairless forehead and she moved past him into my stable. Her friend followed behind her, watching my human with a skeptical and threatening expression on his face.

The female came up to me and let herself right into my pen, easy as that, and stroked my long neck with calloused fingers. She and my human exchanged some words that I didn’t understand, though in the burble I caught a few friendly expressions such as “beautiful horse” and “thoroughbred” (which I was, thank you very much). My human told her my name and she repeated it to me in a cooing voice suited more for a foal than a mare.

The human with the heavy brow folded his arms across his chest, said a few words, and my human’s face went white as the splotches in my coat. My human was shaking his head and hands, evidently pleading with these two drab strangers.

The female moved behind me; a dangerous place for any human, known or not. She slapped my flank lightly and my leg flew of its own will. I can never control it when strangers are about. I heard the sweet crunch of cracked carrots, and then she was screeching, clutching her broken and bleeding hand. The folded paper dropped from her pocket as the other humans rushed to help her. The letters printed on the paper went like this: “I-R-S”, but I didn’t understand what they meant.

 

2

I was giving Nell her daily rubdown, cleaning her soft coat with a mole-hair brush, when a boxy grey sedan pulled up to the barn. A man and woman stepped out and I set the brush aside to go and greet them.

The driver flashed a badge and said they were with the Internal Revenue Service, and my face must have fallen. She exchanged a glance with her burly partner and asked me if she could take a look around.

I stammered yes, which I realize now I shouldn’t have done. She moved past me into Nell’s private stable – she’s a sweet horse, but prickly with strangers – and greeted the old mare with a fussy, mama-to-baby tone. Her partner stood back and watched my reaction.

“She’s a beautiful horse, Mr. Gardner,” the agent said, patting Nell’s neck. “I’ve spent some time around horses myself, when I was a girl. She a thoroughbred?”

“Her name’s Nell,” I said, hoping she wouldn’t catch such a transparent dodge.

“Nell. You’re a beauty, aren’t you? Such pretty eyes.” The horse stared ahead as though unconscious of her admiring visitor. “Can we see her papers, please, Mr. Gardner?” The agent didn’t look up, just kept patting the horse. She moved around to inspect Nell’s flank.

“I’m sorry?” I shot a nervous glance over my shoulder at her partner. He hadn’t moved.

“Her papers. Fine horse like this, you must have them? We’d like to take a quick look, that’s all. You’re okay with that, huh, Nell? Yes you are.” To emphasize her point, the agent gave Nell’s flank a light slap. Well, that horse is awful cagey around strangers, like I said, and her back leg came up in a flash and caught the agent square in the hand. Broke it, too, in a couple places.

In the end, they caught me on my taxes, but I got off having to pay the medical bills. Still, I had to sell poor Nell to cover what I owed. Now the private stable out back stands empty.

Writing exercise: 1st and 2nd PoV: a wrong-way love story

wex-novakovich5e9-loganbright.pdf

Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e9

You possessed me that night with flamenco guitar in the firelight. You knew just which moss to throw into the flames so the pit would burst with glossy green tongues. I was in love with your lithe fingers on the fretboard.

When I took your plane ticket I wasn’t thinking of theft – my mind was writhing with you – and the ticket was in the bowl where my keys always go, and why would you leave it there anyhow? I knew you were going, of course. Fleeing me and my east coast winters. My fingers were on the ticket; the ticket was in my pocket.

You left me a lot of voice mails and I listened to some of them, spanning the spectrum from plaintive to loathing. After a while I lost track of my phone and I guess you probably stopped calling.

You have beautiful taste. This place is incredible; a thick florid scent comes in with the dew and the skies are cerulean. Even so, I’m leaving it now. When I jumped on your plane I had only my passport and wallet. Now I have neither.

I dream of you, your flowing songs. Throwing moss to make green flames, lively fingers dancing on their board.

I’m trying to reach the county seat, to talk to someone at the embassy. I think it’s to the south. You were always good with maps. You steered us home when we got lost in Gurra Park. You had your guitar then, too.

I’m doing my best to learn the language. I try to hear your melodies; their full and pregnant vowels, their silken rhotics’ roll. I cannot replicate them. Your voice is fading.

Do you think of me still? I hope to see you again.

Writing Exercise: 2 PoVs on a childhood event: child and adult

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Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e6

1

The backyard at grandpa’s house was full of treasures so I wasn’t surprised when I found his map. Mommy and daddy were moving stuff out the front door into a big square truck when I pulled the folded paper out of a box of papers and medals. I opened it along the creases, it was blue paper and blue lines but there was a big red X square in the backyard. The house had an address printed on it and it was grandpa’s address.

I ran out to the yard and sank to my knees in the damp grass, putting aside little piles of dirt with scooped hands. The map wasn’t specific on where exactly in the backyard the X was supposed to be so I started at what I thought was probably the centre. My nails got full of mud and my jeans were filthy before I thought to fetch a shovel from the shed.

The little wooden building was padlocked though, and daddy had the keys. His birthday was coming soon and I wanted to surprise him with the buried treasure so I went back to the house and crept up to the doorjamb. I darted inside the kitchen, which luckily hadn’t been packed away yet, and returned to the yard with the two biggest spoons I could find.

All afternoon I dug around the yard, a few inches here, behind an old washing machine; a few inches there, beside a checkered loveseat with oily stains. When the sun reached the treetops, mommy came to the back door with a glass of iced tea and found me covered in the rich soil, and the lawn full of holes like a family of groundhogs had just moved in.

I beamed up at her. “Don’t tell daddy,” I said. “I want the treasure to be a surprise.”

“You’re looking for grandpa’s buried treasure?” she asked, kneeling beside me.

I took a big sip of the sweet tea. “Yep. And I’m gonna give it to daddy for his birthday. From grandpa.”

From out front of the house my dad honked the horn of the square truck.

“That’s very kind of you, sweetie. Come on inside now. We’ll come back and find the buried treasure next time.”

 

2

I was around 10 when grandpa died. His yard was full of old furniture and half-finished projects, scrap metal and rusting toys. Treasures all, to my eyes. I’d spend hours playing in the cool, damp grass when my folks came to visit with grandpa.

The day my parents came to clear out his furniture, I found a map in an old iron box full of dusty medals and stiff photographs. It must have been a city zoning map or something, blue on blue, but I recognized the street and the address to be grandpa’s. The map had a big red X in his backyard.

I ran out back and began digging with my bare hands. My father’s birthday was approaching and I had a mind to give him the buried treasure for a present.

I was caked in mud before I thought to try for a shovel but when I got to the low wooden shed I found it padlocked and realized that only dad had the keys. I didn’t want to spoil the surprise and so I snuck into the kitchen, making sure no one would see me, and I swiped a couple of the biggest spoons I could find.

I dug furiously all afternoon, leaving dozens of holes a few inches deep scattered across the backyard.

The sun had reached the tops of the trees when my mother appeared at the kitchen door with an iced tea in hand, and called my name. “What are you doing out here?”

“Ssh,” I said. “I’m digging up grandpa’s treasure.”

She came and kneeled in the moist earth beside me, careful not to get her khakis dirty. “Buried treasure?”

“I found a map. I’m going to give the treasure to daddy for his birthday.”

Out front, my father honked the horn of the square rental van.

“That’s a very sweet idea, peach. But let’s come in for the day, hm? We can always come back another time to find the buried treasure.”

Writing Exercise: unreliable 1st person, fake gold ring thief’s denial

wex-novakovich5e5-loganbright.pdf
Logan Bright 2016

Novakovich 5e5 – first person unreliable PoV; thief from yesterday and the day before

 

Let go you gossos, sick sewer rats I never wanted sun ring, never needed sweet metal warm, why you trap me now, huh? What you need old Abigail Bad Girl for, he don’t know no shinies, no gold gold. Just in streets with gossos, yes, cracked ART maybe maybe true, just for happy fun, see? Not for criming, not for harm but fun, fun. You got some for Abigail Bad Girl, just one ART? Might remember with help, see.

Just ART never was in porktown never went to shop of shinies, of sweet gold sun ring, wasn’t there and didn’t want the warm –  home at dockside cracking ARTs and smiling.

Tape’s wrong gosso, make-believe pictures, not Abigail Bad Girl grey and grainy, some other sicky steals sun ring, warm gold trapped in glass cages. Not Abigail no not me.

Shinies smashed and shattered yes but freedom for trapped sun ring. Not me no.

Never saw that metal, just ARTs at dockside under shadows, cold shadows silent fingers, no squee squee never hear squee squee. Seller lying, shrieking lies.

That sun ring no I never saw never seen sweet metal warm gold, sweet so. No no never. Junk it, garbage, fit for rats and sewer slime, I don’t need it don’t know where you got sweet sun ring.

Abigail Bad Girl home and quiet, all alone alone without sun ring, no warm metal gold, bare toes and fingers all alone, no stealing no stealing trapped and pleading sun ring, warm sweet metal so. Not mine not Abigail Bad Girl’s sweet sun ring. Me home with empty fingers empty toes no warm ring no sun ring.

You gossos come take me come bear me to this stony hole, say you find warm sun in fingers, Abigail Bad Girl’s fingers and toes, but fingers empty see, toes empty no squee squee no happy warm, no stealing sweet sun ring. Nothing for Abigail Bad Girl, nothing.

Writing Exercises: 3 different ones

Some exercises – Logan Bright 2016
wex-novakovich5e234-loganbright.pdf

Novakovich 5e2: different PoVs of the thefts from yesterday
Novakovich 5e3: three-paragraph piece about war and friendly fire
Novakovich 5e4: three perspectives on a doctor sexually assaulting a patient, who cuts the doctor’s ear with a scalpel. 1) patient 2) doctor 3) nurse

Novakovich 5e2

Abigail Bad Girl pushed through street people blind people, into a cold and blue store full shiny glass and metal. Trapped in cold case prison the most beauty a run ring gold shiny, so sweet, gold sun ring trapped in glass cages. Saleslady seller watched but talking coin with some gosso, she won’t bother Abigail Bad Girl or his sweet sun ring, no, just gold and sweet metal, wants freedom from glass cages.

Other glasses, pretty shiny but Abigail Bad Girl’s fingers went squee squee when they saw the sun ring the deal sealed, sweet gold gold. He pressed his face against the glass, so cold burns nose and skin he doesn’t pull away, sweet sun ring warmth so close, trapped and screaming trapped and pleading sweet life, sweet air, bring me from glass cages Abigail Bad Girl, sweet warm metal for your pinkie pinkie toe, good gold sweet Abigail and Abigail Bad Girl raised squee squeeing fingers crash cold glass, it holds trapped sun ring, seller screams forgets the gosso, Abigail Bad Girl’s squee squees go smash again and again and now the case is vanished, many fragments all around pinkie toes and gold is free and warm, sweet sun ring, fingers squee squee to touch, squee squee, seller shrieking idjit tongue, sewer tongue tongue.

Abigail Bad Girl meets sweet metal warm and wanted, loved by sun ring, seller screaming. Abigail on toes he flees in fumey streets, full gossos dockside sicklies but Abigail Bad Girl warm with sun ring, sweet so gold sweet so. Sun ring stays with Abigail Bad Girl always, whispers sweets and oaths into his ears of light and warmth. Fire sun ring hot in squee squees and Abigail Bad Girl heats and heats and sleeps content a night of dreams. Squee squee fingers keep safe sun ring, no glass cages cold sweet sun ring, sweet gold so.

***
Abigail Bad Girl cracked an ART with his stubby finger squee squees, swallowed sharpness, mind alerted. He pushed dirt gossos out of way and crashed into a shop of shinies. It was a porktown counterfeit jeweler’s owned and operated by Donnie Santiago’s most litigious ex-wife, Arianna San Cruzas.

Abigail Bad Girl caught glance of cold cages trapped gold, sweet gold warm sun ring, his fingers squee squee, tingling, physiologically tingling with excitement and chemical imbalances, each digit chattering in a pitch way up in the high kHzs, so high only he could hear them, ART pulsing behind his eyeballs. Squee squee went fingers his face upon the glass, trapped sun ring, cold cold in glass trapping, freedom sough sweet gold sweet so gold.

Ms. San Cruzas, who’d snared and all but speared a mark with a cheap but serviceable Jägan knock-off, was alarmed at the docksider oaf fogging up her display case. “Excuse me, sir,” she said, but Abigail Bad Girl, who’d never had a proper name but adopted this one after years of hearing it screamed in the apartment above his burrow when he was a lad, squatted out of sight and tried to push his fingers through the glass.

Face on glass cold, cold trapping gold class cages. He made fists, impermeable thanks to the shot of ART the minute before, and brought them down on the case once, twice. Pain shot through his arms but the pain-reception centre of his brain had worn down like the city itself and functioned sporadically. The third blow cause the case to shatter.

Ms. San Cruzas screamed at him and in her rage and indignation let slip that the shop was full of fakes, but squee squees freed sweet sun ring, sang with happy and warm sun ring, and Abigail Bad Girl sprinted from the shop far quicker even than he’d burst in, leaving shattered glass and mangled jewelry behind him.

Ms. San Cruzas lost the sale of the Jägan, but replaced the shattered case in due time and business improved in the following years. Abigail Bad Girl’s sweet sun ring in squee squees is safe.

Novakovich 5e3

War’s been done a few different ways through the years but mostly it’s the same. Bad blood, bad reasoning, resources, competition. Enmity personal and im-, deserved or not. These two organizations were doing it the old fashioned way, of course, with violence, hatred.

Carmelo knew about the betrayal, had read it in Dante’s eyes; and now Luke, just a defenseless soft back a few steps ahead, and Carmelo, standard-issue rifle in hand and loaded. Dante had pleaded with him not to do anything but Carmelo had to get even, felt on fire when he saw Dante’s face, his tears. Carmelo pulled the trigger, Luke fell, and shame, of one sort, was ended.

Luke felt the fire in his abdomen, bitter and pleasant like good whiskey. He knew he was wrong to say accept Dante’s glances but he had, just as he had willingly taken the front of the front line, ahead of quiet Carmelo. Luke took a dip seep of that sweet whiskey, that fire in his abdomen, and slept.

Novakovich 5e4

Sati’s ears were pounding when she arrived in Dr. Ramachandran’s examination room. The walls were covered in the usual cross-sections, corpses chopped and divided for ease of reference.

The nurse handed the doctor one of those silver wands with the black triangle head and he lit it in her ear canal, peered into it, his face and mustache scrunched. The roots where his teeth met his gums were yellow, and his breath smelled of cough medicine. She could feel the heat of his body centimetres from her own. She looked away to a poster, and caught the nurse’s eyes instead. The nurse went pink as her scrubs and looked away.

“Well Mrs. Gupta, everything’s looking good so far,” Dr. Ramachandran said over the squeak of his chair. He rolled slowly in orbit around her, checked her right side. He was close, very close, his hot cough medicine breath on her cheek and neck.

“Nurse,” he said, face so close to Sati’s that she could feel the wiry potato-brush bristles of his mustache, “could you go and get me, uh, a T-94 and an electromyopod, please?” Sati started and he added, still looking into her ear, “just a routine scan, nothing to worry about, my dear. Nurse? They’re in the basement, I think.”

Sati’s fists clenched hard as baked clay balls as Dr. Ramachandran’s hand fell upon her knee, far higher than Sati would ever have been comfortable with.

“You’re looking very healthy, Mrs. Gupta. Or may I call you by your given name? Very healthy, and very beautiful, Sati.” Sati could hardly hear him rasping as though to himself. His gaze had left hers and travelled down the valley of her sari, his imagination boring into her most forbidden places. His hand climbed to find them.

“Doctor, no,” she said, turning from him. “No.”

She fumbled with her purse but it was zipped, to protect her from thieves. She cast about the room as the heat grey, both hands on her legs now, her thighs, thick cough medicine stench in her lungs. Her hand alights on cold, stable steel. A medical instrument of some kind. Her fist clenches around it.

“Dr. Ramachandran, stop. Doctor!” As her voice rose, several things happened at once: his hands reach her warmth, the nurse bursts in, and Sati’s hand with the cold strong steel swings at the doctor and he falls to the floor, clutching his bleeding ear, leaving her.

***

Dr. Ramachandran’s heart sparked as he inserted his ear-scope into the ear of Mrs. Gupta. He savoured the first delicate hint on her scent. The calm lavender reached gracefully out to greet him. He was relieved to find no cause for alarm in her left ear, and reluctantly moved away, the back of his neck prickly under the watchful gaze of his nurse Nadia.

He rolled his chair around, taking the slow, scenic route, as he always tried to do when Mrs. Gupta visited. Maybe next time she’ll come in with heart palpitations, he thought. Then I could use the stethoscope. Then again, she’s here now, and an extra test or two couldn’t hurt…

“Nurse, fetch me a T-94 and an electromyopod, would you,” he said, peering into Mrs. Gupta’s right ear. To extend the goose chase, he added: “They’d be in the basement, I suspect.” It seemed to him she hesitated, but she left them.

“Now, Mrs. Gupta, you’re looking very healthy so far, very healthy and very beautiful. I would like to perform some extra tests, however. To be on the safe side.” The air between them buzzed, crackled as though filled with a thousand fireflies. She looked deeply into his widening eyes and he felt her touch, her soft, vibrant touch, alive in that look. Then he was touching her in turn, when his flesh met hers the energy grew a hundred-fold, he was suffused with joy and electricity, the voltage soaring higher as his hand reached its goal; he was blind, he was deaf to all but her warmth, her smell, her beautiful soft soul.

On earth, far below, he could hear her talking now, saying something strong and firm through layers of gauze and plaster.

His brows fell and for a moment he wasn’t sure why, but the flat dull colours of the office were fading back in. “No,” she was saying. “No.” But in the last shreds of ecstasy, control returning, he found a moment of reflection, the world frozen to offer it. In that infinitesimal moment, his choice was made.

Dr. Ramachandran drove his hand home as the door opened and the nurse screamed, and a split second later he heard the faintest whir of air before his ear exploded in pain, sliced or shocked but some malignant spell. Red rained down from the hand of Mrs. Gupta.

Dr. Ramachandran lost his license to practice medicine. His scar took seven weeks to heal.

***

Nadia showed Mrs. Gupta through the cramped hallway into exam room 2. She was still new to Dr. Ramachandran’s practice and didn’t know any of the patients, but she and Mrs. Gupta chatted amiably until the doctor came in. As soon as he arrived in the room Nadia felt the energy change, like the tide had gone out blue and come back in neon green.

So that’s how it is, she thought. Nadia hadn’t worked there long, but it’d been long enough to recognize one of Dr. Ramachandran’s little crushes. It looked as though Mrs. Gupta was one of those unlucky souls. But at least she was close to his own age and not some teenager in from the high school.

Nadia stood behind him and watched the exam. He peered into Mrs. Gupta’s ear, slowly rolled around her, as close as possible, and peered into the other ear even longer. Mrs. Gupta was tense, hands in tight balls. Nadia smiled at her but the bulb burnt out on contact. Mrs. Gupta looked ready to shatter into millions of tiny pieces. Nadia blushed and looked away.

Someone should say something, finally, she thought. Maybe I should. Maybe I will.

“You’re looking very healthful, Mrs. Gupta, very healthful. Nurse,” he added over his shoulder, “could you dig up a T-94 for me, and an electromyopod? Just routine tests, Mrs. Gupta, don’t be alarmed. Nurse? They’re probably somewhere in the basement.”

Neither of those objects sounded familiar but Nadia was glad to shut the exam door behind her and trap all that thick, awful energy with Dr. Ramachandran. And Mrs. Gupta. Nadia hadn’t even given her another look before she escaped into the tiny hallway. Mrs. Gupta had had that inward-looking, lost-in-the-headlights look of a deer soon to be wounded in the night.

Nadia took a step, stopped. Dr. Ramachandran is the only one with a key to the basement, she thought. He’s always got it, the only one.

She paused, drew a breath, released, and plunged back into exam room 2. She screamed as Mrs. Gupta swiped at Dr. Ramachandran, whose hands, before they flew out of the chair with the rest of him, had been deep within the sari of a flushed and frightened Mrs. Gupta. Dr. Ramachandran blubbered, clutching his ear. Mrs. Gupta dropped the scalpel. Nadia took her hand, squeezed it for a long moment, and then stitched up Dr. Ramachandran.