Freitag, 27. August 2010

In the deep

[Over at 52 Weeks of Wordage I found a nice exercise: Write the last paragraph to a short story where you only have the opening. I did, and then I started wondering what happened inbetween. We all know where this leads, don't we...]

"A short story begins with these two lines:
Sometimes, out on the boat, she wanted to tell Louise.
This was before Louise got the tattoo on her shoulder.

Write the last paragraph of the story."

The tattoo was beautiful, if you liked tattoos, simple and elegant and black. A few curves dancing around each other. Louise had gotten it for their first anniversary, and she had been so escited. "Mary, come with me, please! I am scared shitless! How am I supposed to let them finish the job?" Since Patrick had been away for a few weeks on a job, there had been plenty of time. By the time he returned, he was delighted, he lifted Louise up and kissed her in front of everybody and smiled. By that time, everything was healed.

Maybe not everything. Mary couldn't help looking at the lines when they were outside, when they went to the lake to swim or lie in the sun, or when they went shopping and Louise tried on dresses. Her skin was thoroughly tanned and smooth, like only girls' skin can be smooth, and the little scar on her right thigh rather added to her beauty instead of diminishing it.

Mary and Louise had been friends for as long as they could remember. Their families lived right next to each other, with a huge lawn separating the houses, and they had played together and explored the woods and the banks of the river, and as they had grown up, they had spent most of their summers at the lake.

Mary, who was tall and had blond ringlets and countless freckles, admired Louise for her fairy-like beauty. She had defended her against the boys at school, who considered Louise to be too girlish and quiet to be left alone, and repaired her old bike whenever it decided to break down on their excursions. She felt protective and sometimes jokingly referred to herself as "Louise's mother bear". Sometimes when they slept at one of their parents' places together, Mary would brush Louise's black hair until the smaller girl fell asleep, and then would sit for hours without moving, Louise's head in her lap, and think about nothing in particular.

They grew up together, and short time before her sixteenth birthday, Louise met Patrick. He was her first boyfriend, and Louise, most likely without intending to or even realizing it, started to neglect Mary. Or that was the way Mary saw it. Even when they met, Louise would talk about nothing else, and often she would cancel their excursions to the lake because Patrick had plans for the day. And now she had that tattoo.

One day, a few weeks after the anniversary, Mary invited Louise to the lake. She felt that, since Patrick was away to see his grand parents, they could share an afternoon, like they had done before. So they grabbed their bikes and set out for a day filled with adventures.

That afternoon, while they were lying in the sun, Mary raised her head and looked Louise straight in the eyes. This was going to be difficult. "There is something I have to tell you."

Louise yawned and turned around to face her friend. "Why so serious?" She looked up at the cerulean sky above them. "Isn't this a beautiful day? I feel as if it's the one day we'll remember when we look back on our youth. We'll be sitting on the sofa, two old and wrinkled grannies, and -"

"Louise." Mary hesitated. Then she changed her mind. "You know, the other night, when you went shopping in Smyteville with your mother..."


"I saw Patrick. In town. With another girl."

Louise's eyes widened. "You saw what?"

"They were laughing and holding hands."

"No, it's not what you think. Maybe... maybe she is his cousin?"

Mary sat up, leaned forward and touched her friend's shoulder. "Louise, they were kissing."

No reply.

Mary sighed. "I am so sorry."

Louise remained silent for a long time. Then she stood up, slowly, gathered her belongings and left. Mary followed her friend with her eyes for as long as possible, but she stayed behind, and her stomach felt as if it was filled with stones.

That was the end of Patrick and Louise. There was a huge fight and some gossiping around town, but they avoided each other, and after a few weeks, when summer prepared to leave, the unfortunate outturn of their love affair had been buried beneath piles of drinking women, cheating husbands and the discussion about who had stolen the money from the offertory box.

Louise went to see a specialist, and soon there was no visible memory of her first love left. The spot on her shoulder was soft and pink and raw, and she did not smile as much as she used to. But Mary was convinced that this, too would pass. She had read about teenage couples, and this kind of thing never seemed to last for long. Their friendship, on the other hand... yes, they'd still be together when they were old and ugly. She decided to take Louise on a boat trip on the lake, and after some convincing, her friend agreed. They packed a picknick basket and left very early, when the mist was still clinging to the long grass and the branches.

"The boat was softly rocking on the lake, and the dragonflies flitting over the surface looked like sparkling spirits. The raw patch of skin on Louise's skin had finally started to heal. Mary inhaled, tasted the last crumbs of summer, and felt sadness descend upon her shoulders."


T. Anne hat gesagt…

Sounds like if expanded would make for a page turning novel!

Diandra hat gesagt…

Maybe... at the moment I have difficulty getting the stories out of my head and onto the screen. :-(

Thank you for your comment!

Magaly Guerrero hat gesagt…

I agree with Anne, but I understand your pain. I have been struggling with arrangement lately. I've also been prying for time.

Know a spell for that?