Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Snippets 19

I'm late getting my snippet up again this week.


This time it was due to an eye doctor appointment this morning which meant that I couldn't stay up all night last night preparing the post and then visiting. I thought I would be able to get to work on it when we got home but I had not bargained on having dilated eyes. And then we had company this evening.

I chose this snipped today for several reasons. First because it features a woman living with visual impairment and that's been on my mind this week because of the upcoming eye doctor visit. Also because it features a woman in her late forties feeling sorry for herself because of her passing youth and disability and that was also a feature of my week as I said a final good-bye to my late forties on Tuesday.

I wrote this while still in my mid thirties. It is a short story and I almost posted the whole 2369 words. But I decided to split it in two.

Oh, another reason I selected this story for now is that the character, Marion, has popped up as a supporting character in two of my Fruit of the Spirit novels so far and I am leaning hard toward using her in Spring Fever, my NaNo novel this year. Which would essentially bring Spring Fever into the Fruit of the Spirit fold. I don't know if I ever intend to give her her own novel but her profession as a trauma psychiatrist comes in real handy.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
by Joy Renee

Marion traversed the dark hall her fingertips lightly brushing the velvety tulips on the wallpaper. One by one she touched them, counting as she went. Ten between her room and the door to the kitchen. She could see them as clear as day in her mind. A dark, nearly black purple regimented on a field of succulent green. She had helped her mother hang the paper near thirty years ago and been so enamored with it she had recreated its charm in the yard surrounding this house.

Acres of grass kept more perfectly groomed than putting greens framed a dozen flower beds where a prize purple tulip stood at attention for one month of every year. The only thing to spoil the effect was her neighbor Clay Quincy’s insistence on growing a variety of flowering vines on the fence between their properties. All spring, summer and fall there was an effusion of vibrant color cascading over her fence. She was sure he took a perverse delight in spoiling her creation. He had once referred to it as evidence that even psychiatrists were not proof against neurosis.

Marion left the narrow confines of the hallway, keeping a hand on the doorjamb to get her bearings before stepping into the wilderness of her house. Use a cane? In the house I grew up in? I know it like I know myself. But she often turned back to her room and waited for Ernestine to see to her. Her daughter--raising a daughter of her own, while nurturing a radio talk-show--saw to her mother’s needs with barely a hitch in her lockstep.

Light inhabited the cavernous kitchen like a dragon its lair, slashing at Marion’s eyes. She blinked rapidly behind splayed fingers until her eyes adjusted to brightness, listening to Ernestine fix breakfast--the tinkle of metal against glass (a fork stirring eggs in a bowl?) the clang of metals (a pan being lidded?) the percussion of cupboard and fridge doors, the jangle of utensil drawers. Across the room, Verna croons counterpoints of contentment to her dolls.

Marion was emerging from a winter’s mourning for dimming eyes and withering womb--a double whammy. Though her resolve to contribute no more defective genes was twenty years old--the age of her widowhood--menopause at forty-eight seemed as much a failure as failing eyes.
No matter what Clay said. Clay Quincey, an EMT, spent off duty days making pottery and courting Marion with patient perseverance. She held him off with scrupulous decorum.

Except her scruples went the way of her eyes and ovaries last fall, during a week spent hiking on the coast. They began in separate sleeping bags but confronted with the depth of their friendship, Marion found her grounds for naming their relationship inappropriate, shaky as the sand at sea’s edge. With Clay’s whispers in her ears relentless as the surf, their bags were zipped together. Then Clay proposed again.

"What objections are left?" He brushed her bangs back to plant a kiss. "Time dissolved most of them. Your mother’s been gone five years. And I never thought she’d object."

Marion hid her face against his shoulder. "She never saw you as a suitor. You saw how she treated them."

"Because she feared they’d take you away, which I wouldn’t have. Since age fourteen I did chores and errands for her, and escorted her about. She treated me like a surrogate son."

"Your eighteen to my twenty-eight made it impossible for her to see you as more than surrogate kid brother for me."

"Two decades has lessened the shock-value of that if not proved my commitment." He tightened his arm about her.

"I never doubted your commitment. Just the wisdom of it. Age difference aside, I wouldn’t deny you the delight of having your own children and they couldn’t be mine."

"I don’t want to father children who can’t have you for a mother. I’d have been content as step-father. I felt like father enough the night Neal was born. Almost delivered him myself! If the paramedics had been five minutes longer…"

"The night you found your vocation." Marion remembered the gray-faced boy kneeling beside her in as much awe of the life-savers as the life giver.

"And my heart." His hands cupped her cheeks. "Two callings which I never repented."

"I know." She caressed his lips with her thumb.

He caught his breath. "So how can you still object?"

"How can I subject you to the burden of an old blind lady?

"The same way you do Ernestine."

"That’s different. I cared for my mother as she did hers. She needs to be home anyway. Her Drew flew the coop."

He gripped her shoulders. "So let her and the kid have the house and move in with me. With your career you needn’t follow tradition and be so dependent. Doesn’t take good eyes to be a good listener. If maneuvering clinic and hospital mazes is too much, I got room for you to set up at home."

"You make it sound fated." She laid her cheek on his chest to feel his heartbeat.

"It always was." He kissed her with long-denied urgency.

Today she blushed to think that she and seriously considered his proposal for several weeks after their return home. Until symptoms of menopause consumed her thoughts and nibbled away her courage. His call this morning had penetrated her self-absorption. "You, a trauma shrink, hiding from life?" a vulnerability in his voice had twisted the knife in her guilt. Time to end his agony. Better to ruin a friendship than the rest of his life. Today she was off to Clay’s for a long-postponed pottery lesson. Where she would firmly put their relationship back into the safe zone of friendship.

Marion eased one foot forward, reaching for the table, its mahogany surface a splash of shadow against pale linoleum and cerulean walls. Her fingers followed the edge to the south window-wall, where plants of a variety of shape and hue sat on shelves and hung from the ceiling. She took a mister among them, bestowing halos of mist, fingers brushing lightly the vines and leaves, hovering over blossoms as she inhaled an ecstasy of life.

She knelt beside a fern growing vigorously from a glazed pot, hands halting over a cluster of wilted fronds. "Feeling poorly today?" She probed its soil and sniffed her fingers. "OD’d on water, poor thing."

"Is Fern sick today Mare-Mare?" Verna asked in a sick-room whisper.

"Might say so. Sometimes too much of a good thing is worse than too little. She’s got a little root rot. Best leave her be for a bit." she set the mister down and stood, wiping gritty fingers on her denim skirt and adjusting her black T-shirt’s seams. It fit snugger this spring than last. The winter had laid more than heavy thoughts on her.

"Hmmmm." Ernestine approached, "Your grunge-work get-up." Silver letters across the chest read: Down and Dirty. "I see you’re up and about."

"So you do and so I am. Up to no good and about to be caught." She winked at Verna.

"Go wash up you two. I’m about to set the table."

"I’m about washed-up already." Marion mimed a morose look in an imaginary mirror and giving herself a finger face-lift made a face at Verna, who squealed and ran for the hall.

"Verna Ruth! Walk!" Ernestine commanded. "Better yet, come help Mare-Mare."

"No need. I may be washed-up but I’m not laid up." To prove it she stepped forwards without reaching for support. With the second confident step she grinned but the next instant her grin was plastered to the wall as one foot surged forward, surfing the waxed floor.

"Mother!" Ernestine lunged for her.

Marion watched the red slime slide past her eyes as her face floated down the sky-blue wall and the bright white floor drifted up, a fathomless cloud offering endless embrace….. Slugtrail slugabed snuginbed snugasa bugaboo bugout slugitout knockout knockabout knocked…

(to be continues next week)

ummm. If you can't wait until next week to see the rest, the entire story is posted over at Joywrite. The link is in the sidebar somewhere. I'm lazy. It's late And I have less than two hours to try to generate some NaNo word count for today. So I probably won't be making my visits until I've done that.

4 tell me a story:

Ann 11/17/2007 7:17 AM  

Very interesting, and a very good snippet. It will be interesting to read next week's snippet. Good luck with Nano.
P.S. How'd the doctor's visit go?

Anonymous,  11/17/2007 12:56 PM  

I liked this a lot---and I'm looking forward to reading the rest next week--only if she doesn't accept Clay's offer, I'm off her for life. (grin)

IanT 11/19/2007 4:00 AM  

Sorry to be so late - it's been one of those weekends...

Playing with perceptions is always interesting... and I do like the final fadeout!

(And I seem to have spent much of my time at eye doctors over the past couple of years; and yes, having to wander around with permanently dilated pupils is very irritating. Happily it's all out of the way now with no longterm consequences. Hope the same is true for you!)

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