This post is inspired by the feedback I got on yesterday’s post OIL and S3. Since a couple of you requested that I share my writing if I’m going to talk about it, I’ve decided to take the plunge. So here goes.
For the first assignment we were asked to start with the title, The Window and write about something – it could be true, made up, or somewhere in between. The lecture was about observation, imagination and language so I used the task to play with these tools.
I started with a piece that used my imagination. I thought about the upcoming anniversary weekend and ended up with a piece about my parents that focused on what I imagined might be going through their minds. My husband Jim asked me how the piece differed from my poetry, other than being in paragraph form. Great question! I could see the similarities and decided that I had not really stretched myself enough.
As a challenge, I wrote another piece where I focused on describing something that I observed. It was something that had actually happened. I started by recreating the scene in my minds eye. As I wrote, I noticed a tendency to be ‘flowery’ and to use lots of adjectives and adverbs. I stretched to make the nouns and verbs do the work. And, thanks to my BFF@W sharing her piece with me, I also experimented with a bit of dialogue (she is so good at that!).
The Window – Version 1 by Vicki Flaherty
They sit side-by-side, holding each other’s hand, their fingers intermingled, an outward symbol of their interlaced life. Through the window they see themselves: young lovers vibrantly alive and full of anticipation…proud parents as their newborns peacefully sleep before them…mid-career professionals nestled together on the bucket seat of the old Dodge Dart…beaming grandparents when their baby’s babies grace their lives…retirees enjoying the freedom and fruits of their labor.
The colors come together as he watches his younger self move through the chapters of his life. He remembers the feelings held deep within: the way being with her makes is heart flutter…the comfort of feeling her next to him…the hope that her joyful spirit inspires. He embraces the loneliness and longing he felt for his family on those long months at sea during the war, and the pain that reached to his core that summer when he thought she’d had a heart attack. He breathes in abundance: weekends on the lake teaching his family to ski…track meets and bike races cheering on his children…the sense of adventure as his family moves from one naval station to the next.
She is blissful as images come into view: walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with him…their baby girl entering their heart-shaped world on that cold winter day…their newborn son’s open heart miraculously closing before surgery is needed…the kids dressed for their first day of school, year after year fills the frame. She opens to the years of gifts he’s given her: rescuing her from the drama of her childhood…supporting her in getting her college education after the children are grown…encouraging her professional growth…teaming with her to publish her book. She sees them renewing her wedding vows after ten years of marriage, then twenty – oh, those milestones seemed like a long time, such a long time ago. Another chapter opens before her as she stands next to him at his retirement ceremony.
As they watch the past paint before them, they begin to see the present moment. The future gradually comes into focus and the love of 50 years flows forward.
The Window – Version 2 by Vicki Flaherty
He leans over the sill, camera in hand, capturing the swallows. Two babies stand in their nest, necks stretching with anticipation. The little mouths, framed by their soft yellow beaks, open wide and expectant.
“Here she comes again!” he shouts, as the mama swallow races in, delivers the meal, and swooshes off again. His elbow is propped on the stone of the outside wall, the camera pointed up to the bottom of the window frame above, where the muddy nest protrudes unexpectedly.
His excitement reaches her on the other side of the room and urges her to the window. She squeezes in next to him and leans out the window, careful to prop one hand on the sill and the other along the inside frame. As she looks up to see the nest, she catches something from the corner of her eye. “Don’t blink!” she hears him exclaim in uncharacteristic fashion. She looks up, and the mother flies in and then out in a flash, reminding her of the hummingbirds that dart around the feeder in the back yard at home.
“Hey, would you bring me a Karlo, Vic?” he asks. “Another Karlo, coming right up.” she replies as she heads toward the mini-fridge in the corner of their hotel room. She grabs an ice-cold Karlovacko, the local beer they bought at a small shop on their way into town. She remembers when she looked at him from her seat in their little red rental car and how he smiled at her as the charming old town of Bol filled in around them.
Only after the birds settle down, the babies’ bellies content, the mother’s responsibilities fulfilled, do they notice sun painting the sky orange as the sailboat masts rise like flagpoles in honor of the Adriatic. Then they hear the music emanating from the restaurant below, the musician’s voice soothing, complimented by the soft strumming guitar. The tunes are American, with a twist, his Eastern European accent peppering the music. They see the outdoor pizza kitchen below, and two young men pull mounds of dough from plastic containers, shape them into disks, and swirl them in the air before lining up them up on the flour-dusted countertop and painting them with rich red tomato sauce, creamy white cheese, and vibrant green vegetables.