6 Replies to “7.2.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. She wrote everything down. What she didn’t write stirred her up and held her on a steady flight in a current of emotion. There was a problem: there wasn’t time enough to get it all out and down on paper, a commitment of feeling, of thought, of sense and intuition. She was loyal to this, defended it avidly. Her friends thought her foolish or boring. Why didn’t she come out with them more instead of staying stuck at the table or desk? Fresh air, they said, boys, food and drink! As though these could even compare.

    The real problem, her mother intoned, was something else: “You write more than you live. Too much thinking. Trouble ahead.”

    She ignored this, as she ignored everything she couldn’t use to make stories, to craft poems, set free wide-ranging thoughts that were like wildflowers erupting from endless spring and summer fields. She bathed in words, ate them, dreamt of them. They were stronger than love.

    Time passed. She met someone. He, a sculptor, worked with his hands, and did not trust words. She first liked the silence, and kept on course, writing whenever she could. Years came and went like different acts in a play, chapters in a series of books. Characters sauntered through and left her at her desk. Scenes went from grand to good to somewhat bad to worse. He became a stone in her mind, bruising her words, stealing them when she slept, throwing them out the door, stopping her lips from speaking what needed to be said. She left with children and books and journals.

    Except one that had been lost long ago, one she no longer recalled.

    Then the custody trial began. She had less fear than imagined. What was hers was hers. What was his he could have, just leave them alone. His lawyer was fast-mouthed, dangerous. She sat in the witness stand and before her was laid the journal that got away, that did not make it to safety. She was told to read aloud her own writing. The words swam, then drowned in her voice before they came up for air. She thought, This is what my mother meant, this is the price to pay…but she read with a devastating calm, tears eaten by the strength of her written words. Let my nakedness be swift and without damage to all concerned, she thought. But there it was, the story of her fears, dreams, frailties as mother, woman, wife. At the end, she was left with one nerve vibrating; the rest of her was in retreat, defeated by the man’s threats, the court’s power.

    The last day she waited with the others. The judge leaned toward them, voice resonant and potent. He said it was a travesty that her private wonderings, needs and grief were set before the public. He felt her searching and was moved by her suffering, hard work, the painstaking honesty. Nothing indicted her; weren’t we all human? She was still a mother who loved well enough.

    She was free. She walked out with children close.

    She writes everything down as before. But differently.Now she speaks in metaphor, in layered ways, in language that has been transformed by survival. Revelatory meanings create insights she didn’t used to have. She learns well. She still writes to live, but now her living makes new stories.

  2. She was there when I woke, sitting at the table and her head bent over a notebook and a pen in the clutch of her hand. She was writing. When I asked what she was writing, she said ‘Everything’. I laughed then and shrugged and put the kettle on for tea.

    She was there at the end of the day, too, and still writing or writing again, and so I came to believe that she was writing everything down – only, I wondered what there could be to write about when you hadn’t moved from the table all day. I said as much once and she laughed and said there weren’t the hours enough in a day to write all that she had to write. I wasn’t sure that was an answer.

    Sometime around ten, she’d come through to bed and she’d shed her clothes and climb in beside me, her body warm as sun against my skin and she’d say my name and we’d take our time with each other and we’d fuck. Then she slipped easy into sleep and I did too. That was the pattern of our days that summer.

    Her name was Melanie and I miss her now she’s gone. Not just the sex, but her being there and me knowing just where. One day she just laid down her pen and she said that it was finished. She didn’t say what exactly was finished and I had by that time learned not to ask. She took my hand in hers and she pulled me to bed, even though it was only a little after three in the afternoon.

    When I woke she was gone, the space beside me in the bed was cold. There was a neat pile of notebooks left on the table and a space where she used to be and where I was used to seeing her. I made a pot of tea and I took two cups out of the cupboard just in case. I did that for days afterwards, forgetting that she was gone.

    A week later and I thought it would be alright to read something of what she had written. The books were all labeled and dated and set in order. I opened the first one. It started in mid-sentence, like there was no beginning or as though it was not the first of the books. It started with a man in a bar and his name was Cooper, and that’s my name. I recognized myself in what she wrote and it was our first meeting and she felt uneasy and every small thing was written down: the way the sunlight fell on the table like a thumped fist and the noise of the jukebox swallowing dimes and the music sounding all tinny and thin and the taste of her beer and the touch of my leg against hers and the kiss-pout of my lips when I lifted my glass to drink.

    She had a way with words that made the things we’d said and done seem more than they were and so I kept reading. She’d recorded her thoughts sometimes and made comment on my hair when I rose from the bed or the sour smell of my skin as I slept or the sounds that I made in the bathroom. A day filled a whole book and there was nothing in that day except that she came to my bed about ten and she fell into sleep about eleven.

    She described what it was like, the sex and the rough feel of my hands on her and the taste of me in her mouth like salt, and the smell, and the whole breathless race towards nothing or something. I was hard just reading what she wrote and seeing what we’d had in a whole new light.

    Each day was recorded and no detail left out and reading what she had written I could not see what was so wrong that she had to leave. Then on the last day, in the last book and in the last pages, she caught me by surprise. There was something missing, Melanie said, and there was an unaccountable joy in that and she said ‘just once more and for memory’s sake’ and she described lying in my bed afterwards and the sun was still in the sky and I was asleep. Then she got up and dressed and set things in order before leaving. And that was written down too. And there on the last page just two short sentences: ‘If it’s a boy I’ll call him John. If a girl, she’ll be June.’

    It didn’t make sense.

    1. A little creepy….but intriguing. I get a good sense of Melanie and her existentialism, but the narrator is elusive. Or maybe he’s just clueless? I’ll think about this piece all day….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: