Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part X


I have never been able to find my way back to that house, though I can’t say I’ve tried particularly hard. Whenever I feel I’m getting close, I let myself get distracted, and I lose the trail.

And none of my photos from that day came out; the film was overexposed. Well, save for one photograph.

It’s the very last picture I took before fleeing. A jagged line cuts across it—the broken lens—and it’s dark and out of focus. But sometimes I can just make out the figure standing on the stairs, waving at the camera.

Forgiving me.


Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope it's been fun. For the record, I had this story workshopped today, and will probably post my revisions when they're ironed out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part IX


“I know you didn’t want to come here, but this isn’t funny. Bill?” The smell from the kitchen is even stronger than before. I can distinctly hear piano music, and laughing voices and the sound of silverware against china.

There is one place I haven’t looked, I realize. But I don’t want to go down into the cellar, don’t want to find what’s there. That something else I sensed when we arrived.

“Bill!” I call one last time into the no longer empty house. As I back out the door, shaking, I hold up my camera for one last shot.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part VIII


Frantically I race down the corridor, knocking open doors as I go. “Bill!” I call. “Bill, where are you?”

At the end of the hallway is a bathroom. The mirror is fogged up, as if someone was just taking a hot shower, but the room is cold as ice. As I turn to leave I slip on the slick tile floor. I catch myself on the edge of the sink, but my camera falls and I hear the lens crack as it makes contact. Scrambling to my feet, I rush to the staircase.

“Bill,” I plead, “please come back now!”

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part VII


The first room we come to must have been the bedroom of a little girl. Pink sheets, now faded, line the bed adorned with dolls and toy animals. I can almost make out my own reflection in their shiny glass eyes as I bend down, peering at them from behind the lens. They disappear momentarily as the shutter clicks.

Beside the bureau is a full-length mirror with a gilded frame. I consider my reflection, picture lace dresses and tiaras. Yeah, right.

Then I realize that I don’t see anyone behind me in the reflection. I spin around.

Bill is gone.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part VI

(Sorry I missed a post yesterday! Have two today!)


“Let’s go upstairs,” I suggest, though I can feel my courage beginning to drain. We climb the stairs one at a time, testing the boards as we go in case they’re structurally unsound. At the top I turn around and shoot a picture down the stairs toward the front door. Through the crack in the door I can see dusk’s rosy hue. “Huh, we must have left it ajar when we came in.”

I turn back to face the corridor, and I take Bill’s hand. It’s warm in mine.

He smiles. “You wanna leave?”

I shake my head. “Not yet.”

A drabble in ten parts: Part V


We enter the kitchen holding hands and are greeted by the scent of food cooking. “That’s weird,” he says. “I can smell rosemary roast potatoes.”

“It’s just your imagination,” I assure him, but I can smell it, too, the sensation causing the hairs on the back of my neck to rise. I squeeze his hand before letting go to grab my camera. Dishes and utensils are scattered across the work surfaces, as if someone was in the middle of preparing a meal when they just...what, vanished? I wonder if Bill is wondering the same thing: what happened to these people?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part IV


The long dining room table is set for a formal dinner party. I take photos of fish forks and soup spoons, of glasses for reds and glasses for whites, of carefully-folded napkins. “Can’t you just imagine the spread!”

“What do you think they were going to be serving?” Bill asks, humoring me.

“Oh, something delicate, like quail. Or maybe venison steaks, killed in the day’s hunt. Fennel, arugula, truffles…”

“And for dessert?”

I walk toward him until my face is next to his. “Strawberries with cream,” I purr, and as we kiss I imagine I hear glasses tinkling behind us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part III


In the parlor there’s a baby grand piano, covered with dust. I sit down at the bench, lift the lid from the keys. I am about to play a chord when I realize that Bill would probably disapprove. So instead I raise my camera and snap a shot of the dusty ivories, another of the yellowed copy of Beethoven’s Für Elise. “How long’s it been since someone last played this piano, do you think?”

He shrugs. “A long time, I guess.”

As we wander from the room, I do not notice the keys begin to move, silently, on their own.

A drabble in ten parts: Part II


It’s dark inside, though the sun has just begun to set. There are cobwebbed chandeliers and creaky floorboards and everything. It smells like mildew, mothballs, and something else. “This place is fantastic,” I whisper, unsure why I’m doing so.

“If you say so,” he whispers back. “...Why are we whispering?”

I grin. “Because there’s something here, and we don’t want it to hear us.”

He drops my hand. “Laura, if you’re going to be childish about this I’m going home.”

I smile apologetically. “I’m sorry, babe. I just want to take some pictures, and then we can go, I promise.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A drabble in ten parts: Part I

For your reading pleasure, I present to you an as-yet-unnamed story, exactly 1,000 words in length, written in 100-word segments. I'll post one part a day. Enjoy!


“You don’t really think I’m going in there, do you?”
“Come on,” I say, tugging at his sleeve. “It’s going to be fun”
“It’ll be stupid, is what it’ll be,” Bill answers. “Let’s just go home.”
I cock an eyebrow. “…are you actually afraid to go inside?”
He protests a little too quickly: “I’m not afraid. It’s just an old house.”
“If it’s just an old house,” I say, taking both his hands and pulling him toward the front door, “then it doesn’t matter if we go inside, does it?”
I win, like I always do. We approach the house.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

OMG fickshuns!

So, I attended the first class of a creative writing workshop today, and we did a writing assignment in class. I'm proud enough of it to share it here, with as few changes from the original as possible as I may eventually do a real second draft. So here you go (I'll post the prompt after the story).

In retrospect, I feel like there should have been some kind of application process. At the time, I was just amused by the experience, but now I think perhaps they should have been more selective. After all, the entire future is at stake.

The ad stood out from its fellows in the classifieds section of the newspaper with its bold, capitalized type that drew attention to its unusual choice of words which were--to me--impossible to ignore:


An address followed, a street name I recognized but couldn't place.

I chuckled to myself and continued reading the page, but my eyes kept straying back up to the peculiar notice. The first part sounded corny, like something you'd read on a motivational poster, or inscribed on a paperweight. Maybe it was some generic self-help seminar or something like that.

But that last line, "First come first serve..." That didn't sound like a registration policy for an empowerment group.

My interest was by then fully piqued, and since I was taking some time off work--okay, so not exactly by choice--my afternoon was free to pursue this mystery.

It was a simple transaction. I approached the clerk's window, said I had seen the ad.

And are you interested? they asked.

Sure, I said. How much?

Seventy-five dollars, came the reply.

Did they take checks? They did.

A few minutes later, a certificate was handed to me which read: "The FUTURE belongs to" with my name written after in nice-looking calligraphy. It was dated at the bottom and signed in an illegible hand. I thanked them and left with my purchase.

I now feel like they undercharged--seventy-five dollars is a steal, not much of an investment, considering what I was investing in.

At the time, though, I felt like I had just dropped a whole lot of money--no job, remember?--on a cute little joke. To make myself feel better, I decided to make the best of things: I'd pretend the certificate was legitimate. My future was in my hands, and the possibilities were endless. This frame of mind cheered me, and I returned home with my prize.

You wouldn't believe the changes that occured over the next couple of weeks. I got a new job, much better than my old one, with a lot of responsibility and a chance for upward mobility. One of the local papers--the one that had printed that ad, actually--picked up my comic strip for a two-year contract. I found a boyfriend with a maturity level actually resembling that of an adult; he owned the bookstore where I browse. We moved in together a month later. Everything was looking up, and I became content. I stopped worrying about the future.

And so did everyone else, apparently. I first noticed something was wrong when the grocery store began to run out of things all the time, the empty shelves drawing my gaze as I pushed my cart down the isles. Then the kinds of stories appearing in the news changed--fewer and fewer accounts of progress and more of wastefulness, thoughtless accidents, worsening political climates. Despite these tragedies, the people I passed in the street and in bars, restaurants and shops seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, utterly carefree, skipping work to buy things they didn't really need, romancing whoever caught their eyes, no thought to the future at all.

It took me a little longer to remember the certificate of purchase I had received months before. I managed to dig it out from under the growing pile of invoices and backorders in the office of Doug's bookstore.

"The FUTURE," it read. "The FUTURE belongs to Justine Coral."

Why hadn't it been obvious? Had I been so selfish as not to notice what it really said? And why was the price so small when the cost could be so large? Why hadn't there been a screening process, a single question to gauge responsibility, to judge character?

And what was I supposed to do now?

I don't go to work anymore; I had to quit my regular job. I stay home a lot of the time, just willing cogs to keep on turning. If I'm in a particularly good mood, I'll wander through the park, urging buds to sprout, and something new and exciting has a good chance of happening that day. Most days, though, I just have to make sure life is still moving forward, that someone is thinking about what is still to come.

Because it isn't fair, but the future belongs to me; I am its caretaker. If you think you can do a better job, it's yours. But there's an application to fill out this time, and I don't take checks.

(We were presented with a selection of objects purchased at the dollar store, one of which was a ceramic plaque decorated with flowers which read "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.")

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Photo contest contenders

Here are my preliminary picks for my contest submissions (please click them for full size!):

Aguas Frescas (Fruit juices)

Cuaresma en Teposcolula (Lent in Teposcolula)

Nieve fuera de la Basilica de la Soledad (Ice Cream outside the Basilica)

Arco de Yanhuitlan (Yanhuitlan Arch)

El Lagartito (Little Lizard)

Los Voladores (the Flyers)

I welcome any thoughts, and I am of course still open to suggestions. Remember, I get to submit
four photos.