With every up and down that comes my way in life, the most familiar way to process things in my mind is to write. I would be kidding myself if I said that my writing is structured and sensible–in fact, it is quite the opposite. This being said, I was both excited and slightly nervous to tackle a creative writing class. Yes, reading is required in the class but the beauty of a creative writing class is that it merely guides you and refrains from telling you what to write about (ahhh, bliss…). I am currently reading “A Passion for Narrative: A Guide for Writing Fiction” and though the title is rather dull, author Jack Hodgins’ way of sharing the art of writing is incredibly inspiring and helpful.
Not knowing what to expect from the class, I tackled my first assignment which is based on a “Sketch”. My sketch is broad, but what I can tell you is that my focus is on a “place”–a fictional one of course–that I hoped would provide a reader with a vivid sense of uncomfortableness (is that a word?) and sense of well, place. My short story could undoubtedly be more detailed and while I do wish that I could have written more (a maximum word count prevented this), I came to the realization that it is both extremely rewarding and extremely challenging to pack so much content and detail into a mere 500 words. I hope to share my accomplishments, struggles, frustrations and random thoughts in hopes to clear my mind (and in hopes to help any fellow writers) in between assignments. Enjoy my very dark short story.
Bliss amidst Bedlam
I do not remember much from my childhood but I vividly recall Debbie’s house—my babysitter’s house that I later called “The Dungeon”—as being the filthiest, most horrific place in the world. From the second my eyes traced over the medley of garbage that was collaged over the lilac colored shag carpet I knew that my days at Debbie’s house would be anything but grand. From cigarette butts, to hairballs, to bits and pieces of macaroni that occasionally jabbed into my toes during a game of hide and go seek with her cat, I never imagined that there could be a lonelier, more nauseating place on earth.
I’m sure my mother wouldn’t have left me under the “care” of Debbie had she known about all of the treasures buried deep within the unvacuumed carpet, but money, like love in my family, was hard to come by and a place with a shingled roof and a pot-smoking babysitter sure beat staying at home with a belligerent dad.
Pot-smoking aside, Debbie’s house always managed to make me feel relatively safe. When I didn’t, I would timidly tiptoe across the patches of uplifting linoleum in the kitchen, peek into the living room to make sure that no one was watching and then would run at what I figured to be lightning speed down the stairs to a room that felt like home. I still don’t know exactly what this room was ever used for, but the musky sweet smell and the peeling floral wallpaper was incredibly inviting. It was as if these flowers would greet me and the smells would anesthetize my delicate mind. That room consoled me more than any human being ever could, and I’m certain that if the interweaving branches amongst the collage of roses and dahlias on the wallpaper could have outstretched their tendrils, they would have caressed me and swept away the hair from my face; they would have told me I were beautiful.
I often sat for hours in that room until the blood curdling sound of Debbie’s shriek would assassinate my pulsating imagination. It was as if Debbie had pulled my lifeline, as if she had taken away the only thing in my life that ever really mattered. It was over. I can recall the adrenaline rush that I would feel every time she would call my name and the subsequent feeling of hot blood that scrambled my brains.
I would flip the reality switch back to “on” in my mind and would run as fast up the uninviting stairs as my legs would carry me only to find Debbie’s hollow eyes staring down at me from the top. Those eyes were vortexes of death, and I am certain that if I had had any trace of happiness left in me, her eyes effortlessly sucked it up.
Grandma once told me that people throw rocks at things that shine. The rocks disappeared in the rose room.