11 May 2013

Best Laid Plans

Hello, Stranger. Yes, it's me. I'm still alive...

The First Annual A Novel Approach left me with two 'gold star' certificates for participation... and if you know anything about me...

But, seriously, it was fun playing. I enjoyed creating two short stories following their guidelines:

Write a piece of between 1000 and 1,500 words in length. The only rule is that it must use both of the following sentences.
1. The land fell away from the road, leading to a row of elm trees, beyond which lay the unknown.
2. He (or she) held it in one hand and reflected on the shocking speed at which his (or her) fortunes had turned around, a longed-for moment that, even as it registered on him (or her), ceased to be a goal and became a memory.

...and making it my own.

Now, some may not like my stories... and that's okay.  I've written quite a few for this blog (and they're all copyrighted, so before you copy/paste, please ask permission), so if you don't like the (now ironic) tongue-in-cheek story of two elements of a good story coming together to form an epic in Best Laid Plans... or you cringe at the dark message in Broken, perhaps you'll enjoy The Burdens We Carry.

Without further ado, please enjoy!

Best-Laid Plans
     "'He held it in one hand and reflected on the shocking speed at which his fortunes had turned around, a longed-for moment that, even as it registered on him, ceased to be a goal and became a memory.'"  Enigami closed the book's cover and slumped down on its edge. 

     "That's it!  That's the last book, the last chapter, the last sentence of the last paragraph... and not one single, solitary word about us."
     Saedi sat down next to her friend and took his blue hand in her green one.  "Maybe there are other libraries we can search..."

     "No, Saedi!"  Gesturing with his free hand the vastness of the books freely embedded into the walls.  "This is the last library and this," He patted the book with his flat, fat hand, "...was the last book.  We've looked everywhere."  He placed his hand over the two they held, and looked into her round, white eyes.  "We're doomed to oblivion, I'm afraid."

     "No.  No, we can't be!  Maybe someone is writing about us right this very moment.  Maybe..."  Saedi kicked at a pencil.  It rolled to the edge of a notebook, paused, and rolled back toward them a bit before coming to a stop.

     "No more maybes.  People aren't writing about us anymore.  They're writing about celebrities... or about cooking or...  Oh, I don't know.  The same old thing a whole different way, I suppose.  There are no new ideas, no new imaginings, just books and books about reality and things which already exist."  Enigami stood, walked to the edge of the table, and looked down at the smooth, wooden seat of its chair.  "Doomed, we are."

     "Come away from the edge, Eni.  You're scaring me."
     "You ought to be scared!"  Enigami walked back over to his glossy friend.  "Once we're gone, we're gone.  G-O-N-E!  No one jotted us down in the middle of the night to remind them at daylight of their spark of inspiration.  We likely won't come back... together, anyway.  I may show up alongside some dull idea.  You could appear inside a blah imagination." 
     Eni bent down on one knee and took Saedi's hand.  "Together, we're brilliant.  Don't you see?  We're perfect together.  As we are.  Today.  In this moment."
     "How can you be so sure we won't come back together?  Someone else could pull us out together.  It happened this time, it could happen again."  Saedi looked into Eni's eyes.  "It could!"

     "No.  No, it won't.  The time is perfect for us to exist, now."  Eni sat.  "This may be hard for you to hear, but you're not my first match.  I've been down this road before, and through apathy, we were lost to oblivion.  Saedi... you and I had only one chance to make this right, and I'm afraid we failed."

     "Wait.  What are you saying?  There was one before me?  You were with another before me!"  Saedi stood with her back to Eni and held onto a sob. 
     "Were there more than just the one?  Or, am I just another in a long line?  Did you tell them the same lies you're telling me now?  That we're perfect together?  You're just saying that to save yourself!"  Saedi ran to the edge of the table and prepared to jump.

     "Saedi! No!"

     ...and, that's when they saw me standing in the doorway, watching them.  They appeared to be walking, talking Gumby dolls with spiky hair and bendable limbs.  Walking.  Talking.  Sitting.  Standing on a table in the middle of the closed library.  Just... unreal.

     Saedi ran back, and into the arms of Enigami.
     "I think he can see us.  How can he see us, Eni?"

     "I don't know.  We may belong to him."  Eni's eyes became small.  "Stay close."  He held Saedi tightly.

     I took a step towards them.  They took a step back.  I took another step, then another.  They matched me in reverse. They backed up to the edge of the book's spine, and sat once more upon the book.  They trembled in each other's arms.

     "You're not supposed to be able to see us," Eni said.

     "Then, it would seem I'm doing the impossible," I said, leaning in to examine them.  I put my face within slapping distance.  Saedi obliged. 

     Her hand smacked the tip of my nose.  It sounded like rubber hitting linoleum.  I barely felt it, but flinched just the same.  Eni smiled.

     "Who... what are you guys?"  I asked, pulling back and rubbing the tip of my nose.

     "Nothing.  At least, very soon we'll be nothing."  Eni said.  He pulled Saedi even closer to him. 

     "I'm not understanding," I said, sitting in the chair.  "You look like something to me.  Two very distinct somethings."  I reached out and gently touched one of the stubbly, blunt spikes on Saedi's head.
     "Hey! Stop that!"  She ducked her head and pushed at my finger.

     "So cool..." Her hair felt like rubber.

     Eni cleared his throat. 
     "Pay attention, Human!  Only rarely a magnificent idea is born to a great imagination, and once melded together on paper, they birth a beautiful creation that will live on for eternity."  Eni hugged Saedi. 
     "We are that one perfect idea and imagination.  Soon we'll disappear into the thin air whence we came, never to be seen again... together, anyway.  Our brilliant spark will cease to exist, or even be remembered for that matter, except for a slight pulling you'll feel in the recesses of your brain about a brilliant thought you once had but failed to act upon.  You'll never again be able to conjure us. 
     "So, you see, not only did you create us, by failing to nurture us, you'll eventually kill us."

     "How is your plight my fault?"  I asked.

     "Don't you see?  You've been given a gift of an idea."  Saedi sat up a bit on the book and pointed one of her three fingers at me. 
     "And, not just any idea, a brilliant one.  You have a choice to write about us and make us live on, or forget about us and watch us fade away. 
     "Either way, your choice, your fault!"

     "What can I do?" I asked.

     "Write about us!  Write about us now, before you forget.  And then, do something with the writings.  Don't put us in a drawer.  Sometimes that works out - one of your offspring or your landlord will open that drawer at some point after your death and find us, and then we may exist again."  Eni's eyes brimmed with tears.
     "More often than not, though, we're forgotten.  The house burns to the ground, or we're toted off in a cardboard box and into a storage shed, or trash pile.  Either way, our fate is the same: we disintegrate over time."

     "Disintegrate.  That's just a fancy word for die," Saedi said, and placed her head on Eni's shoulder.

     I picked up the pencil, and began writing on the notebook.  

     I kept writing.  

    The sun set, and rose, and set again.  Eni and Saedi stood by, giving me suggestions and urging me on when I became stuck.  I didn't stop writing until I'd finished the last sentence.  Then, together we revised, and revised again, until the words were perfectly placed on the pages; not one word too many, nor one too few. 

     I sat back in my chair, rubbed my growling stomach, and stretched my aching back.

     Eni stopped pacing, and read the last sentence aloud.     "'The land fell away from the road, leading to a row of elm trees, beyond which lay the unknown.' 
     "That's... that's just awesome," he said, and patted me on the forearm.  "Thank you, Human.  Because of you, Saedi and I will live forever."

     He took Saedi's hand. "Are you ready?"  He asked. 

     Saedi nodded. 

     I watched as they stepped onto the paper.  Their bodies flowed into one, and seeped into the written words, disappearing from the tangible and into the ethereal world.

     I sped home and typed up the hand-written manuscript.  I sent it off to a publisher whom I'd researched and believed to be the perfect house for it. I'd pledged to Saedi and Enigami I'd not let them die; they'd live forever in a book read and loved by millions.

* * *

     Months later, I received a thick letter in the post.  I held my breath as I carefully tore open the envelope. 

     This was it.  We had our answer. 

     I sat down, pulled the typed response from its shell, and began to read:

     "Thank you for submitting your manuscript for our review.  Unfortunately, I found the text too didactic in feel for my tastes, and do not think it would be a good fit for our list..."

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