She came dressed in nothing but the dust from butterfly wings and had dragonflies in her hair. She shimmered with a silvery arctic sheen that barely covered her skin. He wondered even if it was her skin. He’d been in the mental hospital for so long that he wondered if humans had evolved this way, perhaps the climate was changing so much that people on the outside were developing ashen skin, burning in the sun until they came off on your fingers when you touched them. He wanted her on his fingers like that, burned or not.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said. When she spoke, bumble bees came out of her mouth, whispering against his cheeks and wrapping him in honey. They rested on his shoulders and chest, pollinating his skin. He was hooked immediately.
“I’ve been here for years.” He looked around to see if other people noticed her. He didn’t trust his own eyes any more.
“You should have come sooner.”
“Why are you here?”
“Don’t you recognize me?” Her hair was white, long, silky strands, stronger than steel and he was caught in it. Her eyes fluttered. The bees which swarmed him tugged at something in the back of his mind, but she was too strange. Her tongue curled and he was sure she was part insect.
Suddenly, her poetry came rushing back to him.
Yesterday I posted a prompt about using various plot generators. I wanted to share with you a little taste of what I came up with. This came from one of the 5.1 million plots that Big Huge Thesaurus generated. It was so inspiring as a prompt that it’s become a much, much larger (and still unfinished!) project. I’ve shared the beginnings of it with you. Has anyone else used any of these prompts? What did you come up with?
Creative Commons love to Mr. Greenjeans on flickr for the amazing artwork. Thank you!
For those of you keeping track at home, you’ll notice that it’s been nearly two months since I posted. It’s been a whirlwind around here and my poor little Lightning Droplets blog had been put on the backburner because of it. Lots of exciting things have happened, though, and I’d like to share!
My last post was in November, when I — bravely? insanely? masochistically? — took on my first NaNoWriMo in the middle of my first semester of an MFA Program and my first semester teaching college composition. I did not reach the goal of 50,000 words, but I did feel like I accomplished a lot. I started a novel I’m quite excited about and reached my all time daily peak (6,000 words in one day!) and even my monthly best at 17,165 words on one piece (I did write a few other things in November). You might know from my Write Fast post that I am not a fast writer, but in November, I averaged over 500 words a day. This is about the same word count as Tom Robbins, who is a favie fave of mine, so I am feeling pretty good about that.
Also in November, I found out that I won a grant! The grant pays for my class to publish a collection of essays written by my students. It also pays for me to go to two writing conferences. So, anyone going to AWP this year will see me there! Woohoo for a free week in Seattle! I’ll also be going to the Pacific Rim Conference on Literature and Rhetoric in Anchorage, so that will be a nice little weekend, too.
By the time the end of the semester rolled around, I had been nominated for Best of the Net, published in Yemassee, Flash Frontier, Exegesis, and Saw Palm (forthcoming), written 15 solid pieces in three different genres, done two panel presentations, a roundtable discussion, two craft papers, a position paper, and two Prezis, contributed to the WriteAlaska website, produced a full-length book with my students, read 18 books,submitted work to sixty literary magazines, and drank many, many pints of Alaskan beer.
You can see why my little blog here has been neglected. I have lots planned for next semester as well, but Lightning Droplets will hopefully get a little more attention as I settle in more to my new life and my new home in the Arctic.
Here’s another non-rejection that I’ve racked up from my original Submission Bonanza!
I’ve pasted the original text below for your reading enjoyment!
Her words sank. Not quickly like an anchor, or with a splash like a rock. Instead as she spoke, her words fluttered in the air, held afloat by the humidity. They tickled earlobes, in a language half a world away. Pieces of ideas curled with the wind among tendrils of jasmine, leaving a heavy scent wafting through the city. Nouns and verbs together toyed with bodhi leaves, pulling them along as they flitted to the ground. They landed gently on the Chao Phraya, quivering on the surface of the river and leaving ripples too small to be noticed. Amongst water hyacinth and coconuts they floated, gathering silt and absorbing the wetness of the city. In this way, the words gained weight and began to drown.
Before long, they swam in the wake of snakefish and nestled between the scales of water monitors. The more weight they gathered, the more they were immersed, the harder it was to see them. The light had trouble reaching them between algae and waste and even apsaras would be hard pressed to find them. They landed on the river bed, stirring up the bottom and throwing silt into an already murky darkness. Covered.
And soon all her pen could do was draw the curves of the paths her words had taken, as if trying to retrace their steps. Searching between the roots of ficus trees and the stamens of hibiscus for where she had misplaced them. A world made of tendrils and bubbles, floating in a silent and wordless black and white. Sea horses and leaves and turtles all swirled with a silent current. Owls became nok hoo, knock, who? and lost their edges and their names. Questions were gone and statements no longer made sense. The world churned as if everything were from the point of view of those lost words, staring up at far away surface of a river that always was moving.
And then there was a flood. The water seeped slowly, climbing up through sewers and along the streets. The river rose past dams and sandbags bringing pythons into houses and buoys into cars. It brought everything from its depths, decay, sand, and her words, which huddled against a curb and waited for the waters to recede. After months, the river left, burrowing back into its banks but leaving its refuse to dry in the sun. The sediment cracked and caked. Mosquito larvae dried like tiny raisins. The decomposing river sludge made banana trees greener and left seedling strangler figs sprouting along sidewalks. And, as if growing out from cracked pavement, her words dried, too, finally able to breathe and soak up a little bit of the warm winter sun.
She could hear his abdomen, even from eight stories above. She knew he waited for her, dressed in new skin holding the bark of a mango tree. For thirteen years, she had dug and hid, dug and hid, a pale pearl of a nymph sheltered in flooding clay. Prematurely buried. She had fed on rootjuice and waited.
And now, the time for burying herself had gone. She no longer wore the tough soil skin of the past. The brightness of being was nearly unbearable. She was green and larger than herself.
She sat exposed, mesmerized by the equatorial sunlight and the sound of his clicking ribs. She could see him from here, just a speck, but she could tell even at this distance that he looked back at her. Through her ten eyes, he was a kaleidoscope of rounded cicada flecks, mirrored and moving in unison, calling her to the ground.
And then a closer sound. Behind her, ten of the same dark-haired girls with lightning eyes and cloud-colored skin reached a catastrophic finger in her direction.
She heard him again, dry-fly ribs rubbing together to blot out the sounds of metropolitan traffic and children. The vibrations called to her.
She looked down at the expectant mango tree and imagined the future she would create: millions of shimmery nymphs sprinkling from the branches, raining onto the soil below, christening the ground with their sparkling selves.
There was nothing for her to do now, except let go.
Nymphs, goddesses, apsaras, maenads! It’s May. There’s a fresh exhilaration in the air. Mother’s Day is coming up. I have been incredibly inspired by all those bloggers who did the A-Z blogging challenge in April. These things all fit together nicely in a little challenge that I am setting for myself. This month, I am endeavoring to write about 26 strong, creative women from mythology. So, the goal is to write 26 short stories, one based on a female mythological figure for each letter of the alphabet. Feel free to join me, or to set your own goal for this month. New growth and new beginnings are in the air!
A special Creative-Commons “Thanks!” to itjournalist from flickr for the photo!
It’s the golden hour, and all the plants are glowing as I make my way up the hill. The sky is shocking, pink and blue and purple, as if suddenly bruising from its collision with the earth. I want to reach up and comfort its throbbing beauty. The turning leaves soak up the last bits of sun and radiate as if they were autumnal lanterns. They light my way as the air turns dark.
The turning of the season and my northern-hemisphere body are at odds. It’s nearly Beltane. My blood wants to dance around fires throwing the cozy scarves and mittens of hibernation wantonly to the wind. My skin is expectant with the warmth of new beginnings, and yet the gusts here are becoming harsher. I push on. It’s not fall for me.
As the final rays of the day tuck themselves in behind clouds and hills, I reach the well. The very sight of the clearing tugs at something inside me. I finger the stones, making them melt and turn to sand, as if they were an old lover who’d been waiting for my touch.
In response, I remove my shoes and socks. My toes dig into the dirt and rocks dig back into my soles. The breeze lifts my shirt and grazes my belly. It’s all the impetus I need. The wind keeps nibbling at me, encouraging me, and so I tie my clothes to the hawthorn tree.
It’s cloudy tonight and I know it’s no accident. The moon is hiding in the shadow of the earth, tucked in the darkness of her cave as if in hibernation. She’s just waiting for her moment. It’s an up-side-down celebration here. The leaves are beginning to saunter away from their branches. The night is still pregnant with the potential of sprouts and seedlings, even as Antarctic winds raise mountain ranges of goose bumps on my skin.
I start a fire and I know you will be here soon. I wonder how many logs and how much kindling we will need to last through the night. The moon is flush and full. Beneath my feet, the phlox creep further and further from the well. The pink moss stretches its feelers toward unknown lands, testing whether those grounds hold lives that it can live. The dainty flowers look up to the moon and howl, reflecting her full, surprised face back in their flushed cheeks. They beam on a night like tonight. They gather in such numbers and their blushing blazes so brightly that even the moon blushes back.
You come with logs for the fire and no words. Before long we have our own sun flickering before us. “Ne’er cast a cloot ‘til Mey’s oot,” they warned us. It’s not quite May, but it is time to cast our clothes. The cold of the April wind nibbles at our skin and makes it blush, in brazen mimicry of the pink moon. The light is deafening, and I am exposed, as are you. The heat of the fire makes my frontside glow. The cold of the April wind turns my backside pink. I am round and glowing, a perfect salmon moon.
We dance in circles, falling into orbit around the fire. I am drunk on the pollen wafting through the air, and red, yellow, and brown leaves swirl around me. I can no longer tell whether I am surrounded by flames or trees or both. Stars leap from the fire, embers fall from the sky. I collapse into the embrace of the infinite.
Lost in space like this, there is no north and south, no spring or fall, only the endless expanse of new fires being lit.
Creative Commons love to phil dokas from flickr for the stunning photo!