“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses
I hate when this happens:
“Goodbye, Hari, my love. Remember always–all you did for me.”
-I did nothing for you.”
-You loved me and your love made me–human.”
― Isaac Asimov, Forward the Foundation
I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.
I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.
Here’s another one for today (#73) More than two thirds there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.
Thanks for reading.
Last week, Sammy slid and tumbled off his new bicycle and skidded through the gravel on the road shoulder. He picked himself up and gingerly hopped back on, riding slowly home. The skin was torn and broken with some tiny pieces of stone imbedded in the flesh. He tried to conceal it from his father by giving it a half-hearted washing and gauzing.
That was not enough to fool the old man. He pulled the bandage off and roughly scrubbed the skin under hot soapy water. His father reached up onto the top shelf of the medicine cabinet and pulled down an evil-looking ancient bottle of some awful dark reddish-purple liquid.
MECURICHROME, it said.
His father poured the bottle over the disturbed skin, which sent Sammy into howls of pain.
“That hurts!” he said, “That really hurts… that really burns!”
“That’s how you know it’s working,” said his father. Then he pulled out gauze and tape, wrapping everything tight with experienced, calm hands.
Today, Sammy was trying out his folding knife, whittling sticks he picked up under the trees around the back yard. His father had told him when he opened the knife on his birthday, “Always cut away from you.”
Sammy did not understand why he said that, or exactly what it meant.
Today, cutting on a thick pine branch covered with knots, the knife slipped and he suddenly discovered what it meant and why it was important.
The cut along his forearm was deep and Sammy gulped a deep panic of air when he saw how far the knife had plunged. He stumbled into the house and the arms of his mother. She took one look at the injury and called her husband.
“Take a look at this.” She said, “See what you can do and I’ll call the doctor.”
Sammy’s father led him into the bathroom to clean the wound.
“This looks like it might need stiches,” said his father.
“Oh, no! I don’t want stiches!”
“Can’t be helped.”
Sammy’s father held the arm under the flowing faucet until the water washed most of the fluid away. Pulling on the wound both father and son peered deep into the gash. Around the titanium struts, the maze of fine wires and delicate tubes spiraled by under the skin. It was obvious that the bundles had been disturbed and a few tiny wires coiled upward out of place, cut.
“You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
—-Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith (and many others)
Our kitchen cabinets are filled with pint beer glasses emblazoned with local breweries – souvenirs of the visits to many brewery tours and keep-the-glass sampling events.
One of these was a little too close to the edge of the kitchen counter when my son’s Lab was looking up there scouring for leftovers and knocked one off – breaking it on the floor – shattering the vessel into a thousand slivery shards. The first nine hundred and ninety are easy to sweep up. The last ten are invisible, sharp and hard, hard to find.
Last night as I walked barefoot through the kitchen to my room, intending to sit down and write for my hour… I found one.
There is an interesting pain profile as a sliver of glass pushes through the thick callus on the bottom of a foot into the tender, live flesh, muscle, and sinew beneath. I doesn’t hurt much… until it does. I hopped on one foot to a countertop and leaned while I searched for the glass. It’s transparent, crystalline and invisible, of course, so I had to feel for it, then pull it out. I glanced at the splinter before throwing it in the trash. It was longer than usual and was red-tipped – but I didn’t think much about it.
I suffer from a form of graphomania and, while most people complain of writer’s block, if I don’t get a solid hour of writing in each day it’s hard for me to go to sleep (writing something good… now, that’s another question – one for another day).
I sat down at my desk and lost myself, writing for an hour or so. I saved my work, and decided it was time to walk back and go to bed. But as I tried to stand up, I realized that my foot was stuck firmly to the floor. That was confusing and unsettling, why couldn’t I lift my foot up from the painted concrete – I was floored. Looking down into the murk under my desk I saw that my foot was centered in a dark-colored disk of some glue-like material that was intent on keeping it there. I had already forgotten what had happened only an hour before – so I guessed I had spilled some fruit drink or something and it had dried into a sticky trap.
So I redoubled my efforts and with a viscous pop my foot came up. It wasn’t until a few minutes later I remembered the glass sliver and realized my foot had been stuck to the floor by a pool of drying blood. I hadn’t moved my foot for over an hour, plenty of time to bleed, coagulate, and adhere.
Not much I could do, so I went to sleep. Today, I found dark crimson crescents of blood scattered throughout the house – I didn’t realize how much I walked around last night.
Time to get out the mop.