Friday, April 20, 2007

Entry #5

Hand Me Down
by Tricia Ares


Life ends. Time does not. The aroma of okra, fried fish, and cornbread displaced by the pungent smell of must and mold. The clutter in the sink; the last remnants of dinner interrupted. I grip my stomach as I grapple with the paradox. It feels like yesterday...it feels like an eternity...since she slumped over just before grace.

Small wild flowers have begun to grow in the rotten floor boards, seedlings carried in through the mangled roof. The oak she climbed as a child, collapsed in grief three days after her death. The faint tap of claws scurry unseen while wings rustle over head.

“Hello?”

Just new residents who can’t read the notice posted on the door. I peek out the window remembering I should not be there either. Particles dance on sunbeams between the tattered curtains, as my eyes adjust to the bold light beyond this cool interior. No one has seen me enter. Or, no one cares. Either way, I am grateful.

Hinges creak as I open and close cupboards, finding only utensils. In the pantry, shelves are stilled stocked with canned goods and unused preserves. Her apron hung on a nail with butterscotch candy nestled in the pocket.

The drawer in the hutch catches what’s left, coupons, pot holders, a box of matches...and a book whose loose spine and brown pages crackling like autumn leaves. A salty tear joins the butter stain.

17 comments:

Jaye Wells said...

Wonderfully descriptive. I really enjoyed the little details you included. The butterscotch candy in the pocket is an especially nice touch.

FYI, in this section:"Just new residence who can’t read the notice posted on the door. I peak out the window remembering I should not be there either." You have two word issues. Should be "residents" and "peek."

Tricia Ares said...

Oh my dear! Thank you for your observations Jaye. That's why I need a good editor. I am always doing that when I type.

jason evans said...

Don't worry about it. It happens.

I've fixed the two words.

Bernita said...

Wonderful descriptive details.
The reason this does not work as well for me is the disconnect with reality.
I just cannot imagine everything left like that, not vandalized, not stolen, not gathered up and donated, if she was a woman important enough so one would visit her home much later.

Eddy said...

I don't really see a disconnect from reality. Sometimes a person can only be important to one other person, giving the story a kind of poignancy. And what of the note on the door? Has the house been condemned or did she die of an infectious disease. I like this story for its open ended possibilities. How old is the tresspasser? How old was the lady who died? Where and when is it?

Jude said...

Desriptive delight.

klgilbert said...

Many good images. I like the seedings coming through the open roof and wild flowers growing inside. I enjoyed this.

Tricia Ares said...

Thank you, for all the feedback thus far. I always take it into consideration when revising or when approaching a new project.

kcterrilynn said...

What a bittersweet narrative...it brings back memories of going through my grandmother's things after she passed.

Loved the details: the candy, the food in the pantry...

Beth said...

For me, I liked the bit about flowers growing up through the floorboards. It made me think about life coming up out of decay ... beauty even.

Christian said...

Very evocative and, speaking as a fellow contestant in the same contest, quite intimidating. So much sense detail in such a short burst. Poetic and stunning.

September said...

"Life ends. Time does not."

"It feels like yesterday. It feels like an eternity."

That instantly made me want to read more. I thought of my 85-year-old mama. Bittersweet. I was supposed to go today -- tomorrow I will go see her.

Butterscotch candy - salty tear.

sigh.

Powerful little image you provided there, Tricia. Great job.

Betty Gordon said...

Sometimes a phrase touches a reader in a special way and your "Life ends. Times does not." did that for me. When my mother passed away, I remember leaving the hospital thinking that even though her life had to end, the birds, the blowing leaves, the traffic, etc. should all stop for just one moment.

Betty

Mark Best said...

Vivid images, very personal writing.

Susan Flemming said...

Wonderfully descriptive and touching.

As I read through the comments I noticed that you seemed open to suggestions. This in my opinion is the mark of a writer who is always trying to improve her work.

I do have a suggestion that I feel would make the piece even more powerful than it already is. This is just a suggestion though... the piece is good the way it is. And what I'm suggesting is a simple rearrangement of sentences. You can try it and see if you like it better.

Try moving the last sentence of the first paragraph and making it the first sentence, like this:

"It feels like yesterday...it feels like an eternity...since she slumped over just before grace. The aroma of okra, fried fish, and cornbread displaced by the pungent smell of must and mold. The clutter in the sink; the last remnants of dinner interrupted. I grip my stomach as I grapple with the paradox."

Then move the first two sentences to the end of the story. The reason I suggest this is that those two sentences feel like a conclusion that the character comes to after his/her experience.

As well, by making these simple changes, you would be opening with the concept of time and ending with the concept of time; thereby having the story come full circle.

jason evans said...

Great thoughts on the rub between the frozen nature of movement and the passage of time. Very well described. Nice strong language and verbs.

A high scorer overall!

Tricia Ares said...

Susan,

Thanks for the constructive criticism. I see the logic in what you suggest.

Sorry I did not respond sooner, I was on my honeymoon!

Trish