Monday, January 12, 2009

Entry #60

And the Gobstoppers Rolled Like Marbles
by Dina Murphy


Paul liked his job. He sold penny chews and purple blackjacks, prising them from heavy glass-bottomed jars like dead fish. Rosy lips, jelly snakes, lemonade crystals: he scooped them into crackling bags that creased and groaned with oily weight, shaking like maracas.

Sometimes he sat and watched the local girls riding up and down the escalators, giggling with perfume and long, tanned legs and secrets he didn’t understand. Sitting on his leather stool, tapping meaty hands against his thighs like a samba. Watching.

He liked the Saturday girl from the Fancy Goods store best, liked the way she eased hand-blown glass and Egyptian perfume bottles into brown bags like they were gossamer, spider’s webs. She wrapped them tight, so tightly in soft tissue the colour of sea-beds and smiled as though she meant it. Sometimes she came to look at Paul's glass jars, tapping the sides as though expecting the contents to move like trapped animals, hauled into too-small pens for market. Paul tapped his hands faster on the baggy leather and watched her hair move in shining streaks, halo-like. He hoped she understood Morse code.

It was a Saturday when she fell, the busiest shopping day of the week. It was almost ballet, they said, the delicate arch of the neck and free-fall three stories down onto the cold grin of glass. Paul could only remember watching gobstoppers skittering off like marbles, finding their freedom as his own tapping dulled under the surprising weight of hair and skin.

23 comments:

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Lovely imagery!Loved the way you have described the wares :)

JR's Thumbprints said...

In my day it was jawbreakers, by then again, gobstoppers makes the story more current and not at all violent.

JR's Thumbprints said...

that is: "but then again"

BernardL said...

First class vignette into a small pleasure lost.

laughingwolf said...

excellent! :)

iLL Man said...

Astounding piece. Didn't want it to end... ;)

Sarah Hina said...

Dina, this is marvelous! Your descriptions shine and the ending was perfect.

I really liked all the observations here. But of course, he never saw that end coming. Really beautiful prose, and wonderful characterization. Great work!

McKoala said...

Very beautiful.

Lauri said...

Very, very nice. I sat here reading it over and over trying to pick out my favourite line and gave up because I loved too many.

The Preacherman said...

my favourite up to now. Still reading but it'll be a good'n that betters this one.

Dottie said...

Arresting imagery in your opening paragraph. Great writing and lovely character development. I love when Saturday girl, "came to look at Paul's glass jars, tapping the sides as though expecting the contents to move like trapped animals, hauled into too-small pens for market." Perfect!

anna j said...

You have a gift for word imagery--and a gift for using language beautifully!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Beautifully rendered with fantastic similies. Intelligently written and skillfully presented. An artistic piece, Dina. Your is one of the best entries.

Selma said...

Amazing attention to detail and observations. I would be very surprised if you didn't win!

mukta said...

This was just excellent! Very well written.

Karen said...

I just came back here, and I realized I somehow missed commenting on your work -- and it is one of my favorites! I love, love, love the imagery and language. From the first line, I knew this one was special. There are so many lines I like: "prising them from the heavy glass-bottomed jars like dead fish," "tapping meaty hands against his thighs like a samba," "like they were gossamer, spider's webs," "the colour of sea-beds," "the delicate arch of the neck," and "the cold grin of glass." I haven't even named them all; I'd have to quote the whole piece.

That you could create such imagery in only 250 words is amazing.

Jimmie Vee said...

It's unfortunate he didn't sell marshmallows. Oh well, this story flowed nicely and was very relatable. Nice work.

Catvibe said...

Absolutely gorgeous writing. I got the feeling I was right there inside his skin, behind his eyes. "He hoped she understood Morse code" I could feel him tapping out love notes on his thigh. I hated when she fell. Very well done.

Ÿ∂ Μ Î ŋÎ said...

This was one of the best reads so far. I loved the imagery.. The flow of words, the description was amazing.. Well done :)

September said...

Beautifully written. Such great imagery. I loved this one. But, I must say, I wasn't ready for the ending....so tragic....and yet you continued the beautiful imagery...to the end. Wonderful.

pjd said...

Wow, a great effort. I love the voice, the observations, and the action. It's very well written.

jason evans said...

Thanks for being a wonderful part of the contest!

Terry said...

Dina, I really loved your story. I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to read it sooner. You don't write--you paint! I'm printing this one for my "Writers Who Inspire Me" file. During this process, I've learned that Jason prefers Telling instead of Showing. I don't know if that's because it's the assumed style for this type of writing, or if it's just his personal preference or ideal of good writing. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I thought this was great.