Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nami's Dream

She dreamed.

She dreamed of water trickling from the surface of a lake. Water folding into air. Water and heat. The swirls of delicious humidity broke from the soup of molecules and flew. Below, verdant reflections glimmered in the watery mirror. Reflections of the forest crowns. Of the sky deconstructed.

Her own molecules wove amongst them. Rubbing and writhing with just enough passion, just enough potential, to shatter the urge to stay and swim. A heartbeat--just enough life to fuel the evaporation. Her heartbeat. Slow and peaceful. The air became an extension of the lake as she dissolved. She looked up and knew she was the birth of clouds. The bearer of water vapor. The great, great grandmother of rain.

Mother of the waters, she smiled. The contentment melted into the reaches of blue above her. Birds rode high. Kings of the invisible currents. A bending line of geese wheeled in their search for more exciting waters.

The clouds drank from her. Her elemental gift. But did she really want to go? Today, did she want to surrender to the great halls of wind?

Yes, she could go. She could paint moisture into great canvases of grey. She could brew thunderstorms and crumble them at the edge of the Sahara. She could seed the lush green blanketing the forests of Alaska.


She flinched at a hard touch on her face. Cold and jarring.

Her eyes snapped open to a color like mist. Impenetrable. Her hands jerked up to protect her face, tingling from the hit, but also smacked not more than an inch from her body.

Something blocked her ascent. A wall. She frowned at the mist.

Where was she? Her eyes stung and the intoxicating warmth ended.

Had she been sleeping?

Hands moved along a smooth surface. Cool and smooth.

Yes, she was dreaming of water again. But where was she? The floor?

She turned her head toward the door. At least, where the door should be. Instead, she gazed down the length of a ceiling fan blade. The pull cord dangled up toward the....


She frowned. Disoriented. She pushed off white surface to back away, or to slide her knees under her, but there was no weight. No real gravity to anchor her.

She craned her head over her shoulder and saw the dark covers of her bed six feet below. She was floating over the pulled sheets and her thickly breathing husband.

Her hands flashed up to grab hold, but slapped nothing but cobwebs and paint.

Her fingers shot backward to break the fall.

But no fall came. Instead, she rose and bumped her cheek against the ceiling.

Her eyes widened. Her lips parted. A warmth bubbled up against her back. Like spa water, but softer, a more gossamer touch. The more she centered on the sensation and deep-breathed away the fear, the stronger it pressed.

Her face flattened. Her toes turned to the side. The pressure forced her mouth in a ridiculous, clown shape.

More. She wanted more. So much power, if only she could wrap her fingers around it.

She followed the flow deep with her mind. Where the energy piped from magma oceans and a liquid iron core. She tried to tighten the focus, to bend it, to alter the fountain cresting against her back. But the jet surged and snapped, turning volatile. It slashed like a runaway fire hose, twirling the fan, billowing the curtains, and blowing a stack of laundry across the floor. She fell, ceiling to bed in one gasping plunge.

Her weight slapped the waterbed and folded in. It curved and cradled her deep.

The crater rebounded and shoved her upward.

The impact rolled through the mattress. The wave pushed her husband up and tipped him off the side of the bed.

He disappeared. Two heartbeats after the crash, he howled.

Nami couldn't breathe. She missed hitting anything hard on the way down. Even so, her ears rang, probably from her brain ramming the back of her skull.

"Owwwww!" her husband whined in a groggy voice.

Nami blinked at the ceiling. A shadow marked where her head had touched. She may have drooled.

"What the hell happened?" he said.

She cleared her throat. Tried to form words. "Did you...fall?" she managed.

"I fell," he said to himself, not hearing her.

She squeezed her eyes shut. Her heart pounded harder. Did he see her hovering at the ceiling?

"Jesus Christ," he said. "I fell."

"You scared the hell out of me!" she said, surprised at the anger out of nowhere.

"I scared you? I scared you? Oh, well, I'm dreadfully sorry."

She flushed, and her voice took a blade edge. "Why don't you be more careful?"

"I think I fractured my hip."

"You didn't fracture your hip."

"How the hell would you know?" he said.

It sounded like he rolled over. More exclamations as he tried to get up.

"Did you push me?" he said.

Her mouth fell open. Shocked. Or ashamed. "What?"

"I said, 'did you push me?'"

The anger roared bright. Too bright. "What an awful thing to say!"

"Did you?" he said.

His head rose next to the bed. His hair stuck up on one side.

"Why would you even ask that?" she said. "Why would you even think that?"

"You didn't answer."

"And I'm not going to!"

His shoulder worked up and down. He must be rubbing his hip as he knelt. "I just have this weird feeling," he said. "Like I was laying there. And something knocked me off the bed."

"And that's enough for you to accuse me?"

"I don't know...," he said. "Yes."

"You were dreaming! Too bad you didn't pick a softer landing."

"You wouldn't be giving me shit if I fractured my hip," he said.

"You did not fracture your hip!"

He eased himself up onto the mattress. Lots of grimaces and grunts.

"Just go to sleep," she said. "If you want, I'll order you a bedrail tomorrow."

"Charming," he said. "As always."

"You know, feel free to sleep downstairs. The couch is closer to the floor."

"Sweet dreams," he said, yanking the blanket over him. The sudden tension caught her neck and choked her.

She punched at the blankets to fix her side, then crossed her arms over her chest.

His back faced her. It was generally easier that way.

In a short time, he snored. She didn't stay awake because she was angry. That flame dwindled and flickered out sooner than she expected. The guilt did too. What finally lulled her was the sound of the wind. Not outside the window. Nothing stirred the silent leaves on the trees. She imagined she heard the howl of the jet stream bending from Kentucky up across the northeast. An accident to notice it at first. Like a train pounding the tracks far over the nighttime hills.

This time, she didn't feel the dripping dread on the edges of her perception. When she let her mind range far.

Now, when she caught the wind, her mind soared ahead of the Earth's spin and glimpsed an early sunrise. Her eyes closed, and her dreams remained dry, un-enchanted by the touch of water. In the hours before the sun lit her window, she sailed. She supped on the brash strength of air.

(I'm trying something I never tried before. I'm going to be sharing pieces of my new novel-in-progress, but only scenes which have merit as stand alone pieces. If you find something you particularly like in these scenes, such as a mood, style, or theme, please let me know. On the flip side, if you find something you particularly don't like in these selections, please do the same. Some scenes will feature Nami, a woman who finds herself budding with profound powers over the Earth and its elements. Other scenes will feature Ulrich, a man who embarks on a one-way hike into the rain forests of Alaska to die. Later, I'll be removing these drafts as I combine and integrate the work. I hope you enjoy these little forays!)


Midnight Whisperer said...

I want to know the rest of the story... Like, NOW. *Sighs Deeply*
The writing was excellent, and I enjoyed the imagery that was created in your descriptive prose. ; ) Can't wait to read more.

the walking man said...

This section captured me Jason. The ephemeral opening dream sequence had just the right touch of a dream being lived right through to the dialog with her partner.

The underlying tension of the moment as he demanded to know why and how he wound up on the floor and then reverting back to the original tone as she went back to sleep.

I was taken by the voice in this short excerpt.

Shadow said...

i certainly did enjoy this foray! the beginning especially, the words were more than words, they were pictures that transformed into dreams, emotions... i loved it!

Stacey J. Warner said...

I look forward to more of their relationship...I get the feeling they won't last long once she full integrates her powers.

much love

Aniket Thakkar said...

I enjoyed the dialogue part more for obvious reasons. I personally feel you can do better with the narration part over revision. There are a bit too many sentences back to back starting with "She.."

I know they serve a purpose to build the scene but you have done better in the past. Am only saying coz you say its part of the novel and we'd want it to be more than great.

As a stand alone piece though this was great. You've got my attention.

This isn't from 'The fish who..' though, is it?

Aniket Thakkar said...

Yikes... my bad for forgetting the name of your novel. Guess, am not getting a signed copy now. :P

I meant from 'So this fish...' :D
Pardon me, I've just returned from a 14 hr shift in office.

PixieDust said...

The imagery in this scene is very intense, I could more than see her floating I felt it. Very well done.

I kindly disagree with Aniket about the "she"s back to back. It was a small section and the cadence very nicely served to focus my attention allowing me to hit the same glass wall Nami did with the break in her dream. I'm assuming this was purposeful, and it worked well.

The only bump in my reading was the line:

But the pit of stomach did not plummet.

It made pause, and pulled me out of the story as I puzzled over it. Otherwise, excellent. I'm ready for more!...

Yup, just waiting...

for more...

the rest...




Jean said...

Ulrich was my maternal grandfather's name. He was Czech.

This bit was full of breath-holding and tension. And, I chuckled a bit when they were arguing.

Anonymous said...

Midnight Whisperer, I'm very happy that it held your interest. Hopefully I'm on the right track on how to portray this story.

Walking Man, very valuable feedback! Thank you for the depth of your read and comments!! You're a careful and conscientious writer. I'm encouraged by your impressions.

Shadow, I'm relieved! The most experimental part of the piece was the dream. If anything was going to not work, I figured it would be that.

Stacey, you are very perceptive. You see the path of people well.

Aniket, yes, this is my next novel after So This Fish Walks Into a Cemetery. I'm in the query process with that one. In the meantime, I'm plowing forward. Thank you for the feedback! I'm sure I will see things I don't like in revisions after it sits. I always do.

PixieDust, I appreciate your detailed feedback! Thank you. :) You're right about my approach to the action sequence. And I've taken your advice about the pit-of-the-stomach sentence. It's unnecessary and a bit overdone. I decide to remove it and reshape the sentences nearby.

Jean, I wonder if the name was Anglicized. Very cool! And I love that you chuckled at the arguing! I did intend it to be partly uncomfortable and partly funny. (Viewed from outside, of course.)

Vesper said...

Very interesting, Jason, all parts of it. I remember "meeting" Nami before, in your Restless Dawn contest...
I think that everything is very effective: the dream and the reality.
I'm looking forward for more excerpts.

Nevine Sultan said...

What really stood out for me was your starting with a lot of description, silence, no dialogue, just quiet action going on, most of which is quite sensory and psychological. Then, you sort of jumped into a heated discussion, a debate, an argument, and I felt a bit jarred. I don't know if this was intentional, but if it was, the effect was definitely there. If not, maybe you can try a smoother transition? The writing style is flawless. The mood is fascinating - dark and light at once. There's so much going on but it's all going on smoothly and unaffectedly.

Nevine Sultan said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I read this twice since you put it out just to make sure about the effect of the transition, and I still get the same feel.

Anonymous said...

Vesper, yes! That's exactly right. Nami first made an appearance in my host piece for the Restless Dawn contest. (Not terribly well received, though. :p 250 words wasn't enough to introduce the concept, I think.) Thanks for your feedback!

Nevine, thanks so much for your critique! (I especially appreciate the comment about dark and light at the same time.) For this scene, jarring is perfect. :) There will be a sharp tension between where Nami is going as a person and the already troubled marriage. I wanted the peace and power of the beginning of the scene to be broken sharply by the dynamic between the two of them. The empowerment of Nami will not be easy or comfortable. Like the brutality of birth.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

As always, I love your makes the already absorbing story, that much more enjoyable. You really bring us into the scene with all the exquisite details and descriptions. Then - true to life, the spell is broken as we slap down hard on the bed with Nami. Thank you for sharing this with us, Jason. Can't wait for the full monty!

Unknown said...

I loved this. Beautiful imagery, and I always love hints of the preternatural... Finish your novel immediately so I can read the rest!!

Miladysa said...

I like the way the fantasy element gelled seamlessly with the reality.

The conversation between the two characters was classic - I could easily imagine my husband and myself having that conversation.

The humour was a nice touch too,

""If you want, I'll order you a bedrail tomorrow.""

Made me giggle :)

SzélsőFa said...

I enjoyed it thoroughly, although I had some difficulties with some of the words (reason: my narrow vocabulary, absolutely to reason to re-writing Jason).

At first I though this piece is a continuation of the Nami-story I read at one of the contests. I recall having enjoyed it very much.
Anything that has a certain pagan touch to it may come along my plate.

I liked the dialogue, but was surprised and thrown out at the following sentence: She didn't stay awake because she was angry.
for a person like me, anger is a sure fuel for not to be able to sleep for a while.
in my world, anger keeps people awake and doese nto let them sleep. but that's perhaps just me.

apart from that, it's great and I am waiting for more pieces to come.

SzélsőFa said...

and yes, I met an Ulrich once, too. he was from Germany.
also, Ulrich is the family name of the drummer from Metallica :)

*heads back to youtube for some more*

Anonymous said...

Kaye, it really makes me smile to hear my vision and approach to pacing echoed in your feedback. Thanks, my friend. :)

PaperDoll, thank you for the feedback on imagery! I'll get right on that writing. ;)

Miladysa, that blend of fantasy and reality is a major element of this novel. I think it will be compelling. Thanks for thinking so!

Szelsofa, I'm really struck that you and Vesper remembered Nami. That is so cool! I find it very encouraging, actually. This story idea may be a good one. As for the sentence, I can see how you're reading it. With the following sentence, I was trying to say that Nami was NOT angry. The anger has passed. I agree with you, anger keeps me up. Definitely.

Mona said...

Ah! Magical realism! The latest trend!

I have read a few novels like that including Satanic Verses. They can be read as fairy stories at one level, while have a deeper satirical & allegorical intent at another level !

I wish you luck in your endeavor!

Anonymous said...

The pacing is gradual not forced. The opening is surreal and calming. I like your use of basic physics terms, not banal. The dialogue and description was so natural it was as if they were real and I was watching a movie. Definitely held my attention and look forward to more.

SzélsőFa said...

ouch I mistyped this sentence difficulties with some of the words (reason: my narrow vocabulary, absolutely to reason to re-writing

of course I meant NO reason :))

I'm sorry.

anyhow, how can anyone proud a pagan enough NOT remember Nami?

and as for anger...
I see now that the 'flame... flickered out...' which explains
anger is over, yet, the sentence in question did stopped me. I'm rereading the whole passage again to get a more clear understanding.

thank you for your explanation.