Friday, July 30, 2010

"The Draftsman" and "Anniversary Gift"

Please give a warm round of applause for our debut novelist and co-host Stephen Parrish!

*clapping surges and holds steady*

Excellent! He really does deserve our congratulations. And now, Stephen has cracked his knuckles and whipped out TWO interpretations of the "Uncovered" photo. You go man! And without further ado...

The Draftsman
by Stephen Parrish

Dinner was almost ready, so she peeked into his shop. He was leaning over the work bench, as usual. Toying with compass and protractor. Doodling. She leaned over his shoulder and saw geometric figures he had sketched, objects with faces, edges, and terminating points.

"Designing Christmas ornaments?" she asked.

"They're crystals. Inorganic compounds whose molecules stack in patterns."

"And each one is unique?"

"No, not this time. Not like living things. Crystals dogmatically follow the same thirty-two forms."

She studied his notes and diagrams. The objects varied in color as well as symmetry. They were alluring, they attracted attention. People would covet them.

"You realize," she said, "this constitutes evidence. Alligators and butterflies appear on Earth, but nowhere else. These things," she tapped the drawing, "show up anywhere in the cosmos where there are sufficient inorganic compounds, opportunity for them to get together, and room for a matrix to grow."

He nodded. "That's the idea."

"Think they'll figure it out?"

"One of them will."

She kissed him on the cheek. "Hungry? I've got blueberry pie for desert."

"Blueberries?" He straightened up and glanced across the workbench. "Have I drafted blueberries?"

"If not, you'd better hurry. Dinner's in ten."


Anniversary Gift
by Stephen Parrish

"And she won't know the difference?" Mr. Wallace looked up at my father with soft, trusting eyes.

"She won't have a clue."

My father was right, it took experience. In the case of cubic zirconia, you looked for small orange flashes in the stone. He showed Mr. Wallace a two carat ring. Big enough to impress his wife, but not so big that she'd be suspicious. We would need a day to size it.

Mr. Wallace held the ring up to the light. "What if she has it appraised?"

"Oh, come now, Peter, when has Maria ever had one of your gifts appraised?"

The next day I came by after school in time to see Mr. Wallace pick up the ring. Again the moist eyes, the trusting look. The eyebrows raised hopefully.

"If you can't tell," my father assured him, "neither can she."

After Mr. Wallace shuffled out my father said, "It's sad his grocery store is losing customers. He gave me my first job. Twenty-five years ago."

"Wish there were something we could do," I said.

"He's a proud man. He'd turn down any offer of help. Or gratitude."

Later, as we were closing the store, I noticed a loose transparent gemstone sitting on the bench.

"Shouldn't we lock that up?" I asked.

My father shook his head. "Don't bother."

I turned off the overheads and only the security lights remained on. As I walked out I looked back at the gemstone and saw a tiny orange flash.


Loren Eaton said...

Darn, I love the twist at the end of the second one. And am I possibly detecting some *cough* intellegent design *cough* with the first?

Precie said...

Thank Draftsman you're not competing in this contest. Both pieces sparkle brightly.

bekbek said...

Wow. You have such a strong, clear style. It's particularly apparent in the first paragraph of "The Draftsman," with its varying sentence lengths, descriptive without being wordy. I really loved both stories. Thank you so much for co-hosting with Jason!

JRVogt said...

Excellent takes, both of them. Great fun with the first one, and a beautiful end to the second.

Jean said...

The second gets my vote!

Laurel said...

Show off.

Deb Smythe said...

Both stories were great. But my fantasy heart gravitates toward The Draftsman. A fantasy story wrapped in a practical, down to earth package. Niice.

Joni said...

I really really love The Draftsman. Understatedly perfect. They are both examples of such excellent writing.

Thanks for your contributions to the contest and congrats on the novel!

Stephen Parrish said...

Loren: Ironically I'm more or less a heathen.

Vincent Kale said...

Ah, but who drafted the Draftsman?

Great takes on the prompt. I was amazed to see the various interpretations everyone had on the photo.

Thanks for co-hosting and good luck with the novel!

Anonymous said...

Stephen, both demonstrate your highly honed skill and imagination. Loved them both!

(Oh, and Vincent, my thought exactly. You can never escape the question of the beginning of the beginning.)

Anonymous said...

How is one "more or less" a heathen? If you're gonna be anything, I say go all the way. That's my plan in regards to getting the 2012 presidential nomination, anyway.

JaneyV said...

Stephen - these are both gems. I love the easy conversational tone of The Draftsman. I can just see him by the light of a desk lamp doodling the plans for the universe as though he was gently and creatively whiling away his retirement... just lovely. Anniversary Gift is poignant and heartwarming. I'm a sucker for the stories that show the decency of humanity because despite what is shown on the news every day I still maintain there's a lot of it around. The ending was very satisfying.

Stephen Parrish said...

Vincent: Who drafted the draftsman? The draftsman drafter, that's who!

Aerin: One is "more or less a heathen" when one wishes the eleven werds of the Golden Rule would replace all religious tomes.

Sandra Cormier said...

Mr. & Mrs. God in a quiet domestic moment! I love it!

And the good Samaritan? I sure hope his friend takes good care of that stone.

Oh, Stephen... what can I say? You have an exquisite grasp of human nature. The good side.

February Grace said...

Amazing stories, both...thank you.


Aniket Thakkar said...

Loved 'em both. But loved The Draftsman more. Thank you for the good reads.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm in awe with "The Draftsman." You've done an excellent job showing the caring relationship between the two characters and tying it in with the theme. Not easy to do in so few words. You know it's good when others are envious and right now I'm envious.

Chris Eldin said...

Really loved The Draftsman.

McKoala said...

Go Aerin, you've got my vote. Apart from that one small technicality of not having one, of course.

Both lovely stories; but a slight preference for the sweetness of #2. *studies engagement ring with great care*

Michelle D. Argyle said...

These are great! I was captivated the entire time. Which is what you want, I'm sure. :)

Mona said...

A draftsman gotto eat too...

Happy friendship Day to all!

Rachel Green said...

Oh, very clever!

Catherine Vibert said...

LOVE the draftsman the most, but both are a delicious treat. I have yet to read your book Stephen, but I am looking forward to it!

Unknown said...

Hi Stephen

I guess blogger ate my comment, lol...

I loved both pieces, The Draftsman for it's cosmic possibilities, too cool. And Anniversary Gift because it speaks to my heart. I loved it.

Thanks for working with Jason to offer such an awesome contest.

Dottie :)

PJD said...

"Oh, come now, Peter, when has Maria ever had one of your gifts appraised?"

Hmm. Ahem. Hrm. Yes, well.

Both stories are great. The second definitely has more of the same voice as Tavernier Stones (not just because of the situational similarity). What I think I like more about the Draftsman is the way you eased us into that comfortable "been married forever and still in love" feeling Mr. and Mrs. God share.

PS: I feel compelled to point out that most people bake in the desert but eat dessert.