The Infinite Perils of Authorship
“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” –Annie Proulx
I must have hundreds of books-rare books, old books, bad books and outstanding stories some of them read more than once. I am an author of many a story, some are half completed, some finished and locked away. Others are of the ‘short’ nature- I send to various contests only to be rejected. The constant perils of an author-rejection- the culprit that will either sink me or make me swim diligently up through the murky waters to the light of perseverance – the continuation of writing which tethers on the AHA moment, that some distant person will accept and love my characters. Years or months later I find notebooks written in pencil-others in pen. Pages of long hand. Many words I can’t seem to make out. I must have gone back to edit them-strike outs and arrows pointing to where the new word should go. I decided to decipher the long hand, typing them onto a document -did I miss some scribbling that I could not read? I don’t know – but I want to share it-send me comments on insight on how to continue the story … the middle and end. Don’t have a title just yet, either. Most likely written when bored or at lunch or just because I could, but at least I write. This is one that I found in the stacks of notebooks-
“I remember when…” When she started her conversation with those words I knew that Mary had a story-whether true or not, she demanded full attention of the young kids. Sometimes I had heard the story before when she got to the second or third sentence. The log cabin smelled of soot mixed with the smells of the bowls filled with supper in front of us. I marveled at the sight of the venison, the scent made my mouth water with anticipation of how good it was going to be-I was really hungry and I longed to take the first bite but no one would dare before Mary started. As she began her story “this stew would contain big pieces of beef, real and out of this world meat.” It was then that she took her wooden spoon filled with stew and slipped it into her mouth. We followed suit and began eating. It tasted divine, with small almost crushed pieces of potatoes, carrots and onions. It was quiet for while we enjoyed the meal.
The fire in the large fireplace glowed. The cast iron pot hanging from a steel pole continued to sizzle, the aroma lingering in the air, like an invisible fog. The lantern cast shadows throughout the room and gave the feeling of living in another time, not the modern times all of us had become accustomed to. It didn’t seem so long ago, I thought-all you had to do to illuminate a room was to click a switch and miraculously, the entire room was as bright as daylight. Some of the younger children never experienced the comfort of electricity, when everything was powered through one movement. Sometimes, the memory of electricity seemed like a dream. I was forgetting those wonderful days more and more. Mary, however, always reminded me that she knew that eventually it was going to end. She believed she would be dead by then. She lived on though-although the reversal seemed surreal-she was experiencing life as her great-grandmother did – circa 18th Century.
“Sometimes” Mary continued “my father would buy half a cow, my aunt the other half. This was a way to share the cost and our family would be set for a least a year, if not longer. Father had a large freezer where the beef would be kept in bags. Portioned and cut by the butcher, labeled as such-ground, steaks, cubes and so forth.” The children’s eyes would be wide open at the thought of a ‘freezer’. “Yes, those where good times we didn’t go hungry; that’s for sure.”
Everyone was finishing their meal as Mary explained what it felt like to have so much food. The convenience of electricity allowed the meat to be indefinitely suspended in its frozen state. As Mary watched the kid’s astonished faces, she stood up and began gathering up the empty bowls asking if anyone wanted seconds. Most of the boys said yes, but knew that if they did, they would have to forgo breakfast. Winter was upon them and as always food was scarce and rationed out carefully. It was especially hard this winter, the drought kept the growing season short and small. Mary believed that the planet was fragile. The scientists insisted for many decades, that fossil fuel would change the environment, but government perpetuated their propaganda, insisting that climate change was not caused by humans. That the convenience of having electricity fueled by coal or nuclear power, modes of transportation using oil could not harm earth. They insisted this was a normal climate cycle. The government, full of elites thought that they would be spared the inconveniences of the end of the button to start everything. In the end they were not able to buy anything to go back in time-it was much harder for them. Money was obsolete. All the conveniences everyone took for granted-just vanished.
As Mary continued her story, she ladled a spoonful of the stew in five bowls giving them to the youngest boys. The five boys were around ten years old, orphans. The group of six decided to leave the village to investigate if other places or villages experienced the same, travel to warmer areas, exploring a better place to plant crops. Unfortunately they never returned and the others didn’t go looking for them, way too dangerous. Leaving their children was heart wrenching, but the prospect of finding a new land gave them the courage to forge ahead-now it was just a matter of waiting their return. Mary did not believe that they survived and took on the responsibility of keeping the small group at least alive through the winter. Decisions to travel, which was on foot were delayed till after the cold spell of winter.
As Mary handed me the bowls and I placed them in front of the boys, their eyes lighted up as they began quickly eating. “It happened suddenly, without warning, the lights flicked off, computers, phones and all technological devices just died.” She sighed deeply, as if she needed extra oxygen to continue. (© 2017 Lorelei McArthur)
And….this is where my long hand, notebook pages ended. So leave me a comment as to how to continue the story of Mary….