Grub Street’s Grub Gone… Blue on Friday, March 12, 2010, was a great social introduction to a bunch of local writers hanging out, drinking wine and, oh, listening to their fellow local writer comrades read poems or stories they’ve written on the open-ended theme of “blue”.
Grub announced the contest weeks beforehand, and the amazing winners entertained us all. Teresa Valdepenas’ lovely poetry, KL Pereira’s incredible erotic flash, Randy Ross’ bizarre travel accounts, interspersed with musings on blue balls by host Steve Almond. All followed by a fabulous excerpt by visiting author Diana Joseph who read from her new book, “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way.”
I had started to write something for the contest, but with a lot going on otherwise lately, I didn’t make the deadline. Presented here is my blue-themed story, with notes (and a call for feedback) afterward.
The boy looked around the room with his left eye. His view was hazy, but he could see that the room was dimly lit, a lamp shade casting an amber glow to the corner wall at his side. His bed had cold, metal guardrails on each side, and a fancy computer screen on his right had some gibberish with green, blue and purple lettering. Horizontal blinds masked the top half of the window at the far right of the room, revealing a twilight sky, clouds heading for the horizon.
“How are you feeling, dear?”
The boy quickly turned his head toward the opposite end of the room and pain shot up from his jaw into his temple. He saw what looked like a blurry shape of a nun, semi-silhouetted in the amber glow. His right hand reached for the right side of his face, but it felt numb, like he was feeling his face but feeling something else at the same time. He moaned.
The woman in the long drab dress and navy sweater stepped to his side. “I hear you were in a fight today, is that so?” she asked. “Let me look at you.”
He looked down as she gently turned his head toward her and inspected his bruise. His cheek swelled, pushing up and closing his right eye, bloody red with a disinterested gaze, surrounded by blotches that extended down to his jaw. The nun let out a small, nearly imperceptible gasp.
“Oh,” she said, stepping back to regard him. He glanced up at her face, then let his eyes fell to the wasteband of her indigo dress, the elastic band bunching up the hem and squeezing in over her wide hips.
“Tell me you got a good swing at him, at least, huh?” the nun said. “God forbid anyone gets away with swellin’ up a sweet young thing such as yourself.”
The boy turned his attention to the dark blue, nearly black, slits of sky cutting through the canvas of the window blinds. Shadows of leaves swayed back and forth, and he wished he could squeeze through the blinds, make himself smaller so he could jump out and hide in his tree house, however far away it was from here, high above the ground, with the rope ladder pulled up and the clapboard door shut, where no one, no adults, no parents could reach him.
“Hey there, son.”
In the doorway stood a tall policeman with broad shoulders, in full uniform and open jacket. He frantically looked behind him and to the sides of the bed on which he sat, but the nun was gone. The bright white light from the hallway shined his jet black hair, remind the boy of Superman, whose hair was so slick it gave off a chrome blue hue.
The boy couldn’t take his eyes off the cop, yet he fidgeted, rubbing his knees with his right palm while mindlessly grasping and ungrasping the golden fleece blanket with his left. The room seemed darker and the air felt colder, and the sounds of the nurses ouside faded away. The cop stepped away from the door, cautiously.
Follow-up: (Sept. 1, 2010)
As with a lot of writing, your initial idea is overruled by the process, the words dictate the scene, and the scene dictates what happens next. At this point in the story, I was afraid of what would happen next. The only thing to do is not be afraid of it. Write it out. See where it takes you. That being said, I’m still working on this flushing out this story.