Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TIC TOCC

I didn't share my results from last week's TIC TOCC, but I thought I'd share today's.  So far I've used the prompts to begin little stories each week.  I've never timed my writing before, so this has been an interesting experience.  What's also interesting is that I have trouble controlling my stories.  That sounds bad, but it's one of the wonderful things about writing, at least for me.  I start with an idea, but the story usually has its own idea of where it's going to go and what it's going to become.  It's often a surprise.  Today that tendency proved annoying.  The prompt was a photo of laundry drying outside and the statement that something catches your eye as you're taking it off the line, something that wasn't there before.  My mind immediately leaped, not at the thought of what might be behind the laundry, but rather, at the laundry itself.  When I sat down to write a lot came out that had nothing to do with the laundry or what was glimpsed behind it.  I realized that I was going to run out of time, so I stopped my timer, crossed out the extraneous bits of my story and restarted the timer, hoping to get back on track.  It didn't really work so well because suddenly the timer was sounding and I'd only just gotten to the part where she notices something that wasn't there before.

Here's what I ended up with:


It had been one of those weeks.  The bad kind.  When anything that could go wrong does.  The kind where your grocery bag breaks in the middle of the parking lot and that expensive glass bottle of juice you splurged on shatters, sending juice and shards of glass everywhere.  And that was just Monday.

Now it was Saturday and I woke unhurriedly, savoring the sunshine filtering through my curtains.  Sun.  After a week of rain the sun felt like pure luxury.  I reached out and pulled the curtain open so that I could feel the sun on my skin.  Out the window the garden glistened, still coated with the week's rain.  I got out of bed feeling more energized than I had in weeks.  I treated myself to a coffee and pastry at the coffee shop down the street.  When I got home, the cardboard box on my dining room table caught my attention.  In a week of things going wrong, the cardboard box was one that hadn't.  Wednesday evening I figured that I'd attempt to sort through some of the junk in the attic.  When I had been house hunting, the attic was one of the things that attracted me to this house.  I thought it was romantic.  History.  Nostalgia.  The possibility of treasure.  I think I'd probably just read too many books.  But more than that, the attic spoke of possibility.  I imagined expanding up into the rafters of the house, adding skylights and having a huge, bright, open work area.  Someday, I thought.  Someday.  

After 30 minutes on Wednesday evening, I couldn't take the sneezing anymore and came back downstairs, but not empty handed.  I'd found treasure.  The box was full of carefully folded clothes.  Beautiful clothes.  Dresses, skirts, a couple sweaters.  They looked to date back to the '50s and were well made.  Opening the box and pulling out one beautiful garment after another reminded me of emptying the bags of clothes that my mother would bring home for me from her friends with older daughters.  Hand-me-down clothing always delighted me.  The pants and sweaters and lace-edged tops always seemed much more exotic than anything my mom and I picked out in the store.  And now, here, as an adult, I was opening a box of hand-me-downs from the past.  Had the woman who boxed these up ever imagined that someday another woman would find them and cherish their finding?  That another woman who wasn't related at all would wear these clothes again?

I opened the box again.  The clothes smelled musty, but I didn't trust them to my finicky washing machine.  Instead, I brought them upstairs and filled the bathtub with warm water and washed them by hand.  My knees ached, but I enjoyed the fragrance of my lavender soap and relished the feel of the fabrics underwater.  They floated like colorful smoke, weightless and transparent.
The laundry basket was heavy with the sodden clothes as I brought it down the stairs and out to the line.  After drying outside in the sunshine these sweaters and dresses and skirts would smell marvelous.

Doing laundry always brightens my mood.  I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment when it's finished.  Today's laundry was a gift.  These clothes were more than hand-me-downs through time; they were a present, a surprise, treasure.  I pulled a lounge chair out of the garage and sat in the garden, allowing myself the luxury of watching the birds at the feeder and listening to the bees buzzing around my flowers.  I watched the clothes dance on the line.  And then I fell asleep.

I woke with a start and a stiff neck.  I blinked.  I stretched.  The sun was lower in the sky.  Late afternoon, I guessed.  I never liked waking from a nap, but other than a stiff neck, I didn't feel too disoriented from my unexpected sleep.  I stood up and grabbed the laundry basket.  I squeezed the sleeve of one of the sweaters.  Dry.  I took the clothes off the line, one by one dropping the clothespins into their calico bag.  

As I took the last dress off the line I noticed a shape out of the corner of my eye.  At first I couldn't tell what it was.  But then it moved again.  I set down the basket.

"Hello," I said.

"Hi."  A little girl, maybe seven years old was crouched down behind the hydrangea bush.


I almost want to continue, to see where else this little bit of story will take me.  But not right now.  Perhaps later.

It's sunny for the moment, but the forecast calls for more rain.  If it holds off and things dry out, I might be able to get outside and do a little work in the garden.


9 comments:

  1. What a great story, I smell fresh laundry! I love hand me downs! I want to know more! I think this is the first I ever read your writing, it's very nice, you write very well! Now I want to go do wash!

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  2. Oh no you've left me hanging and I want to know more!!! Who is the little girl? What is she doing in the garden?

    I like the way your descriptions use the senses to create a vivid picture. I also felt myself longing to find such a box of treasure in my attic - how wonderful that would be.

    I really enjoyed reading this - thank you for joining in and sharing. As regards getting frustrated my only advice is not to worry how you use the prompt, or if when you start writing it leads you away from the prompt, or if you need a different timescale. My wish is for you not to worry at all and instead just enjoy creating and exercising your imagination. And remember there are no rules or expectations.

    Thanks for being a great support in my TIC TOCC and creative journey. It is wondeful to have you as my blogging mate.
    Hugs
    Kat X

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  3. You are such a good writer, Anne. I especially liked the description of the clothes in the bathtub. I, too, wanted to see what happened next with regard to the little girl!!

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  4. Beautiful writing Anne!

    These are my two favorite line:

    "In a week of things going wrong, the cardboard box was one that hadn't."

    "They floated like colorful smoke, weightless and transparent."

    What a nice treat to end my Tuesday :)

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  5. Beautiful writing Anne!! I enjoyed reading your story. this was a nice break from my painting :)

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  6. Anne, it's so great to read you again. It's been a long time since I plugged in into CED and it's delicious to revisit all these beautiful blogs I followed back then. Yours has always been one of my favourites! I'm a writer too and just like you I value most my dreams coming true... I'm actually in the middle of bringing my dreams to life! Exciting!
    Great to fly with you again, may the wind carry us far!
    Love,
    Nele

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  7. I'm so glad that you enjoyed my story. To tell you the truth, I have no idea (well, an inkling, but that's all) of who the little girl is and what might happen next. But it's as if I keep glimpsing the little girl out of the corn of my eye. I might need to continue the story.

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  8. I really enjoyed this story, so I'd be delighted to read more. And I loved the idea of finding beautifully preserved clothes in the attic. All there was in ours when we moved in was rotting tinbers and an infestation of fruit flies - not the stuff of romance!

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