Antidote

“Love Me Two Times”

Chapter 1

It began the way most things do – with a stab to the heart.  Dying that day was not on my agenda.  Not to say I wasn’t depressed.  Of course I was… Yet I’d somehow accepted that living small was safe.  It was comfortable, familiar.  It kept my disappointments to a minimum.  If I cried sometimes, randomly, well, that was part of it.  It was my life and I had no serious intentions of leaving it.

They said the attacker was lucky – a stab to the heart is hard to do.  I knew that because I heard the conversation of the crowd that had gathered around my cooling body.  Apparently the ribs are a pretty good defense against things seeking to pierce the heart.  Evolution or God… Our bodies seem to have a bit of wisdom when it comes to survival.

Floating above the circus of co-workers and rescue personnel, I noticed one individual who seemed calmer than the rest.  Happier.  There was something soothing and grounded about him.  I guess I glided over, because suddenly there he was, staring at me with piercing green eyes.  Gray wisps of hair seemed to dance from his eyebrows and a crooked smile highlighted his somewhat crooked nose.

“Mickey O’Hara,” he said as he tipped an imaginary hat.  “Nice to meet you.”

Feeling a little off guard because in no way did my random after-death musings ever lead me to consider anything Irish, I smiled.  “Are you here for me?”

“That’s right, my dear.  Are you ready?  We’ve got a nice warm body waiting. I wanted to give you a chance to get used to your new state, but…” He tilted his head. “You seem like a fast learner.  Shall we go?”

Me a fast learner?  I was the 40 something sliding into Prozac and late night TV infomercials.  The most I’d done since finishing college was tread water in a job way below my abilities but that paid the rent. Barely. I didn’t count my half finished novel or the poetry that screamed mid-life crisis.

“What do you mean you have a nice warm body waiting?  I just left a perfectly functioning warm body… Don’t I go to some kind of review?  Or get bathed in healing crystal energy or something?”  I’d watched enough B movies to figure that one out.

Mickey rubbed his jaw.  “That’s not the way it works.  At least for you.  You’ve got a different assignment that needs your immediate attention.  Now dear, shall we see what it’s all about?”

My recently deceased eyes bulged.  What the hell?  “Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about.  A little more information would be spiffy here.”  Then seeing his eyebrows draw closer, I added, “Please.”

“Darlin,” he said as he leaned into me, “You want the antidote to your life?  A way to fill the hole gaping in your chest?  Do you even see the metaphor to your death?”

Well, shit.  He had me there.  “Okay.  I’m willing…”

“That’s all that’s required.”  He gave me that crooked smile again and something in me relaxed.  Death isn’t so bad I thought.

And then I felt a thousand volts coursing through my body and the smell of ozone.

……

(This is part of a new novel idea, using the writing prompt from Sunday Scribblings, “antidote.”)

Basic Scene Elements

I thought it was a good time to review some essential writing basics.  This is good info for the fiction writer, but any writer could benefit,  especially from number 4,  Pulse.

 The following is from “The Scene Book:  A primer for the fiction writer” by Sandra Scofield.

Four Basic Scene Elements

1.  Every scene has event and emotion.

2.  Every scene has a function.

3.  Every scene has a structure.

4.  Every scene has a pulse.  (from April:   this is a crucial piece of scene writing I had never heard described before… and is too awesome to ignore…)

 

1.  In a scene, there is event and emotion.  In a scene, characters do things (act and react) that “add up” meaningfully; and they feel things (have emotional and intellectual responses to the action). 

2.  Every scene has a function in the narrative.  There is a reason the passage is rendered in detail rather than summarized.  Thre is a reason why it appears where it does in the sequence of events.  It accomplishes something for the story.  It changes something.  It makes now different from the past.

3.  Every scene has a structure:  a beginning, middle, and end.  An alternative way to think of the scene structure is this :  There is a situation at the beginning, a line of action, and then there is a new situation at the end.  Thus, the scene establishes each of these three parts.

4.  Every scene has a pulse.  Some vibrancy in the story makes the scene live on the page and makes it matter to the reader.  Look for it, dig for it, massage it, burn incense to it if you must.  Without it, your scene is a whimper. 

Let me make the subtle distinction between the pulse and tension.  Pulse is emotional, an attitude, a state of desire or need.  Tension is built from action; it arises from pulse, but it must be created through conflict, whereas pulse is a kind of “steady state,” awaiting the trigger to escalate it.

So for example, let’s say I want more than anything to be a writer. I neglect other aspects of my life, my relationships, to make time for my writing.  I eat fast food and never go to the movies.  That ambition is the pulse.  Finally there’s a big argument (a scene) with my lover, who says if I’m not going to be more available to him, he’s going to move out and find someone who is.  Now there’s tension.

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Perhaps in the next week or so I might post a scene for review… this is good stuff.

A Perfect Swap

To kick things off in a new direction, I’m posting a short work of fiction.  I’m going back to my roots, people!   Normally I would put this in my Writing Prompts page, but thought I’d buck convention and give you a sample of what might be there in the future.  This prompt had to do with some kind of exchange, a kind of tit for tat.  My goal was to use the prompt in an unexpected way.

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Daryl lay prone on a dirty twin mattress, arms splayed out to the side. Soured milk, half-eaten yogurt, and rancid deli meat lay forgotten on a worn table.  Like Pick Up Sticks scattered across the room, the other occupants registered euphoria to barely met desperation.

Angry welts could be seen lining both of Daryl’s pale arms through the weak afternoon sun. Sandy blond hair curled gently around his ear, caressing the latest mark on his neck. He had been tripping for about an hour when his body’s lack of oxygen forced him wide awake. Gasping, he grabbed for his throat, eyes dilating. Within in moments he started convulsing, his lips looking like a child who had eaten too many blueberries.

Turning away from some new customers, Bruce pocketed his money and walked toward the room’s only mattress. Looking down, he folded his arms across his chest and kicked Daryl in the gut. The guy was going down, he’d seen it a dozen times before. It wasn’t Daryl’s death that bothered him so much as losing a good customer; that as well as it happening in his place.

“Damn,” he said.  “Amber – we’re going to need to roll. Grab the dope and wipe the place down. I mean ALL of it. I don’t want a single print left anywhere, capiche?”

Amber looked over, nodded, and started packing the syringes first. Her pale fingers looked exotic in the gloom, like a new species of spider.  Just as she was about to leave, she noticed a shiny, gold Cross pen in Daryl’s shirt pocket. Grabbing it, she swapped the abused, bitten Bic she normally carried in its place. Patting his still warm chest, she hummed and turned out the light before she left.