Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fruit of the Black Walnut

From Sarah Selecky: Write two pages, and start with the line, "I know the fruit of the black walnut."

  I know the fruit of the black walnut. It was given to me at the age of seventeen, and I have never forgotten it. Nor him.
  The fruit was handed to me already shelled. I was innocent of the effort exerted to offer me such a gift, for the fruit of the black walnut is protected by a hard shell, which is itself protected by a husk so thick it is nearly impossible to remove. If one wants the fruit of the black walnut at its richest, one must pluck the drupe while the husk is green. Even then, the nut must be smashed, ground underfoot, and pounded to remove the unyielding protective husk.
  The fruits themselves are no bearers of beauty. They are plain tan. But their taste is unlike any other: unforgettable, life-altering. Like him.
  I always see him against the backdrop of a cerulean blue sky. It is the same color as the creek that watered the black walnut tree. It is the same color as his eyes. I don't know if the sky was truly that color. Perhaps I have taken the cerulean of his eyes to paint the world of my memory. But a sky's color is unimportant; nothing about him was unimportant.
  They say the black walnut is a difficult seed to crack, even after one has disposed of the husk. The rigid shell doesn't yield its fruit to the weak of will. It reserves its prize for those cunning enough to break it. Only after the shell is broken, shattered into pieces no earthly hand could mend, can one pluck the fruit from its center.
  But I didn't know this, that it was the trail of destruction that allowed the gift to be so freely placed into the palm of my hand, into the warmth of my mouth, into the depths of my soul. So it warmed me in the chill fall air, transcending me to the heavens while the revengeful, black storm brewed.
  They say that wood from the black walnut produces one the finest heartwoods in the world. It must be. They use it for gunstocks.
    The nut will stain your hands, turning them a brown so dark they look black. That, at least, I know to be true, for my blue dresses have been recolored to a putrid brown. I did it myself. I used the dye of the black walnut.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Into the Earth

From Sarah Selecky: Write about what happened when she least expected it. Use the word "hen."

  She plunged into the earth, the rock and sand becoming as air and water to her. She had only to think about where she wanted to go, and she found herself swimming--flying?--in that direction. She knew of people who could fly through air, and people who could fly through water. But she had never heard of someone flying through the ground. She rather wondered if this is how the hen in the garden felt on first learning it could lay eggs. If she could crow like that hen, she would.
  Warmth rippled over her as she dove deeper, her curiosity to know how deep she could go before she was crushed driving her on. The pressure built, the weight of the world straining to pin her down. But the farther she went, the lighter she became. She no longer felt her body, a limitation to her soul, but was as a breeze on a warm summer day. She should be dead, without air; she shouldn't survive so much ground above her; the steadily increasing heat as she neared the planet's core should have melted her. Instead she had never felt so alive.
  "Stop!"
  So shocked was she by the presence of the high, commanding voice, that she obeyed.
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

More than Luck

From Sarah Selecky: Write a scene that involves a horseshoe.

  "Here. It's for you." I held out my gift, praying she wouldn't see how my hand shook. I was the strong one. I didn't betray my emotions, and my body wasn't supposed to, either.
  "What is it?" my sister asked, not reaching for my proffered gift.
  Did she really not know what it was? My arm faltered and bent. "It's a horseshoe."
  Steph rolled her eyes. "I know it's a horseshoe. But why are you giving it to me?"
  "For luck." It turned out to be more of a question. I hadn't thought she would reject my present. I was trying to make amends, after all. This was my step forward in healing our relationship. Did she not want to be close, as we were when children? Because that was what I wanted. No, I wanted something more. I no longer wanted to be just sisters, thrown together by some biological happenstance. I wanted to be friends. Good friends. Best friends. The kind that have inside jokes and call each other because we burnt the toast and suggest running out for hot chocolate. The kind that just showed up and knew they would always be welcomed. The kind that couldn't go more than a few hours without texting and receiving a text in return.
  "No, Noel. What am I supposed to do with it? Why would I want a horseshoe?"
  She didn't understand. Any of it. She never had.
  I shrugged and lowered my arm. "I just thought it was kind of neat. You know, for your wall."
  She sighed, a long breath that spoke of exasperation. "The wall is for things that are foreign, strange, that draw you in and make you wonder. It really isn't the place for a dirty old horseshoe."
  My fingers tightened around the iron half-circle. "No. Of course not. I'm sorry."
  "No biggie. Thanks anyway."
  "Sure."
  I stepped off the porch, heading to the car. It was a stupid gift, really. She was right. It belonged in the dumpster.
  I clicked the remote to unlock the driver door.
  "Hey, Noel?"
  "Yeah?" I answered, looking back to the door where she stood, leaning against the door frame. Hope sprung in my chest like the first daffodil of spring.
  "Thanks for stopping by."
  A frost came and killed the daffodil. "Sure," I said. "No problem. Glad you were home." I got in my car and drove away.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Age

Sarah Seleckly writing prompt for today. Write a scene that uses the words: bubbles, frayed, apology.

I was old once. It was a desperate time, with darkness and muted sounds and a certainty that life would never change. I was slow. Time was slow. Water dripped from the bathroom faucet with the regularity of a grandfather clock, marking the seconds and minutes but never the quarter, half, or full hours, content in filling my world with reluctant anticipation for the next drop. My rancid frayed sheets no longer comforted; I detested needing them for warmth. My slippers filled their soles with holes until they were nothing more than an object used to hide my bent toes and discolored toenails. Socks refused to stay up, instead slipping traitorously down to my swollen ankles, exposing my spotted legs and darkened veins. I ate only hardened bread; I drank only stale water. Everything was a discolored gray. Even bubbles from my spittle that dropped to the floor shimmered with rainbows of gray, never offering apology for their dullness.