Process

Sacrifices Need To Be Made

Here are a few more side-by-side changes to demonstrate my revision process at work. Right now it’s going swimmingly, becoming more complicated with each sentence. I’m trying to broaden my scope and make the villain of the piece a bit more insidious and pervasive.

The best I can say while I’m mired in the writing process is that I like many of the sentences I’m putting down. (This one is a particular favorite right now: She scrambled, scraped hands, to get back up, stumbling, dropping to the pavement, a scraped knee, reaching to unbuckle her shoes, which she flung into the street.)

It will take a few days before I can scrutinize them with anything resembling a critical eye.

Round 1

No one knew their own mind after all, and fewer knew the kinds of tricks the mind played with childhood trauma. It could arise through dreams and an event traumatic enough altered reality itself, at least in one’s own mind. To wonder about what was real twisted everything until everything and nothing seemed real and dreamlike all at once. And maybe, she thought, it was best that she never did recreate the feeling. The glow and the darkness were obviously connected.  If one couldn’t be realized without the other, then bliss was a huge gamble because the darkness seemed so much more powerful. But the guard’s face didn’t glow, and this is what rekindled her hope. One might be able to exist without the other.

Clearly, she thought, something is happening that I can only guess at.

She was thinking about experiments and how she might determine how to find out more when a voice yelled out at her.

“You gonna get hit!” it screamed.

Her foot was in the street and she jumped back onto the curb in just enough time to avoid the bus that pulled past her. A man, leaning forward from his seat on a bus stop bench, looked up.

“If I wasn’t here, you would’ve been like this—smack!—on that bus’s bumper,” he said. “You’re lucky, lady.”

“Thank you,” China stammered.

“You’re welcome, ma’am, though you should be thanking God. He’s the one who put me here to save you.”

Round 2

She needed to find out more. The faces frightened and fascinated her; they pointed towards some supernatural plane, where things unknown flew and occasionally crashed through the ground of our world. She thought about her grandfather and the ghosts in his stories, and she thought about a story she read a long time ago about another universe. To find answers she would start where she left off, at the only logical place to ask questions, Goggle, but she would need a computer.

“You gonna get hit!” a voice screamed.

Her foot was in the street and she jumped back onto the curb before a bus pulled past. A man, leaning forward on a bus stop bench, looked up.

“If I wasn’t here, you would’ve been like this—smack!—on that bus’s bumper,” he said. “You’re lucky, lady.”

“Thank you,” China stammered.

“You’re welcome, but it wasn’t nothin.’ Youd’ve yelled too cause nobody likes t’ see someone’s guts. At least not up close.”

The man wore pants much too big for his thin frame. His mussed hair, matted in places, was dark and oily, and he smiled with missing teeth. He held a tall aluminum beer can, indented in places. He sipped and grinned.

She wondered how she looked to him, a designer skirt and blouse but barefoot and lost in thought. He tipped the can her way.

“Sip?”

“No. Thanks,” she said. “Where’s this line go?”

“The number 42 to Grand. You can take it downtown or to the park,” he said. “Goes along Pine most of the way ‘til near the park.”

Round 3

China had surveyed the girl’s face as it shifted from light to dark, curious about what it meant and whether she should be afraid. The girl seemed innocent enough until she saw something in China that changed her mind. The dark shade that crept over her face barely distorted her features, mild fear rather than violent anger, yet still made of similar stuff. Whatever this is, China thought as the girl hurried away, it’s true. To seem unreal yet feel true—China knew to trust such feelings, a lesson from her grandfather, and suddenly she thought about the ghosts in his stories. Unreal but true. She looked down at the shoebox and took a deep breath.

Back on the crowded city streets, China walked cautiously in her new shoes, observing every face that passed her by. Most of them no longer frightened her. In the past hour she had become an emotional barometer, able to measure fear or happiness—at least that’s what she hypothesized. But why? To what end? She pondered her newfound power, surprised to see a flickering ad ahead. After a minimum purchase, users usually received a required-by-law thirty minute reprieve.

The man in the ad wore loose jeans and his t-shirt read, ‘Get You Slick Quick.’ His mussed hair, matted in places, was dark and oily, eyes half-closed yet alert with a sly smile. “Hear ye, hear ye,” he said.  “You’ve been newly flagged and every step leaves a trail. Lord Rendolph Skelton harbors all delinquents, rebels, and rogues underneath the canopy of his wondrous tent in Square Park. Leave your eyes and ears behind,” his voice shifted into outdated autofill, “China Bexlan.” He froze, becoming choppy and granular. “Square Park is ahead four blocks north and two blocks west. Free ad-blocking, track-blocking, and access.” He bowed ceremoniously, and his normal voice returned: “My lord’s refuge awaits.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s