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Trust and Innocence (not finished)


1.

I wake up in the same narrow bed in the same matchbox room without windows. How can this be? I'm still dressed in the uniform. There's the stale bread, the glass of rusty water on a bedside table. The dim light hums. The metal toilet echoes. All my failures multiply in the absence of possessions, the unyielding bare walls, the yellowed sheets. The dingy blanket smells like the rotten root of all my errors. There is the door that never opens.

This time it opens! I enter an identical little room without windows and find another door that opens into another empty room. It's like today becomes tomorrow without any changes except for the click of the door behind me. There's another room holding the same fear as the empty one left behind. A door, another room, another door, another room . . . in this way, I pass through hundreds of hopelessly identical rooms–until the last.

It's a golden room painted by the setting sun. Looking up, I discover there is no ceiling. I climb on the chair, grab for the top of the wall, jump toward the gilded light. It's too high. Soon the sky burns out. The bed awaits. I drift asleep. Grey moths on the black walls meld into nebulous shapes.

2.

A crackling sound followed by a deep serpentine voice slithers into my ear and tickles the passages.

"You are feeling helpless about life, aren't you, Innocence?
You feel it's too late for you."

I press my right ear against the wall straining to hear. Maybe the voice is inside myself?

"You have been imprisoned your entire life. You need to escape." The voice is liquid as medicine.

"Who are you? Why do you call me Innocence? I was born Innocence, but no one alive can keep a name like that. "

"Try taking baby steps. Something little to provide more confidence."
"Trust," I call him that because he must want me to trust him. "I suppose we can talk for a while. It would at least ease my loneliness. I'm tired of hunting through empty rooms for a way out." The wall actually makes it easier to speak to such an imposing voice.
"Listen to me!" Trust's voice, now below the cement floor, has turned high pitched. It trills as if the floor was an instrument of sound that it forcefully vibrates through. "There are hundreds of us trapped inside here yet separated from each other like echoes of dreams."

I wake realizing that Trust was a dream. The room is still without ceiling. In the morning light, blue walls reflect the sky. The nothing blue sky is without even a something cloud. I try to imagine the space between my eyes and the sky's infinity.

There is the glass of rusty water on the bedside table. This time the bread is fresh and buttered.

3.

Is this cage my fault?

Was that first cage my fault? I slept well in a white crib where I was confined all night and most of the day. Still, I grew until my head and feet touched the ends. I curled. Each night before sleep, I recited the prayer embroidered in cloth, kept beside my crib. "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." Steady chirp-beats of crickets consumed air. Invisible, hundreds of them outside. Faces spied in through lace curtains and disappeared.

4.

Clouds blow in. I see Trust's face inside of one, staring down. He has an old face, but that doesn't matter. His cotton candy face is pinkish in the light. I'd always dreamed someone would come to offer escape.

He floats into my cage. My hand rakes right through him. He is damp and dewy and not anyone I can hold onto, like an ideal. I can trust an ideal. He's soft as down and he lacks substance. He's inside my head and blows out of my cage. I pull my blanket up farther and try to imagine the space between Trust and the cloud that drifts in front of him.

5.

The walls allow light in yet aren't diaphanous enough for me. Finding my pencil, I draw a picture window with sideways bars for a bird to perch.

On another wall, I begin a list of dreams, creature comforts to ease the void: parrot, heater, refrigerator, strawberries, cake, mirror, a ceiling for when it begins to rain?

A door seems inevitable. As I draw, my sharp pencil tip rips a hole.
With just a small tear, my forsaken cage could rip away and I'd lose
the comforts of lying under covers pleasantly watching clouds,
the dream of Trust in a cloud far above confusion,
the excuse for being lazy, the peace in giving in,
the quiet days turning over to lonely nights buffered by the walls.
How absurd, I'm already beginning to miss my imprisonment!



6.

There's someone in my room. I feel his presence though I can't see his form in the blue-black.

"Do you know how to climb over the wall? How did you get in?"
"You left a hole, remember?"
"What do you want from me?"
"What do you want from me?"
"Are you Trust too? I thought Trust was in a cloud."
"You mean, am I to be trusted?"
"Are you human?"
"You mean, am I imperfect, dishonest, and eventually a disappointment?
Let's go away together!" He is not like the Trust I'd come to know.
"Get out or I will."
The voice trails away, "Love is what we're here for . . ."

When I wake again, he's gone. There's a heart shaped biscuit on the plate beside my bed. I really wanted strawberries.
 
7.

I stare at the hole from across the room. It twinkles like a star and then stares back at me like a disembodied eyeball. Then it turns into a hole again and I decide I must go investigate. I peek through. Why had I imagined strawberry bushes filled with ripe fruit? Of course, it's yet another room. There's an old man in bed who must be a hundred years old. His body so gaunt, the skeleton is jumping out of his skin. He cries out, "Help me! Help me out of this dungeon! Call the police. Anyone, get me out!"

"I'm here!" I feel sadness that far surpasses than my own. "I'm right over here!" I scream but he doesn't turn and I realize he's deaf. His cage is small and empty, the same as mine with nothing on the walls, not even a T.V. His giant shoes are on the floor beside a walker. His old mind is fixed on fear. My words can't touch him. My cage turns as cold as I know him to be. Soon he will not open his eyes again. I stuff my pencil into the hole.

8.

I think, I'm late for a train or an airplane.
I hear movement, like wheels turning.
I feel the presence of a hundred other people.
I feel the confusion of a hundred lost souls
who can't remember where they belong.

I see a shadow,
someone moving outside
my un-door.

I hear a hundred birds, their singing
fresh and new as the morning,
free to fly away but they stay
outside my un-window.

9.

There's nothing to eat except that bothersome heart-shaped biscuit. It tastes like paper, like invisible words from that book I was never able able to finish. The one that tells us we must follow, to trust and to follow. As I swallow, I imagine the last remnants of my Innocence recede through the diaphanous curtains of the imaginary window. Yet I must not engage my thought in the ancestry of violence.

I can rewrite life
and erase selectively.
It is easiest to forgive what is forgotten.

My pencil has an eraser.

10.

I find a woman in my room with me! I don't even bother to ask how she got in. She is round like a dumpling but she appears quite hardy. She's wearing Army boots and is dressed in camouflage shirt and pants. She's sitting on the floor, stirring a pot of broth that she's cooking on a camp stove.

"I thought Trust was male." I say.
"Oh no. Trust is both he and she. The same as Innocence. What would you like me to season your soup with?"
"Would green beans be too strange?"
"I think green beans would be perfect." Oddly, she dehydrates the green beans in a portable vegetable dryer and crumples them fine, like seasoning, in the [sign in to see URL] I wake she is gone but there is a steaming bowl of broth on the table beside my bed. I feel more content than I can remember.


11.

This morning I think that there is a tiny cage inside my forehead. I wonder is that electronic beat coming from outside or within. And are the birds singing to remind me it is morning or are they pressing through windows of my mind? And all the cages that sprawl through cities into infinity, are they that echo of tinkling into the tin toilet?

12.

It begins to rain hard. I have to go back. The door still opens! The next room has its ceiling but is now completely empty. I have nothing but my pencil to draw my future. I want to forget, to erase, to annihilate history, to feel alive again. Yet I find myself remembering earlier time and space. The bright light that bathes the walls reminds me of desert sun where I was born. The thirst to belong somewhere is like the days of the week journeying backwards. I draw a bookshelf that I remember was built into the wall but without any of the books or photos I once owned. I feel a sentimental longing for that big window looking out to the albesia tree, the one I used to climb onto the roof. On the floor, I draw the original floor plan and I name each room exactly where it used to be.

I can't draw a decent bed. It remains flat on the floor. It's the bed's fault. I depend on it to escape reality.

13.

I must have borrowed the next visitor from a painting. It's like someone cut out her bird head and wings and pasted them onto a human body. She nibbles from a heart-shaped leaf.

""You know, you can choose your own cage here." she says. "There's one filled with paper and twigs with dozens of birds. It's hard to find anyone who listens. Some of their voices are so gossipy and grating while others rise about the din like sopanos. You might learn to sing. But there are wads of old newspaper with bad news and rotting twigs. No one cleans that cage. Or––there's one where lilies float in a jade bath. It's peaceful, no one but you. But you'd become lonely to the deep hole of your female self. The cage inside your heart would break and there isn't any doctor there to tell you you've lost it. Don't despair though as there are more than two cages."

"There's hundreds of cages. I've already been through them. They are all the same and practically empty though at least they have beds. I can't imagine surviving without one."

"Oh those. There are a lot more real estate options. And I'd think you know better than to try to go backwards. That almost never succeeds. You need more rest. I've brought some straw for you to sleep on. You're too old to be on the bare floor.

"I can't leave, I can't go back, and now I definitely can't sleep on straw!"

"Can you imagine living this way forever?"

I lay down in the straw and drift back to sleep with the thought, "If I should die before I wake. . ." I dream of feathers, my own feathers, downy and water repellent. I gently pick up an egg in the straw and place it into a warm spot in my arm pit.


Last edited by carolinex, Jul/12/2012, 12:17 pm
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Katlin Profile
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Re: ideas needed!


Hi Caroline,

Well, you can't stop there! Or at least, I hope you won't. emoticon I have no idea where this piece wants to go, but maybe if you just keep adding sections as they come to you, the larger story will be ultimately be revealed?

This has a fairy tale (for grown ups) quality that I enjoyed. I think this is the first piece of prose by you I've read, and I like the way the story slowly unfolds and all the details and dialogue you have included to make this familiar/strange world come alive for the reader.

There was one place I stumbled:

"In this way, I pass through hundreds of doors into hundreds of hopelessly identical rooms – until the last. It's a golden room painted by the setting sun. Looking up, I discover there is no ceiling."

This section seemed to happen too quickly. If the N passes "through hundreds of doors into hundreds of hopelessly identical rooms", I think this part of the story could be developed a bit to reflect the passage of time and emotion that such an ordeal would entail. Either that, or perhaps you could reduce the number of rooms to smaller, less time consuming and frustrating number?

I also wasn't convinced by the number of crickets in this passage:

"Steady chirp-beats of crickets consumed air. Invisible, hundreds of thousands of them outside. Faces spied in through lace curtains."

Hundreds of thousands seems excessive to me even for a magical world. Maybe just hundreds, or am I being way too literal for a fairy tale?

I really like the subtle touches you use to develop the story. For example:

This time the bread is fresh and buttered.

He floats into my cage. My hand rakes right through him.

A door seems inevitable. As I draw, my sharp pencil tip rips a hole.

There was a heart shaped biscuit on the plate beside my bed. I really wanted strawberries.

Good stuff. Thanks for posting, and welcome back for real!
Jun/19/2012, 5:56 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: ideas needed!


Hi Kat,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response and encouragement. I like your suggestions. I have written other (unfinished) prose. I've listened to some prose writers about their methods and some plan before writing so they know where they are going and others don't. I feel a need to plan but no incentive. Then there is this sense of it never ending and I give up. Sort of like the endless rooms!

I cut the whole thing down. I'm thinking now of creating drawings with the writing in the drawing. I started one anyway. So I don't want this to go on and on. Maybe just one more section?



Last edited by carolinex, Jun/21/2012, 10:36 pm
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Re: ideas needed!


Hi Caroline,

Oh, yes, I see that you have cut this piece down. Since you are planning to add your own drawings (wonderful!), I think shortening this is a fine idea. I did read the last section you added, however, before you deleted it, and I'm hoping you saved it along with the other edited out sectons because they seemed to be related, seemed like they might be part of different story you might want to work on.

I love this new line: I stared at the hole from across the room. "It stared back at me like a disembodied eyeball and then twinkled like a star."

One more section plus drawings sound good to me!


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Re: Trust and Innocence (not finished)


Dear Kat,

Thank you so much for reading along and commenting as I go. I do keep old parts. So now I've added some back and it continues. Another number, the same room, another Trust, the same Innocence. Hhm. Still no ending . . . emoticon My biggest worry is that this might be terribly cliche, the cage idea.

Last edited by carolinex, Jul/1/2012, 9:11 pm
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Re: Trust and Innocence (not finished)


Hi Caroline,

The cage idea isn't original, no, but it's what you do inside the cage that counts! By using names/terms like Innocence and Trust, you are in allegorical waters, so the key is to keep what happens within those waters fresh. I think you do that through twists in the story, unique details and unexpected encounters. Your latest section works in that way. The woman who makes green bean soup and who counsels that Trust is both male and female complicates the narrative and is a nice addtion to the story.
 
I want to say: don't rush the ending. You will find it, or it will find you, when the timing is right. You can always go back later and cut some sections or rearrange them to suit the story once the story is fleshed out. Right now it seems like you are still in the writing as discovery stage.
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Re: Trust and Innocence (not finished)


Kaitlin,

You are so dear to keep reading! I guess the thing is not to worry too much. I'm not used to committing to a longer piece but it isn't like I'm devoted to it with huge blocks of time. A little here and there --hopefully it will keep going more anyway.

I don't know why I gave them such names. I think it must relate to something I read years ago as an English major. Can you think what that reminds you of?

Last edited by carolinex, Jul/8/2012, 10:19 pm
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Re: Trust and Innocence (not finished)


I guess the thing is not to worry too much. I'm not used to committing to a longer piece but it isn't like I'm devoted to it with huge blocks of time. A little here and there --hopefully it will keep going more anyway.

Yep, I think that is the thing. Just write when you can and add your artwork as time allows. Oh, and as Tere likes to say: have fun with it! Don't turn on the inner critic/editor too soon. The final version of this might be something very unexpected, and wouldn't that be cool? Here's a quote you made me think of:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” ― E.L. Doctorow

I don't know why I gave them such names. I think it must relate to something I read years ago as an English major. Can you think what that reminds you of?

Oh boy, now you're really making me put on my thinking cap. The Pilgrim's Progress is the first one that comes to mind, although I've never read it:

[sign in to see URL]%27s_Progress

(I didn't know the term Delectable Mountains came from there!)

The second work I thought of was Piers Plowman, which I did have to read in Middle English. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. emoticon

Last edited by Katlin, Jul/18/2012, 7:31 pm
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Not an easy piece to respond to. Maybe because it is not looking for some easy or facile answer to a question not exactly asked but there all the same. What I get is a picture, in detail and texture, of the juncture between being and nothingness. Could be Beckett inspired in that respect. If so, I read the piece as quite ambitious.

I am struck by a certain tone maintained through out. In tone I find a tacit acceptness of the caged condition, one leading off to the next in an endless series. Escape from which, if at all desired, only half desirable, barely even imaginable after, what?, so long knowing nothing else maybe.

I am hard pressed to relate title to text. Not getting it. That said, the piece's strength is its texture, its local coloration. I also note how the protaganist thinks it possible to draw a way out of her/his alienation. That is a metaphor I can run with.

Tere
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Hi Kaitlin, (Did I once call you Kat? Or Cat?)

Thanks for the Pilgrim's Progress link! Maybe I don't need to so explicit with their names. It does keep coming weirdly. I added a new section just now, and I am enjoying writing it. I think the short sections are what make it easy to write. And knowing it is all drafty and not important. I'm glad you are enjoying the read.

Hi Tere,

Thank you so much for reading and it's great to hear your thoughts. I think it does have a lot to do with life and death as those are so much in my thoughts these days with my elderly parents. There have also been a lot of issues with them and my whole family and my own self around trust. And then there are the constant feelings about lack of freedom, how to feel free. I like that at least I'm free not to know or have a clear meaning or message.

Guess I should try to read something Beckett!

I don't have a title yet. I've been thinking "Cages" but that isn't it. And now I'm even considering not using the names Trust and Innocence, to be more subtle.
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I don't have a title yet. I've been thinking "Cages" but that isn't it. And now I'm even considering not using the names Trust and Innocence, to be more subtle.

Hi Caroline,

Certainly changing the names would be more subtle and create more mystery in the piece. It would also leave more up to the reader's imagination, trying to figure out just who those characters are. No, "Cages" isn't quite right, but I think you are on the right track. Maybe there will be a line from the piece you can use for a title. For example, I like "There are a lot more real estate options." From that line you could get the title "Options." That's not quite right either, but you get my drift.

PS Yes, Kat. emoticon

Last edited by Katlin, Jul/20/2012, 8:21 am
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Caroline: I am taken by the streaming quality of this. It builds on itself piece by piece. Not sure where it's going but curious.... It reminds me of a story I wrote (a long time ago but it's actually on this board) in which someone is imprisoned mysteriously in a hallway with only one visitor who ever comes. The back story emerges gradually as the narrative unfolds. (It's called "Move is a Move", if you're curious.) I felt an affinity for your subject matter!

I like the allegorical nature of this; the names and the setting both seem emblematic. And the whole piece is very visual. I can see this illustrated, as you've already discussed.

Do you feel as if you're channeling when you write this? It feels that way -- very elemental, with veils thin between worlds.
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