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One's Chronicle


Part I: The Web
In the gloom of the bar suddenly, one day, amidst the throng, it seemed only one face existed. Smooth planed, with somber eyes that could laugh but rarely did, soft expression when looking my way. The thing I noticed was that I could not avoid noticing. And that those eyes found me wherever I was, whatever I was doing.

At first, we were friends. Along with the young women with whom I played and laughed after work, I welcomed him into our midst. He was safe, married, slightly older. We were barely into our twenties, free and living the freedom to its full extent. So yes, safe is the word. And warm and receptive to all things woman. We felt – I felt – accepted, valued and noticed.

Somehow it came up – the Tarot. What is that? I asked. Let me show you, he answered. Magic man, he unwrapped a deck of cards, thick against his long, graceful hands, painted with insistent imagery and the keys to many locks. Sitting in the shadowy bar, probably with a beer, a cognac, an Irish whiskey at our elbows, he laid out the cards for me and then again. His wisdom wrenched a cry out of me, and tears and fears and hopes that no 21 year old girl should let herself have. I recall thinking: “Maybe I am special and have a life that I can lead. One that will matter.” It was in the cards – he was nothing if not honest and he had no intentions for my bed. At least not yet.

But the time passed and somewhere along the line the eyes looking for me across the room were no longer safe. I loved them. When he was upstairs, working, and I was downstairs, working, it was as if a thin, invisible web of spider’s making bound us together, arm to arm, thigh to thigh, breast to breast, mouth to mouth, although we had never touched. The strain of that bond hurt. When he came down, searching for me in the darkened room, it eased, only to kick up an impossible thrumming under my breastbone, one that did not ever let me take a full breath.

I turned away whenever I could. Remember, he was married. And that was definite, clear, absolute.

I followed him up the stairs one late afternoon, before work started, before it was time to think about what was definite, clear and absolute. For a minute, I could pretend that he was for me and that his arms might encircle me in the falling light. We stood, feet apart, noncommittal and aching, staring down the sun as it set beyond the railroad tracks. The cream colored room was swept with amber light and our faces glowed. Thick black hair sprang from his handsome head, a cloud inviting fingers. His mouth, held carefully and seriously, did not say the words I wanted to hear. If they spoke, it was about what was definite, clear and absolute.

One day, one night, I think, I sat in my apartment, surrounded by the lamplight that kept me safe. The phone rang. First contact – it was he. The web had tightened and his magic, and mine, were not enough to cut through the insistent strands. He had left his life and, for a minute, wanted to be in mine. I said yes, of course.

Coming to my door up the sloping street, his long legs carried him to the cocoon of me. We kissed in the doorway – the first of not enough kisses – and he stepped in.

Part II: Separation
When he went Spain, three weeks later, he left me with two I Ching coins and a Tarot deck, wrapped in a cloth from his father’s shirt – the only piece he had of a man he never knew. The three weeks had taught me that I should not have hope of this man. I loved him preposterously. I lived in a disallowed, almost delusional state of horrible love. Would he stay separated from his wife? I suppose that might have happened, and feeling his love for me one might have forgiven me had I assumed it. If I had believed it to be the only clear, clean option for two people like us.

What did the universe have in mind for me when I made my way to Virginia? The many people I met and loved? The education? Was it so I could sit in the bar till dawn feeling grown up? Was it so I could pay my own bills and pretend that I was giving the finger to all the expectations anyone had ever had of me? Was it to find adventure, danger, the companionship of desirous men and kindred women? Or was it for this one reason – love? For this one man – love?

At seventeen, even nineteen, even twenty, I imagined love was real. By twenty-one I was not so sure. Scooped out prematurely inside my ribcage, the hollowed-out me had been in the making since birth. By twenty-one, I felt absurd and silly to wait for, to seek, love.

Nothing seemed to affect me – not wine or beer, cocaine or hashish. Not unprotected sex, not malnutrition or sleeplessness. I remained young and fresh, with opened eyes and a guarded heart. But I wrote constantly, most of it total crap. Maybe it kept the arteries open, an avenue past the sentinels.
 
Okay, so that is a lie. Everything affected me. But nothing got me past the starting gate. I felt virginal and unbegun, no matter what I did, saw, tried, thought or imagined. I felt everything like a knife. I wanted things till it hurt. I wanted the hurt. I never told everything to anyone, not even myself. This became the way of my life, the plan, the only thing I knew how to do.

So love came walking in my door, with soft eyes and reaching hands.

When he left, I did not allow myself to feel the way muscle fibers in my heart shredded into filaments. I kept my eyes open wide so tears had to work to fall. I went to work. I danced, read whatever I could tolerate, wrote whatever I could spare.

Did I start to shut down to him before or after the call? Years later, he told me he called. Even with the reminder I have no memory of it. From the airport in NYC, ready to board his flight to Spain.

A call of love? A call to say, “I miss you. I love you?” A call to say, “I forgot to tell you; I will write to you. Look for my letters.” No – a call to say: “I will not be coming back to you.” Thanks for the three weeks. Thanks for the bed, the body, the midnight salads and morning coffee. Have to get back to my real life.

Did I say, “But you are my real life?” No. I do not know what I said. I do not remember the call. I wonder how long it took for me to wipe it out of my mind? I have skills. Skills that make me a freak of sorts – the forgetter.

Never told him the truth. Never said, “I belong with you.” Never said, “We are the only right path.” I blame myself for the dishonesty of my fearful silence.

Strength! I traded in it. Convinced the world of it. Forged ahead with the plan: be strong, get over yourself, get a !@#$ life. It took a full year before I hit the wall. Did the violently crazy mother trump lost love? Not sure, but in time I became a walking skeleton with no pleasure greater than self-denial. I reached new heights of monkish scholarship as a student in my last few classes in college and made a plan to get away from Virginia.

It took another year or so to shove lots more !@#$ into the vault of forgetting, to agree to marry a man I did not love, did not want, and could never need, to sabotage my escape by attaching myself to the one person who would not want me to fly.

And who is to blame? The sweet girl at the starting gate. If she ever left the gate, it was to inch along the track in a trance.


Last edited by vkp, Jun/29/2012, 10:07 am
Jun/27/2012, 2:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: One's Chronicle


vkp,

This is quite good, and it fits in with the type of writing done on this site. I don't read enough current fiction to say definitively that it fits in as "flash fiction" or "whatnot." It's of short duration, and it covers a lot of ground very rapidly. I know in television movies they cover a lot of ground rapidly. Watched a 50's or 60's movie a few weeks ago where the guy and the girl fell in love within 20 minutes. This is so different from reading a detailed writer like Proust, or even a minimalist like Hemingway. Does not read like Beckett because the story is told conventionally. It is rational and it moves quickly. I suppose it could be improved along the lines of the "probably" comment I made before where you set on a definite point of view and on a more sustained emotional approach.

It's nearly a perfect product for this type of site, though. No one spends a lot of time developing anything carefully and over a long time. We can't count Terreson's journal-like entries, because they are not this type of story -- when he covers a lot of ground over a long time.

Zak

vkp wrote:

Part I: The Web
In the gloom of the bar suddenly, one day, amidst the throng, it seemed only one face existed. Smooth planed, with somber eyes that could laugh but rarely did, soft expression when looking my way. The thing I noticed was that I could not avoid noticing. And that those eyes found me wherever I was, whatever I was doing.

At first, we were friends. Along with the young women with whom I played and laughed after work, I welcomed him into our midst. He was safe, married, slightly older. We were barely into our twenties, free and living the freedom to its full extent. So yes, safe is the word. And warm and receptive to all things woman. We felt – I felt – accepted, valued and noticed.

Somehow it came up – the Tarot. What is that? I asked. Let me show you, he answered. Magic man, he unwrapped a deck of cards, thick against his long, graceful hands, painted with insistent imagery and the keys to many locks. Sitting in the shadowy bar, probably DON'T BE INDECISIVE LIKE THIS. NO "probably". with a beer, a cognac, an Irish whiskey at our elbows, he laid out the cards for me and then again. His wisdom wrenched a cry out of me, and tears and fears and hopes that no 21 year old girl should let herself have. I recall thinking: “Maybe I am special and have a life that I can lead. One that will matter.” It was in the cards – he was nothing if not honest and he had no intentions for my bed. At least not yet.

But the time passed and somewhere along the line the eyes looking for me across the room were no longer safe. I loved them. When he was upstairs, working, and I was downstairs, working, it was as if a thin, invisible web of spider’s making bound us together, arm to arm, thigh to thigh, breast to breast, mouth to mouth, although we had never touched. The strain of that bond hurt. When he came down, searching for me in the darkened room, it eased, only to kick up an impossible thrumming under my breastbone, one that did not ever let me take a full breath.

I turned away whenever I could. Remember, he was married. And that was definite, clear, absolute.

I followed him up the stairs one late afternoon, before work started, before it was time to think about what was definite, clear and absolute. For a minute, I could pretend that he was for me and that his arms might encircle me in the falling light. We stood, feet apart, noncommittal and aching, staring down the sun as it set beyond the railroad tracks. The cream colored room was swept with amber light and our faces glowed. Thick black hair sprang from his handsome head, a cloud inviting fingers. His mouth, held carefully and seriously, did not say the words I wanted to hear. If they spoke, it was about what was definite, clear and absolute.

One day, one night, I think, I sat in my apartment, surrounded by the lamplight that kept me safe. The phone rang. First contact – it was he. The web had tightened and his magic, and mine, were not enough to cut through the insistent strands. He had left his life and, for a minute, wanted to be in mine. I said yes, of course.

Coming to my door up the sloping street, his long legs carried him to the cocoon of me. We kissed in the doorway – the first of not enough kisses – and he stepped in.

Part II: Separation
When he went Spain, three weeks later, he left me with two I Ching coins and a Tarot deck, wrapped in a cloth from his father’s shirt – the only piece he had of a man he never knew. The three weeks had taught me that I should not have hope of this man. I loved him preposterously. I lived in a disallowed, almost delusional state of horrible love. Would he stay separated from his wife? I suppose that might have happened, and feeling his love for me one might have forgiven me had I assumed it. If I had believed it to be the only clear, clean option for two people like us.

What did the universe have in mind for me when I made my way to Virginia? The many people I met and loved? The education? Was it so I could sit in the bar till dawn feeling grown up? Was it so I could pay my own bills and pretend that I was giving the finger to all the expectations anyone had ever had of me? Was it to find adventure, danger, the companionship of desirous men and kindred women? Or was it for this one reason – love? For this one man – love?

At seventeen, even nineteen, even twenty, I imagined love was real. By twenty-one I was not so sure. Scooped out prematurely inside my ribcage, the hollowed-out me had been in the making since birth. By twenty-one, I felt absurd and silly to wait for, to seek, love.

Nothing seemed to affect me – not wine or beer, cocaine or hashish. Not unprotected sex, not malnutrition or sleeplessness. I remained young and fresh, with opened eyes and a guarded heart. But I wrote constantly, most of it total crap. Maybe it kept the arteries open, an avenue past the sentinels.
 
Okay, so that is a lie. Everything affected me. But nothing got me past the starting gate. I felt virginal and unbegun, no matter what I did, saw, tried, thought or imagined. I felt everything like a knife. I wanted things till it hurt. I wanted the hurt. I never told everything to anyone, not even myself. This became the way of my life, the plan, the only thing I knew how to do.

So love came walking in my door, with soft eyes and reaching hands.

When he left, I did not allow myself to feel the way muscle fibers in my heart shredded into filaments. I kept my eyes open wide so tears had to work to fall. I went to work. I danced, read whatever I could tolerate, wrote whatever I could spare.

Did I start to shut down to him before or after the call? Years later, he told me he called. Even with the reminder I have no memory of it. From the airport in NYC, ready to board his flight to Spain.

A call of love? A call to say, “I miss you. I love you?” A call to say, “I forgot to tell you; I will write to you. Look for my letters.” No – a call to say: “I will not be coming back to you.” Thanks for the two weeks. Thanks for the bed, the body, the midnight salads and morning coffee. Have to get back to my real life.

Did I say, “But you are my real life?” No. I do not know what I said. I do not remember the call. I wonder how long it took for me to wipe it out of my mind? I have skills. Skills that make me a freak of sorts – the forgetter.

Never told him the truth. Never said, “I belong with you.” Never said, “We are the only right path.” I blame myself for the dishonesty of my fearful silence.

Strength! I traded in it. Convinced the world of it. Forged ahead with the plan: be strong, get over yourself, get a !@#$ life. It took a full year before I hit the wall. Did the violently crazy mother trump lost love? Not sure, but in time I became a walking skeleton with no pleasure greater than self-denial. I reached new heights of monkish scholarship as a student in my last few classes in college and made a plan to get away from Virginia.

It took another year or so to shove lots more !@#$ into the vault of forgetting, to agree to marry a man I did not love, did not want, and could never need, to sabotage my escape by attaching myself to the one person who would not want me to fly.

And who is to blame? The sweet girl at the starting gate. If she ever left the gate, it was to inch along the track in a trance.
 
Jun/28/2012, 5:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Hi, Zak! I am so happy you read this. It is not fiction but personal narrative, and in field notes for that reason, though much of what it covers happened in the past. I am not done, either, though I don't know where to go next. So much ground to cover. I'll see what comes next. I agree with your probably comment, though I was really only saying probably because I don't remember and was going by what was likely. Still, no need to mar the narrative with an equivocation. I'll take it out.
vkp
Jun/28/2012, 9:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Hi vkp,

I think this works well as a field note. Certainly the piece could be further developed as Zak points out, but it works now as a "sketchbook study." I get what you are saying about having "so much ground to cover." Sometimes that happens to me, too, when I attempt to write a personal narrative. Where to start? Where to stop? How much to put in? These can all be daunting questions, so I find it best to just jump in and start writing. I think that's what you did here. When my friend Herman wrote his memoir about growing up under Hitler, he did not do so in chronological order. He wrote whatever he most felt like writing at any given time, and then later he filled in the blanks and tied the story together. Maybe something like that will work for you as well.
Jun/29/2012, 7:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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vkp,

I should have been aware it was field notes. My remarks are still appropriate if you were going to develop this. I wrote up some non-fiction experiences for some friends once, friends who had been in combat in Vietnam. The first one to talk to me talked all in a jumble, the way the experience unfolded for him. I rewrote it for him so that it was more sequential and then had him review it. For another friend, I put it down exactly as he told it to me. Later, I got some criticism from an editor who was helping me on the second one, the one that I wrote down exactly as he told it to me. The jury is still out as to which method is more effective. For me, they were both effective, written in different ways for different purposes. I hope you find the way that works for you, and I hope you continue this journey. Zak
Jun/30/2012, 5:41 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Agreed, Kat and Zak -- I guess I am just writing down as it comes, with an eye to "covering ground" and touching on essentials that strike my heart at this moment -- essentials about a story from the past that will continue into the present. I do think it may be worth developing later but it's very cool that I have thoughtful feedback here, as I give it a try in this first go-round.
Thank you for that.
vkp
Jun/30/2012, 9:25 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Again and again and again I am attracted to all the possibilities implicit in this thing we call a field note. Anyone suppose it qualifies as a sub-genre or even a genre? Said boldly, I do without question. It takes from the essay form, right?, or is at least kin to it. It also takes from the journal entry. I also notice it can take from the prose poem in a certain insistence on form.

I think of a field note and I think of a biologist, even a naturalist, taking notes on observations made in the field, even if made years after the fact, since, on some level, the recorder is still in the field of the story's making, a still progressing thing. That excites me to no end.

And here is something else. I've cited this Stendhal quote so many times I've become boring. Still, I think nobody gets precisely what Stendhal meant. Neither precisely or fully. I came across it in my twenties when reading a book of his called, I think, Memoirs of an Egoist. "The genius of poetry is dead, but the demon of suspicion has come into the world. I am firmly convinced that the only antidote for this, the only thing that might make the reader forget the eternal I of the author, is complete sincerity."

Think on it. The spirit of poetry is dead. I can go with that on at least some levels. That poetry, and so its poets, are no longer believed in spells just that death. Stendhal himself a Romantic, I am convinced this is how he meant what he said. And his anti-dote: complete sincerity. I agree with that to. The field note draws on the authenticity of experience. Experience raw, unmanaged, sometimes unmanagable, reaching for no resolution. Just a field note.

There is something else I would add. Something Laura Riding said and again I've cited many times before. "They will be egoists and romanticists all, but romantics with the courage of realism: they will put their hands upon the mysterious countour of life not to force meaning out of it...but press meaning upon it, outstare the stony countenance of it, make it flush with their own colors." Read again vkp's field note and tell me that is not precisely what vkp is after.

I made this forum in the board's begining, Sep '08. I knew precisely what I was after. I did not think then that I might be creating a genre. But I think so now. Further I think it has sui generis, is one of a kind. And that makes it a genre.

vkp that is a hell of a story you have to tell. Depth of passionate love, honesty of eye, reality harsh, and the insistence to get the record set. You indicate there is more to the story. Wondering how or if you will proceed.

Tere
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