On One Hand

October 12, 2004

Past Tense

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:32 pm

My last entry was an experiment in point of view. Strangely enough, just one day after writing that, my Creative Writing teacher assigned the class to write a passage from three different points of view.

The summer night was hot and thick. Brian could feel the humid air congealing like sap around him. Sticky sweat trickled from his groin and armpits as he walked toward the lake’s edge. The rain-soaked field was moist and muddy, sucking each weighted foot deeper down into the muck with every strained step. The dim halo of the low moon, obscured by clouds, was barely visible reflecting in the lake’s rain-swelled muddy waters. The erie calm lunged out at Brian, grabbing his throat. He reached the shore sooner than he had expected; the water was high. He stared out over the lake.

The night before had been a dream, a shadowy picture show of ghostlike hands that weren’t his, a gargled scream of someone he didn’t know. He plunked the gym bag into the shallow water. A thousand frogs screeched Brian-why?! Brian-why?! Brian, Brian no! A startled heron leaped from behind a stand of willows toward the lake, her low-pitched swoops stirring the air deeply with her heavy wings. The heron’s misty shadow flicked across the lake, muting the dull cloud-filtered reflection of moonlight, brown, or was it red?

An impulse: Brian leaped, in panic, into the water. He dropped to his knees, the cool contact rising to his neck, rushing around his throat. Brian gasped. He pressed forward, reaching out with both hands, pulling back violent currents with his arms and forcing himself out farther, deeper into the lake’s watery bosom. The filthy water burned his eyes but soothed his skin. Below the lake’s surface the churning waters hid all sound except the constant muffled beat of blood pulsing through his eardrums. He relaxed and tried to accept the soothing water into his lungs.

He choked. Stomach filled with brackish water he rose to the surface, coughing, vomiting, reaching out for life. Making contact with the muddy ground once more he staggered to his feet, nearly tripping over the bulging gym bag he left half-submerged in the water near the lake’s edge. Out of the muck he rose like some ooze-covered tormented creature from a swamp, lunging through the tall grass toward the truck. The muddy soil swallowed a shoe, threatening to take his leg and whole body down into the soggy damp bowels of the Earth. But onward he pressed, tracing his deep footprints back onto the firmer ground beside the dry road. He threw his tired legs over the driver’s seat of the truck, closed the door behind him, and fled that place.

The summer night was hot and thick, the air flowing over the Earth like congealed sap. A shadow moved toward the lake’s edge. The rain-soaked field was moist and muddy, and the shadow made a slurping, sucking sound with each step as it struggled through the muck. The dim halo of the low moon, obscured by clouds, was barely visible reflecting in the lake’s rain-swelled muddy waters. The dark figure stopped at the shore and looked out over the lake.

A weighted object plopped into the shallow water. A startled heron leaped from behind a stand of willows toward the lake, its low-pitched swoops stirring the air deeply with its heavy wings.

Then the shadow dove into the water. Dropping to its knees, it paused, gasped, and pressed on. Reaching out with both arms it dove farther, deeper beneath the surface, down into the lake’s watery bosom. For a moment, all was still.

Then, coughing, the shadow rose. It flailed and choked as it made its way again toward the shore. Making contact with the muddy ground once more it staggered to its feet, tripping over the object it had abandoned near the lake’s edge. Out of the muck it rose, an ooze-covered tormented creature from a swamp, lunging through the tall grass back toward the road from whence it came. In the cab light of the truck a dirty, stained face of a young man could be seen above the shadow’s blackened shoulders. He threw legs over the driver’s seat of the truck, closed the door behind him, and fled that place.

The summer night is hot and thick, the humid air congealing like sap around you. Sticky sweat trickles from your groin and armpits as you walk toward the lake’s edge. The rain-soaked field is moist and muddy, sucking your weighted feet deeper into the muck each strained step. The dim halo of the low moon, obscured by clouds, is barely visible reflecting in the lake’s rain-swelled muddy waters. The erie calm lunges out at you, tightening in your throat. You reach the shore sooner than you expect; the water’s high from the rain. You stare out over the lake.

Last night was a dream, a shadowy picture show of ghostlike hands that weren’t yours, a gargled scream of someone you didn’t know. You thrust the gym bag into the shallow water. A thousand frogs screech why?! why?! no, why, no! A startled heron leaps from behind a stand of willows toward the lake, her low-pitched swoops stirring the air deeply with her heavy wings. Her misty shadow flicks across the lake, muting the dull cloud-filtered reflection of moonlight, brown, or is it red?

An impulse: you leap, in panic, into the water. Dropping to your knees, the cool contact rises to your neck, rushing around your throat. You gasp. Press forward, reach out with both hands, pull back violent currents with your arms and force yourself out farther, deeper into the lake’s watery bosom. The muddy water burns your eyes but soothes your skin. Below the lake’s surface the churning waters hide all sound except the constant muffled beat of blood pulsing through your eardrums. You relax and try to breathe.

You choke. Your stomach fills with brackish water as you rise to the surface, coughing, vomiting, reaching out for life. Making contact with the muddy ground once more you stagger to your feet, nearly tripping over the bulging gym bag that you left half-submerged in the water near the lake’s edge. Out of the muck you rise like some ooze-covered tormented creature from a swamp, lunging through the tall grass toward the truck. The muddy soil swallows a shoe, threatening to take a leg and your whole body down into the soggy damp bowels of the Earth. But onward you press, tracing your deep footprints back onto the firmer ground beside the dry road. You throw your tired legs over the driver’s seat of the truck, close the door behind you, and flee that place.

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8 Comments »

  1. Wow…

    Comment by emeraldimp — October 13, 2004 @ 4:49 am | Reply

  2. What was in the gym bag? Why were the frogs so upset? I hope it wasn’t a dog.

    Comment by tempur_tempur — October 13, 2004 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

    • The assignment was to write a piece about how a young man who just murdered somebody might see a lake, without mentioning the lake.

      Comment by ononehand — October 13, 2004 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

      • Er- that is, without mentioning the murder.

        Comment by ononehand — October 13, 2004 @ 8:40 pm

      • Okay, now I see. Though I think you described the environment well enough that the reader could figure out it was a lake without mentioning it as well.

        Comment by tempur_tempur — October 13, 2004 @ 8:45 pm

      • I didn’t get it the first time, but after the third one, I did.

        Comment by emeraldimp — October 13, 2004 @ 9:30 pm

      • You mentioned the lake in the second sentence. I hope that didn’t detract from your grade. You’re a good writer.

        Comment by tempur_tempur — October 13, 2004 @ 8:43 pm

  3. hehe you really have a way with words. that was beautiful. It’s a neat assignment too and I think you did an excellent job.

    Comment by im_just_a_boy — October 14, 2004 @ 3:43 am | Reply


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