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"Now You're Alive"
Posted 21 April 2007 - 10:36 AM
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The shrill, lonely cry of a Gull sounded overhead. I opened my eyes to see the shimmering white wings flashing in the gray predawn light. The Gull flew in high looping circles, crying out. Was it loneliness or hunger that made him call? The musty wet scent of dog breath puffed past my nose. I turned my head and the sand beneath my hair crunched and shuddered.
Marley lay beside me, steamy puffs of air expelling from her wet black nose with each hurried breath. Thick, dark blood matted the white fur of her ears and for a second fear scurried in my heart, making my hands stretch to reach for her. But my hands only rose slightly before falling to dip in the chilled wet sand. Marley whined and crept closer. She swiped her tongue against my face and it made the skin beneath my scruffy beard tickle. Marley licked her muzzle and the fine white hairs were tinged pink. My eyelids fluttered closed. My blood. How do you forget you're dying?
"You forget about everything Ethan," Lydia's face accused against the curtain of my eyelids, "I don't know if I should be angry or endeared."
I opened my eyes and looked down my body toward the ocean; it was dark, as if night still lingered in the waves. The air held the tang of salt, both from the sea and the blood that pumped sluggishly from beneath my torn skin. My heart sounded like distant wings flapping, warning that something was drawing near. The surf spoke with a relentless crash and murmured ebb against the beach, growing louder with each break. My pulse slowed to match as if it held the waves tight in a seductive slow dance.
One of my hands slid down Lydia's back, stopping at the curve of her ass. The other meandered through her silky hair still dripping from the shower. We rocked together, dancing to a song only we heard. I could feel her lips smile secretly against the skin of my shoulder. I was lost in her scent, drowning for the taste of her.
My breath bubbled and I coughed violently. I felt a wetness slide up my throat, into my mouth and over my lips. With a trembling effort I raised my hand to my face. I touched my wet lips, watched the crimson slide down my fingertips. It was blood. But I couldn't taste it. Marley whined again and pawed at the sand beside me.
" 'sokay Marley, love," my lips sounded like were farther from my ears than they once were. She edged forward and aligned her body beside mine so I could feel her barrel chest expand with each breath against my ribs. The distant sound of a foghorn mingled with the crashing waves; and the unavoidable tug of the moon drew them closer to my bare feet. Marley laid her head on my torn chest, her root beer eyes imploring.
"I don't know why that dog puts up with you. Half the time you forget to feed her. She's as skinny as you are," Lydia said down her nose.
"She loves me Lyd."
Marley's breath caressed my face, but the comfortable scent of her evaded my nose, and wafted up to ruffle my hair. I wheezed a sigh. Wind swirled up from the sea, rolling over my body, whistling past my ears. It was cold, colder than before. I was losing blood too quickly. Maybe if I wasn't so thin I would have more blood in me to finish. It felt as if my soul was settling low in my body, trying to seep through my skin and spread into the sand below. Free. Not yet.
Through the scent of wood chips and freshly cut grass, the smell of peanut butter cookies found my nose. I raised my eyes to find Lydia standing above me with a plate of freshly baked cookies. "Your favorite." she said with a gentle smile. "You're too good for me." I said. Her smile faltered when she realized I was serious.
My lids raised slowly, laboriously, to watch Marley rise to her paws above me. Her jaws opened and closed rapidly, and she jerked her head to the side as if to say, "come on Ethan, let's go!" I felt a moan rumble from my chest, spat some blood out of the corner of my mouth. Red and gold fingers twined along the horizon, brushing aside silver dawn light, proclaiming that the day had come. But the sky looked farther away, and the edges were closing in.
Her cold toes slid up my shin, caressed the back of my knee. We were warm in our cocoon of feather blankets and satisfaction. "Look!" she pointed toward the horizon. For awhile we watched in silence as dawn was born. "Do you remember the rhyme your father taught us?" she said as she nestled her head more comfortably on my shoulder. I breathed in the cool scent of her. "Which one?" I asked, distracted. Her foot stopped. "Red skies at night, sailors delight..." and when I remained silent her deep eyes settled on mine. "Don't you remember?"
I rolled to my side and felt my bones clack together in protest. With a trembling effort I stretched my arm across the stained sand, index finger extended. The shadow of the Gull darkened my hand. But I could not hear its call. I dug my finger deep into the sand, pulled down toward me, then to the right. I willed my arm to stop trembling. It did, but as if to compensate the rest of my body shuddered and shook harder as the dark pool beneath me spread. Next a diagonal line from left to right. Marley settled against my back. I closed my eyes and held back a rattling cough. When I opened my eyes again I had only my hands to see. My head dropped to lay on the coarse sand. Still my finger dug.
She pulled back from the kiss, surprise and joy splashed across her face. I couldn't believe that she'd kissed me first. I had it all planned out. It didn't matter though. My hands dived into her gleaming black hair, pulled her back to me and our lips met and stayed.
My heart quaked in my chest.
"It's your turn to read tonight," she tossed me the copy of The Return of The King and I settled down under the covers. "Chapter 1. Minas Tirith. Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf's cloak..."
Where was Marley? I couldn't feel her. Nor could I feel the sand beneath my forehead or the cold that should be creeping up my limbs. The only thing that remained was the tip of my finger, tracing...
"You make me something," I whispered into her ear. She sighed beneath me, kissed my neck as her hands streaked down my slick back.
My finger made the final line.
"You never remembered." were her last words as she turned to walk away. I followed her with my eyes and whispered, "Red skies at morning, sailors take warning."
My message was finished. And I felt nothing.
Lydia. I remember.
Posted 21 April 2007 - 11:38 AM
I've heard a slightly different version of that saying but my father was in the service at a different time period than you were so that probably explains it.
My heart sounded like distant wings flapping, warning that something was drawing near.
A lot of lines in this story are well drawn, and this is one of the best.
Posted 21 April 2007 - 02:08 PM
I don't have any criticisms to offer for right now. Perhaps I'll think of some later. I do have a question, though. Why did you change the title?
When you showed me your working draft of this the other day, I really liked your original title. I don't mean to suggest that the change was bad necessarily. I'm just wondering why you changed it.
Edited by Obi-Wan Cannoli, 21 April 2007 - 03:07 PM.
Posted 21 April 2007 - 02:17 PM
Posted 21 April 2007 - 02:37 PM
That's awesome. Perfectly worded.
; and the unavoidable tug of the moon drew them closer to my bare feet.
Again, perfect. The word "satisfaction" is absolutely right.
We were warm in our cocoon of feather blankets and satisfaction.
I also like at the end with "Sailor take warning" It's great because earlier we see a red sky dawning. Fantastic.
You do get better and better every time out. This is the best thing I've read of yours. Never leave us!
Posted 22 April 2007 - 02:08 PM
Posted 22 April 2007 - 05:52 PM
I changed it because the working title reflected the end too much. I wanted a title that was a more broad and suggested a different way of viewing the story.
I had a feeling you were going to say that it had something to do with the title possibly giving away the ending.
That's cool, then. I respect your decision to change it. The new title is appropriate and works really well, too.
Posted 23 April 2007 - 08:07 PM
you make me scared to try to write. your that good!
Nixie, while I appreciate the sentiment, I hope that this isn't true. You should try and find inspiration rather than fear from the writers that you find good. For instance, I will never in my wildest dreams understand human nature in the way that John Steinbeck did. But I read his work and I'm not scared to write. no. He makes me want to better myself, to strive for that level of magnificence, even if I feel like I'll never get there.
It's the elusive dream. To be that good.
So if you think I'm a good writer, and you want to write as well as I do (not saying I'm great by any means), you need to pick up a pen and notebook and write. Because dreaming you're good won't just happen. It takes so much practice.
You're already ahead of the game. You read insatiably, and that will only help you in your creative journey.
Posted 23 April 2007 - 08:24 PM
"You forget about everything Ethan," Lydia's face accused against the curtain of my eyelids
I would put a comma after everything, to make the name stand out. I think it would read better that way.
I had a similar idea, to describe a death. I'm glad I didn't go with that idea, because my story would have sucked compared to yours.
Posted 24 April 2007 - 07:00 AM
Oh man Mara. Can I keep you?
I fully expect to eventually annoy a bunch of people in this forum with me editorial comments, but I can't help it. Thankfully I haven't gotten to the point where I proofread novels that I'm reading, but I do pick out mistakes from time to time.