Thursday, May 15, 2014

Moving Forward

Noteworthy Writing Prompt #12
"Write about white feet at a pool ."

I have a feeling, when my husband thought up this prompt, he must have had a humorous story in mind. I did play around with a funny story about a construction worker who lived in steel toe boots all week then brought his kids to the pool on a weekend, but the details and idea's I had never took hold. The pieces didn't fit because there was another story to be told here and it wasn't a funny one. Sorry Rene.
Sometimes, it'll happen that way. The stories we think we're going to write about, end up being very different from the ideas we started with. Don't get stuck in your first idea and don't be afraid of the process. Just go with it. Move forward and see where it takes you. Above all else, enjoy the ride. You may learn something amazing during the process of it all. I did.

Moving Forward
By Anuschka delaCourt

His movements were slow and methodical. Each layer was unwrapped with care, and as if peeling an onion, tears formed pools along the corners of his slanted brown eyes. Gently he released the cotton fabric formed in strips encased around his most cherished gift. More precious than anything this world could offer.
Lately, he had been so focused on obtaining wealth for his family, that he was blinded to the old customs encircling his modern world.
“How could they have done this to you?” He whispered softly as tears fell onto the cotton fabric that had slid into the water beside the small pool at the rivers edge. No, this was not an onion being peeled. It was his baby girl, and he was unwrapping her broken bound feet on a bed of moss just outside his village. Instinct guided him to this safe place that he would run to as a child when life got chaotic. It was a place of peace, his sanctuary.
He had left for a business meeting in the city two months ago, wrapping up a final business deal with an export company. When he got back, those he called family, those he had trusted, mutilated his little Meili; his progeny.
“How could she be so stupid?” his chest tightened with anger at his mother. Her old idea's and traditions had frustrated him for decades. He was educated abroad, and although he respected his elders and most of the traditions handed down through the generations, the old Chinese custom of foot binding, he could not honour. He was glad when it was banned in 1912 when he was a teenager. However, throughout his youth he had trouble persuading his family to take on this change. Unfortunately, it was still prevalent, two decades later, among the women nearest and dearest to him. His mother never understood his views on the old tradition, yet he never thought she would go behind his back and disfigure his daughter.
“She will never find a good rich husband without small feet.” She would argue with him, before he left. She was holding on to a crumbling tradition, but he knew better, he had seen the changes in the city and these changes were good. These changes would help them move forward towards a better life.
“Why?” He longed for his partner. His wife. This never would have happened had she lived through childbirth. No, he was alone, fighting against an antiquated system that his family, the people he loved, still hung on to so strongly.
A shiver ran down his spine as he reached the last of the wrapping and he caught a glimpse of her toes bent unholy beneath her plaster white feet. Hope of healing faded and he cried unabashedly for his innocent daughter and the pain she must have suffered when they broke her toes.  
As the gentle sounds of birds singing and water splashing against the rocks engulfed them, he sat rocking his 3-year-old daughter in a moment of peace that protected them from the hostilities close by.
“There has to be a way to fix this.” With a renewed determination he got up, and lifted his daughter off the cool mossy ground. He would take her to the city, to a doctor who would fix her feet and he would find a way to stay there and educate his daughter. Change was good. This was the least he could do to stop the subjugation and move his family forwards to a better life.

To learn more on the history of Foot Binding:
- Painful Memories
- Foot Binding

Thanks to:
- Rene my husband and muse. The person who challenges me to be a better mother, wife, writer and human.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Character Descriptions, Action, and Running Out of Gas

Noteworthy Writing Prompt #11
"Write a story about a crumpled up gas receipt for $50.00".

I've been longing to breath some life into my characters. I don't want them all to sound the same, and I worry that they lack depth, not emotionally moving the readers to respond in compassion or hatred. So, I've been working on trying to improve my character descriptions. 
From what I've been reading this week, it's important to share a physical description with a form of action. For example, if your character has blue eyes, instead of saying, "she had blue eyes", you could say with action, "her blue eyed stare sent shivers down his back."

"An 'active' description gives the reader a motion picture to look at. An 'inactive' one gives only a still-life painting." 
Marc McCutcheon from the book "Building Believable Characters

So, try your hand at 'active' descriptions this week. I Look forward to hearing from you!

This slightly shy green eyed novice writer wishes you a joyful week of energetic descriptive writing (Okay, maybe that was a bit over the top).


Out of Gas
By Anuschka de la Court

Miriam was tired, hungry and cold. She had just worked a 14-hour shift in the Emergency and all she wanted right now was food and bed. She wasn’t sure if she would make it up the 10 steps to her bedroom.
“I should have shut these six hours ago.” She rubbed her burning sea green eyes, kicked off her shoes, and headed into the kitchen to make a sandwich. The sofa looked inviting as she passed it heading to the back of the house, and the food. Her stomach rumbled as she stumbled over her son’s size 10 sneakers left in the darkness of the hall way. She kicked them to the side, almost hitting the cat who was weaving figure eights through her legs trying to catch her attention.
“Ah.” Her thin boney shoulders slumped as she groaned not wanting to deal with the house duties just yet.
“That job will start tomorrow,” she thought about shutting her eyes for just a moment, ”I mean today… after sleep.” It was 4am and she knew she would only get about 5 hours of sleep that morning before she would put on her chef’s hat, cleaning hat, laundry hat, taxi driver hat and who knows what other ones her ‘day off’ would bring. She knew her so called ‘day offs’ were just as chaotic as the emergency room at the hospital, but at least she didn't have to deal with death at home, on her day off. 
It was hard getting used to watching life leave someone, young or old, it was the one thing about her job that she could never get used to. She wouldn’t allow herself to get hardened to the reality of death. It was there, and she would weep. This kept her human.
As she entered the kitchen and turned on the light she stepped on a rolled up paper ball and leaned down to pick it up. It looked like something her son might have made for the cat to play with. Every now and then he would wrap up catnip into a paper ball, but this time it wasn’t a cat’s toy, it was a gas receipt for fifty dollars.
“I just filled up the tank yesterday?” she knew her son needed the car, so she filled up the tank before he drove her to work yesterday.
“KELOWNA!” the receipt was from a city that was a six-hour drive away from where they lived and with yesterdays date, “What the… oh… he is going to get it!” The fire of anger and adrenaline rushed through her and she was fully awake now. Her 17-year-old son needed the car to drive a friend home, but he didn’t mention where.  He had given the impression that it was local drive, not half way across the province. She sat down on a stool beside the breakfast bar and sighed deeply.
“Kelowna.” She murmured and then thoughts came flooding in from the last holiday together, as a family, when they drove to Edmonton to visit relatives two years ago.
They stopped at Okanogan Mountain Provincial Park along the way and rented a boat for four days. The small 17-foot length zodiac fit the family of four plus the dog, camping gear, coolers, stove, and sleeping bags. It took them to Commando Bay. The ride was a little cramped, but those four days were amazing. One of the best holidays... filled with adventures, swimming, hiking, campfires and time together away from the demands of the city, mortgages, work and school. She needed a holiday like that right now, but it would never be like that again. An overwhelming sadness creeped in and her eyes burned with tears while a deep black hole of loneliness opened up and sent shooting pains of grief into her chest.
"No." she shook her head and fought back the darkness of mourning, the murkiness of depression. One of them was missing...dead... and they would never get that time back. It was why she threw herself into her work, so she wouldn’t have to miss him.
“Maybe that’s why he went there?” tears flowed freely down her cheeks, as her anger was replaced with understanding. She knew why her son went to Kelowna and peace replaced her fury. Peter had had a hard time with the exhausting demands of school and the unexpected death of his father; this past year had taken its toll on him.  He had needed to get away from swirls of chaos of life’s demands. It could have consumed him, had he not taken that moment to walk away from it, to recharge his soul’s battery. Heck! Wasn’t it something she needed to do?
“Smart kid.” She wiped the tears off on the sleeve of her nurses uniform. She knew what she needed to do, “I’ll call work tomorrow and ask for some time off.” She needed to take the kids on an adventure and make some new memories; it would have been what her husband would have wanted.

Thanks to:
- Rene my muse
- Marc McCutcheon and his Writer's Digest book 'Building Believable Characters'.
- For use of the crumpled paper image

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Fool

Noteworthy Writing Prompt # 8
"Write a story that involves the second hand of a clock."

Just a funny little story for you. 



A Fool and a Stick That Ticked
By Anuschka de la Court

“You will die today!” and I meant it, “whatever means it takes, be afraid, because today is your day to die.” That small red little stick circling annoyingly on the wall making it’s loathsome noise and keeping me from my cat nap, was going to make it’s last round, “if my name isn’t Pharaoh, queen of this domain!”
I sat upon the desk scanning the kitchen for a leap over point, which would make the least amount of damage to my majestic figure. I realized I needed to call in the troops, for the fall from the jump would most likely injure me and I needed to think about my future reign in this castle.
“Meow!” I called the dog, she came running, she was always eager to provide her services. Angel and I had an understanding. If she came when I called, I would not hurt her. Dogs are so easily lead, and so simple of mind it astounds me.
“Meow!” I called out for the fool, my subjects call Yoda. He has been nothing but an irritation since he came into my Kingdom at the age of 3 weeks old, he and his brother they called trouble, wreaked havoc in my domain until trouble left. Every now and then Yoda will still try to cause distress in my realm, but I can wrestle him down when he attempts that foolish behaviour.
“What do you want?” Yoda sauntered into the kitchen like he owned the place, full of disrespect for me, his Queen.
“I will fix that,” I muttered under my breath and I told him to jump onto the refrigerator and wait for further instruction.
Although, I could probably do this task on my own, what good is being Queen if you can’t delegate your subjects to do the risky work for you?
“You will jump from the fridge to the clock on the wall, releasing it’s grip from the nail and allowing it to fall onto the floor where Angel will pounce on it and destroy the infernal ticking noise so I, your queen, may get the beauty sleep she requires.” I sat up straight and looked from one subject to another, “On my mark… One… Two…”
“Forget this!” and with a smirk that half wit brother of trouble jumped off the fridge, flipped me the bird, and sauntered back into the living room.
“He will be hanged.” I glared at his retreating form then back at the dog. She smiled simply in my direction, and eagerly waited to do the task I commanded her to do. No, she would not walk away; she would sit there for hours and not ask any questions. Stupid dog.
I jumped off the desk and headed up the stairs where it was quiet. Where there was no need to break the second hand of a noisy clock, and I slept. I dreamt up a plan on how to eliminate the buffoon they call Yoda. The dog would help.