Washing what you know out to sea.
You can see your life out of the window tonight.
one republic, "if i lose myself"
Rachel Heffington introduced her monthly Chatterbox meme last autumn, and I've loved seeing these excerpts pop up on the blogs I read, but my own lack of real creative writing hindered me from joining. The temptation of writing a spontaneous dialogue relating to mirrors is too great, though, so I'm breaking my silence at last to share some solid writing without edits or pretense. It's a freeing sensation.
Before I show you the excerpt itself, I have a newsy update from the writing front. I've spent the past week looking up good resources to use as additional research for Rifles in the South Field, and I've managed to collect a good haul. Eliza Lucas Pinckney's letterbook, chock-full of the day by day life of a plantation mistress, books on the Revolution in the South and the backwoods skirmishes between patriots and Tories: the topics keep coming. There are too many foreign avenues to take, too many creative opportunities that extend beyond the sadly overdone scenes in Boston and Philadelphia. I'm excited again about working on this novel, and the taste of it is unfamiliar. I've discovered my school-year writing niche. I can research, I can take notes, I can keep eyes and ears open. Rifles in the South Field may not be written in chronological order during the test-heavy weeks, but it's not stagnant. And if you don't hear much on Literary Lane about up-and-coming projects, don't think they're not in the works. It's only that they're fragile butterflies now, newly emerged from cocoons and sunning their wings before they can fly. When the time comes, each one of you dear Inklings will be the first to know.
washed out to sea
The sea was loud tonight. Kenneth could hear it coming in ripples and murmurs on the breeze over the undulating land. A whisper mingled with freedom and sorrow. Were the two always brothers?
He heard a new sound behind him and turned to see Susannah, her hair tumbled about her shoulders and her eyes wide with questions. "I thought I'd find you here."
"Am I so very predictable?" He hated to be thought so.
"Decidedly." She laughed, but it was a low, tremulous sound, as if too great a volume would break the evening's peace. "Habits are pleasant things, though. Dependable. If I know where to find you—"
"You'll never lose me?"
She blushed at that, though he'd meant nothing more than a reason to fill the silence. "I was going to say I'd never have to worry about you getting into michief."
"It is much the same thing."
She let his words settle for a time. "Why do you sit out here alone?"
"I can hear the ocean and the sound of it makes me feel—closer, somehow."
"I've no desire for home." He shook his head fiercely. "No, when I sit out here, I feel closer to understanding. The mottled page of life is temporarily spread clean."
"You're a strange man, Kenneth Hughes."
"With all due respect, ma'am, you're not so normal yourself." The light was fading, but he could still see the pale outline of her features, and he locked eyes with her. "Have you ever glimpsed yourself in a mirror?"
"Do you know that moment of hesitation, of subtle fear before you face your features? That haunting question that the glass might reveal? The one that says you were wrong and all you ever knew of yourself is a lie?" He ran his hands restlessly through his dark hair and sighed in exasperation. It was too hard to explain.
"No, wait." He took her hand suddenly, impulsively. "I can say what I mean. Before we see our reflection, we can believe anything about ourselves. Once reality shatters those illusions, nothing can build them up once more. They're gone — irreplaceable."
"Why so serious tonight?" She pulled her hand from his and smiled, but the expression flitted from her face as swiftly as it came.
"We're held to the only standard the world can see. It doesn't mean there isn't more."
"What has this to do with the sea?"
"When I see my reflection in a glass mirror, there is no other answer. I am weighed and found wanting. But the sea! A likeness found in ocean water is never the same; it is always changing, always moving. There is hope. And the roar of those waves reminds me of it."
"Hope, maybe, but little security." Susannah shook her head decidedly. "I'll take the glass mirror you despise over miles of ocean. I'd much prefer consistency."
It was his turn to laugh. "Of course you would! You're a creature of habit if ever I saw one, Miss Dixon. There's not a minute in the day to which you don't have prior claim. Your life balances on the pendelum of a clock."
"Lecturing does not suit you, sir, and you're entirely too stuffy as it is." She inclined her head demurely. "I'll keep you from looking foolish and bid you goodnight."
"Goodnight, Miss Dixon."
Beyond the fields, the sea rumbled in soft reply.