March Chatterbox: You Were the One Next to Me

03 March 2014

You can feel the light start to tremble,
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
march's chatterbox

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."
"To home?"
"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?"
"Of course—"
"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. 
"Kenneth—"
"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.

9 epistles:

  1. It is pleasant to have you back. ^.^

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  2. I like it -- especially Kenneth's explanation of the different reflections. It got me to thinking.
    I think one thing that has worried me personally is the fear that people will see me through a stagnant glass.
    Look at my writing for example: I look at my work and I know I can do better. I know I will improve. My level of writing this month will be even better next month...next year...next __(enter the time-frame of your choice)__. But what if I let someone see my amateur work today and they dismiss me as an amateur from now until forevermore?
    I would much rather someone see my reflection as through the ocean.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting thoughts. I think that's part of the reason I'm always hesitant to share writing on my blog, as if it will remain like a brand on my arm forevermore. But writing can't be like that. We can only write well when we cast aside that fear and let our words flow. Editing and revision all have their place, but a first draft, disgruntled though it may be, is an essential part of the writing process.

      I hope to have the opportunity to read some of your own words in future. God bless you!

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  3. Am I the only one that thinks you are genius when it comes to writing? Perhaps so, but your style . . . <3 I think I'm actually jealous. Really, my dear, you must finish this and let us read it. You really must.

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    Replies
    1. Being that this is the stodgy result of many months without regular writing, your praise flatters me. I know I have much room to grow, but you encourage me further up and further in all the same. Thank you for dropping by, dear. ^.^ It's been too long since I've heard from you.

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  4. Ah... this is beautiful, Elizabeth Rose... you write so well, m'dear - so well! Every time I read something, I think of how good it is, and how much I long to read it in its full glory.

    You and I - we are in the same boat and pools of tests, school-work and little Creative Writing energy. But research, reading, plotting and planning and the occasional scribble - all these bits and pieces are so intrinsically important to the creation of a book. One that needn't not be despised. Keep it up, Elizabeth - I feel much the same as you do, and funny enough much the same way as Kenneth about mirrors and oceans - a thought I never contemplated before. Oh, did I mention that I am truly intrigued by him? He sounds like such an interesting character. I quite love him already! And Sussanah sounds lovely too.

    Well done, dear, and God bless!

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    1. As regards this snippet, this is all I have at present. I don't know if it will make it into the full document, since it was written up deliberately to fit Rachel's theme, but we shall see!

      Right now, I'm loving the researching process, and I'm trying to write a little every day, whether early in the morning or late at night. It seems to work well, since the house is quiet and other assignments don't press at those hours. "Bit by bit, the mouse bit the cable in two." That's Franklin for you. Steady persistence is not my strong suit, but I'm working on it. :)

      Blessings to you!

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  5. I usually am not too good with leaving comments - writing out thoughts which usually stay firmly in my head, but really: "But the sea! A likeness found in ocean water is never the same; it is always changing, always moving."

    I enjoyed reading this thought-provoking piece :)

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"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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