Friday, June 5, 2009

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Amy Bloom's "By and By" is a short story told from the point of view of a young woman who saw her best friend kidnapped. (Only later is it determined that the best friend was killed, too). It isn't a happy story. The narrator describes what happens, physically, to the heart and body most-mortem; she's very detached yet clearly very affected. The last paragraph is my favorite:

I don't miss the dead less, I miss them more. I miss the tall pines around Lake Pleasant, I miss the brown-and-gray cobblestones on West Cedar Street, I miss the red-tailed hawks that fly so often in pairs. I miss the cheap red wine in a box and I miss the rum-and-Coke. I miss Anne's wet gold hair drying as we saw on the fire escape. I miss the hot dog luau and driving to dance lessons after breakfast at Bruegger's Bagels. I miss the cold mornings on the farm, when the handle of the bucket bit into my small hands and my feet slid over the frozen dew. I miss the hot grease spattering around the felafel balls and the urgent clicking of Hebrew. I miss the new green leaves, shaking in the June rain. I miss standing on my father's shiny shoes as we danced to the Tennessee Waltz and my mother made me a paper fan so I could flirt like a Southern belle, tapping my nose with the fan. I miss every piece of my dead. Every piece is stacked high like cordwood within me, and my heart, both sides, and all four parts, is their reliquary.

I wrote some fiction last night; it's a start. To get back to that place where made up ideas flow, where I don't feel silly describing someone who doesn't really exist, will take time. I've been in the "truth telling" mode for quite a while!

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