Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Ocean



Yeah, this is a bit of a strange one. But this is what came out.
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A lone woman squints daggers at the ocean. That’s the image that comes to mind. A bit trite, isn't it? Almost as common as the old “hair as golden as the sun” simile. Does it matter to you that her hair IS that golden? It does to her--she views it like a promise betrayed. All her life, she heard the “blondes have more fun, dearie” line and made the mistake of taking it seriously. The people who told her that, were the kind who liked to toss clichés over their laughing shoulders like salt.

She was not this way.

So what can I tell you about her that would matter? Perhaps you want to hear about her childhood…that seems like a popular place to start. Begin at the beginning. Well, she wasn’t much for babyhood, and she sat childhood out. Never had much use for dolls and trucks. Fake things. She was after something real.

And what would that be? Her lined face doesn’t tell me much. Perhaps if I’d paid more attention to the instructions in my writing books, you know, the ones about creating an unforgettable character, I’d be able to look deeply at her and divine a ghastly secret, or at least a few jangling skeletons in the closet. But that’s not what I see.

She wanted to be grown, grown, to wear flowers in her hair and silver high heels and go dancing with a different man every payday. She was certain that this was all she could ever hope from life, and unlike most of us, she got exactly what she wished for. One day, sooner than she expected but later than she hoped, she was the woman who danced, the lights glowing blue, then red, then green, then blue again on her golden hair.

So she got what she wanted, you say? Then what’s the story? Well, take another look at her face. Regret has formed that face, blurred the lines around her eyes. Sags in her cheeks.

The waves moan their endless song. They say sometimes, if you listen carefully, you can hear voices in the ocean. Voices of the people you loved, or who loved you. Maybe the lone woman shifted, watched the sand near the feet grow light and then dark from the pressure of her toes as the water lapped near her. Was she straining to hear? And did she?
Stubborn. She won’t say.

Was it one great defining event that changed everything? That would certainly make my job easier. To be able to point to a moment and say "see, that's how it all went wrong!"

But that’s not the way it happened. Small moments, so small they didn’t even look like choices, and she STILL doesn’t like to see them that way. Too much time waiting around for the wrong man, and then more time waiting for him to go. Too much focus on him, and not enough on the job that just sat and spread, but went nowhere. Not enough ambition. Too much fear. Maybe those are the same things.

“I've always wanted to see the ocean, you know.” She confessed to Mr. Wrong, once, at twilight. It wasn’t like her to talk that way, halting, and at that moment, he loved her for it.

“I’ll take you, baby. We’ll see it together. Promise.”

Then he never mentioned it again.

See, I was paying attention to the writing books after all! Conflict.

Except…it’s not, because he never did it and she never expected him to. That’s what existed between them.

She never did lose that old dream, though, to be taken to see the ocean. It seemed like the kind of thing someone could peg a new start on.

So here she is, a lone woman, who is choosing to stand on the edge of the shore for the first time, who had to take herself. Maybe she’s not squinting daggers at anyone. Maybe she’s just really, REALLY trying to see.

And that makes all the difference.
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For more dips in the ocean, go here.

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22 Comments:

Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Maybe she is just reflecting...

5:55 AM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger thefirecat said...

Maybe that's the lesson....that we have to take ourselves.....rather than wait for someone else to take us to our dreams.

I see this prompt didn't take you where you were expecting! Sometimes those are the ones most needed.

7:07 AM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Tori said...

I really enjoyed this and all your writing in general.
Thanks for the great story.
I have read it through a couple of times.

8:15 AM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Bohemian Mom said...

Your writing is fabulous. This is a refreshing and unique take on the ocean prompt!
Very, very cool!

9:18 AM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

I like the way you're exploring her character here.

9:58 AM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Onion said...

I found it a bit sad. But, I know a few people that look like this woman... sigh.

10:29 AM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Remiman said...

Mardougrrl,
I find I put a little or more of myself in my stories. Is it the same for you?
Your character got to the ocean in all good time. We make our choices, good or bad. We're never a failure until we blame some else for our choices. (I read that somewhere today) ;-)
rel

12:25 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Tammy said...

Well done! A great storyteller indeed.

3:14 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Tammy said...

Well done! A great storyteller indeed.

3:15 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Jessie said...

I wish you knew how good of a writer you are! I mean, I know that you kind of know...but I wish you REALLY knew! Because if you did, then you wouldn't be afraid of anything!

I love ya, M. This writing was magnificent.

4:03 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger paris parfait said...

You tell your stories so well - fabulous work!

4:28 PM, May 06, 2007  
Anonymous bella said...

This story was just beautiful. I love the way you write and I can't wait to visit more often and read your gems and treasures.
Where 'bouts are you from Jersey? Send me an email if you can.

8:29 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Maddie said...

I love that "she never expected him
too"

but in the end she asked it of
herself.

Jubilee.

9:04 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger DJPare said...

Very strong!
I felt bad for her and then I felt I didn't...Then I respected her.

9:12 PM, May 06, 2007  
Anonymous KG said...

I love it when a vision or a character takes us over, and leads us along to places we didn't expect. Sometimes the freshest, most original writing comes out of those moments.

I'm glad she finally made it to the ocean. May the rest of her time be full of self-direction and dream fulfillment, on her own and not waiting for others.

9:42 AM, May 07, 2007  
Blogger Yummyteece said...

wow, Wow, WOW! This was so powerful and so....

M-girl, you were DEFINATELY paying attention to those writing books! ;)

and this line "the kind who liked to toss clichés over their laughing shoulders like salt" just catches me and ... i can totally see/understand/get that image of "their laughing shoulders".

But even stronger than that is the way the last paragraph resonates for me. I've been doing a lot of overthinking, analyzing, and trying to live in my body. I'm trying to really REALLY see. And i love the image of your protagonist doing the same thing, right there on the edge of her dream. YAY!

again, i say WOW.

2:15 PM, May 07, 2007  
Blogger Amber said...

Ooooh holy crap, that is really GOOD! I love your voice here. I so want to know more about her, and yet I can tell a whole story about her just from what you gave us... A story of many women.
Wonderful! You are so good.A real writer.

:)

12:21 AM, May 08, 2007  
Anonymous tinker said...

"Small moments, so small they didn’t even look like choices, and she STILL doesn’t like to see them that way" - that line holds so much truth and wisdom about so many people, I almost want to cry. Then the relief, when you point out to us, that she is making her own dream come true, after all.

Wonderful writing!

1:59 PM, May 08, 2007  
Anonymous fern said...

"Not enough ambition. Too much fear. Maybe those are the same things." I loved this. I've been thinking a lot about the themes in your story lately, and you captured the heart of the confusion and desperation we all feel at some point, when we've lost ourselves.

I loved this, thank you for making me feel less alone tonight!

12:45 AM, May 09, 2007  
Blogger Star said...

This really struck a chord with me. It's such a unique perspective and lots of room to explore further.

8:49 AM, May 09, 2007  
Blogger Mardougrrl said...

Thank you so much, everyone! And actually, Rel, a lot of my characters are based on me, people I know, etc. But this one came "clean"...not anyone in my life. :)

11:44 PM, May 09, 2007  
Blogger deirdre said...

Oh, this is good. I want to know more about this woman and what finally pushed her to take herself to the ocean.

8:44 AM, May 19, 2007  

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