Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wordsmiths Challenge for December: Secret Sharer

Once again I was invited by the rad folks over at Wordsmiths Unlimited to participate in the first of two December writing exercises. This one involves a conversation with a childhood toy, and, of course, must be under 500 words. No picture was provided for this round, so I had to use my imagination here. Oh noes!
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Secret Sharer


"What am I going to do?"

My mouth was worn away long ago, but I can still answer her: I don't know. But you'll be fine, you'll see.

Tears fall warmly on my gray, dingy fur. I feel her wrap her finger around my threadbare tail, an old habit.

"I don't know what to do. I just don't know what I'm going to do." She pulls me to her chest tighter, rocking back and forth, repeating herself. Her chin digs into the top of my squishy head. This feels good.

You will figure it out. You've just got to be strong.

This is all in her head, our conversation.

"I'm so tired of this. I can't start over again. I can't do this without him."

I am just a little stuffed leopard, a hidden treasure of childhood with all the velvet fuzz loved off my nose and half of my whiskers missing. My polyester filling is saturated with red bicycles, the waxy smell of crayons, the ice cream man, Saturday mornings with cartoons and big bowls of sugary cereal. I've been stowed away inside a shoebox in her closet since she got married. She pulls me out when it gets bad.

"I just want him to come back. Do you think he'll come back?"

It's bad now.

I don't know. But you've been unhappy for a long time, maybe this is for the best.

"I don't know what I'm going to do without him. He's everything to me! What am I going to do?"

I am used only in emergency situations.

He is not everything to you.

"He is! What am I going to do?"

I am her flotation device.

If he meant so much to you, why did you cheat on him?

I am flung across the room and land softly on the bed. This hurts.

I'm putting this in perspective for you.

"Shut up."

I can't.

"My life is falling apart and I'm arguing with a stuffed animal."

I'll never leave you.

"You're just a toy."

I love you.

She crawls to the bed, pulls me down on the floor with her.

"You're all I have left."

I love you.

"I don't know what to do."

It's OK. It's OK. I love you, I will never leave you, and this is her lullaby, this is how we fall asleep: I whisper into the pink spiral of her ear her own comforting thoughts over and over, hypnotic and sweet, I am only made real by her desire for comfort, but it is enough.

I love you. I will never leave you.

6 comments:

Biff Spiffy said...

Holy wow.

I never would have thought so few words could take me so far. It was like riding a gentle F4 tornado.

I loved hearing it from the toy's perspective! Very evocative and full of twists. You reached in and kicked my heart around.

Thanks! What a great story!

tiff said...

Once again, dear Sea Hag, you've rocked the assignment. I echo Biff's sentiments, and thank you for writing.

I'm only sorry that this seems to be written from personal experience.

Kingfisher said...

"Write a conversation with that toy from a child's perspective."

Soooo much to say here. Too bad.

Discipline is a writer's first lesson. Unfortunately, you didn't play by the rules, so I'm going to pass.

Deth said...

I like it. I thought it was very well done.

Lady Jane Scarlett said...

It's beautiful Sea Hag. :)

This Girl I Used to Know said...

This did evoke a lot of feeling...

Overall, I thought it was quite nice.

I recently received some critiques about showing things rather than telling them (which is something I'm really bad at) so I thought I'd share an example of the kind of thing I've been working on myself...

This line:

I am just a little stuffed leopard, a hidden treasure of childhood with all the velvet fuzz loved off my nose and half of my whiskers missing.

Could be shown by doing something like this:

She pressed her face up against my nose like she had when she was a child, rubbing against what little velvet fuzz was left there from years of her doing that same thing.

Or...

She pets my face and tickles the last few whiskers that are left.

Not that these lines are better than yours... just showing how they might have been done differently to give a picture rather than a description. (Personally, I am not entirely convinced that "show don't tell" is the end all be all of writing advice, but the critters sure do seem to love it :)

One other thing.

This is all in her head, our conversation.

You didn't need to tell us that - we already knew because the narrator is a toy.

Anyway... excellent job!

And, to argue against Kingfisher's point about the assignment... just because someone's got an adult body, doesn't mean they can't regress to being a child when things are bad.