Friday, December 28, 2007

Fiction Friday

This Week’s Theme: [Fiction] Friday Challenge for December, 28 2007:Your adult character just got a guitar for Christmas--a gift very out of character. What changes, if any, does this cause in her life or personality? (You may adjust the instrument if a guitar would be out of place or time in your story.)

Abby ran her slender pointer finger over the curves of the guitar, collecting a pile of dust like a snow plough of housework.

“You don’t play often,” she mumbled, squatting down to investigate the patterned inlay in the front.
“No time,” Alex called from the kitchen, over the noise of clinking glasses.
“Shame,” Abby called back, intrigued. “I didn’t know that you played.”

“I don’t,” he replied handing her a glass of sparkling burgundy. “Cheers.”
They clinked glasses and both drank a long draught of the chilled red wine.
“You have a dusty guitar sitting in a stand in your lounge room, but you don’t play. I thought I was supposed to be the one who was an anomaly?” commented Abby, looking back at the guitar.

“It was a present many years ago. I really should take better care of it.”
“Like dust.”
“I don’t dust.”
“You don’t play either apparently,” teased Abby taking a small sip of the burgundy, enjoying the bubbles caressing the top of her tongue as she held each mouthful for a few seconds longer than necessary.

“I lie,” he recanted.
“So do I sometimes but I’m a politician and that’s what we’re supposed to do best.”
“And I was a journalist once upon a time – are we one rung above or below politicians.”
“Above I think – only lawyers are below politicians,” and reached across to put her wine glass on the table.

She settled herself in a tattered old arm chair that was situated at right angles to the equally depilated sofa, and opposite another cream and brown striped arm chair.. An equally pre loved coffee table completed the lounge room furniture. The upholstery was fraying in long strands, exposing lumps of padding on the arms. The wooden arms underneath the battered fabric was scratched and discoloured. Uni share house chiche she noted. She was certain that she could smell old dog, even though there was no sign of a dog anywhere. Tucking her feet under her bottom and reached to reclaim her wine.

“So you lie Alex, what do you lie about.”
“It not an on going thing.”
“Well I’m glad to know that.”
“I lied to you about the guitar.”
“You do dust then.”
“Sometimes – once a year before my parents come to visit, so there’s slightly less tutting from my mother.”
“Well I’m very glad that we’ve got that out of the way. No secrets between friends huh?” and she winked playfully at him.
“And I play the guitar.”
“And there’s also a teenage girl in your cellar that you kidnapped and have been keeping prison for the last three years.”
“That was in poor taste.”

He slowly sipped the wine and allowed the silence to wash over them. Sitting there, with her long elegant feet tucked under her pert butt, in the oversized grey v-neck jumper she looked soft and feminine. Even in the well worn jeans she oozed sensuality, feminine grace. Yet the moment she opened her mouth and spoke, with the seering sarcasm roasting from her thin lips, a very masculine wall went up. The mask was well worn. He noticed it easily because he wore one too. What she was protecting herself from he didn’t know and he didn’t even know where to begin to unravel her own personal mystery.

“Why did you stop playing guitar?” she finally ventured, draining the last drops of the wine from her glass. “Don’t get up. I can help myself to more wine.”

He heard the click of the fridge door opening, the slight pop of the cork coming back out of the bottle and then the loud clunk of the heavy fridge door closing again.
“You didn’t have to fight the fridge door?”
“We had a yellow one when I was in my first year of uni. In the days before they were considered retro and funky. It belonged to my flat mate Flick and her Grandparents before her – circa mid 60’s I think. It stored stuff all food, which was probably a good thing seeings we were skint for most of the fortnight between Austudy payments.”
“Flick? You lived with a horse.”

Abby laughed and snuggled back into the lumpy arm chair.
“It was short for Felicity but she ended up being a bit like a testy, bad tempered mare than a fun loving housemate. Our shared living arrangement didn’t last beyond the first semester.”
“I’m hoping she didn’t die with a falafel in her hand.”
“John Birmingham,” she recognised. “I never read the book. No there were no falafels involved – just a lot of girly angst, shouting, accusations all that sort of stuff and a raft of unpaid bills in my hand when she did the hissy fit, primadonna move out melodrama.”
“Sorry to hear that – I never shared with chicks if I could help it. Birmingham was basically just a run down of all the shitty share houses and house mates he’d had in his time. It was a lot like some of the places I lived in – housemates from hell and all that sort of stuff.”
“Did any of them play bad guitar?”
“Not that I remember. To the best of my knowledge I never lived with Birmingham.”
“Practise does make perfect – or so the saying goes,” Abby quipped, pulling at a stray thread that looked like the lumpy wool that was currently fashionable for knitting scarves with and was ridiculously expensive..

“You sound like my mother.”
“She was the one that gave you the guitar?”
“Hell no!” he exclaimed laughing with an edge that was more discomfort than wry humour.

“That guitar over there was a present from my irrepressible Gran for Christmas when I was 14. I’d started to get antsy about school. All I wanted to do was sleep and when I wasn’t asleep I wanted to be in the water surfing. My grades dropped, I become the class clown and took great delight in making everyone's life a misery”
“You surfed.”
“I still do.”
“Like playing the guitar and dusting.”
“Sort of.”

"And now you get paid to be the class clown and make important people look stupid." He didn't reply.

He walked over and took the guitar out off the stand. Grabbing a discarded t-shirt off the other arm chair, he quickly wiped the rosy wood clean and tossed the t-shirt on the floor. Taking the guitar in his hands, he gently plucked each of the strings with his thumb.
“Out of tune,” he commented and placed it in the cradle of the empty arm chair.
“So you’re Gran gave you the guitar.”
“It was a strange gift and certainly a step up from hankies and the occasional ill fitting jumper inspired by Ken Done or Jenny Kee. The Angora year was especially bad.”
“Why because it was made of wood and not wool.”

He shook his head and drained his glass, walking back out to the dark kitchen.
“None of us every played a musical instrument,” he called from the kitchen. “And music wasn’t exactly welcomed in our household. It was considered frivolous by both Mum and Dad.”
“But surfing was OK?”

He shrugged placing the wine glass on the table and picking up the guitar, absently tuning each string.
“Gran rocked my world, literally and figuratively with this little beauty,” he declared after a few minutes and strummed briefly once, a clear sound reverbaerating through the room.

“Through this guitar I learnt to live beyond the square of a life that my parents had constructed for me. I got in touch with a part of me that I didn’t even know existed – though I had guessed that it existed. There’s something raw and pure that courses through you when you’re on top of a wave, thundering downwards towards the beach. But it was never enough for me. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. In those moments of abandon out there on a perfect break, there’s a freedom to feel and just be … and I knew there was more. The guitar was the key to understanding and experiencing my own sense of self, my creativity. A life that was not perfectly planned and laid out, that wasn’t available to me in books or in the wisdom of my parents.”

He picked out a few lines of “Six Ribbons” and looked up at Abby.
“that’s where you and I are alike Abigail. Neither of us are content to live within the Square. Music liberated me – some wood, strings and a few pieces of metal. Who would have thought. What liberated you?”
“I’m not free Alex,” she replied quietly, looking down to the well worn carpet, thread bare beneath her socks. “I’m still imprisoned by my desperate need to rebel.”

So excited to be back writing again - this is my first creative writing attempt since the end of NaNo - almost a whole month ago. Jamie seems to have renamed himself Alex - his perogative I guess. Both Abby and Alex have been chattering away in my head demanding to be let loose on paper again, so I guess I will be finishing 'Finding Aphrodite' next year!!

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Square1 said...

I like his explanation of the guitar. The quips between the two of them are wonderful also.

pjd said...

I think my favorite part of this is how their physical movement mirrors their interaction. They sort of circle each other, one in the kitchen getting wine and coming back, then the other moving away and coming back.

It is a little long, and your note that it's your first writing since NaNo explains it! :-) I found myself wanting them to get to the point more quickly; banter and cagey dialog is good for the characterization, but I want more meat to it or I want more progress out of it.

The language is very nice in spots, and in general I like the characters.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Square1: the quips between them are lovely to write - as opposed to the rather bogged down dialogue in the first part of the novel. I'm just a little bit excited about where thes two characters may go together.

PJD: I didn't actually realising I was writing this scene in a sharks circling kind of way ... but yes that's very true. They are new friends, and their friendship is very much taboo so to speak - before you add additional layers like her husband.

It is rather long, being the first chance that I have had to explore these characters at any length - they 'met' (so to speak) in the final day of NaNo so they've been tossing around in my head since then ... like petulent little children. I can already see one paragraph that could be completely cut without too much pain or disruption! Thanks for your comments.

UL said...

Hi Jodi, thank you for stopping over at my place, in turn I got to see this post, I liked the dilly-dally between the characters, the getting to know each other stage...I also like the way you reference the square of life..., thanks for sharing, I wish you a wonderful 2008.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Well written, Jodi. The interplay between the two is good.

Michele sent me here.

lissa said...

A guitar as a creativity tool that can spun new meaning for the person playing it - I like that idea. I like your descriptive use of the two person and their interplay with each other.