Clarissa's breakdown [Original Fiction]

sexta-feira, 25 de março de 2011

This small piece is a draft for a scene in the novel I'm writing. I have edited it, heavily, so there's no harm in showing it here, save for the fact that you'll probably find out what a lousy writer I am, but oh well. This is posted as a companion piece to the photos below, the main one being the one that is set in the middle.

As I opened the book a small square of paper fell out, landing face down between my feet. I kneeled and picked it up with my thumb and index finger, as it if was somehow treatening, and turned it around just to be faced with a photo that I knew to be old, at least nine years old.

It was a square photograph, the format I knew to belong to the Hasselblad Ruth had bought when we were still in High School. She had always had a gift for photography, and while I hinted at the possibility of her following that route for a living, she had been just too keen on becoming a doctor.

While I looked down at the image, the memories of that day began to flood my mind. I could remember the precise moment Ruth took that shot. We were at the Hamptons for a week or more, I can’t remember, but I did know it was right after my break up with Matthew and the miscarriage. During that Summer, and while I was enduring the loss of both my boyfriend and my unborn child, I had fallen into a deep, frightening depression that not even Ruth — especially not Ruth — could resolve. So she did the only thing she knew would make me snap out of it: with Jamie’s help, the two of them forced me to go to the Hamptons with them.

After spending the first couple of days in my room, in my — now usual — semi-catatonic state, I finally came downstairs one morning, only to find the two of them sitting at the kitchen table, reading their respective books. They weren’t surprised by my appearance, which I think felt nice at the time, because it was almost as if they knew I would come out of it eventually. As if they had that much faith in me.

I think my only words to them were “I need the field” and then I remember walking towards the door with the two of them in tow, following me silently as I sat on the passenger seat of Jamie’s car. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Ruth going back for a second and getting her camera and a film roll. I remember the silence of the ride, filled only with the noises of the wheels against the dirt road and the sounds of the old camera my friend was loading up with film.

The field was an abandoned patch of land in the inward part of the peninsula. As children, we often used it as a playground, picking up wood and leaves from the surrounding area and bulding our forts, making up our own treasure hunts; as teenagers, we used it to smoke pot and make out in our cars, the music pumping as loud as it could be and no one in ear shot. It was our free zone. It was surprising that in that time and age, it still hadn’t been used up for construction, but we took the availabilty of the site as a signal that we should still use it as our safe haven.

I remember Jamie’s look as he stopped the car and turned it off. He didn’t look straight at me, looking outside his window first, as if he was gathering up the courage to say something. The words died in his mouth, though, when I opened my own door and stepped out.

I walked for a couple of seconds, and then I ran. It was a very large piece of land, so I ran for a minute or two, feeling the two of them not too far behind me. I brought my hand up to my face as I started to feel the moisture, and realized I was actually crying. Finally.

What I remember the most about the time this picture was taken was the mixture of feelings, the sense of grief and relief at the same time. I hadn’t cried yet. Not when Matthew had left, not when I was at the hospital and the doctor had told me the fetus didn’t have a heartbeat. Something inside of me had hardened the night Matthew and I had fought and he had slammed the door on my face, and as I ran down that field, I could feel that same hardness melting away, dissolving into the tears that were streaming down my face. I know I stopped, I let my head fall back and I took a deep breath. That’s when I heard the click. The shot was taken.

I know I cried for a while. I screamed like I had never screamed before, I felt the pent up anger and the disbelief at what my life had become seep from me in the form of sobs, of yells, of breaths that just wouldn’t come out of me unless I forced them out. And when I was finally able to look back, I saw that Jamie was crying as well, but Ruth wasn’t. I saw something in her in that moment, something that I recognized as victory. Now that I had cried, she knew how to deal. She knew what she had to do to make me better. And as I saw my relief mirrored in her eyes, I let myself fall down and look up at the sky. It didn’t take two seconds until I felt Jamie laying down on my left side, and Ruth on my right.

Ruth lifted and twisted her torso so that she was looking at me, her body leaning on her elbow. She touched my nose with her index finger. “We’ll take care of you now, Sissa.” she promised “You’ll be alright.”


terça-feira, 11 de janeiro de 2011

I have a feeling very few people ever came here, and since I haven't posted in about a year, I imagine this place is pretty much abandoned. It's alright; in fact, it's perfect.

I haven't written in months.

It started with not being able to finish NaNoWriMo — not even being able to get past the second week! — and it went on from there. I had no story, my characters were one-dimensional, the plot was as full of holes as a big block of cheese and it was going nowhere. I don't blame it on anyone; it was just bad. I had to come up with a story after spending three weeks in bed, crying like a child over a breakup so bad (and self-provoked, I know) that ended up stripping me of one of my best and closest friends, and the death of a family member; the first I ever witnessed. So I didn't have a plot, or a decent set of characters. Hell, even the town it happened in was made up, because I just wasn't in the mood for research.

I have always seen writing as a form of catharsis. When my relationship with K came to an end, almost a year ago, I wrote about it like a mad woman. When the debacle with the other girl happened, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Writing, even more than photography, has always served as my way to exorcise my demons. But this time I was so broken, so shaken up, that I wasn't even able to write about it. I photographed myself, a lot — which I don't think was all that positive, since it was a small exercise in self-indulgence, instead of a way to let go of the situation. Partly, I think that's why it's taking me so long to let go of an issue that should be long gone — I never put it down on paper.

I'm not going to do it now — I'm still not ready, even though it's been almost three months. But the fact that I have acknowledged it is a start for me. And the simple act of writing this down, right now, this rant about how unable I am to deal with things in a proper manner, is taking a gigantic weight off my back. My only fear is that I might be like Almasy, in The English Patient movie (was this line in the book as well? I can't remember) "Every night I cut out my heart, but in the morning it was full again." That I might write and write and write and never take it out of me completely.

Still, it's worth a try.

I have a couple of characters I've been working on since the beginning of last summer. Frankie is one of them. I thought I had found my new Clementine in her, but so far that's not right. Frankie is stranger than Clementine (and Clem is unbelievably strange), more of an artistic soul. But how to take her and make her real? I know I tend to bring the characters I like closer to myself, to the way I perceive myself to be, but I'm afraid this might not be the right way with Frankie. I tried using my photography to make her real, but I couldn't. She's too much of an individual to be mixed up with me. And let's be honest, halfway through the process I found more interesting things to do, and gave up on her. The last time I wrote about her was in Cape Verde, in September.

I have a couple of ideas. A couple of plots where I could insert her, but she doesn't seem to perfectly fit either. They're not strong enough, and they're not fragile enough. If this makes any sense. She's the kind of girl who likes The Smiths (decision I made the other day, while looking at the notes I have on her). She's the kind of girl who will dance in the middle of the street. She's innocent and distant at the same time; as if she knew that only madness can come out of love, out of giving yourself completely. And I kind of want to give her a better-half — in the same way Clementine has Julian, but I don't think she's ready for that. The thing is, Clem has had Julian all her life: they knew they were soul mates from the moment they met, when they were eleven; they didn't act on it until almost ten years later, but deep down they knew.

I feel like I have to free Frankie (Free Frankie! LOL) from the concept of a soulmate. She might have one, she might find the one (boy or girl — and while for the first few months of conceiving her I thought it would be a woman, now I'm more inclined towards the boy counterpart), but it will be later. She will be in her twenties, mid to late. Still, I need those people she knows she can rely on; the family, blood-related or not. I don't know. I have so many contradicting notes on this character, it's not even funny.

Maybe I shouldn't be writing this here; it might be too public. I don't know. I figure I had to do it somewhere, and this is as good a place as any. Besides, all four of you who read it (thanks, lovelies!) are people I trust, so it's fine. Even if people from the outside come out, what's the harm in this? All I know is that I feel better. So thank you, if you read this far.