Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Beginning 392

The bus rolled on, away from Baikonur. We followed the tracks of the old railway out into the desert, but I stared back at the town for as long as I could. The empty buildings rose like old teeth along the horizon, and the weedy streets lay empty in the approaching dusk. It was a ghost town.

Eventually I turned back in my seat and watched the barren landscape ahead. I was tired from my journey and didn't want to think about how much farther I had yet to travel. A young man sat in the seat opposite mine, wide-eyed and excited. His leg thumped rapidly and he kept glancing down at a letter that he clutched tightly in his lap. Was he on his way to see his love? Perhaps he was starting a new career. He had stars in his eyes, that was for sure, and I couldn't help but smile when I looked over at him. Seeing him made me think of my own letter--the one that sat heavily in my shirt pocket.

And why shouldn't it sit heavily? The envelope was stuffed with plastic explosive, carefully rigged to detonate on exposure to air.

Reject me would they? This was one submission that wouldn't be supplied with an SASE.

Opening: Gordon Clemmons.....Continuation: Antony


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

I patted the pocket and felt the paper through the thin fabric. It was still there and still riding heavy on my mind. I took it out and unfolded it gently. The letters lay dead on the paper, but I knew their living message by heart. She was waiting for me and all was forgiven. I folded the paper and put it back in my pocket. I pressed my pocket close to my chest and sighed. I had a home to return to, but I would have to leave it once a month. Life would be normal, but not at the full moon.

--Sarah L.

Robin S. said...

"The empty buildings rose like old teeth along the horizon" - I really like this line.

I wondered myself, today, about being on my way to see a love --

because today Church Lady and I met for lunch again, in the old town, and we met the mystery man of our dreams, or we thought we must’ve, anyway. We asked him if he was the evil one, and he promised us he was just who we were looking for. And he said he was hungry. So we gave him a taste, and we took a taste, right back.

It was kind of a two-for-one special he had going on.

Mmmm. Gotta love that, uh... eggplant.

Sorry - got off topic, I know.

Chris Eldin said...

The eggplant, the evil, the eyes, the environment. EE supplied more than just E's this time.

Today, he branched into other vowels.

Satisfaction reached everyone's appetite.

Evil Editor said...

I like the opening. I would change

Seeing him made me think of my own letter.

He's already said that when he sees him he wonders if he's off to see his love or starting a new job, and he's noted the stars in the guys eyes. You could say, I couldn't help but smile--until I thought about my own letter.

No need to say "...when I looked over at him." You've been describing him; thus you're already looking over at him.

You might delete "Perhaps he was" and make that sentence: Starting a new career?

Of course, depending on how heavily the narrator's letter is weighing in his shirt pocket, you might want to eliminate the hypothesizing about where the other guy is going entirely. There are situations in which the last thing you would care about is where some stranger on a bus is going. Presumably this isn't one of them?

Bernita said...

A small nit.
Consider another adjective for dusk. "Approaching" dusk sets up a small directional dissonance with leaving the town behind.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the tone and rhythm of this, and you introduce something--two somethings!--worth wondering about right away. I'd keep reading!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and great advice. And thanks to Antony and Sarah for the great continuations! This is such a great site.

E, you have such a great knack for trimming and fine-tuning. Thanks!

McKoala said...

I really liked it up until the stars in his eyes sentence, which sounded a little cheesy to me, and the smile, which seemed unlikely, given he has a bad letter in his own pocket. Envy seemed more likely?

That's just me, though!

Anonymous said...

I liked it, too. It has a nice feel and rhythm to it.

Maybe it's me, but I thought having a conjunction in almost every sentence was a bit much though. Have you done a word count on the number of ands and buts in your ms?