Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Beginning 405

She clung to the shadow of the cottonwood tree as the sun rose high in the sky. Each time the shade inched from her, she crept. She’d started to the left of the trunk at sunrise, when the light was gold and crimson, filtered through clouds of dust. Now, the sun hung directly overhead and shade had all but vanished.

Sweat sopped the lining of her dress. Wind burned the skin along her nose, where sweat dripped and salt dried. She pressed her wet back against the trunk and shifted her weight from one aching foot to the other.

The baby kicked. She cupped her belly.

“Soon,” she whispered, her head tipped toward her hand. “Soon.”

She stood until the sun crawled left and the shade stretched right. It wasn’t much. The leaves above withered in the heat and sun pierced their canopy in the unchecked wind. But that tree was all she had on the blistering plain where he’d left her.

"Soon," she said again, this time more to herself than to her impatient passenger.

But the sun continued its march across the sky and the shadows lengthened. The humidity bore down on her, buckling her legs and forcing her to the unyielding ground.

Movement on the horizon; an indistinct shape, blurred by the sweat clinging to her eyelashes. It swayed and tumbled and grew until it filled her field of vision. She heard a voice that caused every sinew to tense, every nerve to burn . . .

"Sorry love, they were all out of strawberry. I got you vanilla, is that OK? It's mostly melted now; I had to keep licking it. There was a sale at the Apple Store -- you should see those new iPods: couldn't drag myself away . . . What?"

Opening: KMF.....Continuation: Anonymous


Bernita said...

Very nice.
Consider leaving out "sweat dripped" leaving the line to "where salt dried."

Evil Editor said...

Very nice. In the last paragraph you might move "It wasn't much" one sentence later and follow it with a semicolon. Right now it sounds like it's the shade from the previous sentence that isn't much.

Viewing the scene from the south, right and left make sense, but in her viewpoint, on a barren plain with one tree, I'm not sure she would consider right vs. left. Maybe east vs west would be better.

Standing at the base of a tree that has its leaves, with the sun directly overhead, would the shade all but vanish? I can see the wind preventing consistent shade, but there should be some shade, shouldn't there?

Robin S. said...

I agree with Bernita and EE. Very nice.

I like the scene set up - visceral - I like thiese lines-
"“Soon,” she whispered, her head tipped toward her hand. “Soon.”"

and the final few words of the opening - "that tree was all she had on the blistering plain where he’d left her."

I'd read on. And I'd really enjoy helping kill the guy for her - unless I found out soon that he was trying desperately to get back to help her.

Anonymous said...

KMF here:

Thanks for the comments! I'll definitely incorporate the suggestions made.

The continuation made my day.

Robin - No, he's not trying to return for her. He's killing her by leaving her, because he wants her dead and he's a coward.

McKoala said...

Yay, heaps of use of different senses and I love that. Only one comment, really, which is by paragraph five I did knw that she was under limited shade and wondered if you needed the first three sentences, because by that point I was waiting for something to change/be revealed - like that last sentence does. Great stuff.

Robin S. said...

Thanks, author-
good to know he's a coward..-

let the dismemberment begin.

All kidding aside -
this is a very gripping opening.

writtenwyrdd said...

This had something about it I liked, a moodiness; but it had no real tension, or perhaps it was just that it lacked any arrows pointing to what the tension point was supposed to be?

I think you have some wonderful lines here.

none said...

Perhaps the lack of tension comes from the lack of any hint that the woman will do anything more than huddle in the last hint of shade. I'm assuming that when it gets dark, she's outta there, but that's a big leap from what's on the page :).

Anonymous said...

Wonderful opening with a hilarious continuation. The poetic description and narrative were lovely and kept me reading, but it was that final line that had me hooked.

I disagree about the lack of tension. I think a woman alone on a hot and dusty plain, about to give birth, is pretty damn tense. Something very painful and emotional is about to happen, and what will be the outcome? Death for one or both? A rescue? If they survive, will the man come back to finish the job?

If it gets much more tense I might need the loo!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Very nice flow. I like this a lot. You already have good comments for cleaning it up a bit. I think the tension's there and building.

Good job!

none said...

But we don't know she's about to give birth. That "soon" could refer to an imminent birth, or to her hope of rescue, or her intention to sprint as soon as it's cool enough, or any number of other things.

Third objective makes it hard for me to identify with the character; I'm constantly having to guess at what she's feeling with very few clues. At present she's being acted upon by the heat, and she's responding by trying to stay in the shade. Yes, it's good writing, but to me, it feels passionless. Hence not very tense.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Whether or not she's about to give birth, she's far enough along for the baby to make its presence known. Therefore, in my book, she's physically uncomfortable at the very least. She's also hot and seeking what little shade she can find. The setting is very bleak, desolate. And then we find out she's been left there - seemingly deliberately.

I feel tension. But it is always subjective.

none said...

Hmm, yeah, I can project onto her that she's feeling uncomfortable, definitely. But then if I'm projecting my own feelings, I also start to wonder why the hell she doesn't sit down! lol