Monday, June 23, 2008

New Beginning 520

"Ti! Do! Re-Do-Ti! Re-Do-Ti! Re-Do-Ti!"

I look at my alarm clock. Four in the effing morning.

"One-two-three-four! One-two-three-four! One-two-three! One-two-three-four! One-two-three! One-two-three-four!"

Refusing to get out of bed, I reach down to the floor in hopes of finding something to rap against it. My hand finds a shoe, and I bang it down three times. The repetitious solfege and counting stops. I hold the shoe up, my arm poised to strike the floor again if the singing returns. Silence. I drop the shoe on the floor, burrow back underneath my covers and close my eyes.


I lurch into a sitting position. The solfege grows louder, shrilling into higher and higher notes. I hold my hands up in defeat.

"Alright," I croak. "Okay. I'm up. What do you want?"

The neon numbers blink at me and a soft, lilting voice says, "Oh, nothing..."

I bury my head in my hands and curse the Sharper Image catalogue to hell. Why didn't I buy the male Personality Alarm?

Opening: Xiexie.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"Memememememe meeeee!"

Oh yeah. No wonder the alarm clock wouldn't shut off. It's really my roommate. The talentless trombone performance major. Getting ready for yet another early morning marching band practice, and loving it.

I watch him march around the room for a moment, ready to kill him. Then I remember the idiot actually wore his band uniform on his last date, and I want to laugh.

When was that? Last year? I think. Man, I gotta remember to turn in my Roommate Change Request Form soon, or that guy is gonna drive me . . . zzzzzzzz.


"Did you forget?" My sentient alarm chirps with unseemly effervescence for this hour in the morning.

I breathe deeply to fill my lungs so the air makes me feel awake. It hardly works and the effort makes my head pound; I have a hangover without the pleasure of a wild night before. "Forget what?" I mumble.

"It's November second! Summer's end! Adjust me and you'll get an extra hour in bed!"

My alarm is a Sony with zero sense of effing irony. I reach for my shoe again. One less clock to change.


EB said...


My first thought (and apparently the thought of two of the continuations) was that the noise & counting came from the alarm clock. But in reality it's somebody doing voice exercises in the apartment downstairs. Right? I think.

"Refusing to get out of bed, I reach down to the floor in hopes of finding something to rap against it." On first reading, I assumed IT referred to the alarm clock, which makes for a messy sentence. But IT means, in fact, the floor. Or the lower apartment's ceiling. Perhaps making this distinction would might make this opening clearer.

I found myself mouthing out "Ti Do, etc" which wasn't so much fun. You can probably drop the sentence altogether.

You use the word solfege (which I had to look up) twice. I ain't a music guy. When I encounter unfamiliar words, frequently they're decipherable from context. But not so much here.

none said...

Hah. Presumably the alarm with the male personality snores all night so you don't have to worry about what time to wake up--you're already awake!

This is modestly amusing but I wonder why I should read on. We've all had fights with alarm clocks--what's special about this one?

Kiersten White said...

Oh, I, too, thought he was fighting with some demented alarm clock.

Rereading it, I now realize that it was someone singing. Makes a lot more sense that way. I agree with Benwah's comments.

Also, loved the continuation, and Buffy's response ; )

Dave Fragments said...

Back in college, when I stayed in the dormitory...
The music majors never practiced in the dorms, they went to rooms in the Fine Arts building. Singers learning songs needed pianos to play the music and get the pitch.
This was Carnegie-Mellon, not all of the music majors had perfect pitch. Many did but most didn't. A few could sight read and sing on pitch without a tone to start. Especially when they were learning a song. they learned pitch. And of the ones with perfect pitch, only a few, one or two in every class, could actually write music notation on hearing a line of music.

So your solfeggio singer should also be playing piano. And he or she would not be counting time out loud. Musicians count in silence and without movement. Even stage bands with just guitars and drums do not count the measures out loud. They don't tap fingers or feet or move like that. It's unprofessional and not done onstage while performing. So it's not done during practice. If you practice bad, you play bad.

My question on this opening is this: What happens next? The speaker goes downstairs or phones the nuisance to talk to him or her about the noise?
Why not start there? Why not begin with that confrontation?
There's nothing truly wrong with this opening. It's cute and amusing. But I don't learn much about the sleeper or the singer.

Beth said...

It wasn't until I read the comments and then went back and reread the opening that I realized the noise was coming from the room below. Very confusing. Had to do a complete mental reset there.

This is also overwritten. Watch out for phrases like "Refusing to get out of bed" and "I reach down to the floor in hopes of finding something to rap against it," rather than something simpler and more direct, such as "I roll over, feel around on the floor until I find a shoe, and bang it three times, hard." Not saying it has to be written exactly like that, but at least that does away with the overly self-conscious and explanatory verbiage.

Beyond any of that, it seems like a lot of words devoted to something as simple as being awakened by a noisy neighbor. You need to get to the point.

Whirlochre said...

Dave's last paragraph sums it up for me.

Plus — there's a lot of business with the shoe which doesn't seem to go anywhere.

EB said...

Beth makes a good point. This is first person, which means the voice should be that of your narrator. Does s/he think in that overwritten way, particularly when being awakened at 4 am? "Four in the effing morning" seems more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Count me as a minion who thought it was an annoying clock.

Xiexie said...

Nice continuation!

It's not an alarm clock. The voice is coming from the floor below, but the person isn't practicing along with an instrument, Dave.

(Cool with Carnegie Mellon 4 of my friends just graduated from there -- I went to Pitt, now UMD. And in their dorm they had 2 piano rooms, so the noise didn't go all over the building(s). I digress.)

What happens next? I've no idea, yet. This is one of my creative writing class exercises to write 2 intros per week.

If I make it just a clock, do y'all think that'd get rid of the confusion?

Elissa M said...

I, too, thought it was the alarm. And, like others, am left thinking "So what?" instead of "Give me more." Your MC surely knows who or what is making the noise. Give me some of his/her thoughts because even a groggy brain will have them. Make me care what's going to happen in the next paragraph. I think you can make this opening work, but it does need revision first.

Whirlochre said...

If this is as yet unwritten, a talking alarm clock would be more fun than someone downstairs — the best line in this is the last one.

WouldBe said...

If you think you might finish the story, pick whichever one you like. It'd be easy to clarify the story. Throw the shoe at the alarm clock or:

My hand finds a shoe, and I bang it down three times, but the jerk downstairs ignores me.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Same thoughts as everyone else - basically. I like the idea of the alarm clock being particularly annoying. No idea what solfege was and I used to live with a music major (or two).

Funny, confusing, where is it going, do I care about sums up my reactions.

none said...

This is a handy link for those who need to look up words (and who doesn't!):