Monday, January 09, 2012

New Beginning 914

“Auntie! Is this right? You MET Ernest Hemingway?” my niece, looks up from my journals with her hands around the single diary I want to keep. I can’t take much to the assisted living home. Ginny sits cross legged on the floor, I’m in my mother’s rocker, setting an easy pace.

My niece is here to pack and sort me out for the assisted living\ nursing home. I nearly burned the house down with me in it a couple of months ago. I got confused. The kettle cord and the toaster oven cord look alike. Ginny stepped in. She’s my guardian now.

Ginny, my niece, I think I said that already, but anyway Ginny is the girl I took care of while her mother suffered one of her annual crises years back. The crisis occurred as soon as school finished and dissipated mid August. The crises went on until Ginny graduated high school. She’s terrific at organizing. My journals are splayed out on the Persian rug before us. I always kept a journal. The journals are the proof of my life.

“Yes dear. I did.” She reads swiftly, her fingers turn the pages swiftly. She reads, laughs, reads, flips more pages and looks at me in amazement.

“You had an affair with Ernest Hemingway?” Her eyes are big and bright.

"Oh, yes, dear. He was a marvelous man!"

Ernest. Ernie. The man my mother couldn't stand. Or was that Ralph? I don't know. All I recall is that he was a writer, something to do with books. Books and a beard. An amazing beard that tickled whenever he-- Well, Ginny's a little young yet, I don't want her to read-- "Hey, gimme that diary! Who said you could look at my private stuff?"

Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


none said...

A forgetful narrator is an interesting challenge.

I like a lot of what you're doing here, but I think there's too much backstory too soon. We want to know about the narrator and Hemingway, not about the nursing home and the toaster oven. Keep the story moving along and work the backstory in once the reader's hooked.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it might be the intro to a good story. Are the missing and extra commas & hyphens, etc., meant to convey her impairment? It seems to need a little help from a grammar checker, electronic or human.

Evil Editor said...

Typos in P1: Capitalize "niece," no comma after "niece," hyphen in cross-legged, period or semicolon instead of comma after "floor."

I can live with the other nits.

An appliance shouldn't start a fire by being plugged in, even if it isn't the one you meant to plug in. Perhaps the problem was forgetting to turn off the appliance?

The niece is more likely to be excited by her aunt's affair with J.D. Salinger. Hey, who didn't have an affair with Hemingway?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, I was confused by the typos too. If they're intentional, they're still very risky.

Jo-Ann said...

I quite like the premise, and would read on. Yes, there is too much backstory, but I would question the need for the detail in P3 about having Ginny dumped on her during the summer. As the other commentators suggested, the crux is the relationship between the narrator and Hemmingway.

@EE - we dont know how old Ginny is, she could be in her 60s - would that old enough to be excited by a relationship with EH?

Khazar-khum said...

EE said "Hey, who didn't have an affair with Hemingway?"

They didn't call him Papa for nothing!

Evil Editor said...

we dont know how old Ginny is, she could be in her 60s - would that old enough to be excited by a relationship with EH?

We also don't know if this is set today or decades ago. I assume it's fairly modern, as the term assisted living probably wasn't around during Hemingway's lifetime, and I assume auntie would have a better way of describing her niece than as the girl she took care of in the summer when she was in high school if the niece is now in her sixties. But I've assumed incorrectly before, or so I'm told.

none said...

That happened 'years back', EE. We don't know how many years. Also, we seem to have an unreliable narrator here. So who knows?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Thank you for the comments. Greatly appreciated.

I started this short story the first go around with "I'm a very old woman" and changed it. Yes, the old dear is a touch confused. Didn't want to specify any illness, sufficient to say she's beyond living alone.

Grand continuation. The completed story is on my blog and comments are so welcome if anyone has time to read it. (It is short.)

Thanks all!