A weekly writing challenge site has a prompt for writing “something completely different.” (Bonus points if you read that and immediately heard a British accent say, “And now for something completely different.”)
The first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I got a start on a novel that I have never really stopped working on. I’ve added to the story, made notes and outlines, and I’ve done exercises. One exercise came from the book, The Weekend Novelist, by Robert J. Ray.
This particular exercise was to write a dream that the story’s hero had. Though the intention of the exercise was to discover more about the character and not to include in the novel itself, I’m going to include the result of the exercise here. It’s basically a stream-of-consciousness piece never meant to see the light of day. Ergo its presence.
In her dream she twirls and dances, spinning around and around, her flowing summer dress billowing like an opened umbrella.
In her dream, her hair is a wild cloud around her face, strands catch in her lips and cover her eyes.
In her dream she hears a scream and she tries to turn faster to drown out the awful sound.
In her dream, she dances on a grave. In her dream she knows that if she reads the headstone, she will see her mother’s name and the dates — all too close together — of her birth and her death.
In her dream her eyes are closed, yet she sees the cool green grass, dark and wet, lush, seeming to mock her pain and madness. She can see the cold shapes of gravestones scattered nearby, and the bright, glowing white stone that was her mother’s. The scream drones on, rising and falling, but ever present. One moment, she recognizes it as her own scream, the piercing screech of a little girl who knows that her life is now more empty, minus her beloved Mother. The next moment, it is the sound of tires squealing against pavement and she knows doom is a breath away.
As she turns, she floats up and even the meager anchor she felt with the ground is gone and she is loose, out of control. She flies up and the cemetery quickly dwindles to a memory. She feels some outside force taking her away in her flight, delivering her somewhere…
Then, she is above the city, looking down on the skyscrapers and moving dots of color that are cars from a great height. And she falls towards the city, passing between building tops and flying with purpose and intent to a street corner where she realizes she is going to relive a scene from her childhood.
Oddly, it’s hope that she feels as she looks intently for the familiar face, a face lost nearly a quarter of a century before. There! Her mother, perfectly preserved, walks along and then waves across the street. Kathryn floats and feels dizzy as she realizes her younger self is down below oblivious of what’s to come.
She wills herself to fly down to where her mother waits for the light to change, but to no avail. Panic rises up inside of her as she tries again. Fly! Fly, damn you! It’s as if she were held there by hands too strong to escape. Fly! One last time as she watches her mother begin walking into the street.
Then, the scream begins again, increasing in intensity and power until her head seems about to explode. She shuts her eyes tight, out of pain, panic and a desire not to see the tragedy unfolding beneath her and she is once again dancing on a grave, turning and spinning…