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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Challenge (NOT the FaithWriters Challenge) (06/10/10)

TITLE: Expunging Muck
By Catrina Bradley



A pebble of ink quivers under my trembling pen.

Blaire screams at me, and Peter curses. My hand jerks, smearing ink across the pure white page.

I grab my hair and pull. My shout rattles the windows. "I can't!"

Blaire's screams morphs into a banshee's wail, and Peter demands I set him free.

My growled command for silence does no good.

The morass burying me in this miry pit has entrapped with me the two lives I birthed.

I tear a page from the back of my notebook and slash the blankness with angry blue strokes. Maybe if I can expunge some muck from my mood, the would-be lovers can be set free to embrace their fate. And maybe I'll be set free with them.

words Words WORDS!
Words all around me
Words surround me


my search for words
to articulate the thoughts
swirling like a cyclone
touching down for a moment
to deposit a modifier
or dangle a participle
in the peripheral vision
of my mind's eye
comes up dry

"GARBAGE." Peter's commanding voice shook me from my vain scribblings.

Blaire was no longer wailing, but her words warble with sobs. "That's not it."

"I'm just warming up...getting a flow going." I take a deep breath. It's just for me. No one has to see.

A shuddering line slowly carves out cursive letters, spilling my guts onto the paper.

Where am I?
I can't find me.
All I see
is a smiling visage
as me.

The mirror says
that I am me
but mirrors lie;
they don't reveal
what lies beneath
the mortal seal.

Ebon sea and endless night
play hide and seek
with me and I
waste endless days
and sleepless nights
mulling over life
and why

and when

the sunshine went away

and where I might be hiding

and why.

A groan escapes my lungs and I'm torn between flinging my pen across the room and snapping it in two. Hideous excuse for poetry.

"Poetry schmoetry. You're avoiding the question."

My joy at hearing coherent words spoken by my female lead is increased exponentially by a hint of the melodious tinkle usually accompanying her voice. I search for Peter, but he's retreated to his room and shut me out. I know better than to pry when he disappears like that.

"Hello-o, anyone home? Forget the bad poetry. No one cares. You asked the right question, though; now answer it."

I was used to hearing Blaire talk to Peter this way, but rarely did she address me directly, let alone in such a forward manner.

"You mean, 'Why?'"

"Yeah. 'Why?' And speaking of Peter, he's too under-developed, you know."

I'm taken aback. "Under-developed? You mean scrawny? And who was speaking of Peter?"

"Speaking, thinking, same thing. We're all in here together. Except when you guys are in your rooms. I'm getting kind of tired of that, you know. I get lonely."

"You guys...you mean me and Peter?"

"Well, yah, duh. Who else is here? Wait--don't answer that. You don't know Peter at all, do you?"

"What do you mean?" I pick up my pen in a huff, tempted to conjure up an horrific natural disaster to befall her. "I created Peter."

"Yeah? Why is he in his room right now, ignoring us? Ignoring ME? Aren't I going to be the love of his life?"

"Yeah, but he doesn't know that yet."

"Which brings us back to 'why' and to Peter. Underdeveloped. Maybe it's time you got to know him. Knock on his door; demand he talk to you. And ask him why."

This might officially constitute the longest conversation I've ever had with one of my creations.

I'm not mad, of course. I know they live only in my head. I'm also sane enough to realize they speak only what is already known to me on some level, conscious or no.

"Exactly!" Blaire says. "So make Peter speak. He is you, you know. We all are."

"And you, Blaire? Why do I know you and not Peter?"

"I'm easy--I'm joy; I was created with light only touched by shadows.

"Peter was created from the dark that hides in you. That part of you is afraid of the light. He hides. If you can find him, get him to speak, you'll find the part of you you've hidden.

"Only then can you be set free.

"Come on, let's write more bad poetry. We've got some muck to expunge."

I pick up my pen.

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This article has been read 893 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ruth Clowater06/19/10
I enjoyed the almost 'pschizophrenic' pace and feel ... "muck" describes it well.
Joanne Sher 06/20/10
Oooooh - what boldness and honesty and description. I was totally engaged - and I love the analogy. Makes me look at my own characters in a different light.
Ann Grover06/20/10
I was reminded of the many times my own characters refuse to cooperate and take on a life of their own, creating the story themselves. Well-written.
Marita Thelander 06/20/10
OOOO...the skitzo writer. lol. This reminds me of karlene...not that she's skitzo...just her muse's musings. Ok...maybe we are all a bit skitzo. *shudder*
Colin Swann06/20/10
I've learnt something from this piece and the comments: skitzo writing! I thought the poetry bits were good - wouldn't tear my hair out if I'd written them (maybe I'm not understanding things right)
Susan Montaperto06/20/10
Wow! Is this what's it like to write a story? Very brave and honest writing.

God bless.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/21/10
Wow on so many levels. Words can't express the thoughts racing through my head. You did such an outstanding job of letting me into your brain. I'm able to empathize. Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/21/10
Clever...clever...clever. I just wish I had characters that talked to me!
Sarah Elisabeth 06/21/10
Right on, especially the descriptions at the end. I think all of our characters are a piece of us - the light side, the dark side, and everything in between.

Great writing all around!
mick dawson06/21/10
I'm so glad that your characters are as much a part of you as real people. I know what this is like and am glad others can experience the same joy.
Gregory Kane06/22/10
Wow, scary creative stuff!
Just want to comment on your marvellous opening line: "A pebble of ink quivers under my trembling pen." Sets the tone for the rest.
Carol Slider 06/23/10
There's a lot of food for thought here... I'll have to read it again. It's interesting to read an in-depth and honest look at someone else's creative process. Very original and intriguing--well done!
Edmond Ng 06/23/10
I like the poetic portion of the story within the frenzy scribble, especially the sizing up of words Words WORDS! It's all a part of who we are, the two sides of our sanity throwing tantrums. A very creative and unique way of writing!
Carol Penhorwood 06/25/10
It's never dull at your house...especially when you can create your own company! LOL
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/25/10
Congratulations on placing in the top 15 of your level and the top 30 overall.