Writing Memories 7

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Module 2.3: Accidents

We are talking about accidents, but this segment offers a transition between accidents and illness. To a certain extent, accident prevention or at least the check-ups that lead to illness prevention is key here. Blood tests rate high on that scale and I am tested regularly, at least once every six months, sometimes more often, for the different levels of chemicals in my body that may signify that all is good or that something may ultimately go wrong. Blood testing has become quicker and easier. I used to hate the sight of the needle, but now I concentrate on the nurses who work with me, some especially those nearing my own age, very sympathetic, others, younger, setting out on their nursing careers, so young, delicate, and full of enthusiasm. Sometimes I feel attracted to these young creatures in a sort of May to December match up of care-giver (her) and care-needer (me). I find this both curious and funny: si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait  / if youth knew how, if old age was able to … I have learned to laugh with delight at the incongruity of these silly moments and I am amazed how much humor can help, even in the most serious moments. First, the poem.

Love at Last Light 

A teenage apprentice with a little plastic badge
bearing her name asked me to reveal my birthdate.
This apparently confirmed that I knew who I was,
so she bound my arm with a thick rubber thong.

My veins swelled up, long thin leeches, slowly fattening.
She told me to make a fist and pouted as she probed
with slender fingers, feeling in vain for a fresh vein
from which to extract, then bottle the necessary blood.

I watched my body’s sap pumping out in tiny, sad spurts
driven by that tired flesh-and-blood machine known as
my heart. Drip by febrile drip my blood accumulated.
The young girl smiled with youth’s perfect lips and teeth.

My heart was a time-bomb ticking beneath her fingers.
I dreamed for an instant of walking upright and free,
a stranger in the paradise of a long-promised land.

Then she handed me my gifts: a throw-away plastic potty,
three disposable spatulas, and an air-dry sample card,
with written instructions, date stamped, bearing my name.

Commentary: I like this. It might benefit from more dialog, an insertion of personalities, an exchange of wit, dry science on the one side, an old man’s take on life on the other. I’ll think about that. Meanwhile, we have all been to a local hospital or clinic for blood tests of various types and we are all familiar with the situation. I don’t know how other people feel, but here’s my prose take on the situation.

Love at Last Light [Prose 1]

A teenage apprentice with a little plastic badge bearing her name asked me to reveal my birth date. This apparently confirmed that I still knew who I was, so she bound my arm with a thick rubber thong. My veins swelled up, long thin leeches, slowly fattening. She told me to make a fist and pouted as she probed with slender fingers, feeling in vain for a fresh vein from which to extract, then bottle the necessary blood. I watched my body’s sap pumping out in tiny, sad spurts driven by that tired flesh-and-blood machine known as my heart. Drip by febrile drip my blood accumulated. The young girl smiled with youth’s perfect lips and teeth.
My heart was a time-bomb ticking beneath her fingers. I dreamed for an instant of walking upright and free, a stranger in the paradise of a long-promised land. Then she handed me my gifts: a throw-away plastic potty, three disposable spatulas, and an air-dry sample card, with written instructions, date stamped, bearing my name.

Commentary: This stands up. It is short, to the point, and makes a point at the end. Or does it? Maybe I need to expand the ending, insert some direct dialog, I need to think about this. No problem: there’s lots of time. I’ll go out for a little walk and see if the muse descends while I am walking. The muse arrived and whispered in my ear, and I expanded the piece from 170 to 415 words, virtually doubling the word count. Was it worth the effort? You must be the judge.

Love at Last Light [Prose 2]

A teenage apprentice with a little plastic badge bearing her name asked me to reveal my birth date. I gave it, and this apparently confirmed that I still knew who I was. She offered me a quick twist and pucker of the lips and I interpreted this as a smile. My left arm, sleeve rolled up, lay flat against the little work area beside the chair. “This arm?” she asked and I nodded. She bound my arm with a thick rubber thong. My veins swelled up, long thin leeches, slowly fattening. She told me to make a fist and pouted as she probed with slender fingers, feeling in vain for a fresh vein from which to extract, then bottle the necessary blood. Then, she took a new needle, checked it, concentrated on her chosen spot, and slipped the needle into the web of veins just inside my left elbow. I felt the needle tip slice through the flesh, but I felt no pain. With the needle in, she attached the shunt to the needle end, and I watched my body’s sap pumping out in tiny, sad spurts driven by that tired flesh-and-blood machine known as my heart. Drip by febrile drip my blood accumulated in the container. When the first container filled, she attached another, and another. “Wow,” I said, remembering the immortal words of the comedian, Tony Hancock, “that’s a whole armful.” The young girl smiled with youth’s perfect lips and teeth and my heart fluttered. My heart did more than flutter: it became a time-bomb ticking beneath her fingers. I remembered how easily I bruised and tried not to think about the red, purple, and blue sunsets that sometimes spread across my inner arm after these exercises. I dreamed instead of walking upright and free on the golden sands of a Caribbean beach, hand in hand with this stranger as the sun slipped into the sea for its final bathe of the day. A stranger to my present self, I felt young again as we walked together in the paradise of a distant but well-remembered land. “I’ve got a present for you,” said my new found companion as she handed me my gifts: a throw-away plastic potty, three disposable spatulas, and an air-dry sample card, with written instructions, date stamped, bearing my name. “You know where to put the samples when you have produced them?” I nodded, sighed, picked up the anonymous brown paper bag, and walked away.

Suggestions for the writing exercises included in each module:

Write a prose memoir, just reminiscing.
Use 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person narrative.
Choose 6-12 words from the reading and expand on them using associative fields.
Write from an image or a metaphor.
Journal style: automatic writing, but try to select the gems.
Letter style: write to a friend.

Beginning Writers: Just write, using the prompts to help you get your own words and experiences and memories on the page. Use dialog where you can.
Intermediate Writers 1: Try and concentrate, while writing, on including at least one sense (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell) within your piece.
Intermediate Writers 2: Try and combine two or three senses within each exercise.
Advanced Writers: Use the prompts as you will and concentrate on imagery, metaphors, letting the language doing the work, and combining or mixing the senses. You can also experiment with free-writing, interior monologue, and surrealism.

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4 thoughts on “Writing Memories 7

    • Thank you so much, Don. I watched Wales Ireland yesterday. A fascinating duel and quite brutal. I love the billion pound roof that they leave open so they all get wet. I left the England game at 21-0 in the first half. Didn’t think it would be worth watching. Oh dear: big mistake.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I also left the England game after half-time, but decided to pop back later. I was staggered by what I saw and held spellbound by the game. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wales and Ireland game and I must say the roof also mystified me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Apparently the visitors have the final say in whether the roof stays open or closed. This is deemed to take away Welsh home advantage. It seems silly to play in the wet, when everyone, spectators and all, could be dry.

        Liked by 1 person

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