Monday, September 01, 2008

and now for something completely different.

Since Tiff has yet to put up the newest Wordsmith's Challenge, I've found myself straying, seeking the comforts of other writing prompts. And as I wandered, lonely, through the blogoscape I chanced upon Ingrid. You remember Ingrid, right? From the beach?

Anyway, she's posted this fascinating picture and a brief intro paragraph and invited her readers to chime in with another part of the story. Who could resist?

The picture:
The prompt:
"His name is Brian. He carries a messenger bag and is partial to second-hand shoes. He doesn't smoke and prefers to brew his own coffee. He takes a heavy thermos with him and sits on a bench in the park to people watch. His ex-girlfriend gave him the shirt he's wearing. When he wears it, he thinks of her. Sometimes he holds the fabric to his nose, hoping to catch a whiff of her perfume."

Note: I thought it might be interesting to explore how Brian came to have this (in my opinion) odd affinity for secondhand shoes. This is unusual enough that there must be a story behind it. Possibly something like this:

Her scent is never actually there of course. Too much time has relegated it to the senses of only his memory. But on days like this one, he almost believes her intoxicating fragrance still lingers there, trapped between the thinning threads. It was this very spot, on a day very much like this when he caught his first glimpse of her. He knows that if he closed his eyes just now, he could replay that day in perfect detail. Her, running down the platform in a vain attempt to arrest the train that was pulling away. Her purse, banging against her side with a briefcase and shopping bag beating a counterpoint against her hip and thigh. And the final insult, the heel breaking off her right shoe sending her sprawling to earth.

He loved her in that very moment. He watched, enthralled, as she gathered herself and tried to stand on her wounded shoe. Realizing only then what had sent her plummeting to the ground, her shoulders sank in utter dejection. And it was the fear that she would begin to cry that broke his reverie and moved him to act. The thought of even a single tear staining that lovely face was too much to bear, and for that briefest of instants, his usual awkward shyness evaporated. Taking her arm with both hands he steadied her. Initially alarmed by this overture, she started. But with one look at the gentle kindness in his eyes the tension left her, visibly draining from her body. Keeping her eyes locked with his, and gripping his arm for support, she bent down and removed her left shoe and hammered it on the pavement of the platform snapping the heel off to match its partner.

His lips parted to speak, but no word seemed sufficient. He was certainly no one's poet, even on the best of days. And his wish for that gift had never been so profound as it was at that second. In a blink he tested and rejected a dozen gambits, but the lure of her soft grey eyes lulled his mind into a stasis he couldn't break free from. They might have stood there like that forever for all he cared.

It was her laugh that finally freed him. A sound like nothing in his experience. It bubbled up from her throat like a crystal mountain brook, and spilled over him washing away his trepidation. His voice, of its own volition, creaked feebly, "Let me help you." as he stopped to retrieve her things for her. The briefcase had thankfully survived the trip without breaking open. But the shopping bag, having no closure, had fared less well. His hand settled on soft black silk trimmed in lace and he felt the crimson rising in his cheeks as he quickly pitched it in the bag. He gathered the few remaining articles and scrambled to his feet, unable to meet her gaze now.

Her amusement obvious, she lifted his chin to bring his eyes even with hers. "Thank you", she said, hoping it sounded as sincere as it felt. Cautiously, he raised his eyes and managed, "Sure. no problem. Are you, er, alright?"

"What?", she said in mock alarm, "A girl of my obvious grace? Why of course I'm alright." In truth, the raw scrape across her knee burned, and she wasn't at all sure she hadn't sprained an ankle. But she hoped that her levity would ease the patent discomfort she saw in his face.

"Right, then", he mumbled, "Can I ... If you want, I can... er...". Maddeningly, his voice failed as quickly as it came and he was once again rendered mute.

"Well I can't walk around in these shoes, that's certain.", she replied, "Maybe you could come along and keep me from killing myself between here and the secondhand shop over there."

If she'd invited him to accompany her at court she could not have astonished him more. Drawing up to his full height he offered her his arm in the fashion of the finest gentlemen (even if it was the wrong arm). She took it in both hands, and together they set off in pursuit of some suitable shoes.
Stumble This!


snowelf said...

That was so incredibly romantic Mojo.
And I'm in such a mushy mood today anyway, it was just a perfect read all around.


Doctor Err said...

there will blogosphere romantics throwing themselves down on sidewalks everywhere.

Snaggle Tooth said...

I think that was a good interpretation of the situation. When is the rest of the book coming out?
Darn I don't have time for for writing extras this week...

Mojo said...

Snow: So glad I could make your morning a little mushier. Still waiting to see what happens next in your serial though! Come back soon won't you?

Doc Err: Actually it was a train platform... and if I'd been paying attention I'd have realized he was supposed to be sitting in a park. But it works.

Snaggle: I'm not sure I could write much more of this story without insulin, but it was a fun exercise. How's your head BTW?

tiff said...

You...prompt harlot!

Wait - that didn't sound right. I suspect though that you KNOW what I'm talking about.

Mojo said...

Tiff: I prefer "strumpet". Or perhaps "tart".