Writing With A Torn Mind-Response to a challenge!

It all started with Michelle’s Writing Challenge.

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two

by michelle w. on January 28, 2013

For some of us, blogging is personal. Others are trying to educate or entertain; many more are hybrids. Yet we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges help you to push your writing boundaries, show off your blogging chops, and, hopefully, spark more post ideas.

To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge or leave a link to it in the comments. (It would also be great if you could link to this post to encourage people to take part – the more the merrier!)  Your post should be specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll keep an eye on the tag and highlight some of our favorite posts on Freshly Pressed on Friday.

You had a lot of fun with the A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words challenge, and we had a lot of fun reading your entries – so let’s go for Round Two. Your challenge this week is to write a post based on this picture:


Photo courtesy of Cheri Lucas.

(Perhaps you might like to read the post BEFORE looking at the picture).

When I saw this WordPress challenge,, I knew I had to participate.  The picture sent an entire story flashing through my brain (flashing as in speed….like flash photography, not flashing like a dude in a trench coat. I know with some of my previous posts, I should clear that sort of thing up from now on.). I rattled off about 500 words, including a conclusion, and it was time to go to the gym. I had no après-gym plans so I knew when I got home I would hop right back into the zone and finish the story I wanted to tell about this picture. I went to Germany for a week when I was in middle school. While nothing in the photo directly resembled my memories from that trip, I did experience a sort of déjà vu of emotion, sensitive to my surroundings as I tend to be, a feeling of having had been there before while knowing damned well that none of the details match.

Later that evening, when I got back to my computer, I had trouble picking up where I left off. No worries, I decided to go thru the story paragraph by paragraph and flesh out the facts. Unlike other fiction-writing attempts of the past, including a creative writing thesis, I knew this whole story, from beginning to end. I just had to word process it.  Or so I thought.

I ended up with a couple of endings, some libelous, unprintable details, and a few drafts that I couldn’t even sort out. I wanted to give up, but I found myself unable to sleep without dreaming of the photo. The deadline for the weekly post was looming and I had a word-fangled mess that I was unwilling to let go of, owing this story at least the dignity of a decent burial.

Because of my life-saving brain surgery, my short-term memory or lack thereof prevents me from thinking about an entire story from start to finish. I decided to put the paragraphs in table form so I could move them about like a puzzle. The story started to take deeper root in my brain, but my transcription of it got ever worse.  At what point do I give up and start over? Move on to the next word press challenge?

After a second sleepless night I decided I would really buckle down and participate in this challenge, so I took the shrink-wrap off my Photoshop Elements skills. That is to say, I worked on my banner for this site (which you will see hasn’t changed at all).  It has to make you wonder about the ADD medicine, doesn’t it?

It’s Superbowl Sunday.  I’m told I have good numbers in the pool. I don’t even want to win: I wanted to help my sportsfan friends enjoy their day by adding my losing boxes to their pool.

But what about the story?

Here are the pieces; perhaps you can put the puzzle together. If I give the pieces to you, I can go and watch the game!


A letter still transported a heavy, familiar scent, mixed rubbing alcohol and tar, waited on the Davenport (the mid-western American kin called it that); nobody wanted to open; everyone wanted it opened.  All of the families hopes were hidden inside that envelope, found at the construction site below the little town, rescued with some other mail from a storm drain near a trashcan.

The crystal letter opener was a heavy dagger in her hand. When everyone was assembled, she looked around the room one last time at each individual, as if she were going to have to pick them out of a line up. And indeed perhaps she was.

The knowledge that nothing would be the same, ever, no matter what the letter held, made her hands shake a little, but only two people that knew her best noticed.  She wanted to pour herself a drink, but couldn’t bear the thought of one more round of pleasantries delaying the inevitable.

Her murder took place a few years after the “Eat, Pray, Love” phenomenon.   Having Crème Brulee’d her way thru the first half of her three-week adventure; she decided to come home early. Various activities helped the authorities piece together her plan: quit her job, kiss her ailing grandmother and, although she never believed at love at first sight, start a new life with a man no one in her family had ever met.  This was her last of several whirlwind escapes from, men just this side of dangerous, men that would hold the car door for her with one hand while booking a date with another using their brand new giant cell phones.

We were all so happy for her, that she had a chance to calm down, get away, and breathe.  In one definitively bittersweet moment we were happy for a bit that nana had passed on. Had she lived through the investigation, the months of not knowing, and this final day, when the answers of many questions would surface, seemed comforting to the cousins that at least nana didn’t have to go through this.

Answers to some of the questions that nobody even thought to ask were inside the envelope. In a moment they would sprinkle out, confetti  over a waiting crowd. (Note to self: One ending).

When we saw the police sketches, we were surprised at the details in the skirt and shoes. The skirt had Mickey Mouse print of red and white, the shoes were flat and without support; incongruent with evidence pointing towards the type of trek she was believed be be making.

The hug obscures her expression, but does not contradict the rumors of her anorexic life style since leaving home. Could she have loved this guy, and was he a boy or a man? Here the couple was, navigating the youth hostel maze, and nobody even questioned if they were of legal age.

The police report would include an enlarged photo of a ripped stub of ticket, recognizable only by the stamp pad imprint of the station, the last clue to the last place that she was ever known to exist.  The ticket was for a round trip by electric shuttle car. Even if you only needed one stop, it was worth the ride because the cars came by frequently and they took you up and down the steep Sorenthia hills.

This was the very electric shuttle that took her up and down the alleyway behind the school, known by the bricks at the top of the run. One thing missing from the picture is the thick rubber padding that prevents the tram from bashing into the wall when it reaches the top, a bumper of sorts for n electric lift that goes no faster than 8 miles per hour.

I found this photo about 7 years after it was taken, when I finally felt I could face the task of going through Becca’s things. I knew instantly that this was the guy she met, that this was the guy she thought was meant for her. An odd mix of joy, at seeing one more look at my cousin, a fresh look unlike the images that I had of her all these years, images that were in grammas’ scrapbooks.  This was a fresh photo bringing a wave of nausea with it. It was odd seeing the photo after imaging it in my mind for so many years, yet having never seen. My Aunt (her mom) had neatly labeled boxes sorted by date of their whole cinematic life; me and Becca were the shoe-box variety photo hoarders. Half of the pictures were of people we didn’t even know, cheerleaders with pop-poms in colors we didn’t recognize, cars, now vintage, filled with vaguely familiar athletically clothed boys.

En francais, it would be “au revoir”, loosely translated “until we meet again.”An American might say “see ya later.”  Both phrases presume a confidence that the departing lovers didn’t share. The two new that they were not going to meet again, she because her visa was running out and he, well, nobody knew his side of the story did they? There were no words. After the kiss, a brief embrace, and she was gone.