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Travellin': A non-linear Narrative

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Posted 05/22/09 - 1:19 PM:
Subject: Travellin': A non-linear Narrative
Hi all,

Let's build a non-linear narrative. I'm going to define a character in my first post and write a brief vignette. Next, someone else can take the character and write a new vignette about them at some other time of their life (eg, older, younger, whatever). You don't have to make the vignettes continuous in any way except by writing the narrative from the perspective of the same character. And by 'same' I mean it should be recognizably the same character, even if only in name.

Let's see what we get, o' would be Vonneguts.

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Posted 05/22/09 - 1:20 PM:

Danielle paused in front of the Old Bean coffee shop. The warming smell of fresh roasted coffee brought a brief smile to her face. She considered going in, taking a familiar seat, sipping a mocha, and reading the local paper. Instead, she sighed deeply and continued walking.

She adjusted the position of the bag hanging at her shoulder. The straps always dug in a little too much, especially on days like this. It was overcast but mild. The local forecast was for light rain but the locals were hopefuly for a few sunny breaks, especially with the weekend fast approaching. Danielle didn't think about the weekend. She put away all though of the past, of coffee, of sunshine, and soft breezes, and focussed on her task. She increased her pace, and she began to feel her back getting hot with sweat under the hefty bag.

She furrowed her brow as she drove ahead intently. Her only solace lay in the knowledge that soon, all too soon, she would be free of her burden. Her face washed over with melancoly at the thought of exchanging one burden for another, no less hefty. There are many things that are difficult to carry, she thought, especially the things we can't lay a hand on.

The noise of the town square began to fade behind her.
Nihil Loc
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Posted 05/24/09 - 5:44 PM:

Solar light cut through the darkness as Danielle opened her eyes. Her fingers dug into dry hot dusty sand. A blue sky wobbled with exhaustion, white clouds trailing smears of slow-shutter vertigo, as she made an effort to get up and take in her bearings. She could not sit up. As she turned her head she could make out the features of a desert, parched thorny shrubs and cacti.

Stirrings of panic, faintly noticeable, were far away and suppressed within her as her mind lurched to signal the rest of her torpid body to wake up. Her sense of danger was mollified and diluted by the blazing heat and something else, a nebulous artificial fog that enveloped her senses and numbed her.

A harsh and angry male voice struck far off in the distance to her right. "You miserable shit fuck! I tell you to do one simple fucking task, easy enough for a doped up highschool drop out, and look what you did. The boss will cut your dick off if she doesn't make it."

Another man's voice, apologetic, responded but was muted by the distance and the sensual fog. Danielle could not bring herself to look in the direction of the voices.

A gunshot sounded and a visceral object dropped through the cloud inside of Danielle. Memories poured into her and her mind became a screen for their projection.


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Posted 05/26/09 - 2:37 PM:

The pervasive fog was unforgiving.

Alain Lambert stepped out of the grey winter street and into a blinding white hallway at St. Michel's convalescent hospital. Abruptly he asked the young girl at the front desk - the one with the red hair and freckles, the one who reminded him of a woman he once adored and then despised for the way she couldn't bring herself to admit that she was in love with his then-best friend - if he could speak to Dr. Martin. He hesitated for a moment, distracted by the green in her eyes, and now wondered quietly and sheepishly whether he had perhaps judged too harshly the long lost object of his affection whose face and manner this young girl carried in effigy.

"Mr. Lambert," said Dr. Martin, shaking Alain's hand and gesturing in the direction of another hallway. "We've moved Danielle to another room. This way please. She's in stable condition now, she's resting comfortably. If I may be frank - she doesn't have a lot of time left, so whatever you must say to her, I... recommend you do so now."

"I understand. I--" Alain took a deep breath. "There... are some things I want to ask her," said Alain. "It's why I've come today. Not just for my sake, but for Sabine too - my daughter, her grand-daughter. Her only surviving grandchild, if you must know. I mean, not that you need to know that, I just... I just feel... awkward about all of this. Christ. Don't mind me, please, I'm a blathering idiot as usual. The complete opposite of my mother, of course. She's never been a woman of many words."

Dr. Martin smiled sympathetically. "Down this hall, Mr. Lambert, room 404."

Alain stepped lightly into the room and took a seat next to his elderly mother, who at first did not seem to have noticed his arrival. After an interminable minute, during which time Alain painstakingly deliberated on whether to disturb her, she turned and looked at him, smiling softly and saying nothing. He took her hand.

"Maman," he said. "How have you been? Are you comfortable? Are they treating you well?"

Still smiling, she responded with a barely perceptible nod. He had grown accustomed to the subtlety of her acknowledgement.

"Can I-- Do you mind if I... ask you about something? I'm so sorry, I know you've been through a lot. It's just that... Dr. Martin says you don't have much time left. If you don't mind. May I? It's about Mr. Renfro. Wilford Renfro. Do you remember him?"

The smile on her face weakened and she stared silently at her feet.

Edited by libertygrl on 05/26/09 - 3:33 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Avatar Paul
Posted 05/27/09 - 1:19 AM:

It was a hot summer day, and children were playing on the beach. Danielle perched on a rock looking down at them from thirty feet above. She was alone.

Danielle was not a normal child. She kept to herself. She watched more than she participated, and became a keen observer of human nature at a young age.

A man came up silently behind her. He was in his early 30s, overweight with thinning hair. He moved with a subtlety and purpose that belied his weight. The man watched the little girl, seemingly pondering his next move.

"Hello there," he said at last. "I've been watching you."

She nearly fell down the other side of the rock as she spun around in surprise.

"I know a lot about you, Danielle," he continued. "My name is Wilford Renfro."

He stuck out his hand. She ignored it and kept her distance.

"What do you want?" she asked.

"I want to help you." He smiled. "I work for an agency which can make use of a child with your talents, and which has the resources to give you what you want in return."

Danielle stared back at him silently for a minute. Finally she spoke two words: "Please go."

Renfro seemed caught between amusement and annoyance. He tensed and seemed to consider taking action toward her, but instead reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. He placed it on the ground at his feet.

"As you wish," he said. "I will go. I'm leaving my card here. When you've had a chance to think things through, give us a call and we'll discuss your options."

Wilford Renfro turned and walked back down the path. Danielle stood in place and watched until he was gone, then turned back to look down on the beach. It was empty.

Edited by Paul on 05/27/09 - 1:27 AM
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Posted 05/27/09 - 11:41 AM:

'Come here sweety. Come sit with your Momma'

Danielle looked over at the silouhette of her mother seated by the bay window. The midafternoon sun filtered in through the old white curtains, illuminating thousands of particles of dust silently floating in the air.

She set her dolls to one side and pushed herself off the floor. She scrambled towards her mother, knocking over a play tea cup set.

'Ohhh..that's it, come here!' her mother laughed as she stretched her arms out and grabbed hold of Danielle in a vigorous embrace. She pulled the little girl up onto her lap and leaned back deeply in the chair, looking out the window.

'You know I love you sweety.'

'I love you mommy!'

'You're my little princess!' she said, as she reached down and tickled Danielle playfully.

'Daddy says I'm as bright as a thousand angels.'

'Yes sweetie...a thousand million angels!'

'A thousand million' Danielle repeated, as her mother began stroking her hair.

A soft silence came over the room. The dust danced in the weakening sunbeam.

'Mommy...when is daddy coming home...?'

Danielle's mother continued caressing her daughter as she stared absent mindedly out the window.

'Mommy..? When is daddy coming home...?' Danielle repeated breathlessly, in her oblivious childish whine.

Danielle's mother gazed down at her daughter, coming out of her reverie. She gave a warm, broad smile and hugged her daughter close.

'I don't know honey. Soon.'

Danielle nuzzled into her mother's breast and listened to her beating heart.

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Posted 05/29/09 - 6:35 PM:

She was getting a headache.

After a long hour of focusing on nothing else, she was able to identify a trajectory in which her father was still alive. However, on the same trajectory, her son Alain had been crippled by a severe case of polio and her daughter Amelie would never be born. She struggled for a moment with a feeling of guilt over contemplating the question of whether it would be easier to accept her father's death or having a son who would be permanently paralyzed at the age of eight. And anyway, what about Amelie? No, she finally decided. This is not the way to go.

"Fuck," she said.

"Did you say something, hon?" The sound of Tim's voice catalyzed Danielle's awareness of her immediate surroundings and she was suddenly swamped with minute details from the brown and olive wallpaper on the north wall of her home office. She blinked and took a deep breath.

"Hm? Oh, no, it was nothing. Just talking to myself. Where are you off to?"

"Giants game tonight, remember?"

"Oh, right. Sorry, babe. Totally forgot."

He smiled his smile, the one that still accelerated her heartbeat when she least expected it. "Are you doing alright?" he said. "It feels like I haven't seen you in ages."

"I'm okay," she said.

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure."

"Okay. Well, don't work too hard. We'll catch up on Friday, right?"


He leaned in and kissed her forehead. "Love you."

"Love you too."

She listened sadly as the front door closed behind him, and picked up the phone on the third ring.

"Hi Will," she said with a sigh.

"Dani, hi. I know you're going through a really bad time right now, dealing with your father's death and everything, but it's all the more reason we need to talk."

"I'm listening."
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Posted 06/13/09 - 5:15 AM:

"I can do this", she said.

"What do I do when it goes wrong?"

She gave me her look: "It won't."

"Look Amelie, I love you like nothing else. You've only tried this once and you just kept screaming and body shook like a leaf in the wind. The doctors got nowhere with you."

"Well, there was nothing wrong with me, was there.. I was just shocked and frightened. Look, don't fuss over me so much. I am far less important than what I'm trying to achieve." She stopped to think for a bit while I hung to her lips. "OK, Daniƫlle, I really don't want to do this, but somebody has to. It's fair to say that this is risky business, but I can handle it. And yet, once I get thet hang of this, I'll have to teach someone how to do this."

"You mean as a life insurance, so to speak."

She seems to consider, then nods, once. "No. Exactly like that."

Her attitude is more extreme than ever. I haven't known Amelie for very long, but she strikes right into my heart. She just sort of barged into my life a few years ago., but I know is she's the most noble person I ever met. Although her outlook on the world is - for lack of a better word - disquieting. I still can't quite believe what she's up to.

"Amelie, I want to be able to protect you. Why won't you teach me this. Look, I want to learn, very much so."

"I would only let you into this if it were my very last option, Dani." She looks at me with that dreadful, sad affection in her eyes.

"Oh come on. If you teach me how to do this, I'll name my first daughter after you." I try a joke. I want this seriousness to go away. Her reaction is exactly what I'd hoped for, although she seems to hesitate. I get the fleeting impression that she is checking her muscles one by one to see if they're still obeying her iron will. There, she straightens her back and winks at me.

"Let's just hope I won't have to hold you to that, eh?. Let's get on with this."

"I'd have to find a suitable father first, though, which seems to be a problem these days."

"I'm sure you'll find a good one." She says while she turns to her impossible work.

Edited by smokinpristiformis on 06/13/09 - 6:03 AM
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