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Illustration by Niki Waters @kneesandkeysart

 

The lightning leaves a taste of pennies in her mouth, an electric tingle in the air. Old Barney in his rumbling bed tosses and mumbles of departed beauties while his dentures submerged in a murky glass of water secretly smile from the nightstand. Liv hugs a pillow in the dark wondering why it isn’t him coming to her tonight, that boy she remembers, and not this fat sour old man. She listens to the mutters coming from the other side of the mountain, hears every note, wondering.

Way up yonder, top of the sky
Blue jay lives in a silver eye.

The roof is drip, drip, dripping. She silently rants and raves at the injustice of it all as outside the rain soundlessly slackens then ceases, the sky gradually lightens to day. Going to the window and pulling open the shade Liv notices how under the cover of darkness a black clique of clouds have taken up residence on the horizon, jobless gypsies, impatient for the day to be over so they can once more begin their monkeyshines. Last night’s lightning hangs upside down like recharging bats in electric torpor under the branches of the pinion trees spreading up the mountain.

The kids used to sleep scattered across the floor of this room, just any old place, didn’t matter where, though come the morning a single trickle of sun would leak through that tear in the shade to skip from brow to glowing brow, and since no happenstances marred Liv’s propitious world this riotous arrangement of faces threaded like pink precious things onto that single strand of sunshine was exactly the sort of magic she parlayed into lawless prophecies.

She turns, sees Old Barney still straight and graceful as a sapling with the face of Adonis, thinks him the most fetching man in the world, though now it appears he’s been issued a skin many times too small to encompass the belly so large, how without a shirt he appears to have no neck. What this Adonis has become frightens her, the indefatigable work of age playing across his features, a jack-o’-lantern mounted upon drooping shoulders.

Saturdays are busy for Liv. She does not owe the work to Old Barney, but to the house, oh yes, to the dermis of paint, the bone of wood she has incurred a debt so large it can never be repaid. She pats the mossy withers lovingly while she chants: croons:

Old house, old house,

I’ll have you shining like a new dime

By the time I leave here.

You’ll stand ten thousand years,

You know it.

A thousand years anyway, she is certain. Lord, though, she is more give out than she cares to admit. Maybe just a little Divine Help wouldn’t hurt none. Liv prays all the time, but Divine Help? Well, she never doubts, not for a second. Best she just goes ahead and does what needs doing, though, quit all the patty-caking, accept that they are gone and move on.

That black rat-pack of clouds huddled on the horizon troubles her as she goes to the well, hauls up a bucket of fresh clear cold water. The monsoon mists seem as far off as January looking back on November. At Liv’s call to lunch Old Barney bumbles down the rickety ladder seemingly content he has fixed the roof as well as Liv’s worries simultaneously. He has used a rusted tin can to melt pine pitch, candle wax, and an old black pocket comb on the stove to serve as a caulking. The burnt-plastic sulphur scent still lingering causes Liv to feel slightly nauseated. She’d open a window but the house would soon swarm with insects since there are no screens so instead she suffers, knowing the smell will dissipate once they have breathed enough of it.

After they eat Old Barney smokes, seems defeated, incapable of sustaining the loss of the hair on his head as well as a mouthful of teeth. Looking at him Liv is incredulous this can be the same boy she married. He smiles a bacon grin, a mask stretched over a skull, and she remembers a long ago little boy, their son, her son, standing terrified as he stares into that face waiting for the sentence of doom to drop, then pathetically looking toward his mother, fighting tears, wincing, and her, her standing there wringing her hands, either unable or unwilling to intervene in the punishment they all know is coming like an avalanche sliding down the mountain.

His hands—gnarled, knotted, ugly, like mongrels made red and hairless with mange—rest upon the table while the cigarette smolders in the ashtray. Old Barney constitutes the phenomenon of impossibility to Liv in more ways than one. Besides his appearance, his heart pushes a pure elixir of whiskey and gin through a skin of latex, always drunk, always seeming undernourished and overfed. He devotes so much energy to drinking Liv thinks it a wonder how he hasn’t expired during the very act, though apparently his body burns the fuel faster than he can pump it into his gut.

Liv reaches for her glass, takes a sip of water, drawing a deep breath before bursting forth with a truculent sigh revealing how she is simply overcome with disgust, with everything, with this thing called her life, with this sad example of a man sitting before her, with the years promising out before her like crawling a mile on broken glass, but halfway through the sigh she is stricken by that old familiar tickle in her throat. Oh no. Not here. Ever since childhood she never sneezes indoors, she is afflicted with a sneeze of such magnitude it used to turn every head for blocks, a sneeze which distinguishes itself by carrying a message ha, ha, ha Shit!

That they are still here in this God-forsaken mountain valley scratching out a meagre living does not surprise her in the least, nor do all the unfulfilled promises. No, what bothers her most is how lonely it is here, how there is no one left to torture but for each other, but at least there isn’t anyone else around to hear those resplendent sneezes as they erupt unbidden.

She manages to stifle the first half, but the hot half—behind her bulging lips, the shit half—explodes forth sending a cloud of saliva wafting out over the table, spraying the dishes she has yet to clear, coating Old Barney in a spray of snot and spit, who looks at her quizzically, nods, perhaps impressed, before taking up a napkin to wipe something from his face.

Shit. What matter, though? For reasons unknown to Liv, Old Barney has always been accepting of stepping in shit as a sign of horses that don’t exist, that never did. Over the years she has warned him repeatedly about his misplaced optimism but he pays her no mind. Complete and utter nonsense, like those times the moon just happened to be full and he came home a donkey braying about how he found a silver dollar by the light thrown.

Though the day is warm the sun feels cold, it balances in the sky hovering somewhere between sweet and mean, the chrome hood ornament on Old Barney’s Delta 88 throwing sparkles of laughing emerald illumination to match the wickedness of the blue insulators atop the staggered line of telephone poles stalking up the drive. Liv walks with eyes strained wide as though through darkest night, fright paralyzing her fingers into claws.

She knows that which she fears most cannot be avoided, how there is no sense in running even if she could. It is here, in the shadows thrown by those scrub oaks, and there, lurking inside the trunk of the 88, waiting patiently for that singular moment of inattention. Behind her, Old Barney has taken up position on the rickety porch, she can hear the creak of his rocking chair, the moist thump of the cork being yanked from his jug, the generous gurgle as he raises the dark aperture to his lips, drinks long and deep.

Perhaps he doesn’t see her take leave of the cabin as she goes out the door, his vision already clouding over from the morning’s drinking, or maybe he does but is still carrying a grudge over the sneeze. He offers no word of encouragement, no wave of goodbye. Either way, she tucks the basket under her arm, heads out into the scrub surrounding the single-room hovel where she has lived with Old Barney nearly all her long life.

Something has roused her from the stupor which has kept her glued in place for what seems forever—moves her to speed—though when she ponders exactly what that might be, she gleans no profitable answer. A sense of… something, something which might have been wakened by last night’s storm and now it is coming for her. Or how maybe that monumental sneeze broke something loose deep inside her, a ganglia of blood vessels, and even now she internally is hemorrhaging to her death, a taste of pennies still lingering in her mouth.

Those clouds, a surly multitude angry at being kept waiting for so long, disgorge rain as they scoot slowly across the valley scouring the slopes. She can see the vast gray curtains hovering in the distant air billowing with something like pride gone sour. This country will rot a woman inside out like a corpse, turn its men into blundering mannequins intent on the one thing which salves their souls.

Thoughts of berrying subside as her pace increases, her panic. Liv sets the basket down beside the path—that she might use both arms for balance, a touch of vertigo assailing her—to retrieve on her way home, as if there is a way back. A jay squawks somewhere above her guarding an unseen nest in the treetops, shouting out sharp bright warnings. Liv adjusts her route to avoid a skirmish. She has wandered this valley for so long she wonders at the odd sensation leaching up from the soil how somehow she has gotten turned around, is lost in her own backyard. She feels it, how she is like a clock come unwound, again. A sense of anxiety grows somewhere behind her thumping heart which seems much too loud.

So seriously, she asks herself, what is the hurry? It’s not that late, so why do I feel the need to run? It is not that cold, so why does my chin tremble so? She stumbles forward through the quilt-work patches of dim light filtering among the leaves of rhododendron and huckleberry until she reaches a blue-black bog, oily with decay spread in a thick film over the shallow water. A melancholy bullfrog grumps out sa-Whum, sa-Whum with the same desperation of someone shouting: Fire! Fire!

As mosquitoes and flies descend in droves to extract their toll of flesh stretched thin, to suckle at her cooling blood, she waves them off while she tries to skirt the bog to the right, close by where the bullfrog is voicing his plight. Suddenly she finds herself confronted by a community of strange tube-shaped plants. They grow in clusters thrusting up from the dark water, six or eight together like a family, like little green families, the oldest reaching a height of three feet, the smallest no bigger than a child’s crooked little finger.  

Regardless of size, and discounting the brokeback crippled unfortunates, they are identical in shape, starting out narrow at the base tapering larger toward the neck like a horn on an old-time Victrola, except instead of an outward blossoming bell they turn downward looking at their base. Liv imagines an elongated sleek green comma driven into the muck, an artist’s conception of a chlorophyll lifeform from another galaxy, half humorous, half sinister.

She plucks a plant from its family to more closely examine it, finds beneath the comma loop a little hole which resembles a mouth, and at the bottom of a throat viscous liquid containing the carcasses of two flies and a honeybee. She stares at the stalk in her hand. Hello, she says politely, putting her face close to the honey-scented mouth.

Are those tiny teeth?

Sa-Whum says the bullfrog, startling Liv into dropping the plant, turning to flee. Now, though, they have found her. The adults crowd around, their tall heavy stalks waving twenty feet or more into the sky, leaning in to tempt her with that delicious sweet decadent scent she realizes she has been smelling for some time now, maybe as long ago as her childhood. Her mouth is watering, the sense of flight behind her.

She considers herself somewhat of an expert both on fear and stupidity, she has studied them for years having had a constant supply of specimens. Liv shifts her covert gaze to the path leading back to the bullfrog. Sa-Whup. Though she might harbor the natural seed of fear like Old Barney she also has the shrewd patience and intelligence to prevent it from flourishing.

The day, the good weather sandwiched between storms, the buzzing of flies and mosquitoes, the way the muck of the bog tugs at her feet, the rhythmic sa-Whup of the bullfrog, that amiably sick odor wafting on the breeze all constitute a type of soporific. That’s it, nothing to be alarmed about. She is all the time running about declaring the sky is falling when in fact it already has. Let the others be afraid of the night, of the dark outside.

Looking up, she curls her body into the squishing black mud, closes her eyes, wondering: Will she leave a taste of pennies in their mouths?

 

Dan Glover

 

Dan Glover is a Chicago native who finds himself transplanted into the middle of an alligator-infested Florida swamp. He does not miss the winters.

68 comments

  1. Jack Barnes ( Likes: 473 ) says:

    I am mighty impressed with this story. The first couple times I read it, I was scratching my head and going what is this guy on about? But now, after really settling into it, I have to say it is a serious piece of writing. If this story doesn’t win, it will be a travesty of justice. Well, maybe not quite that bad. But I just don’t see any other story standing up to it so far as literary value goes.

    1. Lord Help Me ( Likes: 453 ) says:

      I don’t know why you should have to read a story more than one time. If I don’t like it the first time I won’t the second time either.

    2. Egg ( Likes: 455 ) says:

      Well, sometimes a story is made up of underlying meaning that only becomes apparent in retrospect. They are not for everyone. Many times the folk who don’t want to be bothered with winnowing the truth from such stories set them aside claiming they are not what they seem.

    3. Egg ( Likes: 455 ) says:

      I am not saying this is such a story. Just that yes, there are reasons to read a story twice or even three times before the meaning becomes apparent.

  2. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

    What’s with the personification of dentures and clouds?
    I’ve got a talking fish and a poem from the pov of a towel so nothing against personification… Here it feels out of place.

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      The clouds represent doom. The dentures old age. I wasn’t shooting for personification so much as I was mood. All in all, it is just a good day to die.

    2. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      Personification is when you give human traits to objects. Whether or not it’s intended is irrelevant, it is the technique used here. Whenever thoughts, feelings, etc are given to an object, that’s personification. I suspect a lot of people here are stumbled upon why the story is popular, and coming to the conclusion that there must be some intelligent thing that went over their head. If techniques are thrown together without a thread, it’s not something well done. Yes, a lot of different themes, images and techniques are jumbled together. Sort of like a chef with many ingredients thrown together at random. Even if you happen to think the ingredients are high quality (I dont’), it’s how the whole piece is formed that matters. Characters, voice, what the story is actually about…

    3. Grease One ( Likes: 456 ) says:

      I don’t see how the story can be built any other way. In a sense, I think you have it wrong about personification. It does not necessarily mean giving human traits to objects. That is one meaning but there are others.

  3. Grease One ( Likes: 456 ) says:

    I was impressed with the opening line. Back in the day, when pennies were actually made of copper, they had a type of taste that reminded a person of blood. So right away, I was aware that Liv was sick. I liked the way the story bent around on itself too. Nicely told. The language suits.

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Yes that’s right. That was the exactly what I hoped the reader would catch. Thanks, Grease.

    2. Grease One ( Likes: 456 ) says:

      No. Pennies used to be made of copper. Before it became too expensive. Now they are made of zinc.

  4. crystal ( Likes: 306 ) says:

    I like the way Liv thinks. I agree with Valerie that the cadence of her thoughts is where the characters dwell. I would like to know more about Liv and Old Barney, how they came to live in such a desolate spot, what happened to their family, why they find themselves alone.

    1. Lord Help Me ( Likes: 453 ) says:

      It just seems like a spooky place to me. Who wants to live with a man who drinks all the time. Not me.

  5. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

    Hey Dan! I’m glad to call you my new rival. My first impression of your story is that I can see what you’re trying to do, but the language gets in the way. It feels like a bad case of thesaurusitis. The narrator is grabbing at imagery that just doesn’t quite fit; using words whose connotations are just a bit off. The way the story stands now, I think it should have been written in Russian, or maybe French. Your sentences are definitely in English (despite what Mr. Cochran has to say), but English syntax demands a greater attention to optional punctuation and word order than is shown in this story.

    To pull from your comments below: “[…] I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing to give the reader a little credit for not being complete idiots who need every single comma inserted to make sense out of a story. […] Perhaps a weaker writer might well have inserted the comma after ‘eat’ to better explicate what they were attempting to convey.”

    I wholeheartedly disagree. The potential ambiguity in English syntax demands exact placement of certain devices by an author to really bring home their intended meaning. The sentence referred to (“After they eat Old Barney smokes, […]”) just seems lazy. This isn’t isolated either, it’s all over your story. The content of the story itself is great, but the language you use to tell it is a huge hindrance and it was really difficult for me to read the story though the clumsy syntax. I need to qualify this a bit so you really understand my meaning: I’m used to reading articles written -in- dense academic language -about- language, and I’ve seen dissertations on Bantu tonal interactions across internal morphological and phonological word boundaries that were easier to digest. WéBaalè.

    The only other general criticism I have is about the vocabulary used, and the extreme excess thereof. You’re a glutton for lexicon, and you really could have done without. You mentioned this was a piece you revived for the Deathmatch and you pruned it down. I think it would have been better if you had kept some of the content you probably took out, and whittled down all of the extra words you kept in, probably for the sake of imagery. My mind’s eye has retinal scarring after this piece.

    All the vocabulary clutter made it so I couldn’t tell the characters apart, I couldn’t tell what Liv was doing, how she was feeling, where she was going, who was doing what and where, what was up with this son of theirs, if Barney was actually her father, and the list goes on. I wanted to read the story, and I got lost in the words.

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Thank you for this, Donnie. You gave me much to think about. I’m surprised you couldn’t tell the characters apart since the story is told from Liv’s POV. But then again in a sense I suppose she is really the only character so perhaps that shouldn’t be all that surprising.

      You seem to be drawn more toward the preciseness of academic writing while I tend to gravitate more to the ambiguity of literature. Nothing wrong with that. It is good to get the perspective of others on your writing and while I am not going to rip up any of my pages in anger over what you said, it does give me pause.

      I think maybe what you see as lazy is to me not the sign of a writer not doing his job but rather a reader who demands all his i’s dotting and his t’s crossed. I think there is a lot to be said for artistic license, at least when it comes to literature, and in fact there would be no literature without it. Think Faulkner.

      I never use a thesaurus. I do plead guilty to reading a great deal. Much of that is bound to leak into my writing. Academic writing tends to put me into a snore but I do rather enjoy my literature.

      Once again, thanks and good luck in the contest.

    2. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

      Hey Dan,

      I totally get that and I’m in no way advocating for the kind of register used in academic writing. I very much appreciate the increased flexibility in literary writing, and I agree with you 100% that without artistic license there would be none of the great literature produced. However, I think there’s a huge difference between taking artistic license and forcing your reader to parse out ambiguous syntax.

      I like your story, and no one wants you to tear up any pages!

      Good luck to you as well! Excited to see what happens over the remaining days!

  6. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

    How do you live with claiming yourself you suck and still requesting votes?
    I’m not saying I agree you suck. I’m not saying I disagree. I’m just curious. I couldn’t do it.

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      It is a Chicago thing. A few years ago when the Cubs had all these young players coming up the manager Joe Maddon didn’t give them rah rah pep talks. He told them to try and not to suck. It is a method of keeping your head small enough that your hat keeps fitting properly. Read my stories. Do I suck? Some days I think so. Other days, not so much. But I think you have to have a strong sense of self in order to use this technique. Lots of folk get all upset if you tell them they suck.

    2. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      It’s not that. I have stories that I think suck. I wouldn’t dare tell people to vote for something that’s crap just because I wrote it. It’s either false humility or a lack of respect for the game.

    3. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      I’ll go with false humility. Some of us just don’t take ourselves as seriously as others, I suppose. As far as I can see, ain’t no Faulkner or Munro in our midst. So technically, we all suck. Just something we gotta deal with in our own way.

    4. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      It’s hard to get into literary magazines. I worked hard for my success. I’m not Munro but I certainly don’t suck. That’s an insult to the entire competition.

    5. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Suckage is all relative. I agree, though. You don’t suck. Where can I read more of your stories?

    6. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

      Jill — this is an internet voting contest. Broken Pencil understands that if they wanted to pick the best story for their magazine, they could just pick it. We’re encouraged to use any way we can think of to get votes as long as we don’t encourage violation of the rules. If you made it into the contest, why -wouldn’t- you ask for votes, even if you think your story sucks compared to the competition? If you’re so bound by your code of ethics, what are you doing here?

    7. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      So many times I’ve heard quotes from writers and wondered why they were so anal. Burn your shitty work, all your early books for that matter! Writers who kept editing after a story was published in the New Yorker. Anal, OCD and miserable. Never about votes but craft. So while maybe it won’t help me win this contest I realized while doing this that I just might have what it takes (if I get my life together first). Even as a kid people thought I had too high standards of integrity. I have been careless in the past and published things I really could’ve stuck with a bit longer. Realizing that I don’t want to do that, I can perservere, that quality matters… That’s as good as it gets for me. More important than winning this thing. But even I haven’t told anyone they don’t belong here. I’m a fucking writer. That is why I’m here.

    8. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      There are a lot of traditional competitions based on literary merit and while I was initially put off by the whole idea of a social media-based kind of popularity contest to judge stories, I think one advantage is that it gets a lot of people involved and reading indie fiction.

      Like yes, I asked all of my family and friends to vote for me, but when they came to vote for me, lots of them also read all of your stories – and we had conversations about them. That’s really meaningful, and never would have happened in a different style of contest.

    9. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      Yes, my grandpa is scouring the site looking for my comments, but he’s also reading some of the conversations and now next time we see each other we’ll have conversations about writing as a career and how I can get to be a better writer.
      It’s an odd bird of a literary competition but it’s leading to some interesting stuff, is what I’m saying.

    10. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Amazon used to have a competition where readers voted for the stories and the winner would receive a publishing contract. The only problem was you couldn’t see the vote total. I think they kept it that way on purpose so that if a poorly written story received the most votes, they had the option of passing on it. I didn’t win and I was so miffed I quit writing. For about an hour.

      I think that’s awesome that your grandfather is engaged in the contest, Charlotte. My son and my daughter are voting for my story. They know I write and have been really supportive. In a sense, that’s a reason I write: to achieve a sort of immortality. To leave a bit of myself behind so that perhaps one day my great great great grandchildren might pick it up and say wow! Look at old Gramps go!

  7. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

    You pack so much imagery and language into every line, and sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s overwhelming. I found that I had to start this story and then come back to it later because it was lot to absorb.
    That being said, the isolation and resignation of these characters is haunting and the end was bizarre and fascinating.
    Maybe try that Hemingway thing where you cross out of all your extra words? And then put back the ones you find you really need?

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Thank you, Charlotte. This particular story was rejected I don’t know how many times. Dozens, at least. I finally filed it away. Then I resurrected it for Deathmatch but it was a bit long. I had to chop probably a third of it in order to fit into the manuscript requirement. I do believe that made it a stronger story. I was actually sort of surprised that Deathmatch picked it, to be honest. But yes. That’s a good suggestion. I will try that Hemingway thing and see what happens.

      Thanks again!

  8. Joshua Cochran ( Likes: 28 ) says:

    All told. If you’re going to do that, you need a damn strong voice. Vague pronouns galore, and a style that shifts beneath the feet from line to line.

    When I woke up, I found myself reading this confusing line:

    “After they eat Old Barney smokes, seems defeated, incapable of sustaining the loss of the hair on his head as well as a mouthful of teeth.”

    WTF? While it’s not a sentence in the English language, I find it sad “they” ate Old Barney.

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Yes I see what you’re getting at. At the same time I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing to give the reader a little credit for not being complete idiots who need every single comma inserted to make sense out of a story. So far as I can see, the sentence you quoted is indeed a sentence in the English language. Perhaps a weaker writer might well have inserted the comma after ‘eat’ to better explicate what they were attempting to convey.

      Thank you for your comments.

    2. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

      I’ll just leave this here:

      [after [[[they]DP [eat [Old Barney]DP]VP]DP smokes]TP, [t1[seems [defeated]A]VP]TP, [[t1[v2[incapable]A [[of [sustaining [the loss]DP]VP]PP [[of [[the hair]DP]PP [on [his head]DP]PP]]TP [as well as [a mouthful]DP of [teeth]DP]]]TP]CP (TP obscured)

    3. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

      Yep. I’m bad at tags, I prefer trees, so it may be missing a bracket or two but the point is that the level of ambiguity in this phrase is so high that you can conceivably interpret it as a dependent clause missing its main tense-bearing phrase.

    4. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      I appreciate the time you took to do this. Thank you. Have you read Steve Pinker’s The Sense of Style? He goes pretty deep into diagramming sentences. Yes. I am more than sure you are right. The sentence lacks coherence. But sentence correctness isn’t the point I am trying to make with the story. It is more a feeling I am after, a sense of mood. Anyone can write a proper sentence. Well, maybe not anyone. Obviously I must seem rather deficient in your estimation. Enjoy the story for what it is, not for improper sentence structure and missing punctuation.

  9. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

    Some great lines (sky falling) . Some awkward ones that made it less real. Does anyone say or think, “why does my chin tremble so…”?
    The whole piece made me feel like Philip Glass should be playing in the background. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. A little over the top, perhaps? The arc/plot was a little weird.

    1. Dan Glover ( Likes: 618 ) says:

      Ha! Philip Glass. Nice one. I will keep that in mind when I write the screenplay. Yes, about the chin tremble, I see what you mean. I think what I was after was not so much the disconnected observer following the old lady around but rather something from her own perspective. From inside her head. And no. Perhaps she might not’ve actually thought why does my chin tremble so but only acknowledged it in passing. A brief wonderment.

      Yes, dying is a little weird, and writing about it, plotting it, working the story arc, sure. All of it is definitely odd. I thought that the old lady waking with a taste of pennies in her mouth but attributing it to last night’s lightning ought to clue the reader in to how perhaps something a little weird is happening to her. It permeates the story. The clouds on the horizon, the nostalgia she feels over a boy she married long ago who has vanished into this old man, the smell of burnt plastic and pine sap lingering in the cabin, the sudden onslaught of vertigo, the swamp ready to swallow her up.

      Thanks for your comment!

  10. Valerie Chisholm ( Likes: 1 ) says:

    My favorite sentence, which contains a myriad of what is great about this story is this “The monsoon mists seem as far off as January looking back on November.”

    The cadence of where these characters dwell lives in this language.

    1. crystal ( Likes: 306 ) says:

      I don’t think I ever heard a metaphor put quite like that before. Where did you come up with it? Did you read it somewhere?

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