Tuesday, October 16, 2012

cards-based writing exercise

So I hardly ever do any creative writing anymore - not enough time or energy, with all the other things I have going on, particularly the coursework. However, since that writing workshop on Saturday I've had a story idea stubbornly bouncing around in my head. Somewhat unusually, plot details keep coming to me - not in a short story/flash fiction kind of way, but actual longer work kind of plot. Kind of stressed about other things though, and didn't know how to begin doing something with all of that, so I decided to draw some cards and write around those.

I drew the 2 of Wands, 4 of Wands, and Ace of Cups from the Fantastical Tarot.
A door, an opportunity, a choice between security, the familiar, and emotional fulfillment, a new beginning.
Two cats: one black, the other a pale ginger-blond. That is what you would remember most of all about that moment, later on - the way those two cats slinked about, curling around the legs of the man you were speaking to, the man you had once known simply as an imposing librarian and who you now could not even look in the eye as you spoke. No, you stared at his cats, each one rubbing against one of his legs, perfectly ironed slacks forming a sort of door. A door, yes, and how very desperate was your need then to get out.

You spoke to his legs and to his cats because you knew that if you were to look up, to meet his pale grey eyes, you would lose your nerve. The words you needed to say would die as they reached your lips and instead he would find what he wanted, from you and from the rest: silence, submission, compliance. And you could not, would not, go back to that.

Even as you began to speak you were already aware of how much you would miss it once you left. The secret society had warmly accepted you into its fold, pried your darkest secrets away from you, saved you from the dreadful feeling of being alone always and in all things. You would miss the lectures about things you had not dared to dream since childhood were real, the glasses of wine shared afterwards with quiet discussion. Most of all you would miss the weekends, driving down, squeezed in the back of a van, to the little airfield outside the city, taking turns flying up in the plane, higher and higher, and of course the jump back down to earth again, the freezing thin air rushing at you from all directions, and the voices.

The voices, which had been so thin at first, pressed together, hurried and blurred so that you simply thought you were losing your mind again. Then later, as you returned week after week they stretched out into clarity, filled you with the most amazing kind of magic - the things you could do with that magic, those first few moments and hours after the parachute carried you back down to the ground. Euphoria  filled every inch of you once a week for months, until one of those voices became a name, a singularity you could distinguish from all the rest. It said: what do you think they are doing with all of the magic they take from us? Why do you think he collects it from you, in tithe? Look, snoop, discover.

You did. You discovered, and you retched, and a little later on you were standing in front of him, Elias, ostensible leader of all things. You stared at his cats and you made excuses, lied about feeling unwell again and needing time to yourself, away from all of these things. You were still too scared then, too tied to them, to say what you really meant: that you were done, that you were walking away.

No, not just walking away - you would find a way to fight against what they were doing; you would go on a mad search for the withered, bitter old man that a certain voice told you, as you were plunging down through the clouds, held the key to that fight: a magic from higher skies, the starry skies that once, for a short moment in time, men thought they could thrust themselves into.

You would go looking for space magic.


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