Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WAG #8 - Signs of Life

This is my contribution to week 8 of the Writing Adventure Group. Here are the instructions:
“WAG #8: Rose Colored Glasses” Go out and choose an unfamiliar object (in other words, one you have no history with) that strikes you as ugly, repulsive, annoying, etc… some ideas might be: a wad of squashed gum on the pavement, a dead squirrel on the side of the road, an ugly sign, a loud construction site, a tacky sculpture in a charity shop… and write about it in such as way as to make it appealing to your reader. Really sell it! Use whatever words you want and cheat as much as you want, but do your best! Unfortunately I have difficulty following instructions, but I tried. It is a lot more fun to describe something repulsive than it is to describe something appealing. Thanks again to Nixy Valentine for putting this together.

It started with a smell. A noxious, rancid smell. The scent of rot was so strong, I began pulling everything out of my pantry closet and sticking it under my nose. While I rationally realized a can of tomato paste and a metal colander could not be the source of such a stench, even they weren't excused from my sniff.

Finally, the closet was empty but the stench was still there. I'd just about decided to take the shelves out, smell each one of them and then step into the closet to breath in lungfuls of the walls hoping they would point me towards the source of the odor.

Instead I got down on me knees and peered into the dark cavity under the lowest shelf. I was certain I'd pulled everything out that was on the floor, but as I bent down for one more look, the smell was overwhelming.

The closet is deep, my arms are not long and I was fairly certain I didn't want to actually touch whatever smelled so horrible. I retrieved a pair of kitchen tongs, got back down on the ground and swept the tongs across the closet floor, until they thunked into something soft and squishy.

Imagining all of the terrible things it could be, I screwed up my courage, grasped it in the tongs and slowly pulled it out.

At first, the blob was so misshapen, other than realizing it wasn't a dead mouse, or something worse, I wasn't able to identify its original nature. And the stench was now so overwhelming I knew I couldn't keep it in the house a minute longer.

Stepping out into the back yard, I gulped a couple of breaths of clean air, then examined at arms and tongs length whatever it was I'd found.

It had at one time been bulbous I could tell. It was so soft I could have squished it in two with the tongs, but I could guess that at one time it had been firm. It was a deep reddish-brown, yet translucent. As I realized it was composed of several translucent layers I finally identified the culprit. I'd unearthed a rotten onion. God knows how long it had festered, alone in the dark, in the farthest corner of my pantry floor.

Now that the mystery was solved, I was ready to dispose of the offending onion, and reluctantly start deciding what I should use to clean the pantry floor.

As I was walking towards the compost heap, with the onion still in the tongs and as far away from my nose as I could carry it, I absently turned my arm exposing the other side of the rotted root. There, peaking out was a small flag of bright green, partially folded within the tongs, so I hadn't noticed it immediately. Clear as day though, was a sign of new life, reaching out of it's fetid core and looking for the light.

Of course I didn't think of it quite so poetically as I was tossing it into the compost pile. That metaphor didn't enter my head until I started writing this. At the time I was literally blinded by the stink.


Nixy Valentine said...

Great piece of writing, Lulu! I actually like the way you pieced this together, especially knowing that surely there must be some appeal to come. When it did, it was in an unexpected way.

Forget the rules... you did a great job!

Christine said...

Ha, this was so great. I was cringe at what it could be, we usually find fruit in the fridge, behind the draw that crosses our eyes. I particularly liked the ending, even if you just thought of it as you wrote.


Nancy J. Parra said...

This was fabulous! I've done this with a rotten potato-oh, the smell! Nice to find life in rot... Cool that I read this on earth day.


Iain Martin said...

I really liked this piece, Lulu. At the end I felt like I had to go and wash my hands. You did a good job developing the "ugly" and saving the "beautiful" until the end. Good words, too.

Marsha said...

I like how you made this into a narrative. I had to keep reading to find out what it actually was! You hooked me!

Peter Spalton said...

What a nice piece, had me wondering and waiting for the punch line. A suprise when it came.
Nice one!

Gunnar Helliesen said...

"Blinded by the stink", I love it! Perfect use of language, impressive. Wow!

Lulu said...

Thanks so much for all the kind words.
This was a difficult assignment for some reason. So I am just happy it ended up usable. Once it was finished though, it was kind of fun!