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Writing the Beginnings of Stories (And Only the Beginnings)

As an experiment, I’ve written the start of a few short story ideas. If you’re a writer, doing this really helps the creative juices flow for the projects that you’re working on.

I hope you enjoy them!

 

The Musician: Carla, the cleaning lady on Clermont Street, has a son who is engaged to a white singer. Whenever one of her clients asks about her son, Carla claps her hands in delight and swears he will be a musician someday. Sure, all he has ever known are the crescendos of Spanish and the staccato grip of a dustpan, but soon he will strum a guitar with his moreno fingertips. Just you wait.

Five years later, her son’s wife is singing in Carnegie Hall. When she leaves the stage, roars of applause cling to her clothes, the spotlights dim, and the curtains close. Carla’s son strolls onto the stage. He slides a dustpan along the floor, pretends he is strumming Cancion de Mariachi with a broom, and happily sweeps up rose petals into a pile.

Carla frowns in her living room.

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Escape: The first time she saw her reflection, she gasped. The ripples in the water distorted her features, but she could still make out the tangled knot of hair, the scars on her nose, the mud on her neck, the bloodshot eyes. Her orange jumpsuit clung to her shoulders.

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The Most Nutritious Meal of the Day
: Breakfast here meant fried worms, frog intestines, and eel skin. Thomas plopped into the dining room chair and licked his lips.

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Monster
: Horrified, Victoria opened her mouth wide. Black tar oozed from under her tongue, from under her gums. She screamed and gurgled ebony liquid.

An hour later, her mother opened the bathroom door and found her daughter unconscious on the floor; her fingernails were smothered in black, her pupils were completely dilated, and her hair was the color of ink. Her mother gasped. She covered her left hand over her mouth, backing away and shutting the door with her right.

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Orphanage
: Emily dragged her comforter down the stairs: thump, thump, thump. She had to squint in the dark (only candlelight prevented her from missing a step), and she slid one hand down the railing for support. She could make out the faint glow of a flashlight wiggling underneath a tent of blankets in the sitting room. As she padded across the carpet, she could hear the excited whispers of little girls, her friends, beside the fireplace. They had started without her.

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Washing Machine
:
 Her dress is a feast fit for kings: pink tulle skipping down the middle; seems popping in unseemly places; careless cotton; rainbow juice stains.

Her mother grabs the tattered dress and marches to the garbage can. “Mommy will get you a new one, honey.”

The little girl, wearing just her underwear, clings onto her mother’s skirt, clawing at her legs. “Feed it to the wash,” she pleads. “The wash will make it better. You always feed it to the wash.”

Her mother glances down before walking toward the kitchen. Heels glaring, she stuffs the dress down the trash can’s throat.

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Solace

When everything churns and sinks in reverse

and the moon pulls back its tides with taut strings,

the waves of the ocean crash and disperse

in the tumult of my imaginings.

 

But oh, let the continents shift and quake,

and let the sun’s final rays brush the shore;

his promising light is what my heart aches:

a glistening star I have fallen for.

 

I would gladly suspend in endless gloom

if it meant I could hold his ardent light,

because only he can make my heart bloom

with flowers basked in his beaming delight.

 

Let the world dive, let my words fall to sea;

my star will glow, his light will comfort me.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

The Rose

A delicate rose perched on a bush,
her hand beneath her chin.
Her sigh froze dew drops in the air;
her patience was waning thin.

For she was awaiting Autumn—
he hadn’t visited in days—
and he had promised that he’d bring her
the sun’s sweetest golden rays.

But ‘twas Winter who had stolen Autumn
when he blew his chilling kiss;
the maiden: “Where art my Autumn dressed in white,
the lovely warmth I miss?”

Winter cloaked himself in velvet blue,
and his eyes were cold as ice;
the maiden: “Where art my Autumn’s tender passion,
his fragile warm device?”

The rose began to shrivel,
her bud began to decay:
“Have mercy, oh cold Winter;
please let my Autumn stay.”

But Winter merely stripped her
and ignored her wish to weep.
He listened to her last breath
as Autumn sang her to sleep.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

The Librarian

There is a librarian who

organizes fluttering

memories.

The birds fly in with ebony words smeared on

their wings and they always

soar with more

questions than answers;

her thoughts are dust-covered dancers

twirling behind

crumbling books locked

in skyscraper-shelves;

she told me to look

for your book

yesterday and I peeled it open and there were

too many blank spaces between unfinished words;

question marks licked each page

and each page crinkled at my touch

and my touch left nothing but an indent (between the words “loss” and “love”)

and love was felt with your entire being

but being sick left you torn at the binding;

 

I took

your book

and slammed it against the table—

I watched the pages flutter

like feathers

and then I left

the remains to the

librarian.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

To Love a Bird (Is to Paint Her Red)

I am azure-headed,

ruby-breasted,

emerald-winged. I flutter

into your embrace,

only God and His sun

as my witnesses.

You tell me that I dazzle color,

even when my feathers are

plucked, even when all that is visible is

the white plumage beneath the surface.

When my toes are ripped, you stitch

them back; when my beak is scratched, you

flip me onto my back and

place a healing kiss to the wound.

“You are my painted bunting,” you say,

and I squint into your eyes—they are my stars, that twinkling choir—

as my breast swells with a certain fire.

I was born

blue-headed and green-winged,

but you, my dear, you are the artist

who painted this chest red.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

Coffee & Company

Don’t fill up

on coffee,

she said,

Because the grinds are too simple–

they sit

in your stomach– they

rub your intestines like

sandpaper. Coffee is straightforward

and bitter

like your grandmother’s humor.

Instead, break the fast

with orange juice– something sweet

yet sharp.

Start your morning with

a complication,

hydrate your soul

with sympathy and jealousy,

be an enigma, a twist, be a mystery

they ponder,

because the one who takes the time to solve you

will be the one who always sits beside you at

the breakfast table.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

Lighthouse

Your eyes were

staircases spiraling inside

towering licorice lighthouses;

I watched some nights

when you’d pry open my craters

and release my moths and

let them collect on your

glittering railings.

Your pupils shined on

my royal violet failings,

but you always loved

to blink

my name.

 

Speaking of poetry, it’s the middle of the month and submissions are still open! Send your pieces to the Contact page. ^.^

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

Earth and Everywhere

I was in Wales when I realized that God is everywhere.

Tintern Abbey was lathered in light. I tilted my head back to gaze at the monastery, the pillars, the blackened stone. I looked down at the fresh, soft grass speckled with daisies and bumble bees. I felt as if this place, this place of warm tranquility, was Heaven disguised as Earth. Every step was sacred. I felt Him beneath my feet and in my hands and in the mountains.  My friends gathered in the middle of the meadow, whispering so that they did not crack the fragile quiet.

The day my sister told me that she didn’t have faith, something inside me crumbled. I suppose she didn’t remember that moment when we sat on that Pennsylvanian hill, counting fireflies. She squealed and wanted to capture each insect in Grandma Gayle’s glass jars, but I told her to admire them while they’re free. So we compared the fireflies with the cloud of stars above us, pulsating and blinking back at us. We splayed our bodies in the grass and giggled.

Didn’t you feel God then?

A few years later, she showed me the jagged scars on her wrist. She hauled out her anatomy textbook and paged through all the chapters regarding the nervous system. Her eyes were wide with realization. “There is no such thing as a soul,” she said. “The brain controls everything.”

I fall in love with people who worship math and blame God for the problems they can’t solve. But a calculator cannot tell you why we feel the night is ours to hold. It cannot tell you why we might decide to live for someone else. 

Sometimes I feel as though I left God in Wales. When I walked off the plane, suitcase in hand, maybe I left Him behind.

Or, maybe I just have to keep looking everywhere.

 

Written/Photography by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

August Writing Contest Winner

2B or Not 2B’s monthly writing contest has been on hiatus for a few months due to a busy summer. However, I’m happy to say that we are now back in business! Submissions are currently open; if you would like to submit any piece of your writing, you may do so here. Every month there will be a new winner pertaining to all genres of writing, so keep a lookout for new artists featured on this blog!

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I would like to congratulate Nitesh (AKA Sketchesbynitesh) for being August’s poetry winner of the 2B or Not 2B website! His writing is enchantingly philosophical and filled with potent imagery. His piece “Eternal Rest” spins the concept of death so that readers perceive it as a state of peace and serenity (rather than a state of gloom). I hope you enjoy his work as much as I did.

 

Eternal Rest
written by Nitesh

Between the lines of truth and blame, death is certain.
But there is a better day, a better way, behind the lines, walking, talking, but not the same.
There’s God, there’s heaven, but no pain.
I’ll be at peace, on the day I’ll die, my restless heart at rest, under the haunted sky.
There will be no heaviness in my head, I’ll be broken, dazed, speaking of death.
There will be nothing to accomplish, in all the broken promises.
Gentle and brutal companies, they become inseparable, because once around the bend, there is no question about
how much space eternally remains.
But in the hearts of all, who lived by my side, I will crawl to them, until there’s nothing left inside.
And in the smoke of my body, that burns and smells, there will be no trace of anguish or conflict
in my rushing eyes.
But one last thing to tell, here I go, my love, erase me completely from your memories,
here I go, my bride, free from all the blind rage,
here I go my love, turn the page.

 

*If you would like to participate in the September writing contest, simply fill out a form on this website’s Submissions Page. You may send me an email or comment below if you have any questions or concerns.*

I’ll be looking forward to September’s submissions!

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