Thursday, 15 July 2010

Compulsion - #fridayflash

Just get them dealt for goodness sakes she silently implored him. The man had been shuffling a deck of cards for an eternity. No one else was proximate to him, so seemingly there was no game it was directed towards. The lack of a flat surface in front of him legislated against laying them out in some version of solitaire. Or Patience she mused ruefully. It was a regular two-handed shuffle, where each card slips between the sheets of its loosely stacked bedfellows. None of that showy one handed stuff, where the deck is cut in half and passed over with just the pads of the fingers. But there again the man was too shabby to evoke the impression of being a stage magician. Even a resting one.

She turned her gaze to a woman sat glassy eyed and straight-backed on an easy chair. Staring into space as she contorted her lips to blow upwards, ushering a bang away from draping her eye. Repeatedly, for of course the tress reclaimed its station with each unassisted descent. She puffed it away again. This was idiotic. She wanted to shake the woman. What did she expect would happen? What could she hope to achieve? She felt like marching over to her and snipping the recalcitrant curl right off, but of course she had no scissors with which to do so. She averted her scrutiny in order to choke off her own irritation.

Her eyes alighted on a youngish man beating out a syncopation on his trousered thigh. As with the other two, he wasn't looking at his own motions, marooned in some inner thought. She tried to place his beat, for if she could recognise the tune she might draw a bead on to the man's psyche. But she drew a blank and fancied it might be of his own composition. If it was a code to his nature, she didn't posses the cipher to unlock it.

She continued scanning the room. A young boy was pivoting the seat of his fold up chair and sinking and rising with each tilt. Boys can never sit still, but this was behaviour beyond mere fidgeting. He was no less rhythmic than the drummer man, but each was plugged into their own private pulse. Completely unaware of each other, yet both were fraying her nerves.

For respite she turned to a dapper man exuding no sound at all. He was engaged in cleaning his spectacles with the tails of his shirt. The bridge of the glasses was delicately pinched between finger and thumb, yet the other hand was flaying the glass lens with the vigorous nature of his rubbing. She tried to catch his eye, but whether through myopic foreshortening, or that he was simply not focusing by choice, no acknowledgment of her existence was forthcoming.

She stood back to compose her thoughts. She was witness to an array of self-involved locomotions. An antechamber chock full of small convulsions. An assemblage of nervous tics. A cluster of compulsive disorders. Were they in a treatment centre, or its waiting room at least? If not, what were they all doing here? Just killing time. Whiling it away with displacement activity. Though displacement of what exactly?

Then it struck her, she too had found herself here hadn't she? What was her particular spasm? She looked down at herself to determine her tic. She could see no treasonous part of her obeying its own local bidding. No untoward movements. Without a mirror in the place, she raised her hand to her face to check its loyalty and began charting the topography with the tips of her fingers. Maybe that in itself was her tic? But no, she felt secure in the knowledge that this was the first gesture of its kind since she had first enrolled here. Whenever that had been.

And then it struck her. Her own, individual throb of self. Her defining trait. How 24-7 she liked to observe other people. To make mental notes. To cast judgement. Her curse was that of the writer. Only one stripped of paper and pen in this place of disarticulation.

35 comments:

Carrie said...

"He was no less rhythmic than the drummer man, but each was plugged into their own private pulse. "

It's like poetry in story, but not. You leave me at a loss to explain how much I admire your style.

Linda said...

Hmmm... interesting likening writing as a compulsion to all the others -- the 'beating a syncopation', the cleaning of glasses (which I just did myself), etcetera. As if writing is an almost bodily function (because tics are just that). Her own, individual throb of self. Liked that.

As usual, you make me think. Damn. it's Thursday night, I need a break ;^) Peace...

Laura Eno said...

Writing is a compulsion, but I hadn't seen it in that light before. Bravo!

Bukowski's Basement said...

Love it... "Her curse was that of the writer...."

Eloquent and so very well put.

Pamila Payne said...

Oh, no... that's me. Other people drive me nuts. And you captured the madness perfectly.

Jen Brubacher said...

I almost don't think you need to explain her tic, except that then you get to say it's the writer's curse, and... well, yes. Tragically true. :)

I love this: "the tress reclaimed its station with each unassisted descent."

ThomG said...

I'd call this a lyrical short story, the writing so vibrant and it really sets a scene in the reader's mind.

mazzz in Leeds said...

Loved the descriptions of the others, especially the woman with the fringe: fave line - "Repeatedly, for of course the tress reclaimed its station with each unassisted descent."

Like Jen, I think this could work just as well without explaining her tic, but again like Jen... well, the writer's curse!

Deanna Schrayer said...

I kept wanting to say "Take a pill!", but I suppose the correct words would be "Write it down!" :)

I sympathize with the curl in the eyes - I'm contstantly blowing my hair off my face. Now I'll be thinking how much it bothers people every time I do - thanks Marc. :)

As others have said, this is quite lyrical. It has a soothing melody to it, and I love it!

John Wiswell said...

If writing is an addiction, what are you, Mr. Nash? Curious how you see yourself, particularly if you were plunged into the realm of disarticulation. Is this your worst fear?

Sulci Collective said...

To Jon and Deanna, this was written in full awareness - the kiss curl doesn't bug me in the slightest - of the selection offered, I think only the child tip-up seat mania would bother me and partly cos you just know he's going to end up hurting himself.

I don't particularly see myself like the heroine of this piece, other than the 24-7 nature of our calling as a writer.

Plunged into the realm of disarticulation? At death, but not before!

Thanks for your comments guys, they were really good for getting me to reflect on my own piece and where it derived from.

marc nash

Eric J. Krause said...

It's all so true. Writing certainly is a compulsion. Good story!

Gracie said...

Great story. Better to write down everything we see than to have our heads blow up. :)

Lovely writing as always.

jdanetyler said...

Oh, the curse of the paperless writer, watching and observing and endlessly scrawing ... notes ... ideas ... judgments ....

Very nicely done. Loved the lyrical wording of it all too. Great hook and descriptions.

Susan Cross said...

I loved it and I think it was important to add the last paragraph. How many times have I sat somewhere, noticed something, dug into my purse and come up with a receipt or checkbook register to write and found myself without a pen? Lord, I know that feeling! Yes it is a compulsion.

John McDonnell said...

Yes, the paperless writer. I've been there many times, wishing I had anything, even the back of an envelope, to write on. Good description, and some memorable phrases here.

Mark Kerstetter said...

I saw your tweet before reading so had the writer in mind. I was seeing each one as a thought trying to take shape in the writer's mind. It's like that for me sometimes, like I'm juggling these mental balls all the time. It really can be compared to any other nervous tic.

Icy Sedgwick said...

"Only one stripped of paper and pen in this place of disarticulation."

Ouch. That line actually HURTS!

Beautifully written.

Jason Coggins said...

With regards to your last tweet: I think the descriptions and the voyeurism of the narrator stand on their own without the last paragraph. I marvel at your writing, sir.

Anonymous said...

The last para syndrome! I usually have to cut all mine...
Pen

Lou Freshwater said...

The writer's compulsion is the most exhausting. There is no relief from it, even in dreams.

This is a wonderful piece, and a reminder of how much I have missed your writing.

shannon said...

You expressed this with so much more elegance and artistry, but I wanted to share this piece of a poem I wrote about this subject a long time ago (a very bad poem, but it shows the thinking along the same lines)

One such as this can’t choose their lot,
(Though once I saw this a fatal flaw)
In truth, a variant breed is all.
Content to be life’s adoring fan,
Not to clamber fate with sharpened claws-
But reflect, record our fellow man.

Virginia Moffatt said...

LOL! I people watch all the time, and always listen into conversations. You're right we're psychologically flawed!

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Oh my, so much meat on this bone! I definitely like having the last para in - it really snaps us into focus & gets all of us to self-reflective states.

I have developed that mania of needing to have something to write on at all times, nervously searching for a pen, trying to stock my bags with index cards, but ending up writing on scraps of stuff.

I was a writer without anything to write on for about 10 yrs - so I relate to her in a few ways. I also freak out with repetitive behaviors others are doing.

I like the combination of her intensity with certain sensitivities mixed with various levels of awareness - very complex story and very interesting.

You have given me (and clearly all the writers who stop by here) a lot to think about. *we all laugh nervously*

brainhaze said...

Genius - what a great story - bet theres loads more we could learn from her too - love your work

ganymeder said...

Being OCD about observation... This struck a chord with me. Do you hear the voices too? You know, the one narrating your life. Like today, at the park, I kept hearing "The mother sat on the bench, amused at..."
Oh, wait, you don't hear voices? Nevermind, I've said too much. *whistles and walks away*

Seriously, very well done. I love the ending.

Tomara Armstrong said...

HA! I was waiting for your MC's disorder and I should have known the answer.

The ending was so clear, I could have slapped myself...
~2

daniellelapaglia said...

I saw myself so clearly in her observations and judgments. I do that all the time! There are reasons I am never without pen and paper - in my purse, my car, my nightstand. Great story!

pegjet said...

Probably because I just read a couple horror flashes before landing here, I thought it was the waiting room to hell. I was wondering about her disorder, the reveal, and you surprised me!

Keep the last paragraph. As a previous commenter said, it makes us writers think.

Karen from Mentor said...

A)What everybody else said....
B)Votes yes on leaving the last paragraph...
C)RE: "beating out a syncopation on his trousered thigh."

I think Trousered Thigh would be a great name for a garage band.

estrella05azul said...

Exactly, that's what a writer does, like ganymeder pointed out: all the time :)

Mari said...

You got me reevaluating myself yet once again. Great piece, although a bit painful as Icy pointed out.

antisocialbutterflie said...

You have just described perfectly what I do at the bus stop every day. I loved this.

Laurita said...

This comepletely surrounded me, like sitting in a quiet room while the tick of the clock, the drip of water, the snoring cat all get louder and louder. The addition of "Her own, individual throb of self" brought it completely to life.

Anonymous said...

Tiffany's jewelry is world famous company [B][URL=http://www.tiffanysfree.com]tiffany & co[/URL][/B] and if you cannot afford the actual jewelry there are a lot of Tiffany inspired jewelry to choose [U]baltimore tiffany jewelry[/U] from. While Tiffany's has produced some more [B]cheap tiffany and co jewelry[/B] affordable pieces like key chains and [U][B]tiffany company jewelry[/U][/B] money clips for those wanting the elegant pieces without the price tag there are other options. Tiffany produces bracelets, rings, earrings [B]baltimore tiffany jewelry[/B] and necklaces.

Besides the traditional Tiffany's style, the jewelry [B][URL=http://www.etiffanystore.com]tiffany[/URL][/B] comes in the traditional blue box and you can even find Tiffany inspired jewelry [U]discount tiffany jewelry[/U] that reproduces the Tiffany style down to the box. Tiffany jewelry is traditionally sterling silver [U]best website to buy discounted tiffany jewelry[/U] as the Tiffany Company has produced a special blend of silver that is very [B]replica tiffany jewelry[/B] strong and will last.

It is not a direct replica but it is inspired from the Tiffany style [U]authentic tiffany jewelry[/U] so many of the pieces are very similar to Tiffany. Some companies may even [U][B]authentic tiffany jewelry[/U][/B] produce direct replicas. The main difference between real Tiffany's jewelry and the inspired version [B]3tiffany & co jewellery[/B] jewelry is the price tag. They are just as beautiful and classic as the real ones [B]tiffany jewelry boxes[/B] but at much more affordable prices. If you aspire for a piece of Tiffany's then you should [B][URL=http://www.tiffanysfree.com]tiffany charms[/URL][/B] investigate Tiffany inspired jewelry.

This jewelry can [U]baltimore tiffany jewelry[/U] be found in many places, in stores and online. You [U][B]baltimore tiffany jewelry[/U][/B] can search the internet to discover the companies in your [B]tiffany jewelry boxes[/B] area that provide this type of jewelry. Their heart [B]replica tiffany jewelry[/B] pendants are particularly popular. These floating [U][B]authentic tiffany jewelry monthly promotion[/U][/B] heart pendants come in silver, gold and with crystals. They also [B][URL=http://www.etiffanystore.com]tiffany[/URL][/B] have the traditional Tiffany's circle of life pendant that resembles a [U]tiffany jewellery uk[/U] circle of crystals on a chain.

There are many different types of Tiffany inspired [B]discount tiffany jewelry[/B] earrings and many of them match the Tiffany pendants. There are open [B]buyers of tiffany jewelry sets[/B] heart earrings as well as circle of life earrings. There are [U][B]fake tiffany jewelry[/U][/B] a variety of different bracelets and [U][B]authentic tiffany jewelry[/U][/B] many still use the open heart charm design. There are [B]cheap tiffany and co jewelry[/B] multi chain bracelets, heart charm bracelets, puff heart toggle [U]best website to buy discounted tiffany jewelry[/U] bracelets, link bracelets, cubic [U][B]fake tiffany jewelry[/U][/B] zirconium tennis bracelets, mesh buckle [U][B]fake tiffany jewelry[/U][/B] bracelets, silver heart tag ID bracelets, double [U]replica tiffany jewelry[/U] row cable bracelets and much more.