Pilgrim – Day 2 prompt edited

by | Oct 18, 2020 | Dean Cleaning Two | 13 comments

Pilgrim

Small TV with antennae. Saturday morning cartoons. Cowboys and Indians. Roy Rogers. Gene Autry. Black and white. Shorts and a halter tops. Annie Oakley hat. Cheerios with spoons full of sugar. No more snoring in bedroom, but not quiet either. Door stays closed. Steel skates and saddle shoes by front door, but key is missing. No pliers in the utility drawer.

Outside, fog rolling in from ocean. Face misted with salt.  Nose cold, damp. Palm fronds drip, grass glistens. Sidewalk waits.  Shiver.

Skates idle on porch. Neighbor’s bicycle, locked. Chili-boy’s tricycle has no third wheel. Bare feet pad down the cold walkway between the apartment buildings. The street is filled with parked cars. Nothing moves. Quiet. Very quiet. Wait. Down the hill, the surf barely riffles. One step, two steps, down that hill. Pebble jars left foot. Cry out. Car drives by. A whisk of air. Rock slapped from heel. The hill declines.

The sun pokes through gray, dries the air. Deep breaths. Nose itches. A small street crossed, the beach a block away. Freedom. Pleasure. Smiles. Another street to dare. Cars going fast, no crosswalk. The ocean thumps the beach somewhere down below. Indecision. Doubt. Has the bedroom door opened yet? Is the bowl of milk still on the floor in front of the TV? Move ahead or turn around? Cars go by. Someone honks.

The hill is steep. The sun pours down. Sweat beads.  Breath struggles in and out. A boy with red hair waves from a car window, sticks out his tongue. Sun glints off the bumper. The trudge goes on, sidewalk warming under bare feet.

At the apartment door, Mom’s in her nightgown. Behind her, dad’s in his underwear. No one is smiling.

Yet. Yet. Yet.

13 Comments

  1. Roberta Beary

    Love the beginning images, they brought me to a safe place: “Small TV with antennae. Saturday morning cartoons. Cowboys and Indians. Roy Rogers. Gene Autry. Black and white. Shorts and a halter tops. Annie Oakley hat. Cheerios with spoons full of sugar. No more snoring in bedroom, but not quiet either. Door stays closed. Steel skates and saddle shoes by front door, but key is missing. No pliers in the utility drawer.”

    I found the last of these images ªNo pliers in the utility drawer” to be very moving, as if my heart were an instrument and your words hit just the right note.

    I love the possibilities etched by the almost ending: At the apartment door, Mom’s in her nightgown. Behind her, dad’s in his underwear. No one is smiling.” as followed by the actual ending of even more possibilities: “Yet. Yet. Yet.”

    There is a mystery to this piece that evolves from the use of concrete images that works well. I want to know more, yet I am satisfied with what you’ve given me.

    • Gay Degani

      Thank you so much Roberta. I’ve been having a hard time getting my comments up today. They don’t seem to post so I am thrilled to have such a positive reaction–any reaction–to this story that is a little strange for me!!

    • Paul Beckman

      Gay-Once again your descriptions carry your story. I never said that before but I realize how often I’m in awe.

      • Gay Degani

        Paul, thank you. The feeling is mutual. Love your stuff and am so happy that you are willing to read my work.

  2. Tommy Dean

    Love how all these images put us in this living room during this era! The way it might be safe to find your parents or maybe you should just wait a little longer!

    I really love this objective camera view just above or in front of the objects, the characters just out of view, but also it’s completely not subjective, right! everything is colored by this unseen voice!

    “Has the bedroom door opened yet? Is the bowl of milk still on the floor in front of the TV? Move ahead or turn around? Cars go by. Someone honks.” Love this looking back, this indecision! This felt really resonant!

    “At the apartment door, Mom’s in her nightgown. Behind her, dad’s in his underwear. No one is smiling.” oh, I can just see them huddled there! The way this character thought it would be better not to bother them, to just be brave!

  3. Gay Degani

    Thank you so much Tommy for you thoughtful and kind comments. Really glad I took this class. I’ve been mentally stuck for a while. I guess many of us have been.

  4. Christina Rosso-Schneider

    You have such incredible imagery throughout this piece. What stood out to me the most–and I would most like to steal–is your ability to write with such movement. Movement in terms of character, story, and movement for the reader. Everything felt breathless, in a good way, like I was moving alongside these characters. Really well done.

    • Gay Degani

      Thank you Christina. Your kinds words are a balm to me. Covid has distracted me as I’m sure it has others but this class and all the talent here has really given me a boost. I rarely write so sparely and I am so happy with the results. That’s why I took this class, to get my butt in gear. And mostly this came from Tommy’s instructions, I just started leaving out words, I think that’s the key to movement here.

  5. Didi Wood

    So many specific, resonant images – cartoons and cowboys and Cheerios, Chili-boy’s tricycle missing a wheel, “The ocean thumps the beach,” the red-haired boy who waves and then sticks out his tongue – all anchor me right in this child’s morning. I’m curious about the pliers – why was she looking for them, and why aren’t they where they’re supposed to be? Love the ending, this character’s hopefulness conveyed in that final repeated word.

    • Gay Degani

      Yes, the pliers. I may be the only person in the world who would understand that. Well, girls in my generation would get it. In my day you strapped roller skates onto sturdy shoes and you used a skate key to do that. However, a pair a pliers would work in a pinch!! Thank you for reading and all your kind words.

      • Didi Wood

        Ah, that makes sense! I assumed the “key” was to the front door – if you identify it as the skate key, the search for pliers might then be clearer.

  6. Trent

    Gay –

    One thing that comes to mind, with this piece. Some social routines go by the wayside, of course – nowadays,
    people are glued to screens, and do a bit less face to face/voice to voice socializing.

    Small moments of companionship – watching cartoons or a movie with someone.

    Makes me realize, as time goes on – some things aren’t really that superficial, after all. Sometimes we should let ourselves
    be more playful.

    Thanks for sharing~

  7. Gay Degani

    Trent, Thanks for reading. I’m sure we are of two different generations. I feel lucky that I grew up when tv was the only screen. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tv, my computer, my phone, but my childhood was very different from many of the children growing up today. However, that said, I’m fairly sure that kids today will live a world much different than the one we have today. That’s what history tells us, but the basic human pleasures as you say will hopefully remain the same.

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