Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Not One Stone Upon Another"

The vista would’ve made Bosch cringe.

To the south, the smoke of Charleston ascended in a pillar up to heaven. To the north, the horizon writhed with borealis light. Cindered earth stretched west and east in an unbroken plain, the hills thrown down and the valleys thrust up, a zaffre-tinted hue coloring the blasted soil. But here—right here—a 21-acre plot in Sissonville sat untouched by the devastation, its grass green, a loop of road paved with unbroken black, a red-sided barn still standing.

Inside, a trio sat. They didn’t know Bosch from Beethoven or Bart Simpson. Two were deep in animated conversation, and the third was eating.

At least until a fourth joined them.
Dear readers, I have a confession to make: I’ve had a difficult time writing fiction lately. I mean, I have been writing. Clients’ articles. Website copy. Term papers. But that's not narrative. You know, something funny happens once you’ve been away from the fiction world for a while. You start to see other’s stories in a strangely abstract way. Authors’ effortless transitions just appear. Their various secondary characters acquire symbolic import that you’re positive is intentional. You comprehend that they arranged their chapters according to an intricate thematic plan. And you despair of replicating such skill in your own work.

Or maybe that’s just me.

“Not One Stone Upon Another” represents a conscious effort on my part to break this narrative dry spell. When ISLF friend Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher issued an open call for 1,000-word stories based on a picture of a picked-clean ribcage dangling from a street sign, I decided to bite. On the story, not the carrion. One could charitably call its composition kaleidoscopic. Add an apocalyptic setting, self-consciously silly dialogue, tons of technical verbiage, and a sense of impending doom. Shake, scatter, and see how the pieces land. Elizabeth seems to have enjoyed the resultant tale, and I hope you do too.

“Not One Stone Upon Another” appears at Esse Diem. You can read it here.

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