Blanca’s nose burned as if being licked by a little flame. Her hand shot up to paw at her upper lip at first. When that didn’t work, she pinched the sides together to douse the little fire. “Oh, hwhat is tat?”
Pushing the inner skin of her nostrils together helped relieve that strange, bothersome feeling, though it still tickled. “I don’t know. I can’t eben descripeb it. My nose is, like, burning or someting!”
Corinne perked up slightly, though confusion still radiated off her. “Burning?” She gave a few tired and wary sniffs. “I don’t smell anything, just some coffee? Waitaminute. Are you smelling coffee?”
Blanca rubbed her nose, accidentally taking another whiff in the process. “Ah gad. Is tat hwhat it smells like?”
“You’re smelling? You’ve never been able to smell right?” Corinne leapt from the table and to Blanca’s side, suddenly much too awake. “C’mon, let’s get you fresh air. It’ll do you good.”
They walked out to their patio area. Out front they had plants growing, mostly flowers but some herbs too. It had been Blanca’s idea although she couldn’t taste them. She just liked being able to appear fancy enough to actually use them when she cooked. Corinne had worked with her on that, spending much time training her on what was appropriate to use and when.
Outside, Blanca breathed in deeply. Fresh, cool air drenched the burning sensation. For a moment, she reveled in the peace. And then Corinne shoved one of the potted geraniums under her nose. She gagged as a strange feeling worked its way down her throat.
She pushed the plant away. “Get it away! That’s awful!”
Corinne tilted her head and then cautiously brought the plant close to her nose and gave a sniff. “I don’t understand. It smells fine. It’s a light scent, sort of fresh and airy. Maybe you should try one of the herbs?”
Her sweet basil plant sat nearby. In her heart, Blanca believed that it wouldn’t purposely betray her, not like the geranium which had always been Corinne’s plant. She picked it up and took a little whiff. A new feeling coursed along the sides of her nose. This one didn’t burn. It was more like water bubbling through her nostrils and racing to the back of her throat. She felt like she was drowning in the scent. She put it down and covered her nose again.
“That too? Maybe you’re just not used to smelling? Give it some time, let your nose adjust. Why is it you can smell all of a sudden anyway? Did you hit your head or get struck by lightning or something?”
Blanca thought back to the day before. She’d been blissfully unaware of her deficiency as always. Then she remembered running across an overly eager woman at the cosmetics counter who sprayed some perfume into her face even after she said it would be no use. They weren’t allowed to do that anymore, were they? People had allergies, and it was rude. But this woman had assured her that this perfume would work magic, and she didn’t have to be the one able to smell it. Blanca had recoiled as a chemical scent covered every inch of skin inside her nostril and made its way to her tongue. The stink stuck with her throughout the day, just barely wearing off before bedtime. And then she’d woken to this. Was this to be her super hero origin story? Getting sprayed in the face by stinky perfume and somehow turning it into a super sensitive ability to smell things? No, she would not put up with this. She walked into the house and grabbed her coat, throwing it on over her pajamas.
“We need to get this fixed. If this is what it’s like to be a normal person with a working sniffer, I’d much rather not be.”
Ha, so, I can’t smell. When I do sort of smell– I feel it. Just like this. Burning sensations or warmth in my nostrils. Some feel sorry because of the stuff I’m missing out on. My boyfriend thinks I’m incredibly lucky because there are so many bad smells, especially if you have gassy friends. (He changes his tune when I’m shoving something under his nose and asking if it’s still good.)
This is part of the Senseless Challenge of course. Here is the round up for sound. And in case you missed it last week, here’s the round up for sight. There are still two more senses if you’d like to participate!
Every few paces a different speaker blared the cheerful daytime music that made the hairs in her inner ear quake. She tried to resist putting her hands over her ears to stop the intrusion of the bright melodies as she made her way back to her apartment building from the doctor’s office. He had completely dismissed her complaints about the headaches caused by the noise. She couldn’t think, and he didn’t seem to care.
She had wanted to really press him about it. Her hope was that she could possibly qualify for some noise cancelling headphones that had become so incredibly expensive since all the changes. The tech used to create them was in such high demand to keep the city covered in music that to get a pair would cost an entire year of her salary. She would never be able to afford them on her own.
But the doctor had his own music piped into his office. Each examination room had a speaker that played classical music meant to soothe. To her, it only had the effect of covering up the doctors deep voice. When she’d asked about how it was that he could play a different tune from that on the street, he answered without looking from her charts. She thoughts he said, “I have special permission to play something different for the benefit of my patients. Don’t worry, it’s still regulation and will keep the nasties away.”
Then he’d given her a smile too wide. One laced with barely contained condescension. She was sure he took her for one of those hyper sensitive and paranoid ladies who feared what would come without the music and could never have it loud enough.
She rubbed her head to relieve the pounding. At her building, she practically dived into the lobby to strip away the additional layer of noise from the people and cars on the street. The speaker near the elevators of her apartment had always been wonky and they’d never been able to properly fix it although she’d seen them try. It still worked within the regulation frequencies; it just played the music slightly muffled which fired a feeling of nostalgia in her brain that actually hurt. Oh the memories of sitting quietly and reading a book or just staring into space. God, how she missed it!
The same music played in her hall as that in the elevator. She entered her apartment to the exact same playing inside her living room. There was no escape from it. Not even in her bathroom.
As she always did upon first entering her apartment, she slammed her hands over her ears and pressed them together as if she were attempting to crush her own skull. She rubbed at her face as she considered doing something she knew she shouldn’t. If her neighbors found out, they could report her.
Sharp objects such as knives and forks, and even pointy things like screwdrivers, had been banned after several of the incidents. The only tool she possessed happened to be a plastic spoon. She took it to one of the screws of the speaker. She needed to be able to put it back together after she was done, so some care was needed though being so close to the infernal noise she wanted to do nothing more than rip it out of the wall. Slowly, she worked until the screw came out, and then, she pulled the speaker right off the wall. The noise stopped.
She shut the doors to the bathroom and the bedroom and sat on the couch. It was not the perfect silence of the old days, but it was enough to allow her to sit back, shut her eyes, and remember. Inhaled air traveled through her nasal passages, and she listened to it pass under her eyes. All the tension drifted out of her body.
They are lying to you.
She bolted upwards.
There is no danger. They want to control you.
It had been so long since she was alone with her thoughts. Had the thoughts always come on their own like this, unbidden? The thoughts continued, whispering, warning her of disaster if she didn’t act. She had been thinking it for so long, but she just hadn’t been able to focus enough to gather her thoughts this way. They had built up, and now, in a moment of complete relaxed quiet, they came.
You must tell others. You must make the music stop. There are no nasties in the quiet. There is no one here but your own thoughts.
She stood up and walked into the hall. There had to be others who felt the same as her. She had to find them.
Gold glittered in the light of the torch as far as she could see which wasn’t actually very far as darkness pressed in from all sides. Flecked among the gold were the bright and colorful sparkles of precious stones attached to beautiful jewelry. She stood on a solid ground of pressed dirt. At her feet lay a ruby which seemed to have rolled from one of the golden mounds.
She grasped the torch and tugged it out of the ground. She had no idea where she was or what had happened. The last thing she remembered… well she thought about it, and she couldn’t remember anything.
Her heart began to race, and in order to calm it down, she decided to investigate the closest shimmering mound. Up close, the mound was actually made up from tiny, round coins made from pure shiny gold. She picked them up and let the pieces slide through her fingers, keeping one to examine it closely. On one side there was the face of a very regal looking person wearing a crown, on the other there was a crest with a shield and a bird holding onto a worm. She dug through and found many different variations of such gold in a similar shape only with different regal entities and differing symbols. They lit a small flame in the back of her head, but she let it go when she noticed a few pretty rubies and one bright sapphire floating free on the pile. Those she couldn’t help slipping into her pocket for safe keeping.
She started walking in a direction, still on the dirt though at times she’d kick one of the smaller pieces of gold in her way and then she’d have a companion for a few seconds until it gave up the march. The piles merged together, each of differing sizes, there was not always a clear ending or a clear beginning. They were just one long pile.
As she made her way, she found pieces that she had to take– other loose gems in her path, a necklace with more stones than she could name, and a delicate ring with gold wires swirled along the edge. Coins fell away from her hand when she removed pieces from the piles like grains of sand, splattering across the floor and tinkling across her bare toes. She put the ring on and kept walking, every so often looking down at her fingers. The intricate designs looped around one another.
A presence loomed over her, and she glanced up from her ring. A mountain of gold rose into the darkness. She lifted the torch and still couldn’t see the top, though something about it was different from the other piles. This one was darker and almost shinier. It was somehow smoother on the sides, and she instantly wanted to run her fingers over the pile to make those strange dark coins join their lighter counterparts, but the original pile she’d been following lay between her and the new, more interesting mound. She’d have to climb over that to reach the new subject of her curiosity.
She didn’t. She kept moving, taking note of all the variation in the large mountain. It had to have been an older pile. As she walked, it became such a deep red it verged on brown. Under the glow of the fire, it nearly appeared to move. She kept going, following the large mound until it began to taper back towards the ground nearly disappearing behind the heap between her and it.
She came to a stop and gasped. A face had appeared. The eyes were shut tight and the mouth slightly open. Dark flaps of flesh gently sputtered over the sharp teeth covered with yellow slime. Suddenly she remembered the sight of her kingdom from the air, every building the size of a doll house, even her beautiful castle with the stained glass windows and the lovely little moat that had lily pads growing in it.
Just as the creature opened its eyes, she dropped the torch, killing the flame and leaving them in complete darkness.
It’s not too late to join the challenge! Look to the end of this post by A.M. Harte to see the other participants and the basic “rules” of the challenge.
Here’s what happened to me yesterday:
I, believing I have made much growth this year as an adult female, decided I would take a sip of my father’s Burger King coffee just to see if my attempt to acclimate myself to the taste with flavored Maxwell House instant coffees was working.
No, it is not! I still really hate coffee! My parents had a good laugh as I raced around the kitchen to pour a little cup of milk to cleanse the icky taste from my mouth.
Currently, this is my morning plan: I get up when my boyfriend does (7:30am). I make a cup of “coffee” in one of my special mugs. Then I’m supposed to sit down at the desk and write before my conscious brain catches up to what I’m doing.
Unfortunately, this is what my morning usually looks like: I roll around until 8, get up because the automatic kitty scooper is straining on some heavy, formerly moist litter lump stuck to the bottom of the cat box. Despite my disgust at my first morning task, I remember I’m in the kitchen and that’s where breakfast happens. I make an egg, fully intending on writing, and I do. Sometimes. I sit in the living room where the morning sunshine filters in, gobble down my egg sandwich (usually with too much mayo which is just right for me), and then I do some other things which aren’t always writing. Eventually, I call it a bust and say I’ll get to it at 10am before I go to work. And then 10:15 magically rolls around after a walk and a shower and I decide to get to it later.
I’ve found that when I get up in the morning and then actually write, no matter how much, I’m much more likely to get back into it as the day progresses rather than what I normally do which is procrastinate until the day is done. So that is exactly what I’m working on this month. I want my early morning writing time to become as natural and necessary as my morning walks.
Lately, I’ve been putting my everything into staying focused and actually writing. I’m determined to not let anything slow me down. Well, not too much anyway. But that’s where I’ve been while I’m staying quiet pretty much everywhere else. I’m writing, and then I just don’t have words left over.
Right now I’m in the midst of revisions. I just got back one story that’s mostly complete, but as one reader said it feels sparse, so I need to put some extra filling in there. This is a short story, but it’s been one difficult one to write due to the way the characters all connect in my head. How in a short story that takes course over one day was I to share everything I could see needed to be shared? There were no doubt going to be lots of questions.
I have two other stories I’m revising as well– my NaNo novel, which is still at about 50,000 words but I’m still just in the beginning, and another short story that I started last year and I feel needs to be told. Unfortunately, while I got the basic part of it down, it reads like I was distracted halfway through. (I was.)
Set on the back burner is my new story, mostly because I think it needs some time to percolate while I gather information and let the characters’ stories come to me. Sometimes I do have to just sit down and push them and see what I get so that I can mold it. That’s for fun though.
I’m on a writing schedule. I mentioned my three calendars. So far one calendar has helped me get to the DMV, get a hair cut, and remember to take my dad to the doctor. I also bought a planner that I can carry around with me. Mostly, I try to leave it on my desk and only carry it with me when I need to sit down and work out how I’m going to make it through revisions. My main plan, which has appeared to work so far, is to write down one scene a day that needs to be revised and then go to work on it. That way I’ll know what’s coming up, and I can gather or make notes on the scene the day before.
What I haven’t managed to do successfully is up my output, but that’s okay. I’m sort of in training right now. There are days where I manage to work on more than one story after focusing on one in particular and then moving forward.
Unfortunately, I’m also geeking out over my new PS Vita. I’ve played and completed three games already, and I’m working on a fourth which is actually a reissue of an old one I have in my closet but don’t want to take out and play on the TV. Portable games are so handy because I can play anywhere and stop any time. That’s also sort of the problem with them though.
Anyway, well, I’m still alive and writing! I have not disappeared completely into real life.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I’m only ten days late. Still counts, right? I figured I wouldn’t do a retrospective post (it was depressing) or tell you about my resolutions (I haven’t really spelled out any though I am clearly serious about this next year as I am utilizing multiple calendars!). Instead, I’m going to do a different type of reflective post. This is something I’ve been thinking about the past month or so as I’ve finally managed to get back into the swing of balancing writing and editing despite the shiny new WiiU that’s sitting in my living room.
I’ve been thinking about what I really bring to my writing. There are multiple ways to look at this. The first thing I thought about when this question popped into me head were the reoccurring themes I’ve seen even in my play writing. As with any writer, when I notice them, I get frustrated. I mean, can’t I write anything else? Why does it always come down to this? And why does it feel so good to give in to one of those typical themes? In my case, it’s usually about a person (okay, usually a girl) who has no control of the situation she’s in. To anyone who’s read Ruin, it must sound familiar.
This then got me to thinking about my life which I’ve been doing a lot of recently. To anyone who only hears the details of my life, I sound incredibly boring. I’m not clever enough to spice up the details of my life with a witty spin. Instead I’m dead honest about where I’m from and exactly how long I’ve lived here. (My entire life. In one little town. That seems to astound my boyfriend from time to time.) Sometimes I get self-conscious about it.
Confession time- when I went to the meet-up for NaNoWriMo, we had to do one of those icebreaker games. The head guy had us write down facts about ourselves on a card and then he collected them, shuffled them, and handed them out. We had to read the facts aloud and guess who they belonged to. I blanked. I couldn’t think of anything good to share AT ALL. Nothing about myself anyway. Later on I had plenty of stuff, but even then it was mostly about my family, not me. And my card went last. Ick. I had nothing good, no one was interested. After that, I couldn’t go back, so I just didn’t.
That experience is probably what originally brought up this question I think. What exactly am I bringing to my stories? What am I offering readers? Here is my answer:
Sincerity. I keep it close to the surface, riding a thin line with every story I write between straight fiction and some alternate reality for my life. In my personal life, I’m guided by obligations that I can’t shirk. Now even more so than ever before. I think it’s because I feel this way that it’s so good to let loose in a story even when the main character is trapped in a situation they can’t escape from.
What do you bring to your writing? Or even your regular job? (Because this is also something I bring to work with me which causes trouble as much as it helps.) And have you noticed how your life ties into the reoccurring themes of your stories?
NaNoWriMo IS OVER! Did you make it all the way through the month? Even if you didn’t hit 50,000 words, if you tried consistently that’s something. Starting a new story is something. Adding new words is something. Don’t think about NaNo as something you win or lose. Just keep going until you complete your story.
With that said, here is what I’ve been working on this month. This meme has finally made it to every dark corner of the internet. It’s on my blog! I was tagged by Annie Neugebaur (check hers out!) and Ashlee Scheuerman (watch for hers). I would like to tag some other writers, but I think it has made its way to all the blogs I follow.
What is the working title of your book?
I am horrible at titles. I haven’t got one yet. The file is called “Destruction.” Out in public, I just call it “Kay’s story.”
Where did the idea come from for this book?
This idea came up when I wrote the rough draft of Paula’s story. Originally, I just wondered about what happened to Paula’s mom who was in prison for political crimes, and I wondered if someone wouldn’t want to save her just because of all the work she’s done and what she actually does mean to the leader of the Southlands. But how would that be done?
What genre does your book fall under?
I’m horrible with genres. It’s science fiction, but because the youth of at least two characters in this story, it’ll probably be borderline YA.
How long did it take to write the first draft?
Still working on it. I did the rough draft for NaNoWriMo. A passable first draft will probably take another month.
What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?
This was a tough one for me. I don’t
know much about actors. I did a search. It turned out to actually be kinda fun.
Kay- Sydney Park. She was funny in Spork. (Which I didn’t make it through.) But she has just the right look in this shot. I think Park manages to catch that look of wariness and yet also an innocence from someone on the verge of growing up.
Teresa- Madison Davenport. Based on that picture. I know nothing about the girl, but she has the right look and a range of interesting acting credits and she’s only 16. Teresa is 12 – 14 in the story.
Aaron – Alex Pettyfer for that pic from Beastly alone. Wow. He’s cute. And he looks close to how I picture Aaron including the hair and body.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Kay, an ordinary human living among children of powerful experiments, will go on a mission that will prove her worth to the tribe.
Will it be self published or represented by an agency?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I enjoy looking at how people handle situations that are out of their control. This particular character was fun to see in action, especially early on when she felt she was in her element, yet didn’t quite fit in.
I have also been inspired recently by stories of injustice. People who are in power abusing that power just to keep it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The book isn’t really complete yet, so it’s hard to say. I’ve had two separate stories compared to Margaret Atwood (for the substance, I’m sure, not the style). It’s science fiction, but I want to focus on the people.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
We see the Neutral side finally. This story is also told from the point of view of a girl who grew up in the Southlands. And we learn a little more in this story about the experiments and possible theories for what was going on.