Last night I was reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, a beautifully strange book that somehow captures what writing, as a life, a vocation, an avocation, is like. What it feels like.
Catching and revealing what something is, and how it might be experienced using nothing but words is all that writing is. It’s hard. It’s easy. It’s almost impossible. It’s amazing. It’s terrifying. It’s all the things. And sometimes it’s everything.
With in the place where she fell I wanted to capture what it feels like to lose something you never expected to be without.
She fell before she knew the edge was there…but none of us–and all of us–know that edge exists.
When she first got here she dreamt of him, of both of them, every night. She woke up screaming on the street, or under the bridge that crossed the river in the place where no flowers grew. People shook her or kicked her until she quieted. At the river they threw water on her head until she stopped screaming. She’d learned to be quiet since then. Now she hardly dreamt of him at all. Or the boy. But her heart still swelled past the point when it should have broken whenever they came into her thoughts.
The woman who owned the restaurant died. Sometime earlier, she didn’t know how long, the woman had taken her hand and in front of witnesses placed a writing instrument in her fingers and guided her into scrawling words in the language she’d never understand. The paper meant she’d always have a job and a safe place to live in a little house behind the restaurant.
It had been so long since she’d spoken, she’d forgotten the sound of her own voice. She forgot the sounds that made the words she used to know. She didn’t remember her name. But she never forgot his face.
She’d tried to. When she’d been here not very long but long enough to know she was never going back she’d tried to burn his face, and the feel of his hands, and the scent of his skin, and the music of his voice, from her memory.
The first time it rained here it was so early in the morning that even though she was sleeping outside she could make herself forget where she was and pretend for a moment she was where she wanted to be. He’d kissed her in the rain once. Before they were married, before the boy was born, before she’d disappeared, he kissed her in the rain.
“I suppose if Ray Bradbury or Richard Matheson had written (or could have written) with your level of palpable sensuality, they may have approached what you do here. What I find extraordinary is how you present sexual attraction as a legitimate and lasting binder between two people, strong enough to cross the gates of hell and as equally essential to a relationship as mutual respect and consciousness. Absolutely brilliant.”
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