We stayed up all night because of the fire and the hot ashes and the fear. As the sun was rising, I said to Carl, “Don’t worry now, now that we’ve got some daylight, I’m sure we’ll find them.” Carl is my neighbor, a decent fellow overall, although we don’t agree about a thing. He leaned back in his chair and yawned.
“Probably right,” he said, and gathered up his gear, put his coffee cup in the sink, and left without much more to be said. The ashes that cover a dry, brushy area during a fire hang thick in the air, straining the lungs and sitting heavy on the skin. For the next four days, we all roamed around, grey and wheezing, like asthmatic zombies. Then the rains came.
Puffing up mini clouds of dust, when those first droplets fell, some of us thought we might be dreaming. I did, anyway. If felt cool, wet and dry, heaven washing away the tarnished past.
I had an inkling, and I saw it in their eyes, too, that we might actually have some change in direction, that the powers that be might possibly have it in them to look kindly on us just for a moment, to give us a break.
The rain, at least at the beginning, gave me hope. It cascaded down the dry hillsides and filled the arroyos with the rushing cries of a herd of horses suddenly released from their pen in the clouds. The water frothed under the bridge, began to spread out beyond the edges of the wash, losing energy like a tired old lady at the end of her daily walk. The rain, too, began to tire, slowing in its descent, ambiguous about falling from the sky. Mischievous drops bounced on the driveway, splatting roundness turned flat. The imprint of envy left some drops small and unable to make an impression, impressionable driveways were begging for more, they truly envied the rain, fall, dance, strike, spill, evaporate, reincarnate full again, a cycle a driveway could only dream of from its flattened, squished and gray existence in front of the white two story bungalow.
As the rain fell, a child sat in the bay window and watched as it ran from the driveway into the street, gutters filling and running fast into some unkown adventure. She sat there for what seemed like forever, and must have fallen asleep. When she woke, she found she was no larger than a mouse, and that she was riding a wide green leaf in a rushing stream to who knows where. She reached into her pocket and drew out a small, unfamiliar book. “How to Get Along in Any Language at All, Wherever You May Be,” said the title page, and she opened it to see how she might begin.
“Chapter One,” she said aloud, and looked around her as she noticed that the rain had finally stopped and her leaf had come to dock in a quiet green yard.
This is an example of an exquisite corpse. It’s a collective freewrite project. Everyone in the group has paper. Write for a predetermined number of minutes (5 minutes per person in this example). At the end of that time, everyone hands the paper to the person on their left. Looking only at the last line, everyone continues to write, and then passes it on again after five minutes. Continue until the papers return to their original owners. Again, looking only at the last line handed to them, the original writer finishes the piece. Thus, each person has a beginning and an end, with all the middle pieces having been handed around. This one took 30 minutes to create.
Collectively written by Teresa, Rosemary, Jan and Mike (did I get that right, guys?)