Friday, September 23, 2011

Prologue to "Rise"

"Rise" is the second full novel I started during my time at USF. Based off the image below (a real image/not doctored to appear that way), the story of how the church came to be submerged in water and how the people involved with it went about their daily lives after became an interesting anchor for me to explore thematically. I was reading a lot of Marquez and Bolano at the time, which I think helped facilitate a more Latin-esque aesthetic for the story. Both in setting and in mentality, I think the approach is the right one. It feels natural, despite possibly being not quite original in conception. I have the ending already in mind.

This was one story where the ending came almost immediately upon seeing the picture. I started this book late last Spring and the ending hasn't changed one iota. It's still exactly how I want the book to end and my current work on "Impasto" in regards to expanding upon character will really help to make the ending to "Rise" one worth reading.

Marisa thought it didn’t seem to have a purpose, floating there amongst the bugs and fallen leaves, other than to spin slowly. The lazy current of the river spun the dead woman’s body like a slow-motion pin-wheel in the afternoon sun. The right foot, the left foot, the left arm, her head, the right arm and back again – each part of her body touched shoreline as the current carried her to its eventual end. Marisa was entranced and stumbled after the body. Never in a hurry and certainly not anxious to get home for more chores, she let the dead woman be her guide.
“My name is Marisa,” she said to the body. “It’s nice to meet you, too. Oh me? I’m just out finding food for my family. Are you enjoying your swim? It’s a beautiful day to be in the water, I’ll bet. I agree – it’s nice to finally have sunshine instead of rain all the time. The next village? Oh, I’m not sure. Maybe around the next bend? Oh look there, you’ve gotten yourself stuck.”
Marisa put down her basket and searched for a tree limb in the dense forest foliage that ran parallel to the river. Once found, she skipped across the dirt path and fumbled through the high reeds to find herself face to face with the old woman. She seemed familiar, as if Marisa had seen her before, but she couldn’t remember.
The woman’s body had decayed deep into an unrecognizable state. Her silver hair fanned about and swirled beyond her head in the murky river like strange metal snakes. The eyes had milked over and the skin appeared to have shrunk about her skull. Her bluish skin almost glowed against the brown water. Marisa stared at the woman’s face and tried to count the folds of crinkled skin around her eyes. She realized she couldn’t count that high. “Mama says the more crow’s feet you have, the luckier you are. Do you think that’s true?”
Unsatisfied with the woman’s answer, Marisa “hmphed” and dug the limb into the woman’s stomach, pushed the body gently back out into the current and grabbed her basket up off the ground. “Of course I’ll still keep you company,” she replied as if the notion was ridiculous. The old woman was emaciated and skeletal, yet Marisa continued to follow her, making conversation. Wherever the body stopped and got stuck, Marisa found new nuts or berries to gather. When the old woman’s body stopped for too long, Marisa would find another branch from a fallen tree and give the body a soft shove. This went on for awhile until the body floated out of her reach. Marisa waved a sad goodbye to the woman and headed back up the path.
The way home was not steep, thankfully, but she had lost track of time. ‘I seem to be lost, or at least farther away from home than I should be,’ she thought to herself as she hiked up the trail along the river’s edge. Her eyes widened briefly before a smile broke across her face. “An adventure!” she whispered into the serene valley air. She gripped the basket tight in her hand and sprinted towards the highlands, letting only a few of the nuts and berries tumble to the ground below. She ran for several long minutes before tiring and fell to her knees in the dirt along the quiet river’s edge. She could feel the sweat beading on her brow as she caught her breath.
“Mother is going to be so angry with me,” she said to a small group of flowers nearby. She plucked one, deep violet in color, and pressed it to her nose. She could still smell the rain deep inside its blossom. She rubbed the petals across her cheek and giggled before placing it behind her ear.
Marisa saw more flowers closer to the river and crawled to them, leaving her basket behind. She marveled at the petals - blues bluer than the noon sky, lush and edible greens, yellows like the gold in Papa’s stories and there in the back, a bright and lonely pink thing poking up from between a garden of rocks. Marisa cooed as her eyes drank it in. ‘I should pluck that one and give it to Mother,’ she thought as she reached out for it. She leaned over the other flowers, careful not to crush them, and reached out her hand.
She wrapped her fingers around the stem carefully and tugged. ‘Strange,’ she thought as it wouldn’t budge. She lifted her other hand over the flowers to steady herself and tugged harder. Still, the flower wouldn’t come. The shore was littered with rocks and this flower, this pink thing of beauty, sprung up from beneath them all. Marisa imagined the flower to be strong, but not this strong. She tugged and tugged and dug her fingernail into the flesh of the stalk to cut it loose, but the flower remained, unplucked and perfect. She tried with the right hand, she tried with the left – nothing.
‘One extra tug, no more,’ she thought, panting in the coming sunset. She reached out and overcompensated. Her body fell forward. Her arms flew out to find support, but slipped on the grass and she tumbled over the edge of the river to the rocks below. Marisa’s head connected with several clustered together, opening up a bloody gash in the side of her forehead. Her body went limp and splashed into the ambivalent water below. Her body bobbled just below the surface before righting itself, her face pointed skywards and her eyes closed to deep slumber. The current had picked up since the afternoon and she floated quickly down the river’s edge, picking up bits of grass and leaves in her hair.
Her forehead wore a glossy red that dripped down the side of her face as she floated. She didn’t seem to have a purpose, floating there amongst the bugs and fallen leaves, other than to spin slowly. The lazy current of the river spun the young girl’s body like a slow-motion pin-wheel along the river bank. The right foot, the left foot, the left arm, her head, the right arm and back again – each part of her body touched shoreline as the current carried her to its eventual end.

No comments:

Post a Comment