Of course the hits were her.  United States. Hours that coincided with her waitress job. She read him before six then again around three, as soon as she got home. Tall hits on multiple posts. He’d turned her on to JakeBrake a couple months ago:

“Yeah, sometimes I get lucky with the blog, write something not terrible. It’s fun. You should blog!”

“I’ll check it out Alex, definitely.”

And she had, a verse from years ago:

………I ponder the sweet distant look
………the regal poise of one, and wonder:
………Does the glow of day’s last ember
………Gone blue-green as fruitwood flame
………habit the folds where dreams are kept?
.……..1 comment…….“this is awesome Alex!!!”

He was at the diner for breakfast or lunch nearly every day, and  she charmed him. Doll faced but not too. A daring  farm girl with a mod do,  a gifted mover.  Kids, yeah, husband, yeah, whatever. Young.  Just a morning flirt. They didn’t talk blogging again until she announced:

“I started a blog too, like, three weeks ago thanks to you.”

“Wow, no kidding!”

“Ya, check it out, it’s named Lisa screams.”

Every day for a month now.  Lisascreams. Mostly pictures of her kids and dogs, sometimes a recipe:

……………Extreme Banana Nut Bread….click here….so AWESOME!!!!!

She even wrote poetry:

……………You be straight man
……………Little man too big for britches
……………Someday you’ll need another mom
……………But she’ll make me a Gran



His had been: “Cute! You’re a good poet!”

No more mention of blogs at the diner though. Not lately. No comments. But today he hit Lisascreams as usual, around five, and found:

…………….It all rhymes, it all makes sense
…………….I fill the cups for all the gents
…………….I turn away and keep their eyes
…………….X is the only one who sighs


He set the laptop aside and fell back into his chair. Tried to remember sighing. If. When. He sighed aloud softly, then louder, then grabbed the comp and the bookmark to JakeBrake:

……………..Why are people still dying in the Philippines? 


Nothing. The bookmark to Lisascreams:

……………..It all rhymes, it all makes sense
……………..I fill the cups for all the gents
……………..I turn away and keep their eyes
……………..They tip me and nobody cries

She was editing  after posting.  He’d done this himself.

4 responses to this post.

  1. I’m a bit worried about the use of short sentences. I know I advocated this (as an aid to paragraph rhythm and to underline a dramatic progression) but to some extent I envisaged a counterbalancing long sentence to break up the machine-gun delivery. There is another reason for short (actually edited-down) sentences; they do away with duller bits like “he said” or just “he”. More of an advantage to the writer than the reader

    I say this because this because you’ve made a good stab at the conceit I suggested. In fact carried it way beyond my modest brief, even though this brings new considerations. Because the poetry is by its nature indirect, the prose frame needs to be ultra-direct, bog standard. The prose should serve the poetry, act as a frame. One needs to concentrate on the poetry; having to concentrate on the prose as well (instead of just reading it for instruction as it were) reduces the poetry’s uniqueness.

    There is of course another consideration and that is the build-up. Should the quatrain be repeated in full or does this vitiate the effect of the changed line? Again the prose can distract. It isn’t really necessary to describe what she looks like. What we’re concerned with here is a dialogue conducted offstage. We need more than anything else to be focused on that.

    Having said this you set yourself a hell of a technical problem. I would have needed to see the structure very clearly in my mind before I started keying. Regard my comments as incomplete Band Aid.


  2. You are correct in assuming I had absolutely nothing in mind BUT your idea when I started keying. Nearly complete story in 2 hours, including some editing, and I trimmed perhaps 50 words out over another 20 edits. Down to 380 or so as I recall, and it’s the poetry that puts it much over your 300 word limit.

    That said, I felt I wanted (in editing) to keep what I had built with regard to Alex having something of an obsession with Lisa. The “Just a morning flirt” line, I had hoped, would be viewed in retrospect by the reader as weakly dismissive of this obsession. I felt that such a lengthy description, coupled with daily blog viewings, would heighten awareness that Lisa was a pretty important part of X’s day.

    I thought that repeating the quatrain’s first 3 lines (not difficult for the reader, given the fabulous nature of my verse) saved providing clarity with prose the likes of “The final line had changed to”, and also emphasized that the change was an edit. I did not want the presentation of the final poetic line to remain completely mysterious until Alex described it,(I know…it’s ONE line away) but I will consider the possibility further. I find trimming very satisfying, and I’m a newby at it as far as prose goes, It’s getting easier to cut obviously extraneous stuff(your “he said, she said”…more advantageous to the reader, I’d say, as it keens the story up) but when a passage seems vital I’m not so quick to chop. Structure remains in the editing, as opposed to the planning departments.

    The last line read “She was editing after posting. He was almost certain” for quite some time. I had hoped the change to “He had done it himself.” might hint at the possibility that Alex’s little fantasy life had become extreme enough for him to have imagined himself in the first draft, where, if we believe the “first last” line existed at all (we probably must) he at least construed (instantly) that “X” was himself. That no reference was made earlier in the clip to Alex as X, we may either assume that this was a leap by Alex, or some historical fact we were newly aware of. I had hoped for the former.

    Thanks again for the idea, and your generosity with the coaching.


  3. Posted by Anonymous on November 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Glad to see you’re enjoying the exhilarations of pruning text. As I’ve said elsewhere: it’s astonishing what one can do without. However, just to be perverse, I have a vague feeling you may have over-done it with this one and more should be added to the prose part to make things a little clearer. It can happen. You may remember the story I wrote about about the guy who was languishing at home while his wife worked. I rewrote two paras – perhaps in response to some comment of yours – and found myself needing to add rather than subtract even though the overall length of the story remained unchanged..

    I’m off into hibernation now for the coming weekend at least. Second Hand has been neglected mainly because I faced writing a difficult passage which will shape much of what follows and couldn’t decide how it should go. I’m taking the plunge when I finish this. This is one of the features of novel writing; more like building a cathedral instead of – as with stories – a garden shed. Get it wrong and you find yourself faced with deleting pages of stuff and there’s less exhilaration in that.


  4. Like the embedded link! Thought it was just part of the story – which it is, of course, but also a surprise for the reader. Clever.


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