I haven’t been writing much lately, but I thought I’d share my latest random bit of work . . . Since this is, after all, supposedly a blog about writing . . . *cough* Ahem. 😉
The other day, someone in my writing group put up a writing prompt. (Ellie is queen of prompts…) I hadn’t really done one of these before… But my brain took that and pulled out an old idea and mixed it with that, and threw in a possibility for perhaps fitting into one of my more recent story ideas (The Other Half of Everything… possibly… Which would make the “I” my character Meridian… But I’m not entirely sure), and this is what came out.
Do you like writing prompts? Do you think they’re helpful to get some words flowing? Or ultimately only useful if they’re not entirely random? Or… What are your thoughts? 🙂
Here’s the prompt, and what I wrote from it . . .
I wandered despondently across the forsaken meadow, pulling my coat tighter around myself to ward off the sudden cooling air as dark clouds roiled across the sky. All at once I found myself sitting quite suddenly on the ground, feeling as if I had run directly into a wall. I put my hand to my forehead, half because it was smarting from smacking into something solid, and half because I was perplexed at having run into something that clearly wasn’t there.
But if I had learned anything from my time here, it was that impossible things could happen, and nothing was ever as it seemed.
I cautiously got to my feet, and very slowly and carefully stretched my hand forward. I instinctively recoiled as my fingertips found something solid but invisible. I tried again. It felt smooth and cold, like glass. But there was nothing there and I could see straight through to the other end of the meadow where the trees began again. I ran both hands up and down the solid nothing, and found that it went as high as I could reach, and all the way down to the ground at my feet. Was it blocking my way entirely? Could I not get past to the forest? I panicked for a moment, but then pushed it down, telling myself it couldn’t go forever.
I tentatively began feeling my way to the left. The invisible barrier went a little that way, and as I followed it by touch, I realized it was . . . curving. Very slowly. My fingers ran along it and I found it slowly taking me in a circle, a few feet in diameter. Then I was back where I had been standing to start with. How curious. It seemed to be an invisible cylinder, taller than I was. What on earth—? But then I reminded myself—it wasn’t. That was entirely the point.
I could walk past now, I knew, as it wasn’t blocking my way; but somehow I was reluctant to leave it. The puzzle of this curious thing kept me rooted to the spot, wondering. I should be getting on, but . . . oh, what was it?
I detested being flummoxed. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, and one I didn’t like having a hold on me for a second longer than could be helped.
I put my hands on my hips and surveyed where the nothing—or rather, the something—should be (or perhaps shouldn’t be), and let out a huff of a sigh. My breath collected . . . and stayed on the invisible barrier as if it was glass. Ah. How interesting . . . At least it must have some substance.
I leaned forward, curious, and on a whim, with my fingertip I drew a smiley face on the slightly curved surface that my breath had fogged, as I used to on cold windows. It was out of place. A smiley face in thin air in the middle of nowhere (or in this case, a meadow). It had absolutely no business being there, but then, neither did an invisible cylinder. Or me, for that matter. I certainly had no business being there.
I was about to turn away and walk on to the fringe of forest beyond, but suddenly I froze, my attention arrested as surely as if the cops had come and tied my attention up in handcuffs.
Another patch of the invisible barrier had suddenly fogged up, as if I had breathed on it again . . . And, like my smiley written with a fingertip, writing began to appear.
My breath caught in my throat and I watched, spell-bound.
After a moment it stopped and I was able to puzzle it out when I realized it was written backwards. If I imagined it was in a mirror, or that I was standing on the other side, it read: Hello?
Someone was inside the invisible barrier.
My heart beat faster. Or, I think it did. It definitely felt odd. I breathed on my side of the solid nothingness and wrote quickly: R U there?
A pause. Another area fogged.
I should say so, the words traced, backward. I supposed mine looked backward to whoever was over there.
Who are you? I wrote.
Who’s asking? came the answer.
Me, my fingertip traced. I was not entirely sure I wanted to share my name with somebody I couldn’t see.
How delightfully specific.
I never thought that words written in condensation on an invisible window could be that sarcastic.
“Can you hear me?” I said aloud, wondering if sound could pierce it.
Nothing happened. I had a sudden nervous shock as I wondered if whoever was on the other side could see me through the barrier, even though I couldn’t see them. The thought creeped me out. But then, I supposed, perhaps they wouldn’t have needed to ask who I was if they could see me. This person couldn’t have much space to move around, I thought, calculating how big it was, and shuddered. I hated claustrophobic spaces. I wondered why they were inside. And if they wanted to be.
Are you trapped? I found myself writing then.
There was a long pause. A drop of rain landed on my arm. Then another, and another. I looked up. The dark clouds in the sky had finally decided to do something about themselves and rain. The raindrops fell faster now, all around me, as I watched the invisible barrier, with a few lone raindrops trailing down it. Then a small patch on the other side fogged up again and a word appeared.
Rain began falling in sheets, sliding down the side of the whatever-it-was, clearly defining it now as a cylinder. I looked up, and saw that the shape of it tapered to a point, like a finger pointing at the sky. It was odd to see the circle in the grass in front of me, where no rain fell, and to see the rain drops gliding down seemingly on nothing, or at least glass as clean as a new car window. As the rain ran down the side, I could almost not make out the next word that appeared.
The E trailed off as if the finger drawing it had slipped slowly down the inside. Then a hand print appeared, as if someone had pressed their hand briefly against the fogged surface. My heart beat quickened again as I leaned forward. The rain was doing something to the invisible barrier, something reflective, seeming to lessen the invisibleness. Just on the other side of what I continued to think of as glass, I saw resting against it, fingertips and part of a hand, disappearing as if there were a thick fog, also invisible, making the person who belonged to the hand unseeable.
There was something familiar about that hand. As if I had seen it before.
I reached my hand tentatively toward the transparent barrier and tried to fog it and write “I’ll try,” but the falling rain wouldn’t let me. Frustrated that I couldn’t “talk” to him anymore, I tried to choke back a growl of angry distress and rested my own fingertips against it.
The hand on the other side moved, disappeared a moment . . . and then reappeared, fingertips pressed against the clear solidness just opposite where my own fingers were, as if to touch them. He must see my hand, just as I could see his!
My heart did another thing—very annoying, would you stop it already, heart?—and I moved my fingers a little.
The fingers on the other side did too, moving up slightly, and I almost felt they were trying to communicate a thought without speaking or writing: Don’t go.
My fingertips stroked the invisible barrier, through the rain coursing like tears down its cold surface, following the other fingers with my own, the movement of my fingers saying without words: I’m here. I’ll try to help.