Cicatrix

Where does it start? What is it about?

Cicatrix is a story originally written pre-1987. I dug it out because I’m thinking of including it in Tales V2. I’ve always liked the idea and concept, I’ve learned so much about writing that I realized I started the story 1) in the incorrect place and 2) with an incorrect conflict.

What follows are the first ~1,000 words from the previous version and the new version. Let me know which is better. If you can give me an idea why you prefer one over the other, excellent.

Original

The cool, early April evening air, heavy with the damp and salt of the craggy New Hampshire coast, wafted through the open windows of Paul’s rented house. His attention shifted from four hotdogs in a pot of boiling water on the stove to a pad of equations on the table. He sat between the two, against the wall and away from the door. He was within reach of both hotdogs and notepad, but he favored the notepad. One foot rested on the back of a large, black Newfoundland, Maschaak. Occasionally Paul would wiggle his foot and the dog would lick its chops and let out a satisfied growl.

A sudden hiss pulled him up from the equations to see a bobble of water dance on the heating element. Another bobble, somewhat greasier than the first, leapt over the edge of the pot and joined in the dance. “Tyndale effect.” He smiled and went back to the notepad. Both he and the dog looked up when a car door slammed outside. Paul’s gaze took in the rest of the first floor. The kitchen was separated from the living room/bed room by a transition from peeling, brittle, yellowed linoleum to frayed, puce purple rug. The house was clean but drab and spent the summer months as a beach cottage. During the school year it was rented to whatever student or students could afford the off-season price. The wallpaper looked and felt like a K-Mart Blue Light Special, heat came from a kerosene burner. Some earlier occupant had taped over the ON/off switch with DEAFENING/cold and Paul couldn’t argue. The place settings were a mix of yard sale Corelle, 1960’s gas station giveaways, and jelly jars, and no two pieces of flatware matched. There were no chairs, only couches with springs which long ago had sprang their last sprung. Each couch pulled out into a bed and Paul knew from experience they were equally uncomfortable. The woman who rented the house to him said, “This is just meant as a place to sleep after you’ve been on the beach all day.” Paul agreed after the first two weeks.


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WALK, DRIVE, RIDE, FLY OR SWIM, JUST BE THERE!

A man, a horse and discoveries on every page

Real live actors will be reading Gable Smiled, a work in progress, on a real live stage!

I’ll have a Q&A with audience members after the reading.

(this is so exciting)

 

NH Writers Project Hatbox Readings

New Hampshire Writers’ Project Readings at the Hatbox Theatre is a semi-regular theatrical and literary event series where actors read entertaining selections from ‘works in progress’ by three NHWP authors, and the audience offers feedback, critique, and reactions.

This event will not only allow the author to “hear” some of their novel, story, or book, but also receive immediate feedback. The audience will experience new works from NH authors live and contribute directly to an author’s creative process.

General admission.
NHWP or Hatbox Members: FREE
Adults: $10; Students/Seniors: $7.

Hatbox Theater, Concord, NH

Rachel, Above the Clouds…but we’re not sure if she’s Flying

To be embraced by passion, as if set on fire by the sun

I recently had a short story, Rachel, Above the Clouds, published by an online, Across the Margins. The original title was “Rachel, Above the Clouds, While Flying” and was written for a writing class I took in the early 1990s. I updated the technology in the story some, not much. Below is the version I submitted and you can use the link above to read the published version.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on which is the better story, and why.


Joseph Carrabis' 'Rachel, Above the Clouds' on Across the Margin

 
“SolarMax Ten to Houston.”

“This is Houston. Go ahead, SolarMax.”

“Ted, you feeling okay today? You sound awful froggy.”

“Guess again, Rachel.”

“Benny? Is that you?”

“Hi, Raech. Long time no hear.”

“What are you doing riding bridesmaid, Benny? I heard you’d gone civ.”

“I have, I have. Mission Control said the last few days had been rough and thought you’d like to hear a familiar voice on your last morning up.”

“How sweet of them. I’m kind of surprised to hear your voice, though.”

“Well, you know. Mission Control wanted to do something special on your last day up and they brought in me.”

“Thank them for me.”

“Will do.”

“Anybody else down there waiting for me?”

“Well…of course, Rachel. There are lots of people.”


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It’s a Man’s World

No man wants to be another’s pet, and love can’t free a slave

 
“Where are you going?”

Susan’s face softened but she looked away.

All the women in the neighborhood were dressed in what we use to all “Easter Sunday” clothes; light dresses, bright, Spring colors of sky blues and yellows and whites, some with flower prints with big roses or tulips or daffodils or morning glories or black-eyed susans and all with long, lush green vines wrapping around them. All of them wearing wide-brimmed sun hats, many with scarves tying their hats around their chins. A few wore sunglasses. All had nice big purses, lots of different colors but most of them white, white cloth gloves covering their hands and all of them in either tasteful heels or flats. Nobody was wearing stilettos or CFMs of any kind.

And they gathered in front of my house.

It started with AnElla. I was walking the dog and she came out of her house in her Easter Sunday finest. I waved and she ignored me, walked back into her house then and came out with all her daughters, her granddaughters, her sisters, even her ailing mother-in-law. They were all standing nice and neat and trim and proper in front of her house.

A few minutes later all the other women in the neighborhood came out of their homes and stood in front of their houses. Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, they looked around, waved at each other, a few looked at the sky – not a cloud to be seen, by the way. Clear sky, bright sun. Clearest I’d seen it in years, really – and one by one then two by two they moseyed over to my house.

Susan came out dressed like all the rest. Sunday is her day to sleep in. I didn’t even know she had those kinds of clothes anymore.

A bus pulled up. An open air bus, a kind of parade or tourist bus with a roof but no windows. The paintjob matched the women’s dresses; blues and yellows and whites and flowers everywhere. No city markings whatsoever.

Women gathered around the bus. Some got in. Susan stood in line with them.

“Where are you going?”

“Don’t worry. It’s okay. You’ll be fine.”

You’ll be fine?

Here’s the thing about Susan: she can’t lie. She never could. Not to me, anyway.

 
“No, come on. Where are you going?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked away. “It’s okay, Paul. I’ll be back soon.”


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Grafton’s Ghost-Child

Even unto the Seventh Generation

 
Grafton turned the knob on his daughter Cloe’s bedroom door so slowly, thankful for the patience that came so naturally to him. The doorknob would sometimes crick and he didn’t want to wake her, just peek in to watch her sleep, make sure she was snug under the covers. Sometimes Amanda would open the window in their daughter’s room to let the night air in and Cloe would curl up into a tight little ball, just her nose exposed and forming a little steam tent.

She was adorable.

His hand turned past the crick, he opened the door slowly. Sure enough, a few icy snowcrystals blew in as he entered and Cloe was beginning her curl into a ball. Like her father, she was patient. It would take about ten minutes before she was done, never waking once. Grafton had watched her do it.

As he entered, Cloe’s Merchant-Ghost looked up. It was sitting in a recliner beside the nightstand next to his daughter’s bed. It was reading a book – Grafton could see it in his hands. It had to be as ancient as the merchant ghost itself – it’s eyes emitting that odd red-yellow light to illuminate the pages. The Merchant-Ghost nodded, its tree-like body and bark-like skin folding as it moved, then went back to its reading.


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