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Life as I Know It

Thursday, August 10, 2006
It's the third day of school. No one has thrown up, no one has cried, no one has missed the bus home.

So far, so good.

Also, I am writing. This may not sound like much, seeing as how I'm a writer. But I haven't been a writer all summer. With dh home, the house to prepare and the kids all over, I've dabbled here and there, but I haven't seriously written.

Now the kids are at school and the house is sold.

The bad news? I'm not writing the story I'm supposed to be writing. Remember that query contest I won with Kate Duffy as the final judge? I couldn't care less about that story. Really. I suppose if I went back to the original scene I wrote, I might be able to fiddle with it, but for now, I'm just disgusted with all the attempts I've made. I don't know if I'm starting in the wrong place or what, but it's really not working.

Instead, I started day dreaming. A favorite poem. A favorite fairy tale. And a river.

Wanna see it? The writing is atypical for me. More lush, more formal, more stylized. I like it, but I don't know if I'll be able to maintain it.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~Robert Frost


The water was freezing cold, weighing down her body, turning her muscles to ice, her blood to slush. And so dark. The headlights of her car were invisible now, broken perhaps, or just too deep for her to see.

I’m sorry. She didn’t know for what, she was just sorry. Guilt for things unsaid, deeds unforgiven, obstacles unconquered.

A final rush of pain stiffened her limbs, and she fought against it, arching her neck, staring up as the last glimmer of moonlight on the surface was blocked by a large shape.

Something, a hand, reached out to her and she took it, her hand floating up as she sank further into the cold darkness.

The hand was warm, and soft, and huge. It tugged her toward itself, also warm and soft and huge. And then she was gone.


She wasn’t breathing. He lifted a hand to bang on her chest, shock air back into her lungs, and realized what he was. As the bear, the blow meant to give her life would likely kill her. He had to change first.

The magic was painful. Part of the curse. He knew and accepted the pain, let it wash through him until he huddled, as cold as the woman before him, shuddering. He leaned over her, tilted her neck back, pinched her nose, opened her mouth and gave her his breath. Over and over, he breathed for her. Over and over, he pumped the heels of his hands between her breasts. He began to despair. His sacrifice, his efforts had been for nothing.

Until she breathed. Choked, sputtered, murky water gushed from her mouth and her nose and he turned her to her side, helping her rid herself of the river.

Her eyelids fluttered up and he couldn’t move away, couldn’t hide himself, found himself not wanting to hide from her. Her lips were pale blue and wet, but they lifted at him. For him. She smiled and whispered. He bent closer to hear her words.

“Thank you.” And her eyelids fell again.

No matter. She breathed. She lived.

He put his arms under her and lifted. Unlike the fairy tales, she was not weightless as down, but a moderately sized woman. Had he been at his full strength; had he been warm and dry at least, he could have carried her back to his home with little effort. But he had spent his energy in the river, and more in the transformation. So he spent the last of his human fortitude in a final change.

Now she felt light to him, as light as a kitten in the arms of a strong man. He settled her on his back, careful to balance her so she would not slip and injure herself again. Then he turned his face toward the north and began his journey.

Before he left, he looked again toward the river, toward the bridge that spanned it. He watched the men who had chased her car over the edge. They did not see him.
8/10/2006 08:16:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments

10 Comments:

Wow!! Hurry up and write this one, Sela. :)

By Blogger Savannah Jordan, at 10:15 AM  

~shivering~
This is seriously good.
Not a single mis-step, I don't think.
You must continue.

By Blogger Bernita, at 10:29 AM  

Sela, that's WONDERFUL!

You'd better finish this one, woman!

By Anonymous raine, at 12:30 PM  

Is her name Mai or Liv? What do you think? Mai is pronounced My.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 12:36 PM  

Great opening!

By Blogger H.E.Eigler, at 2:55 PM  

Thanks, h.e.

I decided to name her Mai. I kept thinking of Mai Zetterling.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 10:35 AM  

I'm dying to know! Finish!

By Blogger Eva Gale, at 10:44 AM  

That is excellent!

You are so lucky to have your kids in school...it doesn't start here for another THREE and a HALF WHOLE WEEKS...grrrrrrrr

By Blogger Jacqui D., at 3:31 PM  

Reminds me of top-rate fiction, some of the darker stories of Heinrich Boll.
(Boll has umlauts over the o but I can't do umlauts.
Oom-pah-pas)?

By Blogger ivan, at 3:32 PM  

oohh I like, very interesting :)

You know, I heard from some Swedish friends that if you die from the cold you actually feel hot. Apparantly the bodies of hikers they find frozen to death are all naked oO

By Anonymous Aimee, at 5:46 AM  

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