Writing Calisthenics

AvatarA collection of short stories, essays, and exercises to keep my brain from rusting between larger works.

Seven Deadly Sins : Lust

(Exercise info and explanation at the bottom)
Okay, so I totally had no idea what was happening the first time, because it was kinda like climbing on the poles 'cept this time I was just sitting there on the swing with my feet in the wood chips or what have you.  I was swinging one way and Mary Grace, she was going the other way, so when we passed each other we would yell out the name of one of the boys in Sister Francine's class because that was our homeroom class just like it was last year 'cept this year we're in the seventh grade and next year we're gonna be seniors, but not, you know, real seniors, but eighth grade seniors, and the year after that we're gonna go to St. Horatio's.  So anyways, every time one of us says the name of a boy that's already been said we get to punch the other one in the arm which we both know is totally not something girls do but she's got a brother and I've got four brothers and they're always punching us in the arm and sometimes it's so hard that Mary Grace comes to school with a bruise on her arm and she tells me it's because her brother punched her too hard when he saw a slug bug first, but when I ask her what color was the slug bug she doesn't know and says "shut up" and I'm pretty sure it's not Mikey that's giving her bruises.  And it's sad and happy all at the same time 'cause when that happens sometimes my daddy goes and talks to her mom and Mary Grace gets to sleep overnight at my house and sometimes it's for a couple two or three days in a row without even having to keep asking every night.

    So anyways, Mary Grace keeps calling out Billy Coogan's name 'cause I know she thinks he's cute 'cept she doesn't say Billy Coogan, she just says Billy and when I say I get to punch her she says "nuh-uh" and says she wasn't talking about Billy Coogan but some other Billy who isn't in Sister Francine's class.  So I go "that's cheating" 'cause it's only supposed to be boys in Sister Francine's class and the only Billy in our homeroom is Billy Coogan and I know she's already said Billy Coogan and so I try to punch her while we're swinging and I get my arm caught in the chain which totally makes me swing around and kick her right in the tookus, which is a word I heard from one of daddy's comedy records which he explained to me meant rear-end and was a nicer word than saying "butt".  So now there's a footprint which is shaped just exactly like my foot on Mary Grace's tookus and she's hoppin' mad and I don't mean that like a joke or something but for real hoppin' mad which is what she does sometimes when she's really, really mad and she sorta hops up and down with her hands all squished up in fists and her shoulders all pulled in tight like she's trying to squeeze down a big balloon that's stuck in her chest.
    So anyways, Mary Grace jumps off the swing and I'm trying to stop from twisting around 'cause even though it was a little funny the first time I can see Mary Grace is really starting to get upset and I don't want to accidentally give her another footprint on her tookus and mostly I don't want to smash into the pole 'cause with my luck I'd smash my face into it and break a tooth or something stupid like that and my daddy'd be really, really mad because I just got my braces off and he's already not gonna be able to retire what with how much they cost and all. 
    And besides.  I like the pole.
    A lot.
    A really lot.
    Mary Grace used to like the pole too but for some reason she doesn't anymore and I have no idea why because we used to climb up and slide down them every lunch hour when it wasn't raining or so cold our legs would stick to the metal.  And she was the one who taught me that if you wrap your legs around the pole just a certain way and slide down enough times, something would happen and you'd get this big fat tickly feeling that felt like you were gonna pee your pants or something but not in a bad way but in that sort of way when her brother Mikey would sit on our chests so we couldn't move and tickle us on our thighs and behind our knees until we were laughing so hard we couldn't breath. 
    Except even better.
    A lot better.
    So I have no idea why Mary grace suddenly quit and would say mean things like "stop it.  that's nasty," when I asked her if she wanted to slide with me but it's been a long time and I guess that's okay 'cause it wasn't too much longer after she stopped liking to slide on the pole with me that her daddy had to go away on business for a really, really long time, like as in possibly forever — can you believe that? — and her mom started to be really sad even more than she normally is, and she started to get really, really mad at Mary Grace for little things which I didn't think she ought to be getting mad at her about, and anyways, Mary Grace got to sleep over at my house so much more than she ever used to do.  So that's cool (which is a word that Billy Coogan uses instead of 'boss' or 'keen' but mostly only when he and Franky Mulligan hide around the corner where the big bushes are and sneak cigarettes and try to get you to lift up your shirt and show them your boobs, of which I have very small ones, unlike Mary Grace who was always very mature that way.)
    So anyways, Mary Grace is trying to wipe the footprint off her skirt and she's starting to do that hopping thing which is just a little bit funny because she's turned half way around trying to see the footprint on her tookus and she can't exactly see it so she's jumping up and down like a corkscrew but I can see her face getting red and she's doing that squinchy thing with her eyes that she does when she's about to cry but she really doesn't want to mostly because she's really angry and she's not gonna give you the satisfaction or whatever and she starts saying "my mom's gonna kill me" and suddenly it's not funny at all 'cause sometimes when Mary Grace says things like that I can tell that sometimes — not all the time, but sometimes — she really thinks she just might.  So I dig my feet in the wood chips to stop really fast and I get wood chips in my shoes and I hop off and tell Mary Grace to hold still and so she does and I brush off as much of my footprint as I can but not all of it comes off so I untuck the corner of my blouse and spit on it a little bit which I also know is totally not something girls are supposed to do but this was kinda important and I didn't care what most people think except Mary Grace.  I have to spit like two or three times but I finally get it all off which is kinda weird because what in the world is on my shoe that would leave a print like that?  But it doesn't matter because Mary Grace finally stops crying-but-not-crying and the corner of my blouse is no longer white at all but a smudgy brown and black and I smell it just in case it was dog poop or something but it wasn't and it just smelled like bleach and laundry soap and a little bit of dirt and Mary Grace says "what are you doing?" and I say "just seein'" and then tuck my blouse back in because Sister Francine does not like it when you're not tucked in and she's gonna be mad enough because now there's a big, wrinkly, smudge spot peeking out of my waistband which is not such a big deal for me seeing as my mom doesn't get mad about things like that like Mary Grace's mom does.
    So anyways, by now I have no idea what time it is and Mary Grace says she doesn't know either but she just happens to know that Billy Coogan wears a watch and she just happens to know it's a Timex with hands that glow in the dark and she just happens to know he's got a thick leather wrist band with skulls and daggers going through their empty eyeball holes which he made his own self in leather shop last year with Mr. Carmichael who totally thought it was an inappropriate thing to put on a watch band but gave him a 'B' for originality and craftsmanship anyways.  So anyways, I find myself up at the top of the pole somehow and I'm sliding down and Mary Grace says "come down from there," and I do, though probably a lot slower than she wants me too so she says "fine.  I'll go ask him myself," which she says like she's all huffy but I know she knows I know she really wants to go talk to him by herself anyway so I don't mind. 
    I didn't want Mary Grace to think I'm spying on her or nothin' and I didn't want her to be mad at me for sliding down the pole when she thinks it's nasty or what have you, so I sit back in my swing like I was before with my back to the playground and just look through the fence which is pretty close to the sidewalk which, as everyone knows, is right next to the street — on the other side of which, for some reason until right this very now, I hadn't noticed that there were these three men working on this fire hydrant or something.  Well, not really working — at least not all of them — 'cause two of them who just happened to be really round, which is a nice way of saying that they were as fat as ticks, were sitting under a tree and one of them was eating a sandwich and the other one was reading a comic book and they both were kinda old and definitely too old to be reading comic books.  But the one man who was actually working had a big ol' pick-axe or what have you and he was quite a bit younger than the other two and he had a flattop and he didn't have a shirt on but was just swinging away in a t-shirt with the thin little straps on it just like daddy wears except he didn't have a round belly like daddy does and there wasn't any puff of hair coming out of the top of it like daddy's does, and I'm pretty sure daddy would be sitting under the tree with the other two guys or at the very least he'd be huffing and puffing a lot more than this boy was.  And another thing was this boy's arms were really, really strong and every time he swung his pick-axe or what have you, you could see all the muscles and tendons flex, which I know about 'cause we studied about them in biology last semester with Mr. O'Keefe who didn't have any muscles as far as I could see mostly because of his being as skinny as a popsicle stick. 
    So anyways, I was just sitting there watching this boy swinging his axe and not really thinking about anything 'cept for some reason I actually was thinking about something and the thing I kept thinking about was that big bush back around the corner where Billy Coogan kept asking to see my boobs and I would never because unlike Mary Grace I do not think Billy Coogan is at all cute, but if this boy asked me he wouldn't even have to ask me very nice and I'd pretend to be all shy but I really wouldn't be at all and I'd press my cheek against his chest and what would it feel like if he put those big strong arms around my back and would it be all hot and sweaty and would he crush me like a walnut?  And suddenly it must have gotten really, really hot or something because I was sweating and I could feel it in my pits which is kinda gross because now my top had a big wrinkled dirt smear on it and my pits were totally soaked and was probably gonna stink despite the fact that I always wear deodorant unlike some people who I will not mention but are named fat Marcie Gruenbacher who seriously needs to wash her hair, jeez!  So anyways, I sort of lift my arm a little to sniff my pits and see if they really are gonna stink and what not and when I look up the boy across the street has stopped with his pick axe and is sorta leaning on it with one hand and wiping his forehead with this red bandanna with the other and he's looking right at me while I'm totally sniffing my pits and omygod he's got absolutely no shirt on at all!  None! 
    And so now I'm totally embarrassed and totally grossed out but totally not grossed out which is completely weird because normally I'd just go "eww gross" because he's just soaked with sweat and even from here across the street and across the sidewalk and right through the fence I can see it running down his chest and the whole waistband of his pants are a darker color than the rest where it's all getting soaked up.  And for the life of me, the only thing I can think of is a race horse which is weird too because I don't know anything about race horses or any kind of horses or what have you, but the way his muscles and tendons and stuff would move underneath his skin and the way his chest was heaving in and out and the way the sweat would roll off him and I swear I could hear it plop on the ground even from all the way over here — well he just looked like a big ol' race horse.
    And then he smiled.
    I turned my head to see who it was he could be smiling at and there was no one anywhere even near me and out of my peripheral vision I see Mary Grace talking to Billy Coogan and he's got his hands stuck in his pockets looking all boss, and she's sorta looking down at the ground at something really interesting right around where her shoe is, and which, by the way, peripheral vision being another thing we learned about in Mr. O'Keefe's class and, at the time of which, I thought was a little bit funny because besides being as skinny as a popsicle stick, Mr. O'Keefe wears Coke-bottle glasses and I imagine he has to take the idea of peripheral vision for granite because he can't see a thing without his glasses and his glasses don't wrap around far enough to make his peripheral vision clear so he'd just sorta have to assume it was a for real thing, but which, after I thought about it a while didn't seem so funny anymore and made me actually a little sad for him.
    So anyways, I realize he must be smiling at me seeing's as there's no one else around and for whatever reason I feel my cheeks start to get hot and then I really start to sweat and I get a funny feeling in my stomach like I'm gonna throw up, but in a good way.  So I turn back around hoping he's still looking and at the same time hoping he's not looking 'cause I know even across the sidewalk and across the street he can still see how red my face has got on account of I have very, very light skin which I get from my daddy who's totally Irish, and my cheeks get really blotchy when I get embarrassed like I am right now, except I'm pretty sure I'm not embarrassed but something else entirely.  So I turn my head and it feels like my neck is all squishy and my head's not turning right and for some reason my eyes can't keep up so by the time I get my head turned in the right direction it feels like forever before my eyes manage to catch up, and when they do he's still standing there and he's still got his shirt off and he's still sweating and his chest is still heaving though not so much as it was when he first stopped swinging the pick-axe or what have you, and he sees me staring at him with my big ol' red cheeks which by now are ready to burst into flames and set my hair on fire.
    And he smiles.
    At me.
    And that's when it happened. 
    My mind went totally blank. 
    And when it started to fill back up again, what it filled up with was me suddenly sliding down the biggest pole in the world but this time instead of sliding I was falling, and instead of a pole I had my legs wrapped tight around this boy and I was holding on for dear life and his arms were rough and heavy like tree trunks and he wrapped them around my back and he squeezed me so tight I couldn't breath and he was gonna crack me like a walnut for sure and I didn't even care 'cause I could have died right there and I wouldn't even have minded that he was all sweaty or that I didn't even know his name.
    So anyways, out of nowhere Mary Grace says "what are you doing?" and she scares the bejezus outta me, which is a word my daddy uses 'cause it's supposed to be better than saying "Jesus" which, being a Catholic school and all, they pretty much don't like you saying at all and will smack you across the knuckles with a ruler or worse.  And my arms shoot out and so do my legs and I start to fall backwards off the swing but Mary Grace is there and she catches me because even though sometimes she says I'm nasty I know she doesn't really mean it and besides which she's my pinky-promise bestie and would die before she let anything bad happen to me.  And I feel like I should try and explain but I'm not really sure what I'd tell her 'cause I'm not really sure what just happened and when I start the bell rings and it's time to go back inside. 
    Anyhow, Mary Grace pushes me back up on the swing and I get out and stand up all dainty-like which is kinda funny 'cause I'm not really very dainty-like seeing as I am the only girl in my house aside from my mom and I have four brothers which they don't really treat me like a girl except when someone picks on me.  And when I go to show Mary Grace the boy across the street my stomach gets all funny feeling again because somehow, when I wasn't looking, they must have finished what they were doing because the two round guys had their lunch boxes in their hands and I could see them walking down the street and the boy was walking between them with the pick-axe or what have you over his one shoulder and one of the round as a tick guys who was a lot shorter than he was and was the one reading the comic book reaches up and pats him on the other shoulder like he'd done a good day's work or something.  And I wanted to cry and I felt so stupid because I had no idea why, but I didn't want Mary Grace to feel bad because she's got enough on her own to feel bad about so I did what she does and made my eyes all squinchy to squeeze back the tears, and she gives me a funny look anyway and doesn't ask any questions, but just grabs my hand and we walk back inside.

Below is the exercise info.  I was so intrigued by the idea I decided to write a series of these covering the seven deadly sins.  This is my first entry for my favorite of the cardinal vices, lust.

Exercise 10.  Two pages.  Give one intense emotion you've experienced — envy, fear, greed, lust — to a fictional character.   Make sure the character is not you, but the emotion should be yours.  Create a scene employing the fictional character and the emotion.  Involve another person as an antagonist or a co-protagonist.  Objective:  To get a good start — and a core — for a story.  Check: Review what you've done after you've written a couple of pages.  Is the character radically different from you?"  Her way of talking should be different from yours, as should her way of walking, drinking, and so on.  But the basic emotional conflict should be yours.


June 16, 2010 at 12:39 PM Perplexio said...

C'mon Mark, she's supposed to sound different than you... We all know you sound just like that!!! ;)

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