Forbidden fruit

 

NOTE:  For Banned Books Week and celebrating the freedom to read, this bit is in honor of Robert Cormier, whose book “The Chocolate War” is considered “forbidden fruit” by enough people to get it listed as one of 2007’s most frequently challenged books.  It’s not that Cormier’s style pervades this piece, it’s that this mediocre story idea was radically improved after I was affected by reading an excerpt of his writing.

 

 

VegStand01.jpg picture by pemerytx

 

Jonas Fairfield’s upbringing on his parents’ upstate New York farm had been one long lesson in humility, what with being kind of like a number, just one of eleven kids.  But humility had done him right, made him easy to be around.  He had no other talent besides farming and he wasn’t particularly outstanding looks-wise.  But that was no matter, for he was a goodhearted, good-natured boy who wished only happiness on the world, and that seemed to get him by well enough.  At seventeen years of age, he was the oldest boy amongst his siblings, and by now was well enough groomed to take over the farm at any time if need be.  His father had seen to that.

 

Unlike the majority of kids his age, Jonas felt settled and at peace with his lot in life.  Naturally, then, he found no cause to grumble when asked to do any chore or favor around the barns or the house.  And being asked to work the family’s roadside vegetable stand, the thing his brothers and sisters hated the most, was no exception.  Even though it made for a longer day on top of his other duties, he saw the good in it, the extra income for his family, and he enjoyed interacting with the folks who stopped by.  So when his mother heard him come in from school that day, and hollered down from upstairs for him to go out to the vegetable stand and help June, he immediately hollered up, “Yes, Ma’am,” and went right back outside.

 

Jonas ambled all smiling, long-legged and cool across the front yard to the vegetable stand and found June tending to old Mrs. Reed from down the road.  June was eighteen, his oldest sister, and the one in the family that he felt closest to.  She mothered him something fierce, but secretly he liked the looking after.  And he pretty much did the same thing to her.  He couldn’t help but notice she was getting prettier every day and, knowing the teenage male intent, felt an overpowering urge to keep her unhurt in all ways. 

 

Jonas stood off away and watched June as she handed Mrs. Reed the change back from her twenty.  June aimed her charming smile full at Mrs. Reed and sing-songed, “Here you go Mrs. Reed.  You come back and see us soon, you hear?” 

 

Mrs. Reed chuckled, smiled back and said, “Oh June, honey, you know I will!” then she tottered off to her car with her two bags of corn and tomatoes.

 

Jonas strode up to June, pushed into her and smiled at her.  She pushed him back and teased, “’Bout time you showed up, boy!”

 

Jonas just laughed, pulled out his pocket watch, flipped open the lid of it and drawled, “Four fifty-nine.  Sure enough I saved your day in the knick of time, girl.  One more minute and you’d be neck deep in rural rush hour.”

 

June just rolled her eyes, and said, “Whatever.”  Then she squinted toward the two cars that had just turned in and were parking in front of the stand.  “Ooh,” she said, “Out of state.  Georgia looks like…  Yup.  And Mr. Hedren.  I’ll take him.  You can take the out-of-staters.”

 

Jonas started saying, “Makes no nevermind t…” and stopped short when he saw her get out of the passenger side of the Georgia car.

 

Then June saw her and groaned, “Oh brother.”

 

The Georgia girl was such an overwhelming feast for Jonas’ eyes that he froze, couldn’t move, couldn’t speak.  She looked a couple of years older than him, but then, you couldn’t tell with girls.  They always seemed more developed for their ages. 

 

This girl was like nothing he’d seen in person before.  She was so pretty and so tan you almost couldn’t see the cute freckles on her perfect little nose.  Her long blonde hair was kept back from her face with a lacy, pink ribbon tied at the top, and she wore the shortest daisy dukes he’d ever seen.  Her lips were sparkly with pink gloss and she was chewing pink gum.

 

Jonas couldn’t remember ever feeling this helpless.  He could only watch her walk toward him in movie-style slow motion, her hair bouncing with each tan-legged step of her pink-sandaled feet.  He didn’t even notice the girl’s mother hurrying to catch up to her.  His mouth hung open.  June jabbed his left side hard with her elbow.  His body jolted as every nerve in it buzzed a split second and seemed to short out.  His reaction to her jab came late.  He shut his mouth.

 

June sashayed past Jonas making sure to skim his backside.  She twirled around to the front of him ending up with her face right up in his.  She batted her eyes and said breathlessly, “Danger, danger, Romeo,” then she twirled away from him to tend to Mr. Hedren.

 

The Georgia girl stopped in front of the counter, put her hands in her pockets, and looked directly at Jonas.  She flashed a dazzling smile at him and said cheerily, “Hi!”

 

Jonas swallowed hard but he still croaked when he spoke, “Hi.”  The sound of his voice surprised him.  He cleared his throat.

 

“Do you have any green tomatoes?” the Georgia girl asked brightly.

 

Jonas stared at her and “Yes” came out of his mouth.  Then he felt his brain stir and he thought to glance over his shoulder to make sure there were indeed some green tomatoes left, and he noticed they were all gone.  “Ah…I mean no…” he said, still looking at the empty bushel box as if waiting for them to reappear.

 

The Georgia girl smiled and giggled, “Well do you or don’t you?”

 

Jonas turned back around and she was right there leaning on the counter smiling up at him.  His eyes locked with her ice blue eyes and something in him started to break loose.  Thank God, he thought.  A wave of joy washed over his whole body.  He felt freed-up and a gigantic smile rushed across his face and wouldn’t let up.  Adrenaline came next, and with it, a brilliant idea.

 

Jonas sprang to action.  He spun around, grabbed the empty bushel box, and shot out from the stand and around to where the Georgia girl was standing.  He held the bushel box up and said, “Yes!  Yes, we do have green tomatoes!” and he took off running for the tomato field across the road.

 

The Georgia girl’s mother tried to stop him but only brushed his arm as he flew by.  She shouted after him, “That’s OK, Hon!  You needn’t go to all this trouble just for us!”

 

Jonas skipped and turned so he was jogging backwards and hollered, “It’s no trouble, ma’am.  Gotta get some more anyway!”  He skipped back around and sped across the road.  Then he hopped into the field, and whipped his head around every which-way like a madman as he looked for biggest, best green tomatoes to be had.

 

June looked up exasperated and angry.  Jonas had left her juggling two, now three, new customers, and a fourth was driving up.  She shot the meanest look she could muster across the road at him.  What a fool, she thought, trying to impress some Barbie doll from Georgia! 

 

To make matters worse, she saw dreamboat Jimmy Morris, who wouldn’t give her the time of day, pulling up to the stop sign up the road in his ‘70 GTO.  She saw him catch site of the Georgia girl, do a double take, and continue on down the road toward them rubbernecking, mouth open.

 

“She’s just forbidden fruit!” June snapped as she weighed Mrs. Raymond’s potatoes.

 

“What’s that you say June, girl?” Mrs. Raymond said raising one eyebrow.

 

“Oh, nothing, Mrs. Raymond,” June chirped, then added with a sigh, “I just wish Jonas would get back over here to help me out.”

 

“Well, where is he, girl?” Mrs. Raymond countered.

 

June pointed across the road and frowned at Jonas, “He’s right there, ma’am.”

 

Mrs. Raymond and the other customers turned to look just as Jonas was raising his full box of green tomatoes up like a toast to the Georgia girl.  They watched him, still grinning and fueled by adrenalin, as he high-stepped it through the tomato plants toward the road, knees up, feet flying.  Then their expressions turned to horror as they saw Jimmy Morris almost parallel with the vegetable stand now, his head hanging out his car window grinning like an idiot at the Georgia girl.

 

Jonas wasn’t watching what he was doing, either, so some of the customers hollered, trying to get both boys’ attention.  And Mr. Hedren, who was on his way to his car, dropped his eggplants on the ground and started running toward the road with his arms waving wildly as he bellowed at Jimmy, “STOP!”  But Jimmy didn’t get what was going on.  He just winked at the Georgia girl and romped on the gas peddle of the GTO.  It’s impressive, deep-throated rip and tear covered the deadly thud and crack of Jonas’ body and bones.

 

Everyone was silent as Jimmy finally registered he’d hit something and locked up the brakes.  He pulled over, got out of the car and headed toward the back of it thinking he’d find a deer he’d have to put out of its misery, but instead he found his little brother’s friend, Jonas Fairfield, sprawled on the asphalt, grotesquely disjointed, mangled, in a growing pool of blood and tomato pulp.  He blanched white and froze, able only to repeat “Oh my God,” over and over and over. 

 

June ran screaming hysterically toward her brother and dropped to her knees by his shoulders.  She held his face in her hands sobbing out of control, begging him to be alive, to be alright.

 

Jonas felt a glow of the utmost joy and in degrees became aware that he was that joy existing as an orb of light drifting lazily outward from his body.  He felt the heat of himself sweeping upward like the last bit of summer rising to grace another part of the world and in its place leaving the chill of autumn.  He began swirling toward an orb of light and joy and heat unfathomably great in size and astoundingly brilliant-white and beautiful when he heard her. 

 

It was a hollow sound at first, like wind howling.  He began to follow it, spiraling down, listening back toward the earth.  The sound became less echoing, more solid and intelligible the closer he got to his body.  He drifted down into his head, his ears, his eyes.  He felt the weight of his skull light in the cushiony heat of someone’s hands.  His ears were under pressure, like he was underwater, but through the muffled ringing he listened carefully.  His felt his eyelids.  They seemed as armored gates welded shut.  And then he heard her again.  “Oh my God!” she cried, her voice consumed with anguish. 

 

He was suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency within that was unclear to him.  Confused, he spread out into the rest of his body and slowly began to understand the extremity.  Too much damage had been done.  His ribcage was crushed and his punctured lungs were unable to take in air.  The sporadic beats of his severely damaged heart had slowed to just one beat within the last minute, and his kidneys and other organs were beginning to shut down left and right.  He figured he had maybe a minute left at the most before he’d have to leave again, and somehow, within that time he at least needed to find a way to open his eyes.

 

He concentrated all effort on the muscles in his eyelids and imagined himself heaving them open like he did the heavy doors of the cow barn.  What had felt like gates welded shut, began to twitch.  One more heave of the barn doors and his eyelids raised just enough.  Then he used his last pulse of strength to roll his eyes toward the sound of her voice.  And through a milky-white haze he did see her one last time, clutching her heart, tears streaming down her tanned face and sparkling on her pink, glossy lips.

 

Fini

 

pink03.jpg picture by pemerytx

 

Missalister’s “Forbidden fruit,” copyright © 2008, was spun off the Sunday Scribblings prompt “131 – Forbidden.”  Click here for more on prompt #131 from other Sunday Scribblings Participants.

 

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14 responses to “Forbidden fruit

  1. Gosh, I think you just broke my heart. Jonas was such a sympathetic, affectionate character… and then you let that testosterone-blinded Jimmy Morris kill him!

    Your lines, At seventeen years of age, he was the oldest boy amongst his siblings, and by now was well enough groomed to take over the farm at any time if need be. His father had seen to that, seemed like the perfect summation of all the dreams forbidden to him, not just the Georgia Peach he wants to impress.

    This was just wonderfully done — which was, of course, the reason I liked Jonas so much — but… what would you think next time about trying a comedic romantic caper? As for me, as irony would have it, I spent the afternoon picking green tomatos, to save them from the imminent frost.

  2. I’m a sucker for the throes of death, and you did it for me. I was with Jonas from his amiable, humble beginnings to his final glimpse of life… the sparkling pink lips! Great!
    That’s the one Miss A.

  3. All your pieces are serious, focused, significant. This, too, hit home. Do the circumstances of one’s death determine the quality of one’s life, or does the quality of one’s life determine the circumstances of one’s death? This might not have been a thought you meant to address but is what was in the bag you left this reader holding.

  4. Ouch, girl: I think you may have broken your contract with the reader on this one. That Jonas had to go felt compulsive to me, at some point inevitable—inevitable, given your penchant for the hard finish—but it just felt like too much. I’m curious if you considered veering off the course you chose (or the course that chose you), or if it was pedal to the metal all the way.

    I was struck by the utter lack of jangle in the early parts and the cool breezy love-drench, such a throwback to all our daze of youth. Van Morrison wrote some awesome stuff in his seventies and eighties (and a little bit of nineties) prime, but the dude also wrote the sublime “Brown-Eyed Girl,” still sublime if you haven’t heard it fifteen times in a given day. “Forbidden Fruit” was BEG, almost too sweet (or me too old?) at times (hence the need for destruction?), but kept aloft, for me, by this nimble ballet:

    June sashayed past Jonas making sure to skim his backside. She twirled around to the front of him ending up with her face right up in his. She batted her eyes and said breathlessly, “Danger, danger, Romeo,” then she twirled away from him to tend to Mr. Hedren.

    I loved that paragraph.

    You start us off with “this mediocre story idea…radically improved,” and I’m interested in that diagnosis and tracing your path…what you consider mediocre…what and where was the improvement…and what about the Cormier piece made the shifts for you. When I first saw the length of the piece, I thought, ah, Lady A with some leisure time, she really got to walk this one out, but in the long run, this felt a little crammed, like you were still having to slip it through the cracks of the rest of a day calling you away from your heart’s play.

    I know you’re a big girl and you don’t need me to say this, but I must say it for myself: “I wear my ‘I Love Lady Alister’ pin daily and I wear it with pride.” Thank you for creating this construction site and always inviting us to the party. Peace, my dear.

  5. Hi anno! Good point. Well, Jonas was so easily brainwashed by his father that he didn’t know if he was missing anything let alone what he might be missing. He was an easy kid, but now it doesn’t matter. The wheels of doom began to turn the moment Drop-dead Gorgeous stepped outta that car and riled up all the testosterone. At least one male teen was destined to drop dead. I’m surprised you didn’t see that whole thing go down while you were out in the green tomato patch picking my next assignment ;-) You’re such a…a…teacher! The sign of a good teacher, right there, too, I might add. So yes ma’am, I will gladly see what I can do about this comedic romantic caper business… Ah, say, anno? If I just manage to dig enough to hit a few granules of sunshine, period, can that count? ;-)

    Hi present! Thank you to the ends of the earth! I love that stuff, too…obviously. Yup, that Jonas, lying there just bones in a bag, his head held lovingly, desperately by his closest, most loving sister, and all he can do is look past her to Drop-dead Gorgeous! Why I oughta… Well, c’est la vie, no? Say I missed you this weekend! Next weekend maybe? Either way, I’m inviting you to stay tuned here to see if I crash and burn or rise and fly with anno’s comedic challenge! And about the one, I have a separate one in mind that’ll be tailor-made for Sy ;-)

    Bass! Awesome to see you back here again, and with a new riddle! The circumstances of one’s death might determine the quality of one’s life to others after they’re gone, maybe…and the quality could determine the circumstances if, say, if the individual was one that lived for high adventure… But I tend more toward thinking the quality of life anyone is capable of living has to do with their DNA mostly, and in part, their upbringing, their childhood conditioning. I’ve come around to thinking each of us is born with skills, preferences, tendencies, advantages, disadvantages that, if they’re not soon apparent, become so over time and make or break us or flatline us. None of that was on my mind when I was writing this. This piece circulated around the predictability of extreme beauty and predominantly around randomness…the randomness, the impersonality of killing a fly or not, who lives and who dies.

    Ms. Mood, again, I’m so glad you’re back. I think…no, I admit you’re addictive. Sorry about Jonas, my dear, but as I wrote to anno, Barbie was so hot, someone had to get burned. But fear not, Jonas being Jonas, is at least as happy in heaven as he would be on earth calibrating a manure spreader :-)

    And oh Paschal! I see you’ve just bellied up to the comments bar with a tall, tall order, so after dinner I’ll be back to give you the attention you, also a premier teacher, deserve ;-)

  6. OK, Paschal, dinner is long done (it was lovely, thank you) Now, what contract are you speaking of? Do not readers love to be shocked, appalled, even? Don’t they crouch low waiting to be pounced on by the lovers and the killers and all of the unexpected in general? Don’t they just love to scream “Injustice done!” and all that? I do ;-) Do writers have an obligation to the reader beyond producing an emotionally, technically, good story? Don’t count on it that I know, I’m asking you. As writers, is not the ending their best personal choice as gods of their worlds?

    Aw, Pashcal, I know very well what you’re getting at with your jangleless, breezy, oh-so-fine brown-eyed girl, so sublimely the ultimate in youth, so Sha la la la dee dah. Your use of music in pointing up things is everything, tells it in volumes of feeling, like it could never be told otherwise, breaks me down, so come here and I’ll tell you:

    I was just starting my morning run, going up the road with a local farm in sight. The farmers are good people with a few kids, barns, a house, a vegetable stand, and fields on both sides of a fairly busy road. And this particular morning, in the distance, I see an adult walking in front of the house with kids running every whichway and I wonder, “What if?” I write the idea down when I get back to the house.

    SS comes up and I’m not feeling creative at all. I grab the farm idea and dash off a shell of a piece on Friday all heartless, just business. It ends just BAM! Jonas gets hit and that’s it. I realize it’s crap. I know I can’t deliver this to myself let alone anyone else.

    I’m willing to work with my down phase, though, so I shift into gimicky corporate thinking. I get the idea to study three of the ignoramus-plagued writers (Cormier and Twain were definites but I had no idea who the third would be), break the just-business piece up into three parts using three separate text colors, apply the styles of the three writers, and put a challenge before the readers to guess which color is whose style. I also thought of presenting two alternate endings with the piece, yes, one in which Jonas’ body can sustain life.

    But when I read Cormier’s excerpt, every single little, living detail of it stuck its sharp stick into the eye of my imagination with a push and pounded it in with a hammer, and I rose from the dead screaming What the f–?! I got jazzed and I jabbered about the whole thing to the S.O., got his take, added it to my thoughts, and then sat down with new ideas and a strong will to lavish it with details as rich as Cormier’s.

    These pieces are, everything on this site is, stuffed into tight confines like a full-figured woman into full support panythose. But your writer’s sensitivity, sensibilty didn’t let you down, for you picked up on the patched-ness of it, i.e. it wasn’t born out of the unhindered flow of pure love and therefore ease, like Diminuendo, like the L piece. This was a hard labor, the satisfaction of writing it tinged with doubt and hesitation.

    I like the pin. I think I’ll get one because I’m not so big :-) Thank you

  7. That was an excellent piece. Each character is so real. I felt like this was a memory plucked from the recesses of my mind and brought our for one last look before tucking it away again. BJ

  8. Hi BJ! I like the idea of that, reading something another writes vividly enough to seem like a memory of one’s own.

  9. “calibrating a manure spreader” – ahahah you kill me. But it’s good to know that your characters keep on living even after you kill them. I’ve been known to kill some of my characters too or torture them with life-facts. It’s part of being a writer – being cruel ;)

  10. LOL! Oooh, torture with life-facts, too excruciatingly real! You are a mean one, Ms. Mood! As for me, I guess regret follows cruelty so I put the Jesus mojo on ’em. And now that you’re back from being killed, I’m dying to know what it was like to be killed by a manure spreader!

  11. Ms A: Funny thing about those writer/reader contracts: old skool probably runs something like, that Jonas death needs to be “earned,” whatever the hell that means, it can’t just be the first (and inevitable) handle you reach for. I think the image of Jonas running around like a love-crazed idiot in the field, and my knowing where you were likely headed with the poor boy—it all just felt too pathetic, a little too gratuitous. That’s a cold fictional Alisterworld out there, where the dimwits have to perish. Dimwit that I am, where does that leave me?

    But, then, new skool, as in my urchins del Instituto, los gore-fiends, would say, “Is that all we get? We want more! You sure as hell better kill off the dimwit, but couldn’t you take down a few more while we’re at it? And couldn’t Ms Fried Greens at least have been on her way to Galveston for the final transgendering operation?”

    I just finished reading Stephen King’s short story “The Jaunt” with my juniors today and their response to what I thought was a fairly terrifying story was, “You call that terrifying? So he tears his eyeballs out?” One followed up with, “I could do that right now. Big deal.” Of course, for me, the eyeballs had nothing to do with the terror.

    New skool is, fire at will. They want a big fat satchel full of gore.

    Your contractual thoughts were a helpful eye-opener. I also came away thinking that you are more of an Old Testament god-author. Smiting vengeance: y’all need to get y’all’s acts together. Faulkner, Flannery kin – and I certainly love me plenty of them, though not necessarily for their stone tablets.

    This also got me thinking about some of the deeper subtext in your fictional decisions. Deep in the Alister archetypes is the notion that innocence will have its diabolical “reward.” To follow unthinkingly, lock-step with his dad’s map, Jonas is doomed: such is the pathway of self-neglect, of not going deeply into what the self cries out for. And that cut can come fast and deep, even before you’re too far along in the rut of your making. Or: Dad is the boy’s murderer, trapped as the boy is in the father’s web. Jimmy is just the pizza delivery. Makes me think of the ingenious use of pizzas as head-wound bloodstains in “Be Kind, Rewind.”

    Do not readers love to be shocked, appalled, even? Don’t they crouch low waiting to be pounced on by the lovers and the killers and all of the unexpected in general?

    As writers, is not the ending their best personal choice as gods of their worlds?

    These two quotes go to the heart of our conversation, and what I know is that I am too damn small a sample, and not a representative one in the least. Likewise goes the non-sample sample writer in me as well.

    I do not love to be shocked, appalled, even, nor do I seek pouncing by lovers and killers. What I love is language, and that is precisely what I love about your writing: its language: rich, deep, textured. It carries the pyrotechnics in such a way that, for me, they do not intrude, which is to say, your language is the abundance I continually seek. Not that love and pouncing can’t be wonderful too, but for me it’s secondary to the language.

    With the second quote, I can’t tell if you’re elevating the “ending” over all other considerations. Not that other considerations are not important, but that they are, in the larger scheme, subservient to the end. To me, each line, each node, is of “equal” importance. There may be a bit more of a “scoot and boot” on the final beats, but I’m almost purposely not looking for a killing in the end.

    I also do not feel that I am the god at work: it feels more like the gods are at work through me.

    Understand that we’re simply talking (and I am happy/eager to be) poetics here, two worldviews “sashaying” and “skimming.” It’s good to hear you talk about what’s behind the doing, as it is fun to reflect back and hazard a guess as to what is happening around the Moons of Paschal as well, whether I have a clue or not.

    Sashay on, sister. Sashay on.

  12. Paschal: After lighting candles and submerging in all the water here, and gradually there was no water, I gathered that I’d soaked it all in, and not that the tide had turned outward for a season. That’s a good turn of perception. The salt ooze can set up to breed growth of a different kind and the waste and solitary places can be experienced as boundless, not just be known to be boundless.

    Lots of drops of realization beaded up from your old skool vs. new skool and from a conversation with the S.O. today. He asked something to this effect: what is the point of your writing and what does the reader get? Generally applied, I realized my point has been rather impersonal, just to have an effect. And I simply wanted the reader to like the story. This seems disjointed, seems like writing to the idiot wind and not to the living, breathing reader. The thought appeals of a circle of wide eyes leaning into the skilled and trusted hands of a purposeful, warmheardted storyteller.

    Applied directly to callousness in relation to characters, especially poor Jonas, I realized I’m working through the difficulty of randomness and death. The randomness of the universe, just as I wrote to Bass. We kill a fly or not—we decide to kill it and try to and either fail or succeed, or we decide not to bother killing it. What makes us decide either way? And it seems the same in the universe—some good humans die, some bad humans live, some die young, and some live full lives—who decides? There is no pattern. Lila leaves one too vulnerable. I want randomness and death not to matter quite as much as they do to me so I work it out in a puppet show.

    “Deep in the Alister archetypes is the notion that innocence will have its diabolical ‘reward,’” is a delightfully intriguing thought still processing…

    “Elevating the ‘ending’ over all other considerations,” hit something, also still processing… I’ve definitely been possessed with endings lately. Another drop of realization regarding my ambiguous endings from the Joe piece on back: toying with the same or worse ambiguous endings that I generally dislike in others’ writing is like saying I can keep a secret from you but you are not allowed to keep one from me. Bullshit I said! And Give the reader clear endings for once! became a mantra to the point of considering engineering endings and building the rest to suit. So although I wasn’t directly thinking about that or the gods thing (I’d say I really do think as you do about that), they might have been inside words that popped outside and need poking with a stick…

    The love of language… What you let me in on there is valuable.

    “Each line, each node, is of ‘equal’ importance,” is valuable.

    All the things still processing, all the valuable things, are soaked in and working. I can feel them chasing around like squirrels in the attic. It would be disturbing but for the trust I have that they’re being incorporated in the way I sashay and will show themselves eventually elegantly, exquisitely over time.

    It’s coming away with this take, this trust, that makes your small, nonrepresentative sample not so small. I like this poetic dance of two worldviews. That I’ll take what I need from it, like you’ll take what you need from what I offer you, is the beauty of the boundless lagoon :-)

  13. Laguna Madre: I revisited this conversation yesterday and found much beauty in this last uncommented upon piece, particularly with regard to the “working(s) out” that inevitably parade themselves within and beneath the shuck and jive of our fictive deliberations. I find your call to address (and wrestle with) the randomness of the universe in your fiction, especially as it informs your narrative choices and decisions, a courageous one.

    Thank you, too, for shaping that boundless lagoon, with all our writings the salt that seasons it. Peace.

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