I started my exploration of creative writing because of a dream. Two dreams, really. The first was a very old quiet desire to “write something” which I never told anyone about, except in a get-to-know-you game once.
The second dream was a nightmare, actually. I awoke trembling one morning in Spring this year absolutely compelled to write it down. It is the very brief first chapter in Dreamwork. From that mysterious beginning, the story grew. It’s about 20,000 words now with no end in sight. I started this blog to learn to write in various creative ways, to learn about the mysteries of publishing, and to connect with others. Read, read, read, write! oh, and live the rest of my busy and full life too. That’s what life’s been about for a few months now. Love it.
I feel the desire to share an excerpt (1239 words) from what is currently Chapter 3. It is really the beginning of the story.
Lily had a set of picture albums that told the stories of summer camping trips flying out of Camarillo Airport in the family plane headed east to the Rockies or Cascades. Her mother had dated and labeled the pictures with locations, facts, and bits of memories. When Lily needed to escape the pain of losing her parents to an unsolved mystery, she would bring out the albums, one by one, reverently placing each on her bed. She would prop her favorite doll and best friend, Mia, against a pillow preparing to recite the story of each trip out loud. She’d slowly turn the pages, telling Mia each story according to her mother’s notes, her memories, and sometimes adding details that didn’t happen or leaving out the part that was too painful to remember. The part where her big brother didn’t come home alive on the last trip. As the years went by, the memories of these trips blended with the details she fabricated to the point where she lost track of the truth, even in the face of pictures that included her brother. He was right there in the photos, but her mind skipped over him in her storytelling. The embellished story became her conscious truth. But reality occasionally crept into her dreams.
Lily’s young imagination was vivid, and sometimes creatures such as bears entered the stories when no bears had existed in reality. Her father’s narrative always included the instructions to, “keep an eye out for bears” on those trips. Lily knew her dad really wanted to see a bear. She sensed he wasn’t afraid of them; he only wanted his family to experience the incredible majesty of nature. Lily knew this by the smile he wore when reminding them on each of their trips.
We started out early Saturday morning. See this picture, Mia? There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. My job was to untie the airplane and move the wheel blocks out of the way. Daddy was the best pilot in the world. Mama’s job was to check the flaps and rudders to make sure nothing was blocking them from moving. Daddy looked inside where the engine was to check the oil and make sure no birds had made a nest in there since the last trip. Birds are funny that way Mia. One time there was a nest with two little blue speckled eggs in it! Mama carried it over to the bushes and put it where it would be safe. She said the mommy bird was always watching and would fly to wherever we put the babies. Anyway, on this trip, we went to Montana. We flew over big mountains, and it was kind of bumpy. That didn’t bother me, but Mama turned puke green.
Pointing at the pictures, one by one, she continued the story:
I fell asleep, but when we were getting close to the airport, Mama woke me up. That was our deal, Mia. She was to wake me up so I wouldn’t get a bad headache from the decent. And it was my job to help look out the windows for other airplanes flying around the airport before we landed. When I looked out the window, I could see mountains, trees, and blue sky forever. No airplanes.
Lily was an articulate little girl and proud that she knew flying lingo that she picked up from her father. She did her best to help Mia see it all in her mind.
“It only took us a couple hours to get there, but it felt like we were landing in another world. The airport was dirt! See!!?? From the sky, it looked like a bald stripe in the middle of the forest. Daddy flew around the airport once, hollered over the roar of the engine ‘see any bears girls?’ then we landed.”
Sometimes she’d imagine Mia weeping with her, and she’d move to comfort her. Lily was good at helping her doll get through the painful feelings she herself didn’t understand. She knew her parents had not intended to leave her behind when they didn’t return from their trip to the Bahamas, but sometimes she was mad at them for reasons she didn’t have words to explain. After comforting Mia and wiping her own tears, she would continue the story.
“That place was fun. When we landed daddy said, ‘I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!’ so we sat under the wing and ate ham and cheese sandwiches in the shade. Mama told me not to eat all my chips first. She always told me that!”
These were the moments the tears would well up again, but she felt absolutely compelled to continue the story. As if there were answers somewhere in the story that she had not yet found:
There were some other families camping there too, Mia. We camped in the tent on the edge of the forest. Mama made me have a sponge bath. She heated the water on the camp stove then poured it in the bin with a bar of soap and a washrag. She made dinner while I was in the tent giving myself a bath. One night we had freeze-dried lasagna dinner with freeze-dried corn that came out of silver packages. When I told Mama I liked her lasagna better daddy laughed and said we had to pack light because the airplane couldn’t carry all of Mama’s yummy dinners across the mountains. I don’t think real lasagna weighs that much!
More tears would come when she remembered she’d never have her mother’s lasagna again. Grandma Norrie tried, but it just wasn’t the same. The story would continue:
We got to go horseback riding with other people who had flown in too. Daddy told us the only other way to get to the lodge was by horseback. We were so lucky we didn’t have to ride horses all that way! What? Mia, just listen, don’t ask rude questions! Back to what I was saying! My horse’s was named Trigger. He was white with red splotches and really tall. The man who took us riding had to help me get on him. Mama said he was a homely looking creature but I loved him! No Mia, not the man, the horse!
The ritual of telling this story through to the end was so important but grueling to Lily that she usually became impatient with her doll:
Mia, you need to listen and stop fidgeting! I’m trying to tell an important story here. When we were riding on the trail, a bear came and scared the horses! My horse reared up, but I hung on. Daddy jumped off his horse and yelled at the bear to go away! He saved us from the big ole bear Mia! Mama said not to be scared cuz the bear was just minding its own business when we came along and scared it in its home.
When she finished telling her version of the story, she would gingerly place the albums back in her dresser drawer and cover it with her old baby blanket. The memories were safe there, protected by the love of the blanket.
Lily was only eight-years-old when her parents had flow off to the Bahamas on vacation and not returned. For one so young, her memories of those high mountain fly-in camping trips were vivid and enduring. Perhaps this was the legacy her parents had meant to leave her.
If you’ve read this far, I thank you tremendously!! I would love your feedback on this excerpt from my WIP 🙂
As always, thanks for visiting and taking time here in my world! Please feel free to like, share, reblog, comment or follow as your heart and mind desire.
featured photo: doll & photo by Bonnie