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05 December 2008 @ 12:51 am
"Unity"  
Iiiiiiit's brigits_flame time again! :D

It figures that the one time I actually finish at a reasonable hour because I wrote the majority of it in class today, the entries aren't actually due 'til Saturday, and then I forget to post until it's an unreasonable hour after all, but oh, well. XD

Thanks much to eltea for betaing, and I hope you like this one, 'cause I'm rather fond of it for once. XD

The swings are his favorite.

You’re not supposed to stay on them for very long, of course, because there are only two of them, and you can’t funnel people through a pair of swings the way you can herd them along the track of a jungle gym.

But Adam stays on the swing until the others start yelling at him and calling him a hog, at which point they make very unflattering faces to accompany their oinking noises. He pumps his legs again, tuning the shouts out until they are one buzzing murmur in his ears, and savors the kiss of the sky just three times more. It’s sweeter now, because he knows he’s about to have to get down and let it go.

He does, obediently enough, and misses it immediately. There’s nowhere else you can get it, that rush into the air, that moment of heady weightlessness at the top of the curve, everything in this suspension in nothing, purchased with your aching calves and disheveled hair. Some kids fling themselves from the seat at the highest point, trying desperately to preserve it, trying to fly upward, onward, outward, boundless, but they always come back down. Tanbark sprays about their sneakers on impact.

Sometimes Adam dreams that he is swinging. Sometimes he dreams that he has crept onto the playground after dark, having clawed his way hungrily over the chain-link fence, so that he can swing alone. Nobody tells him to hurry up and give someone else a turn. It might just go on forever, this oscillation between soundless sky and the world he knows.

He drags his heels in the tanbark, splinters wriggling into the weave of his white cotton socks, and gets up from the swing. He has put his hands in his pockets and started to walk away when someone pushes him hard in the back.

The next moment, he is facedown and breathing in wood dust. Because his hands are in his pockets, the face in question takes the brunt of the blow.

A parent monitor rushes over, siren-voice howling at the sudden crowd as she tries futilely to convince them to disperse. Fingers with manicured nails clasp about his shoulder, and he wonders whose mother she is.

“Are you okay, sweetheart? Who hit you?”

Hitting and pushing are not the same; why has she conflated them?

He pries his hands out of his pockets, plants them on the ground, spreads his finger-roots, and pushes himself up to look at her. “I’m okay,” he pledges to her brown eyes and pug nose, her mascara-clogged lashes and straight white smile. “I just tripped.”

Her hands flutter about his elbow as he stands, so he puts on an answering smile. Apparently it convinces her, for she brushes tanbark from his T-shirt and rearranges his dark hair. He wipes his palms on his shorts, denim grating against their soreness, and trots off before she can ask anything more.

A shadow falls over his peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Adam looks up.

The owner of the umbra is Evan Dewitt, a boy twice Adam’s weight and a head better than his height, a bully extraodinaire with a future in torture and extortion.

“Hello,” Adam says, hoping he’ll at least be permitted to finish his sandwich before he gets his face ground into the pavement near the foursquare court.

“You told her you tripped,” Evan says.

Adam blinks. He doesn’t know how he is supposed to respond to what is clearly a statement, but he doesn’t dare stay silent lest Evan Dewitt think Adam seeks to ignore him.

“Yes,” he says.

Evan folds capable arms across his chest. “Why?” he demands.

Adam looks at his sandwich and resignedly bids it a fond adieu.

“I didn’t want to cause trouble,” he answers.

“I did it,” Evan blurts out, olive eyes narrowed. “You were on the stupid swing too long.”

Adam wonders how many seconds he has to live.

“I’m sorry,” he says.

Evan glares at him for a long moment, which Adam utilizes to count down the remainder of his existence.

Then Evan frowns, shifts his weight, and sits down next to Adam.

“You’re weird,” he decides.

Adam stares at him, then realizes his life might still be at stake and stares at his sandwich instead. Blueberry jam is seeping through the bread, and it is getting slightly soggy.

“I guess,” he concedes uncertainly.

Evan takes out a nice insulated lunchbox. It is royal blue, which is Adam’s favorite color.

“Whatever,” Evan says.

Adam looks intently at his sandwich. Perhaps he actually has been ground into the pavement, and he is currently hallucinating in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Well, no sense in wasting a perfectly good sandwich, imaginary or otherwise.

He takes a bite, chews, and swallows.

“I like your lunchbox,” he tells Evan.

The other boy regards it. “I like it, too,” he concludes.

There is a pause in which Evan somewhat vindictively punctures the little foil on his juice-box with the pointed end of the straw.

“I’ve never had a friend before,” he mutters.

That’s two things they have in common.

Adam was admiring the collection of sports trophies and MVP plaques on and near the shelf when Evan tossed the paper down and looked at him, a sardonic emphasis to his skepticism.

“That’s not how it went at all,” he declared.

Adam pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and smiled a little. “How’d it go, then?”

Evan frowned and glanced at the offending memoir assignment. “Not like that at all,” he repeated.

“How was it different?”

Resolutely, refusing to be swayed by voodoo-logic, Evan shook his head. “You wrote it the total pansy way,” he announced. “Now your teacher’s going to think I’m sappy and shit.”

Adam couldn’t help grinning. “We were in the second grade, Evan.”

Evan raised a demonstrative index finger. “I don’t care,” he retorted. “I have never been sappy. Ever. You got that?”

Adam took his paper back and flattened out the crease at the stapled corner, nodding noncommittally.

He was not going to be changing a word of his total pansy paper, and Evan probably knew it.

There was a reflective silence, into which Evan broke with a revelation.

“You did get one thing right,” he remarked.

“Oh?”

“Yeah,” Evan confirmed, grinning. “That was one sweet motherfuckin’ lunchbox.”



 
 
Feeling: pleasedpleased
 
 
 
slang_jockey on December 5th, 2008 09:09 am (UTC)
This is absolutely adorable. ^ ^ I'd love to say something more articulate... but, whatever. It was cute and I liked it a lot.
Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 5th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D I'm glad to hear it! ^^
(Deleted comment)
Vitamin C: Matsudatierfal on December 5th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
Yay! 8D Denying it would be absurd; I'm addicted to writing about boys, be they little boys or big boys or boys with boys, as I'm sure you've gathered. XD Thinking back to all my most recent B_F stuff, I think it all follows that trend preeetty meticulously. XD

I'm glad! 8D I wasn't quite sure about it at first, but I got so attached to it that I couldn't change it then. XD

Yeah, uh... I can totally see it. XD And, uh, high-school-or-college-student-or-whatever!Adam, y'know, definitely doesn't look anything like Erik from HoneySyn's younger brother in my head. XD
DrippedOnPaperdrippedonpaper on December 5th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. When I saw the title, I knew I had to read it.

In one way, you were writing me. I LOVE LOVE LOVED to swing as a child. Ok, so you might could have caught me a few times now that I'm 30 but I try to restrain myself. I actually wrote a poem once about swinging called, "Magic Wings"

This is captured so perfectedly:

" . . .savors the kiss of the sky just three times more. It’s sweeter now, because he knows he’s about to have to get down and let it go.

He does, obediently enough, and misses it immediately. There’s nowhere else you can get it, that rush into the air, that moment of heady weightlessness at the top of the curve, everything in this suspension in nothing, purchased with your aching calves and disheveled hair. Some kids fling themselves from the seat at the highest point, trying desperately to preserve it, trying to fly upward, onward, outward, boundless, but they always come back down"

I just loved, that "rush into the air, the moment of heady weightlessness" and I was one to fling myself out yet always come back down.

So on one level I enjoyed it for my memories, on one level I enjoyed it because my almost 5 year old takes after me I guess, she can just swing and swing and swing. She "rates her day" at preschool according to whether or not she got to swing first. Amusing and touching to her doting momma.

But I also liked the rest because it makes me think of my 7 1/2 year old son. We're...(sigh) the other kids find him like Evan found Adam:

"“You’re weird,” he decides."

Anyways, apparently my son is...weird. I find him delightful (And at times annoying, I admit) but...the other kids find him weird. So, at his teacher's recommendation, we're having him evaluated for Asperger's.

Long story short, I like this because Adam DID find a friend, he bonded with someone. And apparently kept that friendship for years.

I never had childhood friendships last years (we moved a lot) but I like reading something that makes me think that is possible, and in my heart I hope it will be for my son.

I really like the interaction at the end...two "tough guys" who still like each other.

You really captured something special, writing this piece. You certainly must keep writing, hopefully in Brigit's Flame so we can keep reading:) Never give up writing, k?




Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 5th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Aww, shucks. x) I'm so glad to hear that you had such an interaction with it! There's pretty much no better reaction out there. ^^

Gosh, I still love the swings! XD In a very small, very empty park in Tennessee once, I stayed on the swing all by myself until I got motion sick and had to get off. XD

I've jumped off once or twice, but I'm usually too scared. My cousin would do backflips, and I've become convinced I'd break my neck. XD

I think weirdness is underrated in society -- changing your world view, and your world, is what creativity really is, you know? But yeah, there's nothing worse than ostracism at that age. I hope everything works out. :]

I loved the idea of these attracted-opposite guys never really splitting up. XD The best part was that framing it that way excused all the not-very-seven-year-old-sounding stuff in the first part! XD

Thank you so much! ^^ And never fear; the day I stop writing will be the day I completely lose my mind, rather than just misplacing large portions of it. XD
Ngocorientalblossom on December 6th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC)
I have a friend! I love swings too, and I've never grown out of them. Well...not mentally, anyways ^^ I love putting my head back just when you can't pump the swing any higher; it's so exhilarating, and for one illusory millisecond, you're flying alone xD I can totally sympathise with Adam.

I loved the originality and the general aura of sweetness surrounding this story! Absolutely lovely, as always =) Keep 'em coming!
Vitamin Ctierfal on December 6th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
I was a swing addict; they were easily my favorite piece of playground equipment! XD That weightless moment at the top is my favorite, too. :D

Thank you! ^^ Glad you liked it! :D
zaggytiddieszaggytiddies on December 6th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful! Beautifully written. I was there on the playground. :searches for more of your stuff:
Vitamin C: Charles - Bluetierfal on December 6th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :) (As you've probably gathered, the 'brigits_flame' tag'll get you all my past entries, if you want to read them. ^^)
richelle2972richelle2972 on December 6th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
Aw...so cute. : ) Good job at excusing the non-little-kid-sounding stuff by making it written from when they were older. ; ) I agree with Jenwryn: I can totally picture the slash. :P Ha, ha, ha I was picturing a younger version of Erik from Honeydew Syndrome as Adam, so apparently I was right! : )
Vitamin C: Mello - Reasonabletierfal on December 6th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
Y THNX. 8D

I like wriggling out of stuff like that with technicalities. XD

I'm actually a little ambivalent on the slash bit; I can see Adam being gay but not really with Evan. Is that weird? XD

You. Totally. Win at mental images. 8D
wierdauntiewierdauntie on December 6th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
Unlikely friendship... charming. Nice job!
Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 6th, 2008 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) I'm glad you enjoyed it! ^^
aisling87aisling87 on December 6th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Very well done. To be honest I hadn't intended on reading all of this because of the length, but it kept me engaged the entire time. I love the description of the swings. I think it could probably end after both children realize they've never had a friend -- although it is interesting to return to the lunch box at the end. Good job and good luck this week.
Vitamin Ctierfal on December 6th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear it kept your interest! ^^

I'm a bit too fond of the swings... I hadn't meant for them to be such a focal point, but then I was off and describing them, and it was too late. XD

Originally I wasn't going to have the ending section, but as I was finishing the first part, I realized I kind of wanted to show how enduring the bond was. Plus I got the last line in my head and ended up being fond of it. XD

Thanks very much! :)
lee_teratilee_terati on December 7th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Boys!

This is great - I love the fact that Adam will not change a word of it. And the ending is perfect.
Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 7th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D

I had too much fun with the end there. XD
Autumn Intermezzointermezzo_poet on December 7th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Cuuuuuuute!

This line: "There is a pause in which Evan somewhat vindictively punctures the little foil on his juice-box with the pointed end of the straw." <--BRILLIANT. I had to reread that multiple times, it was just so hilarious and perfect.

A very enjoyable piece. Nice work! :)
Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 7th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!! :D

Hee, it's the sort of thing I'd do; blaming juice boxes for all the problems in the world is surprisingly easy... XD

Glad you enjoyed it! ^^
dragonrose: another muchatriplescorpio on December 7th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Sweetly awesome! The swings (I love swings, too), the friendship, and the writing. I loved it.
Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 7th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear it! :D Thank you very much! ^^
aisling87: kabukitataisling87 on December 8th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC)
Edit 2
Hi there. I happen to be one of your editors for the week. I already gave you my general first impression, so here's just a few more notes -- very minor things!

You’re not supposed to stay on them for very long -- why not "he's not supposed" --> the use of the impersonal second person is often frowned upon by Englishy types -- for a contest like this I don't think it matters, but if you ever decide to enter this in a formal contest (with, oh say CASH on the line), you might want to try to eliminate any impersonal "you"s. In this particular sentence I think it would be an easy fix -- since you've already told us that the swings are his favorite, you could merely rework the second sentence to say "He's not supposed to stay on them very long."

Sometimes Adam dreams that he is swinging. Sometimes he dreams that he has crept onto the playground after dark, having clawed his way hungrily over the chain-link fence, so that he can swing alone. Nobody tells him to hurry up and give someone else a turn. It might just go on forever, this oscillation between soundless sky and the world he knows. --> <3 love <3

He drags his heels in the tanbark --> I love the image of him dragging his heels in the woodchips, but I wondered if I was missing something with the word "tanbark." Is that actually the specific name for the woodchips they spread on playgrounds? Or were you just describing the bark by calling it tan? If it is the latter, I'm not sure why you decided to join those two words.

clasp about his shoulder, --> Consider deleting the word "about," since it isn't necessary here. (Clasped his shoulder...)

spreads his finger-roots --> Another image I love.

The only other question I had was about tense. I found it very interesting that the time in which they are more grown up is the time you choose to switch to past tense. You might consider switching this, and making it so that the childhood part is in past tense and the adult part is in present tense -- not only would this show us that the adult portion is more immediate, but I think it is more conventional for memoirs to be written in the past tense, and if Adam were handing this in for a grade that might be something he was concerned with. The choice, of course, is ultimately up to you.

Once again, this is a beautiful piece. It has great rhythm and pace, and it flows beautifully. There are some truly scrumptious images in here. Thanks for sharing and good luck in the polls!







Vitamin Ctierfal on December 8th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC)
Re: Edit 2
Originally I think I was trying to make it sound more kiddy, before I changed my plans a little. I'll definitely edit that one out if I use this for anything in the future, thanks! :D

Oh, we always called it tanbark. XD Maybe it's a local thing, or a specific kind of playground material.

As for the tense... When I started out, I wasn't planning for it to end that way -- and I realized as I was writing the last bit that it would be more logical to switch them. But it was getting late, I was getting bored, and I knew I'd miss a bunch of them if I started changing at that rate, so I decided to pretend it was an esoteric choice. XD Another thing I might well edit if I was doing something else with the piece! ^^

Thank you very much, both for the well-wishes and for an insightful edit! :)
harlotbug3 on December 19th, 2008 05:47 am (UTC)
[Evening. Pipisafoat is dealing with finals and won’t be able to get to your second edit. Accept her apologies and wish her luck. My editing style is fairly straightforward, just imagine that the [brackets] contain my red pen.

But Adam stays on the swing until the others start yelling at him and calling him a hog, at which point they make [very unflattering=too vague to match the very direct, and engaging, descriptions around it] faces to accompany their oinking noises.

He does, [obediently=fits better with authority figures than peer pressure] enough, and misses it immediately. There’s nowhere else you can get it, that rush into the air, that moment of heady weightlessness at the top of the curve, everything in this suspension in nothing, purchased with your aching calves and disheveled hair.[=I love long sentences, and this is a good sentence, but it needs to be two.]

Sometimes Adam dreams that he is swinging. Sometimes he dreams that he has crept onto the playground after dark, having clawed his way hungrily over the chain-link fence, so that he can swing alone. Nobody tells him to hurry up and give someone else a turn. It might just go on forever, this [oscillation between soundless sky and the world he knows.= a bit over-fancy, it doesn’t flow with the rest, especially ‘oscillation.’ Also, if a contrast is being made between a soundless sky and something else, there should be something specified about that something else.]

He drags his heels in the tanbark, splinters wriggling into the weave of his white cotton socks [great tactile/visual], and gets up from the swing.

The next moment, he is facedown and breathing in wood dust. Because his hands are in his pockets, the [face in question=overly wordy] takes the brunt of the blow.

Fingers with manicured nails clasp about his shoulder, and he wonders whose mother she is.[great and believable thought. We can all relate to wondering something unrelated in times when we should be focused on a crisis.]

Hitting and pushing are not the same; why has she conflated them?[Another great though, unfortunately ‘conflated’ is over fancy.]

He pries his hands out of his pockets, plants them on the ground, spreads his finger-roots [fun word play after he ‘plants’ his fingers on the ground, but saying that he spread his fingers like sturdy tree roots would make it less obvious and more fun. A rule I find helpful for wordplay is the same one for jokes: ‘if you have to spell it out it isn’t funny’] and pushes himself up to look at her.

Adam blinks. He doesn’t know how he is supposed to respond to what is clearly a statement, but he doesn’t dare stay silent lest Evan Dewitt think Adam [seeks to=overly fancy] ignore him.

Adam looks at his sandwich and [resignedly bids it a fond adieu=overly fancy to the point where a reader might wonder if you’re trying to satirize overly fancy writing, which distracts from the story].

Well, no sense in wasting a perfectly good sandwich, imaginary or otherwise.[cute]

“I’ve never had a friend before,” he mutters.[despite the assumed order of their exchange, it’s slightly unclear whether this is adam or evan talking]

Resolutely, refusing to be swayed by voodoo-logic[fun, and I think correct, way to use the term]

[A very nice story, but I have to emphasize (and empathize) what I’ve told a lot of people looking to make their writing seem more mature, that most readers, no matter how poorly read, can tell when an author is overextending a story’s vocabulary. It betrays a lack of confidence and distracts from all the other elements. I’m not saying to pander to the lowest common denominator, only that the fancier a sentence is the fancier every single other sentence has to be to make the story flow. Overall it was a good read, and tightening up that specific component, and some more basic proofreading (spelling errors look especially bad in this day and age) will make it a very good read.]

Vitamin C: Blue Rosetierfal on December 19th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)
(Finals are perfectly understandable; I only just finished surviving my last paper ten minutes ago! ^^')

Wow, what a detailed edit; thank you! :) The words you picked out are very interesting, and I suppose you're probably right that I have a bit of a tendency to over-write on occasion.

Do you think you could explain "overextending a story's vocabulary" a little more? I'm not quite sure if you mean that the story is relatively simple, so more complex words are incongruous, or that they're just unnecessary, or very probably something else entirely. XD

Also, could you point me towards the spelling errors? I edited this myself and then had it looked at, and I don't recall any squiggly red lines in my word processing document, so I'm surprised there are any that didn't get caught at one stage or another!

Thank you very much for putting so much time and effort into your critique. :)