Through the looking glass

Truman Capote, modeling the mask for his famous Black and White Ball, 1966 Photo taken from Jewels du Jour
Truman Capote, modeling the mask for his famous Black and White Ball, 1966

A few posts ago, I shared with you my recent experience of taking part in a creative writing class. The term is now over but my adventures are thankfully not. A small group of us has stuck to it, meeting every week (or at least trying to) at the same place and time, and presenting new work.

It’s great to be part of a small community of storytellers; you can see the spark in people’s eyes when they have brought something they feel proud to have created. You can tell how much they value the responses to their work – whether positive or not so much – because of their eagerness to polish that piece of text, to make it into something that others won’t skim through but will stop and examine and consider for themselves. Our conversations take us places we might not have thought of when we set out to write and read, be it imaginary or concrete.

Last week’s project involved perspectives. We set out to find other characters in our previous stories and let them take over the narration. My pheromones ball story was the one I felt had the most potential. Since I shared that one with you, here is how I imagined it told by the other main character (with a few changes, inspired by my comrades’ comments):

Man vs Pee

He softly tore his arm from under her neck and took every precaution possible to leave the bed without waking up the bedsprings. It took her hours to fall asleep peacefully. Although, that could also have been just a matter of seconds for all he knew. He had spent the past several “5 minutes longer” concentrating on one thing: trying to reason with his bladder on why it needed to grant him the favour of being a bit more patient this time (he estimated roughly 17 of those extra 5 minutes).

As his pleading interspersed with dreaming, an idea for a TV pilot had started fleshing out: ‘Man vs Pee’. Shot in various Wetherspoons around England, the show would feature a weekly pint marathon with the winner being he who could hold beer in the longest. (Would he be considered too much of a purist if he banned cider and ale in the roadblock to the Men’s Room?) Only lager was to be allowed– an honest Fosters for example, none of that Peroni bullshit. That guy from Shortlist would definitely be all over ‘Man vs Pee’. And maybe someone like Ray Winstone would be a great judge of bladder control.

It must have been in between the selection process of the 1st prize (just a pint-shaped bronzed award or a Golden ticket granting free beer once a week for a year?), that his own battle seemed to be getting futile.

While he slowed down his movements to wiggle out of the big spoon, something stirred when her scent was no longer in his nostrils. He stopped to observe her, lying on her side with her left breast spilling out of his white vest that fit her like a nightgown. He felt his own gaze intrusive although he had seen her breasts a million times before (perhaps it was tens of thousands of times, to be more accurate). He wanted to adjust the fabric, to put her exposed flesh back inside the top. Instead he chose to pull the strand of hair away from her profile.

He could see now the streaks of black smudge on her cheek and the flecks of glitter littering her eyelids (which made him wonder if she had taken off her lenses). She fluttered a little bit but still seemed lost away in dreaming. A hint of a grin appeared in her tired face. For some reason, he imagined the soundtrack of her sleep reel coming from an old fashioned jazz big band, something percussion-y and uplifting (not too Margi Gras-esque though, that would be just a tad much).

With the sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in his ears, he turned to leave for the bathroom eager to return to her warmth. His bare feet touched the cold tiles, sending waves of lucidity to his brain. While he relieved himself, two very clear ideas formed into his head: to start with, it was imperative that he would remember to tell her about the ‘Man vs Pee’ idea in the morning. Then his mind wondered off back to the Wetherspooons pub setting and even the show’s branding started to formulate more clearly while he walked to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Unscrewing the cap of the Coke bottle, he came back to his second thought, which he considered now the most important of the two: he poured some of the flat drink in a glass and headed back to her.

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