Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Daring Group Writing Challenge

Having a third eye would be pretty handy, wouldn't it? A little peek behind the curtain. A way to maybe a understand the people or world around you a little bit better, if only for a moment.

This is exactly what Shawn over at Between the Lines has asked us to imagine for this new Group Writing Challenge.

Instead of imagining what my third eye would see, I thought this would be a good exercise for one of the main characters in my novel. She's a fourteen year old human-chimp chimera, who has been ostrasized, quarantined, treated like a lab rat and sterilized. Her third eye has shown her, and me, something important about what it means to be human.

Her name is Olivia:

They have done something to me. Something to keep me from having babies ever. The nurses think I’m asleep because I’m squeezing my eyes closed. I can hear their whispers because they have turned to me, turned their words on me. They have to whisper louder because of the masks. My head hurts. Their words are bright and hot on my skin. Is this the same lady who smiles at me when my eyes are open and watching her?

“An abomination. How did we get stuck in here with her?”

I can see the nurse scrubbing her hands roughly. I know what she’s doing. She is being mean. She is mad at me, trying to rub off the places her gloves touched me. No, I can see the colors of her soul. Reds and blacks. She is simply afraid. This makes my heart feel heavy.

“She did not ask to be born,” the other one sighs.

“Pah! She wasn’t born, some freak of a scientist thought he was God. I’d love to be there when he meets the real God.”

I wasn’t born? But I was. I saw pictures. I was born of my mother just like you. I want to tell her this, but I see her hatred of me carries her like a whirl of black smoke into the future. She will not listen.

“She’s still a child.”

The second nurse’s words define her and I see her shape clearly; she is not wearing her mask. She stands fearless beside me and yet my eyes are still closed. Am I dreaming?

“I’m sorry, little one. We aren’t the kindest of species are we?”

I hear her words but I know she has not spoken them out loud. “Maybe you shouldn’t want so bad to join our club, now that you know what we really are. Cruel to those who don’t fit our particular ideas of normal; we fear what we don’t understand, we create boundaries of acceptance based on whatever we are. Anything outside what we are can’t be meant to live, right? Doesn’t deserve to live. Anything different than us must be shunned, controlled, exterminated.”

“A child?” I see her as a shadow in the room now, the mean nurse. I'm scared. I know I will not be able to look at her ever again, not while my eyes are open.“A beast’s child, maybe.”

“Look at her, how frail she is, the needle marks, the patches of skin missing, the stitches in her torn abdomen. We are the beasts. We are the animals.” I see the pictures forming in the kind nurse’s head. Pictures of me healthy, sitting in school, then at a desk with glasses and a coffee cup. She is picturing me normal. Like her. Then my arms morph as I pick up the cup, they are covered in dark hair and as I bring the cup to my lips, I hoot and pull my lips back to reveal large canine teeth. The image disappears as she sighs again.

“Different does not mean a threat.”

These words march around inside her now; she repeats them to herself to keep the images away. I can see her concentration. I can feel something important has happened, something I would feel better if I could understand. Something that would bring me hope. Something that would make me want to live as a human.

The word “choice” circles my head with wings of silver. The wings burst into flame and as the ashes fall, the room grows dark. I can’t see them anymore.


Shawn said...

So that's Olivia. Very nice to meet her. Compelling excerpt!

Thanks for participating. I think this one scared a few folks. : )

This reminds me a tad of that story of the neglected girl that has made a little news lately ... she was 7 but abused and neglected so badly that she only had the mentality of an infant. Very sad story.

Shannon said...

There are too many true sad stories, but if no one tells them, no one can help I guess.

By the way, this wasn't an excerpt from the novel...I wrote it just for you. :-) I like this idea, it helps getting to know the characters better. I think I'll use it on the next novel just to delve deeper into them. Thanks.

Tia Nevitt said...

Ok, that was absolutely riveting. Excellent work.

Alice said...

Thanks for that piece. I'm glad your writing is going well. Thanks for your comments on my blog. I'm longing to be able to post some photos of where I am soon going to be living (inspired by your wonderful photographs and exciting new life) but at the moment even finding an internet connection I can use is a struggle ....


Shannon said...

Alice-the internet connection is always a pain, even when it's working. A wise woman I know would give you this advice:

Stop struggling. :-)

I'll be looking forward to seeing the world from your view...whenever. No rush.

Gaynell said...

This is great info to know.