Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Fiction first draft - why not?
|Untitled (Volkswagen) by Don Eddy, 1971 - Photorealism|
Who would name their baby girl Fontana? A place of auto wrecking yards, trucks, a steel mill and original turf of the Hells Angels. She wore it through grade school, wishing she could outgrow it like the hideous oxblood faux Mary Janes that she didn't pick, would never have picked. And how come Elizabeth, by the sixth grade, had become Renee and wouldn't turn her head unless you said the new name and said it right? She could almost live with Tana, with the endless Name Game teasing, Tana Tana bo banna, bonana fana fo fanna, fee fie mo manna, Tana. Something genuinely exotic but still weird like Cuernavaca, rhyming with Frere Jacques was out of the question. She heard them ask, who would name their baby girl Cuernavaca? Marrakech. Coeur d'Alene. Fontana. Fuck.
If she thought about her name, which she tried, with narrow success, not to do, it still felt like ugly clothes, crap loser blue plastic raincoat, the hand-me-downs from her aunt and not the pretty ones that made her look almost twice her real age, which at the time was 10. While we're asking questions, who sends a 10-year-old to school in one of her 21-year-old aunt's sheath dresses? If she had ever once drawn a normal breath, held a normal thought, she couldn't say when. She imagined the big old freak wagon rolling through town and her being tossed on board with the rest of the trash, her parents laughing after her, "Write when you get work." Things like that, they thought were so funny.
How she ended up with her beaming beacon of a son she never knew. It was one of about two things at the time that made her think maybe God was real and maybe even paid attention. It was enough to balance all the other evidence that said God? Who are you kidding? Two things, her son and her still being alive. Two not small pieces of evidence, though smaller than, say, two obsidian bird-point arrowheads, but solid like you could find them in your pocket when you needed to be reassured, which felt like about 14 times a day.
She missed her son, the weeks he stayed over with his dad and usually she worked late, declaring it bedtime when she got home. No one to read to, no one who insisted on staging elaborate dramas with his stuffed animals, mentioning from time to time that the voices she did sounded kind of the same.
It was one of those empty house weeks that Ray called and said he'd stop by when she got home. Even when she knew nothing, like nothing, was going to happen unless you counted a version of messing around that spiraled around itself over, how many? maybe 15, 18 years, if she squinted just so, it almost looked like romance. In her skin it felt like romance.
That day she had lunch by herself, the Japanese place between the supermarket and the drugstore. An outside table where she could watch the cars and not feel extraordinarily singular and conspicuous. It was April and there were Santa Ana winds, air so dry it would curl toast, the sun bouncing off windshields and bumpers as the cars slipped past. She kept her sunglasses on.
All the usual particles get blown out to sea during a Santa Ana. The light in the valleys, even downtown, doesn't have to struggle so hard to make ordinary things shine. Everything seems closer and more defined, no cloaking haze to cloud perception.
(to be continued - I ran out of time today and thought if I didn't post it, I'd talk myself out of it.)