Mountains Of Stories Guest Post – Theresa Turner
What a magnificent way to start a story or explore a theme!
My thanks to Carla and Cymbeline, who led us on a unique journey of collaboration, in which, without any strong picture of what our own story was or that of others, we helped to mould each other’s ideas to create something on the page.
Using the ‘story arc’ – as opposed to the less structured ‘story island’ or ‘route map’ methods presented – I was hoping to create a full storyline from my abstract seed of an idea, bringing into play as many as possible of the ideas provided by the group as I could.
My seed was like a philosophical question about human nature and individuality – a clichéd artist quest if ever I heard one – and I wasn’t altogether sure what the story was. However, the activity of creating a plot from all of the disparate but linked ideas, within only 15 minutes, was such an eye-opener about what can be done when your mind is given the chance to flex and fling itself about, draw inspiration from the minds and pens of others, and then get pushed to try to use everything. Aaannd … go!
I thought I might try my hand at flash fiction to build a tiny story from the arc I developed. The story isn’t a direct descendant of the seed, and it doesn’t follow the arc either … but where would be the fun in that?
“I’m not sure about this, maybe you should call an ambulance,” I say. But it’s too late. She’s in, the man has closed the door, given the destination, and my foot is on the accelerator.
She starts to puff, right there in the back seat. She starts to moan. Then scream.
I’m gripping the wheel and staring forwards but he’s tapping on my shoulder and out of the corner of my eye I see shock in his face gone pale. I twist around in my seat, enough to take in her face gone red, the round matt of hair emerging impossibly, the blood, the fluid. All I can think is, the vomit fee won’t cover this clean-up.
I look back to the road in time to swerve around a parked car, and pull in to the kerb at an angle reserved for taxi drivers with birth in their back seats.
I don’t know how I came to be here. This child, in my care, his parents gone. This child, my godson, but why?
“Pa,” he calls me. “Look at me!” My mind is within itself again, and he knows. My attention has wandered from him and he wants it back, he needs it back. I want my attention for me. But I know some things about children now, and nothing is mine while I am with him.
“Pa.” I look. I see the child running to the kerb. I see the child heading to danger but he knows the rules. He will stop at the kerb, turn and run back. Like always.
“Pa!” I see the child deciding at last minute to do a flip. A full flip, to get my attention and my praise and some communication of my longing for him to be by my side. I don’t long for it, but I start to say it. “No child! You are too close to the traffic!”
But it is too late. It is always too late to stop things that have once begun and are moving with such momentum.
His voice echoes in my memory, his “Pa,” and his “Look at me!” His voice, his beautiful clear voice full of the confidence of love and attention. Full of the confidence of safety under a strong man’s eye. But I am no strong man. I am a selfish, difficult man and I have lost that which might have softened me, had I let it. I have lost it.
His head full of hair, crowning, and his whole little body slipping out, straight into my hands. His wide open eyes drinking me in, and his tiny hand gripping my finger. Him.