And now for something completely different…

Since my best intentions were derailed by the idiocy surrounding the engineer of the anti-gravy train yesterday, today I’m all about the shiny and happy and moving forward with something that, while continuing to stray from the ‘mandate’ of this here colemining, at least demonstrates the vital importance of story in my life.

So, although it seems an easy-out as far as posts go, here, for your edification- should you choose to continue to indulge me- is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project…

February 20, 2008

Under other circumstances the combination of fire and ice would have to be described as transcendentally beautiful.  The flames licked the sides of the old buildings, and as painful as that was- especially for me, in love with things of age and grace- the water from the fire hoses freezing as it did into modern sculpture almost as quickly as it was expelled into the frigid February morning, had a grace of its own.  Interesting.  Twice in one sentence I use the word ‘grace’, and yet have no illusions that such a thing exists.  Not knowing what I know, for as long as I have known it.  

The glow illuminated the face of the one I love best, and as I stared at him, I realized that I’ve seen that exact expression before, under circumstances that were too much the same, yet completely different.  Time plays such tricks, when you have lived through as much of it as I have.  Nearly two thousand years separated the first memory from the latest.  Fire, no ice, but the same look of despair and resigned acceptance haunting the features of his face, making his great beauty even more profound and seemingly fragile.  Burning, in the name of gods and politics- nothing more or less than ideologies and ideologues- created by humans, for better or much, much worse.  Same tune, different lyric.  History repeating itself to the degree that it was practically foregone as a conclusion.  Clichéd almost.  

That first time, how many years had we passed together, only to separate for a time and be reunited in that great city?  We were never long apart, yet that time marked the greatest estrangement, the most significant, and to be standing with him as the conflagration grew, as chaos reigned- although not to the sound of fiddle music as tradition and myth would have it- I remember being happy beyond expressing that I was with him again, yet unable to help being affected by the tragedy unfolding before us.  He has always had that effect on me- to the point where I often can’t tell where my own feelings end and his begin.  Such is the greatness of his empathy that it is so often projected onto to those closest to him.  Whether he is aware of this power, I have never been sure. 

Then, as now, the depth of sadness threatened to undo me.  In one weaker- for all my human failings, the passage and lessons of time have brought a type of strength, at least- it would have overwhelmed, and the night’s madness would have claimed another victim.  But we stood apart from the crowd, on the rooftop of his apartment, watching from a distance, as we had in Rome.  To move forward, begin yet again- these were my thoughts as I focused on the activity below.   We loved this city, this country, with its polite, tolerant people, beautiful landscapes and varied- if punishing at times- seasons.  But cities come and go.  There are other places that offer the promise of permanence, if not its realization.  New cities suggested opportunity and the chance at new lives.

While his eyes remained dry, as always they betrayed pain that endured millennia, but for the first time I saw true despair and something even bleaker.  For the first time in our enduring friendship I wondered if he would survive this latest blow.  And since a world without him was unthinkable, I felt the first stirrings of my own mortality in years beyond counting. 

Photo- Toronto Star, February 20, 2008

Yes.  The story is set in Toronto.  I LOVE this town.

Lying, crack-smoking, ignorant mayors notwithstanding.

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17 comments on “And now for something completely different…

  1. Are you writing from the perspective of a member of the opposite gender? If you are, you’re far braver than I am.

    Eloquent writing, especially for one in a rush to meet deadlines.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you- ‘eloquent’ is a valued compliment. I can handle the deadlines- it’s the divided focus that’s killing me (and the distractions of the ‘real world’ at the moment). Gender is sort of a quietly underlying sub-theme, if you will, so I’ll be keeping the narrator’s gender a bit of a secret at the moment…

      Thanks for reading- and for the feedback!

  2. Intriguing — several little bells tinkle suggestively. Reincarnation? Immortality? The gender thing is tantalizing. Keep on writing!

  3. Ste J says:

    That is awesome and extremely thought provoking…like cheese to a badger (but betterer!).

    • colemining says:

      Thanks Ste J- I appreciate your input, as always. Been falling a little behind in the unfolding of the story, but I’m sure it will come to fruition. Sometime. Thanks for reading!

  4. […] did that a couple of years ago. I think it was a good exercise, but here we are now, and the novel of that November is no closer […]

  5. I’m in the middle of your most recent post, Cole but had to come see – you know me and links! This does look intriguing and just the sort of story I like. I’ll be ready to read when you’re ready. 🙂
    I’m laughing at the gender issue. 😉 x

    • colemining says:

      Lol- I do appreciate your indulgence of my incessant linking, A-M. That’s the start of one of the stories I’ve been working on getting sorted. Cole’s the narrator- and, as I go back and read it again (and catch a couple of typos as I do so), I can really see how close our voices have become. Interesting. Something to work out as I deal with this split-personality thing I have going on 🙂

      You were in on the ‘secret’ early- but yes, it is all rather silly and amusing. Such a fine line we walk, as we create others in our image. xo

      • colemining says:

        Lol again. I forgot the gender thing came up before! Now that I re-read these comments… especially since, writing as Cole, the narrative voice is writing about his relationship with another male. It’s actually sort of a sub-theme to the whole thing- the idea of gender. Which I hadn’t really fully taken on board until just now. Interesting. These creations can sort of run away with things at times…

      • That fine line you speak of is one of the biggest hurdles I think in writing. When do we feel too much of us is showing and yet how can we be other than authentic to our own voice? Tricky business all round.
        I’ve even started wondering whether I should have written the lead character of last year’s Nano as a guy. Wondering why I did that. Reflecting on an author interview I watched a while back about just that choice and why.
        So many things to consider and yet whatever voice comes through to tell the story – whatever the gender – we hope is true enough to our own selves in the ways that matter.
        I’m off on a hal’penny hurl, as you can guess, now that I’ve started thinking about it again.
        Plenty to think about in the days ahead for both of us. 🙂 x

      • colemining says:

        There is a lot of that sort of thing with which to struggle. That tried-and-truism- ‘write what you know’- yet care must be taken to avoid offending/upsetting those in our ‘real life’ lives, at times. I just read an article about memoir writing- and how crossing that line can be very hurtful. It’s hard, too, to determine where the reality ends and fiction begins- and vice versa. The short story I’m working on now treads into some potentially-dangerous territory- as lived experiences start finding their way into fictional events…

        I made Cole male because the history of his character sort of insists upon it. His backstory would make no sense were he a woman. Which is another interesting thing. That clip ^^^ is taken from a story in which all but a couple of the main characters are male… Again, that’s partly due to subject matter and some elements of historical veracity.

        Many many years ago I co-wrote a (horrible, horrible) play- a re-telling of the story of the death of John the Baptist, that featured a female-disguised-as-male guard. It was horrible for so many reasons- not least of which was the absolute lack of historicity and context. But it’s somewhat telling that I was exploring (however horribly- did I mention that the play was horrible?) gender themes even then.

        Certainly plenty to think on. Have to get some things in order before getting into it all for reals. xo

      • Giggling away at your criticism of your horrible, horrible play. I can’t tell you how often I have (and still do) cringe at some of my own writing. Got to laugh, haven’t you?! And still I hold on to it! It’s like truly horrible photos. My sister ripped every one up. I kept mine. Figured one day any kids I might have would appreciate the fact that even their lovely mum had ugly days. :/ Turns out all my kids are photogenic and I just take a hellish picture. Figures, eh? Might shred them now if I can find them. Don’t want those going down in history. Maybe should rethink the boxed writing too. I can see me back out at that garage again. 😉

      • colemining says:

        I blush even remembering how horrible and pretentious that thing was (and the fact that it was actually performed… ack). I came upon a copy while sorting through stuff before I moved 2 years ago. It was an opportunity to revisit the horror- and remind myself why play-writing isn’t my jam. And that I was a complete eejit when I was 20.

        We are our own worst critics, I suppose- some of the earliest posts ’round here leave me reeling a bit (although they’re nowhere close to the level of the horrible horrible play). Some of my only attempts at poetry… ouch (there’s a reason I don’t do that, anymore, too). That might be why all the writing I did last time out with NaNoWriMo hasn’t seen the light of day as of yet. Too critical of the way it played out. Hence my need to revisit/rework.

        I get rid of icky pictures for the most part. No use angsting over them- and that’s easier to do with all the digital stuff.

        I shudder to think what I’ll find once I’m reunited with my boxes of t’ings. What old horrors may lay dormant, waiting to see the light of day? I’m giving myself nightmares. xo

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