Monday, July 27, 2009

500 Words—Lolita

We're starting a new game, some of us anyway. Lynn and I will be writing 500-word stories based on sentences Dive supplies. The sentences will be from an existing book or short story, and we'll go from there. Here is my take on the first sentence from Lolita of all things—the supplied sentence is in italics. And here is Dive's explanation of the whole thing.

Me and Lo

I held onto Lorraine’s elbow to stable her as she gripped the top of the car and slid herself into the passenger seat. Lo slowly eased her legs into the car, which looked painful, tucked her cane at her side and held her elbows in as I closed the door for her.

“This is going to be one long trip,” I said to myself as I walked around to the driver’s side. I took in a big, slow breath of air before climbing in behind the wheel, half-thinking this might be the last breathing I’d do on the road and that I might be holding my breath for the next two days.

We drove in silence through town, passing the Krystal and the Piggly Wiggly, the competing Kroger across the street and the barbecue shack, maneuvering through intersections and light traffic. But once I pulled onto the highway, I let my shoulders relax, and I leaned back, and I looked over hoping to see Lo do the same, but that woman sat rigid. I asked her, “So, are you sure you’re up for two days in the car with your favorite daughter?”

Lo answered without expression. “I guess I can handle being in this hot car with my only daughter.” She bit on “only” and dragged it out as she slapped at the vents in front of her.

I adjusted the air conditioning and gripped the wheel, and I set my eyes on the steamy road ahead and aimed for Texas.

We weren’t far from the state line, and the highway would take us straight there, straight to Mom’s sister’s house, and Lo would stay for a month, and I would deposit her like I was boarding a cat. I would say “good bye” and turn around and drive back home with the radio on and the windows down. And I would sing out loud and stop for a beer when my eyes got tired, and I’d leave all the pent up tension behind with my mother’s suitcase. I would think of the easiness of the return trip when this westward leg would push my teeth together in a clench.

“I don’t know why you insist on making me fly home,” Lo said with her arms folded across her chest and her dissatisfied stare set on the blurred field brush in the distance.

“Because, Mother, as I’ve said before, I can’t get time off of work to come get you.”

Lo snorted through her nose, but I persisted. “I’ll be happy to pick you up at the airport, though, and I am happy to drive you out this one way because I know how much you hate flying.”

Lo sat quietly for a moment and almost whispered, “I thank you for that.” She relaxed her arms and let her hands rest in her lap and she asked would I mind stopping for a Coca Cola soon. I said I’d look for a place to get us out of the sun.

And again next day a thinly populated sky, losing its blue to the heat, would melt overhead, and Lo would clamour for a drink, and her cheeks would hollow vigorously over the straw, and the car inside would be a furnace when we got in again, and the road shimmered ahead, with a remote car changing its shape mirage-like in the surface glare, and seeming to hang for a moment, old-fashionedly square and high, in the hot haze.


Alifan said...

Hi are a clever lady.....

When I go in Dives car and he has all the old 60's music on....I get told to be quiet when he is listening.. teehee... very good story....looking forward to more....

savannah said...

nicely done, sugar! xoxo

dive said...

Robyn, that is awesome!

I wondered how you'd dodge the "Lo" thing (Hi, Lorraine!).
Does "Piggly Wiggly" actually exist? If so I have got to go there when I get to the States.

Boy howdy, you write the little strains of family life so well.
Wonderful dialogue that says far more than the speakers intend, and acutely observed (and acutely painful) emotional details.
Lo's snort paints a whole life story.

And very clever of you to put the sentence at the end rather than the start.

Excellent stuff, though I would expect no less from you. Hee hee.

Next week's sentence will be shorter. Watch out for it in a few days time and sharpen your pencil!

Lynn said...

ooh goodness haven't even started yet. First chance I've had to sit down so far!
I impose myself a rule not to read yours before i've written mine so I won't yet! Neither the comments above. I'm stealing myself not to shift my eyes!!
Just wanted to ask you to read my blog post today please Robyn, at Cheltenham Daily Photo. Very worthy cause I'm trying to publicise as much as possible. Q. x

Lynn said...

...and anyone else here too of course! Publicity for these things is all.

Dear Prudence said...

Beautifully written Robyn! Mine is up at my place.

Scout said...

Alifan, when I'm in the car with my family, they usually change my radio station to something else, ANYthing else. Poo.

Savannah, thanks. Play along.

Dive, this was a great sentence to work with. Good choice. Piggly Wiggly is a grocery store in the southern states. It's hardly a destination, but it's got a great name.

Lynn, this is a good exercise for us, but it's supposed to be fun, so don't feel pressured to hurry up. But hurry up.

Dear Prudence, I just read yours. Very good.

Lynn said...

Ok, done it! It's on my Things blog. Will come back and read yours when dinner's in oven lol. Phew!

Lynn said...

OH wow I really felt that crochety old woman next to me in the car! lol great characterisation Robyn, I really enjoyed it, especially Piggly Wiggly! Marvellous.

Alifan, he tells you to be quiet? (rolls eyes)

Lynn said...

LOL love the hurry up thing Robyn he he. I did. In the end. :)

Lulubelle B said...

Hi Robyn -

I decided to take a shot as prose. Wrote mine before reading any of the others. You and I both used the sentence at the end...and had Texas road trips.

I actually know two Lolitas in real life. Worked with one for years in Texas. The other is the wife of one of my brother's friends.


neetzy said...

I loved this! Depositing her like boarding a cat was brilliant! The musical element was amazing. I never would have thought of that. Then again, I do not proclaim myself to be a writer of any merit. You, however are amazing.

Ms M said...

Well done! You had us right there in the stuffy car with the recalcitrant Lo :)

MmeBenaut said...

Fantastic Robyn! Have read yours first ...

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