While I'm At It....

WTH, Chapter 1 from Life Lessons with Savanna, written in 2014. This was a mystery. Don't know why this one lost its formating. Oh, well. Now seriously, I need to go write like crazy.

1

Thick brown hair, brown as a walnut, helmeted Alice’s small, still head. She’d worn thick, brown hair when marrying at sixteen and still had it in her final days, although the year’s photographs before she married showed long hair cascading down her back. The hair was cut in her wedding photograph. Studs had seen the photos on line.

Alice’s hair was her great secret to looking fifty when she was seventy-eight, a secret gifted her through genetics. Today, she wore blue jeans, a purple top and mocs. Inspired by the poem, Warning by Jenny Joseph, Alice wore many purple shirts, hats, and pants. Her favorite exercise shoes were purple and she was ready to recite, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple,” without anyone’s provocation. It wasn’t unusual for her friends, seeing her wearing a new purple top, to begin reciting the poem at her. She was only too happy to join.

Alice loved her purple top. Besides being a deep and rich purple, her favorite color but better, of a hue she associated with medieval royalty, and made of cotton, she’d bought it at a local vintage store for six dollars. “Six dollars and it had never been worn,” she said the first time she wore it out, beaming, big walnut eyes sparkling behind her large glass lenses. “It still had the price tag on it. It cost sixty dollars originally. It could have been stolen, I guess.”

She could tell people about the first purple garment she purchased for herself. A scarf, now tucked in among souvenirs and photo albums in an over-packed hall closet, she’d bought the scarf for two dollars after graduating college as a young married woman who already had two children. She never told anyone about buying the scarf, one of the few stories secreted in her mind’s personal safe. That story was too personal and embarrassing for her. Telling it would require admissions which she preferred to avoid. She was from a poor Montana town and had never seen anyone wearing purple when she was a child. That wasn’t the sort of color people in her town wore, not in those years. She didn’t want to admit how special buying a purple scarf was. Her family had been destitute, something that didn’t change with her marriage, not for a long time. He and she were both working as they moved away and went through college, first him graduating, then her.

No one knew she didn’t tell the story so justifying not telling it wasn’t necessary. Alice viewed the purple scarf bought in Michigan as a declaration of freedom, an exultation that colors like purple existed. Besides purple, she enjoyed yellows, oranges, greens and blues, but ask her about it and she would tell you, “Purple is queen.”

Besides the color purple, a good deal, like the price on her new top, was almost as beloved as her family, followed by wine drinking, reading, gardening and cats. She exercised in a Family Y class at eight every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

 She was found in the Y parking lot but it was a Thursday morning. Nobody could understand why she was in the Y parking lot on a Thursday morning before dawn. It wasn’t a day for her to be exercising and that was the only reason she went to the Y. Besides being the wrong day, she was lying on the cold asphalt at 5 AM in her favorite purple top, without a coat, in winter.

Studs was the one who found her. He didn’t know her but when he saw her face, he remembered her name was Alice.

Alice was one of the woo-woo girls.

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Stone Ties - An Extract

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Simeon had lived in Norwich since completing his PhD and for the last three years in this old house in Tombland. Norwich was a touchstone for him, to say it was his muse would have embarrassed him, but it suited and inspired him, anchored him to his spiritual and aesthetic roots. A city of duality, sky anchor; stone anchor.

Norwich languished beneath the expansive East Anglian skies that he missed more than any other thing when away from home. Skies that shrank the earth to a mote; that overpowered his senses, that made him reel under their immensity, their protean beauty. Walking on any East Anglian beach transported him to a place of infinite horizons. Land became an incidental, a mere vantage point, something to be resented in its feeble attempt to anchor and restrain. Once walking from Southwold to Walberswick he’d reached a particular point on the shore, back to the sea, a point that overlooked the expanse of the common and beyond it the gentle leafy undulations of the Suffolk countryside running down to Blythburgh. The sky had overwhelmed him wholly, left him standing in dumb incredulity. No words, no words, just……sky. At once subjugation and belonging, the place claimed him.

That day he’d picked up a small heart-shaped flint, pierced with a tiny hole, and put it in his pocket. A thumb-stone, both soothing and catalytic. A talismanic hag-stone to conjure up this place. Stone figured significantly in Simeon’s world. Its beauties and contradictions had held him, steered him for much of his life. Wonderment at the case-hardened sheen of razor-sharp flint fragments strewn on the Suffolk beaches of his childhood had not diminished, but had nurtured a consuming passion for stone in all its manifestations. Its vocabulary delighted him; knapping, flushwork, coffering, quoin; evocative words of resonance and beauty. Stone spoke to him; it formed a geological synapse between him and the earth, pulsing and vital. It provided the bedrock and the foundation in its raw state, it succumbed to the chisel and mallet to fashion the city. And Norwich rose in walls of stone.

The Bridewell, with its northern aspect forbiddingly faced in black knapped flint had confronted the city’s citizens and elements alike since the late 14th century. He often caressed its walls with his fingertips, glassy and uncompromising, with the sheen of oil on pitch.  Churches, cobbled sets, city walls, cloisters peopled with animate carved roof bosses; Norwich’s rich vocabulary was one of stone, and Simeon was fluent. He knew its colloquialisms, understood its nuances, and sensed its timeless foundations. Tombland, the place where he lived, even the name was redolent of stone’s ability to enclose and confine. Stone anchor.


 

This extract is taken from Stone Ties by Steven Hobbs. If you'd like to read more, or purchase a copy on Kindle, please click on the following link - Stone Ties

To read reviews of Steven's work, please click - Steven Hobbs Reviews

© Steven Hobbs 2014. All rights reserved.

Copyright

© Steven Hobbs 2014

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