Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deep in the Swamps

There were a lot of things Marie hated about living in the Louisiana swamps. Slithering snakes, Spanish moss, angry gators, the heat. It was like the earth was in overdrive here, pulsing with life gone wrong, and everywhere you turned there were ample creatures and critters with overgrown vegetation creeping its way into your space. Marie would get sick of it and would slam the shutters on her little shack as hard as she could, once even knocking one off its hinges, but soon the heat would be sweltering and she’d give up, opening the windows to the world lurking outside again.

At night, her ears would ring with the sounds of frogs that wouldn’t shut up, leaving her brain echoing in-out-in-out-in-out. Sometimes she didn’t think she’d make it through the night. She’d hear an odd splash in murky waters outside, and her imagination would run wild with the possibilities of what creeped just feet away from her sleeping bag.

It hadn’t always been like this. Once, she’d had a home that was free from such horrors. It was far from perfect, but she’d had a real bed and air conditioning at night and food that hadn’t come out of cans.  Pizza.  She missed pizza. That was back before her Mom had started dating Bud and he’d begun making up lies about Marie. Marie- an honor roll student who never got in trouble.

Sure, she’d smoked a Marlboro now and then, maybe chugged a few Coors, but she never would’ve dreamed of doing all those things he’d told her Mom. When she’d been confronted, her cheeks burned in shame, she felt the heat in her ears like burning nickels, and she hadn’t even been able to think of a response. Instead, she’d packed her bags and left. If her Mom wanted to believe that alcoholic loser over her – her own daughter – so be it. She didn’t need that crap.

Three months later, she was doing just fine on her own. Ever crafty, she’d brought plenty of sewing supplies, and she’d been able to sell enough hand sewn fur purses at the local farmer’s market to keep herself in food. She caught the rat-like nutria to eat initially (their flavor reminiscent of turkey – and at first the taste had made her long for Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s house – but hundreds of nutria later she was over that), and then realized she could use the pelts. They were tricky to skin, but Marie hadn’t let that stop her. She had to do all her sewing in the heat of the day, since she had no electricity, and she had to be careful with her little flashlight (batteries were expensive after all), but it gave her something pleasing to do with her hands. She liked the feeling of being productive. And she liked listening to the songbirds while she worked, her favorite being the reaoo-reeyee call of the yellow-throated vireo. When she saved up enough money, she imagined that she’d splurge on a huge bag of mixed birdseed – little seeds and husks of all types – and she’d find some scrap wood and craft a little feeder to hang from the old Sycamore tree. Marie daydreamed that the little warblers would grow to trust her, that they’d come closer and closer – drawn to the irresistible seed she provided – and that one day they’d perch on her hands to eat. Their delicate feet would clasp around her fingers as they nibbled and she’d learn to croon their song to them in a mutual friendship. Because she wasn’t going to find friendship anywhere else the way things were going.

This piece is linked with The Red Dress Club who provided the writing prompt:

The most frequent advice I come across for amateur writers is, "Write what you know."
"What you know" doesn't necessarily always mean "your comfort zone." For this week, take what you know out of your comfort zone. Try a new genre, a new time period, a geography you've only dreamed of, fantasy or historical instead of contemporary fiction, try the male POV if you usually write women. Or vice versa.
Switch it up. See where it takes you.

I liked this prompt because I like to travel elsewhere when I do the fiction posts, and I frequently do a couple of google searches to provide details on a subject I don't know.  I think it's more fun if I get to go somewhere new through my writing. 

24 comments:

Michelle said...

Great job!

texwisgirl said...

another great scene-setting romp - even if it is in muck-boots and waders... :)

Jill said...

What a great story, Lisa. I would love to read more!

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Wow! What a great story! Great job!

missing moments said...

Great writing Lisa ... I could feel myself in her place.

Farmchick said...

Excellent...write more!

Valerie said...

One thing I love about writing on a subject I don't know much about is doing the research. You sure did yours with this one, because I really get a sense of that swamp. Great writing Lisa-I loved this!!

CDG @ Move Over Mary Poppins! said...

Not only did you get out of your comfort zone, you got out of mine, too!

The choking sense of atmosphere is great, but I'm wondering about the era?

It has a kind of vintagey feel...

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

I can tell you do some research before writing.... great work, Lisa!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Interesting piece of writing -- barbara

Ginny said...

So are you writing about things you know with this story?

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Do nutria taste like turkey? Wonderful! I love your tales!

Melodie said...

OK, I really need to know the rest of this story! I hope you will write more!

A Quiet Corner said...

Great work, Baby Girl! Sometimes, I feel like her...:)JP

Leontien said...

see if you ever would write a book i would buy it! not even buy it i would make you sign it too so i could tell my (hopefully soon to be) kids about this great lady writer that i know! ha!

Thanks
Leontien

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Wow! This is great! I didn't want it to end. Wonderful job!

Debra Ann Elliott said...

I don't know what to say, except wow! You wrapped me up in the scene. Great job!

le Chef said...

I just read about your pets. All of them. I used to live in Florida, in the swamps, and this post sang of my time there. I even had an army of animals, including a rooster named Tom Jones, with a hen named Elvis. I am utterly in love with your blog. I. Adore. It. And your home? From what I can see ... your a long lost twin.
You lady, are awesome!

Galit Breen said...

This poor girl! I hope that she ends up okay!

Lines like these -she felt the heat in her ears like burning nickels- are perfectly descriptive!

Lex the mom said...

I love it when I read & feel like I'm there, wherever there is. The details you write provide such a vivid image of the swamp, of Marie's position in life & her home.

I think my favorite line is this one "...she felt the heat in her ears like burning nickels...". Those are the kinds of things that make me happiest when I read. It is a great piece of work. I really enjoyed it!

(everywhere I'm commenting & using that last bit - so not meaning to be repetitive, but I so mean it!!)

Kim said...

This was such a unique post. I enjoyed all the details, especially that her dream was to save enough to buy a bag of birdseed.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

Uhm, you lost me at the rat-like nutria. But you know I'm a really picky eater. ;) Blech.

I loved the detail in the description. And how much I could tell you put into this piece.

The Drama Mama said...

I like to go new places through my writing too. I loved this, and having a similar story, I can relate to your MC too. I want to know what happens to her.

K Pugliano said...

I could hear the frog chirping and the feel the sweltering heat! Great descriptions...I hope she makes it out of there!