“Sleeping Naked”: snippet #2

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Image courtesy of LoboStudioHamburg via Pixabay.com

A good friend wrote me yesterday and shared this thought on perfectionism from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life… Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness…

This reminder came at the perfect time, as I am currently wrapping up another season of journal-submission-frenzy. That’s when we writers offer up our fiction and poetry to the journal gods (disguised as fiction and poetry editors) and we pray they deem them worthy, these bundles of words we’ve worked and wrenched and polished and punished. Ah, perfect, we think as we hit “submit.”

But is it perfect? Or, can we wring the life out of our words with so much attention focused on making each one perfect.

I’ve said before, it’s humbling to look back on my writing from years ago. That’s another kind of writerly distance. They’re far from perfect, but old stories give us a window through which to look at our old selves.

So, without editing it, I’ll provide snippet #2 of an old short story of mine, “Sleeping Naked,” that was published in Carve Magazine years ago. (If you missed the start of the story, here’s snippet #1.)

When we last met these characters–the mother, you, in this second-person point of view, and pre-teen daughter, Cheryl–you have come home to find Cheryl is missing.

You think about what you should do, where she could be. You think about taking  steps toward finding out, but instead you fix yourself a drink. (Hey, nobody’s perfect!) And you really do expect your missing daughter to come through the door any minute now…

Snippet #2 from “Sleeping Naked” by Rebecca Moon Ruark:

Maybe Cheryl’s being held up by your mother’s incessant gossip. It wouldn’t be the first time. Your mother has no idea what it’s like to raise a child in the nineties, all the nuts out there. You touch the goose bumps on your forearms. It’s getting cold out on the porch so you open the sliding glass door and go back to the living room. “God,” you whisper more to yourself than to Him, but still it startles you because you haven’t so much as said his name since your wedding, “please let her be there.” No Cheryl. You should pick up the phone to call your mom, but it’s too late, so you pick up your drink again and walk down the hallway to her room. You say your prayer. “Let her be there, let her be there,” like you’re some kind of magician. She isn’t in there, in her room. You rest your head in your hands for a minute, sitting on her bed, looking at her matching pink and purple comforter and pillow shams that really need a washing. The whole room, in fact, needs to be cleaned. “Shit, please God.” You look around like you half expect her to crawl out from under the bed, but she doesn’t. Part of you wants to scream, like in the movies when the sound is amplified, and the camera, shooting from above, makes everything swirl; then it all goes black. Read more

“Sleeping Naked”: a snippet

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Image courtesy of Pixabay (noskill1343)

Banner day: I’m responding for the first time to the Daily Prompt. Today’s is “snippet.”

So, there you go. Nope, not even a snippet of nudity.

What follows is a snippet of a short story of mine, my first published short story, which appeared in Carve Magazine many moons ago. (So very early aughts–even the second-person point of view.)

It’s funny to look back on a story I wrote while I was still in graduate school, before marriage, before kids, before the first germ of yearning to indicate I might want kids (and the responsibilities that include, often, sleeping clothed and ready as an EMT for the next cry or summons from your progeny).

The protagonist in this story–she is no heroine–is in a stage of life I didn’t know when writing this piece. (I’ve discussed before my penchant for writerly distance.) She has been married; she is the mother of a pre-teen named Cheryl; she has seen her body and spirit morph to become “mother.”

Until, one day, she arrives home to find that her daughter is gone.

And so, a snippet from “Sleeping Naked” by Rebecca Moon Ruark:

You never thought to make a deal that required her to be in the house by eleven, to be home from her friend Julie’s or your sister Judy’s place down the street. You’re surprised she’s not there. She’s always in the living room, six inches away from the television screen, which casts a blue hue onto her face, when you pull into the drive around ten-thirty after your shift at Lubrizol. Tonight you stopped at the Claridon Tavern before returning to your two-bedroom split-level in the allotments. You had two glasses of Chardonnay, and after, you left your old rusted-out Mustang parked on the street before walking the five blocks home. You were smart not to take any chances and drive it, you think, as you rest your head on the doorjamb. Ever since you dumped the town’s deputy officer, Steve, he’s been eager to land you in the holding cell for something, anything. Read more