Monday, November 8, 2010

No Visuals

On my drive home from CWC last night, I started thinking about the exercise you can do where you write something without using visual description. It made me think about someone I saw recently who is both blind and deaf. What would that be like? How does the world work if you can't see it or hear it? When I got home, I started writing a story.

Here's the first chunk of my rough draft:

He felt the vibrations of her steps on the floorboards as she approached. Her shampoo smelled like a flower he had held with petals wrapped around each other tight like a secret. The smell of hot pavement came from her shoes, stale coffee wrapped around her, combined with the lingering aroma of bleach. Best of all, underneath it all, was the natural smell of her. Her skin smelled the way honey tasted, sweet and smooth on the tongue.

When she came close enough, she reached out and lifted his hand. She touched his fingers to her nose and then to her hair, which was short and coarse under his palm. This was her hello, to let him know she was there. Her name, S-A-N-D-Y, was an abstract concept to him. But her smell, and the coarseness of her hair, these were the ways he knew her.

She cupped her hand in his and signed against his palm. Her hands, so rough, were always gentle when she touched him. The signs were familiar, but he could not remember what they meant. It was hard to remember meanings. It always had been for him. Sometimes, he did not remember the letters to his name, B-R-Y-A-N. Letters tended to run away from his brain, leaving him grasping at nothing, like trying to catch the water in his bath. Numbers were the same. Slippery, slimey things. A while back, it had been his birthday. Someone had signed “32” into his hand over and over until he realized that was his age.

He did not have to wonder for long what S-A-N-D-Y's signs meant. She helped him into his wheelchair and pushed him outside. Summer's heat burned down on him, pulling sweat to his skin the moment they went through the doors. He liked the heat after the chilly air of the center. The heat was what told him he was moving, going somewhere, instead of day after day after day of cold air that smelled like bleach, plastic, paper, urine, and all the other chemicals that went along with people who couldn't take care of themselves.

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