Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

SUB: "Red Clay" (Re: PROMPTS July 8,2006)

Expand Messages
  • Jillian
    ... (Note - I m going with the above prompt, free-writing this right into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.) Knowing Red Clay The rains crept
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 8, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
      <sorrygnat@...> wrote:

      > Knowing the red clay


      (Note - I'm going with the above prompt, free-writing this right
      into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.)

      Knowing Red Clay


      The rains crept into the Carolinas early Sunday morning and stayed
      for fourteen days. Not just any old rain, mind you, but rain that
      hammered on our tin roof as if it wanted to beat us into submission.
      Our house was a tough little place, built on a massive hill of red
      clay that overlooked an oak-studded valley below. The house on the
      clay hill had withstood storms aplenty over the years - a hundred
      and thirty-one years to be exact - and though the foundation bucked
      in some places and sank in others, the house itself remained solid
      and provided safety and shelter for six generations of Taylors all
      during that time. That was, until the fourteen-day rain came.

      On the fourth morning of rain, I stood out on the porch, watching
      the chickens wander the yard. Torn between wanting shelter and
      wanting to eat, the chickens ran back and forth on the lawn. Their
      little yellow feet slapped through dark puddles in the grass.
      Chickens don't like the rain. They looked as dejected as I felt -
      their normally pristine white feathers dripped with red mud. I
      contemplated my drive to work and dreaded the twelve mile long road
      that led into town. The clay hills had begun to shed their first
      layer of soil, painting the roads orange. Not far from our house lay
      the swamp. It surrounded the banks of Fishing Creek, which I figured
      must have reached flood stage by now. If it flooded, I wouldn't be
      going to work any time soon. Ash Road is the only road into town.

      The bridge that crossed Fishing Creek was known by us locals as 'Cry
      Baby Bridge,' so named after the story of a young mother and child
      swept from it during a flash flood. Legend has it that on certain
      summer nights, you could hear the baby cry or sometimes the woman
      calling out her child's name in the darkness. I could easily picture
      my Jeep being overcome by the creek's waters, pulling me over the
      edge and burying me in red clay somewhere far downstream. I shook
      off the thought and decided that I'd call in to work. No sense in
      risking it. No job is worth one's life, and I certainly didn't want
      to become a permanent part of local legend.

      The rain became a curtain of water. Individual drops were no longer
      visible. Rather, they formed long silvery strings that seemed to
      bind red earth to churning, phlegm-colored sky. I handed up sheets
      of tin to my husband, perched high up on the barn roof. He hung on,
      despite the battering of the storm and the slick tin. He hammered
      the sheets into place, one by one. It took us all day. While he
      worked, I studied the trees on the hillside. There were forty of
      these ancient oak trees, some neary eighty feet tall. On sunny days,
      I liked to walk beneath them in the shade, always looking up. It
      felt like a holy place, consecrated with wildflowers and dappled
      sunlight instead of candles and gold. The oaks were massive pillars
      in nature's cathedral, protecting me, protecting the house and the
      hillside. That day, however, the oaks loomed. Would they topple
      over? Already the rain ate away at the hillside; rivulets of water
      cut deep, venous ruts into the clay. There had to be loosened roots.
      One tree seemed to be leaning more than it used to.

      I pointed it out to my husband.

      He glanced at it and shook his head. "That tree's been like that
      forever. It just growed that way, tryin' to reach the sun."

      Of course he didn't believe me. He always said I worry too much.

      The barn, nestled in an area we called the 'Bottoms' at the base of
      the red clay hill, bravely bore the brunt of the rain. Near the
      front doors the goats shivered, terrified. They remained quiet,
      their wise eyes focused on the puddles merging amoeba-like and
      forming a small lake. Goats don't like water, either. Unlike the
      chickens, they chose shelter over food.

      By noon, the water was ankle deep and threatened to flow into the
      barn. The goats knew what was coming, even if we didn't. Maybe even
      then they heard the hill groan from deep within, struggling to bear
      the pressure of tons of extra water seeping in. Maybe they heard the
      snapping and cracking of two-hundred-year-old roots. Drenched
      through my raincoat, I stared at the trees and told my husband that
      I wanted to go back into the house.

      Night came and with the help of a glass of whiskey, I slept through
      the steady hiss of rain. In the pre-dawn hours of the fifth day of
      rain, I heard the house moan, almost a human sound that brought me
      instantly awake. The smell of mold and wet things filled the house.
      I got up to check out and see if the roof leaked again. I crept
      through the kitchen, silent. Outside, thunder rolled and occasional
      flashes of lightning backlit the looming oaks. I drew my robe tight
      around me and went to the back of the house, into the many-windowed
      section I called the 'Observation Room.' It overlooked the barn and
      the base of the oak forest on the hillside. Oddly enough I smelled
      the ocean - a salty, briny scent that should have been impossible
      three hundred miles inland. Lightning strobe-flashed on the bobbing
      limbs of the oaks, silvery leaves waving at me as if they wanted to
      get my attention. Well, they had it.

      Maybe they were trying to warn me, waving frantically like they
      were.

      I should have listened to the trees and the house and trusted my
      wise goats. The house stopped groaning by the time I decided to go
      back to bed. Old houses creak and groan all the time, I told myself.
      That's all it was. Nine more restless nights would pass before it
      would begin to speak to me again, and when it did, there would be no
      mistaking its message. By then, the town had flooded and there was
      no point in going to work anymore. Sour is the fruit of global
      warming.

      At noon on the fourteenth day of rain, I counted the fifth fallen
      oak tree. One of the trees had fallen beside the barn, killing one
      of the goats. Our poor Tillie. Part of her red and white patched
      body was still visible, crushed beneath several tons of oak tree.
      She liked to rub her head against my leg. A "goat-hug," as my
      husband called it. My throat swelled shut with tears as I fought the
      memory of her slick coat under my fingers, absently scratching her
      behind one of her horns, as she always liked. The tree had been one
      of the big ones, a water oak with a trunk four feet thick.

      More trees toppled as the day wore on. A loblolly pine nearly
      seventy feet tall now leaned closer to the house and we had no doubt
      that when it fell, it would cut the house in half. Rain soaked
      everything, permeating everything, even my dreams. I couldn't
      remember what the world outside sounded like without the incessant
      thrum of rain. I'd forgotten the blueness of a cloudless sky. In the
      kitchen, I fixed a pot of coffee and hated the water I poured into
      the machine.

      My husband and son were out by the barn, sawing the fallen trees
      into logs to be split later. They never heard the house groan, but I
      did. The first dull rumble came after I sat down at the table and
      sipped my coffee.

      The sound of a sliding hill is akin to a tornado, which in turn,
      sounds like a freight train. That's what I think of when I remember
      it. The insidious, cancerous water dug at the foundation for two
      solid weeks. The hill hemorrhaged red mud. Mud and blood would
      forever be synonymous in my mind. I never even had a chance to put
      on my shoes.

      The wood floor beneath my feet buckled upward and suddenly there was
      a brick pillar in the middle of my kitchen. I grabbed the counter
      and hung on, dazed at the sight of the trees outside.

      They moved.

      For a moment, I lost touch with what was real. The trees were
      walking by the window. Fed up with the rain, they'd decided to pull
      up their roots and head to drier pastures. But the trees weren't
      moving. The house was. I let go of the counter and stupidly turned
      to look toward the windows in the Observation Room. The barn rushed
      toward me as the house rode a tide of red clay mud. Oaks fell like
      dominoes before the force of it. Thunder boomed overhead, but then I
      realized it wasn't thunder. The house rolled and turned, moaning and
      screaming as walls snapped and blew inward. Flung against the wall,
      I didn't bother to scream when I saw the roof split open like a
      rotten egg and red mud flowed in. The cool wetness of it chilled my
      skin. What was the pointof screaming? Impending death brings a
      strange calmness with it. The house fell apart around me.

      While my eyes were closed, I dreamed of rain and crushing red clay.
      When I opened my eyes, I saw broken trees and a parting in the soupy
      clouds. I wanted to exclaim in delight but I found I couldn't speak.
      It wasn't just the mud filling my mouth, as I managed to spit that
      out. It was the long, thin piece of wood that pierced through my
      ribcage and the tender lung beneath. Each shallow breath cut me like
      a scythe. I wanted to call out for my husband and son, but the words
      wouldn't come.

      I laid there, trapped in the mud, pinned like a biology specimen and
      cursed God for allowing me to wake up just in time to watch myself
      die. The rain had stopped. I suppose that was a blessing of sorts.
      The forest - or what remained of it - was quiet. The quiet, perhaps,
      was the worst thing of all. The quiet meant that my husband and son
      were gone. They'd been at the base of the hill when the house fell.
      I closed my eyes and wept, making rain of my own. I kept them closed
      until someone pried up one of my eyelids and shone a flashlight into
      it.

      Red clay mud stains you in such a way that it can never be erased. I
      still find it on my shoes even though I no longer live in the
      Carolinas. My husband and son and all the wise goats were claimed on
      the fourteenth day of rain. Knowing the red clay like I do, I
      managed to find it again in the deserts of Arizona. Out here, the
      clay is dry and when the winds come, it becomes red dust. The dust
      is harmless, but then again, it isn't. It gathers on the windowsill
      and in my hair. It always seeks me out, no matter where I go to
      avoid it. It forms shapes on the window pane, showing me my
      husband's face, my son's face.

      I can't seem to wash it out, no matter how hard I try.
    • Jillian
      ... (Note - I m going with the above prompt, free-writing this right into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.) Knowing Red Clay The rains crept
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 8, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
        <sorrygnat@...> wrote:

        > Knowing the red clay


        (Note - I'm going with the above prompt, free-writing this right
        into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.)

        Knowing Red Clay


        The rains crept into the Carolinas early Sunday morning and stayed
        for fourteen days. Not just any old rain, mind you, but rain that
        hammered on our tin roof as if it wanted to beat us into submission.
        Our house was a tough little place, built on a massive hill of red
        clay that overlooked an oak-studded valley below. The house on the
        clay hill had withstood storms aplenty over the years - a hundred
        and thirty-one years to be exact - and though the foundation bucked
        in some places and sank in others, the house itself remained solid
        and provided safety and shelter for six generations of Taylors all
        during that time. That was, until the fourteen-day rain came.

        On the fourth morning of rain, I stood out on the porch, watching
        the chickens wander the yard. Torn between wanting shelter and
        wanting to eat, the chickens ran back and forth on the lawn. Their
        little yellow feet slapped through dark puddles in the grass.
        Chickens don't like the rain. They looked as dejected as I felt -
        their normally pristine white feathers dripped with red mud. I
        contemplated my drive to work and dreaded the twelve mile long road
        that led into town. The clay hills had begun to shed their first
        layer of soil, painting the roads orange. Not far from our house lay
        the swamp. It surrounded the banks of Fishing Creek, which I figured
        must have reached flood stage by now. If it flooded, I wouldn't be
        going to work any time soon. Ash Road is the only road into town.

        The bridge that crossed Fishing Creek was known by us locals as 'Cry
        Baby Bridge,' so named after the story of a young mother and child
        swept from it during a flash flood. Legend has it that on certain
        summer nights, you could hear the baby cry or sometimes the woman
        calling out her child's name in the darkness. I could easily picture
        my Jeep being overcome by the creek's waters, pulling me over the
        edge and burying me in red clay somewhere far downstream. I shook
        off the thought and decided that I'd call in to work. No sense in
        risking it. No job is worth one's life, and I certainly didn't want
        to become a permanent part of local legend.

        The rain became a curtain of water. Individual drops were no longer
        visible. Rather, they formed long silvery strings that seemed to
        bind red earth to churning, phlegm-colored sky. I handed up sheets
        of tin to my husband, perched high up on the barn roof. He hung on,
        despite the battering of the storm and the slick tin. He hammered
        the sheets into place, one by one. It took us all day. While he
        worked, I studied the trees on the hillside. There were forty of
        these ancient oak trees, some neary eighty feet tall. On sunny days,
        I liked to walk beneath them in the shade, always looking up. It
        felt like a holy place, consecrated with wildflowers and dappled
        sunlight instead of candles and gold. The oaks were massive pillars
        in nature's cathedral, protecting me, protecting the house and the
        hillside. That day, however, the oaks loomed. Would they topple
        over? Already the rain ate away at the hillside; rivulets of water
        cut deep, venous ruts into the clay. There had to be loosened roots.
        One tree seemed to be leaning more than it used to.

        I pointed it out to my husband.

        He glanced at it and shook his head. "That tree's been like that
        forever. It just growed that way, tryin' to reach the sun."

        Of course he didn't believe me. He always said I worry too much.

        The barn, nestled in an area we called the 'Bottoms' at the base of
        the red clay hill, bravely bore the brunt of the rain. Near the
        front doors the goats shivered, terrified. They remained quiet,
        their wise eyes focused on the puddles merging amoeba-like and
        forming a small lake. Goats don't like water, either. Unlike the
        chickens, they chose shelter over food.

        By noon, the water was ankle deep and threatened to flow into the
        barn. The goats knew what was coming, even if we didn't. Maybe even
        then they heard the hill groan from deep within, struggling to bear
        the pressure of tons of extra water seeping in. Maybe they heard the
        snapping and cracking of two-hundred-year-old roots. Drenched
        through my raincoat, I stared at the trees and told my husband that
        I wanted to go back into the house.

        Night came and with the help of a glass of whiskey, I slept through
        the steady hiss of rain. In the pre-dawn hours of the fifth day of
        rain, I heard the house moan, almost a human sound that brought me
        instantly awake. The smell of mold and wet things filled the house.
        I got up to check out and see if the roof leaked again. I crept
        through the kitchen, silent. Outside, thunder rolled and occasional
        flashes of lightning backlit the looming oaks. I drew my robe tight
        around me and went to the back of the house, into the many-windowed
        section I called the 'Observation Room.' It overlooked the barn and
        the base of the oak forest on the hillside. Oddly enough I smelled
        the ocean - a salty, briny scent that should have been impossible
        three hundred miles inland. Lightning strobe-flashed on the bobbing
        limbs of the oaks, silvery leaves waving at me as if they wanted to
        get my attention. Well, they had it.

        Maybe they were trying to warn me, waving frantically like they
        were.

        I should have listened to the trees and the house and trusted my
        wise goats. The house stopped groaning by the time I decided to go
        back to bed. Old houses creak and groan all the time, I told myself.
        That's all it was. Nine more restless nights would pass before it
        would begin to speak to me again, and when it did, there would be no
        mistaking its message. By then, the town had flooded and there was
        no point in going to work anymore. Sour is the fruit of global
        warming.

        At noon on the fourteenth day of rain, I counted the fifth fallen
        oak tree. One of the trees had fallen beside the barn, killing one
        of the goats. Our poor Tillie. Part of her red and white patched
        body was still visible, crushed beneath several tons of oak tree.
        She liked to rub her head against my leg. A "goat-hug," as my
        husband called it. My throat swelled shut with tears as I fought the
        memory of her slick coat under my fingers, absently scratching her
        behind one of her horns, as she always liked. The tree had been one
        of the big ones, a water oak with a trunk four feet thick.

        More trees toppled as the day wore on. A loblolly pine nearly
        seventy feet tall now leaned closer to the house and we had no doubt
        that when it fell, it would cut the house in half. Rain soaked
        everything, permeating everything, even my dreams. I couldn't
        remember what the world outside sounded like without the incessant
        thrum of rain. I'd forgotten the blueness of a cloudless sky. In the
        kitchen, I fixed a pot of coffee and hated the water I poured into
        the machine.

        My husband and son were out by the barn, sawing the fallen trees
        into logs to be split later. They never heard the house groan, but I
        did. The first dull rumble came after I sat down at the table and
        sipped my coffee.

        The sound of a sliding hill is akin to a tornado, which in turn,
        sounds like a freight train. That's what I think of when I remember
        it. The insidious, cancerous water dug at the foundation for two
        solid weeks. The hill hemorrhaged red mud. Mud and blood would
        forever be synonymous in my mind. I never even had a chance to put
        on my shoes.

        The wood floor beneath my feet buckled upward and suddenly there was
        a brick pillar in the middle of my kitchen. I grabbed the counter
        and hung on, dazed at the sight of the trees outside.

        They moved.

        For a moment, I lost touch with what was real. The trees were
        walking by the window. Fed up with the rain, they'd decided to pull
        up their roots and head to drier pastures. But the trees weren't
        moving. The house was. I let go of the counter and stupidly turned
        to look toward the windows in the Observation Room. The barn rushed
        toward me as the house rode a tide of red clay mud. Oaks fell like
        dominoes before the force of it. Thunder boomed overhead, but then I
        realized it wasn't thunder. The house rolled and turned, moaning and
        screaming as walls snapped and blew inward. Flung against the wall,
        I didn't bother to scream when I saw the roof split open like a
        rotten egg and red mud flowed in. The cool wetness of it chilled my
        skin. What was the pointof screaming? Impending death brings a
        strange calmness with it. The house fell apart around me.

        While my eyes were closed, I dreamed of rain and crushing red clay.
        When I opened my eyes, I saw broken trees and a parting in the soupy
        clouds. I wanted to exclaim in delight but I found I couldn't speak.
        It wasn't just the mud filling my mouth, as I managed to spit that
        out. It was the long, thin piece of wood that pierced through my
        ribcage and the tender lung beneath. Each shallow breath cut me like
        a scythe. I wanted to call out for my husband and son, but the words
        wouldn't come.

        I laid there, trapped in the mud, pinned like a biology specimen and
        cursed God for allowing me to wake up just in time to watch myself
        die. The rain had stopped. I suppose that was a blessing of sorts.
        The forest - or what remained of it - was quiet. The quiet, perhaps,
        was the worst thing of all. The quiet meant that my husband and son
        were gone. They'd been at the base of the hill when the house fell.
        I closed my eyes and wept, making rain of my own. I kept them closed
        until someone pried up one of my eyelids and shone a flashlight into
        it.

        Red clay mud stains you in such a way that it can never be erased. I
        still find it on my shoes even though I no longer live in the
        Carolinas. My husband and son and all the wise goats were claimed on
        the fourteenth day of rain. Knowing the red clay like I do, I
        managed to find it again in the deserts of Arizona. Out here, the
        clay is dry and when the winds come, it becomes red dust. The dust
        is harmless, but then again, it isn't. It gathers on the windowsill
        and in my hair. It always seeks me out, no matter where I go to
        avoid it. It forms shapes on the window pane, showing me my
        husband's face, my son's face.

        I can't seem to wash it out, no matter how hard I try.
      • Esther Bradley-DeTally
        - WOW, that was compelling, fabulous, excellent; you really write well; what a cliff hanger; some of the lines sour are the fruits of global warming, and
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 8, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          -

          WOW, that was compelling, fabulous, excellent; you really write
          well; what a cliff hanger; some of the lines "sour are the fruits of
          global warming," and others fantastic; excellent piece; thanks oh wow


          -- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Jillian" <rainstorm5@...> wrote:
          >
          > --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
          > <sorrygnat@> wrote:
          >
          > > Knowing the red clay
          >
          >
          > (Note - I'm going with the above prompt, free-writing this right
          > into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.)
          >
          > Knowing Red Clay
          >
          >
          > The rains crept into the Carolinas early Sunday morning and stayed
          > for fourteen days. Not just any old rain, mind you, but rain that
          > hammered on our tin roof as if it wanted to beat us into
          submission.
          > Our house was a tough little place, built on a massive hill of red
          > clay that overlooked an oak-studded valley below. The house on the
          > clay hill had withstood storms aplenty over the years - a hundred
          > and thirty-one years to be exact - and though the foundation
          bucked
          > in some places and sank in others, the house itself remained solid
          > and provided safety and shelter for six generations of Taylors all
          > during that time. That was, until the fourteen-day rain came.
          >
          > On the fourth morning of rain, I stood out on the porch, watching
          > the chickens wander the yard. Torn between wanting shelter and
          > wanting to eat, the chickens ran back and forth on the lawn. Their
          > little yellow feet slapped through dark puddles in the grass.
          > Chickens don't like the rain. They looked as dejected as I felt -
          > their normally pristine white feathers dripped with red mud. I
          > contemplated my drive to work and dreaded the twelve mile long
          road
          > that led into town. The clay hills had begun to shed their first
          > layer of soil, painting the roads orange. Not far from our house
          lay
          > the swamp. It surrounded the banks of Fishing Creek, which I
          figured
          > must have reached flood stage by now. If it flooded, I wouldn't be
          > going to work any time soon. Ash Road is the only road into town.
          >
          > The bridge that crossed Fishing Creek was known by us locals
          as 'Cry
          > Baby Bridge,' so named after the story of a young mother and child
          > swept from it during a flash flood. Legend has it that on certain
          > summer nights, you could hear the baby cry or sometimes the woman
          > calling out her child's name in the darkness. I could easily
          picture
          > my Jeep being overcome by the creek's waters, pulling me over the
          > edge and burying me in red clay somewhere far downstream. I shook
          > off the thought and decided that I'd call in to work. No sense in
          > risking it. No job is worth one's life, and I certainly didn't
          want
          > to become a permanent part of local legend.
          >
          > The rain became a curtain of water. Individual drops were no
          longer
          > visible. Rather, they formed long silvery strings that seemed to
          > bind red earth to churning, phlegm-colored sky. I handed up sheets
          > of tin to my husband, perched high up on the barn roof. He hung
          on,
          > despite the battering of the storm and the slick tin. He hammered
          > the sheets into place, one by one. It took us all day. While he
          > worked, I studied the trees on the hillside. There were forty of
          > these ancient oak trees, some neary eighty feet tall. On sunny
          days,
          > I liked to walk beneath them in the shade, always looking up. It
          > felt like a holy place, consecrated with wildflowers and dappled
          > sunlight instead of candles and gold. The oaks were massive
          pillars
          > in nature's cathedral, protecting me, protecting the house and the
          > hillside. That day, however, the oaks loomed. Would they topple
          > over? Already the rain ate away at the hillside; rivulets of water
          > cut deep, venous ruts into the clay. There had to be loosened
          roots.
          > One tree seemed to be leaning more than it used to.
          >
          > I pointed it out to my husband.
          >
          > He glanced at it and shook his head. "That tree's been like that
          > forever. It just growed that way, tryin' to reach the sun."
          >
          > Of course he didn't believe me. He always said I worry too much.
          >
          > The barn, nestled in an area we called the 'Bottoms' at the base
          of
          > the red clay hill, bravely bore the brunt of the rain. Near the
          > front doors the goats shivered, terrified. They remained quiet,
          > their wise eyes focused on the puddles merging amoeba-like and
          > forming a small lake. Goats don't like water, either. Unlike the
          > chickens, they chose shelter over food.
          >
          > By noon, the water was ankle deep and threatened to flow into the
          > barn. The goats knew what was coming, even if we didn't. Maybe
          even
          > then they heard the hill groan from deep within, struggling to
          bear
          > the pressure of tons of extra water seeping in. Maybe they heard
          the
          > snapping and cracking of two-hundred-year-old roots. Drenched
          > through my raincoat, I stared at the trees and told my husband
          that
          > I wanted to go back into the house.
          >
          > Night came and with the help of a glass of whiskey, I slept
          through
          > the steady hiss of rain. In the pre-dawn hours of the fifth day of
          > rain, I heard the house moan, almost a human sound that brought me
          > instantly awake. The smell of mold and wet things filled the
          house.
          > I got up to check out and see if the roof leaked again. I crept
          > through the kitchen, silent. Outside, thunder rolled and
          occasional
          > flashes of lightning backlit the looming oaks. I drew my robe
          tight
          > around me and went to the back of the house, into the many-
          windowed
          > section I called the 'Observation Room.' It overlooked the barn
          and
          > the base of the oak forest on the hillside. Oddly enough I smelled
          > the ocean - a salty, briny scent that should have been impossible
          > three hundred miles inland. Lightning strobe-flashed on the
          bobbing
          > limbs of the oaks, silvery leaves waving at me as if they wanted
          to
          > get my attention. Well, they had it.
          >
          > Maybe they were trying to warn me, waving frantically like they
          > were.
          >
          > I should have listened to the trees and the house and trusted my
          > wise goats. The house stopped groaning by the time I decided to go
          > back to bed. Old houses creak and groan all the time, I told
          myself.
          > That's all it was. Nine more restless nights would pass before it
          > would begin to speak to me again, and when it did, there would be
          no
          > mistaking its message. By then, the town had flooded and there was
          > no point in going to work anymore. Sour is the fruit of global
          > warming.
          >
          > At noon on the fourteenth day of rain, I counted the fifth fallen
          > oak tree. One of the trees had fallen beside the barn, killing one
          > of the goats. Our poor Tillie. Part of her red and white patched
          > body was still visible, crushed beneath several tons of oak tree.
          > She liked to rub her head against my leg. A "goat-hug," as my
          > husband called it. My throat swelled shut with tears as I fought
          the
          > memory of her slick coat under my fingers, absently scratching her
          > behind one of her horns, as she always liked. The tree had been
          one
          > of the big ones, a water oak with a trunk four feet thick.
          >
          > More trees toppled as the day wore on. A loblolly pine nearly
          > seventy feet tall now leaned closer to the house and we had no
          doubt
          > that when it fell, it would cut the house in half. Rain soaked
          > everything, permeating everything, even my dreams. I couldn't
          > remember what the world outside sounded like without the incessant
          > thrum of rain. I'd forgotten the blueness of a cloudless sky. In
          the
          > kitchen, I fixed a pot of coffee and hated the water I poured into
          > the machine.
          >
          > My husband and son were out by the barn, sawing the fallen trees
          > into logs to be split later. They never heard the house groan, but
          I
          > did. The first dull rumble came after I sat down at the table and
          > sipped my coffee.
          >
          > The sound of a sliding hill is akin to a tornado, which in turn,
          > sounds like a freight train. That's what I think of when I
          remember
          > it. The insidious, cancerous water dug at the foundation for two
          > solid weeks. The hill hemorrhaged red mud. Mud and blood would
          > forever be synonymous in my mind. I never even had a chance to put
          > on my shoes.
          >
          > The wood floor beneath my feet buckled upward and suddenly there
          was
          > a brick pillar in the middle of my kitchen. I grabbed the counter
          > and hung on, dazed at the sight of the trees outside.
          >
          > They moved.
          >
          > For a moment, I lost touch with what was real. The trees were
          > walking by the window. Fed up with the rain, they'd decided to
          pull
          > up their roots and head to drier pastures. But the trees weren't
          > moving. The house was. I let go of the counter and stupidly turned
          > to look toward the windows in the Observation Room. The barn
          rushed
          > toward me as the house rode a tide of red clay mud. Oaks fell like
          > dominoes before the force of it. Thunder boomed overhead, but then
          I
          > realized it wasn't thunder. The house rolled and turned, moaning
          and
          > screaming as walls snapped and blew inward. Flung against the
          wall,
          > I didn't bother to scream when I saw the roof split open like a
          > rotten egg and red mud flowed in. The cool wetness of it chilled
          my
          > skin. What was the pointof screaming? Impending death brings a
          > strange calmness with it. The house fell apart around me.
          >
          > While my eyes were closed, I dreamed of rain and crushing red
          clay.
          > When I opened my eyes, I saw broken trees and a parting in the
          soupy
          > clouds. I wanted to exclaim in delight but I found I couldn't
          speak.
          > It wasn't just the mud filling my mouth, as I managed to spit that
          > out. It was the long, thin piece of wood that pierced through my
          > ribcage and the tender lung beneath. Each shallow breath cut me
          like
          > a scythe. I wanted to call out for my husband and son, but the
          words
          > wouldn't come.
          >
          > I laid there, trapped in the mud, pinned like a biology specimen
          and
          > cursed God for allowing me to wake up just in time to watch myself
          > die. The rain had stopped. I suppose that was a blessing of sorts.
          > The forest - or what remained of it - was quiet. The quiet,
          perhaps,
          > was the worst thing of all. The quiet meant that my husband and
          son
          > were gone. They'd been at the base of the hill when the house
          fell.
          > I closed my eyes and wept, making rain of my own. I kept them
          closed
          > until someone pried up one of my eyelids and shone a flashlight
          into
          > it.
          >
          > Red clay mud stains you in such a way that it can never be erased.
          I
          > still find it on my shoes even though I no longer live in the
          > Carolinas. My husband and son and all the wise goats were claimed
          on
          > the fourteenth day of rain. Knowing the red clay like I do, I
          > managed to find it again in the deserts of Arizona. Out here, the
          > clay is dry and when the winds come, it becomes red dust. The dust
          > is harmless, but then again, it isn't. It gathers on the
          windowsill
          > and in my hair. It always seeks me out, no matter where I go to
          > avoid it. It forms shapes on the window pane, showing me my
          > husband's face, my son's face.
          >
          > I can't seem to wash it out, no matter how hard I try.
          >
        • Jeannie Mobley
          Very nice, Jillian. I love your opening line. Lovely, and it really hooked me. Very nice wrap up at the end too, bringing the contrasting yet similar
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 8, 2006
          • 0 Attachment
            Very nice, Jillian. I love your opening line. Lovely, and it really
            hooked me. Very nice wrap up at the end too, bringing the contrasting
            yet similar Arizona clay into the story.

            Jeannie

            Jillian wrote:

            > --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com
            > <mailto:CHPercolator%40yahoogroups.com>, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
            > <sorrygnat@...> wrote:
            >
            > > Knowing the red clay
            >
            > (Note - I'm going with the above prompt, free-writing this right
            > into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.)
            >
            >
            > <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/> | Unsubscribe
            > <mailto:CHPercolator-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>
            > New Message Search
            >
            > Find the message you want faster. Visit your group to try out the
            > improved message search.
            >
            > Share feedback on the new changes to Groups
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJsMDJwMzI2BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzIEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDbmNtb2QEc2xrA2ZkYmNrBHN0aW1lAzExNTI0MTE5MjI-;_ylg=1/SIG=11im36rmb/**http%3a//surveylink.yahoo.com/wix/p1412899.aspx>
            >
            > Recent Activity
            >
            > *
            > 4
            > New Members
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJlcjF0dG1oBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyMzM2MwRncnBzcElkAzE2MDAwMTk5ODcEc2VjA3Z0bARzbGsDdm1icnMEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMg--;_ylg=1/SIG=11nfmtpc7/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/members>
            >
            > Visit Your Group
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJkNTAycWRjBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyMzM2MwRncnBzcElkAzE2MDAwMTk5ODcEc2VjA3Z0bARzbGsDdmdocARzdGltZQMxMTUyNDExOTIy;_ylg=1/SIG=11fj0rk9t/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator>
            >
            > SPONSORED LINKS
            >
            > * Book writing software
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJiOXNoZzRqBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzEEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDc2xtb2QEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMw--;_ylg=1/SIG=19gmo8ck9/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/gads%3ft=ms%26k=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w1=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w2=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w3=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w4=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w5=Writing%2bbook%26w6=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26c=6%26s=158%26g=2%26.sig=CwNPBx1YToeLQgdVa47XDA>
            > * Business writing book
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJiaWRyc2NjBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzIEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDc2xtb2QEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMw--;_ylg=1/SIG=19g8mk80t/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/gads%3ft=ms%26k=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w1=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w2=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w3=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w4=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w5=Writing%2bbook%26w6=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26c=6%26s=158%26g=2%26.sig=givtmOWg4lCmX0OOJPjWLg>
            > * Creative writing book
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJiN3A5ajU3BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzMEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDc2xtb2QEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMw--;_ylg=1/SIG=19g0aj6i2/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/gads%3ft=ms%26k=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w1=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w2=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w3=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w4=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w5=Writing%2bbook%26w6=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26c=6%26s=158%26g=2%26.sig=TYqFCKuybwh-piCWpbEGrw>
            > * Writing and publishing a book
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJiYXNpcmg1BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzQEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDc2xtb2QEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMw--;_ylg=1/SIG=19svfjdj5/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/gads%3ft=ms%26k=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w1=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w2=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w3=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w4=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w5=Writing%2bbook%26w6=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26c=6%26s=158%26g=2%26.sig=9aW68dTgnb2cAYt3Ty6V0w>
            > * Writing book
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJiZmVtaGEzBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzUEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDc2xtb2QEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMw--;_ylg=1/SIG=195k77bs9/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/gads%3ft=ms%26k=Writing%2bbook%26w1=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w2=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w3=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w4=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w5=Writing%2bbook%26w6=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26c=6%26s=158%26g=2%26.sig=QMJnh52DpLpJXleoGUEEPA>
            > * Writing child book
            > <http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylc=X3oDMTJic2FwNnRoBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BF9wAzYEZ3JwSWQDMzIzMzYzBGdycHNwSWQDMTYwMDAxOTk4NwRzZWMDc2xtb2QEc3RpbWUDMTE1MjQxMTkyMw--;_ylg=1/SIG=19d82nd3u/**http%3a//groups.yahoo.com/gads%3ft=ms%26k=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26w1=Book%2bwriting%2bsoftware%26w2=Business%2bwriting%2bbook%26w3=Creative%2bwriting%2bbook%26w4=Writing%2band%2bpublishing%2ba%2bbook%26w5=Writing%2bbook%26w6=Writing%2bchild%2bbook%26c=6%26s=158%26g=2%26.sig=Cv_omp70p9aWLO5_L-Lp9w>
            >
            > .



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • jessica kennedy
            If thjat s free writing thenI imagine your reworked and editted stuff is phenominal. You really made the mud a daunting foe! Jillian
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 8, 2006
            • 0 Attachment
              If thjat's free writing thenI imagine your reworked and editted stuff is phenominal. You really made the mud a daunting foe!

              Jillian <rainstorm5@...> wrote: --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
              <sorrygnat@...> wrote:

              > Knowing the red clay

              (Note - I'm going with the above prompt, free-writing this right
              into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.)

              Knowing Red Clay

              The rains crept into the Carolinas early Sunday morning and stayed
              for fourteen days. Not just any old rain, mind you, but rain that
              hammered on our tin roof as if it wanted to beat us into submission.
              Our house was a tough little place, built on a massive hill of red
              clay that overlooked an oak-studded valley below. The house on the
              clay hill had withstood storms aplenty over the years - a hundred
              and thirty-one years to be exact - and though the foundation bucked
              in some places and sank in others, the house itself remained solid
              and provided safety and shelter for six generations of Taylors all
              during that time. That was, until the fourteen-day rain came.

              On the fourth morning of rain, I stood out on the porch, watching
              the chickens wander the yard. Torn between wanting shelter and
              wanting to eat, the chickens ran back and forth on the lawn. Their
              little yellow feet slapped through dark puddles in the grass.
              Chickens don't like the rain. They looked as dejected as I felt -
              their normally pristine white feathers dripped with red mud. I
              contemplated my drive to work and dreaded the twelve mile long road
              that led into town. The clay hills had begun to shed their first
              layer of soil, painting the roads orange. Not far from our house lay
              the swamp. It surrounded the banks of Fishing Creek, which I figured
              must have reached flood stage by now. If it flooded, I wouldn't be
              going to work any time soon. Ash Road is the only road into town.

              The bridge that crossed Fishing Creek was known by us locals as 'Cry
              Baby Bridge,' so named after the story of a young mother and child
              swept from it during a flash flood. Legend has it that on certain
              summer nights, you could hear the baby cry or sometimes the woman
              calling out her child's name in the darkness. I could easily picture
              my Jeep being overcome by the creek's waters, pulling me over the
              edge and burying me in red clay somewhere far downstream. I shook
              off the thought and decided that I'd call in to work. No sense in
              risking it. No job is worth one's life, and I certainly didn't want
              to become a permanent part of local legend.

              The rain became a curtain of water. Individual drops were no longer
              visible. Rather, they formed long silvery strings that seemed to
              bind red earth to churning, phlegm-colored sky. I handed up sheets
              of tin to my husband, perched high up on the barn roof. He hung on,
              despite the battering of the storm and the slick tin. He hammered
              the sheets into place, one by one. It took us all day. While he
              worked, I studied the trees on the hillside. There were forty of
              these ancient oak trees, some neary eighty feet tall. On sunny days,
              I liked to walk beneath them in the shade, always looking up. It
              felt like a holy place, consecrated with wildflowers and dappled
              sunlight instead of candles and gold. The oaks were massive pillars
              in nature's cathedral, protecting me, protecting the house and the
              hillside. That day, however, the oaks loomed. Would they topple
              over? Already the rain ate away at the hillside; rivulets of water
              cut deep, venous ruts into the clay. There had to be loosened roots.
              One tree seemed to be leaning more than it used to.

              I pointed it out to my husband.

              He glanced at it and shook his head. "That tree's been like that
              forever. It just growed that way, tryin' to reach the sun."

              Of course he didn't believe me. He always said I worry too much.

              The barn, nestled in an area we called the 'Bottoms' at the base of
              the red clay hill, bravely bore the brunt of the rain. Near the
              front doors the goats shivered, terrified. They remained quiet,
              their wise eyes focused on the puddles merging amoeba-like and
              forming a small lake. Goats don't like water, either. Unlike the
              chickens, they chose shelter over food.

              By noon, the water was ankle deep and threatened to flow into the
              barn. The goats knew what was coming, even if we didn't. Maybe even
              then they heard the hill groan from deep within, struggling to bear
              the pressure of tons of extra water seeping in. Maybe they heard the
              snapping and cracking of two-hundred-year-old roots. Drenched
              through my raincoat, I stared at the trees and told my husband that
              I wanted to go back into the house.

              Night came and with the help of a glass of whiskey, I slept through
              the steady hiss of rain. In the pre-dawn hours of the fifth day of
              rain, I heard the house moan, almost a human sound that brought me
              instantly awake. The smell of mold and wet things filled the house.
              I got up to check out and see if the roof leaked again. I crept
              through the kitchen, silent. Outside, thunder rolled and occasional
              flashes of lightning backlit the looming oaks. I drew my robe tight
              around me and went to the back of the house, into the many-windowed
              section I called the 'Observation Room.' It overlooked the barn and
              the base of the oak forest on the hillside. Oddly enough I smelled
              the ocean - a salty, briny scent that should have been impossible
              three hundred miles inland. Lightning strobe-flashed on the bobbing
              limbs of the oaks, silvery leaves waving at me as if they wanted to
              get my attention. Well, they had it.

              Maybe they were trying to warn me, waving frantically like they
              were.

              I should have listened to the trees and the house and trusted my
              wise goats. The house stopped groaning by the time I decided to go
              back to bed. Old houses creak and groan all the time, I told myself.
              That's all it was. Nine more restless nights would pass before it
              would begin to speak to me again, and when it did, there would be no
              mistaking its message. By then, the town had flooded and there was
              no point in going to work anymore. Sour is the fruit of global
              warming.

              At noon on the fourteenth day of rain, I counted the fifth fallen
              oak tree. One of the trees had fallen beside the barn, killing one
              of the goats. Our poor Tillie. Part of her red and white patched
              body was still visible, crushed beneath several tons of oak tree.
              She liked to rub her head against my leg. A "goat-hug," as my
              husband called it. My throat swelled shut with tears as I fought the
              memory of her slick coat under my fingers, absently scratching her
              behind one of her horns, as she always liked. The tree had been one
              of the big ones, a water oak with a trunk four feet thick.

              More trees toppled as the day wore on. A loblolly pine nearly
              seventy feet tall now leaned closer to the house and we had no doubt
              that when it fell, it would cut the house in half. Rain soaked
              everything, permeating everything, even my dreams. I couldn't
              remember what the world outside sounded like without the incessant
              thrum of rain. I'd forgotten the blueness of a cloudless sky. In the
              kitchen, I fixed a pot of coffee and hated the water I poured into
              the machine.

              My husband and son were out by the barn, sawing the fallen trees
              into logs to be split later. They never heard the house groan, but I
              did. The first dull rumble came after I sat down at the table and
              sipped my coffee.

              The sound of a sliding hill is akin to a tornado, which in turn,
              sounds like a freight train. That's what I think of when I remember
              it. The insidious, cancerous water dug at the foundation for two
              solid weeks. The hill hemorrhaged red mud. Mud and blood would
              forever be synonymous in my mind. I never even had a chance to put
              on my shoes.

              The wood floor beneath my feet buckled upward and suddenly there was
              a brick pillar in the middle of my kitchen. I grabbed the counter
              and hung on, dazed at the sight of the trees outside.

              They moved.

              For a moment, I lost touch with what was real. The trees were
              walking by the window. Fed up with the rain, they'd decided to pull
              up their roots and head to drier pastures. But the trees weren't
              moving. The house was. I let go of the counter and stupidly turned
              to look toward the windows in the Observation Room. The barn rushed
              toward me as the house rode a tide of red clay mud. Oaks fell like
              dominoes before the force of it. Thunder boomed overhead, but then I
              realized it wasn't thunder. The house rolled and turned, moaning and
              screaming as walls snapped and blew inward. Flung against the wall,
              I didn't bother to scream when I saw the roof split open like a
              rotten egg and red mud flowed in. The cool wetness of it chilled my
              skin. What was the pointof screaming? Impending death brings a
              strange calmness with it. The house fell apart around me.

              While my eyes were closed, I dreamed of rain and crushing red clay.
              When I opened my eyes, I saw broken trees and a parting in the soupy
              clouds. I wanted to exclaim in delight but I found I couldn't speak.
              It wasn't just the mud filling my mouth, as I managed to spit that
              out. It was the long, thin piece of wood that pierced through my
              ribcage and the tender lung beneath. Each shallow breath cut me like
              a scythe. I wanted to call out for my husband and son, but the words
              wouldn't come.

              I laid there, trapped in the mud, pinned like a biology specimen and
              cursed God for allowing me to wake up just in time to watch myself
              die. The rain had stopped. I suppose that was a blessing of sorts.
              The forest - or what remained of it - was quiet. The quiet, perhaps,
              was the worst thing of all. The quiet meant that my husband and son
              were gone. They'd been at the base of the hill when the house fell.
              I closed my eyes and wept, making rain of my own. I kept them closed
              until someone pried up one of my eyelids and shone a flashlight into
              it.

              Red clay mud stains you in such a way that it can never be erased. I
              still find it on my shoes even though I no longer live in the
              Carolinas. My husband and son and all the wise goats were claimed on
              the fourteenth day of rain. Knowing the red clay like I do, I
              managed to find it again in the deserts of Arizona. Out here, the
              clay is dry and when the winds come, it becomes red dust. The dust
              is harmless, but then again, it isn't. It gathers on the windowsill
              and in my hair. It always seeks me out, no matter where I go to
              avoid it. It forms shapes on the window pane, showing me my
              husband's face, my son's face.

              I can't seem to wash it out, no matter how hard I try.








              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Krys
              Oh, WOW! Esther. This is incredibly powerful. Unfair that this is free writing. Your descriptions are spot on, and some of the metaphors are btillient (e.g.,
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
              • 0 Attachment
                Oh, WOW! Esther. This is incredibly powerful. Unfair that this is free
                writing. Your descriptions are spot on, and some of the metaphors are
                btillient (e.g., "cancerous water"). The ending for some reason
                reminds me of the ending of "The Yellow Wallpaper." One tiny nit: in
                the 1st para. "crept" and "hammered" don't go together.


                Krys
              • Krys
                OK, I m an idiot. The COM should have gone to Jillian rather than Esther. It s too early and I haven t had my caffine yet. :-( Krys
                Message 7 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
                • 0 Attachment
                  OK, I'm an idiot. The COM should have gone to Jillian rather than
                  Esther. It's too early and I haven't had my caffine yet. :-(

                  Krys
                • Esther Bradley-DeTally
                  THAT S okay-niCE TO have been linked, however briefly, to such good writing-smile esther
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
                  • 0 Attachment
                    THAT'S okay-niCE TO have been linked, however briefly, to such good
                    writing-smile esther



                    --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Krys " <krys@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > OK, I'm an idiot. The COM should have gone to Jillian rather than
                    > Esther. It's too early and I haven't had my caffine yet. :-(
                    >
                    > Krys
                    >
                  • Jillian
                    Thanks to everyone who took the time to read & comment on my sub. Yes, this was a one-off, written last night. The prompt led to a series of stark images in my
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Thanks to everyone who took the time to read & comment on my sub. Yes,
                      this was a one-off, written last night. The prompt led to a series of
                      stark images in my mind concerning red clay, so I just wrote them down
                      as they came to me. (You're right with your nit-pick, Krys - that's
                      something I'd normally edit out later after letting the piece 'cool'
                      for a few days). Funny how many things jumped out at me _after_ I hit
                      the 'send' button! There are a LOT more nit-picks than that one, LOL -
                      I've already spotted several myself after looking at it again this
                      afternoon. But that's what free-writing is about, I think! Get it out
                      of your head first & clean it up later :)

                      I've been reading the many excellent submissions you all have posted
                      here while I was in in 'lurk mode' for the last couple of weeks, so I
                      was rather intimidated by the idea of posting any of my writing,
                      wondering if it would pass muster. I feel much better about it today -


                      Much appreciated,

                      Jillian

                      --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Krys " <krys@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Oh, WOW! Esther. This is incredibly powerful. Unfair that this is
                      free
                      > writing. Your descriptions are spot on, and some of the metaphors
                      are
                      > btillient (e.g., "cancerous water"). The ending for some reason
                      > reminds me of the ending of "The Yellow Wallpaper." One tiny nit: in
                      > the 1st para. "crept" and "hammered" don't go together.
                      >
                      >
                      > Krys
                      >
                    • Esther Bradley-DeTally
                      -i only do free write here; thus am more creative when things hit; it s a wonderful freedom to express; that piece was wonderful; look forward to many more;
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
                      • 0 Attachment
                        -i only do free write here; thus am more creative when things hit;
                        it's a wonderful freedom to express; that piece was wonderful; look
                        forward to many more; esther



                        -- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Jillian" <rainstorm5@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Thanks to everyone who took the time to read & comment on my sub.
                        Yes,
                        > this was a one-off, written last night. The prompt led to a series
                        of
                        > stark images in my mind concerning red clay, so I just wrote them
                        down
                        > as they came to me. (You're right with your nit-pick, Krys -
                        that's
                        > something I'd normally edit out later after letting the
                        piece 'cool'
                        > for a few days). Funny how many things jumped out at me _after_ I
                        hit
                        > the 'send' button! There are a LOT more nit-picks than that one,
                        LOL -
                        > I've already spotted several myself after looking at it again this
                        > afternoon. But that's what free-writing is about, I think! Get it
                        out
                        > of your head first & clean it up later :)
                        >
                        > I've been reading the many excellent submissions you all have
                        posted
                        > here while I was in in 'lurk mode' for the last couple of weeks,
                        so I
                        > was rather intimidated by the idea of posting any of my writing,
                        > wondering if it would pass muster. I feel much better about it
                        today -
                        >
                        >
                        > Much appreciated,
                        >
                        > Jillian
                        >
                        > --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Krys " <krys@> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > Oh, WOW! Esther. This is incredibly powerful. Unfair that this
                        is
                        > free
                        > > writing. Your descriptions are spot on, and some of the
                        metaphors
                        > are
                        > > btillient (e.g., "cancerous water"). The ending for some reason
                        > > reminds me of the ending of "The Yellow Wallpaper." One tiny
                        nit: in
                        > > the 1st para. "crept" and "hammered" don't go together.
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > Krys
                        > >
                        >
                      • Jillian
                        Hi Esther - I ve read some of your writings here as well and it s very good, especially considering that it s free-written - one of the reasons I was sort of
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Hi Esther -

                          I've read some of your writings here as well and it's very good,
                          especially considering that it's free-written - one of the reasons I
                          was sort of afraid to post anything; I didn't want to look like a
                          doofus compared to everything else I've read here so far :) I will
                          be reading more and commenting more as long as no one minds my
                          input - I'm a dedicated reader, if nothing else! I've been writing
                          short stories and working on a few novel manuscripts over the last
                          few years, but lately the 'idea well' has run dry for me. My latest
                          MS was rejected for the 7th time, which really depressed me and
                          caused a bad spell of writer's block, so I'm hoping to get over it
                          with a push from a few of the great prompts that I've found here
                          (thanks to everyone who has posted prompts in the last few days -
                          they're a big help!)

                          best wishes, Esther, & happy writing -

                          Jillian




                          --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
                          <sorrygnat@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > -i only do free write here; thus am more creative when things hit;
                          > it's a wonderful freedom to express; that piece was wonderful;
                          look
                          > forward to many more; esther
                        • Esther Bradley-DeTally
                          I am a voracious reader myself; did you say you were working on a memoir; i m a memoir addict; i wrote a book Without A net: A Sojourn in Russia, but since
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jul 9, 2006
                          • 0 Attachment
                            I am a voracious reader myself; did you say you were working on a
                            memoir; i'm a memoir addict; i wrote a book Without A net: A Sojourn
                            in Russia, but since then doing more writing - would like to publish
                            more; who knows; my writing has sharpened, more edgy, wider range;
                            it's been fun at times; i love to read; i love good writing; we
                            should compare interests; esther
                            --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Jillian" <rainstorm5@...>
                            wrote:
                            >
                            > Hi Esther -
                            >
                            > I've read some of your writings here as well and it's very good,
                            > especially considering that it's free-written - one of the reasons
                            I
                            > was sort of afraid to post anything; I didn't want to look like a
                            > doofus compared to everything else I've read here so far :) I
                            will
                            > be reading more and commenting more as long as no one minds my
                            > input - I'm a dedicated reader, if nothing else! I've been writing
                            > short stories and working on a few novel manuscripts over the last
                            > few years, but lately the 'idea well' has run dry for me. My
                            latest
                            > MS was rejected for the 7th time, which really depressed me and
                            > caused a bad spell of writer's block, so I'm hoping to get over it
                            > with a push from a few of the great prompts that I've found here
                            > (thanks to everyone who has posted prompts in the last few days -
                            > they're a big help!)
                            >
                            > best wishes, Esther, & happy writing -
                            >
                            > Jillian
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
                            > <sorrygnat@> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > -i only do free write here; thus am more creative when things
                            hit;
                            > > it's a wonderful freedom to express; that piece was wonderful;
                            > look
                            > > forward to many more; esther
                            >
                          • wndflwr9
                            This is powerful and moving. It sounds like something you have experienced. If so, my heart goes out to you. If not, you are one hell of a writer. Michele ...
                            Message 13 of 14 , Sep 15, 2006
                            • 0 Attachment
                              This is powerful and moving. It sounds like something you have
                              experienced. If so, my heart goes out to you. If not, you are one
                              hell of a writer.

                              Michele

                              --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Jillian" <rainstorm5@...>
                              wrote:
                              >
                              > --- In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, "Esther Bradley-DeTally"
                              > <sorrygnat@> wrote:
                              >
                              > > Knowing the red clay
                              >
                              >
                              > (Note - I'm going with the above prompt, free-writing this right
                              > into the post window, so pardon any spelling errors.)
                              >
                              > Knowing Red Clay
                              >
                              >
                              > The rains crept into the Carolinas early Sunday morning and stayed
                              > for fourteen days. Not just any old rain, mind you, but rain that
                              > hammered on our tin roof as if it wanted to beat us into
                              submission.
                              > Our house was a tough little place, built on a massive hill of red
                              > clay that overlooked an oak-studded valley below. The house on the
                              > clay hill had withstood storms aplenty over the years - a hundred
                              > and thirty-one years to be exact - and though the foundation
                              bucked
                              > in some places and sank in others, the house itself remained solid
                              > and provided safety and shelter for six generations of Taylors all
                              > during that time. That was, until the fourteen-day rain came.
                              >
                              > On the fourth morning of rain, I stood out on the porch, watching
                              > the chickens wander the yard. Torn between wanting shelter and
                              > wanting to eat, the chickens ran back and forth on the lawn. Their
                              > little yellow feet slapped through dark puddles in the grass.
                              > Chickens don't like the rain. They looked as dejected as I felt -
                              > their normally pristine white feathers dripped with red mud. I
                              > contemplated my drive to work and dreaded the twelve mile long
                              road
                              > that led into town. The clay hills had begun to shed their first
                              > layer of soil, painting the roads orange. Not far from our house
                              lay
                              > the swamp. It surrounded the banks of Fishing Creek, which I
                              figured
                              > must have reached flood stage by now. If it flooded, I wouldn't be
                              > going to work any time soon. Ash Road is the only road into town.
                              >
                              > The bridge that crossed Fishing Creek was known by us locals
                              as 'Cry
                              > Baby Bridge,' so named after the story of a young mother and child
                              > swept from it during a flash flood. Legend has it that on certain
                              > summer nights, you could hear the baby cry or sometimes the woman
                              > calling out her child's name in the darkness. I could easily
                              picture
                              > my Jeep being overcome by the creek's waters, pulling me over the
                              > edge and burying me in red clay somewhere far downstream. I shook
                              > off the thought and decided that I'd call in to work. No sense in
                              > risking it. No job is worth one's life, and I certainly didn't
                              want
                              > to become a permanent part of local legend.
                              >
                              > The rain became a curtain of water. Individual drops were no
                              longer
                              > visible. Rather, they formed long silvery strings that seemed to
                              > bind red earth to churning, phlegm-colored sky. I handed up sheets
                              > of tin to my husband, perched high up on the barn roof. He hung
                              on,
                              > despite the battering of the storm and the slick tin. He hammered
                              > the sheets into place, one by one. It took us all day. While he
                              > worked, I studied the trees on the hillside. There were forty of
                              > these ancient oak trees, some neary eighty feet tall. On sunny
                              days,
                              > I liked to walk beneath them in the shade, always looking up. It
                              > felt like a holy place, consecrated with wildflowers and dappled
                              > sunlight instead of candles and gold. The oaks were massive
                              pillars
                              > in nature's cathedral, protecting me, protecting the house and the
                              > hillside. That day, however, the oaks loomed. Would they topple
                              > over? Already the rain ate away at the hillside; rivulets of water
                              > cut deep, venous ruts into the clay. There had to be loosened
                              roots.
                              > One tree seemed to be leaning more than it used to.
                              >
                              > I pointed it out to my husband.
                              >
                              > He glanced at it and shook his head. "That tree's been like that
                              > forever. It just growed that way, tryin' to reach the sun."
                              >
                              > Of course he didn't believe me. He always said I worry too much.
                              >
                              > The barn, nestled in an area we called the 'Bottoms' at the base
                              of
                              > the red clay hill, bravely bore the brunt of the rain. Near the
                              > front doors the goats shivered, terrified. They remained quiet,
                              > their wise eyes focused on the puddles merging amoeba-like and
                              > forming a small lake. Goats don't like water, either. Unlike the
                              > chickens, they chose shelter over food.
                              >
                              > By noon, the water was ankle deep and threatened to flow into the
                              > barn. The goats knew what was coming, even if we didn't. Maybe
                              even
                              > then they heard the hill groan from deep within, struggling to
                              bear
                              > the pressure of tons of extra water seeping in. Maybe they heard
                              the
                              > snapping and cracking of two-hundred-year-old roots. Drenched
                              > through my raincoat, I stared at the trees and told my husband
                              that
                              > I wanted to go back into the house.
                              >
                              > Night came and with the help of a glass of whiskey, I slept
                              through
                              > the steady hiss of rain. In the pre-dawn hours of the fifth day of
                              > rain, I heard the house moan, almost a human sound that brought me
                              > instantly awake. The smell of mold and wet things filled the
                              house.
                              > I got up to check out and see if the roof leaked again. I crept
                              > through the kitchen, silent. Outside, thunder rolled and
                              occasional
                              > flashes of lightning backlit the looming oaks. I drew my robe
                              tight
                              > around me and went to the back of the house, into the many-
                              windowed
                              > section I called the 'Observation Room.' It overlooked the barn
                              and
                              > the base of the oak forest on the hillside. Oddly enough I smelled
                              > the ocean - a salty, briny scent that should have been impossible
                              > three hundred miles inland. Lightning strobe-flashed on the
                              bobbing
                              > limbs of the oaks, silvery leaves waving at me as if they wanted
                              to
                              > get my attention. Well, they had it.
                              >
                              > Maybe they were trying to warn me, waving frantically like they
                              > were.
                              >
                              > I should have listened to the trees and the house and trusted my
                              > wise goats. The house stopped groaning by the time I decided to go
                              > back to bed. Old houses creak and groan all the time, I told
                              myself.
                              > That's all it was. Nine more restless nights would pass before it
                              > would begin to speak to me again, and when it did, there would be
                              no
                              > mistaking its message. By then, the town had flooded and there was
                              > no point in going to work anymore. Sour is the fruit of global
                              > warming.
                              >
                              > At noon on the fourteenth day of rain, I counted the fifth fallen
                              > oak tree. One of the trees had fallen beside the barn, killing one
                              > of the goats. Our poor Tillie. Part of her red and white patched
                              > body was still visible, crushed beneath several tons of oak tree.
                              > She liked to rub her head against my leg. A "goat-hug," as my
                              > husband called it. My throat swelled shut with tears as I fought
                              the
                              > memory of her slick coat under my fingers, absently scratching her
                              > behind one of her horns, as she always liked. The tree had been
                              one
                              > of the big ones, a water oak with a trunk four feet thick.
                              >
                              > More trees toppled as the day wore on. A loblolly pine nearly
                              > seventy feet tall now leaned closer to the house and we had no
                              doubt
                              > that when it fell, it would cut the house in half. Rain soaked
                              > everything, permeating everything, even my dreams. I couldn't
                              > remember what the world outside sounded like without the incessant
                              > thrum of rain. I'd forgotten the blueness of a cloudless sky. In
                              the
                              > kitchen, I fixed a pot of coffee and hated the water I poured into
                              > the machine.
                              >
                              > My husband and son were out by the barn, sawing the fallen trees
                              > into logs to be split later. They never heard the house groan, but
                              I
                              > did. The first dull rumble came after I sat down at the table and
                              > sipped my coffee.
                              >
                              > The sound of a sliding hill is akin to a tornado, which in turn,
                              > sounds like a freight train. That's what I think of when I
                              remember
                              > it. The insidious, cancerous water dug at the foundation for two
                              > solid weeks. The hill hemorrhaged red mud. Mud and blood would
                              > forever be synonymous in my mind. I never even had a chance to put
                              > on my shoes.
                              >
                              > The wood floor beneath my feet buckled upward and suddenly there
                              was
                              > a brick pillar in the middle of my kitchen. I grabbed the counter
                              > and hung on, dazed at the sight of the trees outside.
                              >
                              > They moved.
                              >
                              > For a moment, I lost touch with what was real. The trees were
                              > walking by the window. Fed up with the rain, they'd decided to
                              pull
                              > up their roots and head to drier pastures. But the trees weren't
                              > moving. The house was. I let go of the counter and stupidly turned
                              > to look toward the windows in the Observation Room. The barn
                              rushed
                              > toward me as the house rode a tide of red clay mud. Oaks fell like
                              > dominoes before the force of it. Thunder boomed overhead, but then
                              I
                              > realized it wasn't thunder. The house rolled and turned, moaning
                              and
                              > screaming as walls snapped and blew inward. Flung against the
                              wall,
                              > I didn't bother to scream when I saw the roof split open like a
                              > rotten egg and red mud flowed in. The cool wetness of it chilled
                              my
                              > skin. What was the pointof screaming? Impending death brings a
                              > strange calmness with it. The house fell apart around me.
                              >
                              > While my eyes were closed, I dreamed of rain and crushing red
                              clay.
                              > When I opened my eyes, I saw broken trees and a parting in the
                              soupy
                              > clouds. I wanted to exclaim in delight but I found I couldn't
                              speak.
                              > It wasn't just the mud filling my mouth, as I managed to spit that
                              > out. It was the long, thin piece of wood that pierced through my
                              > ribcage and the tender lung beneath. Each shallow breath cut me
                              like
                              > a scythe. I wanted to call out for my husband and son, but the
                              words
                              > wouldn't come.
                              >
                              > I laid there, trapped in the mud, pinned like a biology specimen
                              and
                              > cursed God for allowing me to wake up just in time to watch myself
                              > die. The rain had stopped. I suppose that was a blessing of sorts.
                              > The forest - or what remained of it - was quiet. The quiet,
                              perhaps,
                              > was the worst thing of all. The quiet meant that my husband and
                              son
                              > were gone. They'd been at the base of the hill when the house
                              fell.
                              > I closed my eyes and wept, making rain of my own. I kept them
                              closed
                              > until someone pried up one of my eyelids and shone a flashlight
                              into
                              > it.
                              >
                              > Red clay mud stains you in such a way that it can never be erased.
                              I
                              > still find it on my shoes even though I no longer live in the
                              > Carolinas. My husband and son and all the wise goats were claimed
                              on
                              > the fourteenth day of rain. Knowing the red clay like I do, I
                              > managed to find it again in the deserts of Arizona. Out here, the
                              > clay is dry and when the winds come, it becomes red dust. The dust
                              > is harmless, but then again, it isn't. It gathers on the
                              windowsill
                              > and in my hair. It always seeks me out, no matter where I go to
                              > avoid it. It forms shapes on the window pane, showing me my
                              > husband's face, my son's face.
                              >
                              > I can't seem to wash it out, no matter how hard I try.
                              >
                            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.