Week 12-Final Project-Earthquake

Earthquakes’ train

The tremor briefly ripples desiccated dirt on the road in parallel lines. Stillness follows. A starling whistles once, then again. Wind blows west and rustles the prairie grass. Chiseled men relax. They return to dig and pick apart the hardened earth with steel pickaxes. Dust clouds fills nostrils and mouths. Sweat pours down their chins. Shirts come off. Sun burns.

Look! A flock of starlings abruptly lift westward from telephone wire. Active men squeal to a halt. Rumbles tingle toes. The numbing of feet forge waves of fear straight through toughened bodies. Jelly legs and panicked voices forewarn men and beasts: Earth’s westbound train approaches. Nails and hammer drop with a thud. Weak waves of dirt flutter in reply. Hundreds of feet begin to stampede in differing directions.

The other men bustle past me. Their shoulders shove mine as they scramble to safety up the cactus-peppered landscape. I fall in line onto my hands and knee; I press my right ear to the ground. I eat dirt and listen. The deafening roar of vibrating earth intermixes with churning wheels. Not sure how far, now. Teams of horses whinny and rear. I push up and run out of the way one second before hooves crash down where I crawled. My stomach derails with shockwaves of adrenaline.

I howl in helpless pulses. Faces around me melt with fear. The inevitable groundbreaking eruption fuels fights. Fist knock hats off balding heads. The beat of the breaking earth trembles louder. How many of the men here will survive? Will I? I slap my face. Wake up, Sam! Don’t freeze up now. A straight path opens up on my left between the Mill and the General Store. Time slows. Hobos cling to the stores’ wood siding. Slate shingles fracture at their feet. The last water barrel topples. Water ejects in thick rivulets. I run, full speed ahead.

Injun arrows cross country above my head as I steam onward into their path. Undeterred, I grit my teeth and put my head down as I run. Ululations thunder out the sounds of my heart beating in my ears. Windows rattle from the increase frequencies underfoot. Cracks split panes. Men slip and fall. Animals scatter and trample. At the last possible moment, I flatten myself against the side of the General Store as the Injuns scream on by me. I watch. The sheriff crumples into a pile of flesh. Blood-soaked dirt swells.

My mental switch flips. I turn sharply on my spurs and run against the undulating flow of teeming Injuns. A tomahawk sails past my head and into the wood. Twang! Rifle shots mix with metal slicing into skin. Short screams reverberate between the stores’ walls. Bile and disgust rise in my throat. Sweat overtakes tears that leak from the corner of my eyes. I breathe in hard. And I run. Gasping, I emerge from the human tunnel and keep going. The crescendo of disintegrating buildings fuels an explosion of debris and dust behind me. Its force blasts me onto my face.

The Mill’s foundation cracks opens and yawns. Wham! Earth rips apart with the sounds of two freight trains that crash full throttle. The Mill shatters and disappears. Burning fuel sears my nose and lungs. I taste blood and dirt. My legs shiver. I collapse. I wait for the shaking and the screaming to stop. I close my eyes and come to a standstill.

When I regain awaken, my temples are pounding. I get to my feet, swaying woozily. A familiar shape lies on the ground. I limp over to the other man, kneel, and push him over on his back. I look into the face of my youngest brother, Jesse.

Jesse? Is that you? Wake up, brother. Wake up! Come on. We gotta get out of here!

I shake him somethin’ awful.
He doesn’t move.

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Week 11 Assignment-Old Swimming Hole

This assignment ends Week 11 of my BerkleeMusic course called “Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.” The criteria for the assignment are:

  1. Pick a collision from this week
  2. Pick a point of view
  3. Pick your verb tenses
  4. 300-500 words
  5. Include the title in your assignment

Other criteria that we’ve used in our assignments include: varying sentence length and varying sentence type (statement, command, conditional, questions). I included those as well.

Collision Title: Old Swimming Hole -> Temptation -> Jewels in an Unlocked Case
Point of View: First Person
Tenses: Present, Future

Week 11 Assignment

The turquoise waters of the old swimming hole tempt me with their alluring glitter. I thrill from the age-old desire to grab forbidden treasures and make a quick escape. Nervousness floods my mouth. My lips tremble. I lick my sweaty upper lip. I slowly look around. First, left; then, right. I see no one. I hear only rippling waters, tweeting sparrows, and reeds hushing each other as the wind sneaks by. With no alarms raised, I pull off my tank top and toss it on the ground besides me. I forcefully breathe in the emerald marsh air. Ah!, I sigh aloud. I pause to listen, but no one answers.

I go over the plan again in my mind: I will lunge my left leg backwards, ready both fists by my side, bounce three times, and take off. I will race down the weathered diving plank as if the police were in pursuit. My imaginary pursuers will reach for me too late as I spring off the edge of the board and into topaz waters. The plank’s thrumming will drown out the coppers’ anguished cries. The anticipation dries my mouth with the taste of mineral salts. Will this work? A red-tailed hawk scolds me: Stop wasting time. Silver fear infuses my nostrils. I rub my shoulders hard to psyche myself up with bravery.

My ears perk up at the pale sounds of far away laughter. Now: do it now, I mentally yell. Adrenaline floods my limbs. I sloppily throw my left leg back, makes fists, and bounce twice. I sprint down the plank at full speed. At the last moment, I launch. As I descend from the high arc, I hold my knees tightly and close my eyes. I slam through the pearl surface. Water roars into my ear canals and penetrates my mouth. I open up completely, kick my legs, and spin until dizzy. I come up with arms outstretched, gasping for air. Approaching laughter is my final warning. If I don’t get out now, I’ll be seen.

I scrabble haltingly out of the pool of liquid jewels. Each falling droplet leaves a semiprecious trail of temporary clues. I roughly yank my tank top back over my head and down onto my torso. I smell hot August sun drying the last aquamarine memories from my skin. Alum, the fool’s gold of the swimming hole, tarts my tongue. I tiptoe into the tourmaline thicket down a rarely used footpath. I periodically turn back to look for the swimming hole. When I no longer see it, I breathe a sigh of relief. I keep walking. I do not stop or look back. My sandals crunch sticks pleasingly. I whistle victory at my easy escape.

Week 9 Assignment

I hope you enjoy my assignment submission for the end of Week 9 of the Berkleemusic.com course, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.’ This class, especially in this week, has been a boon to my writing in conjunction with a technical editing course. I hope you enjoy this piece.

Week 9 Assignment Requirements

  • Choose one of your collisions: Summer -> Carefree -> Children
  • Choose your own point of view: First person narrative (I, we)
  • Choose your own tense movement:  Present, Future
  • Expand in into 300–500 words and focus with your senses.

Summer  -> Carefree -> Children

Children: kids, young, run, jump, play, potential, growth, education, love, chubby cheeks, sweet, fingers, learning, alphabet, reading, crayons, daycare, happy, play games, hopscotch, jump rope, dodge ball, horseback riding, pool, beach, volleyball, softball, baseball, naps, day camp, campers

Summer jumps into the season, giggling and laughing. Passing sun showers hopscotch over our heads. Summer stamps her hot feet through spring’s last puddles. Water fountains splash us playfully. Rainbows draw their colors on the paper-blue sky. Sunrays tag our faces with rosy love. The summer solstice stretches her potential length to maximum. The last days of school peel off in white flakes. A warm breeze rouses us from our homework chains. Freedom becomes our new fresh skin.

Excited Atlantic waves bounce the ferry S.S. Happy Campers on its knees. We wear orange lifejackets, lean over the ships’ bow, and heave in the salty sea air. After we arrive, we burst down the pier. Shoulder to shoulder as we run, we muscle each other out of the way, yelling and stomping our feet. Yes! I win! Fist pumps greet groans in friendly camaraderie. Next stop? Mad Martha’s Ice Cream! We eat our vanilla sugar cones and dig our feet into burning sand. Beach balls hop back and forth over nets. Sand castles rise. Moats overflow. Turrets tumble into the sea. We dig deep, and find joy under pink seashells. For lunch, we unzip sandwich bags with sandy fingers. Coca Cola pops open in wide smiles. Oreo cookies loosely crumble out of our mouths onto damp bathing suits. We nap on cotton towels under a blue umbrella. Comforting sea breezes caress us while we sleep. Splash! Water on our faces! We noisily chase after seagulls with our hands in the air.

Sunset sneaks up on us. Tag, we’re it!  Fluorescent Crayola colors wrap the sky in brief swathes. Dark hues cool our sandy party. What will we play tomorrow? Will we rent three-speed bicycles in Vineyard Haven and meander down-island to Oak Bluffs? Before bedtime tonight, we will imagine putting on plays about our indigenous island ancestors; victory will be ours. Our parents will tell us to go to sleep, but we will read under bed sheets with flashlights until late. Crickets will sing us to sleep. Peepers will peep. We will dream.

Week 5-Metaphor Collision Assignment

Assignment Goals

Our class requirements for this week’s assignment are:

    • Choose one of your collisions and expand it into 200–400 words.
    • Try this one as reminiscence, using first-person narrative and past tense.
    • Please title your post with the collision you choose, and as usual, focus on your senses.

Important Note: This entry includes both fact and fiction. My parents are not dead and I have not cleaned out their house with my sister, Madeline. I have not seen pictures of strangers in tin boxes in closets of my childhood home. Some things that are true: I have a sister named Madeline, the photo of my mother, the photo of my brother, my parents still live in my childhood home, & I was christened at five weeks.

Metaphor Collision-Broken pleasure-Wendy Mastandrea

I returned to my childhood home, which was full of old memories. My sister, Madeline, met me there one Saturday morning in April; her arms towered with cleaning supplies. Closets were littered with dust balls, cat hair, and broken pleasures.  Stacked in the far, back corner were a pile of six tin boxes that were held shut with dried-out rubber bands. We worked as a two-person daisy chain to move the boxes from the galley closet and onto the faux-wood kitchen table. Dust whirled upwards into our faces and up our noses. Sneezes shuddered us, eyes itched and watered, and tissues were exchanged.

We huddled over the first box as if we were two kids opening a shared present on Christmas morning. I pulled the rubber band but it broke off limply in my hand. I forced open the rusted top with a jarring jolt. After a brief pause, I removed the lid. We craned our necks forward and found the inside jammed with old post cards and photos.

Posed strangers, white and black and in black and white, stared back at us. Echoes of July 4th fireworks and roasted corncobs wafted up weakly. Blurred mercuric dispositions dared us to judge them. I imagined that I heard their half-joking arguments. Where were they now? I wondered silently. Did my parents now, too, only live on in someone else’s closet, hidden in a tin box, only to come alive after someone, who was a stranger to us, died?

Earlier versions of my family history paraded itself in front of us. Our mother, age seventeen, posed in a green summer dress that my grandfather bought her during the time that they lived together in a hot, New York City boarding house. Our brother, who died at four months, looked sadly back at us, posed in a photo studio with sickly pale skin. A picture of myself in a white, lace christening dress, aged five weeks, held by my parents, whose fear that they might lose another child, shone fiercely in their eyes.

My heart ached. I could not look Madeline in the eye. I got up and made an excuse to use the bathroom.