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29 October 2011 @ 10:56 am
Real LJ Idol: "You Are Here"  
You Are Here
The Real LJ Idol | week two | 444 words
Three Little Words.

x-x-x-x-x

The end of the week was always too long coming. You dragged yourself from one dog-tired day to the next, working hard to keep your numbers up and calling yourself lucky for the chance to do it all again.

Punch the clock, check your line, count the hours 'til quitting time.

You'd started on the night shift four years back, and that was some kind of hell. Now you worked days, and your wife and baby were waiting at home when you were done. Working graveyard hours, you'd never have seen them, but the day shift was pretty good. You might nod off before the baby did each night, but just being there was something—more than your Daddy ever did for you.

The job wore you down. Machines did most of it, but they couldn't be trusted. You had to watch for the one-in-a-thousand screw-up until your vision blurred, and the next day, you'd feel it. Your skin was so dark you couldn't tell if there were circles under your eyes, but when you woke up with heavy feet and an aching back, you knew those damn circles were there.

Your wife was grateful, and she told you so. "Gerald," she'd say (your father's name that you swore you'd never go by, just another bet you lost), "I don't know what we'd do without you, baby. You make it all happen."

A man could survive on a whole lot less than that.

There were times you forgot what day it was, watching metal parts roll down the assembly in an endless river, pieces of some other unmade whole. What does it all mean? you thought, not the hour-by-hour but the larger picture of some future ten or fifteen years down the road.

It was like standing in an abandoned field and looking at a sign saying, "You are here." The here wasn't the question—where the hell else would you be?—it was the context, the overriding plan that you couldn't begin to see.

Whole weeks could pass by like that, where all you could do was keep on going.

But sometimes you walked in the door at night, and your baby boy reached for you and your wife's eyes lit up at the sight of your face. All of your work made that possible, and a hundred other things you might not even imagine until after they'd happened.

Your time on the treadmill didn't define you, and you couldn't let it blind you to everything else that was there. There was a lifetime ahead to carry your family through, and the path you'd chosen stood a damn good chance of holding true.



 
 
 
la, zeitgeist!: [animated] moustachezeitgeistic on October 29th, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
Interesting! There was an unusual, underlying beat to this that went all the way to the end. I don't know if it was intentional or from my background music, but it worked!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
Thank you! My writing tends to have flow, but sometimes it's more pronounced that others for certain readers. I think your music might have resonated with something that even I didn't see. :D
the key of the day and the lock of the nightlocknkey on October 29th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
There was a great rhythm to this that really underlined the subject matter - especially this line
Punch the clock, check your line, count the hours 'til quitting time.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
That was a line I actually tried to make less rhythmic, but it depicted the stark sameness of the character's days so concisely that I settled on living with it.

Thanks for reading!
(no subject) - nodressrehersal on October 30th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on October 31st, 2011 05:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
the middle of the road's fine with no cars aroundnoodledays on October 30th, 2011 12:07 am (UTC)
really lovely. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! It's not my usual style (including second-person), but it's very much what the story wanted to be once I chose which three words to use.
standgalestandgale on October 30th, 2011 04:20 am (UTC)
nice. That kind of job horrifies me, so its nice to see it in the context of the rest of this guys life, where there's more to him than that, and where he's got a purpose.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2011 07:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I think most people would find that kind of job difficult to tolerate, including the people who do it. So mind-numbing, and yet also requiring you to pay attention.

But when other people depend upon you, you can make yourself put up with a great deal. I tried to capture the choice to do that, and how hard it sometimes is. I think there's a lot of nobility in choosing that.
from_the_pitfrom_the_pit on October 30th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
This is such an interesting piece.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2011 07:27 am (UTC)
Thank you for saying so!
Vice Captain of the Universe: icon from I don't know wheresweeny_todd on October 31st, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
I really liked this. I can feel the drudgery of the life, with that glimmer of hope at the end.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 31st, 2011 05:43 am (UTC)
Oh, your comment made me so happy. That effect was exactly what I was going for, and I'm glad the hope was clearly visible at the end. The overall result of what the character does will be far more important than the individual days he spends doing it, but it's always hard for people to really stop and look at the big picture when the day-to-day wears them down so much.
cindy: da - alec's thinky facetsuki_no_bara on October 31st, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
i am really liking your real lj idol posts! they're a different kind of writing than the stuff you usually do, and they're good! i agree with everyone else who said this one has a definite rhythm to it, and i also really like the story it tells, about the grind of a boring job and the family that makes it worthwhile. the bits of gerald's backstory and relationship with his own dad fill him out nicely.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 31st, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Eee! What a lovely thing to say, especially when I feel like I'm out here on a lonely limb.

So much of this story flowed out in the first draft, the night the prompt was posted. Even those details were there at the beginning, which all makes it seem as if this was the story that wanted to be told, given the prompt.

Thanks for reading and offering encouragement!
Cri Cri Cut Fan Club Presidentrumplebuttkins on October 31st, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
I imagine it being spoken over the introduction to a movie. Or, perhaps, there are lines here and there that are so universal and relatable, it feels like something I've seen/experienced many times before. And I mean that in a good way.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 31st, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I tried to make this seem as if it were happening to the reader as well as the main character, so you could feel his weariness and the unending monotony of it, with those little flashes of beauty in the moments that he remembered what all of it was for.
Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.n3m3sis42 on October 31st, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
I really felt this one. Nice post.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 31st, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it reached you on an emotional level- that's wonderful to hear. :)
basric: basric colored bubblesbasric on October 31st, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
Well written, well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 1st, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
A Sentient Being: Kitty Tonguealien_infinity on November 1st, 2011 05:25 am (UTC)
Punch the clock, check your line, count the hours 'til quitting time.

I liked the rhythm in this line.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 1st, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
Thank you! Looking at it now, that rhythm kind of resembles the clank of machinery, which runs under this whole story. It's as if a job like that never really leaves you, because the sameness of it gets inside you and becomes larger than anything else you do.
m_malcontentm_malcontent on November 1st, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
I agree with the folks who praise this for the feel of it. Well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 1st, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
daomingdaoming on November 2nd, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
oh wow. this has some serious beat going on. i like it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 2nd, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Kristenpixiebelle on November 2nd, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
I like the second person here. Not many people attempt that (I did once back in Season 6... it was a cool experience). This had a nice flow to it and I liked it a lot.

Nicely done :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 2nd, 2011 04:14 am (UTC)
I almost never use second person, but that's where this story immediately headed and it felt stronger than if I'd done it in third person.

Funny how sometimes the story makes those decisions for you! I may have used second person 2 or 3 other times, tops, so I try to trust it when it happens.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 2nd, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
Wow-- that is really interesting feedback. Thank you!