Monday, July 25, 2011

Flicker of Inspiration: The House

*Post inspired by Lightning and the Lightning Bug's Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "House."
 ...For this week's prompt, we'd like you to write about a specific kind of setting, a setting that can be ominous or comforting, a setting that can easily take on a life of its own. Your fiction, poetry, or memory this week should involve a house. Be sure this house plays a pivotal role in your piece...

I know I usually save segments of The Exception for my Red Writing Hood posts, but I'm bending the rules this time.

Aside from the fact that I haven't had much time to write anything new for the wonderful writing prompts I've been missing out on, I had to share this because the "house" is such a key ingredient in this story, almost a character itself.

For the other excerpts I've shared, visit here, here, here (this particular excerpt fits before this one), and here (listed in the order they appear in the novel itself). And for a segment I wrote separate of the book, but still involves the main character, visit here.

This segment takes place when Elanor arrives to her childhood home, seeing it for the first time in nearly twenty years--a home that holds painful and precious memories alike. She realizes it was more than just inheriting the deed that pulled her there.

Elanor’s breath caught as she turned onto Graham Road and caught a glimpse of the old country-style house at the top of the hill, nearly bringing the car to a standstill.  The wooden roof shingles looked even more dilapidated than before.  Taking a deep breath, not knowing what putting herself in that place would do to her state of mind, she pressed harder on the pedal and forced herself to move forward.
She hadn’t known what to expect when preparing for her trip.  She hadn’t known what she would feel.  But as she stood before the house, every emotion was foreign.  Maybe it was because the house was different, looking nothing like the way she remembered.  In her memory it’d always been aged, but now negligence masked any trace of her childhood home: peeling paint, one green shudder hanging by a single bolt, a crack in the windowpane of her old bedroom, weeds growing above the bay window, the dirt drive nowhere to be seen. 
But what threw her even more was the size.  It used to feel huge and threatening.  Now it seemed small.  And sad.
It broke her heart to see the home that had once housed her grandfather and his grandfather before him in a shambles, unused and empty.  No longer a dirty remnant of her childhood, it suddenly became a disappointing remnant of her ancestors.  Where their sweat and blood had produced something once beautiful, now it was indeed an eyesore, as Gerard had said.  What did they think from the afterlife as they looked on the remains of their posterity—on a drunken waste of life, rotting in prison, and a hardly sane, hardly normal woman who would probably end up alone the rest of her life?  Would the Noble line stop with her? 
Scanning her eyes over every spec around her, even the heavens above, she whispered a simple “sorry” as though they could hear.
It was fall, which usually brought sharp, brisk days in Idaho, but today the atmosphere was clear, and she stepped forward, leaving her jacket in the car.  When she reached the overgrown path, she stopped and closed her eyes, letting the breeze move through her hair like cool, energizing fingers.  Feeling moved upon by a great force, a force beyond this world, the spirit of the home and all it represented overwhelmed her.  She swore the energy of her ancestors was in the wind that blew through the trees and rustled the leaves, swelling with the newfound emotions in her heart. 
Somehow, they wanted her there.

This is still a work in progress, but as always, helpful criticism is welcome!


Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Jennie, this was so bittersweet. I felt Eleanor's swelling emotions as she took in the sight and state of the house. I think I've felt similar emotions myself when visiting my grandparent's hold house, which barely even resembles the house I remember. It makes you both angry and sad.

I adore your last few lines. Her sense of purpose and destiny. A really lovely job. Thank you so much for linking up. I loved this and definitely feel compelled to read more!

Starthrower said...

Your work is very engaging. Very fluid, very touching. Old homes and what they do to our heart strings, ahhh.

Slidecutter said...

This so reminded me of looking back at my own childhood home and leaving all my bad memories inside..."It used to feel huge and threatening. Now it seemed small. And sad"

Terrific post!