Friday, November 30, 2012

1st Line Submission

I have been trying to get back into the habit of writing regularly (thus this blog) so I've started seeking out literary journals like The First Line . As the name suggests, the premise is that TFL publishes opening lines each season and invites entries that start with it. I submitted an entry for the winter 2012 issue and while my piece was not chosen, I am still pleased to have actually finished and submitted something! So here it is.

Next week: Part II of 2012: A Year in Review and then on to homemade Christmas presents (hopefully!)

Sometimes, when it's quiet, I can remember what my life was like before moving to Cedar Springs.  I find that it is often quiet here, neither to the improvement or detriment of daily life.  Cedar Springs is good at maintaining the careful balance between extremes; no day is too hot or too cold, no celebration too ostentatious or too petty, nothing too big or too small.  Life is as it should be in Cedar Springs.

Everything is pleasant without being over-stimulating; disappointments are gentle letdowns to be expected in modern life.

This has been my home for several weeks, months, years… I no longer keep careful measure.  I have found it peaceful for the most part and that is what they said I needed.

“Peace and quiet and time to rest” was the recommendation.  Cedar Springs was the ideal place.  In the quietest moments, I remember my life before; my ‘last life’.  All there is now is the undulating present of days like the ones that went before and tireless nights following after.

I am lucky.  Every day, I hear this.  Most times some person tells me; sometimes I swear the swaying tree branches or the glass-like river whispers it.  I am lucky, I know that.  I would know that without any reminder, but I have grown not to mind.  Cedar Springs is a place where people are always grateful in a dignified manner and expect others to behave in the same reserved way.  It is different than my last life, but I do not mind.

In the time I’ve been in Cedar Springs, I have walked every street in town.  I have been in all the shops and eaten in all the establishments, fine and otherwise.  I have read every book about Cedar Springs, set in Cedar Springs, written by Cedar Springs.  

Perhaps I will write a book I said suddenly one day, looking up.  “Yes of course you should” the faces around the room said.  ‘That would be nice.’ ‘That would be a great undertaking.’  ‘It could really take you places’ the last voice in the circle said.  I have already come here, I thought.  Where else was there to go?

The loudest voice in the room pierces my thoughts:
“Would your book be about before Cedar Springs or before?”

I looked at him, the first person I met in this town, the man I saw everyday.

“I can’t say until I start writing.”

The next day he handed me a blank notebook.
“I think we’ve gotten enough done today. Take the rest of the day off and go write. I’m excited to read your book.” he said, smiling.

I plunged through the double doors into the cold outside.  I could walk home from here, to the grocery store, the pharmacy; everything was close in Cedar Springs.  I had known it’s every avenue, street, and park within a few hours of moving here.  I think I know these streets better than I know myself.

I walked the long way home, stopping from time to time to jot down observations, poetic descriptions, dainty enough strings of words.  I wandered down streets I had seen a hundred times before and tried to look at them anew.  The sky stretched for miles overhead and the ground below yielded to its reach.  The sky in Cedar Springs was the same sky I had looked up to every other day of my life.  It was all the same.

Snow began to fall as if it had been planned.   The day had drawn to an end and the wind had grown colder, and so the snow fell.  I thought of the last time I walked in the drifting snow, before Cedar Springs and I could barely recall what had come before.  

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