Saturday, July 19, 2008

Puppy People

The following comprises the first draft of the first three paragraphs of my latest story, tentatively titled "Puppy People" (or "Penny Penny Penny"). I am committed to writing 500 words a day for this story, until I reach some kind of ending. Then comes the brutal task of revising and rewriting.

I was kept awake at dawn last Sunday morning by this tale; I began typing it on July 15 and it now totals just over 3600 words, which makes for about 600 words a day. God be with me in persevering. The tale is an exercise in prophetic moral hyperbole. It depicts a path I think our world needs to see, if for no other reason than that we are already well along it.

The faintest of valleys, lit by the faintest morning light, filled her eyes as they opened to a new day with Penny. A new day with little Penny. Penny, that little angel, between whose two tender areolae the faintest of valleys stood in sharper and sharper relief as the sun rose higher and higher. The same sun, yet always different, for eons and on. That tiny, virgin valley abutting the mottled pink belly rising and sinking in tranquil respiration––that now well-lit valley on this now well-awoken morning was a sign of Penny's perpetual innocence. For unlike her own chest, Penny's areolae would never rise and swell. That faint valley would never form into cliffs of flesh, and, much better, would never sag under the merciless caress of gravity and entropy. No. Penny's precious chest would forever stay oh so faintly ridged, and oh so fragilely encasing her thumb-sized heart of how many months now. Forever young. Forever, that is, of course, until she needed replacing.

As the light imperceptibly brightened, and brightened, through her paper-thin eyelids, and began agitating Penny's infant brain to wake up, she twitched her arms like a wind-up cymbal-clashing monkey, followed by a frog kick against nothing. Oh, how many times had she seen that little ritual happen! How many mornings had she watched those arms twitch and those pudgy, creased legs kick! How many mornings had she relished the maternal bliss of seeing her little darling grow up!

These were not entirely rhetorical questions. There were official records of just how many mornings Penny had been with them. Those records were on her mind, since by now, she was becoming empirical. Certainly the unreflective joy of caring for Penny still endured, and returned afresh every couple years, but by now she couldn't help more analytical musings from arising. She had dabbled in neuroscience and neonatal cognitive development, but still had a very basic understanding of just what happened inside Penny as the months passed. Neurolinguistics, for example, was hardly her cup of tea, but, still, she couldn't help but wonder what neural alchemy was underway as that first word gradually approached its deadline. Moreover, what accounted for that deadline? She would have to check the records to see precisely how long it took, but she was certainly aware Penny had not always spoken her first word after the same amount of time. It was at Christmas three, no, four years ago that she had said "Penny". A couple years before that it was already around Valentine's Day she had said "Mama". And this time? Only time would tell.

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