Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sensory Prompt

I wrote this for this prompt.  It's a sensory exercise, and I used the main character from my most recent novel in progress, tentatively titled 'Coming Home'.  It's about a man who loses his faith after an accident kills his wife and community, and he alone is spared.

I did taste as my sense, but I couldn't just stick to one thing... The first section wanders a little, venturing into smell, and the second is actually more of a mini scene than a writing exercise.  Probably won't make it into the book, but still, it's good to have some scenes based on purely sense-related issues.  Senses are a very important part of writing, and I too often forget everything except sight.


Good taste -

The most wonderful thing in the world to Jared Thral was the taste of his wife's skin. They both worked hard, in the fields during the day, exposed to the heat of the sun and the burn of the winds rushing through the valley. But when they were done with a long day's work they got back to the house and Jared smelled of musk and dried sweat, while Satalia smelled of beauty, and purity, and even though the smell wasn't light, or floral, it was so intense and deep that it made his heart ache. He thanked God for giving him the gift of life when he lay in bed with her, his face pressing against her hair, falling asleep with the scent of it in his head. Whenever he smelled freshly tilled earth, he remembered that smell, and the taste of her skin. Like nothing else on earth, the taste of her skin. Fresh and sweet, like the frequent spring rains. She always tasted like she had just come inside from a rainstorm.

Jared stood in the rain, now, and thought about her. As a boy, he had run around with his mouth open when the rains came, trying to catch as much as possible until he was so full of water that his stomach sloshed when he ran.

Bad taste -

Jared smiled, and accepted the offered plate. The very sight of the marda made him queasy, but he ignored the pleas of his stomach and put two of the wraps in his plate. Michae, next to him, smiled.

“Good, Jared! You will remember what it is like to follow the rules of God. Partake of his food, so that he may cleanse you.”

Jared nodded and looked back at his plate. The smell was reaching him now, and it made the rolling of his stomach much more pronounced. The sight of it was revolting, and the thought of it in his mouth, his stomach, made him gag.

“Is something wrong?” Michae asked.

“Sati... this was the last meal that she made for me.”

“Oh. Oh, of course. For Thirdday prayer, I assume. Yes, I remember. The flood happened on Thirdday.” The priest stopped, looked between Jared and the plate of food. “Are you telling me you haven't eaten marda since? Jared, it's been weeks.”

“I can't do this.”

“You have to,” the priest said – gently, but insistent. He was beginning to get irritated. That was not what Jared wanted. He was looking to fit in, here. To find a new home with his people. Wasn't that how it was supposed to work? He was a Devout, as was Michae, as were the people around him, as well as the abbess eating somewhere in the room. He hiccuped, something that was not quite a sob, and picked the marda off his plate and closed his eyes tightly before putting the thing in his mouth.

It was worse than he could have imagined. One taste of the marinated lettuce holding the thing together brought him back to the day that it happened. When he was sitting on the wet ground, throwing up the last meal his wife had made for him, feeling the burn of acid and the salty taste of his tears. He chewed, desperate only to get the thing down his throat as quickly as possible, but it didn't want to go. It turned into a sticky paste, always too large to swallow, a thing that seemed to be made of slime and rotten meat. He heaved, kept chewing. Michae was watching him intently, making no moves to help, saying nothing. He heaved again, gagging as he forced the lump down his throat, almost choking. The taste of it stayed in his mouth even as the solid ball of food sunk down into his stomach, and he grabbed blindly for the glass of water by his plate, trying to wash out every particle of the wretched food.

“There,” said the priest, soothing now that the moment had passed. “That wasn't so bad, was it?”

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