I’m proud of myself. I forced out five whole paragraphs with hardly any dialogue at all. I don’t know why but I tend to tell stories by having characters sit around and talk to each other. Granted, it’s a fine technique. It’s good for character development and it can fulfill the ‘show, don’t tell’ mantra dished out by most writing pundits. However, it’s glacially slow (kind of like my writing pace in general) and I’m tired of the constant babble. I could use more narration in my tool kit. Voila! Though frankly it feels weird and not as liberating as I hoped. I think that has something to do with having to switch between past perfect and simple past tenses.
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Back at home, Polly spent a lot of time hiding under the bed. She scratched her stitches so often that the family eventually had to flush her out and put a plastic cone on her neck. That helped. Her head healed, the stitches dissolved, and the cone vanished leaving Polly with a scarred, furless head and a tendency to walk in circles. “Neurologic defect”, the vet said, “probably caused by some swelling after the injury”.
Despite this limitation Polly started yowling at the door. She had a mission outside, but it was vague at the moment. A little butt wiggle and a few slashes would do for the lawnmower, but really it would be more satisfying to scratch one of the neighbor boys. She started staring at them through the window when they waited for the bus in the morning and when they walked home in the afternoon, she would run from window to window tracking their movements as they passed her house. Between those times, she’d sleep, dream about hunting and wake up with a tingling feeling in her head. That metal plate always got warm and itchy when she slept. She’d scratch it and go right back to the window.
The days got darker, the leaves fell off the trees, and Polly despaired of ever getting outside again. She’d dash for the door each time it was opened, but her legs didn’t work right. Her sprint would turn into a curve and she’d end up chasing her tail, growling in frustration. Then a family member would pat her bald head and say “You silly old flat head cat. Why do you want to go outside, anyway?” Polly would try to explain, but her meows only made them dump more food into her bowl. She’d eat, of course, and then go back to pressing her itchy head against the cold glass.
Today, the boys were throwing snow balls, the oldest one mixing rocks with his snow before packing it down. He was ugly, he was mean, he needed more than a scratch, but all Polly had were dreams. Today, the dreams came while she was still awake and staring out the window. The snow vanished and the boys’ hands and arms morphed into hooves and legs, their skin sprouted short black and white hair and their buzz cuts grew into stiff manes. The boy-zebras, snorted and stamped their feet. They were nervous, unable to see in the long grass that had suddenly sprouted up around them. Out of that grass, sprang three house cats the size of lions and with enormous scythe-like teeth. The zebras startled and ran. Polly chattered in the window the way she did when she was watching birds. ‘Go!’ she thought ‘Kill!’, but her concentration was broken and her sleek imaginary children vanished in the snow.
The youngest boy rolled on the ground, holding a bloody nose. He’d taken a face full of rocks. His brother kicked him. “Get up stupid. The bus is here.” and Polly watched her prey vanish into the safety of the yellow van. Her head was hot, the metal plate throbbing, but for the first time in months, Polly had hope. She might not be able to get outside to do her own hunting, but one day her children would. All Polly had to do was concentrate every ounce of her energy and imagination into growing those children.