Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ideas That Don't Go Anywhere

So, as someone who enjoys writing, my head is always filled with a lot of ideas. I ultimately write (almost) all of them down in some form, but there are so many of them that are just snippets, that don't really go anywhere. I have one work that I consider "complete", but hundreds of writings that are in various stages of incompleteness, most of which will probably stay that way. Some of them are fifty pages long, some of them only a few sentences. And sometimes I don't even really have an idea in my head so much as an image, or a line of dialogue. And a lot of these ideas or images tend to come from my dreams. Many of them I forget over the course of the day, and I'm not the type of person who can wake up and begin writing feverishly so I don't lose an idea. I figure if the idea is really any good, then I won't forget it. But I still want to do something with these incomplete ideas that may never go anywhere. Below I present to you a little snippet or image that has haunted me since I dreamed it several months ago. There was more to it in the dream, but as is often the way, it didn't make much sense once I was awake.

The sun is already below the horizon of the marshland. Its last light rests on a thin hot pink layer just above the far side of the marsh, and the wide expanse of sky is a deepening midnight blue. In moments the marsh will become pitch on this night of a new moon. It's a perfect place to watch the stars twinkle their silvery light.

In the still waters of the marsh, among the cattails and tall grasses, sits a small wooden boat that has seen better days. Several of the boards have rotted, the worst ones clumsily repaired with scrap wood and some artfully placed tarp and duct tape. Two oars sit crookedly across the bow. From a distance the boat seems empty. It isn't.

Lying in the bottom of the boat is a small girl, perhaps seven or eight, surrounded by the litter of crumpled candy bar wrappers and empty tuna cans. Her short dirty-blonde hair is matted with grime and sweat around her dirty face. Her clothes are as filthy of the rest of her, but she doesn't seem to mind. She reclines on the bottom of the boat, her hands laced behind her head and a smile on her face. She appears to wait for the stars to come out, but that is not why she's here.

"Here comes another one," she whispers just loud enough to be heard above the buzzing of cicadas and the music of crickets. The cat curled up next to her lets out a small mew, but doesn't move. "Get ready."

From above there is a thunderous roar and a gust of wind rips over the surface of the marsh. The belly of a 757 passenger plane screams by, low over the marsh as it slowly gains altitude before disappearing into the moonless night. The dog sleeping at her feet growls after the plane and she shushes him. "Oh hush up." He always growls at the 757s.

The little girl sighs to herself. This is nice, she thinks. The evening is humid, but not hot, and the wind from the plane gives her a pleasant chill. The cat snuggles closer, not caring much about anything now that she has a belly full of tinned tuna.

The little girl has been coming here to watch the planes all summer. During the day the marsh is a quiet place where nature has not been tamed by man, but when night falls, the nearby airport diverts air traffic over the unpopulated marsh to spare the city's people of the powerful roars of the planes' engines. But the girl doesn't care. She likes the noise, and often falls asleep here in the marsh, bobbing peacefully along until the blinding brightness of the sun wakes up the chatty birds and turns the insides of her eyelids red.

The dog begins barking ferociously. Not hearing the familiar sound of an approaching plane, the girl is perplexed. She sits up on her elbows, disturbing the cat, who meows with irritation. Her bright blue eyes search the sky to see what has the dog so annoyed.

She sees the flashing lights that signal an approaching plane in the dark, but still she hears no sound. In fact, other than the dog's barking, the marsh has become almost preternaturally silent. The lights become larger very quickly, and even though she knows of no other explanation, the girl doesn't think it's really a plane because she still can't hear it.

At the last second, she dives down into her boat, covering the animals with her body. Silently, a passenger plane glides by, its belly three times as low as it should be, so low the girl thinks she could have reached out and touched it, and it's moving remarkably slow.

Fifty yards ahead of the little boat, the plane hits the shallow marsh. The girl peaks back up in time to see the ball of fire erupt, blinding in the darkness. Just as she ducks away from the heat wave from the explosion, a massive wave rocks the marsh and she jumps back on top of the animals, her only real family or friends, until the water becomes calm again. Now she stands carefully. The wreckage is clear in front of her now. The plane has broken into three large sections, but it's also obvious not all of the plane is here. The roaring of the fire is almost too loud to hear over, but as the wind kicks up, the screams slice through clouds of dust. Then she hears the first siren.

Who is this girl? What is her name? Why doesn't she have anyone to care where she is all night long? How will the plane crash figure into the girl's story, or how will she figure into the story of the crash?

I don't know. That's why it's an idea that doesn't go anywhere. But that won't keep me from writing it down. Maybe some day I'll figure out the answers to all of those questions, but maybe not.

What are your ideas that don't go anywhere?

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