"Later that night, I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world, and whispered, 'where does it hurt?' It answered, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere." -Warsan ShireIt’s hard to feel good about the world we live in at the moment, given the heinous attacks in Beirut, Iraq, Paris, and Syria on #worldkindnessday, of all days. So I’m commemorating the loss of over 100,000 individuals on that day (adding in those killed in the Japanese earthquake) by highlighting a poet new to me, Warsan Shire. Her words are a powerful reminder that nobody has a monopoly on suffering; death and pain come to us all. In fact, it’s how we face this reality that defines us.

I read this week about a woman who taught herself to type to be able to save her endangered language, Wukchumni. I read Reese Witherspoon’s response to Hollywood’s ongoing choice to avoid making movies with female protagonists. And I looked at a powerful set of PowerPoint slides (not my favorite medium, so you know they’re a cut above already!) summarizing global demographics and how we live in the western world in simple, clear language.

All of these things tell me the most important thing is to be grateful for the many gifts in my life. I have a family that loves me, a comfortable sanctum sanctorum, an interesting day job where the focus is on building software that makes a difference, and a passion for words that drives my ongoing creativity.

Yet this week was also the week that marked “Equal Pay Day,” the date from which women in the UK (and US) work for free for the rest of the year to account for the gender pay gap. Given that global demographics show women outnumber men… It’s enough to return a (female) body to depression and anger. Except that I won’t turn to anybody and ask Witherspoon’s dreaded question, “what do we do now?” I will ask it of myself and demand that I keep pushing the boulder uphill.

On that note, we managed three walks this week, for 4.9 miles. Not to goal, but at least improving from the weeks before. Of course, this week we also had other schedule interruptions–friends visited for one night, and we got to see the great Steve Hackett in concert at the Lincoln Theatre another night. (Where I couldn’t help but continue to glance up and to the right to see the balcony where one of our American presidents was assassinated.) I also upheld my commenting duties, and doubled the word count goal I set for ROW80… But that means I’m now 10,000 words behind the pace for NaNoWriMo.

I had planned to work on catching up this weekend, but two days of traveling for the day job, and other intense deadlines there made sleeping and recharging the higher priority. We’ll see whether I can pick up the pace this week, otherwise I’ll be spending my Thanksgiving weekend being completely antisocial working on a novel that is quite different from what I’ve written in the past. It’s set in the near future and starts with a close encounter of the second kind:

The airport went dark again. This time the emergency generators didn’t kick in, and Tara could see the officious woman struggling with her priorities.

“Look. I don’t mean any harm. I didn’t understand we couldn’t move. I’ll just go back to my seat and be quiet and you can go figure out what’s wrong.”

There was a low rumble overhead, as if a bomber were about to strike, vibrating the safety glass. Tara backed away to her former seat, deciding the official, who turned and sprinted the other direction down the hall.

The noise, uncertain lighting, and the silence among all the other passengers started the first trickle of fear down Tara’s back.

The terminal shuddered more and the overhead noise intensified. Now there were light effects to go with the noise. But they weren’t exactly lightning flashes like Tara had seen elsewhere. They were more diffuse, and different colors.

And then the sounds stopped. So did the light. The clouds cleared out to reveal a sun-shiny blue sky. But still the power didn’t come back on in the terminal.

I thought this story would be more sci-fi-ish, but it’s quite human-centric at this point… and not the kind of magic I typically write about. We’ll see where it goes. Until then, check out how my ROW80 compadres are coming along with their goals, and I’ll be back next week to report on mine again.

Related Posts

3 thoughts on “Where Does It Hurt?

  1. I liked the snippet too — as well as your comment this story is more human-centric. Isn’t that how we bring our readers right into the story? Who hasn’t waited far too long at an airport? Your snippet recreates all this in a curiously interesting way that does build almost immediate empathy with the main character. As for the rest, sounds like all else goes well. May you have a great week!

    1. heh. The opening is actually her meeting the alien, but not knowing it… I’m just so startled by how this story is unfolding I’m not sure how much I’ll actually keep.

Your Two Cents

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.