Another writing club session has come and gone. Here’s my unedited response to yesterday’s writing prompt: Describe a thunder or lightning storm from your front porch or window.
The thunder rumbled in the distance, and Mary’s heart quickened.
“It’s getting closer,” Joe remarked. He opened the screen door, although there was really no need. They had removed the screen some years ago to use for filtering the bugs from their rainwater. All that remained was an empty frame that could be walked through. Joe insisted on opening it though.
“Mommy, they’re getting closer.” Megan toddled over to Mary’s lap, a half-eaten piece of toast in her hand. Mary scooped up the child and held her close.
“I know, baby. It’s just the storm. It will be over soon.” Mary brushed the crumbs from the front of Megan’s over-sized t-shirt, the only thing protecting her from the elements. It had belonged to Frank, before he disappeared two years ago.
“No, Mommy, they’re coming. They’re getting closer.” Megan wrapped her sticky fingers in Mary’s hair. How long had it been since they’d even had access to soap? It was time to make another trip to the spring. After they weathered the storm.
“No, honey, it’s just thunder.” Mary hated lying to Megan. She was hoping and praying that the storm would change direction.
Mary’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest. “How do you know?” She forced herself to ask. She wanted to throw up.
“See, Mommy?” Megan pointed as another flash of lightning lit the sky.
“No, baby, only Joe can see that.” Joe and…Frank had been able to see the color shift too. But had they ever talked about the colors in front of Megan? They had always done everything they could to protect her from the truth.
Another crash sounded, closer this time, disrupting Mary’s thoughts.
Joe appeared behind her suddenly. He must have stepped through the door frame. Something about that bothered Mary more than anything. He was finally ready to leave his fantasy world of normalcy and security. He raised his rifle and stared into the horizon as a tear escaped from Mary’s eye.
Another streak of lightning burned into Mary’s vision. She closed her eyes, but could still see the image. It was accompanied by the dreaded crash.
In unison, Megan and Joe murmered, “They’re here.”
Okay, so these are my thoughts: First of all, I would go back and change Megan’s name. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I don’t like having two female characters whose names both begin with the same letter. I’m afraid the reader might get the two of them mixed up. Secondly, I might have Mary refer to Megan as “the baby,” just as though they never bothered naming her. Life is too tough to worry about such trivial matters. But I think this would only work in a longer piece where I have time to make Mary feel guilty that they never named her. Third, I wouldn’t have Mary refer to the red lightning as “the colors.” That’s fine for Megan, since she doesn’t have a developed vocabulary, but Mary wouldn’t think of them that way. She might say aura, or they would probably actually have a name for these entities that are on their way. Or I might choose, “But had they ever talked about the color differences in front of Megan?” Fourth, in the beginning, when Joe opens the screen door, I forgot to mention that he was going into the house. Fifth, instead of making a trip to the spring, I’d say stream or river. When I read it aloud, all I could think of was the season of spring, not the body of water. Sixth, instead of red, I might choose yellow. Then Mary could say “all lightning is yellow,” while she worried about whether Megan had the ability to see the color shift. Seventh, when Mary says, “only Joe can see that,” I need to have her arguing internally with herself too. There’s no way Megan can see the difference. This can’t be happening. She’s just imagining. She’s overheard us talking at night – we weren’t quiet enough, etc. If the Council finds out she can see the color shift, they’ll need her at headquarters. They’ll come and take her away… Last, I might take away Joe’s abilities completely, even though he is nervous about the storm. I might imply that Megan is Frank’s daughter and has inherited his “gift.”
What do you all think? Would you make other changes? Would my editing ideas make the story better or worse?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/73003003@N07/6721566553″>lightning</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>