1000 Words, Part One

May 13th, 2010

We talk a lot about how to sell a book here, but little about how to write it. On my part, that’s mostly because I find the people coming to my site already have an inkling of the process of writing a novel, but also because my specialty is in the selling of your work, just as yours is in writing it. It makes sense for both of us to concentrate on what we do best, n’est-ce pas?

But today I want to break that “rule,” such as it is, and talk a little bit about inspiration. Maybe not for a whole novel, but for that germ of an idea that drives you to put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and get down and dirty and creative. There are those authors who are famous for having dreams about their characters, and those who joke about the Idea Store. But what about photographs?

This year, I’ve been working on a photography project with the goal of taking & posting a new picture every single day. So far, it’s been going pretty well! Anyway, because of that, I’ve been looking at a lot of great pictures from some pretty amazing photographers. And some of them just BEG for a story to be told. Like this one:

AnnmariaMazzinibyJordanMatter

Which is by Jordan Matter, as part of a collection called “Dancers Among Us.” I love it.

So, your mission for today is to write something inspired by this photograph. On Monday, I’ll post another inspirational shot, and on Tuesday, a third. Wednesday, we’ll vote for our favorite out of all the pieces inspired by all three images, and the author of the piece with the most votes will win a 30 minute phone conversation with me, to ask me anything you’d like!

Rules? There are none! Just post your piece of whatever genre in the comments of each photographic blog post, and I’ll put together a poll next week. (What about Friday, you ask? As always, that’s the day for our About My Query post.)

Have fun!

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15 Responses to “1000 Words, Part One”

  1. Suzanne Casamento Says:

    Beautiful photo! The red pops and the rain makes it romantic. Love it. Great contest idea. Can't wait to read the entries!

  2. A.L. Sonnichsen Says:

    (This has to be one of the most awesome photos ever! How does she not twist her ankle coming down in those heels?)

    Some might consider Clare Cassinova to be an average superhero. An Amazon with stone-molded calves, she refuses to wear pants, as most superheroes refuse to wear pants. Her outfit of choice is a leotard, hidden beneath a distinctive red jacket. Her signature, if you like.

    Although Clare Cassinova seems typical, in many ways she surprises her fellow super folk. Her preferred method of travel is not a Bat Mobile or an invisible airplane, but a grand jeté. Those legs, they do it all. James Bond would have eaten his right hand to get a glimpse of those ruby stilettos up close, to take them apart, to analyze them. You see, they conceal four switchblades apiece. The heels shoot poisonous darts. And the toes – yes the toes – are imbedded with laser cannons.

    She hides behind no mask, only sports a tomato red umbrella, her lustrous locks concealed under a plain black cap. Everyone knows when Miss Cassinova has been on the scene. Her scent, spiced and sultry, lingers in the humid air. The villains of Seattle gather to whisper her name – and tremble.

  3. Meredith Says:

    Hold me another minute? she asks. I’m not ready for you to go.

    I’m a mess. I’m tired, hungry and in desperate need of a shower. But I oblige her. I always do.

    She nestles in and lets her small fingers trace the frayed neck of my ratty old tee shirt, a wardrobe hanger-on from another era of my life. It used to be red, but time and plenty of non color-safe detergent have dulled it to a dark rose. There are Greek letters on the front and a cartoon drawing of two young men holding beer bottles and standing outside a camping tent on the back. I can’t believe I actually used to wear this in public.

    You’re not paying attention to me, she says.

    I sit in the chair, and she comes with me. Hair has fallen across my eyes, and she reaches up and playfully yanks it before smiling at me. I force myself to smile back and disentangle my hair from her fingers. She pouts and turns to the window. It’s raining again.

    She stares at the tree, while I curse the wind. Four times now a storm has uprooted the baby oak, and it looks like the fifth is seconds away. So much for that hour I spent wrapping the tree with enough nylon cord to mummify it and hammering stakes into the ground. I’m just going to pitch the damned thing.

    I hear her breathing begin to soften, but my eye is drawn to a massive dust bunny in the corner beside the bookshelf. I think of the dishes from last night and the night before piled up in the sink, of the laundry sitting in the dryer, white tank tops and dark elastic shorts tumbling round and round for a few minutes each morning to release the wrinkles. Folding requires too much effort. My mind wanders to the dark wool skirt suits, cashmere sweaters and three inch pumps pushed to the side of my closet. They haven’t seen the light of day in over a year.

    But I chose this, I remind myself. It’s what I want.

    If I say it enough, one of these days I’ll believe it.

    I glance down at her, and she’s asleep. Finally. I stand and, arms outstretched, I place her into her crib as gently as I can, careful not to make any sudden movements or even breathe too heavily. Brain surgery has to be easier than this.

    Slowly, I begin to pull back my arms. They suddenly feel very heavy and begin to shake. Her eyes pop open and I curse loudly. She looks startled for a moment, but then her eyes lock with mine. She smiles at me and holds her arms up. I want to cry, to run, to hide, but instead I bend down. She grabs my face, opens her mouth and the words come out for the first time ever.

    Me. She calls for me.

    She touches my face and says it again before letting her hands fall to the side and her eyes close.

    I trace the outline of her face before standing tall. I can hear my heart, physically feel it beating inside my chest. I am not a woman with a dirty house, a woman with bare feet in a worn-out tee shirt that falls to my knees, a woman who walked away from a career on an illusion, a woman now relegated to the suburbs. I am the exact opposite of these things.

    I am a mother.

    The rain begins to beat harder against the window, and I leap.

  4. Trina Says:

    I wanted to be free.

    I thought of myself as the bag lady. I had daddy issues, and mommy issues and self esteem issues and youngest child issues.

    Baggage.

    It weighed me down, made my feet drag. And over time, concrete scraped through the soles of my shoes and rubbed my skin raw.

    Raw like my emotions. I had to schedule time to cry. Thursday at three. Sunday before breakfast. Tuesday after the late show. Those were the times that I gave in. Let the pity and self hate overwhelm me. Cried until I was dry as dust and my tear ducts threw up a white flag.

    I penciled in Wednesday during my shower hoping that the water could wash my tears and troubles away.

    I thought that if he loved me, I mattered. Daddy left. Mommy checked out mentally when I was around ten years old. At twelve, I started looking in the mirror and seeing everything I hated. And for ten years, the mirror tormented me. I watched my reflection come alive. It tisked and tutted. Told me my hair was ugly, my skin, my ears, my nose and even that mole on left pinky finger.

    Every self inflicted insult was like a five pound bag attaching to my body. My shoulders hunched. My back bowed. My knees creaked.

    Baggage.

    But then he came along. Tall and handsome and he looked at me. Would it be pathetic if I said that he made me feel beautiful with just one look? Would it be cliché to say that he made me melt with one smile?

    He was my prince charming. Sent to save me from myself.

    And for two months, he did that. My reflection morphed into my biggest fan. Everything he loved about me, I loved about me. He loved my smile, so did I. He loved my walk, so did I. He loved that mole on my pinky finger and kissed it every morning. And I watched thinking, “He loves me. That’s what matters.”

    I didn’t know that I had to love myself.

    Month three brought his suggestions.

    “Baby, you shouldn’t wear yellow. It’s too bright.”

    “Honey, you should grow your hair out. I want to run my fingers through it.”

    “Sweetie, you should work out. Looks like you put on weight.”

    Month four brought his request.

    “Baby, don’t talk like that. You sound stupid.”

    “Honey, don’t wear your hair up. It makes your forehead look big.”

    “Sweetie, don’t eat that. You already can’t fit those pants.”

    Month five brought the put downs.

    “Why am I asking you? I need another dumb answer like I need a hole in the head.”

    “Obviously, there isn’t a hairstyle invented that will complement that face.”

    “You’re staying home. I don’t want my friends to see how disgusting you look now.”

    The mirror agreed with him. Every issue came back two fold.

    Baggage.

    What was I going to do? He loved me. That’s what mattered. I mattered when I was with him. Without him…

    Without him, who was I? He told me what to wear. Nothing too bright or loud, it hurt his eyes. Always wear my hair down because that’s the way he liked it. Didn’t care if it was raining or if the wind was blowing the tendrils into my strawberry lip gloss. He wanted it down and I wanted him happy. Told me I couldn’t wear skirts. Said my ‘thunder thighs’ offended him. He told me what to say. Said that on my own, every word out of my mouth was dumb and every other word was stupid. Told me to smile and nod when we were around his friends so I didn’t embarrass him.

    And I did it because if he loved me, I mattered.

    Bathroom visibility was low that Wednesday morning. My problems stayed with me as I hefted myself and my baggage from the tub. The steam swirled around me as I looked into the distorted image that was my face in the bathroom mirror. I didn’t want to wipe it off. Didn’t want my reflection to slowly and effectively destroy me.

    Baggage.

    But there I stood, staring back at my reflection, my hair hanging lifeless about my shoulders.

    I waited.

    I met my eyes in the mirror and waited.

    “You’re better than this!” my reflection shouted.

    The crying session that followed was unscheduled.

    An hour later, there I was, my baggage crowding the waiting area outside of his office. It was across my lap, under my feet, stacked in the chair next to me…

    He made me wait twenty minutes before he granted me entrance.

    “What do you want?” he asked me.

    “To be free,” I told him.

    I dropped the long black trench coat he used to make me wear revealing the thigh length bright red coat I wore underneath.

    Nothing else.

    My legs were on full display and the only time he took his eyes off them was when I whipped out a black hat that I used to tuck my hair into.

    There I was in bright colors, hair up and thighs out.

    And I stood there waiting for his insults to bounce off me, but he was speechless.

    And I was done.

    I walked out of his office and into the pouring rain. I pushed open my matching red umbrella and walked away.

    From him. From the baggage.

    And the baggage fell away from me.

    The ugly bag rolled off to the right.

    The worthless bag rolled off the left.

    With each step, a bag dropped. They thumped and clacked against the concrete. People walking behind me grunted and complained about the obstacles littering their path.

    But I was getting lighter with each step. Almost like I could float.

    And I was able to leap, feeling light as a feather. My baggage gone.

    I was free.

  5. Red Boot Pearl Says:

    The rain bounced off the umbrella. I had to hurry; they would be here any minute. I should have left an hour ago. But I couldn’t help listening to the resonance of the stage, feet feeling their way along the wood. A sound more magical than any instrument could produce.

    I rushed to the curb. The traffic ebbed. I could make it before the next car, I saw it in my mind…one grand jeté in my red heels and fitted coat I never got to wear.

    I looked down at my sneakers resting on the metal plates. I crooked my neck tightly around the umbrella freeing both hands to grasp the cold rims. I spun the wheels quickly, shooting out into the street. My arms pumped until I was safely on the sidewalk.

    “Jenna!” Kristen called. I hunched lower in my wheel chair, pushing through the people and the rain. “Jenna.” She ran up beside me. I stared at her long legs, before lifting the umbrella.

    “Hey,” I forced a smile.

    “Are you coming to watch the practice?”

    “No,” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I was just passing by.”

    “You should come I could use your advice.”

    “Some other time, I’ve got to go.”

    “Okay, well good to see you!”

    “You too,” I muttered pushing down the sidewalk, letting the rain mingle with my tears.

  6. Shannon Says:

    I had my red umbrella and my perfect red cover just as I had been instructed. The note only required a red jacket, but if he wanted me to stick out I was going to do it with style. It was an all too familiar routine – meet in a crowded place and wear something bright. The note said meet at the Spanish Steps at three o’clock sharp. I knew I should have given myself more time. It was bad enough that I had to catch the red-eye from New York. I was going to be late for my only chance to recover what was mine.

    I had done everything the instructions demanded. I told the U.S. authorities that I needed a break. I had come to Rome alone. I was putting all of my faith in the fact that Simon would figure out how to fix his mess … again.

    The shops around the Spanish Steps tried to pull me in as I hurried past their windows full beautiful outfits and my favorite … shoes. On a normal day, I would have spent hours window shopping and trying on every shoe I could find. Only one thing mattered now and it wasn't shopping.

    I went over again what I was going to do and say. Simon had already taken so much from me. But, I needed him … just one last time.

    I landed a perfect grand jetes as I came into the square just to piss Simon off. I walked to the Steps and looked around for a face I would know even in pitch black. I didn’t see him but I knew I hadn’t gotten here first. Simon always had a plan and this was part of it.

    “I don't remember saying anything about doing a ballet jump. Why did you call me Valerie?” My once favorite deep voice said in my ear. I’d been ready for an unannounced greeting, but it still made me jump to have him so close again.

    I turned to find a beggar I’d rushed past standing in front of me. He had grown his beard to lengths I didn’t know possible for him. Had it been long enough for all of that gray to be his, or was it part of the deception?

    “Simon. I see you are moving up in the world.” I said as I surveyed him.

    “Why did you call?” He asked again.

    “They’ve taken Rosa.” I knew he wouldn’t have the patience for the long version.

    Simon said nothing but I could see the anger grow in his eyes. He grabbed me as I stepped away from his dangerous glare.

    “I gave you one job. One. ‘Keep Rosa safe.’ Do you remember? I gave you everything you needed to be invisible. So tell me Valerie, what happened?” Simon hissed.

    “Actually it's your fault. You just HAD to see her on her birthday. Yeah, I knew you were there. Guess who followed you? Jack.” I was in his face. I wasn’t going to take the blame for his moment of weakness.

    He let go of me and stepped back shaking his head.

    I grabbed his rags. “I did my part! I never called you! I was invisible and I raised our daughter without you! Why didn't you know that Jack was tracking you? Why? He didnt find us! He found you THEN he took our baby!” I was crying. Simon knew exactly what to say to turn me into a sobbing mess. But, I could tell that this information was new, even to him.

    "He … Jack followed me? But, how?" Simon pressed the stress lines on his forehead flat as he stuggled with the news.

    "I … I don't know. But, he wants you. He told me to find you or we will get our Rosa back … in p-pieces." I sputtered.

    Simon stared at me while the words sunk in. Jack had our baby and he would only exchange Rosa for Simon.

    "Ok." Simon said.

    "Ok what?" I asked. The Simon I knew wouldn't give up that easily, even for his only child.

  7. Georgiana Says:

    "Are you dumb?" I asked. I was in a bad mood, trapped in an alley by an ugly, lumpy, guy wearing a trench coat and a big hat. I wanted to go home and take my new shoes off, not stand around discussing the existence of gravity. "Of course we can't float."

    "You float. We watch your television. You run up walls. You slow down bullets. You carry girls on your back and run up trees. You fly."

    "I don't do any of those things. Those are stuntmen and special effects people and I don’t know, green screens or something. Go talk to someone at NYU. They can tell you how to do it. Or look it up on the internet."

    He stepped closer. I wanted to step back but held my ground. I wasn't going to let this oaf push me around. He held a picture in front of my face. "This is you."

    It wasn't a question but I treated it like one. "Yes, that's me." If you squinted maybe it looked like I was defying the laws of gravity. I was airborne, suspended over the street, holding an umbrella and looking perky. "So what?"

    "This is you. You float. Tell us how."

    He moved even closer and the light from the streetlamp hit his face. I squeaked and jumped away. He wasn't just ugly; he was a giant slug. A six-foot-tall slug clumsily disguised as a man. "I was just jumping," I said. "I have to go. My roommate is expecting me."

    "Tell us how to be like your people," he said. "Or else."

    "Sure," I said. Then I turned and ran as fast as I could. He was a lot faster than any slug I'd previously encountered. He hit me in the back and knocked me down, covering me in his disgusting slime. "Get off," I said. "Get off, I can't breathe."

    He moved away, just enough so that I could sit up. "Tell us the secret."

    "No offense but you don't look like you're made for jumping. You look like your people are supposed to stick to the ground." My arms and face were starting to itch like crazy. I looked down and saw hives starting up on my exposed skin. Fantastic. Being interrogated by a slimy alien wasn't bad enough; I also had to be allergic to him. "I need my medicine," I said. I pointed at the grocery bag I'd been carrying. "If you give me my pills I'll give you the secret of defying gravity."

    He made some boring threats, obviously picked up watching bad television, then handed me the bag. I opened the prescription bottle and took my pill. Then I handed one of my other purchases to him. "Sprinkle this all over you and you're body composition will change."

    He took it, then handed it back. "You try it first."

    "Sure." I sprinkled the contents all over me then gave it back to him. "See, no fuss, no muss."

    He started to follow my instruction but I interrupted him.

    "You can't just put it on over your clothes. They'll have to come off." I covered my eyes. He was bad enough clothed. I definitely didn't want to see him naked. When he started wailing I peeked out from between my fingers. Sure enough the salt was doing the trick, working just as well on his alien physiology as it did on the slugs in my parents' garden. I grabbed my groceries and headed home, taking great care to avoid the sticky, spreading puddle. Getting waylaid by creepy creatures was bad enough; I wasn't going to ruin my new shoes too.

  8. Donald Frederickswon Says:

    "James, Wait James," she called as she ran out of the restaurant after him. "I'm coming too."

    The rain was coming down harder now. Earlier there were puddles. During the meal as they watched the Russian agents the water gathered and turned to small streams filling the gutters.

    "Then hurry up," he called back over his shoulder as he raced for the Austin Martin. "They going to get away." He looked toward the fleeing car. The Black BMW was just turning the corner and would be out of site in seconds. They were too late. They wouldn't catch them.

    "James, James," he heard her scream, "Help" .

    God training new agents is a pain in the ass he thought still looking at the empty space at the corner where the BMW has been. Where did they get her?

    "It's the umbrella James, The umbrella isn't working right."

    As he turned and looked back he started laughing. She was hanging in the air above the puddle she tried to jump. The umbrella was floating in place and she was desperately trying to walk it forward, quite unsuccessfully.

    He had to work to keep from doubling over; the BMW and the Russian agents fleeing from his mind. "008 didn't you listen to Q when he told you that gadget wasn't for keeping the rain off but is an anti-gravity devise?"

    Help me James," she pleaded as he walked back to her. "I can't figure this out. I don't remember."

    He stopped looked up at her, still chucking under his breath. "That's why He always says to me 'Now listen carefully 007'. The discussion is usually something about the operation of these things."

    "James, You just can't stand there and let me stay here. People are starting to notice. In this outfit it's not proper you know."

    As he reached up taking the red stiletto high heel gently in his hand to pull her down he admired her perfectly color coordinated outfit, that of a society woman. I wonder he mussed if in the old agency before MI6 if the Avenger agent John Steed had all this trouble with Mrs. Peel.

  9. Lisa Aldin Says:

    Marie nailed the audition. At least she thought she had. But as her eyes scanned the list at the end of the grueling day, the sound of the rain outside competing with the sound of her heart, she couldn't find the name Marie Beaumont anywhere on the menacing page. She read it twice. Three times. Nothing.

    The thunder shook the walls of the old dance studio and as she fastened her red coat, button by button, she watched the other dancers, some celebrating, some crying, some stone-cold, another day, another rejection. She slid on her black hat, and shook the water from her red umbrella. She raised her chin and walked outside, her new red dance shoes scuffing the wooden floor as she went.

    She waited for the light to change. When it did, she hesitated, watching the other citizens scurry across the road, dodging traffic, huddled under umbrellas, their steps even, boring. She raised her chin again and leaped into the air, proving to herself, no, the world, that she could dance, she would dance, and no one, not even the skeptics at Amelie's Dance Company, would stop her from doing so.

  10. Cynthia Foster Says:

    There is nothing so hard as appearing normal. I should know; I’ve been doing it for years. I was born an infant. They called me Gretchen (gre tchen). Odd. I had to learn my name although it meant nothing to me. I remember turning my head to the side and blinking whenever they said my name. People. It made them nervous. Although “nervous” was a word I learned later, I was more interested by the way they stepped back and covered their hearts with their right hand. Always their right hand, like they can contain their emotion by covering the source. I used to copy the action, placing my right hand over the area of my cardiac muscle. Searching. Feeling.

    Nothing.

    It doesn’t matte what I feel. It matters what I think and do. I know this is not normal, that feelings are the most important aspect of being for others. It is rare to find a person that thinks. They all feel though.

    Strange.

    For instance, a woman – Forgive me. I forget the need to clarify, because people classify themselves as many, many things. – A mother, cradling an infant child, protecting it from Earthly elements, wrapping their arms around soft flesh, and pressing their lips to a yielding cheek. What makes people want to behave this way? Love? Why do they feel the need for closeness? Why can’t they just be?

    This is what I set out to discover. This need to feel love. I almost felt it once, for the woman who raised me. My mother.

    Odd.

    The music swelled in a rhythmic crescendo.

    “Gretchen?”

    I could hear her, my mother, but I rarely answered. Autistic was my classification. I danced, seeing my body soar through space, reaching through time as the music spoke to me. Music was never odd. Music helped me think. My body and mind are one when I dance. Mother didn’t speak again until I stood still.

    “Gretchen? That was incredible.”

    Turning my head at an angle, I looked at her. My mother. She did not back away. Instead she came forward. She was not smiling. Better. It is so much easier to see a face without the smile interfering.

    “Mother.”

    And then she covered her heart with her right hand and smiled. It was gone. The almost feeling. I was still a child then.

    Dance remains the key, and has allowed me, I believe, to be perceived as normal. When dancing, I am not required to be with people, although I think others do not think this way. I see other dancers huddle together before class, smiles making their faces all the same. I watch them, waiting for Madame to toe her way in and instruct us to feel the music. This makes no sense. I am the music.

    There are subtle elements that cover the lock of discovery. For instance, the color red. Not just any red, but red the color of a new fire engine. Red. I must wear red, carry red, taste red in order to be whole. Red is the color of passion. Passion is the apex of feeling. Red is a key. I know this.

    And the relief of rain. People do not smile in the rain. I always walk when it rains and watch the parade of faces under black umbrellas. I can finally see people, not what they are trying to show me with their expressions. A man, tired, is worn and gray as his coat. He notices no one. A woman with sunshine hair bounces by, glances at me and looks away. I can almost hear her thoughts comparing her body to mine. She doesn’t believe she is beautiful. She is. Another and another walk by. Their feet splashing on the rain slicked concrete, umbrellas bobbing, dancing above their heads.

    The persistent rhythm of rain drums on my cherry umbrella. I stop and watch the tide of people, surrounded by feelings. By thoughts. By life. I am one of these people. Me. Gretchen. The thought is new and leaves me breathless. How could I have never known this before?

    A bead of water hangs off my umbrella. It looks like blood. I hold out my gloved right palm. It clings for a moment more, dancing on the brim before it drops. Closing my hand over the clear water, I cover my heart. And I know. People feel things because they do. There is no thought that can explain it. Feeling is beyond thought. If thoughts are sunshine, then feelings are rain dancing out of the sky. Feelings refresh thoughts, giving them life.

    I smile.

    And skipping down the pavement, I soar into discovery, throwing myself into the hundreds of thousands of feelings raining all over me.

    Me.

    Gretchen.

    For an instant, I am free.

  11. kt literary » Blog Archive » 1000 Words, Part Two Says:

    [...] our series of photographic inspiration for writers, which we started on Thursday, here’s the next image, from Flickr user mintyfreshflavour. What does this say to you? (And [...]

  12. Amy W. Says:

    I wish the paper printed this photo instead of Elise's obituary.

    She always danced. I was ten when she was born, and I hardly remember her without a tutu, tippy-toed, during my high school years. When our parents brought her to visit me at college, she disappeared for three hours one afternoon. We found her at the school of dance, stepping out routines in the corner of the mirrored room.

    I majored in art history. I loved Degas's impressionist paintings of ballerinas bending awkwardly, their arms askew and their grace swallowed in sideways angles of the stage. They reminded me of Elise bruising her shins as she practiced jump after jump on the cement floor of our unfinished basement. Degas caught fleeting, awkward, dazzling moments with his dancers, and moments were all I had with Elise once I left for college.

    Mom made me talk to her about eating more when Elise was in high school. Her calves were muscled from hours on pointe, but she was too thin. I didn't know then whether she'd listen to me.

    When Elise went to college, I took two days off from processing insurance claims to visit her. This time I was the one disappearing. Her college had one tiny Degas on loan in their art museum. I stared at the artist's brushstrokes and thought about my Excel spreadsheets and thirty minute lunches. Elise performed that night, spinning and whirling with grace and poise, and we went out to dinner that night. She sucked the salt off her fries and told me to quit my job. I complimented her pirouettes and made her eat a panini.

    We made a deal. If she'd eat more, I'd start using my expensive camera. Degas painted his blurred pastel canvases because the camera was stealing the traditional artist's task. I wanted to catch moments, too. For the next couple of years, I snapped photos while Elise danced—and ate—her way through university.

    We both went home for a week one summer. Elise ate dinner with us every night, and my mom whispered thank yous to me over the dishes every night. Elise needed photos for her portfolio, and I finally felt ready to capture a Degas moment. We planned the photo shoot. Elise chose red. I chose rain. She asked for a hat pulled low, so casting agents would look at the lines of her dancing and not the expression on her face.

    We drove through downtown Minneapolis for a whole morning before I found the backdrop. Black window coverings without any store's logo would billow out as a foil to Elise's red umbrella. Then we waited for rain. We didn't have to wait long. The next afternoon, Elise and I left our sandwiches on the table and rushed downtown. Elise danced, and I shot photos. This is the one. It was perfect for Elise; it was perfect for me. Our mom framed an enormous print and hung it over her country blue couch.

    Elise shouldn't have died. It wasn't anorexia, for her. She landed her first professional engagement, and she was dancing until midnight every night. One of the other dancers shared an herbal remedy at intermission to keep her energy up when coffee wasn't working. The autopsy showed a heart condition that reacted to the pills. And my little sister was gone.

    I like to remember Elise in my photo. It doesn't say everything about her, but it caught the moment. A fleeting moment of sisterhood, of joy, and of conquering.

  13. kt literary » Blog Archive » 1000 Words, Part Three Says:

    [...] our series of photographic inspiration for writers, which we started on Thursday, here’s the final image, from Flickr user Fran Pregernik. What does this say to [...]

  14. kt literary » Blog Archive » Time to Vote! Says:

    [...] photo #1: poll by [...]

  15. kt literary » Blog Archive » Final Round of Voting! Says:

    [...] Amy W. for Photo #1 Rachel M. for Photo #2 and Alicia for Photo #3. [...]

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