The instructions for the writers’ group this month was to write something containing the words “McDonalds”, “chicken-fried rice” and “a piece of s**t”. To be honest, I was bored by the exercise, not happy with what I wrote, and was severely humbled by a young writer who does some of the best imagery I’ve ever read. I’m trying to snag a copy of his piece from last night, and will see if he’ll at least let me post my favourite sentence.
I’m giving up these types of meetings in favour of workshops. There are just a few butterflies flittering around in my belly.
The woman’s dark face is a jumble of lines, intersecting and dissecting. The face, void of teeth, folds in on itself. The skin is a dusky brown, like milky coffee left to turn cold. Her eyes flash with suspicion; her head whips around at every sound. She glares at people, at animals, at things which aren’t visible to the rest of the world. Her sandaled feet scuff along the sidewalk, punting crumpled McDonald’s wrappers out of the way. Her foot connects with a dried piece of dog s**t; a stream of filth flows from her mouth, one word indistinguishable from the next. The stream swiftly turns into a low growl, a primal rumbling from deep within her.
She stumbles along with no destination, no goal. The sidewalk is her footpath; the crowds and the traffic guide her in this direction, then that one.
There is a trash can on the street corner, overflowing with the refuse of the city‘s inhabitants. She flings herself towards it and begins sorting through it as though she knows where to find everything. Between mutterings, she crams in cold French fries, handfuls of grey chicken-fried rice, part of a soggy meat patty. She swills dregs of Coke and Dr. Pepper the way alcoholics swill mouthwash: with a desperation inspired by fear. The meal demands her full attention, and she is temporarily oblivious to the people walking by her, those who stare but keep their distance.
She digs deeper into the treasure trove of the garbage can. There is a red bandanna, frayed and filthy; she slowly ties it around her neck, preening/posturing/posing, stroking it as if it were a priceless string of diamonds a lover had draped around her throat. Thus adorned, her hands smooth her blouse, her skirt, her hair. She twirls, watching her shadow on the ground, marveling at the sway of her skirt as it catches the breeze. The sun, beginning its descent, gleams behind her, casting a gold corona around her wild hair.
She is beautiful.