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Buffy ,'Beneath You'


The Great Write Way  

A place for Buffistas to discuss, beta and otherwise deal and dish on their non-fan fiction projects.


Holli - Sep 17, 2002 7:51:04 pm PDT #5 of 10001
an overblown libretto and a sumptuous score/ could never contain the contradictions I adore

I have a short story I've been working on, and nobody at school will give it the proper machete treatment. So here's the thread's inaugural piece of writing:

A few times every year, my mother used to take my sister and I to see our great-grandmother at the nursing home. Mom always made sure we saw her before we left for sleepaway camp every summer; I got the impression that she was never sure if Great-Grandma Frances would still be around when we got back. Though I was a little uncomfortable around Grandma Frances (her teeth wobbled when she talked, after all, and her apartment smelled funny, like talcum powder and old cheese), I never really minded seeing her. I remembered little of the years when she was still active and alert, but I had heard enough family history to know that we were only seeing the tail end of a full and exciting life.

The real worry was my great-aunt-- my mother's mother's sister, Biena. Unlike Grandma Frances, Aunt Biena had always been a little vague and loopy. She had never held a real job, never been to college, never learned to drive a car or pay the rent or even how to cook, which was simply unheard-of in my family. My motehr's relatives paid the rent for two apartments on opposite sides of the nursing room hall: one for Grandma Frances, where she and Aunt Biena spent most of their time, and a second, little-used apartment for Aunt Biena. I only ever saw the place once.

Aunt Biena had asked my sister and I to come over and visit with her. We walked across the narrow hallway and into the other apartment, where we were surprised to find rooms filled with boxes, many stacked higher than I could reach. We wandered around the narrow spaces between boxes while Aunt Biena bustled around the little kitchenette, fussing over food we would politely refuse.

I asked my mother, later, how long Aunt Biena had been living in that apartment, wondering is she had just moved in and hadn't yet unpacked. My mother sighed, and, with a look on her face I could not understand, said "Years."

When I finally got up the nerve to open one of the boxes (expecting treasure, perhaps, or the bones of long-lost second cousins), I was disappointed to find nothing but a stack of brittle yellow newspapers, their headlines announcing the election of a president I had never heard of. But under them, I made my real discovery. I found a tarnished silver compact, larger than my hand, with spidery initials engraved on the lid. I opened it, and found that a trace of powder still clung to the edges, covering the mirror with a fine layer of flesh-colored dust. It smelled faintly of perfume.

The rest of the box was less exciting. Old magazines, dead batteries, empty shampoo bottles-- Aunt Biena, it seemed, kept *everything.*

I had eagerly turned to another box, which was labeled PLATES but looked to be full of leather-bound photo albums and 45 RPM Pat Boone records, when my sister announced that she had to go to the bathroom. Rather than use Aunt Biena's (what if it, too, was full of boxes?) we trooped back across the hall to Grandma Frances's apartment, the compact in my hands. I presented my find to my mother, who prononced it real silver, and told me the engraved initials were my great-grandmother's. It had been a gift from my great-grandfather in the thirties, Mom said, when her own mother was a little younger than me.

I was appropriately impressed by the compact's age and value, so Aunt Biena said that I could keep it. Then she gave me some (allegedly fun) activity sheets from the supermarket. We went home a little while after that; I haven't been in Aunt Biena's apartment since then.

My great-grandmother died a few years ago, and now Aunt Biena lives alone. To my knowledge, she still hasn't unpacked her boxes.


Betsy HP - Sep 17, 2002 7:53:21 pm PDT #6 of 10001
If I only had a brain...

I want to know who's cooking for Aunt Biena.


Holli - Sep 17, 2002 7:54:49 pm PDT #7 of 10001
an overblown libretto and a sumptuous score/ could never contain the contradictions I adore

She's a real person, so we're all wondering too.


jengod - Sep 17, 2002 8:14:39 pm PDT #8 of 10001

Do ya'll do essays? I have an essay that John H. and Gar Lipow helped me with, but now that it's so vastly improved thanks to them, I need another read.


jengod - Sep 17, 2002 8:16:47 pm PDT #9 of 10001

Raisin Bran.

Holli - so good!

And I guess her post answers my question.

And did you ever go in the bathroom?


Beverly - Sep 17, 2002 8:36:01 pm PDT #10 of 10001
Days shrink and grow cold, sunlight through leaves is my song. Winter is long.

my mother used to take my sister and I to see our great-grandmother

Holli, if you're unsure about me or I, take out "my sister and", leaving "my mother used to take I/me". Trick I learned.

I can see the stacks of boxes. I can almost smell them. I want to know what's in the rest of them!


Rebecca Lizard - Sep 17, 2002 8:42:28 pm PDT #11 of 10001
You sip / say it's your crazy / straw say it's you're crazy / as you bicycle your soul / with beauty in your basket

I'd read it, jen.


Liese S. - Sep 17, 2002 10:24:43 pm PDT #12 of 10001
"Faded like the lilac, he thought."

It's really nice, Holli. I wonder how Aunt Biena felt about the opened box?


jengod - Sep 18, 2002 12:27:35 am PDT #13 of 10001

Holli, I was shocked to jump back and see this was a short story. It feels very real.

"nobody at school will give it the proper machete treatment"

Can you specify what you want to do with it? Does it need to be shorter?

And, FTR, my piece is about squashing infinite copyright extension. I'm an amateur and that's fine, but the less abject humiliation when I send it out, the better. (I don't actually want to be able to hear the laughter.)


Theodosia - Sep 18, 2002 5:46:19 am PDT #14 of 10001
'we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end any time soon"

I, too, wondered if there'd be a reaction by Biena to her boxes being gone through. Maybe the narrator could accidentally knock one over and end up inadvertantly pawing through the contents that way? Speaking as a person with a couple of boxes myself, I'd feel less invaded if the pawing were 'blameless.'