Separate Story Project No. 3 and 4

Week 3 of the Separate Story Project brings to life “Something with potential”

Julie’s Drawing:

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Nicole’s story about Julie’s drawing:

My grandfather, a most-famous Hungarian magician, had two possessions on his person when he died: a locked leather-bound journal in which he wrote detailed descriptions of his every illusion (both practiced and performed), and a key—a skeleton design which weighed heavily on a faint gold chain around his neck.

He, in his old age, had become hermitic—fearful, and rather paranoid. I remember the last time we saw each other at Café Montemarte, it was an unusually warm night in February and his attention was fractured with nearby distractions. People walked too closely, spoke too loudly, brushed up against his shoulder too purposefully. His eyes darted eagerly, shooting from them blades of suspicion.

Only my mother knew of his address, and on the afternoon that he passed, she closed the brass door quickly behind her; the entry room was dark with the exception of one band of slanted light. Dust floated at an angle from window slat to amber rug. The air was thick and drowsy, even more so as she stepped towards the back of the apartment to where his bed had always been. Through thin windows she heard the sound of life continuing outside of death—the steady hum of cars and conversations sang with the tick of a second hand. She acted with haste to gently remove the key from his chest and journal from his grasp—she couldn’t bear that just anyone could uncover his secrets.

Within hours, news rumbled through the allies of Budapest, over the lakes of Slovenia, across the islands of Norway, down the streets of Stockholm and London and Montenegro and the island of Sardinia; people cried in the streets. His death threw the entire world into mourning, and as they wept, my mother and I—his only living descendants—opened the journal.

She flipped through the pages slowly at first, rubbing them stiffly between her thumb and forefingers to separate front from back. Her pace quickened, until, unexpectedly, she turned the journal so that the back cover was on top, and fanned through the pages, end-to-start. All but one page was blank.

His handwriting was spidery, thin and angular across the center of the sheet:

“It is true that those who do not believe in magic will never find it. My darling Kate, you must watch the whole world around you with glittering eyes–the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. The bottled ship, my finest accomplishment, is yours.”


Nicole’s drawing:

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Julie’s story about Nicole’s drawing:

Her head hit the pillow like a train on a track, heavy and fluid.

Her eyes ached and burned even when they were shut, but her mind didn’t seem to notice. It was her escape, this bed, the place where she could just be. She loved the idea of dreaming, the hope that she would wake up with a deep and epiphanic understanding of it all. Everything she wanted to be was kept in her dreams.

The disconnect between her eyes and her body was magnetic. Normally a sweet escape, her bed slowly started to feel like a prison taunting her pulling her in and out of the want for sleep. Eyes closed, and arms raised above head, she pulled her spine as long as she could. A refreshing cat-like stretch to wind down her rapturous mind.

Sleeping was hard. Wiping away the tear that fell for no reason other than necessity, she sighed. Every inch of her body felt heavy. At last, she said a silent prayer, turned off her light, and decided to try again.


Week 4

Drawing theme: “Sunday Brunch”

Julie’s Drawing:

 

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Nicole’s story about Julie’s drawing:

“We bought a truck and gutted it one summer. Slept out of it for an entire month, too. At night, your mother would cozy herself in one of my old flannels, she’d be completely swimming in it, but she loved the way it wrapped twice around her–said she felt ‘snug as a fox in a den.’ On the night of our first wedding anniversary, we drove the truck out to Todd County to camp by the lake. I remember going out about a half-mile from camp to gather wood for the fire—I couldn’t have been gone for more than an hour before I trudged back in with logs and stray branches up to my beard.

I had the workman habit, then, of running my forehead with the inside of my wrist, and I’ll never forget the way she came up and kissed me on the cheek after I had rubbed the sweat from my skin. Told me she had a surprise for dinner. Your mother, I tell you, was full of surprises. From behind her back she revealed a bundle of butcher paper tied in the center with thin twine…and you know what she said to me?”

I shook my head no.

“She said, ‘Bacon. Bacon and eggs and pancakes. And every year on our anniversary, we’ll have breakfast for dinner just like tonight.

She was so pleased with herself. She had my heart in her hand. Still does. I remember the way the oil crackled in the pan, and how her eyes dropped and her lower lip came out just like this, all childlike and weary when some of the shells accidentally mixed in with the eggs.”

“I miss her,” I said looking down at the empty space between my napkin and knife.

Walking over with two plates full of bacon and eggs and pancakes in his hand, he recited it again:

The moon turns its clockwork dream.
The biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
And as I love you, the pines in the wind
want to sing your name with their leaves of wire.

He switched on the light overhead, handed me my breakfast for dinner, and sat lightly to my right. His glass of orange juice looked frightfully out of place, but he picked it up and leaned its rim in my direction.

“To your mother. To strong love and silly tradition.”


 

Nicole’s drawing:

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Julie’s story about Nicole’s drawing:

She could move through the recipe as effortlessly as humming the tune to her favorite song. She loved Sundays, and Sundays loved her right back. Sunday was the day they had brunch. It started as a tradition back when they were dating, Bloody Mary breakfasts. Even now in the early morning, with three bedrooms and two beautiful children, they still managed to find time to clink their glasses and relax.
She needed a lemon. She opened the door and walked to the backyard, the grass was still wet with dew and the sun was breaking through the branches of the Oak tree in the corner with glorious beams of light. The air had a distinct smell of summer. She returned to the kitchen with the biggest lemon the tree could offer her, and set to work.
Her feet seemed to glide across the floor as she gathered the pepper, the horseradish, and the creole seasoning. She wasn’t quite tall enough to reach the spices in the cabinet so she had to use her tip toes.
“Fourteen years of ballet and it all comes down to this” she said to the dog.
She laughed to herself as she put the spices down on the counter next to the glasses, and continued to dance through the choreography. Her movements were graceful and precise, she never looked at the glasses she relied instead on muscle memory.
As she mixed, she closed her eyes and started humming “Here Comes the Sun” it seemed like an appropriate choice for her favorite day of the week. The soft clink of the cubed ice against the glass set the rhythm as she stirred. Somewhere around the second verse, she opened her eyes and saw him sitting at the table watching her. She smiled with her entire soul and his soul smiled right back. She brought the finished drinks over to the table and sat next to him.
“Happy Sunday” he said.
“Happy Sunday” she said, and they clinked their glasses and sipped their drinks, both enjoying the peace and quiet.

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