See here for background info on the About.com project. The short version, if you’re too lazy to click the link, is that I’m using about.com’s fiction writing section as my holiest of bibles until I get to Alabama in August and start pursuing my MFA studies.
I’m going to use one of the site’s writing prompts (apparently they do these monthly) for this post. The March writing prompt, or challenge, is as follows:
For the March writing challenge, write a poem, prose poem, or short-short story from the point of view of an historical figure. The phrase “historical figure” may be taken broadly — anyone from Nicholas I to Nellie Bly’s mom is fair game — so be as creative as you’d like. Submit the result after reading About.com’s User Agreement. The form accepts responses of 450 words or so, and the challenge will be open until March 31.
Since I tend to take my direction literally, I’m going to jump right in with a story about Nellie Bly’s mother.
[If I could just step out of my authorial voice here for a second or two, for just a little commentary. Am I the only one who thinks it's a bit smug that this Ginny Wiehardt went with not only Nellie Bly, but Nellie Bly's mother as her "obscure" reference? I mean, really, who the fuck even knows who Stuntgirl Nellie Bly is? I only recognized the name because I had a history of journalism class ages ago and remembered that she was an Amelia Earhart type who performed acts of daring do for either Hearst or Pulitzer during the newspaper wars. It seems a bit showy to me, a bit like "Oh, look at me, I'm so smart, I'm one of the .000001 percent of students who Michener accepts, la di da di da. Granted this is of course assuming that Miss Wiehardt wrote the prompt in question. And yes, I did go 'head and do a little research on Miss Wiehardt, thereby learning that she did get an MFA from the Michener Center at Texas. I'll tell you what though, it's a damn sight more research then I'm gonna do for the hunk of shit story that's about to unroll before your very eyes.]
As I was saying I’m going to write a story about Nellie Bly’s mother…and I’m going to do it in the epistolary form. Why? I dunno, just sounded fun?
What you are about to read is an exchange of letters between Stuntgirl Nellie Bly’s mother, let’s just call her Maude, and the mother of none other than Evil Knievel. Now you’re probably wondering how a woman from, umm years past, could possibly maintain a correspondence with a woman in like the seventies. The fact is that they happen to share a temporal gastro-intestinal tract. Meaning that when Mrs. Bly wants to send a letter to Mrs. Knievel, in the future of course, all she has to do is write it out, fold it up neatly, then swallow it. Then, through the magic of time travel, and digestion, Mrs. Knievel is able to deliver the letter to herself in a manner that I’m sure you can envision with just a little imagination. [ok for the unimaginative out there, she has to poop the letter out.] And vice versa.
Now on with the fiction, as we go back to a blustery March day in eighteen something or other [told you I wasn't researching this fucking thing.]
Tuesday, 14 March 18somethingorother
I must say, that I was quite taken aback to find your letter in my chamberpot this morning betwixt the remnants of last night’s feast. I dare say you should be just as confused should I work out a manner to post this reply, as I don’t think you meant your letter to be read by human eyes other than your own. This I base mostly on your assertion that “I shall swallow these words when I am done, and no one shall know these fears.”
I confess, that I share many of the same fears as I too have a child who insists upon acts of daring do, much like this child of yours, this Evil. I can only hope that the good lord looks on him with much providence and that the moniker is but a stage name, much like the Stuntgirl before my dear Nellie’s own. Should that be the case my lady, fear not for the good lord takes care of those that take care of their own.
Now I must dash for I’m not sure that this letter shall arrive in the manner I wish. I dare say, I am going to try the same method that I conjure brought this communique to my porcelain bowl this very morning, which is to say that I shall swallow this letter and hope the good lord sees fit to deliver it to thine own bowl.
In Jesus Name.
p.s. I dare say, some weeks ago, a small white cube, emblazoned with the letter “E” arrived in my chamber pot. Could it be that this small token arrived in the same manner as your letter? I do not recall eating such a thing…but I have been known to dip into the gin on colder nights.
Check back tomorrow, or whenever I get bored, for Mrs. Knievel’s* thrilling response.
*seriously, fuck this guy for spelling his name this way. it’s a royal pain in the ass to type out every time.