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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer School

Unaccustomed to social interaction, Laura is exhausted by the end of the first day. The workshop is intense, everyone’s brain on overdrive in the effort to solve complicated linguistic riddles, but also to charm and engage. No one wants to be left out when the members band together, their idiosyncrasies laid out alongside tricky idiomatic phrases to wobble and teeter on common ground until they devolve into knowing looks and inside jokes. Laura poses a convincing argument in the morning, hears a tongue-in-cheek suggestion fall flat at midday and, finally, in the late afternoon, provokes one thrilling outburst of laughter.
Dinner provides an unexpected shock of high-school-cafeteria angst, which the adult Laura squelches by crossing to the first empty seat. She is intensely grateful to the woman seated before her, whose expansiveness cloaks the entire table in a languescent, tipsy camaraderie that follows them back out to the square. The night is unEnglish, sultry and blurry-edged. Laura saunters past the pub, follows conversing bodies back towards the dorm-like rooms. When they reach the green, which the indomitable heatwave has turned pale brown, Laura finds that only she and Susan are left. They stand together under the bleary lamplight, transfixed.
“Oh! The bunnies!” she says, and Susan grabs her wrist.
“Aren’t they marvellous?”
The endless lawn is dotted with rabbits in various stages of adorability, white tails luminous under the full moon.
“You know they often hop over each other in play,” whispers Susan and, as if on cue, three small bunnies race across the grass and tumble together, hopping and nipping. Laura laughs, then shivers in the heat. Reluctantly, she and Susan leave the rabbits, and call parting niceties as they move away.
Laura cranks the window of her stifling room wide open. A flutter of regret leaves her bewildered, and for the briefest moment she feels the weight of her solitude drop through her stomach. When she goes to brush her teeth at the unfamiliar sink, she pointedly ignores her own reflection.


333 words for   , including BAND (verb)  3: to gather together : unite 

32 comments:

  1. It sounds like a lovely evening, but all the while a bubble of self-isolation. How beautifully sad.

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    1. Gotta let a bit of the masochist out and about now and again.
      Thanks so much, Tina!

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  2. My favourite sentence is your fourth, brilliant. Fab description here. Nice job!
    Laura

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    1. Tickled to hear you have a favorite sentence.
      Thank you so much, Laura, and thanks for reading!

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  3. Many of us can easily relate to the notion of being uneasy in social situations; of being alone among the crowd, of finding comfort in small, shared moments, of being nervous about being accepted and being lonely once it is all over. Not surprisingly, in your talented hands, you have taken this familiar scene and formed it into something extraordinary with your artist's touch. Beautifully done, as your work always is. Thanks for linking up this week, Kymm. :)

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    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful, lovely comment, Tom!
      Sorry not to have read you this week - hope you recover quickly from your judgeship.

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  4. Last sentence is good. Wraps it up, but gives us pause for thought.

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    1. Thank you, Xandra, and thanks for the input! I wondered how that sentence would go over.

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  5. I can relate to the feelings of loneliness and isolation at events such as this. It does feel like high school all over again with cliques. I love the way you phase/choose your words, kymm!

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    1. So glad you can relate. Yeah, flashes from high school are the pits.
      Thank you so much for the love, Gina!
      Kudos on your stint as judge - hope you recover quickly!

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  6. Kymm (I missed you-and I'm glad to see you back) this was so exquisitely written! The unease and feeling of exhaustion around others, and yet the bewildering regret too-leaving that sense of emptiness.

    And the scene with the bunnies was a brilliant touch!

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    1. Valerie!!! You're a one-woman cheering section!
      Thanks for always being so enthusiastic. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
      I missed you, too. Sometimes I just can't swing the online dedication this takes! Will keep trying...

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  7. This is a piece of great writing. I am exhausted having vividly felt Laura's stress and the high school cafeteria metaphor was perfect. Loved the bunnies too!

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    1. Thanks so much, lumdog! Sorry to have tuckered you out.

      Bunnies rule.

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  8. You've captured a lot of feelings here nicely. Really nice work

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    1. So nice of you to say. Thanks, H.L.!

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  9. Oh.. My comment was eaten. Bah.

    After coming home from BlogHer this week, I am reminded that even in the middle of 3000 people you xan feel lonely sometimes.

    This was well written, I liked the POV and the ending very much. Thank you for linking up this week.

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    1. *burp*
      Sorry, couldn't resist.
      Thanks so much, Kir. Glad to hear you liked the ending, too.
      You seem to have fully enjoyed your turn as judge! Hope you get to recover!

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  10. Oh so true, especially if one is thrust into a summer school/ dorm situation with strangers. Though I love my music week in the Berkshires, for the first few days there is a sense of isolation, making small talk with strangers, with whom you've spent intense class time. By the end of the session, my guess is that Laura will have made some lifelong friends. Well written and insightful.

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    1. Nice to hear it connected with you. The duality stranger/classmate is a bit shocking, isn't it?
      Thanks so much, Joanne!

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  11. I like the range of emotions she encountered - the nervousness about the social aspect, relief in finding a friend, the excitement of sharing the rabbit experience, and the emptiness that comes from nowhere when she's alone in her room.

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    1. So glad you liked it, Janna. Seems to resonate.
      Thanks for your kind words!

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  12. I've had that feeling only too recently. But it does get better. I always love how you use words, and the words you use! I wish I had your mastery of vocabulary. "conversing bodies" Simply marvelous indeed.

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    1. Haha I don't know that I'd call what I have a mastery... but I am glad you enjoy it.
      Thanks so much for your wonderful comments, Renada!

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  13. You've expertly conveyed mood in this piece, and the situations are written in high focus. Really enjoyed this and certainly, as others have said, can relate to her feelings. Nicely done, Kymm ))

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    1. Really glad to hear this resonates. Thank you so much for your kind words, Jo-Anne!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it.
      Thanks for the awesome, Aesop!

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  15. Beautiful, seamless work, Kymm! Love the way you've captured that sense of an unfamiliar place and Laura's awkwardness with all the social interaction.

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    1. Well, I'm really good with awkwardness... lol
      Thank you so much for the love, Suzanne!

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  16. This is lovely, so beautifully written. I love "she feels the weight of her solitude drop through her stomach." And the bunnies--I never knew they hopped over each other playing. This is very atmospheric, too. Excellent work.

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    1. You learn something new every day : )
      Thanks so much for reading and for your wonderful comments, Elaine!

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