As Fast As I Can

(Amazing image by Amaroo.)

I’m a little jealous of my poet friends–not just because they work magic with so few words, but because their work is so, well, portable. More than portable. It’s pithy as well.

Prose writers have a tougher time expressing complete themes and ideas on a single manuscript page. If we’re doing our job properly, we can manage a few sharp images, but we really require much more paper.

I wish I could share more of my work in progress. I did, a bit, with First and Last Lines, which featured the first and last lines of each day’s work from the final chapters of CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS. And I will probably do it again with this next novel. (Soon! Those pesky copyedits are almost done….)

But in the meantime, here’s the opening paragraph of a short story I’m finishing up (Again with the copyedits!) It’s loosely based on the folktale The Gingerbread Man.

Sudie found the left hand first, curled against a log so rotted that it was melted, gritty brown, into the loamy soil beneath it. The fingers were bent at the first knuckle and she could see the broad nails, filmy at their centers and parchment white at their tips and nail beds. The thumb was tucked beneath the fingers so that at first she thought it might be missing. But there it was, its meaty tip peeking from between the fourth finger and the pinky, itself nearly as thick as a roll of dimes. Kneeling, she unsheathed her mushrooming knife and gently scraped the backside of its crescent blade against the forefinger, teasing one of the fine curls of coarse black hair away from the knuckle. She fell back with a breathless little “Oh,” certain that the forefinger had moved reflexively, shifting the dirt.

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