So I’m working on a kind of collection at the moment. I’ll start leaking bits on here so we have content again, mostly poetry but I’m slowly trying to ease back into a little prose, a few dialogue stories. Actually, how do you feel about dialogue stories? Literally stories composed entirely of dialogue. Impossible? Impossibly boring? Very sensible?
I did one as a creative writing exercise a while back and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a lot like poetry – carefully selecting words to create the context, the feeling, the implications you need your reader to understand, if vaguely. I admit though, I prefer to have my stories mostly as opposed to entirely composed of dialogue. It’s based on screenwriting I guess – you still need a few directions, setting descriptions.
Anyway, here’s some prose for you; from a few years back now, but I like it.
Dave stands alone in the murky attic, staring at the splitting rays of sunlight blasting through the single window. In the midday heat, he’s somewhere else. There’s a persistent and noisy creaking of wood, then Steve’s head bobs up through the access trap.
“Carpenter” he says.
Dave doesn’t move.
“David Carpenter” comes Steve, dragging himself up through the trap.
“Why is it so damn hot in here?” he pauses “Why is it so damn dark?”
“I don’t know, Carpenter. Maybe it has something to do with the sun being in the sky.”
Dave looks at him, doesn’t reply.
“Well seeing as you’re not doing anything useful, help me lug some of these boxes downstairs.”
“Why is it so damn dark, Holden?”
“I don’t know, David.”
He picks up an average sized box.
Dave stares at the boxes.
“It’s cooler downstairs, Carpenter.”
“Don’t call me that.”
Dave drops down and starts examining one of the boxes. Steve looks, raises an eyebrow, and starts to walk downstairs. He struggles.
“Where’s my red box?”
“What was that, David?” Steve’s still struggling on the small steps.
“Where’s my red box.”
“Probably in the corner somewhere.” Steve jerks down through the trap.
Dave trains his eyes on the different box-filled corners of the room, squinting occasionally in attempt to pierce through the grey mass of paraphernalia and make out a streak of red. Eventually, he picks a corner and starts digging. He’s doing this until creaks herald the return of Steve. Steve Holden’s now wearing a pair of heavy-duty gloves and looks at Dave in the corner. “What are you doing, David?”
He’s answered with the ruffle of cardboard and paper. Picks up another box.
“Stop acting stupid Carpenter. Help me out here.”
“Don’t call me that.”
The sound of cutlery clashing against cutlery.
“Fuck you Holden. Where’s my box?”
“Help me clear out this place and you’ll find it, doofus.”
There’s silence. Dave is sitting on the floor, covered in a thin film of grey. Steve struggles and jerks down the stairs again. Then the same. Third time, Dave picks up a box and walks it down too. The attic is quiet for a moment. Flecks of dust are buzzing around the shafts of sun like daytime fireflies. The two men return. Steve picks up a box. Dave watches him.
“Hurt your hand? You oughtta take your time more, Holden.”
“Job needs doing. I’m just being careful.”
“Careful? You could wear those gloves in Hell and you wouldn’t get burned.”
“When you’ve moved 48 of these and you’ve found your red box, then we’ll see whose hands burn in Hell, Carpenter.”
“Shut the fuck up Holden.”
Steve picks up a box. Then he’s going down the trap. Struggling again. Dave cradles a box.
“Watch your feet.” he says, and follows.
The stairs leading through the trap are narrow, well worn wood. So old they’re starting to look more beige than brown. The men go along a dusty carpet and down through the house. The odd grunt announces that they’ve hit the ground floor.
“Well done you men” comes a female voice from some other room. Holden shuffles his hands around the box.
“What was that David?”
“Nothing Holden, you go clunk your way outside.”
“And you tippy-toe along now Carpenter.”
The door is lit like a gate to another world as they leave. The blazing sun burns the eyes. The neighbourhood is beige. The big car is dull silver. They load up the boxes. Maggie appears at the door, squinting as they huff back along the drive.
“I hope you’re being nice to our neighbour, Davie.”
“Neighbour no more, sweet thighs. Ain’t that right Holden?”
“Still friends Carpenter, still friends.”
“Fuck you very much, friend.”
Maggie’s eyes glare at him under the shade of her palm.
“David! Don’t say that in front of the kid.”
“Look, Maggie, I know Holden ain’t the brightest but…”
Holden sort of slaps him and he giggles.
Maggie scowls as the men go inside and disappear up the stairs. She bathes in the sun for a moment. Walks over to the car. Brushes it with her finger which comes back covered in dust. Spies a bit of yellow by a wheel, bends over and picks out a child’s train, a toy, all in bright colours, and the body in a red that’s very red. She takes it back inside, calling for someone.