Monday, September 12, 2011

The First Chapter of My Novel "Pineapples Still Life"

Prelude: The End and Some Means to It

A flash image to start.

Begin with the sun that rises and goes its way over the Jersey woodlands. Fair enough? Pale yellow rays filter through winter trees in a patch of undeveloped land not far from a two-lane state highway that cuts a path northwards through lake and farm country. You hear the sounds of a few cars and trucks passing by, with droning whines from geometrically angular snow tires. Off in the distance, almost out of earshot. Making their way to some workaday destination. Probably in a hurry, probably late. You hear a few birds sing a greeting song to the sun. Not so many. There’s a thin population of stragglers in the trees this morning. Only those that have forgotten to make the trip down south this year.

Not a soul is about. Except you. And your presence isn’t physical. Your mind’s eye is there. Nothing else.

A fawn awakens and stretches her gangly legs. Why not? It was time she was up. She rises from a slight indentation, oval shaped, a flattening of leaves and rearrangement of snow that will remain for a few days as evidence of her sound night of sleep. She ambles off in search of food.

A winter breeze picks up momentum in the attempt to rearrange the surface of the world. But it is not enough. It is unable to dislodge the blanket of fallen leaves deposited months ago. They cling together, partially frozen, with a natural inertia that comes out of damp and ice.

Between the trees lies a well-trodden path scattered with the refuse of passing hunters. Spent shotgun shells and beer cans dot the landscape. Some thrown away recently. Others months ago.

The path winds up a hill, then curves to the left. Highway sounds muffle as the distance increases. Gradually they all but disappear.

Around and over the horizon. You now realize you are walking behind someone. You step onto the crest of the hill. Your feet crunch down on a thin layer of snow and ice. As the path begins to descend again a sight brings you to a sudden halt.

The body of a young woman sprawls at a slight angle to the path. She lies face to the sky. A flicker of pale sunlight moves across her cheek. She has a fur parka on, zipped up all the way. Hair disturbed a little from the breeze. Otherwise she is still. She is silent. One leg crumpled underneath the other, as if she had fallen suddenly. Eyes staring upward into the dawn grey-becoming-blue-white canopy. Lips with a hint of a pucker. Her right hand tightly clasps something round.

Gone. Life has flown from the world years before its time. And with it flies youth. Yours. All youth.

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