Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vignette: Herringbone

(A scene that would come from my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, if I rewrote it enough. (The novel, that is.) Reality is shifting, and Emily's just discovered one alarming piece of evidence, at her Aunt Clara's house, a place that Henry occasionally visits.)

Henry shook his head. "What do you mean, it changed?"

"I mean," Emily said, "that yesterday it was a flagstone path, and today it's brick."

"So you're losing your memory."

She frowned at him, then flounced out of her seat, exasperated. "Wait."

He waited.

She returned with a cellphone, and sat down to peck at the screen.

"You're calling somebody?"


"I am waiting."

"Here." She thrust the phone at him. "I took a picture of one of the cats, lolling on the path. Right out there. Yesterday."


"And, look at the path."

He looked. He looked down at the image of the garden on the phone, then looked up and through the French doors, at the same bit of garden. He walked to the doors and again compared image with reality. He opened the doors and walked out, down the path in the garden. The brick path.

He took a few steps down the path, a few steps back, again comparing the photo with the scene in front of him. Finally, he said, "Well."

"You see?"



He said, "I don't know."

"You were going to say, 'Maybe somebody played a prank and installed the brick path last night', weren't you? And then you saw the moss, and the cracks. That path's been there for years."


"Except it wasn't there yesterday."


She nodded. "And then you wondered if I Photoshoppped that photo and put it on my phone, to mess with your mind."

"Well, no. But maybe somebody put it on there for you. Or something. That's what I was thinking."

"I remember taking the photo. You don't have anything but the photo for evidence, but I remember taking the photo. And, really, you don't remember the flagstones?"

He backed up to the French doors. "Sort of. I don't remember the bricks. I remember thinking that that rosebush, the one in the corner, was a nice shot of color in the summer, and that you needed something else for color in the winter because the whole place was so..."



"Like flagstones." She folded her arms.


"Like the path that was there yesterday."

"Also right."

"So what's the conclusion here?"

"Matching straitjackets?"

Image: By Jean-Noele Lefargue. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I like this scene a lot. I'd love to see a story or novel that fleshed it out.

  2. I just love this. I walked right out the French doors and down the path; I saw the flagstones then the bricks, even the moss. And the last sentence made me laugh. You go!

  3. You never fail to make me laugh by your wit.

    I much appreciate my weekly dose of Rambling Chicken.

    Ladaisi Blog

  4. Hey, Alex! Thanks! Someday, the novel may get done. So far, it's going veeeeery slowly. :)

  5. Howdy Christine! Thank you! I'm glad that you could see it. :)

  6. Yo, ladaisi! Thank you! And I'm always glad to have you stop by. :)

  7. I love this. I especially love that I couldn't tell if this was going to be realistic fiction or whether you were actually going to introduce the supernatural. And I was worried, because I didn't think it could end with any satisfaction for the reader. And with two simple words, you DID end it so that I was not only satisfied, but delighted. And I don't even use that word! Hey, is it okay if I just make one teensy comment? [Happy Dog imagines ChickenFreak nodding enthusiastically.] Okay. Consider arranging the second line thusly: "I mean," Emily said, "that yesterday...." I feel strongly about that, and I feel equally strongly that you should not change a single other line. Oh, and I LOVE the Wait. He waited. Wait. I am waiting. And I LOVE how they look on the page in their rightful individual paragraphs.

    I know I've been MIA for a while, and I'm way behind on reading your stuff. It's so much fun to read your vignettes. I'll be back soon! Hope you are well.

  8. Hey, Happy Dog! Thanks! And, glad you're back! :) And, yes, I agree on your change; I'm going to go change that line. And I really appreciate your comments about the "wait" bits and the paragraph. I often fear that my short-paragraph addiction is a bad thing, and it's nice to have reassurance of times when it succeeds. :)