week #8/52: the drain pipe
*kind of a long excerpt this week*
It was a concrete drain pipe, discarded and long forgotten at the side of the creek. She came over, bundled up like a marshmallow in canary yellow, and he was too, in dark green. Snow melted in patches on the ground, but there was none inside the pipe. Instead, he found a black plastic trash bag. He knelt down to it, pushed at it to guess what was inside. He imagined live mice bursting out, or miniature-sized alien creatures, with slimy green skin like toads. But whatever was inside felt firm. He broke it open and found newspapers.
“Wow,” she said, picking one up. “I bet they’re from a hundred years ago.”
The date said 1981. He read a couple words from the headline, stumbled and stopped at one he didn’t know. She looked at the word, mouthed the syllables. “It says ‘embargo.’ Don’t you know anything?” He would have figured it out. She just had to be so quick about things.
“What’s ‘embargo?’” he said.
She shrugged her shoulders. “I heard it on the news once.”
The bag of newspapers was heavier than he expected, and he dragged them out of the pipe and crawled inside, sat in the middle. She followed and sat next to him. He imagined it was a submarine, or a space ship – yes, space ship. He stretched his feet to the other side, pressed against it like there were pedals, turned a steering wheel out in front of him. She pressed her feet out too, but she wasn’t driving. She didn’t need to because he was, and she planted her hands down like she was holding on.
He swooped left, a whole body swoop, and she did too, to avoid a plummeting asteroid. He swooped right, and she did too, so not to collide with another space ship. “Whoa,” she said. “That was close.” But they weren’t out of danger just yet, they were still being chased – yes, by white-suited inter-galactic soldiers in stealthy space jets. He drove, and she held on. She was his sidekick, his wingman. She got to be the sidekick because she was shorter, because he was seven now and she was still six, and because she knew a lot, and a trusty sidekick needed to be smart. She was a funny little twig of a girl with a mop of wild blonde hair. She talked about panda bears or how you should turn off the water when brushing your teeth. She knew every endangered species there ever was. And the planets too, but he taught her that.
– from the practice novel, which is now buried in a shoebox in my closet, may it rest in peace.
notes: sorry about the length on this excerpt. I always really liked this bit, but the novel as a whole was going nowhere. So I thought I’d rescue a little bit for this photo project, so that it might have its little 5 minutes of glory 😉
Also kind of meh about this photo. It’s not my favorite photo of the week, but as per my project rules, it’s the one that was taken for a story excerpt. If I hadn’t had D with me I could have gotten a better shot, maybe climbed in there to clear some of that brush away. I would have liked a clearer shot into the pipe – it was SO dark in there, and super cool.
And much like the kids in my story excerpt, I totally would have climbed inside if I were 6 (and in fact did climb in many drain pipes like this). But you know, I didn’t want to give my own 4-year-old any ideas about climbing into creeks and drain pipes, lol! 😉
outtakes that I liked better: