Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Use synesthesia in a short scene—surreptitiously, without drawing too much attention to it—to convey to your reader an important understanding of some ineffable sensory experience. Use sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. According to M.H. Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms, synesthesia is a description of "one kind of sensation in terms of another; color is attributed to sounds, odor to colors, sound to odors, and so on."
(from prompt #17 in The 3 AM Epiphany)

Read my response:

The boys sat on the curb, leaning into each other without touching, splitting a cigarette like a reverse conch shell, in that whoever held the smoke also held his tongue. Cigarette in hand, head toward the ground, the taller one nodded along to the shorter one, who was speaking excitedly about a plot to sneak in. Add together the years the both of them had been alive and they were still barely legal, but on top of it, they looked guilty. Even if they were just sitting on a curb outside a club, “waiting for his mom to come pick us up,” they looked like they were up to something. And they were up to something, of course. No one believes two kids in skinny jeans, they don’t even believe each other half the time. That’s why they lie so much, no one would believe them anyway, might as well have fun while you’re as young as the night and as trouble prone. Inside the club, when the door opened to let someone in, they caught whiffs of what they were trying to get in to taste, dark syrupy music that wafted out smelling like cherry cough drops, overly sweet and yet just what they needed, just what they craved. Girls stood in line, peering in, catching the scent, shivering in clothes the likes of which the girls in school would have no idea what to do with. The boys stood up, finally, one throwing down the cigarette and the other rubbing it out with his shoe, black Chuck Taylors with potential band names written in ballpoint along the sides and on the white top of the toe. They took deep breaths, and if they knew no one would see they’d probably have held hands out of mutual, nervous support. Support for each other and for the general idea of the night. When they did get caught, and his mom had come to pick them up, the taller one cupped his hand anyway, as if waiting for someone to hold it. His mother couldn’t believe it—no one ever does—and so they found themselves retelling the story to the wrong kind of audience. And yet, though she wouldn’t admit it to anyone, scarcely even to herself, she was impressed, just like kids at school would be. How on earth does a twelve year old convince a club bouncer that they are the DJ’s roadies? How do they convince girls, or rather, adult women, old enough to drink, that they have highly contraband drugs? How did any of these things occur to a child, who just last year was posing with his little sister on the Easter Bunny’s lap at the mall, wearing a baby blue sweater vest and talking eagerly about hunting for eggs? Without any showy displays of vulnerability (the last person who can see you reaching for the hand of your best friend is your mother) the taller one tried, unsuccessfully, to sulk. He was buzzed, from the sips of cocktails he’d swiped and from the rush of doing something he’d set out to do. Inside had been just as exciting as plotting had been outside, the music just as sweet and dark and the air as dank. The shorter one sat in the backseat, relieved (for once) that his mother couldn’t be reached, but just as relieved someone’s mother had been. Without the cops involved, he could remember the night, untarnished, every time he sat smoking a cigarette, long after his best friend had left him.

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