Thursday, February 08, 2007

Free-Write and a Protocol Question

The free-writing group I facilitate at the art center uses prompts for writing on the spot and for taking home, where we generate pieces to bring in the following week. Several members have come up with their own collections of prompts. One has given the group a series of situational assignments -- the last such piece I posted here was, "Hi, Honey, I'm Home!"

The situational prompt this time was:

"You’ve been stranded on an island with only three things: a bowling trophy, a vacuum cleaner and a mystery item (which you must reveal). How did you get on the island, and why do you have these particular items?"

I dashed this one off Wednesday night: ....

To whoever finds this bottle:

Please do not be alarmed by the appearance of this bottle or its label. It is not really a liter of Pleiades Chardonnay with a vintage of 2148. It is not a wine bottle from the future into which I have slipped this note. Rather, if you look on the bottom you will find engraved into the punt the words, "All My Androids, Season Two, Episode Six."

It's a prop, you see. Used in a soap opera. That was the episode "Carrie's Brain Transplant," I believe, not bad for such a banal art form. Carrie's programming had failed, she needed a data graft from her evil twin -- and, well, you can understand why a situation like that would ultimately take All My Androids through five more seasons of angst-ridden story line. Enough to keep its sponsors wallowing in American pesos for years to come.

I'm glad I found this bottle. It's artificial glass but it still has a tight seal, enough for me to believe it will survive its ocean voyage and is now resting in your hands.

I can see no other islands around this one, nothing to indicate where I am. The sun's angle tells me I am somewhere near the equator, but there is plenty of shade available away from the beach. The island is relatively flat. I can see the occasional tropicbird or vermilion flycatcher, but not much else. Except for the other props.

This morning a large red Hoover materialized on the beach. I say materialized because I don't know how it got there. I went to sleep last night and this morning it was just sitting on the sand, well away from the incoming tide and shining ruddy with the dawn. I'd place its manufacture as some time in the 1950s. It looked like something out of Leave It To Beaver or a movie directed by Sirk. Something where the women dressed in narrow-waisted dresses with flared skirts and conical busts, with blonde hair piled high on their heads and doing housework in heels.

It took me a while to find the tag, which was hidden in the dirt collection bag. Property of Avatar Studios, a producer of retro films. Famous for such classics as A Day in the Kitchen and Devil From the PTA. I believe the vacuum may have come from The Maid Wore Handcuffs, one of their racier offerings. If there were a place to plug it in, I'd see if it really worked. But that bag can hold only so much sand, and there's plenty of sand to go around.

I've placed the vacuum beside the bowling trophy, which was already here when I arrived. Though how I arrived here, I have no idea. I'd gone to bed last night with a clear head and a clearer conscience, no matter what anyone else might think. I know Brandon was beside me. I know what we did. And I know that Carrie is heartbroken, too, but she's the one who had pushed Brandon away. It was only natural that he would come to me.

He's probably gone back to her, now that I've disappeared from his life. I'd fallen asleep in his arms and awakened on this godforsaken island. At first I thought I was dreaming, but dreams don't last for days. Not dreams like this.

The trophy is a prop, too, judging from the inscription inside the cup. My Kingdom For a Spare, one of those below-par offerings from Virtual House. The plaque reads, "Benny Pickford, First Place, 1962 Tournament of Champions, Avenue K Lanes." Another retro, then, but none of Virtual House's movies had the bite that Avatar's had.

I wish I'd worked for Avatar. If I had, I probably wouldn't be here.

I'm waiting for the next prop to arrive. I'm sitting on the beach tonight and I'll do my damnedest to stay awake this time. I want to see what they use to transport us all, whoever "they" are. And I want companionship. If they're going to dump me here, they should at least dump some other sentient being here with me, or soon I'll start talking to the birds.

At least the birds are real. At least, I think they are. If they aren't, whoever designed them did a fantastic job, and whoever is controlling them by remote has got all the moves right. But I didn't study ornithology, so what do I know?

Is this island a prop, too? Is its identity hidden beneath the rocks, under the water? Or inside a tree made of fake wood and planted among the real ones? I could be sitting on something taken out of Pirates From Neptune or Return to the Blue Lagoon. For all I know this could be one vast storage bin where all of us are left to molder in some long-forgotten backup memory, until we all degrade over time into static. Why am I sending a message in a bottle at all? Who would possibly find it, when it is as trapped as I am?

Whoever you are, if you are reading this, and if you know who is doing this, send me someone I can talk to. Someone who can talk back to me. I don't mind a voice out of the sky, or a burning bush, or a god rising from the sea. Just tell me you haven't put me completely out to pasture, or out to island as the case may be. Tell me I still live in someone's memory. Some memory other than a blink on a microchip.

Sincerely yours,
Prop #367, Recurring character
All My Androids, Season Thirty-Five
Now for the protocol question:

I've noticed that different blog communities have different ways of doing things. On Open Diary, for example, bloggers often answer notes by returning to the note-leaver's diary and leaving a comment that starts with "RYN:" (Re your note). Over here, folks tend to answer notes by leaving comments on their own blogs.

I personally prefer the former. Diarists on OD can check the notes left on their sites for a reply. I get e-mail notification of comments left here. As one who is on dial-up, I don't often get to entries on which I've commented to see if a reply has been left on that same entry. It's why I haven't yet gotten into the habit of answering comments by leaving notes on my own entries, though I understand that doing so creates more of an ongoing dialogue among readers.

So, for those of you who check in here and leave comments, please let me know which you prefer. Should I reply to you here, or at your place? (Thanks!)


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