What Memories Don’t Convey

writing prompt for writer

By DAMON CROCKER

He moved the bodies of the fallen soldiers to a central location.

No, that’s not right, I thought as I violently hit the backspace key on the laptop. My thoughts were like mice who peer through an opening but are hesitant to take the chance of scuttling out. Regardless of how many attempts I made at making this opening line impactful, it was not happening. I needed to get up, get out and clear my head. Hopefully, this would allow the words to eloquently transfer to the page. My back cracked as I took a deep breath and headed for the door. I grabbed my coat hanging beside the door, while my dog jumped at the opportunity.

‘Down boy! Not this time buddy, sorry.’

The vibrant green trees had now taken a turn for the worst. Autumn had once again imposed herself on the neighbourhood and the tree’s mimicked my current writing situation: dull and gloomy. What was my writing missing? Why wasn’t it as engaging as I wanted? Why couldn’t I say what I needed to, the way I needed to? A light drizzle began to kiss my face while the chill in the air allowed my mouth to produce a fog that would otherwise require a cigarette. What’s that?

I made my way from the concrete pathway towards a clearing in the trees. As I walked further, it opened up and a familiar feeling swept over me. Against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and thin wisps of cloud lingering along its peak, stood a lake; it was breathtaking. This lake was similar to the one I had grown up near in Colorado – better perhaps? My wife and I have lived in this neighbourhood for almost five years now and we had never taken the time to come here. I suppose the death of my parents and the introduction of my two young boys had taken preference over careless wandering.

With an icy breeze gliding off the water, I made my way towards an old tree trunk, sat beside it, closed my eyes and started to think. Memories from my childhood came into focus. My Dad to the left, assembling a poorly designed raft he fabricated from nearby logs which had washed up along the river bed. He coerces me to climb on and as it sinks, he lets out the bellowing laugh he was so well known for. My friends are with me to the right, throwing a frisbee at one another and talking about our latest crush. I chuckled to myself for a moment at the stupid things I would say to impress … wait, what was her name? Michelle? The comfort of these memories reminded me of the joy those simpler times in life commanded.

Wait! My eyes burst open and I knew what my writing was missing. Without a second thought, I jolted to my feet and ran back towards the house. My hurried steps disturbed the fallen leaves which lay along the path, while the muddied water followed me home and onto the carpets. My wife would have something to say about this, but I didn’t have time to clean it up now. I knew what was wrong with my writing: memories don’t tell you, they show you. With this, I was reminded of a basic, yet profound, truth about writing I had learned years before – show, don’t tell.

I clicked away at my keyboard to complete the sentence that had recently tormented me.

A blood-soaked leather boot moves along the ground, gathering dirt as it digs a path to its final resting place.

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