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Tuesday 200 We Begin

My writing class was both shorter and longer than normal tonight. How can this be?

Our 2-hour session was only an hour, but then we met for another 2 hours, drinking wine and listening to "published people" read and talk about writing. Everyone from class was invited to have a go. The instructor, Shaun, read from his short stories. And a lovely woman named Lynne Rees read from Messages, a book she co-authored with Sarah Salway.

Messages was written as a collaborative creative writing project. As the preface states:

Using email, 300 pieces of exactly 300 words were exchanged in total, each one returned within a limit of 72 hours. Links were made creatively words, theme, character, object, form, or even mood. The project took eighteen months to create.

The pieces she read were fascinating. Some short fictions, a set of lists, as well as poems from a separate collection. There were no boundaries in the Messages project, except to make a link, any link, and get them back to each other within 3 days.

As I was sitting and listening, I got inspired.

Why not do Tuesday 200s? A 200-word piece every Tuesday, hopefully each a self-contained contained tale or at least a reasonable snippet. I'll make some type of link each week from the previous week's post. I'll do it for at least 20 weeks (I guess 200 would be cooler, but I don't know if I'm ready to commit to a 4-year project).

Let's begin

:: :: ::

"Why do you sit like a girl?"

I'm at a picnic table, tying knots for a merit badge test. We're in the Sierra Nevadas, on a hiking trip with my Scout troop. I'm probably 10 or 11.

I look up. "Huh?"

Three older guys loom over the other side of the table. I squint to keep the bright sun from melting them into the mountains.

Their ringleader, Dave, asks the question again. He's tall and muscular. Has a driver's license. Shaves with a real razor. I only pretend, secretly scraping Gillette Foamy off my face with the back of a comb. He has thick black hair, on his legs as well. He is, I would learn the term a few years later, dreamy.

"What do you mean?" I ask, honestly having no clue.

"Look at your legs."

I lean back and peer under the table. My ankles are crossed, the toe of my left hiking boot on the dirt and my right ankle resting on the back of my left Achilles tendon.

"Girls cross their knees, not their ankles," I instruct them, and return to practicing my knots.

"I guess you'd know," one of them snickers as they walk away.