Part Three: Character by indirection: describe a character by describing any place inhabited by that character, in the voice of detached author.
This is the bedroom: busy wallpaper in violet with dark double-lines, diamonds and flowers streaming from ceiling to floor. There is an oval rug screen-printed onto the floor, which itself is screen-printed hardwood. One perfectly square window (paneless, sill-less, only a plastic cross quartering it) sits in the center of the wall above the bed. The bed is of an injection-molded plastic yellow frame, with a low half-circle at the foot and a tall half-circle at the head. The mattress is a rectangle of unyielding yellow foam with coarse, over-sized sheets draped over it. The sheets, dyed indigo, do not sufficiently bend as they hang over the edges, taking on a more tent-like drapery. Beside the head of the bed is a nightstand, injection-molded white plastic, all one piece with the facade of a drawer; on the wall above this is a working electric lamp, the bulb an efficiently burning cube of translucent acrylic, inside a small, milky lampshade.
There is one door, across from the bed. It’s more correctly a portal, lacking hinges or any kind of door to close the room off. It leads to a narrow foyer in white with printed hardwood floor, which gapes open to a spiral plastic staircase leading downstairs. Across the portal is another, which leads to another room. There is no lighting in the narrow foyer, only another unadorned window like in the bedroom, but narrower.
In the next room is the poor illusion of a library: the wallpaper is a screen-printed wrap portraying cartoonish books on the shelves of bookcases. In two places the bookcases bend and follow the corners of the room. but only in two: this room, like the two previous, are technically only halves of rooms, the rest of which have swiveled away on a hinge beside the bed in the bedroom.
The floor is a large square missing a smaller square in the middle. Into this whole has been fitted a tremendous black camera. It points down into the hole; the glossy viewer window lies like a low onyx table, without chairs or cushions surrounding it. Indeed, all furniture (or props resembling it) has been removed: there is only a grossly huge Canon PowerShot dominating the printed hardwood floor.
If one wishes to see what it’s pointing at, one must go back through the portal and squirm down the poorly thought-out staircase.
On the ground floor we find two more portals leading out like their upstairs counterparts. Curiosity must be fulfilled: departing to the left we find the room with the enormous lens breaking through the ceiling. It has retracted and is shut, as if sleeping, as if ready to click and whirr and thrust down at any moment.
Directly below it is a sheet of paper that covers the floor. The paper is dense and coarse. Upon it lies a long staff of pale, untreated wood: one end has two grooves lathed into it; the other is blunted, tapered, gently bent, and dyed a night-like black up to about a foot or a foot-and-a-half in length. Nearby, outside of the house, outside of this halved room sits a large glass vat of black ink, sealed with a glossy Bakelite cap of near-black.
The walls are pale yellow with columns of lime-green outlines of daisies, perhaps. There is no furniture in here either, only the huge sheet of paper bearing a sequence of daubs and strokes that, from a distance, resemble an amateurish outline of a sparrow.
Back into the narrow foyer; now into the next room lying, if memory serves, beneath the bedroom.
The walls are stucco, here, unlike in any other room. The floor, likewise, is a thin layer of dark hardwood. There is a writing desk in this room, carved out of the same dark wood. We are able to observe a detail of flaws unapparent to the crafter, unevenness in the legs, an imperfect plane to some of the surfaces, but it’s nonetheless clear some great care and attention went into its construction. The joints are flush, perfectly seamless, and the furniture stands perfectly steady upon the floor. The front drawer functions, extracted by a chunky brass knob on the front, and it contains two discrete objects, one of which is repeated.
One object is a blank book. The cover is navy-dyed canvas, and the pages are creamy white, cut evenly on every edge. It is not, however, stitched into place along the spine but instead glued to the spine: overuse will free the pages eventually. The other object is the nib of a pen: a large chrome cone from which juts a thin cylinder ending in an inky ball; from the wide end of the cone a foot of thick plastic tube is filled with black gel which does not run and spill out. This pen tip is repeated three more times.
Upon the desk rests a book like the one in the drawer, but this cover is in forest green, and the first ten sheets have been filled, recto and verso, with laboriously clean calligraphy. Every thin letter is precisely replicated, evenly spaced and modulated across every page. The letters form words, the words compose sentences, and the sentences spell out an overwhelming and intense love for a woman named Janine.
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One thought on “Writing Exercise: Implication”
My friend, I must protest. So many details are just wrong! Examples…
The oval rug is not screen-printed, for crying out loud! It is hand painted onto the floor. And even when it’s not hand painted, do you have any idea how many artists design rugs, and have them printed on fabric?
And hand stitching them is quite a beautiful option as well.
Now, the bed. Injection-molded plastic? Madness! No, no, no!! The bed is a gorgeous brass piece of furniture, such as this one:
All fake fussing aside, this is a fabulous entry. Methodical, even cold, but it isn’t. Maybe it isn’t to me because I know him so well, and I know what lives in his heart (by the way, you should probably link the beautifully simple image of that sparrow to this post. It’s a real image, and your readers should know that.
The last line is my favorite, of course.
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