31 DaysDay 3: LANDSCAPE AND TIME

{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing. And, as always, the details of the prompt are at the end of my post}

{start}

Sacred Space

Tirzah perches on a partial, crumbling, weathered brick wall of the ancient structure and closed her eyes, trying to imagine, trying to remember what it looked like before the Assimilation Movement and the Resistance. In the pink-orange glow of the setting sun, she opens her eyes and lets them roam along the building’s remains like a hand trailing gently over a treasured heirloom, taking in every crevice, every mark, every imperfection.

A source, a flowing fountain of endless information and adventure. That’s how her dad always described these buildings when they passed them in the night, their bombed-out remains looming black against the shadow of the hills lit only by diffused moonlight.

And now here she sits, in the midst of its crumbling beauty. Slowly, almost reverently, Tirzah rises and steps carefully, lightly around broken glass, burned papers and leather bound volumes. The presence of others is almost palpable to Tirzah and she catches her breath, squeezing back tears that collect int the corners of her eyes. She doesn’t completely understand why she yearns to cry just now; she has never visited the libraries until now. They’d been destroyed long ago by the Movement, long before she was woven into the lives of her mom, dad and sister, Asha.

She glances back at Asha’s sleeping form and wonders if Asha will mind that she is exploring the ruin without her. Before she can give it any more thought, her foot hits upon an old bound volume that is in surprisingly good shape. Perhaps because it was buried beneath a thick layer of brick and ash and other books and rubble. Clearly, it was uncovered recently and Tirzah wonders who else has been inside these ruins. She wonders even more who had the luxury of visiting this place before the Assimilation Movement took over.

As gently as she can, Tirzah picks up the book and sits down in the midst of the rubble. She caresses the soft leather, tracing the bold print letters across the front with her index finger, whispering each letter as her hand makes the shape of it.

How many others have held this volume, she wonders. She lays her hand flat against the cover and closes her eyes. She pictures some of their friends they’ve left behind, other members of the Resistance, moving through this building, their eyes scanning words, seeking ideas. She feels connected to them with her hand on this almost-pristine volume.

Tirzah opens her eyes and carefully, gingerly, opens the cover, slowly turning the pages. These words. These ideas. She rubs her fingertips over the printed page. These are what fueled discovery, inspired people like my mom and dad. What frightened those who began the Movement. She stares at the letters on the page and wishes she could understand them. Her mother had only just begun to teach her how to decipher letters and words, to find meaning in them.

She looks back at Asha. She can help me. Even though Tirzah is 8 months older than Asha, Asha’s mother taught Asha how to read when she was quite young.

Tirzah hugs the book to her chest and marvels at what she sees, as if she is seeing it for the first time. The ashes and burned books, the bricks and chaos of it all. She is overwhelmed by the vastness of what once stood here. The wisdom offered so freely for the people’s taking. Freely offered. Freely given. Freely taken.

Tirzah clasps the book tightly. Freely taken, but not necessarily freely given. But, too much has been lost already. Her teary eyes take in this sacred space and for a moment she sees not just those who came here before her, but those who will come when the Movement is defeated.

{stop}

Writing Prompt: LANDSCAPE AND TIME – write a summary of the human history of a piece of land or a place, as long and deep a history as you want to make it. Read the landscape or place as if it were a book. Consider the fact that so many strangers have inhabited the same spaces in relatively short periods: old houses, historic landmarks, what existed before the mall arrived. {Exercise 100 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley; note, this is an affiliate link}

And, as with Writing Sprint Wednesdays, feel free to link up to this post by clicking the little blue frog below.

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3 thoughts on “Sacred Space

    1. These two characters are from a dystopian young adult novel I started a while back that indeed fits your description. I decided to place her in the landscape and let her discover it’s history, our history.

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