Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing Exercise


We were asked to choose a picture from the the Cartier Bresson exhibit in MoMa. I chose the picture of a boy going down a Parisian street cradling two big bottles of wine on each hand. We were told that the chosen picture is the second scene from a play in our head.

The exercise involves writing a prose outline of the imaginary scene before this scene in the picture. And then to write the last 4 scenes after the scene in the picture to come up with six scenes all in all to complete the play.

This is what I wrote:


Scene 1

This is Juliette’s third summer in Avignon. She has nearly forgotten why she had escaped here. Sometimes, she resents the amnesia.

Her French has improved enough to banter with the grocer after the baguettes and cheese have been tallied up. It’s always about the prices and how her hair is a lovely shade of brown. Shall she accept Pierre’s invitation to go to the Arles to see the house where Van Gogh cut off his ear.

She carries her bags. It is much lighter than she thought it was. There were two large bottles of olive oil. And then she remembers. She quickly looks behind just in time to see the boy behind her by the aisles running with two bottles that look like small dolphin heads.

Juliette walks with a cane and can’t run as fast. Julietta asks the grocer for help. But there’s a long line and this is the only open cashier.

She shouts: Thief! Thief! She can't remember the French word for thief.

The boy has gotten away.

Scene 2

The boy zooms past people and tourists, never looking back, as if his sixth sense made him aware of losing the woman. The woman is lost. And the boy strides less hurriedly. His breath returns to normal. He walks like a prince. He meets two girls on his way who greet him. But he doesn’t care.

Scene 3

The following day, there is a commotion in the large plaza by the way to the old Pope's castle. Juliette is drawn to the scene. She uses her limp to get people to give way. She finds herself at the front of the crowd that has gathered in a circle.

In the middle of the heads and shoulders, a boy in shorts and a dark long sleeved sweater is found face down. A bottle of olive oil broken by his side looking like an ocean’s oil spill by the blood. The other bottle is unbroken in the boy’s embrace, as if like a baby.

Scene 4

At the morgue, Juliette has an argument with the mortician. In her bad French, she tries to explain that she wants to see the child. But the mortician prevents her from doing so because everything is still under investigation.

Scene 5

Juliette is lying down, her feet up in stirrups. A doctor is trying to scrape out something from within her. She feels that this is what she wants. But she also feels that in the middle of the procedure she has changed her mind. But the person scraping her doesn’t seem to understand. She talks and it is garbled. She knows she is speaking French but it sounds different. Her speech is slurred.

Something is coming out between her legs.

It is a someone.

It is slimy and fully formed. It is big and smiling.

It is the boy carrying the two bottles of olive oil.

She wakes up in a sweat. It is a dream.

Scene 6

She is by her phone. She calls long distance. She talks to her husband.

It is an answering machine.

She confesses to the machine what she did to their baby. And why she did it.The husband suddenly answers the phone in the middle of her confession. He asks her where she is.

She is speechless. She speaks in bad French. She pretends to be another woman.

She hangs up.