Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The thing that made me cry in the car

Friends, in the last two days, I've embodied obsessive-compulsive Refresh disorder. Refresh. Refresh Refresh. I kept refreshing (or is it "reloading"?) my web browser to see if the results had been posted for the English National Opera competition for "minioperas."

And then, at a stoplight in Plano, my phone blinged, and I did what I absolutely should not have done: I picked up my cell and glanced at the screen. My heart practically tumbled out of my throat. It was a Tweet--and all I saw was "congratulations" and "miniopera." I started doing those breathing exercises that you learn in Lamaze class (hee hee hee), tossed my phone back into my purse, and pulled the car into the first parking lot. I was also leaking tears from astonishment. And I may have shouted Oh My God several times.

A few seconds later, I opened an email from the ENO congratulating me. Holy crap. I'm a finalist. Over 500 entries, and Neil Gaiman selected mine as one of his top four. I'm still in a daze. 

It's funny how one unrelated thing can happen, and suddenly you feel that the chapter you're working on sucks a little less than it did yesterday.

There were so many excellent entries, so many great scenes. So much talent. Congrats to all the finalists. And if you weren't a finalist, keep writing. Keep creating. And as Neil Gaiman (now famously) said, "Make good art"!

ADDED NOTE 6-6-2012: I've been told that some people can't read my submitted miniopera. Here's an RTF version if you have trouble opening the original submission, try reading this and let me know if it works:

THE LINGERER

SCENE :
AN EMPTY STADIUM AFTER A GAME. THE LANKY SWEEPER ENTERS, PUSHING A LARGE BROOM ACROSS THE BASE OF RISERS (BLEACHERS). HIS HAIR IS LONG AND
UNKEMPT, AND ALTHOUGH THE SLEEVES OF HIS JUMPER ARE ROLLED UP TO REVEAL A
DRAGON TATTOO AND A CIGARETTE DANGLES FROM HIS LIPS, THERE IS SOMETHING
ALLURING ABOUT HIM. HE IS EXHAUSTED.

HE ENCOUNTERS PANINA, A HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN, IN AN EMPTY STADIUM. IN THE ROW BEFORE HER, AN ARM'S LENGTH AWAY, IS A SMILING BOY, 6. PANINA SITS LIKE A STATUE ON THE BLEACHERS, GAZING AT THE BOY, AMID THE REMAINS OF THE GAME--CRUSHED POPCORN BOXES AND PAPER CUPS, CRUMPLED PAPERS AND SCATTERED NAPKINS AND OTHER DETRITUS.
 
THE SWEEPER STOPS, LOOKS AROUND, THEN EXTINGUISHES HIS CIGARETTE ON THE
FLOOR WITH HIS BOOT. HE RECOGNIZES PANINA, AND THOUGH HE HAS NEVER SPOKEN TO HER, HIS HEART ACHES AT THE SIGHT OF HER.


SWEEPER:
Another one. Lingerer,
Come, it's time.
The game is lost.
I've work to do.
Dreams to burn.
There is nothing here for you.

PANINA:
No. Please.

SWEEPER:

Lingerer, I've work to do.
You exhaust me at the waking hour.
I cannot make exceptions for you.
Go.

PANINA:


No!
SWEEPER:

You must.

PANINA:


I won't.
SWEEPER:


I've seen you before. Waiting here
hoping, holding your breath, the cheers
Of spectators still echoing,
lifting you on a cloud.
To the palimpsest of dawn,
to places we're not allowed.
SWEEPER TURNS ASIDE AND SPEAKS TO HIMSELF.


And I've seen those cheeks before,
Flushed, alive. How I've wanted more—
to touch them. To feel her pulse on my lips.
I am a fool. A Sweeper of Dreams.


HE TURNS BACK AND SPEAKS TO PANINA.

But look, these halls are empty now.
The sun is born
I've work to do
Dreams to burn.
(TO HIMSELF)
And you to burn from these visions now.

PANINA:
Six months, he has been gone from me.
Six months since he flew.
Six years is too young to go.
Six years is too few.
And here I'll stay, where we cheer,
Where his face is bright,
Where we meet each night.

SWEEPER:
Lingerer, there are dreams and there is death
Lingerer, you cannot have the two.
It will not do.

PANINA:

Please, please. I beg of you,
Do not wake me from this sleep.
Don't sweep away his singsong voice,
The smell of his skin, his palm on my cheek.
He's happy here, and I am, too.
Let the living world rust,
But do not burn my son to dust.

SWEEPER:

This is no world for you.
The boy is gone.

PANINA:


My boy is here.
SWEEPER:
There is only madness dear
If you choose to stay.
I've seen the sturdiest men
crumple under savage screams.
You cannot live in the wreckage
of your dreams.
Come, boy.

THE SWEEPER HOLDS OUT HIS HAND TO THE BOY. THE BOY STEPS DOWN OFF THE BLEACHERS AND SITS BEFORE THE SWEEPER, IN A SMALL PILE OF POPCORN BOXES, PENNANTS, FALLEN BALLOONS, ETC.

PANINA:

Take me, too!

SHE RUSHES DOWN AND COLLAPSES AT THE SWEEPER'S FEET. THEY SING TOGETHER.


SWEEPER:
PANINA:
She comes to me each night. Standing here
Waiting, holding her breath,
The crowd, the cheers,
lifting her on a cloud…

To serenity. I'm not allowed...


And to see her cheeks, flushed, alive.
How I've wanted to
hold them…

To feel her pulse upon my lips.
My ashen lips turn golden…

I am a fool, a Sweeper of Dreams.

But look, these halls are empty in the sun...
He comes to me each night. Standing here
Living, I hear his breath,
The crowd, the cheers,

lifting him on a breeze…

But heaven can't have him, he's here with me.
And to see his cheeks, flushed, alive.
How I've wanted to

take them.
To feel his pulse upon my lips,

My mourning soul awaken.

I am a mother, without her son.
But look, these halls are empty in the sun...

DAWN IS BREAKING AND THE STAGE IS COLORED MORNING.

SWEEPER:
I've work to do, for you, I swear.
Back to the breathing, the waking air.
Back to your living child who waits.
I sweep so you can come again, come       renewed.
These dreams I burn for you.





THE SWEEPER PLACES ANOTHER ROLLED CIGARETTE IN HIS MOUTH AND LIGHTS IT. THEN HE STRETCHES HIS HAND OVER THE PILE OF OBJECTS AND THE BOY AND FLICKS ON THE LIGHTER. A PILLAR OF SMOKE RISES UP AND ENVELOPES THEM ALL.

PANINA BACKS UP SLOWLY AS THE SWEEPER PUSHES HIS BROOM ACROSS THE STAGE. HE LOOKS BACK AND WATCHES HER RELUCTANTLY EXIT INTO THE SUNLIGHT.



CURTAIN

12 comments:

  1. That's wonderful! Congratulations! :)

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  2. CONGRATS! That's so exciting - definitely worthy of rapid breathing and astonished tears! :-D

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    1. Thanks, Jillian! My heart rate has finally slowed down, which is a good thing because I need to sleep.

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  3. I am seriously so thrilled for you, Lori! :-D I clicked through to the finalists...there are only seven and you are the only one from the US! This is amazing!

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    1. Thank you, Jessica. I need to text you, agent-sis. Am I really the only American? I didn't realize that. Turned out to be a helluva day. :)

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  4. That's so awesome!!! Congratulations!

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  5. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: the Powerful Woman Writer Award. There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do!

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deirdra! I'm finally back in the country, so I can read and reply to my blog. I've posted and linked the award in my sidebar. May it give me inspiration when I most need it. You have a beautiful site. Good luck with all your creative projects!

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  6. Hi Lori Ann! I'm a composer and just found out about the ENO competition. I read through all of the scripts and am excited to be setting yours! It's truly beautiful, I'm glad to have been introduced to your writing.

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    Replies
    1. Hooray! I can't wait to hear your interpretation. Thank you, thank you.

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