I was looking around the studio trying to decide what to make a book out of when my eye landed on... a roll of blue shop towels. If you've never used them (and you should; they're great), they are extra thick, soft and very absorbent blue paper towels. The operative word there is paper towels. Paper, as in what books are commonly made of.
So I had my material; now I just needed to decide how to use it. I became captivated with the idea of these towels' extreme absorbency and wanted to use that as a motif throughout the book. Played around with variations on the word "absorb," even cracking the thesaurus for ideas. And the more I played with the words, the more they started to turn into a story, or a vignette from a romance tale.
I'll tell you a secret (come close. I'm whispering). I used to write historical romance novels,
most of them set in the Regency period. So writing this sort of stuff came pretty easy to me.
The final result was an 18-page story I hand-wrote on pages cut from blue shop towels and bound with a Japanese stab binding with goldenrod yellow linen thread. The cover is simple brown card stock. Each page of the story has one variation of the word "absorb" in it somewhere. The text was written with a fine-tip black marker so the ink would absorb into the page.
The "dedication" of the book calls it a homage to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, he of the "It was a dark and stormy night" fame. His style has become synonymous with bad writing. There's even an annual Bulwer-Lytton contest to see who can write the worst opening paragraphs for a story. So I was trying really hard to write this badly. I'm pretty sure I succeeded. Below, after the photos, I'll copy the entire text of this charming little tale for those who care to punish themselves with it. BUT Caution: If you hate bad writing, just pass on this.
This is not really much of a book. The cover is particularly awful because it won't lie flat. It looks sort of like a camp project. But I did get to try out the material, and it does fill up a day's book requirement.
OK, for those of you still with me, here it is....
The Waltz -- An Absorbing Tale
(In homage to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton)
The ball was crowded and merry and noisy, the dancers fully absorbed in flirting, flashing, dipping and swaying like mating peacocks. He would leave, he thought, leave this silliness behind. He turned to go.
The door across the room opened and she was there. A princess. A queen. A fairy so incandescently beautiful that she absorbed all the light in the room.
He blinked. His head buzzed. Silence fell, though he could see the musicians played still. But so absorbed was he in his enchantment, so ensorcelled by her beauty, that he saw, heard, smelled nothing else. Only her.
The music rose, breaking the spell, setting him free from his immobilized absorption long enough to think. To know he must get closer. To her.
He edged slowly in her direction, softly, the noise around them absorbing the slight swish of his feet on the dance floor. She heard nothing as he drew near.
She was surrounded by lovesick swains, all of them fully absorbed in rapturous reverence, composing bad sonnets to her beauty and intoning them in their high-pitched, nasal, whiny voices.
He frowned. Young puppies. He knew they were, in truth, more in love with their love, more absorbed in their own emotions than in the flesh and blood of her. The real woman.
Close now, just behind her, he leaned toward her, breathed in, absorbing the delicate scent of her perfume. A heady aura of lilacs and lemongrass assaulted his senses.
He closed his eyes. He breathed. So absorbed in the magic of her scent, of her aura, of her, he almost forgot himself. He shook himself from her exotic spell, stepped forward and bowed.
"My waltz, I believe," he intoned, reaching out to her.
She blinked, smiled, began to glow.
"Why yes," she said in a voice so lovely he thought she must have absorbed the music and made it sing back out of her mouth. "It is."
Everyone and everything else disappeared. The air absorbed the yapping voices of the putrid puppies trying to adore her. They simply disintegrated, leaving only her. And him. Them. He placed his arm around her waist. She placed her small hand in his. They began to waltz.
They danced as one, not thinking, never counting. Simply moving. As one. The music absorbed all thought and movement, digested it and sent it out again to flow in perfect harmony and synchronicity as they glided across the floor.
They gazed deeply into each other's eyes, two souls absorbed in the magic of becoming one. Lilting, swaying, almost swooning, they waltzed on. The silk of her gown whispered to him. The beat of her heart whispered too. He answered its song with his own.
Alas, the music ended, fading to a sigh, then to silence. Slowly, the world came back into focus, piercing their total absorption with each other. Other dancers, musicians, chandeliers, colors and sounds became real again. But still they stood. And smiled... secret smiles meant only for two.
"Gillian." A voice. A cruel, intrusive voice to speak the name of such a piece of heaven. A man, a monster, who was now glaring with focused absorption on the angel. "We are leaving now," the monster said and put out his hand.
And with a whispered, almost silent, "Thank you," she turned away, took that ugly hand, lifted her chin and walked away, leaving him with nothing but the scent of lilacs and lemongrass, trying to absorb the essence of her into his very pores.
He sagged. She was gone. No. It could not be. It must not be. He would not allow it. He WOULD see her again. He had absorbed her spirit into his soul. They were one now.
He would see her again.