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A Rock and a Hard Place

I’m going to a meet up (via Meetup) for writers tomorrow and I thought I’d post the story I’m planning to bring here. Not sure if I’ll get the chance to read it, but I had a lot of fun writing it regardless.

I came across the Leeds Savage Club on Meetup recently, with Wednesday’s session devoted to writing around a certain theme. This week’s theme is the phrase ‘Very Deep and Very Hard,’ which was, shall we say, open to interpretation. A few ideas crept into my head upon reading that, and I hope you’ll agree my story is at least an interesting take on the concept. Read on to see for yourself.


Some time ago I fell for a guy. Badly. But things never go how you expect.

I don’t know, there was just something about him that I couldn’t resist. The way he strutted around, those broad shoulders, that craggy chin, and the rest of him… chiselled, is the word I’m looking for. And when he took his helmet off… coal-black, shoulder length hair. Piercing blue eyes. I swear, I almost melted when I saw him.

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The first time I met him, we came within a stone’s throw of one another. Oh, he didn’t notice little old me, of course. I’m guessing he had other things on his mind: down here, we’re deep in the bowels of the earth. Between rockslides, stalactites and cave-ins…well, there isn’t much time for romance. But in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, he stayed in my mind long after he’d left the cave. He was just so focussed on his work, steadily hacking away at the rocky walls: a career guy, but that kind of single-mindedness always got me going. No, there was no denying it. Sooner or later, I had to make a move.

My friends? They didn’t exactly see the attraction.

“Are you out of your mind?” shrieked Crystal. “I just… how on earth did you get this idea in your head? You seen the tool that guy’s got? I have, and I’ll tell you for nothing: he could split you in two with that thing.”

“When did you become such a killjoy?”

“Ugh, you’ve got rocks for brains, you know that? Fine: do what you want, see if I give a damn.”

Clay was about as helpful.

“Not gonna lie: he seems a little… well, young for you.”

“You never thought that’s the attraction? Look, for as long as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by people that are like a million years old. I want someone alive, vital. Someone who can treat me right, maybe… maybe even knock me into shape a bit. Is that so wrong?”

“Yeah, keep telling yourself that the first thing a guy wants is a project to work on. No, face the facts: you’re chalk and cheese. You want to set your sights a bit lower, trust me.”

Chalk and cheese! Oh, we’d see about that. It was on.

I seized my chance some time later: an overheard conversation between him and a fellow miner had given me troubling news. It turned out he and some other guys would be leaving this cave- and me- far behind: I wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry. This was the only opportunity I’d get to introduce myself, before he left forever! What on earth was I going to do?

Of course, the answer soon presented itself. Fortune favours the bold, and I was certainly going to be that. I’d surprise him the next time he was working near me. I know, I wasn’t a picture, but I had my own unique charms. He’d soon see I was a diamond in the rough.

By a stroke of fortune, he was working alone the day I decided to make my move. Hardly believing my luck, I peered down at him from above: I was squatting on the top of a rocky incline, creating a crude ledge within the cave. I wasn’t exactly inconspicuous, but as I’ve learned, people rarely think to look at anything but what’s in front of them. As lamps screwed into the wall were extinguished, the cave was thrown into shadow, lending it quite the romantic air. He paused to wipe the sweat from his brow, letting me see the muscles shift beneath his tight, grubby vest. Mmm. Split me in two, indeed.

He continued to tidy around the cave, but to my frustration he was staying on the opposite side to me for the most part. It’s ridiculous in hindsight, but I was being quite meticulous in my plan: it had to be just so, or it was almost not worth it at all.

Almost.

More lights went out: it was getting harder to see what was going on. I dislodged a couple of stones: I tell you, my nerves were shot. Was this it? Was I going to let my chance slip away?

But then, victory! The stones bounced across the floor, causing my man to turn. They seemed to have jogged something in his mind: perhaps he’d left something in the back of the cave. He took a few faltering steps in my direction, and that’s when I made my move.

I leant forward and slipped off the ledge- quite gracefully, I thought. I stared into his beautiful face, contorted suddenly in surprise as I fell into his arms.

The two of us lay there for a while afterwards, me enjoying the warm, comfortable feeling that had spread across my nether regions. I… hmm. He didn’t seem to be moving much. Did I come on too hard, too quickly? And… he seemed to have lost weight and spread out all at the same time. I mean, I like them trim, but this was ridiculous. The warmth of acquisition shifted into the hot flush of embarrassment… or maybe that was the red stuff splattered on me and spreading over the floor. This wasn’t going how I had planned it at all. 

The sound of my descent had long faded away, to be replaced by some… less welcome noises. Footsteps, panicked shouting, and the odd retch, which did nothing for my self-esteem: I wouldn’t say I was that unattractive.

Three men scrabbled for purchase on my granite surface and began to roll me away. In other circumstances I might have enjoyed it, but suffice it to say I wasn’t really in the mood any more. Beneath the hubbub, I heard a familiar, sardonic voice.

“So I’m guessing he’s not into the older generation?”

“Shut the fuck up, Clay.”


 

Following feedback, the story underwent a lot of little changes (to punctuation, word choice and so on) and two big changes before I arrived at the version you see before you. The first big change was adding a motivation: what’s this boulder’s attraction to this guy? What exactly is it founded upon? Making it a question of age and virility (which makes sense given the age of the protagonist and its companions) hopefully helped bridge the gap over the chasm of absurdity this story is founded on. The second big change was the ending: it wasn’t necessarily clear what actually happened by the end. I hope you can work it out, but adding in the ‘granite surface’ and ‘rolling away’ lines hopefully made it clear regardless.

Another thing I played around with a lot whilst writing this was the notion of gender: the first line originally made the boulder’s gender (or gender identity) obvious, but this draft makes it more ambiguous. That’s a decision I’m happy with, in retrospect: gendering a boulder doesn’t really make sense, even if much of the rest of the story remains comfortably nonsensical. What I also hope was made clear is that the boulder doesn’t really have a great grasp of how humans are put together, despite being rather…enthusiastic in its ideas.

In short, I had a lot of fun putting this together. It’s a shame making actual comics isn’t a little easier: work on Let’s All Go to the Lobby continues, but reading a script is hardly going to be indicative of the finished product. Still, I may end up posting an excerpt from that at some point soon, so keep an eye on the site for details. Thanks for reading!

(Header image: Wikimedia)

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