Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Lima Bean Writing Challenge

So the other night my wife and I debated on what movie to watch. She wanted explosions, I was in the mood for monsters. We found something that satisfied both of our needs, "I, Frankenstein."

Yow. Bad mistake. The movie had no soul, just a CGI videogame. No characterization, no compelling drama. I mentally checked out fifteen minutes in, contemplating my ingrown toe-nail. After an agonizing hour and a half, when the "monster" stood on a rooftop with Batman-styled noiresque narration and music, I vowed to quit watching bad movies. Now, I love bad movies. Unintentional hilarity in cinema makes my day. But the movie made the cardinal sin in being boring. I thought I could write a better tale in one page utilizing the most mundane thing in the world I could think of.  I happened upon lima beans.

Here is "Lima Beans For Mom."

The cafeteria server asked what I'd like for a vegetable. I froze. People behind me grew impatient, sighing, banging their trays onto the rollers. My decision, so inconsequential to anyone else, carried the weight of the world, though.

The corn looked appealing. Peas were always hard to pass up, so round and small like miniature marbles that roll around in the mouth with a rewarding slice of goodness once you crush the thin sheath. Salads seemed safe, leafy and easy.

But the lima beans beckoned. Pale of color, a sickly nephew of green. I imagined the mealiness in my mouth, grittiness slushing into sand, the bitter flavor. It churned my stomach.

"Lima beans, please."

Someone behind me dropped a relieved sigh. I wish I could've done the same thing. I don't like lima beans. Never have. But when I look at them, they evoke powerful memories. I remember my mother slashing her palm across my cheek, telling me I'm going to eat the beans and like them or else. I never really understood what "or else" entailed and I suppose I'm glad I never found out. What Mom did when I refused to eat the beans hurt enough. Once, she jabbed her cigarette out on my hand, considering me a human ashtray.

I sat down in the cafeteria, my fork shaking like a divining rod over the green pods. I took a bite. Same horrific taste, yet this time the mouth-full of beans slid down like success.

When a waitress strolled by, I flagged her down.

"Could I get a box to go, please?"

Mom would enjoy the rest of them. I'd make sure of it. Of course I would need to spoon-feed them to her. One can't eat very easily while you're chained to a bed.

Ta-da! Did I succeed in making a compelling one page tale about lima beans? You guys be the judge.

But I'm issuing the challenge to y'all. Writers or not, let me read your one-page tales about mundane crap. It's fun! My next novel's going to be exclusively about lima beans! (But not really). Bring it, gang!

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