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You have heard of black-out poetry, haven’t you? Pick a (bad) book, cross out some words with a marker, and use the ones left behind for your poem. Here’s an example:

austinkleon.com

austinkleon.com

I’ve decided to go a slightly different route: black-out short story. It’s not easy and it barely makes sense, but gives me a good laugh. For my experiment, I chose A Good Woman by Danielle Steel and so far, it’s ridiculous and disturbingly poetic. Oh, by the way, you might be wondering why that particular book. Well, I said “pick a bad book,” didn’t I? Collateral damage I can live with.

ch1a      While I Was Away

O Worthington had begun at the northern reaches of the Vanderbilts and for the past three years he had always been in a sacred golden world.

The past Christmas, everyone insisted giving beautiful parties. The garden had been covered over and heated. Four hundred people had attended and he felt even smaller than everything about the days following all the excitement.

Annabelle had fallen ill with a severe case of influenza. He had been worried about her when it turned rapidly to bronchitis, and then nearly to pneumonia. Their doctor had decided finally that it would be unwise for her to travel in her weakened condition. He had planned a trip for months, and Annabelle was still convalescing when he left on the Mauretania in mid-February. She had traveled on the same ship with him many times before, and her mother offered to stay home with her.

He was sorry to leave her and Annabelle was disappointed, but by the time he left, she still didn’t feel quite up to a long journey abroad.

She was a good sport when she saw him off at the Cunard dock, but the house wouldn’t feel best since James couldn’t wait to do a great deal of reading; he spent every afternoon in her father’s library, and he soaked up world events and information like a sponge.

It gave him lots to talk about with her; Annabelle had a deep serious nature and passion for learning, science, and books. Her favorite room in the house was the library, but one could assume she was battling a wave of silent terror, because Worthington was nowhere she wanted to be.

She sat in silence, some of the time with her eyes closed, thinking about the child who could not yet be identified by name.

There was relatively little news from him, except the confirmation that he would return to Cherbourg. But Annabelle didn’t believe it so she went to the port.

There were no familiar figure to be seen.

She rode home.

All of the servants were waiting in the front hall to tell her how sorry they were. Within the hour, there was a somber black wreath on the door… once it was clear who hadn’t come home and never would.

**

I’m going to end the story here (for now); maybe I’ll get back to it later.

ch1b

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