Thursday, April 30, 2009

I am afraid. Be afraid.

Today the cows scared me. Wait! I can explain.

The grass is that almost electric green of late spring, and though the sky was dark it glowed with that bad light just before a storm. I love that. It made the grass even greener; the clouds even darker.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a black cow on a green meadow, and I jolted, because it reminded me of something. The herd of cows were so deeply black, and so sharply defined against the grass that it looked like they'd been chiseled right out of the green to show the void beneath.

It's funny how long it took -- several seconds -- before I realized why this was familiar. Those few of you who have read a draft of The Turning Away will recognize it as an iconic image from the first part of the book. It's meant to be scary, and it wasn't until today, when I saw it, out my car window, that I felt that little shock of fear that I'd been describing in my main character.

It didn't help that, at the same time, I was listening to Sympathy For the Devil, and thinking about this poem, and how evil can seem so attractive in its power and certainty. It's bad-ass, and who wouldn't want to be bad-ass? Especially if you've been victimized all your life, that dark power must be a pull as strong as the tides when it finally calls your name.

We've been waiting for you, I thought. That's what it would say.

"Hope you guess my name!" Jagger howled. And then I saw the cows.

So. Cows? Not scary. Black shapes in a green field? In the right context: scary.


Peter S said...

You know scares me? Verisimilitude. And not just the spelling. Cows that look like cows, but you come up close and straw is poking out their ears and eye sockets, 2x4s propping up their legs. Or people that look very much like people except for some intangible detail. Like 'V'! Lizard people underneath fake skin!

Babs said...

Ok--so who's smoking what now??? It sure isn't your MOM!