Dangerous Words

“If you don’t face the dangerous in your writing, you won’t change other people, because you’re not changing you.”

–Naomi Wolf

Brainstorm a list of things that would be dangerous to face in your writing. Then write about one of them.

17 thoughts on “Dangerous Words”

  1. I was in a magical place, with warm breezes, and sweet smells. Not like flowers, honey, fresh fruits or anything I have ever known. A man like creature came up to me. He was sweating, bleeding, cursing and eating small cakes shaped like heartaches. Everywhere he went, he skipped rather than walked. He had a silly toothless grin and a nervous little insane laugh.

    I asked him “What is the reason for your visit on this fine sunny day?” As he thought to answer, the sky grew dark and the clouds rolled in. He smiled and said, “I have come to make all your dreams come true.”

    “All of them?” I asked. “Even those which I speak of to no one? Even the dark, twisted dreams that lurk deep inside?” The ones that I hide, even from my own eyes. ”

    “Especially those,” he said as he began to drool.

    “What is the cost?” As nothing comes without a fee. Is it money you seek as I have little? Is it my immortal soul? The devil tricked me out of that long ago, when I was young and foolish. What could I possibly use to pay for such a gift as answered dreams?”

    He scratched his long-pointed chin, then looked at me as if sizing me up for a tasty meal. He spat on the ground causing the dust to stir, then paused for dramatic effect, or perhaps he was only lost in thought and slow to speak.

    “Give me all your memories, so that I may explore the oceans and mountain tops you have seen. Give me the memories of your first kiss. The heated breath you shared with Judy Fulton, in the darkness of that summer night on the dirt road off highway eighteen. I want the one of the largemouth bass you caught with the fat worm you dug from the compost pile at your grandfather’s house. “

    He drew closer. His foul breath reeked as he made his demands.

    “I’ll need the memory of your mother dropping you off at school the first day of the first grade. The look of love mixed with nervous fear as she waved, then turned and walked away from the child, that until that day had been her constant companion, never more than a step and an arm’s length away. I need all the memories you have of her. Especially of her.”

    As he spoke his voice grew louder, and the color ran from his face.

    “I want the one of the time you hit the game-winning home run that surprised all of the older children. When they carried you off the field on their shoulders and made you feel like life had some sliver of hope.”

    “I want the memories of all the girls you knew growing up and more important, all the ones you dreamed of knowing. I want your memories, from the red throats and stretched necks of the baby Robins you climbed the oak tree to see. To the cool sweetness of the ice cream you enjoyed from the pink truck that played You Are My Sunshine.
    I will need the memory of everything and everyone else you ever loved. All of them I say, but the happy ones first. You may keep the sad ones, but only for a while.”

    I weighed his words, then as quickly as he had spoken them, the answer welled up inside of me, almost bursting to break free. “The price you ask is too high. Without my memories of all that I have loved, for what will I live. Even my darkest dreams could not fill that void or give me purpose. Besides, if I gave up my memories, you would have all that I am. I fear you are not to be trusted. The price is too high,” I yelled.
    “Be gone you evil, putrid spirit.”

    He reached into his pocket and removed his card. Across it, written in blood was his name.
    ” They call me Alzheimer and you have no say in this deal, for I take what I want and time is always on my side.”

    He rode away laughing on a bicycle made of bones, ash and broken promises.
    Tears rolled down my cheeks and formed pools on the ground.
    I sat and rested under the shade of a cottonwood tree until sleep overtook me.

    I woke in a small room that smelled of bed sores, sweat, and urine. Young girls in tight skirts changed my diaper and spoke to me as if I was a child.

    Frivolous dreams rushed in, then disappeared carrying my priceless memories with them.

    I sat and stared, until the light faded to blindness. And death became a welcomed friend

    1. I was so curious throughout your writing, I wanted to see where it was going to go and at the end, I thought “how brilliant.” Thank you for this.

    2. This is pretty amazing. Why not contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation (I am sure something like that exists). Maybe they would publish this in a newsletter. I will share this with my friend whose mother had early onset Alzheimer’s which began at age 50. I think she will relate to your powerful, and intriguing story.

    3. Philip I have said in the past that you are one of my favorite writers, a kenning you to an old favorite Mike Hammer. This piece on Alzheimer’s is powerful and gripping to my soul. I have shared this with two important women in my life in whose life Alzheimer’s was and or is alive and well. They were both mesmerised and wound up in tears. I suggest that you patent it or whatever it is to do I can’t think of the word to make sure that it’s yours. I’m hoping you get this text from me and I wonder if you would mind emailing that piece to me. I also need your permission to allow my Parkinson’s therapist to use it in her work. She is connected with an association under the Michael J Fox National Foundation. They work with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients. Thank you.

  2. Your personification of Alzheimer’s took me by surprise. I was so wrapped up in the “Cloud Atlas”-like character on the subtly bone-strewn beach (my take) that I overlooked the obvious embodiment of that insidious disease.

  3. Anita Furtado

    It would be dangerous for me to write about several things. These questions are always so thought provoking for me, as well as healing. Though I must say that I received a far greater share then I offer. The wealth of yours all experience strength and Hope and the beauty that you bring to your words through your own imaginations has been exhilarating for me. I must say I much prefer the writers blog much more compelling then my present circumstances allow. And I get to participate! I mean I see this totally as a win-win situation, and I to thank Laura, especially when I see the complexity of her teachings interwoven with everything she does for us. Here here dear lady! More to come from me later as I Ponder how dangerous it would be for me to face certain things going on right now. I know I must do this as my stomach is tightening. Interesting indeed.

    1. Anita Furtado

      So sorry 🙁 … And thank you Philip. I feel better equipped to meet my personal demons after reading your piece.

  4. “I love you.” Dangerous words that hide , obscure, twist, betray, manipulate,….can any other words be so potent? And, yet, if I don’t tell my progeny on a daily basis how much I love them, the day would be darkened. And, if my husband and I didn’t hug, kiss and say “I love you” each morning, how could the sun rise and glow all day?

    Oh, but how these words have tricked me, and I’m sure there are a gazillion tales to weave around this cycling globe,. and ,oh my, how those “I love yous” have rocked the very foundations of sanity., of confidence, of truth of self….need I illiterate? I’m sure NOT!!!

    A gazillion lessons to learn, and learned, have been woven into those “I love you”s….
    bepoken by the bully spouse, or sibling, or parent, and by the abused!!….How about the lover you thought was your true one…..or a best friend you’ve shared a childhood with, or for maybe all of your college days…or, or, or…..a religious ga,guru? How about the grief born of love?

    Yes, these days, ol’ glorious days of elderhood, with unrelentless lessons in my rearview mirror, I gather all the love you’s and savor them, as if trimming my sweetpeas, sunflowers, astromerias, veronica, the dahlia blooms from the garden, and precious them into a vase so that I may enjoy their scents and beauty, and treasure them even through their wiltings and stale petal droppings. They are worth every muddy knee and dirt under the fingernails that have come from my own tending and nurturing towards their lovely growth.

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