Ernest Hemingway: "We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get a damned hurt use it don't cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist."
Sparkle: The pond was cold. Good, cold water like the water we used to have back when we were young and had the real, cold water. The fish were old. Old trout who had seen the battle, bled the blood, told the tales. Smart fish, old fish, tale-telling fish.
The woman sat on the bank of the pond and studied a rock like she knew the old fish were there and she did not care. The bank was made of the stuff they call dirt and covered with a thick matting of the shrubs known as fish sedge and the weeds known as weeds. The fish sedge and weeds ringed the pond with a promise they could not keep.
The woman sat on. She used to think about commas, semi-colons, and passive voice. She only thought about water now and the reflections. She did not think about the fish. She did not think about the fish sedge and weeds. She did not think about thoughts.
The sun was two hours higher now. It beat down upon the woman who did not think. It did not hurt her eyes. It made her hot. All my life the sun has made me hot, she thought. And that was all she thought. It was enough.
The woman touched the cloth of the green cotton sweater that hid her ripe, young breasts.* The cotton was thin cotton that had once grown in a field where insects lived and died. The sweater was made in a mill by the people who make the sweaters. This sweater has been making me hot all day, she thought. She took the sweater off and spread it out on the weeds.
The shadows came later and with them the bugs that suck the blood of young and old, rich and poor. The woman lazily dragged the green cotton sweater up off the good ground. She shook the green cotton sweater and pulled it back on. It was a good sweater. It was a good, clean sweater that had not been soiled.
The woman thought of the goodness of the sweater later, in the dark when it was cold and she was half-asleep. She took the sweater out to the small back deck of the cottage where she lived. The deck was made of wood and painted red. It was an old deck. It had seen feet. The deck saw her feet as she shook the sweater over the rail. The deck tried to warn her. The woman did not hear. The woman pulled the sweater over her nakedness and went to bed.
The red marks did not come for two days. When the red marks came, they stayed. And they itched. They itched with the itch that we felt when we were young and could itch for years. “Oh, no,” the woman said, “I would have had such a damned good time fishing if I hadn't managed to get poison ivy on my boobs." "Yes," the green sweater said, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
*This is extremely liberal literary license.