And… I’m spent.

Here’s my entry in Livia Blackburne’s Alternate Version Blogfest. Livia had tweeted about it nearly a month ago, but until yesterday I was coy about signing up. I knew trying a different writing style would be a worthwhile writing exercise, but I had a case of write-fright. Operative word: “had.”

Check it out!

First off, the original passage. It’s a short flashback from my work-in-progress, a YA eco-dystopian social sci-fi:

After a rehearsal months ago, when Ben and me were the last stragglers, Mr. Campo’s deft fingers fluttered in romantic sweeps up and down the keys. The tuner had just visited that day, like hundreds of times before. Her handiwork didn’t need testing. The song wasn’t one we were working on. Campo didn’t smile or wink while he played, but his exaggerated movements and uncharacteristic sound gave his goofing around away. Like someone with no life, he was poking fun at my crush. I couldn’t flee the room fast enough, feeling an intense blush rise to my face like one of those mercury thermometers.

Now, I’ll try a bit of an older style. Lit lovers, can you tell me which author I’m attempting to channel?:

I was struck by two keys, among a sounding board rung at times by the most fiery of passions; two keys which, though ceremoniously un-Thelonious-Monk-like (were they so, they would have been followed by an awkward pause in which the listener is meant to reflect on his  interpretation of their musicality), they had a tinkling almost innate in their lightest pressing, triggering an entirely disproportionate reverberation in my foggy, hormone-addled head. The notes, whether the shift from one to the other, or the other to one, stopped time; with the g-force of a screeching halt before ratcheting back and gunning it in reverse to some moment formerly trapped in some deep cerebellar hiding-place. But no; how could it have been buried so far from previous reach? The moment, suddenly present and playing out in my mind’s eye, occurred only a few months ago.

The sound called forth another Tuesday afternoon entirely, when my choir director Mr. Campo worked his hands along the keys (as he often has occasion: at the ends of rehearsals, in a cutesy ditty hearkening to a “that’s the end of the show” wrap-up, or hands spanning octave-wide chords in vibrato: fabricated melodrama for laughter’s sake). No, this was the sound of mocking; of lilting fingers bringing to life the romantic interlude of which I daydream daily, the one pairing me with Ben (the boy who stands to my right, who laughs and smiles in all the best ways, at all the best times, like someone with whom I could sit and enjoy a cup of lime-flower tea when we’re 80). Throughout such an ignoble display of disrespect for young love, or at least infatuation, Campo’s hair waved around on his bobbing head with a not unnoticeable extra length; a common occurrence for the man. Like a tiny animal only hopping around on his cue, its waving added an absurdist dimension to the ridicule, only insult to injury since I normally enjoy the humor in such things. Albeit, there was some tiny comfort in imagining that while he was mocking me, his own hair was mocking himself. Still, what right does this man have (though he may know me well enough to read my every nonverbal cue, whether obvious or less so) to make such a comment with such facility as the sweeping, ironically weeping runs up and down those scales as if it were mere sport?

Ahhhh. That was oddly refreshing, probably because I’m quite think-y myself. (Maybe I’d like to be a brain scientist like Livia.)

Can you venture a guess at the author? Hint: using a flashback lent itself to a well-known excerpt of his.

Please drop your best guess in a comment below!
Hey, Chicago: First correct guess wins a free ticket to James Kennedy’s Dome of Doom (Order of Odd-Fish art show and battle-dance tournament at Chicago’s Collaboraction – Saturday night, April 17)!

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