There are stories that have no proper beginning. Stories for which no convenient, familiar “Once upon a time…” praeambulum exists. They may, for instance, be contained within larger stories, interwoven with the finest of gradations, and so setting them apart is a necessarily arbitrary undertaking. Let us say, then, that this story is of that species. Where it truly began is not where we will start its telling, for to attempt such a thing would require a patience and the requisite time for infinite regression. I may say that the sea had a daughter, though she has spent every day of her life on dry land. At once, the tumult of a hundred questions about how such a thing ever came to be will spring into the reader’s mind. What is the nature of the sea’s womb? With what or whom did she or he have congress to find himself or herself with child? What of the midwife? What is the gestation time of all the oceans of the world, or its sperm count, when considered as a single being? And, while we’re at it, which being, and from which pantheon, do I mean when I say “the sea”? Am I speaking of the incestuous union of Oceanus and his sister Tethys? Do I mean to say Poseidon, or Neptune, Ægir and Rán, or Susanoo of the Shinto, or Arnapkapfaaluk of the Inuit?
I mean only to say the sea.
The sea had a daughter, but she was orphaned. She grew up in a city of men, a city at the mouths of two rivers that flowed down into a wide bay, fed by other rivers and dotted by more than thirty rocky, weathered islands. Here she was a child, and then a young woman. Here, she thought, she would grow to be an old woman. She’d never desired to travel, and had never ventured very far inland. She had seen photographs of mountain ranges, and read descriptions of the world’s great deserts, and that was sufficient.
And I do quite like that. I expect, someday, when the digest is not running so very late, I'll come back to it. It is the beginning of a story I haven't presently got the time to write. So, like I said, I discarded it. I have a "vignette morgue" file into which such things are consigned. It's an orphanage for sentences. And then I wrote an additional six hundred words or so on a piece I'm calling "The Bone's Prayer," and it has a good beginning, and a nice epigraph, so I'm hoping it's going to prove, today, to be what I need it to be.
I've got to get to work. By some damnable miracle, I slept until 11 a.m. this morning. I desperately needed the sleep, almost eight hours, but not at the expense of time that should be spent working. Oh, and Spooky has posted photographs of Sméagol, doing Sméagol stuff (or something).