untitled "5-3-1"

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It sounded like a flute lilting in the night air. She had heard it when she was a girl on her annual visits to the village where her grandparents lived. It was the same sound that haunted and fasinated her when she was a child. A sound that she had never told anybody about. She had not thought about it in years yet here it was again. She slid out of bed; secured the sarong tight across her chest and slowly made her way to the window. As it did when she was a child, the sound always faded by the time she got to the window in the room.

The fresh green smell of the jungle clung lightly in the cool night air as she looked out. The moon was at half but provided enough to illuminate the bamboo grove that grew about 50 yards behind the wooden stilted house. Beyond that the jungle still waited as it did when she was a girl. In her early youth it also marked the line she was strictly forbidden to venture past by her doting grandparents.

"Mina... "” her grandmother would gently instruct, "... you can play anywhere but don't go past the bamboo. Understand?"” It usually happened whenever her grandmother caught her looking in that particular direction. It usually happened when she was helping to free the seeds from the pungent petai pod that was magically transformed into a tasty sambal for the evening'’s dinner. It usually happened in the open kitchen at the back of the house, below the back verandah, where she spent many an afternoon learning the family recipes.

In the dark she quietly made her way through the house onto the verandah at the back. She stood looking out at the bamboo grove enjoying the light breeze cool her body. Her eyes trailed along the 20 foot covered walkway that led to the open kitchen where that promise was made to her grandmother so many years ago. She had crossed many lines in her 30 years on this earth but never this one. Her promise was still intact.

The sides of her full lips curled at the thought of some of the lines she did cross. Some of them happened when she s a teenager growing up in the city. Most were crossed when she left for college halfway across the world in San Francisco. She remembered how she rationalized crossing those lines simply because it was "safe"” to do so, even though many were considered reckless even by western standards. She had crossed those lines simply because she was far enough away from home to avoid family scandal or disgrace. A slight sadness overcame her as she wondered how much of her own cultural values and heritage had been compromised, lost or eroded by crossing those lines. Still, there was nothing to be ashamed of, and as she had decided at a very early age, there was little time in this short life to waste on regrets.

Just then, the bamboo grove disappeared into the blackness of night as a dark cloud passed blocking the light of the moon. She closed her eyes, tilted her head back slightly and drew in a deep breath. "Rain..."” she thought to herself as she caught the smell of heady dampness in the air.

She turned to go back in but then she heard it again. Ever so softly she thought she heard the sound of that mysterious flute. She had always heard it when she still had sleep in her eyes. Never when she was fully awake like she was now. She strained her ears to listen but was rudely interrupted by a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. Big fat drops of rain began to fall obliterating any chance of determining the direction of the sound.

A series of flashes lit up the night sky followed by rolling thunder. In this sudden burst she thought she saw what she had never seen before... a foot path leading into the bamboo grove. She waited for more flashes to confirm that she actually did see what she thought she saw moments ago. Another flash... but it was no longer there. She rationalized that it was probably her imagination and returned indoors as the rain began to come down heavy outside.

untitled 5-3-1 continues here

This is a new creative project I'm attempting. One in which you can contribute to as well. Here is how it will work.

  1. At 6 PM (Pacific time) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I will upload a post simply titled 5-3-1.
  2. 5 - When posted YOU get to contribute a "5 word start to a sentence" toward the first sentance to the next part. For instance in this section the first 5 words were... It sounded like a flute... I will use the first entry via comment to begin the next part.
  3. 3 - I will use at least 3 other contributions of "5 word start to a sentence" for that part in the story.
  4. 1 - One page is the minimum I will be allowed to complete that day and will be posted by the next morning (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.)
That's pretty much it. I really don't know where this is going. My challenge to myself is to see how much I can flesh out using this method. If you want to try this for yourself... go ahead... let me know. Perhaps we can eventually compile this into some kind of short story anthology down the line.

* Picture of the Kampung House from this site.

Edit: Monday - 8:02 AM
Appreciate the submissions in the comment section... but it's not 6 PM yet! OK... perhaps this needs some tweaking. I will post something at 6 PM for submissions... then starting Wednesday I will post for submissions at 6 AM so that folks across the pond can participate. I will use the 2 already submitted in the next section.


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