Hearing, Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch
Welcome back to my mini-series on the five senses. Last weekend’s post on the sense of hearing was so well received that I am happy to do the second installment — Sight.
Originally when I asked you for a few words about “what you heard” I expected simply words or phrases, similar to what we did for the Three Things serials. I was delighted to see that everyone left little stories! You’re all so creative.
You’d think sight would be the easiest of the five senses for this mini-series. I guess it’s too simple. I think everyone primarily writes, paints, or photographs based on what they see. Any of you chefs might be the exception. I expect the senses of smell and taste tend to propel your creations.
Yes, maybe it’s too simple. Or maybe I can’t see how to do this post because I’m blind as a bat! (Sorry bats, no offense.) So here goes…
The obvious way to handle a post about “sight” might be to suggest ways of vividly describing the details of a setting. But let’s look at it a different way. I want to get you to visualize the setting in a way that influences how you see a character. That’s right; the way the setting is described influences how the reader/viewer sees the character or the situation.
I might see something perfectly clearly in my imagination. However, subtitles in describing what I see can have a big impact on your overall perception. For instance how do you see a setting where a ghost was about to appear?
You’re most likely thinking of something eerie, seeing shadows, hearing creepy music, maybe even feeling goosebumps on your arms. Ah, but what if my ghost story was lighthearted, almost a comedy? How can I get my reader to see that without giving up all the spookiness? I want to lend some spine-tingling suspense, but I also want the contrast and irony of a not so threatening poltergeist.
For this I’m using one of the “interactive” serials I’ve provided here at this blog. Click the button at the top of the page if you want to know more about this serial. This tidbit is from episode-1 of A Ghost in the Kitchen — Three Ingredients, Cookbook-2. All the episodes are together and in chronological order on the serial homepage.
This serial is a culinary mystery-fantasy set in the 1920s. It’s narrated by Pip, the young woman who is central to the story. In this scene Pip and her friend Andy first encounter the ghost of the cursed chef. I try to help you meet the ghost in a way that hints at his personality through the thing Pip sees. Here is my humble attempt with the sense of sight.
I didn’t realize that I was humming as I carefully cleaned the bottle, until Andy asked me what I as singing. Suddenly puzzled, I stopped because I had no idea what the song was. It was a tune I wasn’t even aware of knowing. I hummed it louder for Andy, but he didn’t recognize it either. I shrugged it off. Obviously I must have heard the tune somewhere.
Turning the bottle this way and that, I admired my handiwork, as well as the beautiful design. Only then did I notice that the top of the bottle’s neck was shaped like a skull with two swords beneath it. I made a face and showed Andy.
“You don’t think that means it’s poison do you?” he asked. “I’m sure the label doesn’t say that. And the seal hasn’t been broken.”
I had really been excited about that gorgeous bottle of wine. I didn’t want to think it was anything other than what the label said.
“Wait. For poison they use a skull and crossbones. Those things look like swords — not bones. Isn’t that the pirate symbol?” I commented and Andy nodded and grinned.
“Maybe that means it really is a pirate’s bottle!” he offered. “This wine could have been made before the Civil War. Or even before that. It could date back to the American Revolution — or who knows how far!”
I handed Andy the corkscrew and told him to do the honors. However, the cork was stubborn. Finally I held the bottle with both hands, while he removed the cork. It came loose with a reverberating pop, which I felt inside my teeth and eardrums. The harmonic sound shifted into the melody I was humming a moment before.
“Holy Hannah,” Andy commented quietly.
For a moment I thought the bottle must have been mislabeled. I thought it must contain Champagne rather than marsala. A sort of fizzy purple vapor filled the air, expanding wider and taller. I started waving a napkin, trying to clear the air. Then I sneezed. It was a big bend your neck, eye-squinting, bless-you-and-everybody-around-you sneeze. Like I said, the vapor was weirdly fizzy.
I was about to make a smart-alecky remark to Andy about the fact that he didn’t say “Bless you.” But as I raised my head and opened my eyes I saw a man standing where the vapors had been. He wore a white apron, but his clothes were from an era long past. When I looked closely, I realized that he wasn’t particularly… well… solid.
He bowed quite formally. “At your service, Signorina,” the ghost said.
Now it’s your turn. Look closely at the image below. How you see it is unique to you. On what special element in the photo would you focus to bring out the setting you see (or want others to see), or the personality you see for one of the people (or even the horse, buggy, or building!)? Now, with only a few words, leave a comment and tell me what you see.
What did you see?
Open Invitation: If this inspired you to just write something or otherwise create anything according to the sense featured today, that’s even better! If you want, you can use the comments to leave a link to your story or blog post. Kindly link back to this post if you blog about what you wrote, cooked, painted, or photographed.
Thanks for visiting.
Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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