[Here is the beginning of a story that I started writing for someone. The instructions included some requirements that I wasn’t used to. I probably won’t finish it. This version is censored slightly.]
Alice looked out of the passenger-side window and timed her squints as the rising sun flickered through the pine trees. The warmth tickled the pale skin on her legs. She thought about her cat whom she had left at home for the day. He was likely lying bundled up in the blanket she had begun knitting. A young guy sat in the driver’s seat. He was a thin guy, about average height, and wearing baggy beige pants and a T-shirt. His name was Sam, and he had invited Alice to spend the day checking out a place some friends had told him about. It was out in the woods. When Alice pressed him on what it was, Tom had only replied with the word “clan.”
“So can you tell me any more about this secret ‘clan’ before we get there?” asked Alice. “I don’t like just being led off into the woods without knowing what to expect. Tom kept his eyes on the road as the corner of his mouth twitched.
“Well, as I understand it these people are big into music, craftsmanship, art, making things, stuff like that. Society doesn’t really work for them, basically. It’s very close-knit group from what I understand. I’m interested.” Alice reached down to a small black bag that was between her feet. She pulled out a small sketchbook and opened it. The sun was now rising higher and covered both her legs. She wore short black shorts and a black shirt cut off just below her shoulders. She was thin, and her dark brown hair hung almost to her waist. She looked at her face in the side view mirror. Her typical facial expression was pale and ghostly.
They turned onto a dirt road that climbed uphill. The road was narrow and the pine trees on either side threatened to reach down and smother them. They kept going until they reached a clearing with about a dozen other vehicles. Most of them were pickup trucks. They got out and heard a group of people cheering. They walked closer. Sam led, and Alice walked behind clutching her sketchbook. She wore sandals that were tested by the uneven terrain of rocks. They soon got to a wooden building. Outside of that building were several dozens of people. Most of them were men. They were talking excitedly. Some held beers in the hands. Alice could smell smoke. Everyone was standing on the outside of a fence, looking in. A rather muscular guy with short black hair stood in the middle. He was shirtless and wearing gloves. He stood there with his hands on his hips.
“You got this Karl!” shouted a much older man from the sidelines. Sam and Alex joined the crowd. A couple people looked at them but didn’t say anything. Alice saw a few women her age. They were scattered around the ring. In an instant, all the spectators’ attention turned in a single direction. A large, tanned, muscular man hopped over the fence and faced Karl. He was bald. He had a blondish, brownish goatee. He had blue mma gloves. He wasn’t tall; maybe just under six feet Alice guessed. He cocked his head from side to side, loosening up as his moved forward. He danced from side to side and rotated his massive arms. There were tattoos visible all over his upper body.
Karl tilted his head up and breathed heavily. The newcomer lightly jumped up and down until the two men were facing each other. They touched gloves, backed away, and then the crowd started cheering.
“You can do it, buddy!” Yelled a guy with a long beard.
“Come on Karl, don’t give up!” shouted a woman near Alice. Karl tried to land a few kicks which were easily deflected. He tried a few punches that did nothing. They circled around for a while before the man eventually landed three swift punches followed by a kick that knocked Karl onto the ground. The man stood over him, straddled him, and locked his head between his arms. Karl subsequently tapped out. People cheered.
“Good effort my man!” shouted the older man in between sips of beer. Karl was helped to his feet by his opponent and given a quick but sincere hug. Karl blushed in response to the people around him. This obviously was not an equal fight. The other man stared benevolently out at the group around him, as if looking through them. The sun shone on him through the gaps in the trees above. Alice found herself studying this stranger’s frame. Self-conscious of the people on either side of her, she picked out a pen from her pocket, opened the sketchbook and started sketching. It was a blind contour; her eyes didn’t leave the man’s body. She watched how he moved through the crowd, how his shoulders swayed slightly as he moved. She studied the veins on his arms and the thick lines of his back.
“What are you drawing?” asked Sam as he looked back at her.
“Just, um, something in my head” she said.
“I want to talk to some people, want to meander around a bit?” said Sam. Alice nodded and they walked over to where there was a table of food. Sam struck up a conversation with a tall guy who was wearing what appeared to be a monk costume. She stood there awkwardly, wondering if she could take any of the assortment of foods there. Her sketchbook was still wide open. She had been standing there for a few minutes with her hand clutching her arm when a calm voice beside her said
“Cool, can I take a look at your drawing?” Alice was startled. She turned and saw the bald man. He was wearing a shirt and pants now. He wore the same look as before: almost smiling.
“Um, sure, here you go” Alice said, and nervously handed him the sketchbook. His large hand brushed hers. He looked carefully at the picture, and then looked back at her. Alice averted her eyes briefly but then felt silly. He was talking to her, wasn’t he? His green eyes were warm. He must have been twenty years her senior.
“This is me isn’t it?” Alice bit the inside of her lips nervously.
“Um, yeah it is. I just, I like drawing.” she said. She held her arms behind her back. Sam and the food and all the other people in the world didn’t exist for the moment. “Me too. I have some work of my own if you’d like to take a look.” Alice couldn’t conceal a smile. The man began to turn the page. His fingers looked like they were going to tear the page right off.
“May I keep looking?” he said. He half-smiled as he knew the answer. The crows feet by his eyes made him look wise. Alice nodded. She stepped closer to look along with him. He turned the pages slowly. There were little sketches of cats, of trees, of flowers. There were little scripts she had copied and some she had made up herself. She tried to tell which pages the man found interesting. It was not easy because he seemed to be turning the pages at the same rate. He stopped and handed the book back to her. “Very cool” he said.
“Thanks,” Alice said shyly, looking down at her bare feet. She looked up. “Can I see your work?”