‘Speak for yourself,’ said the egg woman.
‘I can’t speak for anyone else,’ I said, ‘I don’t know the language.’ And just then the bus stopped and the conductor told us our tickets wouldn’t take us any further.
This bit of writing shows up in chapter 33 of Joyce Cary’s The Horse’s Mouth which contains a total of forty-four.
I took in the Speak for yourself exchange several times last night. I’m still reading it over in my copy of the book, propped to the left of my computer. Other things to do, of course. Important. But ‘Speak for yourself,’ said the egg woman is such a perfect sentence – and such a perfect set-up for Gulley Jimson’s reply, I read and read, the way you admire a small detail of craftsmanship that distinguishes hand-made from assembly line.
Among the important things in real life: the electric power issue. While retrieving potting implements from the upstairs entry closet yesterday, I noticed a thick length of wiring sticking out of the wall, all taped up and pointing skyward. Whether this has any bearing on the shifty currents in this apartment’s electrical supply, I don’t know but intend to find out.
As for story, Cary’s egg woman bit may resonate at the moment because, much like an egg, there’s not much else you can cram into the shell of story once the chick grows to full hatchling size. A bit more brooding over details to add or delete. Followed by a lot of whereto now, if I go through the same exit strategies I experienced with other stories I let go. I haven’t typed in the momentous words The End yet. Maybe this egg doesn’t contain a chick. Maybe it’s hardboiled and meant to be rapped against a hard surface, peeled, salted and eaten.
For now, it feels finished as far as the writing goes.