Infected fonts

garden hose

Gleaned from washer lint traps and waste cans in the homes she cleaned, and bits of colored rag tumbleweed littering the streets, she stirred up a kaleidoscope slurry. Imagining the letters from the discarded scrap rearranging themselves into new stories, she washed away the inappropriate words with the other dregs.

Doctor in hand, she spread the rag pulp over a screen form, smoothing out any bubbles or lumps. Holding up the wooden frame, she watched the excess liquid trickle down the sides, wetting her sleeves and dripping on her shoes.

A gurgling stream of water flowed haphazardly from her old garden hose, leaving the grass and soil around her work station swampy. Her galoshes speckled with mud and sullied fonts, she hummed a tuneless song like an incantation over her preparations.

Setting the boxes out to dry, she moved quietly to other forms she worked on earlier. Gently turning over the frames, she tapped the bottom to release the sheets of new paper, then clipped them to a cord hung between two trees to continue curing.

Tiny flakes of flower petals and autumn leaves adorned each in random patterns, any virulent inks purged from the fresh pages.

The last piece pinned up, the garland of paper swaying in the warm breeze, she stepped back to admire her work. Satisfied with the results, she picked up the hose, turning the faucet up until the stream from the nozzle was strong and steady. Her thumb over the end to intensify the spray, she washed away any remaining silt from the benches and grass.

Drying her wet hands on the end of her apron, she left the paper leaves fluttering on the line before going inside. Her presence no longer felt, contaminated letters, swept away by the deluge, are picked up by small eddies of wind, twisted and distorted. The dirty fragments spit out on the malleable sheets, wormed their way into the wet pulp, hiding away until they could spread their infection to unsuspecting prey.

The Trifecta challenge this week is: Doctor [noun \ˈdäk-tər\] 3b: a blade (as of metal) for spreading a coating, or scraping a surface
This week’s Studio30 Plus theme is “trickle down,” and/or “taboo”


  1. atrm61 says:

    Wonderful piece Tara-loved how you used the prompt so differently:-)


  2. I love the ritual of paper making described so completely. And I cant help but wonder if those stray letters infecting the sheets are the ones infecting my head with the urge to write.


  3. joescottusa says:

    The last paragraph was like a thunderclap in an otherwise peaceful rain, and I like that.
    A lot.


  4. steph says:

    Your last paragraph is unsettling and unexpected. And I mean that in a good way. Delicious writing. I love the small details – like holding her thumb over the hose nozzle – that draw you in as if you’re standing there.


  5. Katie says:

    Inspired use of the prompt. very descriptive, you got my vote.


  6. Kir Piccini says:

    “letters into new stories” my favorite line and the way I like to think about the way we craft things from letters and words and tales.

    it was a great use of the word, you always hone in on the most difficult way to use it and then blow it away with verbage.



  7. Bee says:

    I love that the cleaning lady is an artist. Such wonderful writing.


  8. Great story! Makes me want to break out my paper making supplies. I love the imagery of words and ideas as liquid, fluid, to be broken apart, reformed or washed away.


  9. Lumdog says:

    I love the mysterious overtones you use to describe her activities. Beautiful descriptive words.


  10. barbara says:

    simply beautifully well done, Tara.


  11. I can feel the texture of the paper, hear the tittering words.


  12. rich in description – I hope none of those dirty words came from any of our houses…


  13. Awesome. And the dark twist at the end – unexpected, gives the piece a narrative.


  14. Tracie says:

    I love everything about this. The descriptions are so rich.


  15. Your vocabulary is truly wonderful – to write in such a descriptive way it a wonderful thing, to I, the reader who admires and appreciates the skill.


  16. jannatwrites says:

    Lovely descriptions. I like how you weaved two prompts in here without it being obvious.


  17. Draug419 says:

    I love how you described the whole process. It’s lovely and awesome.


  18. kz says:

    really awesome descriptions. absolutely love your choice of words! :)


  19. Lance says:

    This is really well-crafted and uber-creative, Tar Rah. I like your word choices. I had to hunt for the doctor prompt. great job.


  20. deanabo says:

    Very nice!


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