This challenge was much more open-ended.
In 1-5 paragraphs, describe a routine or ritual in the second person.
See, simple. This simplicity diverged into each writer’s own flavor of what they understood that broad idea of “ritual” to be. There are a million ways that we humans use specific repetitions in order to maintain control (or the semblance thereof) of our lives.
As you walk the narrow path leading up from the beachhead and along the fence line, you catch sight of the talismans of season’s end leaning against the faded wood siding of the house. You can see the salt water dripping from each of the three cylindrical cages, the narrow metal forms rusted from decade after decade spent waiting on the murky floor of Puget Sound. You continue on to the end of the building and the faded red side door, through which you hear the muffled banter of men at work.
You creak the door inward and are greeted immediately by a trio of unharmonious aromas: the acrid sting of cigarette smoke; the thick, almost tangible smell of seafood; and a sweet tinge of bourbon. You step out of the twilight and into the fluorescent green pall of the garage. You find yourself smiling at the circle of bearded figures gathered around the long folding table, cigarettes dangling from their lips and silver tools of destruction in their hands.
Your uncle looks up from his handiwork, squinting from below the precarious horizon of his tattered watch cap. He manages to chuckle gruffly, take a long drag, and wave a dangling crab claw towards an open seat all at once. Each station you pass is identically outfitted: a five gallon bucket filled with king crab to the right, an equally large bucket rapidly filling with discarded shells to the left, and on the table in between a series of gleaming picks and pronged crackers of different sizes. The center of the table is lined with an assortment of mixing bowls heaped with ever-growing mounds of ivory crab meat. You soak in the familiar sounds of cracking shells and tired jokes being laid out carefully like so many slain crustaceans.
You settle into your post and reach down to pull out your first half-crab. The torso is split perfectly lengthwise, which you well knows the result of an axe blow dealt on the beach. An old family tradition practiced for generations and known to perplex onlooking tourists. You reach for the cracker, but your uncle stays your hand. He tilts the remnants of a bottle of Old Crow into a lowball and sends it on a sliding journey across Formica to you. Another family tradition. For the first time he manages a smile.
“Well, Henry,” in a low timbre, “I suppose it’s time to set to workin'”.
The bench is hard, a little damp, that one board creaking like always, giving to the pressure of your aging ass, and then you exhale, as if merely sitting were your chore for the day, as if you weren’t required to eventually stand back up. You exhale and stare off over the lake. It’s early. There’s a chill in the air that bites a little at your chubby forearms, arms that have seen so many chills, arms that no longer jerk surprisedly at the prospect of chill. You still drag your hands across yourself like starting a fire, warming the flesh. You’ve been retired for two years, three months and six days. You still wear heels and that long navy dress though. Still pull on those nylons. You grab the bag of bread scraps; white bread, sourdough buns, pastry ends. The feeling of tearing it apart is enjoyable for some reason you can’t understand, even at your age.
The pigeons know you. You have a pact. They arrive at this part of the lake like clockwork, maybe hearing that significant clap of gravel against those blocky black heels. They will mourn your death in a very primal and important way. You imagine their death knell, hundreds of ragged bird screams echoing across the lake, signalling the end of a starchy era. The first piece is always the most pleasurable, tossing it out and watching the manic choreography of hunger. They know there is more to come but can’t help but fight a little for the first. You toss out some more, watch them spread out and feed civilly, their little heads bobbing to some unheard music. You count in your head the number of feedings you still have left. It doesn’t pain you that the number is so easily arrived at. You just imagine that day the birds will mourn you and it feels just fine.
Lastly, check the physical connections at your wrists and ankles. The suit can register as sealed despite having exposed layers and you won’t enjoy that very much in the vacuum of space.