1. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Past Contest Submissions closed for the Short Story Contest (142) - Theme "Descant"

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Oct 7, 2013.

    Short Story Contest 142
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Descant"

    IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY!

    If you wish to enter the contest please send me your story via 'A Conversation' (aka a PM) for me to enter the story via this thread. Don't post the story here directly or it will not be counted as entered into the contest. This is to ensure anonymity, and to make this contest fairer for all - having each story judged based on their merits.

    This contest is open to all wf.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Unfortunately, there is no prize but pride on offer for this contest. As always, the winner may also PM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Descant" (courtesy of our last contest winner). Any interpretation is valid. Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Graphospasm suggests using either the noun or the verb, which have different definitions, or, consider using descant as a metaphor. If you have to look the word up, you won't be the only one. ;) I found the theme intriguing.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 20th of October, 2013 3:00 pm (US Pacific time)

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    There is a maximum of 25 entries to any contest. If there are more than 25 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permissable. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM rather than clogging up this thread with additional posts. After the entries close, posting in the thread is open for comments.

    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.


    Thanks, and good luck!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Crickets & Alcohol [~2848]

    I arrived far after most of the party guests had and found myself not entering a richly decorated salon but a sea of men in black coats smoking and drinking and colorful women gossiping and giggling.

    Over the myriad of voices and laughter, I heard the orchestra playing music that was barely audible over the chattering, laughing, clink of glass, and the ceaseless tapping of shoes on the stone floor.

    The very air vibrated with light and life and the strange scent of a hundred different fragrances and perfumes intermingled to create an intoxicating aroma that made me reach for the first drink I saw a waiter carrying on a platter.

    I hoped the alcohol would stick to my mustache and I'd smell nothing but it all night.

    “I see you found your poison already, Charles!” A brusque voice flew toward me and I saw Dane Walters coming with an outstretched hand.

    I quickly clasped it.

    “You know me, Walt, I can't say no to a good drink.” Walt laughed eagerly and merrily. It was then I considered him well drunk himself. “Thank you for inviting me and Evangeline; she could not stop talking about tonight.” Niceties were nothing new to me but I still disliked parroting them around to others.

    “In that case I hope my soiree does not disappoint.” He laughed once more. “I saw her earlier with my wife having a glass of wine, in fact, and might I presume she is not yet-” He trailed off, shaking his head. “My apologies. It seems the night is getting to my head, Charles.”

    “Not at all.” I took a quick gulp of my drink and could not identify the contents. “I believe the stress of conceiving is putting us both at unease. Nothing more.”

    “Ah, pressure from the would-be grandmother's, eh?” He grinned as he made his way toward the doors. I had no choice but to follow. “You're a good man, Charles. I believe you will have glad tidings before the month is up.”

    “Thank you, Walt.” I finished my drink stiffly. Weak stuff; I hardly had tasted the alcohol.

    “Working late at the office?” Dane Walters breathed in the air with outstretched hands as if he owned the world.

    The air was sweet and hinted of cut grass. The music was barely audible outside and the crickets did their best to drown the last of it.

    There was peace and sense in the dark of night, with the noise and bright lights of the party at my back and no complications from the people inside.

    “Yes, I hadn't planned on it but-” The words left me. Part of me had wanted to stay in the office but I did have business to discuss with Walt.

    “I understand, can't say quite how many times I disappointed the old missus with my tardiness due to work but what can you do, Charles?” Walt gave me a funny look. “Have you thought about my proposal?”

    “The location isn't ideal, Walt. Have you considered moving it to somewhere near the main of the town? So far out, I hardly see how it would be good business.”

    “You're thinking to small, like your father always did.” He paused briefly. “Neither of you had much business sense. Good sense perhaps but little to no business sense.”

    “What is this venture of yours, exactly?” Walt being such an old family friend, I knew he had found a way to enrich himself and others once again.

    “Your buildings are works of art, just like your fathers, and they draw people to see them.” He gestured behind him. “This mansion alone is on the map of every tourist and with a new office building down south of the city I can build a new center with shops, and services, and parks, and-”

    “Did you buy all that land?” I cut him off, seeing what he was getting at.

    “The papers are in the works but I will have the permits by year's end.”

    “What about all the housing?” Mostly the poor lived there and I doubted that all would sell their homes.

    “Let me worry about them, Charles. They'll either take my offer or see the land taxes around them skyrocket and soon leave without a chance in hell to sell those old homes of theirs.”

    “You'd chase them out?” I asked, rather shocked.

    “No, no.” He sighed. “My financial advisers tell me it would be best but I am a good man. I could never force someone to abandon their home. I'll get them jobs in one of the new buildings somewhere. I will need all the hands I can get once all the building is done.”

    “I thought I was just building your new office building.” It had taken me a moment to realize I would in fact be designing the buildings of the entire community.

    “That's just late spring of next year, Charles, or whenever the damned snow decides to melt. After, you won't have time for anything but my project.”

    “That would alone take two years to finish.” I looked at the empty drink in my hand hoping to see it magically full once more. Except stronger this time. The workload would be immense.

    “One year, Charles.” Walt stated.

    “The planning alone would-” I argued but Walters cut me off.

    “One year. There will be more men working on this project than ants on an anthill. If you can't do it, I will find someone who can.” I knew he was bluffing but there was also no way to negotiate his desired time frame. It would not be the first time Dane Walters somehow found time where none was to be had.

    For a moment, we just stared at one another. The chirping of the crickets the only thing reminding us of the world around us. I knew I was going to so yes either way, so why did I wait?

    “One year.” I outstretched my hand to close the deal.

    “Good man!” Walt clasped mine with a guffaw.

    “Darling, Charles, there you are.” A voice burst out from an eruption of voices and music. It was Evangeline, in her yellow dress and rosy cheeks, that poured out from the mansion. “Walter, shame on you,” she giggle, “stealing the husband I have not seen all day.”

    “My apologies, Missus Thompson, I had not meant to deprive you of Charles but business does take the sense out of a man.” He gave her a courteous bow in apology.

    “Oh, I know, dear Walters.” She hooked her arm under mine. “This night is an absolute delight. You have outdone yourself, as usual.”

    “Such compliments.” Walter grinned. “I will leave you two newly weds alone as I go see to my own wife. Knowing her, she has the entire crowd around the grand piano.”

    Dane Walters then proceeded to melt into the cacophony of the crowd and left me alone with my wife and the crickets.

    “Late night at the office, Charles?” Evangeline asked as she looked out toward the world. A nearly frightened look at the dark emptiness ahead of her. I could feel her need to retreat back into the safety of the party.

    “Yes, dear.” I responded briskly. “Would you like to go back inside? The air is rather brisk.” She only nodded as we made our way back into the mansion to once again we submerged in noise, unintelligible music, and smoke.

    “I met the most charming man, tonight.” My loving wife began as soon as we breached the entrance. Luckily, a waiter past us by and I grabbed myself another cocktail. “His name is Ronald Diggs. Just moved into the old empty house up on the east side of town where the Samson's lived.” I knew the building well, I had built it years ago.

    “A new friend?” I asked, rather uninterested as I blinked the cigarette smoke that stung at my eyes away.

    “I would hope so. He is quite charming and already my single lady friends are all abuzz about him.” She added gleefully and I cracked a smile for her benefit. “Oh, there he is now.” She looked over to a man sipping his brandy as he observed the crowd. “Ron.” Evangeline called out as she hurried us along to introduce me. “This is my husband, Charles Thomson.”

    “Ah, the famous architect.” He shook my hand. “I heard much about you and your exquisite buildings. I am Ronald Diggs but my friends call my Ron.”

    “Pleasure, Ronald.” I shook his hand firmly and thought that would be the end of it.

    “Dear Evangeline, would you mind lending me your husband? I happen to be quite the architectural enthusiast and have many questions.” Hearing that, I gulped down my new drink and realized I had forgotten to actually taste it. For all I could have known, I had just drank rat poison.

    “Of course, Ron. I know my Charles need some more friends.” She unhooked her arm from mine. “If you need me, gentlemen, I will be with my friends at the piano.”

    With a quick glance, I saw Betty Walters singing and playing a ditty on the piano with her entourage. Why on Earth did the woman play music while an orchestra played music at the same time was beyond me.

    “Charles, if you would join me for a walk.” Ronald led the way and I took the opportunity to take another drink from a nearby platter.

    It tasted of coconuts and pineapple; the vodka was not shy either. I found it rather pleasant.

    Stepping back outside, the cool night air cleared my lungs of the cigar smoke and the crickets song drowned out the chatter and music that followed at my back.

    “Thank you for joining me, Charles.” Ronald began. “May I call you Charles?”

    “Of course, Ronald.” I breathed in deep and let myself feel clean and whole in the immaculate night air.

    “Please, call me Ron.” He lead me out into the terrace and began a casual stroll through the rose garden. The crickets continued their music as we walked by and I felt that their quiet song was strange to hear after the brouhaha of the party.

    “Very well, Ron.” I sipped my drink. “A fan of architecture you say?”

    “Yes, but I must confess my knowledge is rather more limited than I made it out to be. You see, I am a purveyor of arts. Mainly paintings and sculptures but I travel the world to meet with the highest and lowest of artists whatever their vocation. I find gems in all sorts places.” The same sort of business sense that Walt had, I observed.

    “You believe my work to be art?” I had heard the praise more times that I can count but always as a tourist attraction or next to a price tag or some nicety by those who knew nothing of buildings.

    “As I said, I am a purveyor and sell it to those who can not only afford, but most importantly, appreciate it.” Ron continued. “This mansion alone is exquisite from the early Gothic and Victorian accents to the definite Roman inspiration in its grandeur.”

    “You said you only knew a little.” I laughed.

    “I know a lot of fancy terms.” He shrugged back.

    “And what are you proposing exactly? Building someone a beautiful house is one thing but to sell it as art?” I was rather intrigued by where this conversation leading. I began regretted my initial disinterest in Ronald.

    “Not quite. I have many friends in the publishing world who would be quite interested in featuring your works. Architecture, as I'm told so do not consider this my own opinion, is a dying art. Many architects simply imitate what had once been instead of embracing their own ideas. They build homes of convenience with small practical rooms and little to no accents to give the house a flair, a personality, a presence. Yes, not everyone can afford a home like our mutual friend Dane Walters but do you know how many new homes I passed on my way here that seemed nothing but squares and rectangles smashed together. I'll admit I was fascinated that some dared to use the triangle.”

    “All of this not your opinion.” I smirked and drank the last of my glass. For once, it was just a reflex of drinking what I had in my hand and not some attempt to make the night bearable.

    “Perhaps some, Charles.” He returned a sly smile. “I see these old buildings in town that had been built over a hundred years ago with style and flair but now house the poor who can barely keep them standing. Some have been turned into government buildings where tax money is spent on'modernizing' them and defacing the art and soul that was poured into them.” His tone had lowered into something near anger.

    I looked at him, for the first time in this entire night, and saw an honest reaction and true emotion building up that were not spawned from ignorance, good social graces, or alcohol.

    Ronald Diggs was revealing his very soul, the very thing that made him get up in the morning and the very thing that made him proud of his work at the end of the day. He saw a value in the world and was desperately fighting to keep it alive against all the world that moved in the opposite direction.

    Evangeline was not lying when she said I needed more friends. This was, for the first time since I can remember, where I felt a deep connection with another human being.

    He was not a man I would value for his good business, not a friend who I would value for good company, nor a guy to use at my convenience. This was a man I could respect. An equal that I could understand and trust without question.

    “Charles, have I said something wrong?” His grin was gone as I realized I had stared at him far too long and blatantly for social comfort. “I suppose I let myself get carried away sometimes. I've never been one of those good party people I hear so much about.”

    “No, forgive me.” I gave him a genuine smile. “I just did not think there were any people like you in the world.”

    “I knew it. The moment Evangeline introduced us I knew you were the kind of man I thought you'd be. Your character, it's all over your face.” Ronald looked around himself suddenly. “Notice the crickets have gone silent?”

    I do not know whether it had been the alcohol or the rush of emotions Ron had wakened in me but I found myself pressing my lips against his fiercely and more passionately than I ever have with Evangeline.

    For a few heartbeats, I had enjoyed it. That is until I realized that I might have been mistaken about Ron and he could misconstrue this. I pulled back slowly.

    It had been nothing sexual but a desire and need to be with my own kind. A soul that resonated with mine on a level that spoke of value and truth instead of social graces and expectations. It was hard, real, and completely blind to anything less than itself.

    Seeing Ron seemingly transfixed, I had tried my best to fix my mistake.

    “Ron, look I-” I broke off. What on Earth could I have said to excuse my behavior? And that is when I had realized I was holding an empty glass in my hand. “I'm drunk. It's why I don't come to these things often. I act out.” I did my best to seem more inebriated than I was.

    Ronald lifted a hand and wiped his lips. “Pineapples.”

    “What?” I had no idea how to respond to that.

    “And coconuts.” He nodded and licked his lips. “Vodka. Or maybe rum.” His eyes shifted about. “It's good.”

    “The drink?” I realized then he must have been tasting the alcohol I drank.

    “I'll have to drink a few of these tonight. I'm more of a brandy man but that was tasty.” He winked. “You're not really drunk.”

    “No.” I shook my head then. “Ron-”

    “Notice how the crickets suddenly chirp again?” His complete disregard for what occurred was not denial but a tact to let me know to calm down. He understood why I had kissed him and I realized how ridiculous I had been to be frightened of a soul kin to mine.

    “Charles, you've got more integrity than this, don't you?” Ron patted me on the shoulder with a warm smile. “I'll see you inside. Let me know if you're interested in the magazines or anything else.” Silently, he began walking back toward the noise of the soiree.

    As I followed, a sense of completeness and being instilled within me from finally having found someone I belong with.

    I walked for the first time excitedly back into the noise, the smoke, the confusing smells, and the senseless music.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The Speech [~2,083]

    Alex gazed at his screen. He wondered what to do next. The image was that of a mechanical part, shown as if in 3D. Alex was a design engineer. He worked in a small office with his boss who was on a wind-down to retirement, and had been for several years.

    "We're going to have some visitors", the manager said as he entered the room. "I'll be showing them around the factory and I'd like to bring them in here too. Could you say a few words about what you do?". There was nothing unusual in his request, but instead of the most senior person performing this duty, in this office, it fell to Alex.

    Alex was the expert in the new software and everyone knew he could put on a show. His boss was barely computer literate. "Oh, and there's a presentation too, so I need someone from Design to say a few words there too" added the manager casually. Alex realised that this was in fact the big request and he was just trying to slip it in to have agreed before anyone objected.

    Alex's boss thought that speaking at a presentation would be an ideal learning experience for a young designer. "It's another string to your bow" he said. This was one of his well worn expressions. Alex pondered his 'bow'. 'It must look like a harp now, with so many strings' he thought. He found himself duly volunteered.

    The company made artificial limbs for disabled people. In the past they'd made realistic looking body parts but somehow they were never quite realistic enough to pass as living human flesh. Unfortunately, they were often perceived as dead human flesh. Most people just thought them creepy but couldn't say why. Fashions had changed and the current preference was for very robotic looking devices which looked anything but human. The new products did have the advantage of not looking corpse-like. It seemed strange to Alex that the most socially acceptable replacement for a human limb was something that looked totally un-human. But he did feel a certain unease towards the old products.

    The company was now a registered charity. They'd persuaded a celebrity to be their patron and wanted local companies to raise money for them. They were all going to visit.

    Alex wondered what to say in the presentation. He thought he could talk about his job, explaining how it wasn't as easy as it looked. Most people thought he just made pretty pictures whereas his job was actually about solving problems. He'd often start from scratch and create things that no one had seen before. 'Suppose your manager came to you', he thought of saying, 'and said, I want a product that will allow a wheelchair user to stand up, without using their legs. And if that wasn't hard enough he might then ask, how long will it take and how much will it cost?' He thought the manager may not like this so perhaps he'd better think of something else.

    "Don't be too technical" the manager advised, "They won't understand it. And if they do, we might all look like idiots". This advice wasn't very encouraging. Alex would spend months developing a new product, taking into account many conflicting concerns and going through many possibilities, then when he was satisfied he had an ideal solution, they'd say, "It took you how long draw this!" He'd lost count of the times he'd explained what he actually did, it always seemed to fall on deaf ears.

    He decided to talk about the process of design. He could describe how new products were created, how old ones were updated and how teething troubles are resolved when things didn’t go so well the first time around. 'Yes, I'll give a general view of what it's like to be a designer. That's what I'll do', he concluded.

    Alex tidied his desk and prepared a few images to show the first visitor. He found a prototype artificial hand which he thought would be interesting and placed it on his desk.

    The celebrity, whom Alex had never heard of, was late. The staff and some of the companies customers were waiting for her. Several disabled people had been asked to attend so the visitor could see the products in use and to put a more human face to the whole endeavour.

    Alex heard the visiting party approaching. "I really didn't have any idea" said a woman, "Those people have really been through hell haven't they. They're so brave, they must have suffered so much. I never thought about it like that before. I really understand now, what you're all about." Alex knew what she meant. Many of their customers were ex-servicemen who'd suffered horrendous injuries and then endured many months of slow recovery, only to possess a portion of what they once had.

    "And this is our design office" said the manager as he and the visitor entered. He introduced Alex to her. The visitor gave Alex a broad and very fake smile. She picked up the artificial hand and held it tentatively as if it was very delicate.

    "This is a new product we're developing", He began.

    "Why is it so small?" she interrupted.

    "It's for a child." The visitor looked down at the hand. The smile dropped from her face. She stared at. Then she slowly lowered it and placed it back on the desk.

    "I'm sorry" she said as she looked down. And with her head still bowed, she turned and hastily left the room. The manager followed her.

    Alex thought about her reaction, 'Yes. Now you understand'.

    He wondered if it would be a good idea to include something like this in his speech. Instead of talking about the day to day tasks of design, he could talk about higher things, about motivations, the needs of the customers and the aims of the company. 'I could tell them about our dreams' he pondered.

    The presentation was two weeks later. The visitors toured the factory and were all impressed by the products on show. One item everyone was amazed by was a pair of callipers. They strapped to the legs and around the waist and in themselves looked fairly mundane. But these callipers could walk by themselves. And they didn't have that awkward mechanical looking movement that people expected. Their movement was smooth and graceful. They were very strange to watch. Their programming allowed them to learn and develop the most energy efficient movements and the result invoked an emotional response in everyone who saw them. 'They're alive!' they said.

    The time soon came for the presentation. Alex, a few others from the company and the visitors were seated around the table in the company's conference room. The manager spoke first, then it was the turn of the production supervisor. Then it was Alex's turn.

    Feeling very nervous, He stood up. He held a few sheets of paper, a printout of his speech. He'd practised it so many times he almost knew it by heart. 'It's OK, it doesn't matter', he told himself in an attempt to calm his nerves. 'If I make a mess of this, it makes no difference to anything'. He suspected that this wasn't exactly true but he was trying not to think about that.

    "Hello, I'm Alex from the design department" he began. "I hope everyone can hear me clearly" he was trying to speak loudly without shouting. There was a few nods and murmurs of agreement.

    "Every" he said. "It's not often you can use the word, 'every'. Usually you have to say 'most' or 'many' because there are always exceptions." He was relieved that he'd made a start and his speech was all going well. Speaking slowly and deliberately, he went on, "But I'm sure you'll all agree, that I'm justified, in using the word 'every' when I say: Every parent, of every disabled child, has a dream. They dream of their child running and playing and doing all the things the other children do. It is a beautiful dream. This may seem like a very big dream but you could also think of it as a modest dream, because it asks only for that which everyone else has, and takes for granted, every day." Alex paused and looked at the people in the room. Some looked thoughtful, others were looking back at him expectantly. He suspected that some at least would have children of their own. Able bodied children, who lived an ordinary lifestyle that others dreamt of living.

    "But it is an impossible dream, because it requires that which no one can give".

    Alex couldn't remember what came next. He looked at his notes and soon found the place. "Today, you have seem some wonderful things" he said. "Things that perhaps only this morning you would have thought impossible. But to create such things is not as easy as it looks. And it doesn't even look easy." Some of the people grinned. 'They've got the joke at least' he thought. "There's a big difference between a working prototype and a viable product. You may think we've climbed a mountain and can now stand triumphant on its summit. But the climbing hasn't really started yet. We're aiming to fulfil the dreams of all those parents of all those children. You may think we're on a fool's errand and such a thing will never happen. And you may be right. You may think that such a project is too difficult and destined for failure. And you may be right. You may think that what we hope to achieve is so close to impossible as makes no odds. And you may be right." The manager was looking at him doubtfully but Alex continued. "Or you may just forget. As you drive home today you may ask yourselves, 'What was that man talking about, some sort of dream was it?' and if so, then all... will...be... lost". Alex looked from face to face, from eyes to eyes.

    He stopped, he bowed his head, looked at his notes.

    Ales looked up. Everyone stared at him expectantly. Their attention was his. The room was his. The table, the walls, the people. They were all his.

    "But remember," he commanded. And his words sculpted the air and the air was his. "Remember. On this day, and in this place, you have seen impossible things. And in your heart of hearts you know, just because something seems impossible, doesn't mean it can't be done." Alex felt his audience was with him his delivery seemed to be working.

    "And we can do this. And although this dream may seem like no more than a distant aspiration, we know that it resides only at our fingertips. So I ask you all to have a little courage, to join us and together we can reach a little further. And we can all touch this impossible dream and make it real. Then, for so many, it will change the world." Alex thought of stopping there while it was going well, but he had a little more 'why not', he thought.

    "And then, one day, in years to come, you will see a disabled child, running and playing and doing all the things the other children do. And you will say to yourself, 'I was part of this. When that child needed me, I was there for them'. And you will know that you have done something good, something significant, something worthwhile.

    So raise some money for us and buy the dream. And this, can be your dream too."

    They all stared at him.

    "Thank you for listening" he said and sat down. 'It could have been worse', he thought as he looked at his notes avoiding eye contact with anyone.

    Someone started clapping. Alex thought they were being polite. The others joined in. He looked up. They were all looking at him.

    He nodded his acceptance of their applause and it soon died away. Now it was the managers turn to speak.

    "Well I didn't think it was possible for our design engineer to give such a performance", he began.

    "Impossible things, is what I do for a living", retorted Alex, feeling more than a little smug. He'd done it. He'd written and delivered a speech. He hadn't been ordinary, he hadn't spoken about the normal day to day things. He'd risen above them and 'played a different tune' and he'd been extra-ordinary.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Postcards from far away [ ~2780]


    Everyone,

    I'm ecstatic that I've been allowed to communicate with you all even this far up above the planets surface. To think that the stars this close in all of their radiance shine ever so brighter than they had upon soil. While unfortunate that being high up instantaneous transmissions do not work I still remain ever diligent in writing to you all every couple of weeks. Now where shall I begin?

    This station nestled in stars is simply phenomenal. Who would of though that a station meant to accommodate so few students could be so excessively large. And the minds here, oh to be in the presence of genius every few steps is an ecstasy I cannot find myself resistant to. Future world leaders and and revolutionary thinkers to express my thoughts and ideas to is wonder in itself!

    So I must study hard to be alongside my peers in such a competitive environment. There are things here that I could have never learned through school or my late nights on the farm. I have been left with far too little sleep to become lenient in my studies so I do apologize if even the simple act of writing a letter becomes to much for me in the coming months ahead. Just know I think towards all of you!

    I do not know when my thirst for knowledge may finally find rest. It could be years before my coming and even then I turn towards the evolution of this world by what I may provide in the future. I fear that you all will change, that the coming seasons in my absence will settle and my imprints shall be washed away with time. But alas do not fret for I am well and shall always rest my thoughts on all of you!

    Be well my friends and bless me with your words when I cannot with mine!

    From high above,

    Alice

    ___


    The starry sky could calm a restless soul even under the most hurtful circumstances, thrusting your arms up and realizing just how small and insignificant your problems seemed compared to the plethora of stars. However for Charles it was a bitter escapism, one he would cherish as a small child but only now to stare up at those twinkling lights in emptiness. With ease of pinpointed memorization he raised one arm up and pointed to a slow moving bright dot easily perceived, following it as it traveled and realizing just how large his problems actually were.

    "That's her right there, that bright moving one just past the moon,"

    Of course he wasn't alone, standing beside him clothed in white was the thin and straining eyes of a young girl not past seven. She struggled to where he was pointing as the one white dot in a sea of thousands did not register through her eyes as readily as it did through his. Tilting her head in slight confusion the young girl could only make an uneasy assumption with the hesitation of anyone fearful to be wrong.

    "Is she in heaven?"

    Charles shook his head without giving the phrase much thought even if in his mind it might have been quite possible. The woman who both were referring two found herself out of his reach and no matter how far he extended his arm he would never be quite close enough.

    "Close enough..."

    He muttered out absentmindedly giving his attention to the young girl he needed to be watching, lost in his own past thoughts. The young girl however wouldn't be cast aside so easily with such an answer, furrowing her brows in frustration rather than ignorant sadness as she made her way to stand in front of the sitting man.

    "But that can't be! You and Aunty Alice are supposed to get married remember? Now where is she?"

    Being thrust out of thoughts with smooth skin and melodic laughter the tranced man could only stare back blankly at the young girl in front of him. His brother's daughter bore down on him knowing that she was alone in this conversation as all Charles could do was continue gazing up at that moving light. Looking past the the present in deep into a what could have been future.

    "I don't-"

    Before he could vaguely give a dismissal to the girls question a bell was struck on the inside back and forth repeatedly calling the stargazers out from the fields and back into the main house. They were close enough to here the shouts of an expectant father ready to put a certain girl to bed. It was enough for Charles to escape a wrathful gaze even if it was temporary, trying to search for the answer she had asked himself.

    He got up to join the girl but he could still feel the piercing blue eyes hard into his back, frustratingly humming out as the two of them began their trek from being small and back into the large part of their lives. The walk back wasn't far and soon enough the smiling wall of a man that was the girl's father was clearly visible in front of the three story farm house where they lived. Running ahead to her father the young girl turned around and pointed to the sullen man who ironically enough was perking up away from his escapism of stars.

    "This isn't over! Sooner or later one of you will tell me the truth!"

    Her father reached down to pet the girl's head who in turn expertly dodged his attempts and ran away deeper inside of the house. In amused acceptance he threw his hands up and shook his head back and forth as Charles made his way beside him back into the house.

    "What, you too?"

    Charles tried to match the smile given off by his brother in what pathetic attempts he could before submitting himself to turning away from his concerned stares. He followed after the child in making his way into the main house without another word, taking the usual right up the stairs however continuing past the bedrooms until reaching what was the very top floor. He didn't need his niece or his brother reminding him of what didn't need to be said, practically throwing himself onto the piano that lay in the center of a barren starlit room and forcing his hands onto the keys. He tried to hear and tried to remember so desperately from before.

    His hand struck a note, then another, then another, over and over, note after note, furiously tapping forth trying to desperately find some meaning behind the sound he was hearing but finding nothing as back and forth, note after note, meaningless sound after meaningless sound-

    "DAMN IT!" He violently mashed the piano keys before throwing himself to the floor, clutching his head in agony under the starlit windows that would surround the third floor's single room. Such stars would soothe his heart but now they only served as a way of mocking him, reminding him of what was out of his reach and digging the pain deep within his heart.

    "Charley?"

    Charles grimaced at the name, not only because he didn't wish to be seen but as well how unintelligent it truly made him sound.

    "Charley what the hell is wrong with you?"


    His voice emanated behind Charlie who was on the floor facing the other direction while trying to surpass his entire body from quivering pathetically as it had been.

    "I can't hear it. I can't hear her voice or any meaning within the notes. I can't play anything like I used to and I feel...I feel so goddamn worthless!"

    He could feel himself beginning to cry, quivering and sobbing pathetically on a cold wooden flooring as he was left in a sort of purgatory of depression he could not escape in. Alice's voice that used to sing in harmony alongside his piano had moved on while he was stuck in the same dark and cold room he had always been in. Never moving and never straying from the past.

    "Charley...what did you expect to happen? Did you expect her to say no to the acceptance, to stay here and become a farmers wife by giving up everything like mine had to? Did you see yourself being someone who you weren't, joining her in some next to near impossible academy with grades like yours? We all miss her but will wallowing on the floor in self misery bring things back to the way they were?"

    The floor was comfortable and the misery of hating everything that was once special to him was easy. For him his brother's words were meaningless, just some bland cold light of day pep talk that did nothing to alleviate any sort of loss he was ripping himself apart over. She wasn't dead and she wasn't away from his life forever, yet the distance between what written words could bring them together only served as another constant reminder of just how far apart they really were. She never would be a farmers wife just as he would never be someone who could ever live up to such high achieving standards. It was that same constant and bitter reminder that left him clutching his eyes shut in hopes that the stars themselves would soon disappear.

    "Mom, dad, my family, and even Alice all miss you. We all want you to stop living in the past, to accept what has happened, and move on with the basic life style you were always meant to have. Maybe then can you start playing the piano again."

    Charles remained still for quite some time, listening intently to the sound of his own ragged breathing being left on the wooden floor of what used to be their place. A place where two harmonious sounds could be brought together, now ripped apart and left to play their single melody in dull loneliness with no companion to share in. It would only be a matter of time before she went off to refill such a void.

    "Honestly you're like my daughter. It's almost like even she doesn't accept the fact that Alice is gone from our lives, moving on to bigger and better things."

    His brother shook his head back and forth knowing quite well of just how meaningless his words really were. Nothing could heal Charles's heart just as the stars couldn't suddenly cease to exist because he willed it so. His emptiness was irrational when viewing the happiness of the girl he had fallen in love with but how easy it was to simply remain grounded of a song that once was. Now she would always be the higher melody, always out of reach and away from his heart.

    "Goodnight Charley, always know though that she really is closer than you think,"

    His steps echoed closer to Charley desperately clutching his head and hoping his brother would not confront him on his tears. He did not need his pity nor his chastisement, all he needed was some solitude bitterly under the stars. Stopping just short of the piano and placing something upon its keys his brother quietly turned and made his way back down the stairs back to a family of his own. A wife who stood equal to him and a daughter who continued to remain the epitome of all their family's stubbornness. But he would not be envious, never regretting a time where the stars outside seemed just a bit brighter.

    After awhile tracing out the single light he still could not reach Charles pushed himself off the now warm and wet flooring, ignoring what headache he had and rubbing his burning eyes. Turning back toward the foreign keys to see what his brother had left for him it was only natural to tisk out in a bitter smile as he laid eyed on the sheet of paper and pencil that was left for him. It was never that easy.

    The songless man made his way to the piano to sit down and touched the keys once more, trying to remember what memories he could in the room. He thought back on the times of when he would play and she would sing, times of when the two of them sat talking for hours under the stars, and times when the two of them would bask in what harmony they could when undressing one another. Yet even so close Alice had always been far above him, racing past everyone in school and ambition as her dreams always would be up in the stars. Even through the happy times the two of them should have known there would eventually be separation.

    So why did she stay?

    Taking the sheet of paper and pencil from the piano the man made his way back to the same spot on the floor underneath the stars. He gazed up at the sea of lights shining in from the wide and clear window and reaching up with both hands into the lit sky. When was the last time he had done such a thing that had calmed his soul, where the stars were't simply lights and the piano wasn't simply noise? He thought towards Alice and wondered how she was feeling, if she felt as isolated as he did far up there in the stars. If she was truly ready to forget about him could he safely call all of those past memories as false?

    As selfish as it was he had fallen in love with her, a love that he could not let go no matter how hard he tried. He located the white dot always easy to find and let both of his hands rest in her general direction thinking back towards his niece's question. Just how far was Alice from his heart? How could people of two different paths find themselves so interlinked with such perfection? Why was it him?

    "Closer than I think..."

    He thought of what it felt like to touch the heavens, to be in those lights that the two of them fell in love with as children. He thought of what it felt like together even being so far to earth compared to a girl stuck in those stars. Most of all he thought towards his own words, feelings he so desperately wanted to get on paper even despite how selfish they really were. But even through such differences that was love.

    He brought his heart onto the paper and began to write a postcard to be sent far away.

    ___


    Alice,

    I am thankful for your letter and glad that you are doing well. I was never one for words as my english teacher could say but then this is not school anymore. School was always your thing while I would live in the moment, something I regret when I look at where you are now. I am not going to say that I am well and I will not lie in saying that I am glad of where you are. I have been left songless and hurting since you have been gone and left hating the things we had both loved together.

    Whether you are successful or not in changing the world could not matter to me as all I care towards is you coming back. But is it selfish for me to wish for that? Should I be disliked for ever falling in love with you and wishing you would come back?

    I look back on all the things we shared with no regrets and thankful that I am the one you chose all of those years before. I am sorry that I was never very smart for you but I do not think it really mattered in the end. As through our music I hope I understand to just why you would always stay. I am the piano and you are the voice when I imagine us together. I will always be a basic melody while you will always be a chorus but together we form a melody too beautiful for any ear.

    So I do not care about how others saw us. I do not care that I was never as smart for you. All I care about is that you had loved me and hope that we may continue to make more happy memories under the stars. When you are done changing the world I hope that I may hear your voice once again. I hope to hear the music that we had played long before.

    So when you come back I will be here and waiting to ask you something.

    Your forever base,

    Charley
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
  5. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    We have three excellent entries, contest closes in 6 hours, voting will start this evening.
     

Share This Page