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Thread: "Not to Be" - feedback desired

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    "Not to Be" - feedback desired

    Clayton Smith knew that the rain outside his bedroom window had been carrying on incessantly for days. Smith didn’t know this because he had cared enough to get up from his bed and peer into the gloom, for he had attempted no endeavor greater than a blink or a yawn in some time. Instead, he came to this conclusion because the rain had soaked through the roof of his hovel, producing a maddening drip-drop which fell squarely on his forehead every minute or so. At some point while he lay there, eyes focused intently on an invisible object of great importance, Smith came to the conclusion that he was dying. His heart was not failing him, nor was any other vital organ; he had been dying since the day he was born.

    He was a squat, balding man of about thirty who had, for the entirety of his adulthood, entertained the notion that life had dealt him a weak hand. During the past ten years, death had agonizingly whittled away at his kin, robbing him of his parents, his only brother, and any semblance of optimism that he had once possessed. The remainder of his life, it seemed, was better spent snugly in convenient comfort under a blanket. The liquid annoyance dripping from the ceiling would eventually cease, and if it didn’t, he would endure it and be grateful that the cold droplets fell were not colder.

    He opened his eyes very slightly, as if he feared that the light of the dreary afternoon would scald them. As he tentatively raised his eyelids, he became increasingly sure that something was amiss in his room. Not five feet from the foot of his bed did he see the vague outline of a man appearing to sit in a large reclining chair. This perturbed Smith for two reasons: first, he lived alone and second, there was no furniture in his bedroom. More intrigued than frightened, he opened his eyes completely and saw that there was indeed an intruder in his house.

    What was most curious about the man was not the cigar he smoked which filled the room with a thick, gray cloud and caused Smith to cough. It was not the undeniably strange attire of the sitting stranger, a black suit which could have been in vogue a hundred years ago. It was the fact that, when his face was carefully examined, Smith knew the fellow was not a stranger at all. His memory raced to recall his relationship to the man, though the effort was akin to a sprinter trying to run through knee deep pudding; long periods of disuse had slowed his wits and generally enfeebled his mind. A minute of silence passed before Smith made the most profound realization of his lifetime. His expression was the very definition of awe. Through his shock, he could force out only one word:

    “Brother!”

    The man took a puff from his cigar, grinned, and began to chuckle at his host’s befuddlement.

    “It’s good to see you again,” he said.

    A half an hour later, the living Smith was able to put to the back of his mind the fact that he had last seen his brother lying still in a coffin over two years ago. He did not ask questions regarding the man’s origin, accepting that his brother or some semblance of him was separated from him by mere feet rather than by death. To try to pry into an unknowable secret of the world such as this, he understood, would have been a fruitless endeavor.
    The two recounted every experience from their cherished memories together as young boys with their mother and father to their mutual despondence as a result of their separation. The mood was gay, and an observer easily might have mistaken the dead Smith for a traveler returning home after a very long trip or a soldier coming back from war.

    As their discourse wore on, the living Smith noticed a change in his brother’s tone, which became more somber and reserved. It became obvious that something of significance was being left unsaid.

    “What’s the matter?” he asked.

    “Well,” his brother sighed, “I did not come here today merely to reminisce with you.”

    “Oh?” was the living Smith’s inquisitive yet disappointed reply, as he had much enjoyed their so far innocuous conversation.

    Then there was a pause, a thoughtful silence of palpable tension. Finally, the cigar smoking man spoke:

    “Why do you let the water drip onto your forehead?”

    Without thinking, the living Smith looked towards the saturated spot above him. He did not know how to respond. Seized by a sudden fervor, the ghost brother blurted out a reply:

    “Don’t you realize that it will not stop, that it will never stop?”

    His brother, interest piqued, sat up in his bed.

    “What do you suggest?” he asked with an unwonted energy in his voice.

    “I suggest,” the spirit said, stopping to press his cigar to his lips and blow, “that you do not lie here, suffering through the fortune given to you. Even to our parents it seemed that my gifts came at the expense of your own. You know that God has never been kind to you. “

    “I do.”

    “There is no reason on this earth, then, why you should continue to bear those ills you have. The falling water irritates you. Do not sit complacently and wait for it to cease; rise up and make it so. However, I urge you, when you have completed this enterprise, not to walk through the door into the cold, harsh downpour. This, too, is unacceptable as it would be less than logical to travel from one place to another, only to find discomfort in both. Your life has been a failure, but there is yet one act of genius left for you. Do you understand me?”

    Upon hearing this sentiment from his beloved brother, the living Smith’s countenance was suffused with an almost sickly pallor. As he stared at his brother in near disbelief, he began to question the apparition’s beneficence. Was this the spirit of his brother, or rather some demon who took his form? These were reprehensible words, or at least they should have been, but they were true.

    Yes, every last one was true, and the living Smith knew it. He smiled. An unthinkable doorway in his brain had been opened. The spirit reciprocated with a smirk, and then disappeared. Every trace of the visitation had vanished, save the stench of cigar which still clogged the air.

    It had been a long while since Clayton Smith had supported his weight with his own legs. Thus, it was puzzling to him that, when he walked from his bed to the large oak dresser in his living room, they felt robust rather than languid. He slid open the drawer nearest the bottom and opened it. He eyed his desired object near the back, reached for it, and held it in his hands. Never had a revolver looked so much like a brother.

  2. #2
    Registered User Parvez Ahmed's Avatar
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    A creative thing but the theme is obscure and I could not understand it. Make it clear enough so we can grasp it. Great writing is always simple.

    "There is no reason on this earth, then, why you should continue to bear those ills you have. The falling water irritates you. Do not sit complacently and wait for it to cease; rise up and make it so." - these lines are superb.
    ‘Tis nothing in this mundane illusion you dementedly seek,
    Also after death, there’s neither Gehenna nor any golden peak.
    - Parvez Ahmed

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    hamlet's soliloquy

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