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Thread: The Theater of Morning

  1. #1
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    The Theater of Morning

    This is my first venture into writing, so feedback would be hugely appreciated!
    The Theater of Morning

    He needed to sneeze. The bright pink Gerber daisies in a stupid yellow and orange vase that was sitting on the end table next to his overly squishy chair were making his nose prickle with an annoying sting. Jack scrunched his nose up and down, trying to make the urge go away without making himself look stupid (although that was a feat in itself)—after it was to no avail, Jack was certain that the two, if they had looked at him, were silently laughing.

    It was really quite infuriating, he thought, that the waiting room was deathly quiet, the tension almost stifling, the awkward feel in the air overpowering. Jack was almost afraid to move, let alone make an embarrassingly loud noise. When the burning tingle became almost unbearable, he made the split second decision to rub his nose. He inaudibly sighed in relief as he laid his head back on the chair’s wooden top and folded his hands on his lap.

    The wait was killing him. There was no clock, surprisingly, in the over-decorated room; there were dramatic pieces of contemporary artwork layering the walls, boxes of out-of-date women’s magazines scattered randomly around the room, and vases of all shapes and sizes containing those wretched flowers, but no clock in sight. He had left his watch in his car—a car that was off limits to him, now, for at least three months, according to Kate—so he was left spending the slowly-passing minutes trying not to catch the eye of the other two people in the small room. He had seen their faces for a second when he had walked in, obviously startling them with the shrill ding from a bell on the front door. Jack knew the boy, a friend of his foster brother's who supposedly had serious anger issues, but the girl he didn’t recognize, although he had a strange inkling that he had seen her before. He brushed it off as nerves, as the butterflies in his stomach felt like they trying to break free of his body, and tried not to look in the general direction of where she was sitting, lest he made himself look even more like a total idiot.

    It was hard not to, though. From what he had seen in those brief seconds, she appeared to be eating lemon wedges, straight from a saran-wrapped plastic container on her lap. Curious, Jack looked out of the corner of his eye to see if the girl was really eating the fruit; after all, she wasn’t puckering, or even making a sound as she popped pieces of that vile citrus into her mouth like candy. He stared at her, trying to be inconspicuous as he watched her savor her snack, which he determined was, in fact, real lemon—he could smell that from across the room. Apparently, he failed at being unnoticed because her glossed lips twitched into an upright position after just a moment of his scrutiny.

    Jack froze for an instant, and then whipped his head down to study the thick beige carpet, pretending to be engrossed in the striking wonder that was the minuscule flecks of dirt tracked in from his red Converse. He could feel his face burning.

    He squeezed his eyes shut, embarrassed at being caught staring. He had the social skills of perhaps a rabid wild boar. That could be blamed on his father; socialization hadn’t been one of the few things besides money on the man's mind.

    Jack inwardly swore as he felt the all-too-familiar trembling of his hands. He always got like this when he thought about his father while he was sober. Intoxication, no matter how it made him feel when its after effects were making themselves heard, was the only way to make the quivering stop and keep it from re-occurring for a while.

    The shaking was spreading. Now he could feel his arms trembling, an earthquake in his appendages that was picking up speed with every second. Looking at his stupid arms, Jack crossed his them tightly and locked his hands in the crease of his elbows as he clenched his jaw, cursing his mind for bringing his father up. It wasn’t the time to have an episode, not now, not here.

    He raised his eyes slowly and looked into the framed mirror that was situated between the large bay windows on the light orange wall. Jack wondered, staring in morbid fascination at his pathetic, hunched over form in the red chair, if this was what people had seen yesterday morning. Had he looked so vulnerable, so scared, so…weak? With a pang, he realized that if this was the case he didn’t blame them, not really. He deserved everything.

    Tearing his eyes away from the depressing figure in the mirror, too disgusted with himself to look any longer, Jack bit his lip and turned his head away, closing his eyes again when he felt curious stares on him, knowing from experience what they felt like.

    He couldn’t focus on his discomfiture, though, no matter how much he hated himself for being so freakish; it was of the utmost importance to stop the shaking before his session. Jack breathed in deeply, counting to ten in his mind several times before he could feel the tremors slowing in his arms. It was pointless to try to impede the ones in his hands, though. Those were the ones that nothing could stop; he would just have to wait until they ended on their own accord.

    “Jack?” The calm female voice startled Jack almost to the point of falling off his chair; he jerked, though, and internally berated himself for being such a freak.

    Jack opened his eyes and looked accusingly at the woman standing in the open doorway, leaning nonchalantly on the white doorframe, one grey trousered leg twisted over her other.

    “Can you come with me, please.” The petite blonde’s voice was crisp, and the question seemed like an order; looking at her stern face, he decided it was.

    Jack really, really didn’t want to go back there, but his foster parents had told him when they had dropped him off that he would have to come here every single day for a month if he didn’t cooperate. Reluctantly, he stood up, shoving his hands in the pocket of the oversized hoody that offered, strangely enough, comfort as he walked slowly over, methodically putting one foot in front of the other in tiny steps, trying to draw out the short walk.

    Jack then found himself falling, ripping his hands out of the hoody and spraying his arms out in a desperate but futile attempt to stop himself as he clunked to the floor in an undignified heap.

    When he heard the giggle from the corner where the girl was sitting, he snarled quietly. He had had enough of the glee people got from his complete humiliation. Turning his head and boosting himself off the floor with his arms, with strength he didn't even know he had, he twisted around to face the girl.

    “Think it’s funny, do you? Like seeing me like this?” Standing up fully, he glared at her, striding over to her in four large steps and pointing a finger in her face.

    Forgetting that he didn’t even know her, he shouted, “Do you enjoy watching me in pain? Have you got any idea of how messed up you are for getting sick pleasure out of that?”

    She shrank back from him, and he realized then what he was doing. Being like his father. Defeated, Jack lowered his finger and dropped his eyes to the floor. Softly, he said, “I don’t care, though. Do what you want.”

    He was horrified to hear his voice break at the end of it. His face burning once again, with an intensity he only felt when he was this weak, he raised his eyes and went to spin around, to run out of the awful building.

    But she was looking at him, straight into his eyes, her brown ones into his hazel. He realized that he knew those eyes. Feeling like he had been punched in the stomach, Jack realized that this was the girl from the hallway, the one who had helped him up when he had been tripped by one of the jocks.

    His stomach sank with betrayal, falling into what Jack could only describe as that clichéd pit of despair. He had thought, with a weird feeling that he now classified as hope, that maybe there was someone in the school that had actually not hated him and was willing to do something to help him, for once; but she, too, was laughing at him.

    Jack jerked his head around so fast it was painful, meaning to leave and get away, and outrun this horrible day, but the girl reached out and grasped his cheek in her cold hand.

    She turned his head back around, and gazed into his eyes, silently forbidding him to look away.

    "I'm sorry." She whispered, the scent of lemon caressing his nostrils. The girl blinked, once, and let her hand fall back down to her lap, her eyes breaking the spell that Jack hadn't even known about until it ended.

    Jack swallowed, hard, biting down on his lower lip to hide the quivering that shook it. He closed his eyes trying to conceal their wetness and his weakness, but a tear slipped out regardless when he opened them.

    Mortified, he reached up with a trembling hand to swipe it away, trying not to look at this girl, the one who had made him cry for the first time in three years.

    But it was like her face was a magnet, and his watery eyes were the metal that desperately wanted to obey the laws of nature. When their eyes met a second time, she gently smiled, and beckoned in the direction of the lady at the door.

    He had forgotten about her, and the other boy in the room. A furious wave of shame washed over him, crashing in an almost physical manner.

    A sob ripped through him, escaping him before he could comprehend its existence in his lungs. He was so, so tired of public humiliation. Tired of being alone, when he really thought about it.

    He realized, in utter horror, when another convulsive gasp fought its way up his throat, and then another, that he was powerless to stop them.

    Jack found himself sinking, his legs giving out under him as the carpet welcomed his knees. Stuffing his fist inside his mouth with all his concentration in a desperate attempt to stop his sobs, he nearly fell over when he felt a gentle weight on his back.

    It tentatively rubbed back and forth in a manner that Jack found strangely comforting. It dawned on him that this was the first time that someone had touched him like this, consoled him with physical and meaningful contact, since his mother had died ten years ago.

    Sobs shook his whole body as the hand became more confident, rubbing circles on his hoody. He heard a soft female voice murmuring words that really didn't mean much but still caused a steady stream of salty tears to flow down his face.

    Jack knew, faintly, that this wasn't supposed to be happening, that he needed to stop being such a spineless freaky weakling, that he should get up and put on the mask of indifference that he wore every second of every day. If his father was still alive, Jack would have been beaten within an inch of his life for showing any emotion, and lessons learned back then were usually so engrained in his soul that they were almost second nature to him now. But his body wasn't cooperating, and it somehow felt too nice to stop.

    He, with, oddly, less embarrassment than he would have thought, softly whimpered when the warm pressure of the hand disappeared. When it was replaced by an arm that hesitantly wrapped around his shoulders, and pushed him gently into a sweet-smelling shoulder, though, he resisted the gesture and recoiled back, scooting well away from the girl. He hated hugs; or, rather, hated what happened after those embraces, even though the last time<em> that </em>had happened was three years ago. Jack shuddered and, pushing his knees to his chest, wrapped his arms around himself, staring down at the floor as he regained control of himself. He extended an sleeve upwards to rub his wet face, but his wrist was caught in midair by a bony, cold hand.

    He looked up, and saw the blonde women. Doctor Wright.

    "We need to talk, Jack." She said, in a voice that Jack supposed was intended to be soothing. He didn't feel soothed.

    She pulled him up with strength that was surprising to him; her petite, slim figure and her perfect, manicured nails implied that she didn't like to lift a finger. Jack swayed, once, when he was upright, and the girl grabbed his other arm to steady him.

    He looked at her, then, and tried to look like he hadn't acted like a two-year-old. Tried to look brave, and calm, and collected. He really, really hoped he didn't see disgust, or sympathy, on her face. Jack hated those.

    The girl, though, wore an expression of kindness, and concern. The lump in his throat grew. He hadn't seen those in a long, long time. Doctor Wright gently pulled him towards the door, though, before the tears returned.

    As they walked to the door, Jack glanced back. The girl smiled at him, a true, pure smile.

    He smiled, too, something that he hadn't done, properly, in three years.

    Jack decided that he wouldn't use that gun tonight.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2009
    I liked it. I think one of the most important things for an author to do is to create characters that the reader feels compelled to sympathize with.

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    San Diego Calif.
    Blog Entries

    The Lie

    You're obviously lying. This isn't the first foray into jungle of words you've made. You've been on safari before, No? The plot, dialogue seem natural, not studied. It's clever but not pretentious. If you are a feminine author, my hat is off to you. If a male, I'd give you a pat on the back. . Post more of your stuff. Do me a favor. Post more of your stuff. it was refreshing.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2009
    Old farmhouse in Idaho
    Very well written, IMO. The story moved right along and held my interest. The first couple of sentences had me concerned that there would be too many modifiers, but it didn't turn out to be the case. Great! The punctuation is VERY good, also, which is refreshing. So many online posters have very little grasp of, or apparently any concern about that. I saw 2 minor typos. "an" was used once when "a" should have been. I forget what the other one is. Sorry 'bout that! I look forward to reading more of your attempts. Have fun!


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