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Thread: October '15 Elimination

  1. #1
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    October '15 Elimination

    Please vote for the story you like best before November 1st!
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


  2. #2
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    All of the Words

    All of the Words


    It was 12:30 in the afternoon at Gateacre School, in Liverpool. The buzzer went off, announcing lunchtime. Mrs Gunston stood up from her chair at the front of the classroom as her pupils wildly started talking and packing their bags.
    ‘Don’t forget to bring your copy of Of Mice and Men with you tomorrow! We’ll need it!’ she said as her students were already pouring out of the classroom. She gave a soft but audible sigh. She looked through the classroom at the few students who were still packing, all of them engaged in trivial conversation. In the middle of the room stood Anthony, a brown-haired and shy but intelligent 16-year old kid.
    ‘Anthony,’ Mrs Gunston said, ‘Could you stay here for a minute? I would like to have a little talk with you.’
    ‘Okay,’ Anthony said. He finished packing his bag as the last few students walked out of the room.
    Mrs Gunston walked to the door and closed it. She went over to the bench in front of Anthony’s and took place in it. She leaned her arms on Anthony’s desk and raised her eyebrows somewhat.
    ‘Please, sit back down,’ she said, making a gesture towards his chair. She wanted this to be an informal but nonetheless serious talk.
    Anthony sat down without saying a word. He put his arms down on his legs and looked at her, waiting for her to begin talking. He may not talk much or have many friends, Mrs Gunston thought, but he is definitely not a weak kid. He does not hesitate to look a person straight in the eye, in any situation.
    ‘Anthony, I’m a little bit concerned,’ she began. ‘I’ve been checking the short stories you were asked to hand in last week.’
    Anthony didn’t speak. He just kept looking at her, waiting for her to get to the point. She stood up and walked to her desk and grabbed a stack of paper out of her bag. She browsed through them for a moment until she found Anthony’s.
    ‘As I would have expected from you, your story is very well crafted,’ she said. ‘Though short (as it was supposed to be), the plot is well-structured and interestingly conceptualised.’
    She walked back to the bench and sat down again with the story still in hand.
    ‘However, I have one rather big issue with the story. For example, take this passage:

    As he sat in the car next to his father, he kept looking out the window to the beautiful sky and let his mind wander off. After just twenty minutes they arrived…’

    She stopped reading and looked Anthony in the eye. He was still just looking back at her, waiting. She wondered if he did not understand what she was aiming at, or whether he did realise and was just unfazed.
    ‘You’re a bright kid. And as I said before, your story is very well composed. What I am missing in this story is more beautifully descriptive passages, which one always finds in literary works. I know that you are well-read, especially considering your age. You must have read lots of descriptive imagery. I must say I am rather disappointed but most of all surprised that you did not attempt to elaborate on this ‘beautiful sky’ you mention here, among other things. I just miss the imagery in your work apart from very basic description. Why is that?’
    Anthony remained silent for half a minute, just looking at the piece of paper that Mrs Gunston was holding in her hand, with his story on it. Then he looked back up at her and spoke.
    ‘Well,’ he began, ‘I suppose that I simply find it useless.’
    ‘Useless?’ Mrs Gunston replied, baffled. ‘What do you mean?’
    Anthony shrugged.
    ‘I could spend several lines going on about how the scenery unfolds in front of the character’s eyes. But I find that the words that I could put on paper just fail to encapsulate and properly represent actual scenery and their beauty. The words one can put on paper will never evoke in the reader the images the way the author intends. At least it never did, for me. I just always looked at the words I read and I envisioned images that I knew never matched up to what the text was trying to tell me. I have come to just doze off into my own imagination whenever I read a descriptive passage, not look at the specific wording, and just make of it what I want to.’
    When the room was silent for a few seconds, he shrugged again and added, ‘So that’s why I consider it useless.’

    Mrs Gunston looked at Anthony, thinking about how to put her reply into words. She leaned back a bit, put her hands behind her head and frowned a little.
    ‘Of course the reader will never be able to picture the scenes precisely as the author envisions them. But that’s not entirely the point of imagery. Authors add elaborate descriptions of imagery to set the mood in the story, and so that the reader may paint the details in the scenery for themselves. And even though the images that my mind calls up are different from what others would see, it still captures my idea of beauty.’
    Anthony was still looking Mrs Gunston in the eye. He had his reply ready right away.
    ‘And that’s exactly it,’ he said. ‘You just hit the nail on the head.’
    ‘Pardon me?’ Mrs Gunston replied, taken aback. She was only 27 and had only been a teacher for nearly six years now, and she had never been spoken to in this way.
    ‘You just said it. The imagery calls to your mind your idea of beauty. Everyone has their own way of perceiving the world, so why should I go much further than to say it is a beautiful sky? Our “reality” is a subjective concept that everyone fills in for themselves. I don’t need to fill it in with words of my own description because everyone has their own idea of what a beautiful sky is.’
    Mrs Gunston had trouble figuring out what to say. Anthony seemed so convinced of his own point of view that she doubted she could convince him of what she believed to be true. She decided to attempt to tackle the issue from a different point of view.
    ‘I understand what you’re trying to say, Anthony. But even though everyone has their own perception of what beauty is, the author of a work still puts imagery in their work to walk the reader through the scenery. The way the reader sees these images in front of them is indeed open to subjectivity. As I said before, creating the mood in a work is important, so the reader needs some idea of where the author is taking them in the story.’
    Anthony pointed at his story.
    ‘Could I borrow that for a minute?’
    Mrs Gunston gave the story to Anthony, wondering what he was planning to do. Anthony looked over it for a moment, then he released the paper with one of his hands and lifted his hand to the height of his face, putting his index finger up.
    ‘Take this passage in my story, for example:

    They walked into the grim-looking house. He put his torch on and shone its light around. The interior of the living room gave one the impression that one was in a house in Victorian England.’

    He put the paper back down.
    ‘Do you see what I mean? I provide the words “grim-looking” and “Victorian”.’ He said, making inverted commas with his fingers as he spoke. ‘The reader can fill in the specifics for themselves. There is no need for me to go into the exact shade of grey or the position of a chair or a table, unless said chair or table is important to the story. Which it is, actually, a moment later…’
    He was about to pick the paper back up, but Mrs Gunston put her hand on it to stop him from doing so. She took it away.
    ‘Look, Anthony. I get that you may not find it useful to be walked through elaborate images that the author paints,’ she said, ‘but I want to see from you that you are at least able to…’
    At least able to what? She asked herself, interrupting her speech. Am I really going to ask him to make his work fit my image of what literature is?
    She didn’t know what to say or do anymore. She knew Anthony’s range of vocabulary was expansive. He could do it if he wanted to. Moreover, it’s not like this would affect his grade; it was a pass or fail assignment. She could hardly ask him to change it.
    But perhaps this wasn’t about the assignment anymore. Maybe she had hoped somewhere that Anthony would grow out to be a teacher or even a writer or academic, and this assignment and the argument that followed from it had shattered that for her.
    ‘Eh, can I go now?’ Anthony asked after Mrs Gunston had been silent for a little while.
    ‘Yes… Yes, you may go.’ Mrs Gunston said.

    She wondered then where Anthony would end up. Maybe that kid was too bright for his own good. He walked out of the room without looking back. Mrs Gunston looked after him as he opened the door and walked out of the classroom, into the wide world.
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


  3. #3
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    They Got All the Hearts

    They Got All the Hearts


    “I want a divorce” he said.

    “That’s impossible, what about Raphael and Janet? You can’t do that to them.” She had her face so close he could hear her teeth grind.

    “Joan, I can’t go on like this” He tried to turn away but with a practiced flick of her shoulder was drawn back.

    “They are so happy, Gabe. We were like that once” She bit her lip, unsure. “Is there someone else?”

    “What?” the word caught in his throat, “when would I have a chance to meet someone else, are you crazy?”

    “Well, I’m not suggesting an affair but we see people all the time, you could fancy one of them, how should I know, I can’t read your mind?” Joan finally turned her face away, pouting.

    Behind them the dishwasher whirred “What about a trial separation?” He asked, now biting his own lip. His skin dragged across their chest as she began to laugh but there was no joy in it and as she turned back, her eyes were beginning to shine.

    “How would that work exactly? Do you think I would just go on living with you while you went on some midlife crisis fueled shagathon?” he could feel her lung quickening and hitching next to his own.

    “No, of course not. I just feel like I need some alone time” Her only response to this was a wet snort. “It’s all happened so fast” he went on “that flipping TV show, Raphael and Janet’s big romance and us dragged along in their wake.”

    “Dragged along? Dragged along!” some of her spittle hit his cheek.” Up the freaking aisle and into the operating theatre were you? I didn’t hear you complaining as you signed the contracts or cashed the cheques. God, has this all been some ego trip for you and now you’ve lost interest?”

    Joan’s hand was opening and closing as if trying to choose between a slap and a punch, he laid his own over it but she pulled away.

    Her nostrils flared “It’s a bit late for regrets now darling shouldn’t you have thought of this before we committed to being sliced and diced on live television? Or are you just hoping for a follow up series of it all going tits up?” She gasped “That’s it isn’t it - you bastard!”

    “No, that’s not it. Reality TV was Raph’s idea, meeting you and Janet on there was the most amazing thing that has ever happened to us ... But it has all been so crazy. God, my head’s a mess.”

    Without a word they walked over to the dinning table and sat down resting their heads in a hand each.” It’s all a mess” She said, glancing at the large framed picture of the four of them on their wedding day -biggest freak show ever. “They had to invent new procedures to make us possible and all those pills we pop each day, now you are saying it’s all for nothing?” She used the back of her hand to stop a tear in its tracks.

    He sighed “You are the only person I know who could understand how I feel. I have never been me, it’s always been me and Raph ‘The Twins’” He did a one handed quote sign “Being with you is different, totally different, I almost feel like I could be a person in my own right, I don’t know, achieve something.”

    “Don’t you miss him at all, Gabe? I miss her, I miss her smell. Do you think it is weird that she smells different to me?”

    “Sometimes I miss him, not all the time. He was always so bossy. And don’t be daft, I think you smell wonderful. It’s not you, it’s me” He cringed. “Sorry that was terrible, but I meant it. This is all me. I just feel strange, liberated and yet trapped.”

    “Trapped? Charming, just keep digging pal.” A small smile softened her ridged jaw. “Yeah Janet was pretty bossy too. Look, I get what you mean but it doesn’t change anything. We are together now and we signed that document.”

    “Yes” He nodded “it can only be reversed if we all agree, and they are head over heals about each other.”

    “I don’t know why I’m surprised, we don’t even have a real heart between us, like our marriage it’s a fake - they got all the hearts.” The smile lost its footing as her chin wobbled a little.

    He reached out and took her hand again, this time she didn’t pull away “Look, I don’t want a divorce; my head is spinning, that’s all. Let’s start again. Pretend it’s just us meeting each other for the first time and forget about them and the telly and all that craziness. Would you...I don’t know… go on a date with me?”

    She shook her head and then laughed a soggy laugh. “Sure, as long as I get to pick where we go, I hate all those Rom-Coms you drag me to.”

    “It’s a deal then. And I love our mechanical heart; it’s a miracle of modern tech…” He stopped, with his hand on their chest, as the doorbell sounded.

    They rose in one fluid, practiced motion to answer it. On the doorstep stood the mirror image of themselves but magnified somehow, bigger and brasher. Two arms, two legs and two heads. Neither of which looked very happy. Janet’s normally flawless makeup was smeared across her face and the usually cheerful and handsome Raphael looked stormy.

    “Gabriel, I have had it with this woman - we have got to swap back.” He fumed “I had a chat with the network and they are willing to do a new series. ‘Siamese Splits’, we can make a whole new mint Bro.”

    “The thing is we….” Gabe mumbled.

    Raphael powered over him “She is so demanding and manipulative. Joan, I do not know how you lived with her all those years!”

    “Well she’s not ... that is ...I didn’t find…Look me and Gabe are kind of ok actually.” Joan said as firmly as she could.

    Janet seemed about to explode. “Kind of ok! Well bully for you! I can’t sleep a wink at night and my nerves are so shredded that I can’t eat or think all day. It’s a bloody disgrace, I should have been warned. Gabe you… you should have told me” she waved around an accusing finger. “Why didn’t you say anything? Raphael snores and he steals all of the covers!”

    Gabriel and Joan turned to each other and laughed, when they were able to catch their breath they said “Actually, we are happy, very happy, just the way we are.”
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


  4. #4
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Happy Endings

    Happy Endings


    “And then they lived happily ever after.’ I stressed upon each word, waiting for that spark of wonder in Shana’s big blue eyes.

    Those eyes.

    For a moment, Shana did not say anything. Then it appeared, her smile growing wider with each passing moment and reaching her eyes. She raised her hands in the air and did a little pirouette on the spot all the while shouting, ‘That is so wonderful Papa! Wonderful! Wonderful!’

    That smile.

    Ever since Shana could understand my stories, she had been my first critic. She was silent for only a moment but in that time I had grown very anxious. Did she like the story? Did she enjoy it? But then with each little spin and leap of her, my heart opened up to embrace the warmth spreading around it, petal by petal, like a mexican daisy opening up to sunlight.

    Her face lit up with an unadulterated joy that was so infectious. I had begun grinning. And so had Shana’s mother Zoy who she was hugging right now. ‘Wasn’t it wonderful, Ma?’

    Wonderful. She did not know many other words.

    ‘Yes it was sweetie, yes it was’. Zoy said, running her fingers through Shana’s hair. Then she looked at me in a slightly incredulous way, more playful than mean, and mouthed, ‘Dragon marrying an elve, really?’

    I shrugged and mouthed back, ‘That’s what the kids like. Happy Endings.’ She shook her head ever so slightly, the smile though never leaving her face. Shana had settled herself on her mother’s arm and dug her head into the bosom by now, seemingly getting ready to sleep again.

    I was suddenly overwhelmed with a strong gush of love that I felt for the two ladies in white. Gosh, I was so lucky.

    So much white.

    Zoy kissed Shana’s head and said, ‘Come on sweetie. No more sleep. It’s time for school. Come on.’

    ‘But it’s so comfy here.’

    Shana...' It was gentlest of admonition but Shana straightened up immediately. She got down and went to pick up her bag. Shana could not stay quiet for long and always had to say something. As she passed by me to fetch her bag, she said, ‘Papa, it really was very comfy there. Maybe you should try it sometime.’ Zoy and me burst into laughter together. Shana looked nonplussed for a second but then chimed in with her artless laugh.

    As they were getting ready, I resumed working on my latest novel for children, ‘The Magical Storm.’ Now that I had Shana’s approval, the final chapter should be a breeze. I suppressed a giggle.

    After about 15 minutes, I showed them to the door. ‘Goodbye Papa.’ I bent down to kiss Shana on the cheeks. ‘Goodbye sweetie. Now don’t trouble your mother too much and I might dedicate my next book to you.’

    Zoy had always been modest in front of Shana. But what followed today was the best goodbye kiss I ever had.

    I was still grinning like an idiot as the two got into the white car.

    Just before entering, I heard Shana ask, ‘Maa, what’s decitate?’ The grin turned into an outright guffaw and I stood at the door chuckling until I finally saw the car disappear around the corner.

    The door closed, not to a thud but a cacophonous crash. I felt the latest bout of laughter stop midway and all of a sudden I was choking, as if someone had punched me in the throat. My coughs mixed with the reverberations of the crash that were growing louder by the second. I could feel the sound waves bouncing off the walls and mixing into each other. I felt the stampede of sound running over me. I slumped to the ground, dragged myself into a corner, closed my eyes and pressed my palms deep into my ears. ‘Oh god, please make this stop. Pleaaase.’

    In response, God laughed. No, it wasn’t God. It was this big white empty house cackling and laughing at me.

    I lay in that position for what may have been a minute or an hour. I was not only trying to keep the sound away but also trying to avoid sleep. It was only morning, wasn’t it? Hadn’t Shana just left for school? But I felt sofatigued. I slowly opened my eyes as the noises finally ebbed away. Along with the sound, the lights had gone dim as well.

    I could see the computer shining in the darkness. I needed to start writing. The novel won’t finish itself. Suddenly a delightful image came into my mind. A fat book opened in the middle, hovering in the air, with a hole in either of the pages and a geeky spec going over the two ‘eyes’. The right page held a pen in its hand. The book was writing a book. HeeHee. The kids would love this.

    ‘Isn’t that a lovely image, Shana?’ I thought to myself. But I may have said that out loud, because Shana had appeared besides me and was doing an amazing little pirouette in her shiny white dress and was saying, ‘That is so wonderful Papa! Wonderful! Wonderful!’

    Wonderful.

    ‘Aww sweetie. Come on, give Papa a hug’. But Shana didn’t respond and walked away. Walked through the door. ‘Shana…’ But she was gone. I wanted to go after her but couldn’t really get up, only managing to half stand. My lower half was dragging me down. I looked down and saw a faceless labourer squatting on his legs near mine, wearing a torn vest around his chest and a white torn turban around his head, holding a brick in each of his hands.

    ‘What are you doing?’ I asked him in half amusement, half terror. A lipless hole on his featureless face moved, ‘Why, filling in your legs with bricks of course, sir.’

    ‘Of course… Of course. Carry on.’ I could hear my voice trailing off. The room seemed even darker now. The only source of light was the computer. I could hear it beckoning me in that silky voice of a seductress. I had to finish the novel.

    Just two more pages.

    My eyelids very getting heavy. They were made of lead. Each time they closed, instead of seeing that absolute nothing, I could see a faint light, more vivid than anything besides me. But then I would quickly open them again. I did not want to sleep. I knew the consequences. Nightmares as vivid as reality. Terrible horrible nightmares.

    I beat my head against the wall. ‘I would not sleep.’

    Bright light.

    ‘I wouldn’t sleep.’

    White light.

    ‘Wouldn’t sleep.’

    Blurry light.

    ‘Sleep…’

    Vivid bright light.

    I was lying on a bed. It took me some time to realize that I was in my room. I had a terrible headache but that would soon be the least of my worries.

    Even through the half open eyes, I could see the room brightly lit by the beaming rays of sunlight that marched in through the windows and bounced off the plethora of beer bottles on the ground. I had slept for majority of two days. I looked at the clutter of capsules on the side table. Eight triazolams hadn’t killed me. Maybe ten would.

    Why not take all of them?

    Even through the pain (ugh, this pain - someone was drilling iron rods into my brain. Who? That worker in the torn vest?)

    Even through the pain, that thought had a strange allure to it but was marked by a bad aftertaste. Like a medicine (Triazolam?) left in the mouth for too long. Or a smooth wave crashing up on a rock.

    Crashing.

    I jumped in my bed, sitting upright now. Spilling the tablets off the side table in the process.

    It wasn’t the wave crashing on a rock. It was a white car. And then it wasn’t a rock. But a big monstrous truck that banged into the car headfirst, dragging it across the road, sending off mad sparks and dust flying off around it.

    I had just closed the door and then opened it again on hearing the crash. Even as I ran towards the remains of the car, I knew. Shana and Zoy were gone. Just like that. Poof. Gone.

    A couple of workers from a nearby construction site were drawing their bodies out by the time I reached the crash site. Even though I knew, I hadn’t expected to see what I did. They weren’t only dead, they were mutilated. Features wiped off their faces.

    Those blue eyes were all red now. The fair faces, all purple and bloody.


    The headache was overwhelmed by an absolute emptiness. Someone had thrown off all my entrails off a cliff but not without stepping and stomping on it before. I had begun to shiver and sweat. I wanted to bury my head under the pillow, close my eyes, shun off the silence. The air around reminded me of their laughs.

    But their was an easier way out. I dragged myself off the bed and let myself fall on the floor. The capsules were littered all over the floor. Five of them hadn’t killed me. Neither had six. Nor eight now.

    Why not take all of them?

    I took a sachet and started tearing out the capsules.

    One.
    Yes, why not? I could have taken the whole sachet in the first try.

    Two. Three. Four. Five.
    But I wasn’t thinking of killing myself then. Not at first. I just wanted to sleep… for a really long time. I wanted to avoid the world, to avoid the look of pity in their eyes.

    Six. Seven.
    Then I had seen Shana and Zoy while I slept. I was living with them again. My realities had switched. I could not imagine them when I was awake, no matter how hard I tried. But they always waited for me in the dreams. The dreams had become my truth and my life a nightmare.

    Eight. Nine. Ten.
    Then the dreams turned rogue and life only got worse. I wasn’t living in either of the worlds, only suffering in both. That is when I wanted to kill myself.

    Why not take all of them?

    Another Satchet. Rip. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.
    There was that allure of being with them again, for however short a time before the dreams turned into nightmares. But was that it? If only I could just take all of them, I would be with them forever.

    Fifteen.
    I could end this right now. All the pain would be gone. Forever.

    Sixteen. Seventeen.
    I was lying to myself. There was something fundamentally wrong with this.

    Eighteen. Nineteen.


    Twenty.
    And then, even in that state of disharmony, with my mind and body oscillating between dazzling pain and nothingness, I had my answer. I heard my voice call out in the distance, ‘That’s what the kids like. Happy Endings.’

    I felt a level of clarity that I had not felt ever since their death. I knew what I had to do. I looked at the computer. I had never managed to finish my novel. Just two pages left and I never managed to finish it. Shana loved my stories. She loved this ending. An ending that I never actually managed to write. My thoughts had become too muddled all this while, too blurry.

    But right now, I knew each and every word that would go on those two pages. I dragged myself to the chair and opened the file. My fingers fumbled. My vision a little foggy. But after half an hour of turmoil, I completed it.

    I had closed my eyes several times after their death, hoping that I’d see the two when I opened them. But was never successful. That is why I started with the pills.

    But something deep down told me this time it would be different. I closed my eyes. After a while, I could hear a few joyous squeals. When I opened them, sure enough, I could see Shana doing that little dance of her, her radiant smile reaching her blue eyes. ‘‘That is so wonderful Papa! Wonderful! Wonderful! Would you tell me some more stories now?’

    ‘Of course sweetie, of course. But first, I need to change a tiny little something.’

    I went back to the beginning of the novel and added the dedication.

    "Decitated: to my wonderful daughter Shana and my wonderful wife Zoy"
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


  5. #5
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I voted.

  6. #6
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    Oh, I just found this! Will make great Sunday morning fun.

  7. #7
    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    I feel that one of the major reasons for fewer votes is that a lot of people don't know about it. A site wide notification at the top of home page might help, something similar to the notification here that says, 'Hello Nikhar it appears that you have not posted on our forums in several weeks, why not take a few moments to ask a question, help provide a solution or just engage in a conversation with another member in any one of our forums?'

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    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

  8. #8
    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    I voted.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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