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 Short stories by Linderel

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Linderel Silverbell
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Number of posts : 53
Age : 30
Location : Finland
Humor : odd
Registration date : 2008-02-05

PostSubject: Short stories by Linderel   Sun Feb 17, 2008 1:09 am

So this here is for my short stories/vignettes. They will all be posted as separate entries on this thread, and there will be another for possible comments on them. You will quickly notice that melancholy is my forte. Wink
Here, the first one.
----

L'esprit de l'escalier


Cigarette smoke drifted out the open window, up into the sky that seemed almost mocking in its brightness and depth. No cloud in sight when it should be pouring endlessly. Such a cliché, yet so true. It had been barely three hours since the funeral, and she was already intoxicated.

It was the only way she knew how to deal with things, alone.

What she remembered, most vividly, were their fights. Oh yes, they always bantered, threw deadly insults at each other that made people around them stare and then do a double-take when they realised - what seemed like a row escalated out of control was really a game, the combatants grinning widely. But when they fought in earnest it was cold, each line calculated, and always, always ended with one or the other suddenly storming out, disappearing for at least a day. Usually, it was her, she realised with a wry smile. Then, when she returned, they made love that was as bittersweet as it was passionate. It was the way they worked, and she didn't really mind losing their game every time, either. She could always come up with another witty retort to use later on, preferably during one of their playful tussles that usually turned into a foreplay of sorts.

Their last words to each other had been ones of scorn, one of their play-matches having turned into a genuine argument after she had said something going just over the border. This time, he had been the one to rush out. Even so, she had a nagging feeling she had still lost - and turned out to be right.

She had never hated getting a phone call as much as she did the moment they told her. It had some sort of poetic justice, perhaps, for him to be the first one to go and leave her hurting. After all, she had caused him pain countless times with her stunts earlier, before they eased into their routine. He'd told her she would be punished one day, and even though it was never said with any seriousness, it was there. Waiting to be made reality.

She picked up the down-turned frame and smiled, fondly, sadly, pressed a light kiss on the glass as her eyes fluttered shut to stop the tears. A broken whisper permeated the still silence of the apartment, sounding wrong and all too loud even in its frailness.

"Why do you always have to win?"
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Linderel Silverbell
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Number of posts : 53
Age : 30
Location : Finland
Humor : odd
Registration date : 2008-02-05

PostSubject: Re: Short stories by Linderel   Sun Feb 17, 2008 1:20 am

Boys don't cry

Flinching away from touch, he rushed along the hallway to his next class. Always forward, forward, never stop, never look up, never make a sound, don't let anything out - the harsh words of someone he had held in high esteem, a father figure, echoing in his head.

"Boys don't cry," he muttered to himself every time he felt his eyes getting prickly, his head bowing all the way to his chest. He had to be strong, had to take it like a man. Men didn't show hurt, or any other feelings. Displaying things like that was weakness, and men were supposed to be strong. Women were weak. Was he a woman?

He winced, remembering the bruises on her mother's back, remembered pressing an ice bag against the ugly blue-black marks, holding back angry tears and a feral rage towards the person he had begun to think of as a father. Grinding his teeth together, he put a hand in his bag and stroked the sleek, cool metal.

It would all be better soon.

Fuzzily he witnessed the hours ticking by, being ignored by everyone, even those who once would have tried to find out what was weighing on his mind. Too far gone, they said, shaking their heads sadly. Such a shame, he was a fine, talented boy, they would say. If only...

If only what?

His grip tightened around the edges of his table, his knuckles white, the uneven spot under his right palm biting into the skin. Only scarcely did he stop himself from biting his lip hard enough to draw blood. He was attracting strange looks and muffled laughter from the others as it was, it would be better not to give them any more reasons.

He shuddered, thinking what the sight of blood had done to him the last time, fingers just brought down from his temple.

They didn't need to know. He nearly reached into his bag again, but the shrill noise of the alarm jolted him from his dream-like state. He followed the students with his eyes, darted his gaze to the teacher, pupils widening as he became more distressed. Slowly, he started to stand up, started to reach for the comforting coolness of the metal in his bag - and froze.

There should be no hesitations now. Yet he looked on helplessly as the students trickled out of the room, laughing and bright and oblivious, and then the door had slammed closed behind the last one, a girl who always lingered behind, and he hated her the most because she still never said anything, and then he was alone with the teacher who was calling his name. Worried? No, they didn't bother worrying about him anymore, if they did, this would have been over long ago.

He pulled the gun out of his bag and pointed it at the teacher. She had her back turned, but he waited. He waited, and when he saw her expression, a succession of feelings chasing across her face - worry surprise anger fear sadness - he grabbed the handle with both hands, palms sweaty now, closing his eyes and furiously ignoring the tears that began to form at the corners.

He remembered the words again, the hurtful words, the ones his so-called father had said, and then the teacher when jokingly trying to cheer him up. She didn't know, how could she know? It didn't matter.

"Boys don't cry," he whispered, throat constricting, shifted his stance, and pulled the trigger.

No one entered that room for a long time to come.
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Linderel Silverbell
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Number of posts : 53
Age : 30
Location : Finland
Humor : odd
Registration date : 2008-02-05

PostSubject: Re: Short stories by Linderel   Sun Feb 17, 2008 1:37 am

This was a Creative Writing assigment. If I remember correctly, it had to either start or finish with 'Now, nobody will talk to me'.

Trapped


"Seven days ago, I ran away from home."

The girl's voice is steady and matter-of-fact, in sharp contrast to the nearly panicked tone I heard only a few minutes earlier. She draws a breath, and I lean forward in my chair, for some inexplicable reason very eager to hear her story. Perhaps it is because I have not been in real contact with other human beings for years, have not spoken to anyone; I always figured I don't need anyone.

"My parents had been fighting again for the whole day. They always fight when they're both home. Me and my brothers all hate it, but whenever we ask them to stop, they just tell us to shut up... So I left, because I'd had enough. I packed my bag while they were in the kitchen, shouting at each other, and made sure no one saw me.

I'd really had enough."

Only now do I notice how young she sounds - she cannot be more than twelve years of age. I cannot even be completely sure she truly is a she. I feel a wave of sympathy for her wash over me. I know what it is like to have a family being torn apart from the inside.

"I didn't really mean to go away for a long time, I just wanted them to know how much their constant fighting hurts me. I realise now it was probably pretty silly...

"It was late in the evening when I left, around 10 PM or something. Our house is near a forest, so I ran there. It's deep, so I knew I couldn't be found very easily."

Smart kid, I think, smiling. She is quite intelligent for someone her age. I think back to my own past and laugh bitterly at my stupidity. How can a child be so ignorant and cruel...

"Sir? Sir, you're still there, aren't you?"

The girl's urgent question cuts through the haze of my reminiscent state, and I hasten to assure her that I'm still listening. How stupid of me, to let myself be taken away by memories when there is someone who so direly needs me.

"I thought I knew that forest like my own pockets - I'd adventured there along with my brothers ever since I was old enough to walk. But when I woke up in the morning after getting a few hours of sleep, I realised I didn't know where I was.

"I wasn't really worried, not yet - I figured I'd find my way around if I just followed one of the trails crisscrossing the forest floor.

"Well, turns out I couldn't have been more mistaken."

I blink and find myself wondering just who this child is. Is she really even a child anymore? She sounds so unlike any other little girl I've ever come across.

"I walked forward on the path I chose, ever forward - I think I walked for hours without stopping for once. I wanted to get out of there. But I just got deeper and deeper.

"It was getting dark when I came to a some sort of clearing. Nothing really special about it, except for a pond in the middle. I doubt it's really usual. I felt a bit tired, so I decided to wash my face.

My third, and worst, mistake. After splashing some water from the pond on my face and risking to drink a sip of it - I was too tired to bother rummaging through my bag for my bottle - I felt...weird. I can't describe it in any other way. Just plain disoriented. I passed out."

She sounds frustrated, as if angry with herself. I, on the other hand, have begun feeling puzzled. Where is the story leading? What is with all this mysticism? I do not understand her.

"When I awoke, I was dizzy and nauseous. I threw up, after which I decided I should probably go back home. It wouldn't have been very wise to stay in the forest when I was ill, after all. And I figured my family would be worried sick by then...

"I found my way back very easily. It was, in fact, too easy, now that I think about it. Upon my arrival home I called out to my family, receiving no response. That was odd. Everyone was home, I knew because their shoes were all there. I went to the kitchen. They were all sitting around the table, looking stricken and sad. I called out to them again - but they didn't hear me."

I feel my brow furrowing. What is this child going on about?

"At that point, I started to panic. I rushed outside, into the streets, and tried to talk to everyone I encountered. None of them saw me. I didn't stop trying until nightfall - only then did I return home. I went through all my bedtime rituals and slept in my own bed. I thought that perhaps all would be back to normal in the morning.

"Again, I was mistaken. Nothing had changed when I bounded downstairs from my room and chirped a good morning to my parents.

"I've never felt more alone. Of course, I've felt lonely pretty often, but at least other people still acknowledged my existence. At first I thought it was some really bad joke, but apparently they truly couldn't sense me in any way.

"After realising that, I dug our old radio transmitter up from the attic. If I couldn't get through to anyone physically, perhaps I could do it otherwise... I don't know what the logic behind that thought was, but it worked. I tried different frequencies for four days. Then you answered.

"I don't even know whether we live in the same reality or not. Maybe I'm stuck between parallel universes, which was somehow caused by drinking the water from that pond. I can't find any other explanation to this all."

My face is a mask of furious disbelief. How dare this child try to trick me into believing this sort of fairy tale?

"Now that you know... Can you please help me? I miss my family so much. I want to talk to them again, I want to tell my parents how much I love them despite their arguing. Please, anything..."

I stand up from my chair, snarling in anger. Does she think she can really fool anyone into believing what she has just told me? This is ridiculous. I tell her exactly what I think of her story, and to stop fooling around if she doesn't want to get into trouble. Then I switch my radio off, ripping the headphones from my ears.

What a waste of time.




In the dusty attic of an old wooden house, a small huddled figure lets out a choked sob.

"Now, nobody will talk to me."
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Linderel Silverbell
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories by Linderel   Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:21 am

Tea and Roses

"Set it down, mama."

Jerky shakes of a head covered in tangled white hair were the only reaction. The rocking increased in speed as the musical box let out its last few notes, tiny ballerina figure gently winding to a halt. Clawed hands clutched the edges of the box, desolate whimpers permeated the newly settled silence of the room. The young woman standing in the doorway closed her eyes. Swallowed.

"Mama. Please. Set it down. You will break it."

"Rosaaa... Rosa..."

Taking deep, controlled breaths, she stepped more fully into the room, holding their tea tray with white-knuckled hands. Rose-patterned porcelain cups, filled almost to the brink with fragrant Jasmine tea. Matching teapot, sugar dish, and creamer. Two dark red roses cut from the garden just moments before. She'd been pricked by their thorns this morning.

It took three long steps to get to the table by the window. Five short ones with an easily upset burden like the tray. The window, overlooking the garden, was already open, letting in air filled with summer scents. It was a beautiful day.

Rosa set the tray on the table, placed one cup in front of her seat. With gentle but firm hands she pried the musical box from her mama's unresponsive ones, carefully laid it back atop the dresser next to the bed, and then turned to place the other cup in front of her mama. She sat down, poured a tiny amount of milk from the creamer to her mama's cup. Added a sugar, then, after a brief hesitation, another. Settled one rose, now free of thorns, in the wild tangle of hair. Sat back and lightly blew out a breath to cool her own unsweetened tea.

As she raised her gaze, a minute later, she was being glared at. Petulantly. Defiantly. The old green eyes were trying to challenge her to something. Rosa closed her own again, and with a fingertip traced a tired path from forehead to nose. Opened them again, green against green.

"Just drink your tea, mama. Let us not fight today."

The challenge, then, was grudgingly withdrawn, the gaze drawn out to the trees, the flower benches. The rose bushes. A shadow of a smile touched on the pale, cracked mouth.

"Are you trying to build us a paradise, Rosa? Build me a paradise? Hmm?"

Stricken, but without knowing why, she could only stare at the wrinkled profile. Hands trembling she set her cup down on its platter, momentarily irritated by the little tink it gave. She watched as fingers that were once long and elegant, but now shriveled up like the rest of her mama's body, finally raised their own cup. Surprisingly steady they were, but they had wrapped lovingly around this same cup immeasurable times for decades. They were used to each other.

She swallowed and had to look away. To the garden. It was her mama's life's work, and now hers. It had been their sanctuary for as long as her mama could walk. It had been some months. She felt a burning behind her eyes, reached up to brush an errant lock of hair from her face. Swallowed again.

"Yes, mama. A paradise."

The still half-full cup dropped. Porcelain shattered against hardwood floor, and milky liquid spread around the shards. Her mama had slumped in her chair, head back, eyes closed, mouth slightly open, hands hanging on each side. The rose in her hair had been upset and could drop any moment.

Rosa looked at her for a moment, deep affection in her eyes, and got up to straighten the flower, set the limp hands in the lap, tilted the head forward and down, gently closed the mouth. Caressing the old face with light fingers she turned her gaze outside again, then felt her attention wander.

Straightening up, she walked to the dresser again, picked up the musical box. Opened it, let the familiar tunes wash over her like comfort. Breathed deeply.

Then, she turned around and flung the box out the window, through it, shattering the glass, and screamed.
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