Tag Archives: short story

Hunter of El Dorado- Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines!

14 Jan

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

 

Ooh, fiction fuelled by facts! How could I resist!

I picked mine from BBC’s website. It’s  El Dorado- Truth Behind The Myth,  and it discusses recent archaelogical research that has comfirmed El Dorado, the ‘golden one’, to be not a city but a person – a ruler so rich “he allegedly covered himself in gold from head to toe each morning and washed it off in a sacred lake each evening.”

Originally I clicked on it because I loved the animation film The Road to Eldorado when I was little. But reading about the old customs and rituals of the Muisca people actually got me  thinking about man’s search for riches, our society’s views on money and what we find desirable in life.

“Within Muisca society gold, or the more specifically an alloy of gold, silver and copper called tumbaga, was highly sought after, not for its material value but for its spiritual power, its connection to the deities and its ability to bring balance and harmony within Muisca society. As Muisca descendant Enrique Gonzalez explains, gold does not symbolise prosperity to his people.

“For the Muisca of today, just as for our ancestors, gold is nothing more than an offering… gold does not represent wealth to us.”

–  Extract from the article El Dorado- Truth Behind the Myth

So, are diamonds really girl’s, or man’s, best friend ?

Hunter of El Dorado

He remembered the day he lost his sight clearly.

One morning he simply woke up and found that he had lost his eyes. Instead, he now had diamonds crushing his eye sockets.

As he blinked wildly, he felt them drilling their way deeper, their spiky tips cutting on his retina and optic disc.  He felt an ache trickling down his temple, back of his neck, his spine. It was followed soon after by an insane panic, the fear that his diamond eyes would suddenly shatter and send million knife-sharp spalls into his brain, blood stream and bone marrow, paralyzing him forever.

In his mind, he could already see himself helplessly lying there, like some child’s abandoned ragdoll, just waiting for death. Till one day, his neighbour would be alerted by the smell of his rotting intestines and would finally find him, only to discover it was too late. He would be pickled and stored away in a museum, caged into a glass cabinet for everyone to goggle at like some freakish zoo animal. Here it is, ladies and gentleman and all you snotty kids, a sight so gruesome it might eat your eyes! Are you ready? Witness a man, a monster hardened by money, a hunter of El Dorado, cursed to watch life through diamond lenses! Heeeeere he is!

He could hear the gasps and shrieks of the audience. A middle-aged woman covering her child’s eyes. Don’t look at him Edith, he must have been a bad man.

Was he? A bad man? Just a foul shell of a feeling person?

It shocked him that he had never even considered this before.  Never… that word was like a fat exclamation mark laughing and pointing at him, a proof of his inadequate nature. He had the feeling of entering a room confidently, in a dream, only to find he was stark naked. Heads turned, chatter was sliced into silence. Eyes spread wide in shock-white faces.

No! This was not him!

He was leather briefcases, polished skin like precious china; he was a blank slate to be tinted with the most flattering shades at the start of every press conference, such colours that would complement everyone in the room. He was successful, smart, business. But underneath his Armani suit, he was empty.

But why now? Why today? What was this, distorting his vision?

He tried to strain his eyes immobile and unblinking, squeeze them into clarity, but in vain. His sight was ever more dispersed. All he could focus on was light, random and chaotic lustre racing in front of his eyes. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of sick joke; his mind repeating again and again the flickering light of his bedside lamp, the last thing he had laid his eyes upon. And whether his vision would be entirely different, happier, had his last sight been lover’s hair falling in loose twirls down their neck. Would he then see only love?

Nauseated by his own thoughts, he finally forced himself to move and fell out of his bed. He crawled on the floor like vermin, trying to find some shelter, a dark hole that would guard him from the firework display dancing on the surface of his irises. Instead, he found a wall to support himself with and he lifted himself up slowly, only to face the full horridness of his condition.

He saw himself staring into the full length mirror next to his wardrobe. His reflection was fragmented to him, but he could still make out one particular detail. His eyes. Terrible.

Indeed, they were perfectly shaped, purest diamonds. For a moment he got lost in them,  admiring their beauty foolishly like a child looking up to his parent and seeing the face of god. But all too soon he was ripped away from his fantasy, to witness their true nature with horror rising in his throat like pulping acid.

For his diamond eyes, like the most precious diamonds, were utterly transparent when inspected from the outside. To him, they were a cage, that frightening glass cabinet he had just conjured up in his mind. But from the mirror stared back at him the image others saw: his eyes like still, shallow water; windows reaching to the very bottom of his soul, exposing all. All his signs of weakness, his dreams, were laying there, drowned into the lake of tears. There they were, pooled into a sad pit of discarded emotions.

Then he saw it, the one dream he had most guarded in his life. It was swimming into the ether, to be lost forever.

As he watched it float by, he felt it stripping him out of his armada of ties, his armory of perfectly fitted suites, his gold watch, dropping all the zeroes on his bank account one by one as it went. It swam up, to the surface of his diamond eyes, where he watched it leaving him, his dream of love. Quickly, too quickly, it became just another light in the distance. And too late did he realize that his rich offerings, his watch and suits and money,  were but clutter. For if he had only touched love, given his dream a fleeting caress as it passed him, that…

That would have been the brightest kind of gold.

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Growing things in Farmer’s Kitchen- art and fiction

20 Dec
Farmer's Kitchen By Ivan AllbrightSource: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/maulleigh/4161478770/

Farmer’s Kitchen By Ivan Allbright
Source: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/maulleigh/4161478770/

 

Farmer’s Kitchen by Ivan Allbright. Sometimes also called: Beautiful.

Look at it, isn’t this piece just fascinating?

I could keep staring at the patterns, the colours, the details for forever. If I wasn’t too busy drowning into the expression on the man’s face, of course. Is he sad, tired, lonely, wistful? What is he? What’s the story behind this piece? What’s the story he carries in his heart?

I suppose these questions really show why art is so engaging. It makes you wonder, makes you imagine, makes you consider things that would have not even crossed your mind otherwise. Best art haunts you, it sticks to your mind like a post-it note and reminds you of all the realisations and feelings you experienced when you witnessed a good piece.

This piece definately did that to me. I could not stop wondering about the man. That’s why I wrote his story:

 

Growing things

I never was handsome.

– You wouldn’t make a model, you said when you saw me for the first time, but being a farmer must be a calling to you. Ha, even your nose is like a potato, a hairy and bulky tuber!

I let you say things like that because you  always laughed at them, and your laugh was like a choir of cheerful jingle bells.  How I miss your laugh!  It was the happiest part of you. I wish I could hear it once more, bursting out and bringing these dusty rooms back to life.

I wonder what you would say about me now. Often I imagine you appearing from the rain, standing on my doorstep with smudged make-up and chapped lips, tears running down your face. You would smile and pretend they’re raindrops. You would have a toothbrush in your hand and a backpack.  In my dreams you always look like this, oddly beautiful. In my dreams I look at you with bright lover’s eyes.

I miss you but maybe these kind of dreams should be kept shut away, in my little treasure chest of fantasies.  Because with you, these kind of dreamy scenes of love would only be an illusion. Reality would hit them hard, so hard they would be broken to pieces by your high-pitched shrieks:

“Why on earth are you wearing my old dress? And my apron too?”

“And look at you, you’ve got potato peels stuck all over it!”

“And your hands are all scratchy!”

I’m wearing your dress because once it smelled like you. Just after you had run away. I could smell the cigarette smoke, your sweet-tinted sweat and Chanel’s No. 5. And so I slipped it on, to have you near me. Now it’s lost the smell of you, the softness of your skin. I’m losing you too, the round shape of your face, the wild gestures of your hands.,, I hope this dress can bring them all back. And the potato peels… I’ve been cooking a meal for us. For the past five years. I’ve set the table too. Come in, please! Would you?

Would you? That’s what I wonder every day. Would you love my face now,  would you love it still now that it’s full of deep raisin lines? Would you love my awkward hands that resemble the dry, cracked ground I try to tame? Would you take my hand, hold it gently and not flinch at the touch of my rough, scaly skin? Would you dive into the quarry of my heart, dig out all the sharp stones of misery and grind them into soft sand? Would you?

I will never find answers. I don’t expect to. But I cannot be moved, I cannot forget, I cannot leave like you did.  I’m a work horse on this farm, I stay here faithfully even after everything’s dead. I go about my routines, try to make things grow, I set the table for two, wait for you in vain and then allow the cat to take your seat. The cat meows and looks at me in amusement, spoils the soup with its hairy paws. Oh well, you always disliked soup anyway. Maybe you started to dislike me too, or was it just the solidity of these walls you feared? When the house squeaked and creaked at night, did you fear that our security was falling apart? If I lean into a same wall for too long, it crumbles under my weight, that’s what you always used to say. I have to keep on moving, you mumbled many times. Did you plan your departure already, even then?

I suppose you were right. You leaned into me after all, you got close, so close I could feel the even warmth of your breath and the fast rabbit’s pulse on your wrist. Then you left and I crumbled. I turned into rocks scattered around this house.  I started to carry the colours of beetroot, carrot and potato on my face, blending into the lonely landscape of abandoned vegetable crops. I look like this house more and more every day. I’m empty like this house and my joints creak like the doors that are not opened often enough to let someone in. I’m old, draughty and unhinged like my kitchen. Our kitchen. I’ve become a bit skewed, this house was built sweked and so was our love. Shouldn’t we have known better from the start?

And maybe one day I will fall apart, turn into ash and fire and burn with this house. Or maybe I will become a solid part of these worn floors, one of the blind planks. Then I would find oblivion. But before I do, I want to forgive you. I used to think that the only passion I ever got from you was a passion fruit. You grabbed it once during a fight and threw it at me with blazing eyes. It hit me hard on my lips like a violent kiss. I didn’t mind the bruise, but I hated you for ruining a perfectly good fruit. I loved all things growing, and you laughed at me for this. You used to stand and look in wonder as I tended my garden.

“GROW UP! GROW UP!!”  I shouted at you, during our fights.

Grow up, just grow into something, into anything. Grow so I can love you too. Why did I left that tint of affection unsaid?

Now that it’s too late I understand  that you gave me so much more than one poorly aimed fruit and bruises on my heart. You gave me totally insensible love, the most honest kind of love, the one that doesn’t follow any planned paths. Stubborn kind of love that just comes like a wave and swipes over you, one that doesn’t come early or late or when it’s asked. It just comes and takes you.

And I loved you, you have no idea how much. Despite your poor temper, your chain smoking and the fact you sometimes treated me like a foreign object, I loved you.  Because I remember those other times… the time you snorted juice through your nose because I made you laugh so hard. The time you insisted on making pancakes for me in order to make up for some silly comment, and somehow you managed to set the frying pan on fire. Your cheeks were burning red as you panted and panicked, trying to figure out how to save the pancakes and not cause an inferno. I remember you sliding around the kitchen like a lost ice cube. I came to you, and you melted under my touch. And all was calm again.

And always, as I looked at you, I felt a weir lump swelling inside me, like a sponge that sucked all air out of me. It was just a feeling that never quite translated into words or proposals, but it was a strong feeling. It made me gulp and shiver. It was love, I recognise now. Our  bittersweet love that didn’t make any sense, totally incomprehensible, maybe doomed from the start, but just too beautiful and pitiful to be shooed away. You gave me that love and you forgot to pack it away and take it with you when you left, and for that I’m thankful.  It still lingers here, keeping me company. As I stand in the middle of my fields and look at the light creeping up, stretching its hands above the horizon to push the darkness away, I feel it. Our love, the memory of it mixing with the fresh light of dawn. And look, what’s that? A little growing seedling, how odd. I had forgotten what they look like. But now I remember. They look beautiful. They look like you but funnily, they look like the future too. They look like hope.

Your turn. What does the piece bring to your mind?

Questions on life and death- Daily Prompt, Connect the dots

23 Nov

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

 

Questions on life and death

I dream of murder, I dream of murder sleep or wake.

I’m afraid people can see the shameful glow of it on my skin. Oh I can feel their suspicion, it is screaming loudly at me from behind their pursed lips as they pass me by. They know. You know.

So what are we going to do about it?

“We?” ask your raised eyebrows.

Yes, we. Because now it is your secret too, this dream of mine. So would you please listen to me?

I have only had one dream in life so far. When I was little, my dream was to be a rally driver. But my legs were too short to reach the pedals. I cursed and a teacher slapped. Sorry, am I boring you? I know you didn’t start reading this to make a Freudian analysis of my childhood.

You started reading this because you saw murder. It rose in your mind, the blood-coloured shadow of it. It scared you, it drew you in. Can you not see? Even you, even you dreamed of murder then. You coloured it in, in your own mind. Even you got curious, just then, curious of murder. You and me are not too different, after all, you see.

You could love me.

You would, as a matter of fact, you would love me. If I had started this differently. If I had started by quoting T.S Elliot, The Wasteland perhaps, you would have said: “Oh, I love poetry! What else do you like?” And then you would have discovered that I am funny, and an attentive listener.

Or maybe, I could have started this by carrying your grocery bags for you in the rain. You would have still got wet, of course. But you would have been grateful to me, grateful that I freed your hands from the handcuffing bags. Grateful because the weight of the bags was pulling you down to the ground with them, your head heavy of responsibilities. Actually, how do you know that I didn’t help you out? How do you know that I wasn’t the person who opened a door to you today? The passer-by who you watched with a kind eye? How do you know?

Or I could make you hate me. Right now, with my next sentence. How do you know I have not already killed? How do you know I’m not the most hated convict, the one that even other criminals despise?

See, the seed of hate could be planted in your mind, just by giving you those impressions. They had an effect upon you, and whether they were right and just impressions was totally irrelevant to your feelings. That is the difficulty in life, first impressions. You know one thing about a person, and you think you know it all. Or enough to like them or dislike them, at least.

Isn’t it funny how it works in jails? The bizarre hierarchy they hold. Think about it. A man comes in who has killed a woman. Other people, convicts themselves, spit on him. They shout at him, they judge him. They kill him. Then in comes a woman who has killed a man. Everyone is quiet. No-one knows what to say, what to do. Because they have just killed a man too.

“But surely, that is not as bad as killing a woman?” they ask the woman.

The woman disagrees.

“You’re not killing women and men. You’re killing humans. All killing is the same, it’s killing of life.”

The others get angry now, they don’t like being contradicted. So, they kill the woman. They don’t want to see her at breakfast. Then they would see their guilt, staring at them from the other side of the table with its suprisingly gentle brown eyes. But now, they realise in horror, they have killed a woman. Just like the man they killed because he had killed a woman. Before, people who despised them in the street didn’t matter. But now, now they have become what they despised. Now it matters, because they despise themselves.

So who are you to judge my dream? Who are you to judge anyone’s dream? Anyone’s deeds? Who is anyone?

Don’t get aggrevated, I’m not trying to piss you off. I’m asking you this because I don’t know the answers myself. You don’t know either? Oh… See, you and me are not very different. Because after all, we are both just humans.

So can I reveal you my dream now, reveal it all? Because there is something you don’t know.

I have only one wish for you, before I do. Do not judge me. Do not hate me. Pity me, for there are men who dream of many great things. There are men who dream about buying their children new shoes. Buying a ring to their girlfriend. Oh, those are nice, strawberry-tinted dreams. Then there are men like me. The only dream I have been given, since I abandoned my childhood one, is a dream of murder. Which one of us do you think leads a happier life?

And if you judged me, if you sentenced me to death because death it what I supposedly want to give others,  you might think you did a right thing. Congratulations, you’re the noble heir of Hammurati. An eye for an eye. But is that justice to you? Is that justice? Are you the one with the keys on your hand, are you the one who has the right to unlock life and death? To decide? Are you the judge, powerful enough to halt and restart the order of life? Are you?

If you are, please reveal your wisdom. Please, let me kiss your hands and buy you flowers. Please let me show you respect. And please please, you wiser being, solve my problem:

Love Thy Neigbour As Thyself. Now that is a golden rule of life, don’t you think? But tell me, what do you do if you don’t love yourself? Who is going to save you then, and your neighbour, from yourself? I treat people exactly as I treat myself. Disrespectfully.

And don’t you think for a second that I don’t admire those other kind of people. Those who love themselves. Those girls with prim dresses, cradling heavy books on their lap like they were precious babies, their ankles pointing forward. They’re always going forward, learning. Loving. Once, they will have those books on their shelves to remind them of their university days, when they met the guy who had the most dazzling blue eyes. (I wish I could have been that guy. Oh shut it. On with the story.) And she has put the books aside now, to cradle her baby. The baby has the most dazzling blue eyes. His father is in the kitchen. The kitchen fills the house with warm air but it is not the steam of his cooking. It is his love.

And me? Only hate was given to me, in the womb. It is like a violent serpent inside me, it is like drunk Dionysos ordering me to drown yet another pint of bitterness; drink, drink my love. Drink up, sink down. Hate is acid in my throat, it burns my heart.

So now, now I should tell you my dream. I think it is time. I have disgusted you out of your wits, scared you a little perhaps, the way those weird men do when you’re making your way home and it’s dark, those men who talk to lamp posts. Let me tell you, those men, they only talk to lamp posts because they have no-one else to talk to. Not because they want to bribe the lamp posts to attack you with him.

But I cannot do it! I cannot! Now, that I should reveal my dream to you, I cannot. It is too much. Oh, not too much for me, you silly. I have to live with it everyday. But it might be too much for you to take. I’m afraid I have wasted your time. We must depart. Goodbye!

Did you say something?  Sorry, I couldn’t quite hear you? My dream? What… Oh you want to know?

That changes things. Hmm… I was not given a choise with this dream, maybe that is why it pains me so. But you made a choice, how brilliant! Maybe making a choise will save you. You take this dream off me, out of your own free will? How strange! Thank you! Here it is:

I dream of murder, I dream of murder sleep or wake.

But not because of what I have just told you, no. Not because of hatred, not because of my past or because I feel lost. I do not dream of murder where I would hold the knife on the throat of this world, no!

I dream of murder where I would be the blemish on the pavement left behind when the murder scene has been cleaned up, when the murderer has been arrested. I dream of murder, one that I would not carry out. I dream of murder in which I was the victim.

That surprised you. I bet you thought I walked out of the Shining (That guy, he wanted best to his family too maybe. He just didn’t know anymore what best was.)  But why dream of such a horrible thing?

Because I have seen a child being murdered.  After that I thought, if I could save one child I would give myself away.

After that I thought, if I had to choose one side of the blade, one side to view life and death from… I would choose the side of death. I would choose to be the victim. Not because I want to die, particularly, but because I don’t want to be the one deciding who lives.  My life is the only life I can decide on. And I would like to give mine to a child.

So what do you think of me now? What do you think of dealing out life and death? Right and wrong?

Romantic Monday: Rebirth

29 Oct

http://edwardhotspur.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/romantic-monday-halloween-logo.jpg

Light your candles and start smiling with your head in the clouds, it is time for another Romantic Monday! If you want to take part in the celebration of everything romantic, or just find many lovely reads, visit here.

My contribution today is a short story. Without further ramblings, enjoy the words and the love that’s all around! Wishing you a lovely, romantic Monday!

Rebirth

As he lies paralytic in his bed, in an emotional comatose, he can nearly hear the spine of the night cracking. Slowly and painfully, one thoracic vertebra at a time, darkness is snapping apart to make room for new light. Dawn, the most loathsome part of any day, will soon rise and stretch its rays everywhere, bragging and bombastic with god-given, fresh radiance. The morning light, that soft and transparent yellow, is a new beginning for some. For him, it is the epitome of unforgiveness, revealing everything tainted in  his life to be peered at, gobble-eyed and scrutinising.

But the dawn is not quite here yet. He still has time. It is this jolt of hope that wires him up, after every sleepless night, and sends him bolt-like searching for all that was lost. There is still time. There is still time. It is this pleading mantra that he repeats to the empty rooms, to their bed that has hardened from all the tears, to the stubborn table that still bears no note.

And when there is no answer, no sign for the superstitious, he sinks down drained out of will, out of change and out of hope, and falls back to the familiar numbness.

– Why? Why did she have to go?

The sobs penetrate and choke him. His lip trembles pitifully and child-like.  His padlock fists close around his face, jailing him into loneliness.

His life has turned into a nightly ritual of apathy, tears and black coffee. Sometimes he forces himself to emerge from his house however, if only to raise suspicion and disapproval. If only to revel bitterly in his self-pity and hover over the happy couples, a vulture ready to tear apart the pieces of shattered hopes and  suffocating wedding rings.

But this time, to his surprise, he finds the streets crawling with better entertainment. He passes unnoticed in the midst of Halloween costumes now abused by alcohol, sweat trips and escaped mascara. It is late, and in delight he witnesses the wasted monsters rolling out of bars. They are all laughing with the shot glass glaze wailing their eyes. Spirit flows in their veins and the air is noisy from fight and emotion as all barricades are dropped aside and secrets shouted out. Ah, the freedom alcohol brings. They are all blinded, making vows of eternal love to each other, confessions of passion that will be washed away tomorrow with a wet-wipe and an acid-like hung over.

Don’t drink and love, unless you can face the morning after or forget the night before, he thinks and, for a moment, feels nearly superior. But soon the evil voice of guilt sniffs out his wittycisms and reminds him of the more potent dangers of drink-driving. There is a loud bang in his ear, a sharp light and a scream sinking into nothingness. To escape this torturing scene unravelling again in his mind, he throws himself into the surrounding bliss and daze. Weirdly, with the bars closing and people passing out against each other, he feels in sync with the world. The monsters inside him are silenced, staring in awe at the cheap recipe of love, the illusion created by too much Tequila and old clichés.

Then suddenly, there is a girl against him. He flinches under her heavy, warm weight as she lets herself slip against his chest, relying her whole being on him. And somehow, she manages to see past his ragged clothes and hollow chest, his gargoyle-like posture smeared with grief. She raises her gaze to meet his eyes and the words tumble out of her, arresting both of them in surprise. She mentions a broken leg but steers clear of mentioning her broken heart. She calls him with a name he does not know, the name of someone lost. She describes his eyes, his walk, his silly habit for boring people with pointless facts. His smart, gentle hands. The rows over a coffee cup and the day there was no more of them. The everything of her life, gone away and gone bad. She gives words for his feelings, pins them down and scrubs them clean.

At that moment, watching her drunken trust, he can feel something leaving him. In her frankness and tipsy confessions, everything unuttered takes fright. And though his mouth does not find fitting words, his heart answers the girl. And so he succumbs, if only because she looks a little like her, lost and puppyish, if only because they have both seen the graveyard of love. He pushes his lips hard against hers, pressing to find boundaries. She answers with same desperate passion, and in that kiss, he finds it, the love for the fresh morning light.

The city wakes up around them and meets them with astonishment and raised eyebrows. But to them, it does not exist. They stay with their eyes closed, clinging to each other, out of breath. And so the light accepts them in its embrace and envelopes them in golden hue. It sews them into one, into a seamless skin of loves lost and found. There they remain; both hopeless but starting to hope, both fumbling but now lost together, to be found anew.