Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Glance

*The Magic Trick
Thomas Newman - Dead Already
It all started when I was seven years old. The memory comes to me clearly and easily. I’m passing circus tents and heading towards one of the caravans reserved for the performers while holding my mom’s hand. She wants to go speak with her brother, whom we saw on stage less than twenty minutes ago. When we get there he’s taking off his top hat and locking away all his props. As soon as my eyes land on him, I remember that he made pigeons and cards appear and disappear from thin air, walked through a steel door, read the mind of an elderly woman, caught a bullet with his hands, and teleported his assistants from inside cages made of pure metal walls to seats in the audience.
And I knew he’d faked all of it.
I’d been practically dragged to the circus. Earlier that day, I had brought to light a shocking revelation to Mom: her brother was a big phony and he was disgustingly tricking all the people who were paying to watch him. Magic wasn’t real. Father had said so, and my father never lied to me. He told me often that he didn’t want me to be just another gullible kid who grew up into a naïve adult. In fact, whenever my classmates started rambling off about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny, I rolled my eyes and set the record straight. Santa Claus wasn’t real, fairies weren’t real, and magic was most definitely not real.

Jasmine Tracks

Clint Mansell - Stay With Me
After Tanika turned five, there wasn’t a day in her life where she wasn’t covered in the chalky remnants of pulverized stones. For four years, she crushed rock after rock in between her small hands, surrounding herself in clouds of white dust that never seemed to settle anywhere but on her skin.
            Her face had never been truly cleaned off of it until now. The tears she shed carried off the dust from her cheeks, leaving behind clear paths that started up from her eyes down to her jaw line. As she knew the blood of her fingers would stain her face even more, Tanika did not bother wiping her tears away, despite desperately wanting to.
Just two days had passed since she lost Juhi at the market; she couldn’t sleep, concentrate, or think of anything but getting her back.
She had known that district was dangerously crowded. She had known begging at the intersections would end badly if someone alerted the police of all the child beggars.
But after she missed the stones and cracked her fingers open, Tanika didn’t leave the fields that day with the usual 18 rupees. All she had was aching, bleeding hands and near paralyzing fear. She needed the money.
That’s why two days prior, Tanika crossed through the market, tapped on the window of cars, and pointed to her broken hands until she was kindly handed the valuable paper.
Then someone called the police. And she ran through the streets, ignoring her burning lungs and the screaming, broken tissue of her fingers. She didn’t know what happened if you got caught, but she didn’t want to find out.
When she made it out to a safe place, she realized Juhi was nowhere to be seen. Tanika called out her name and waited for her to appear—to materialize in front of her eyes as she often did—but Juhi was gone.


Gustavo Santaolalla - Sendero
The playground had been constructed at the heart of the forest. It was vibrantly colorful, echoing with the laughter of children and the scolds of adults. There was no earthly reason for a grimacing, irritated old man to perch himself on a bench near the noisy, erratic kids; tranquility could only be found by walking away from the playground, not sitting near it.
But after he emerged from the forest, the old man settled down over the bench closest to the swing sets, sighing in relief. He set aside his cane and held his hand over his right knee, every now and then glancing up whenever a child squealed in delight. Not five minutes later, a little girl with ribbons in her hair and blood dripping from her limbs bounced up to the bench and climbed on top of it. She sat with her legs dangling over the ground, rocking from side to side with a gentle smile on her face.
            “Did you fall down?” the old man asked, taking one look down at her skinned knees.
            “Yeah,” the little girl answered, staring off at the other children without turning to the man, “Five times.”
            “Well four. I leaped the first time because Kitty was trying to run away from me.”
            “Is that a friend?”
            “No. Kitty is a black cat.”
            “You named your cat ‘Kitty’?”
            “She’s not mine. I met her today. Chased her here. Did you see her?”
            “Well I was trying to pet her, but cats are so quick, you know? I tried to get near her and she started hissing and throwing a fit—she was way too much trouble. But she was so cute. I just wanted a hug. So I pounced on her. I got to grab her for a few seconds before she squiggled out and ran.”
            “Is that why your arms are bleeding?”
            “They are?”
The little girl stretched out her arms in front of her. Red lines crisscrossed over her already scarred forearms. That’s when he noticed her left hand was pealing, covered in blotches of pink skin
            “Well Kitty did try to fight back…” she mumbled after a pause.

(Untitled, barely started - Nikki and Vlad)

Martin O'Donnell - In Amber Clad (extended)
I was born without a name. It’s hopeful to know I will die with one.
There was a lot of color at first. I’m certain because I remember my early life being polluted by electric blues, vibrant reds, and degrees of sunlight. The colors didn’t last forever, of course. Soon after I could properly walk, everything began to fade and turn gray. I can’t remember if I was taken away from the color or if the color was taken away from me, but I do know things grew uniformed and orderly as I became a capable young girl who could follow protocol.
I had a partner all my life. We studied languages and mathematics together. We ran side by side in distances races and I was always right behind her when we sprinted in the track. For all intents and purposes, we had been born at the exact same time and would live and die at the exact same time. There was no clear beginning to our partnership, so it was safe to assume there would not be an ending either. My life was an uninterrupted streak of following orders, fighting, learning, and running. Lots of running.

*An Evolution
Nine Inch Nails - Lights In The Sky and Corona Radiata

It started with my back.
I was six. That year, Mother cried a lot at night.
I was shifting and breaking slowly, all in front of her eyes. She realized what was happening long before I did.
Being six years old and forever lost somewhere in the realm between my mind and the world around me, I probably couldn’t comprehend much of what was taking place. I’m sure I knew there was something wrong, but the wonderful thing about being six is that tragedy’s not a looming specter. My tragedy was a ghost who visited in the dead of night but disappeared once the sun’s rays peeked through the bedroom window. It only hurt when it was happening.
Mother remembers waking up to my screams. She remembers the echoing cries of a little girl trapped in a body that was falling apart. She remembers the shock of watching my bones break and bulge out underneath my skin. She remembers running hot water behind my back to sooth away the pain.
It started with my back. A year later, it crawled down to my legs.
And my ghost? It wasn’t afraid of the daylight anymore.
I could be running around the house, picking flowers from the forest, or wandering around my bedroom before a high pitch scream exploded past my lips and I collapsed. My legs would shake beneath me and I would cry as I tried to drag myself across the ground. Whenever Mother ran to me, guided by my screams, she would find me on the floor, pulling forward with my arms. She said it looked like I was trying to crawl away from the pain, to drag myself away from my own legs.

Bonus: *Daylight Runaway
Ellie Goulding - Lights
Ophelia was a girl who chased for the light every day, hoping it would embed on her skin and transform her into a daughter of the sun.
At thirteen, she was too old to place ribbons in her hair, stamp her foot mid-temper tantrum, and have imaginary friends, but she was too young to hitchhike away from home, dress in tiny shorts, carry around a 9mm, and imagine an independent, accomplished life in the brightest and most dangerous city of the world.
But she wasn’t going to let an arbitrary number stop her.
The highway was a hazy backdrop with the gloss of the sun shimmering against her eyes, blinding her to the truck drivers and vacationing families who glanced back at her in curiosity. They were not used to seeing a tiny girl standing alone in the desert, her thumb stretched out against the wind. With each backward step she took, Ophelia tracked dirt all over her only good pair of converse, and with each dreaded, passing minute, she entertained herself with nothing but her mind.
In midst of a random, unclear fantasy about adventure and treasure and wonder, Ophelia hiked up the strap of her backpack and stuck her tongue out at all the drivers who whizzed by her.
It was Christmas Eve and Tommy would not stop yammering about home.
She would have ignored him, but even if the sun stung her eyes, the rays swallowing away much of the real world, it could not make Tommy disappear. It was impossible to tune out or ignore a loud, lanky man dressed head to toe in an ugly glittering suit of orange streaks and yellow dots.


I don't like a lot of these openings. I'm always bad at beginnings, pretty good at the middle, and then a mystery at the end. It usually varies between being a mediocre finale or a satisfying resolution (there's a dirty joke somewhere here). I think the problem is a lot of these are terribly passive and the first 250-300 words are suppose to make you want to spend the next couple pages with these people. If not, why continue reading? Either way, I'm documenting them here so when I rewrite them ten or twenty times I'll be able to go back and see what changes I made.

An Evolution ended up being a little stranger than I thought. It sort of surprised me. The setting switched as did the direction and note of the narrative. Even the Mother character is confusing me. I'm not sure if I liked it well enough, but I'm going to awkwardly show that one and Equilibrium to my professor. Odd how the former has no dialogue and the latter is composed mostly of two people talking.

They both take place in a forest, though.


*Finished first or subsequent drafts. (Or about a paragraph away from finishing, as is the case for Equilibrium.)

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- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.