Beginning, Middle, End–All in one nice, neat package!


Toni Milaqi "Sad Man" (acrylic on pa...

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Beginning, Middle, End of the story, to be split up. In between the parts, the heft of the book will be made up by the two characters’ stories of how they got to this situation. I should probably post a full plot outline (or, at least, as full as it’s going to be for at least another week). Needs to be longer and might change the end a bit.Here it is!

The sun knew it was time to set, but it lingered in the graying sky. Like a child at bedtime, turning away from the darkening window in ignorance, it lit up the city with its feeble, dying rays. The wind slid around the fallen buildings. It whispered in the ears of the people outside, huddled together on curbstones, bent low over small scraps of food or dwindling candles. Amid the rubble and broken stones stood a man, alone on the corner of the street. His name was Andras. His shoes were dusty black, coated with dirt, and his coat was long, brown, and tattered. A chiseled Greek statue dulled by sand and wind, his once-handsome face was now creased and tanned. His eyes were shut tightly, making little ripples around their lids. Under his chin, there was nestled a violin.
It was spotless. The smooth mahogany wood was as pure and perfect as the day it was first polished, immune to the stone dust that now covered everything. The man rocked back and forth as he drew his bow across the strings, his fingers waltzing up and down the neck, coaxing out a song as fluid as the chilling October wind. The music seemed to overtake the foul-smelling air, filling it with the sweet scent of gardenias and laughter. Quiet and soft as it was, it billowed up into the sky and stretched on for miles, like a kite.

Across the road, a soldier stood watching him. He ran his fingers over the rough brown wool of his uniform, adjusting the leather strap across his chest. The melody tugged at something in his memory, whispering of sunny afternoons in the pavilion and the heavy perfume of old paper. But out of the sad-happy memories he drew the feeling of fear, abandonment, loneliness. He felt isolated suddenly, in the middle of the square, in enemy territory. He felt his gaze harden as he watched the old man’s still-agile fingers.

As the piece floated into a crescendo, the old violinist opened his eyes, noticing the soldier across the road. He stopped abruptly. He began to draw the bow across the lowest string, then pulled it sharply against the others, making his violin wail in pain. The soldier winced.

“Ez nem az Ön számára.” he said.
“I don’t speak hungarian,” replied the soldier, approaching.
“I said, you ignorant pig, the music is not for you.”
“Well if you don’t want anybody else to hear it, why don’t you just slink on back to your dirty budka in the slums and play it for yourself?” he snapped. The violinist brushed his graying hair from his forehead. He still had all his hair, noted the soldier, though he must have been older than sixty.

“How can you understand?” The old man began quietly. “You think this–” he gestured to the violin in his hands. “–is all about you? Perhaps I play for my neighbors. Day and night, dragging the music out, wrestling with it like a dirty communist wrestles with his conscience. I’ve played since before you were born. All that work, and where does it get me? Here, yelling down at some scrawny, ugly Russian boy. Broken life. But you,” his voice began to rise, accusing. “You have just begun your life. You will be promoted, commended for your admirable displays of courage, your sacrifice to your country and your all-powerful father of Russia. You, my friend, are a hero indeed.”

The young soldier remained silent. Andras felt his veins expand, the blood rising to his skin in a vain attempt to calm him. The boy watching the ground, how ashamed he looked. Perhaps he will demand of his mother to fix everything. Determined to make the boy look at him, he began again.

“Quite a display,” he said, sliding a grimy finger along the meager collection of honorary buttons and pins. “How does one go about getting such a fine show of medals? Oh, but I know. It’s easy, you say. Just find some poor bastard, shoot him between the eyes. That’s how you got that one, there,” he lowered his voice to a sharp whisper. “How many have you killed for that one? How many of them old, like me…how many of them children?” He was yelling now. “You killed her, I know. My daughter. Nine years old, such a pretty girl. And you slaughtered her like a pig at the block, like a common animal. And you might have taken the time to talk to her, you know. To just talk to her? Or couldn’t you spare the time, comrade, for a person so lowly as her? You’re nothing. A rotten communist shitbag.” The soldier looked up, and noticed the tearmarks boring ridges into his dirt-crusted face. But he was hurling insults at him, at the street, across the entire square people could hear. No courage, he said. No heart, no soul. Before he knew, his hands whipped from his side, he was throwing his weight against the withered bones, feeling them give way beneath him.

He had the strangest expression on his face. At first glance, it appeared to be contentment, a quiet satisfaction. But around his eyes there hung an absence; the anger in his brain dissipated into a tingling, blissful numbness that hugged his entire body.

Andras fell to the ground. Almost in slow motion, a red pool grew around his head like a gruesome halo. The soldier stood over him for a few seconds, his face placid. “My name is Andrei,” he murmured to the body, before turning away. The city swallowed him into

Too Many Voices


“Hi,” I say. Greeting the driver–first thing to do. I have to be friendly. Picking a seat: this is the hard part. Gotta chose one where I can see the whole bus. This one, sideways. Perfect. Fred sits down next to me. His face isn’t nice. He screams at me.
“Stop being so stupid!”
“Shut up, Fred. I don’t want to talk to you right now.” I say. Calm. He keeps yelling. “Shut up!” I scream back. That’ll teach him. Fred slinks down the aisle to the back of the bus.
I close my eyes. Hearing the rumble-rumble of the wheels against the pavement. It feels nice. Quiet and loud all at the same time. Nice.
I hear that stupid voice again. “They’re talking about you,” Fred calls from the back. “The one right next to me. He’s on the phone with his girlfriend and they’re talking about you.”
“Hang up the phone, buddy!” I yell. The man looks angry. I’m angry too. He keeps talking. “I said hang up the phone. Stop talking about me!”
“You gotta be quiet,” calls the driver from behind the wheel. “Be polite or I’m gonna havta kick you out.”
“I was,” I explain. “But they were talking about me!”
“Just be nice and shut up,” She says.
“Make them stop talking about me!” She doesn’t respond. Good. I stretch out my hand. It looks funny in the sunlight, always moving through shadows and bright patches with the bus. My fingers look short. Funny. A man gets on at the next stop. He’s wearing a huge parka and a Mao hat. He sits across from me.
“Nice hat,” I say. “Where’d you get that hat?”
“New York,” he replies. He looks down again.
“Take off the hat! What’s under there?” The guy doesn’t move. “Take off your hat!” I stand up and take a step towards him. He tips his hat for a second, and I can see the matted curls beneath it. He replaces the hat. “Take it off! Be polite!”
You be polite now. I wasn’t kidding about you having to get off,” The mean lady says again.
“Why you wearing a coat?” I ask the man.
“Because I want to.”
“It’s f***ing 98 degrees out. Why are you wearing a coat?”
“I can wear a f***ing coat if I f***ing want to,” He says. He stands up, and the doors whoosh closed behind him. The bus lady’s talking to me now. I don’t wanna hear her anymore. Her voice is annoying. Fred’s yelling at me too, now. I’m sorry I ever said hi to her. Stupid lady. “Shut up, Fred!” I call. He keeps talking. I don’t want to deal with him.
“I don’t want to deal with you!”
“I don’t want to deal with you,” says the bus driver. God, she’s so stupid. I wasn’t even talking to her. Can’t she see that I was talking to someone else? She’s so rude.
“Maybe you should be nice yourself before you ask me,” I say. I’m getting more angry. The bus pulls to the side, and a girl with purple headphones walks out. Soon, I’m back on my way home, listening to the rumble-rumble of the bus, and f***ing Fred, and the bus driver lady, and the man with the Mao hat. I wish everybody would just shut up.

Waterloo Sunset


I decided I’d do a creative writing piece based on a song. Enter my iPod. Put it on shuffle, and the first song that came up was “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks. (Click song title to listen)

Waterloo Sunset

He sat there in the fading light, dangerously close to the edge of the bridge, legs dangling from the openings in the rusted metal bridge. His arms draped themselves over the top rim, sloppily, like a shirt cast to the floor after a long day at work. He stayed.

He forced himself to look down, over the muddy water. Water, he thought. Water. Water. Water. Whenever his mind would start to wander, he snapped it back into place. Water. Nothing else is important. It’s just you, the metal, and the water. That’s it. He must have been a strange sight, sitting on the bridge at 6pm, his mousy hair tinted titian by the sinking sun, the briefcase casting a long shadow next to him. He shivered. The delicate tremor shook his slender frame, and for a minute he imagined himself old, faded like a black and white photograph. Slowly he pushed himself up, collected his briefcase, and hailed a taxi. He didn’t much like it. The light burned his eyes.

Staggering to the windowsill, he gazed out across the river of people and lights and traffic. I wonder where he is now, he thought. I wonder where She is. He thought he saw her, and him, down on the sidewalk. She embraced him. They kissed.

The man pulled on the white plastic blind, and gently rested his head on it, closing his eyes to the dark room.

The Spectator


This one isn't from SWW. It's a painting by Gustave Caillebotte

The man pushed himself out of his chair, stumbling to the balcony’s edge. He gripped the banister for a moment, steadied himself, then stood straight, staring out at the street below him.

I sat, just out of eyeshot, watching him. His face turned away, I caught only the back of his head and his hunched, sloping shoulders. I stayed still, just watching him watch.

He didn’t seem to be paying much attention, gazing listlessly over the Parisian boulevard. Suddenly, his head dropped. It was as if it had been attached to a hinge, so quick and mechanical was the motion. The man let out a sigh, moving his head along as if following someone walking on the street under him. He snapped his head back up again, and, turning to hobble back to his flame-colored seat, allowed his pallid face to be seen for a moment.

A single teardrop traced a river down his cheek.

Broken


Stories Without Words (See sidebar links)

Lily ran upstairs and crumpled into her bedroom door. She carefully curled herself into a ball and sat there, on the hard wood floor, rocking back and forth. She sharply drew air in, then expelled it with a hiss in time with her rocking.

She pressed her hands tightly to her ears, blocking out the tiniest fragment of sound.

Bang. Scream. A loud, low shout. The sound her jump-rope made when she swung it in the air. Sobbing. Another jump-rope sound. Silence.

Lily swung her arm sideways, groping for the marionette her father had given her for her 8th birthday. Standing, she raised the wooden pinocchio in the air and hurled it to the ground as hard as she could. Lily glared at the thing as it lay there, broken.

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