Friday, March 18, 2011

Lost



Fantastic read, by the way. Be warned: HEAVY on allusions to the classics.


BANG! The explosion of gun powder propelling lead at a fatal speed echoed in my ears and left a faint ringing that continued to resonate within me. I felt a bullet rip through my tissue. Fear gripped me. The fear of knowing what just happened. Adrenaline pumped through my arteries and my heart beat at a breakneck pace while my vision blurred and spun as the world rocked and dipped, slowly lapsing into blackness for seconds at a time. Yet simultaneously I was cozy and calm: safe from flying lead. I slowly turned a slightly yellow tinted page and continued my odyssey within the haven of the pages. I was content with my book, but then I smelled the scent of garlic. It overpowered the scent of gunpowder and blood. It was rather out of place. Then something distracted me; it made me look up.

“Are you even listening to a word I’m saying?” 

I slowly looked around. No one else was looking around, they were looking at me. The teacher was looking at me. Nothing was happening. Were people waiting for something to happen? People with no initiative are always just waiting for things to happen. Maybe people were expecting me to answer. Best to make sure. “Me?” I felt like I somehow already knew the answer. I slowly and inconspicuously stashed my book into my desk. 

“Yes, you,” she confirmed. A few kids sniggered. “Have you heard a single word I’ve said in the past ten minutes.” It was worded like a question, but it didn’t have that curious and innocent tinge to round it off. Most likely due to the flat pitch at the end of her sentence. The only thing I like about rhetorical questions is answering them.

“Yes.” My mind whipped through the past ten minutes. Santiago was crossing the desert towards an oasis in an epic journey in pursuit of his Personal Legend—his dream. He was braving the harsh desert with an Englishman, who remained unnamed. It’s frustrating, because I now have no other way to think of the Englishman, except of course as “the Englishman.” I’m pleased for remembering Santiago’s name: it was mentioned once in the first sentence of the book and afterwards he was exclusively referred to as “the boy.” I guess names and identities aren’t always important. Embarrassingly, I had forgotten my teacher’s name, but just beginning the second week of school, who hasn’t?

“Would you care to recount any of those words?” Well, sure! Why not? But making up something convincing might prove difficult. Our history teacher is a strict and no-nonsense kind of teacher. She is efficient, short tempered, and a little unreasonable at times. A lack of wrinkles on her face suggests a lack of smiling and laughter in her life. With her short cropped graying hair, I wondered if I was stressing her. Her stress becomes my report card, so I selected my next words wisely.

“Garlic... smell... history?” The other kids’ initial laughter elevated, and some mere sniggers even turned into full fledged laughter. But they weren’t laughing at me as they were before: that much I could tell, and so could the teacher. I wasn’t so sure what was so funny, and I could tell the teacher wasn’t either. Then I smelled the garlic and barely managed to sputter out my next words. “No—I meant—sorry... listening, word, saying, recount.” I added quickly, trying to cover up the elephant. I tried to sound serious and confident but the laughter grew. I looked down, not wishing to confront the displeased eyes of the teacher. I saw my book. I slowly opened my escape route.

“Put that book away, now!” She snapped.

I fumbled with my book in surprise,“Yes, sir.”

Detention is just as good as class, maybe better. I don’t understand why all the teachers are annoyed with my habits in class; I’m quiet and unobtrusive enough. I just find many people can be irritable at times. You can get away from books, though, if you don’t like them. But beyond the pages of my book—the harsh desert, the lush oasis, and fabled dreams—and the gum under my desk that I had been curiously touching till I found out what it was, I felt the gaze of a curious onlooker rest upon my shoulders. I could not shake the gaze and I could not relax the hair on the back of my neck; I could not escape the soft and gentle touch of eyes upon me that I was so unaccustomed to. I shook myself and readjusted the way I sat. I looked up, unbearably distracted from my book. I was met with pure silence. The elderly teacher on duty was procrastinating instead of grading papers, the straight, black-haired girl on my left was turned away from me pretending to be soundly sleeping, and the curly, brown-haired boy on my right was engrossed in his own world with his scuffed up green cell phone. Can’t be any of those eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t seek out the eyes. Maybe I’ll just be disappointed when I realize that someone behind me was looking at a gray hair in a forest of black. Or maybe the person will be startled by my curiosity. Or maybe the person will be surprised to match my face with my back. Well, living in the dark never hurts until you start exploring and bumping into walls. But I could feel the cliché in that bad excuse for an aphorism and I could feel the guiding light of kind eyes bore through my soul like guiding lighthouses from heaven.

I slowly and cautiously turned, and I lost myself in a pair of the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. They were light blue like the sky, profound like the ocean, and boundless like my most wild dreams that books could never inspire. I didn’t know her name, but her eyes told me all I needed to know. She looked up, smiled, and the world stopped spinning. Time ground to a halt as my soul reached for something indescribable... But I turned around quickly—in deep terror—and caught my breath and heart rate before they escaped me, then spent my time in detention the way my conscience had told me to. Most horrifyingly, I had no idea what I might have just turned my back on.

Not long after, I slowly ventured home: lost in a flurry of my own thoughts. Should I have at least tried to smile back? I wondered what she thought of me, turning a cheek on—and practically scorning—a warmhearted smile. Giving at the least some small recognition of her outgoing and kind act could not have been harmful; it could have been quite the opposite. Oh, woe is me! I kicked a small shard of concrete from off the sidewalk and realized that with barely a glance, I had cast something aside I would never see again—it crashed with a clatter into a gutter—lost in a dark abyss like a treasure chest in the deepest ocean trench. But I know the unobtainable treasure within never lost its winking glint.


END


I usually like to leave my work open to interpretation; one's interpretation is a reflection upon personal philosophies and values, but this piece is in serious danger of making me look like an idiot. Some explanatory notes are found below.
*SPOILER ALERT* (kind of)
A major idea I toyed with in this piece is a questioning of reality. Through the first person narrative of a slightly eccentric boy, the strange word choice and syntax of the writing should alert one to his off kilter perceptions, along with his awkward interactions with other people and unnaturally detached self assessment. I dropped a major clue by implying an affinity for imagination in the character when he gets almost completely lost in a book during class. And by the way, this girl he sees with beautiful eyes does not exist, it's all in his head.
Another idea I expressed was irony with clichés. Yes, there are some awful clichés and it may make the writer appear idiotic... but the purpose they serve is to satirize the ridiculous extent of some self reflection, especially in individuals prone to their imagination running away from them.

10 comments:

  1. I like your blog, check mine out.

    1+ Follower

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  2. I think it might be easier on the eyes if you were to add line breaks in between some of the paragraphs. Other than that, good stuff.

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  3. ahh thanks for the tip patrick
    it certainly doesn't make for great internet reading. poems and shorter pieces with better formatting on the way

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  4. Fantastic! I'm glad I took the time to read it all. It really does reflect a typical high school book nerd experience these days. Keep up the good work. Will there be more of this character, or just other short stories?

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