Teacups and Time

As I whirled, colors flew. White, grey, black, so many shades I lost count. Laughing with exhilaration, I hooked falling teacups with my finger, caught them on my elbow, hooped them to a standstill with my tongue, and juggled them with my elbows before tossing them perfectly to the counter where they stacked up, seemingly of their own accord. It was beautiful. There was always time to do what you wanted here. You could be free, as I was. No one to tell you no, no one to steer you by the arm the wrong way. Always the wrong way.

The last time I’d seen him,we’d stood side by side, not touching; looking down on the rapids. It was dark, of course, to make sure we could lie with impunity; when I told him I loved him; probably when he told me he loved me. But we said it just the same. For the elusive security of security. And it worked – that is to say, it did what I wanted it to do. The clock struck the twelve of midnight terrors, but also of the new day. I didn’t know which one was more frightening. Just as we left, I took one last photograph of him, without him seeing. It captured him perfectly, the way I always saw him.

I saw him next the day I first caught teacups. He smiled at me. He smiled at me as I shined the teacups furiously, whispering, “Shining isn’t an art, it’s artifice.” After that day, I stopped cleaning them, I just caught them as they fell. I never catch all of them though. I leave some of them on purpose so he has to come again. I like this. I like this very much. I like him very much. Always did. And now he’ll always be here when I want him.

Picture by Ayla87 on rgbstock.com

I stood on the bridge at midnight as the clocks were striking the hour 

– Longfellow


Light and Shade Challenge 🙂

 

 

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After the Tower Scene

Light and Shade Challenge again, yay! This time’s quote is:

She tells enough white lies to ice a wedding cake – Margot Asquith

I had a little fun with this one to make up for last time’s seriousness. Just a little peek into the Capulet balcony after the famous tower scene.


 

“Who’re you talking to, Juliet?”

“No one, Nurse, I was just…reciting poetry.”

“At this late hour?”

“Just practicing for recitation.”

“Recitation? For whom?”

“The, erm, my mother. She wanted to hear me recite.”

“When?”

“…Friday.”

“Mhm. Lovely night, isn’t it? I think I’ll join you for a bit of air.”

“No!”

“No?”

“Yes, I mean, I’d love to have you join me, but there’s a cobweb here. I know you hate spiders. Plus, I think I’m coming down with something….ugh ugh….see? No, wait, don’t – !”

“Hmm, I could’ve sworn…”

“See? Nothing.”

“Hmph. Get inside. And lock up behind you.”

Travel Plans

So this is my first Light and Shade challenge, brought to you by two very enterprising Trifectans, The basic idea is to take the picture and quote provided, and do an entry in under 500 words. The prompts are included below. Here goes!

 

A dream has power to poison sleep 

– Mutability, Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

I paused and turned my head surreptitiously over my shoulder to check whether anyone was following me. Satisfied, I let out my breath before rushing towards the edge of the woods, just behind the outhouse.

He was waiting for me, forehead wrinkled just between his eyebrows, sweat pooling in the little crevice just above his goatee – just as I remembered him. I rushed into his arms. Smiling, he led me over to the old wooden picnic bench.

“How’s Amsterdam?” Gary asked as soon as I’d sat down, his smile touching his eyes. “It’s been so long; I’ve missed you.”

“Amsterdam’s great,” I enthused. “Work’s picking up too. ‘Soon as I put enough by, I booked tickets for home. It feels like forever since I’ve seen my parents and my little sister. And you. How’ve you been?”

“Eh, same as always,” he replied nonchalantly. “How long are you home? No one told me you were coming.”

I grinned despite myself. “I kinda wanted it to be a surprise.”

“Well it worked,” he grinned back. “Hey, listen, I just…,” Gary began. I looked up at him and saw his anxious expression before he continued, “I just wanted to know if you and me….if we’re still…you know…” his voice trailed off, unsure.

“Of course!” I exclaimed. “Why would you -”

“You’re still hiding it from your dad and all – I mean, I can appreciate how hard this is for you, but, it’s been awhile. I need to know we’re on the same page.”

“We are,” I said resolutely. “Tomorrow. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. Him and my mom too.”

“Baby, that’s so great to hear. I was afraid…,” he stopped midsentence, his face solemn. Kneeling down, he took my hands in his and said, “Baby, I love you so much. More than anyone in the world. I want to love you all my life,” he paused, opening a little velvet box. My heart was a million butterflies. “Alexander Murphy, will you marry me?”

My heart leapt into my throat full-force. I’d face my family later. I loved him. “Yes,” I whispered. “Yes, I will.” My eyes welled up.

“No, baby, don’t cry, we’re together now,” he started, but before he could go any further, my lips were on his, and we were kissing passionately, endlessly. And then I heard the gunshot.

I could feel Gary’s hands loosening their hold on mine, yet I couldn’t understand, wouldn’t understand. I spun, stumbling, as if in slow motion and saw my father holding his rifle, eyes filled with something I couldn’t fathom. Minutes later, I felt my father’s fingers prising apart my own and leading me back inside. Half-walking, half-stumbling behind him, I slid a little gold band onto my ring finger.


 

Gasping for breath, I woke up to find myself tangled in sheets, tears streaming from my eyes, the silhouette of a kiss imprinted behind my eyelids.

“Hello, this is Alexander Murphy.  Yes. I would like to cancel my flight tickets. Flight number…”

Shadow of love: Sadow of a couple kissing

Divergent: Strengthening Prediction of Totalitarian Rule

I watched ‘Divergent’ this weekend. I’d been meaning to read the book forever, but the movie plan was spontaneous, so I read only half the book before going for the movie. (Afterwards, obviously, I finished the series.) And what I found, was that the first book at least resembles Lois Lowry’s ‘The Giver’ to a great extent, besides having the feel of  the ‘Hunger Games’ series. Not a novel observation.

Now, first and foremost, this is not a critique. I thoroughly appreciated the Divergent series – I loved the story and, despite its formula-based beginning, the last book gave wonderfully rich fodder for intellectual debate. Second, I’m going to take this opportunity to give readers a SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t read any of the abovementioned series, or are halfway through one, please don’t read ahead. Suffice it to say that I believe, like Tierney Sneed, that conscious/subconscious piggybacking and bandwagon-jumping have led to this whole block of young-adult-fiction-inspired movies that are like different kinds of cupcakes – different-colored icing, same muffin-y thing underneath. But that’s not the problem – the problem is our ubiquitous prediction of dystopian futures, period.

I read ‘The Giver’ in the sixth grade, as I’m sure many of you must have. Enthralled by the story, I couldn’t confine myself to the pace of the class, and read ahead. The book was the first one, I think, to illustrate the meaning of ‘haunting’ to me. ‘The Giver’ shook me. In my mind’s eye, I pictured a circle of adobe huts, with palm trees and a trickle of a creek – all of which is far from scary. But then you get to the plot. Each of the children, at the age of 12, are chosen for a job by the Elders depending on their nature and aptitude. The protagonist, however, is chosen for the most important job of all – that of the Giver. It turns out that in this dystopian future, the people have been boxed into a community where things like vocabulary are regulated and everything that makes people different has been removed – including memories and even color.  All the memories of Earth and our past, the good and the bad, are passed down from Giver to Receiver, who is eventually trained to become the next Giver. What clues this boy in to his individuality is that he starts seeing snatches of the color red, first in an apple, and then in a girl’s hair. Slowly as his training progresses, he learns of both happy moments, like sledding, and horrible ones, like war. He comes to the conclusion that a world where people know of these things would be more meaningful, and finally unleashes his memories on the village, before escaping the confines of his village.

Similarly, the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy features a world of citizens divided into Districts which determine their  profession. As ever, the community is ruled by keeping people so caught up in their predefined jobs that they have no time or energy to question the way things are being run. Eventually the protagonist, Katniss, is caught up in a  rebellion against the Capitol and overthrows it to establish (hopefully) a better government.

 

             

 

Divergent follows suit, with children choosing Factions, or communities, at age 16, which they will then have to place above family. It is later seen that this is actually a measure of control. A girl with special aptitude, Tris, is the only one able to resist certain controlling measures of the governing body (the various serums) and so is uniquely placed in a situation that allows her to defy and go against the current state of affairs. Again, the people in this world are all walled up in one city, cut off from the world outside, and this enables their control. This turns out to be because the entire city is an experiment. Due to a nationwide attempt to improve society by improving our genes, and its utter failure, most of the population dies out, leading to experimental cities like the one Tris lives in formed to correct the error. Outside these cities, the ‘genetically damaged’ are treated as inferior by the government and blamed for violence, etc etc, much like racism-based conflicts today, while the government covers up war prior to the genetic experiment to maintain ‘genetically pure supremacy’.

These stories bring to mind the movie ‘I Robot’ and the classic parent of all dystopian books, ‘1984’.  ‘I Robot’, based on a book by Isaac Asimov, features a dystopian future where the world is almost taken over by robots, and is saved only by a man with a deep mistrust of robots. ‘1984’, as I see it, is the ultimate in dystopian futures, and is about a world where people are constantly watched by the government and controlled through language, thought, expression, living spaces, family planning, you name it. It is a beautiful representation of absolute perfect dominion of a government over its subjects.

Now, to the point. Many people have noticed and remarked on a trend here: books and young adult series seem to be following the same storyline, give or take: a dystopian future in which the governing body controls the population by the classic divide-and-conquer strategy, a ‘hero’ and an attempted rebellion, successful or otherwise. While it is generally believed that this is a result of piggybacking off pathbreakers’ success, I have too much appreciation for these books and the subtle but key differences between them to believe it is entirely so. Although I don’t deny the effect of  influence, I believe that these plots are essentially each the author’s own – which makes what I have to say of more import. Does it not disturb anyone else that all the future-based books and movies we’ve seen of late are dystopian?

From books like ‘The Giver’, ‘Divergent’ and ‘1984’ with oppressive ‘divide-and-conquer’ governments, to those like ‘After Earth’ which show the destruction of Earth as an inhabitable planet, when did we get so negative about our future? It feels like ‘The Jetsons’ was the last positive depiction of our future in the last couple of decades. Why can’t someone make futuristic action movies, or movies about politics or romance or mystery set in the future? Or is it a result of audiences demanding something “deep”? Has the concept of a “deep” plot come to be unshakeably associated with oppression and rebellion?  Or is it just that we’ve finally become pessimistic (some would say realistic) about our odds of survival, freedom intact, in this world plagued with divide, violence and power-hungry politicians?

vs.

Each of these works of fiction, disturbingly, warns us against the government. And yet, despite popular culture going from subtle to blatant in its warnings, we seem to be doing nothing. For example, the United States’ highest turnout of voting-age population in the past 50 years was in 1960: 63.1%. [ http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html]

In general, there appears to be a negative trend in voting turnout.

 

With increasing distance between the rulers and the ruled, and increasing tendencies to label ourselves for whatever purpose, total domination by government, an idea once planted firmly in the field of fiction, is beginning to look more and more like a realistic future.

Authors and the literati have long been held in esteem for their insight. How does it bode for us that most of them are beginning to predict totalitarian rule? As always, I’d love to hear your views, so if you have anything to contribute to this discussion, please comment below!

Passing the Torch

It’s unbelievable. I hadn’t written for Trifecta for a while, so it came as a huge shock to me that this is our last post together. I found this site almost a year back when I first started blogging, and, honestly, this is the only thing that has kept me writing. So thank you, Trifecta Community; and to the wonderful bunch of people who ran this site for so long and so well, and with such wonderful morale-boosting, friendly comments, thank you so, so, SO much. It means more to me than you will ever know, and I’m sure I echo a lot of people’s sentiments in saying that. Goodbye, Trifecta. It was beautiful while it lasted. You will be sorely missed.

For the final challenge here at Trifecta, we considered some flash and dazzle, a wild prompt to send us off with a bang.  What we realized was the most achingly beautiful, haunting and dazzling words we’ve read from our brilliant community have been the ones you chose when you were given the freedom to write with abandon.  So we’re lovingly, and eagerly, placing the choice in your hands.  There’s no topic, no word, just a free write. Go anywhere your mind wants to travel.  Take us there too.  Just make it count, leave your blood all over this page.  Thirty-three words exactly.  Of course.  We couldn’t end it any other way.

Blood? I’ll give you blood.

Rain soothes your spirit; I rage.

More so that rainbows shine only for you.

But, carried away, you believe –

You search for the pot of gold.

And I laugh.

Cruelly.

Your turn now.

Reflections and Revolutions

Trifecta‘s latest:

WORM (transitive verb)

1a :  to proceed or make (one’s way) insidiously or deviously<worm their way into positions of power     — Bill Franzen>

:  to insinuate or introduce (oneself) by devious or subtle means
:  to cause to move or proceed in or as if in the manner of a worm

:  to wind rope or yarn spirally round and between the strands of (a cable or rope) before serving

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s – “

“Not all of us are showoffs, you know. Nor you queens. Sheesh.”

“I bought you to reflect, not deflect; I’ll worm it outta you soon enough.”

While I Cry

                                                                                                                                 ~

I know I love you

But, dear, when it comes to you

I’m never sure why.

~

Nor, it seems, are you.

But, dear, when it comes to that,

I’m too scared to push.

~

You love me, you say

But, dear, it scares me so much

Hearing what I need.

~

I try explaining

But, dear, when it’s said to you,

Words always fall short.

~

I take time to trust

But, dear, when it came to you,

I forgot briefly.

~

My voice stumbles, falls,

And, dear, I fear it happens,

You misunderstand.

~

Meant as confession,

You take offense, but that was

Not ever what I meant.

~

You are everything

I prayed for all those long years

When I had nothing.

~

You, my dear, all that

Never seemed possessable

But, dear, I was wrong.

~

I have told you this

But, dear, so have too many more.

I’m too weak to shout.

~

You first, you tell me.

Belief comes harder than trust

So I fear to call

~

In fear of the day

I rely to no reply

So please forgive me.

~

I want to share all

But I’m not half who you are –

I cannot lose you.

~

You’re leaving too soon

What will I do without you?

No one else loves me.

~

My sweet, sweet heart, love,

You’ve restored crushed hope, I thought

But now I wonder

~

Was it therapy

Or an anti-depressant?

I will find out soon.

~

I want to beg you

And elicit promises

But bondage breeds fight.

~

Repression always,

Now I see regression too.

Old cures come to mind.

~

It is a dark road

One I’ll make sure you won’t see

For whose good, can’t say.

~

Don’t fault my brusqueness

I use it like lavender

Or as reminders.

~

I want you to know

With absolute assuredness

That, dear, you are loved;

~

If even you take

A thing from me, from our years,

That it be just this.

~

You are loved, my dear.

You are my role model, dear.

You are beautiful.

Misunderstood

“You feel like home,” I smiled, head on his chest. “Like my bed after a party or a long vacation.”

“So basically, you have fun elsewhere, and come to me when you’re done?”

That wasn’t what I meant.

Trifecta’s prompt for the week:

Plenty of times over the past two and a half years, we’ve given you the beginning of a story and asked for you to complete it.  This time, we are giving you the end, and we are asking you to start it for us.  We want 33 words in addition to and preceding the following:

That wasn’t what I meant.

 

Held by Cement

Trifextra: Week 102

This week we’re asking for exactly 33 of your own words about love gone wrong.  But we’re asking that you not use any of the following words:

love
sad
tears
wept
heart
pain

 

I made you known; you helped me grow

We gave new hope; gave off a glow

Of shy beauty, resilience;

We attracted life and lens

Until, dear Wall, you crumbled

And I tumbled.

-Sunflower

The Conversation We May Never Have

Trifecta’s challenge for the week:

MANIPULATE (transitive verb)

1: to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner
2a : to manage or utilize skillfully
b : to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage
3: to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose : to doctor
 
 

You lied when you signed it.

You had no intention of keeping your promises.

I went back, though.

Checked for a loophole.

There was none.

It wasn’t the words of the document you tried to manipulate –

It was the truth.

(And it worked.)

I loved you, you know. In my own way.

Sure you weren’t the wittiest kid on the block

And sure you weren’t the fullest of life.

But you were my friend.

Smiling,

Loyal,

Good.

Until you screwed everything up.

I lost more than what you took from me that day, you know.

I lost you too.

And you meant more to me than I will ever admit to myself.

Ever.

Because it’s easier to pretend that we never really hit it off

Than to admit that I liked having you around so much that it never seemed to matter.

But what’s done is done.

And all this…

Well, it’s my fault too

Because I have a hard time letting things go

And an ever harder time letting people go.

Sometimes when you smile at me in the street,

I am enraged by your audacity

But, more recently,

I just want to give in and hold you tight

And have you hold me tight.

But something tells me

(Or maybe someone did)

That that’s not healthy.

But I will say here,

In the privacy of a worldwide audience

Where you may never find me,

Where I don’t have to look into your eyes as I rage

And storm

And blame you

And then break down midsentence

Because of a rising sob threatening to choke me,

Here,

I will say this:

I loved you.

I would’ve protected you for the rest of my life

If you had only kept the one promise I needed from you,

The only promise you ever made me:

To keep us all together.