Posted Sep 09 2012 - 02:50 PM
In, out. In, out. In…
He forgot what to do next, then recalled and breathed again. Each lazy, swaying step was punctuated by the guttural intakes of air. The otherworldly sensation of motion was relieved only by breath, that periodic assurance that he was in fact still alive and even conscious.
The crunchy scent of autumn leaves pervaded the place, the only noise that flooded his numb mind, save for an occasional taxi speeding along McCormick probably headed to O’Hare to either temporarily or eternally abandon this forsaken city. Barely aware of his own legs, he paused to stare at a bench half blanketed in that faded brown tree fodder. He blinked and processed the scene—the bench was as alone and isolated as the sculptures in the park, and yet strangely not as intimately haunting. While the moon cackled in the heavens and no other humans roamed these fields, the statues seemed alien; demonic, even. But the bench was meant for people, and he supposed there was some reassurance in that. The statues rejected him. The bench accepted him.
He sat absently upon it and focused again on his breathing before he lost himself to that eternal oblivion. It was welcoming, a sort of sea he felt himself slipping—
He leapt a distance he didn’t know he was capable of and fumbled madly in a desperate search before his brain processed what it was looking for. His phone appeared in his hand, drenched in a sweat that reeked of scents both physically and emotionally revolting. A picture of a well-groomed, muscled man in aviators and a ski cap atop a mountain danced over the screen’s dreamy light, giving him an eerie thumbs-up.
He flipped the device open and faintly wondered why such an odd idea as a mobile telephone occurred to Joey Motorola. He tried to say hello, but it came out as “Grglurgbl.”
“Yo, it’s Tyler.”
“Yeah, I know.” Was that really his voice? He’d never paid attention to it.
“Right, yeah. Hey man, I heard about you and Carol—just wanted to make sure everything’s alright?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, we broke up. She kicked me out.” He sounded so far away from himself. Where was he at all?
“What? Aw man…Aw, I’m so sorry! You even got a place anymore? Your old one’s foreclosed now right? That’s really rough, man.”
“Thanks for the sympathy.”
“You need a place? Come over, Sheila’s asleep, she won’t mind.”
He felt his mouth open—or more specifically felt the drool drip down his chin and realized his mouth had been open for far too long. He pushed himself back into his body (an action he would forever regard as high on the top ten list of the most difficult he’d ever performed) and decided that might not be a bad idea.
But he couldn’t really think of why.
The bench was meant for people, after all. He knew the dejection it would feel if he left it. And human beings did not currently hold sway in his own activities. He would be the world’s sole denizen on this everlasting night. Tyler could dwell in his realm, each of his days seamlessly flowing into the prior and the next, just getting on living, and he would make tonight his bare necessity. The bench held this gracious acceptance that was synonymous with this night, and before he recalled the device in his wet palm he fell into it.
“So d’you need a place?”
“Uh, nah, man, I’m alright.”
Tyler seemed to blink over the phone. “Wait, where you gonna stay?”
This rage filled him that he’d never felt, and it took him a moment to recognize that that was in fact what it was. This was his world, this bench, and no man could intrude on that, could challenge that, could steal him away into his on home. He would not surrender to another’s will when his own place was here. He was his own statue, the bench his own home.
Vaguely reflecting on how the human spirit’s will is revealed in only the most pathetic and desperate of times, he threw the phone and watched it fade into another world, another man’s domain, in an epic display of uselessness. He felt himself irrelevant to everywhere but here, useless to all but the bench. He conjectured that some longtime, luckier couple was watching him through a monitor somewhere, bonding through his own furious tears. He was somewhat of a cliché, at that, but at least he belonged somewhere.
Time would pass before he could fall asleep, but at least the bench didn’t make him feel so lonely.
"I admire your style, which is colorful, if monochromatic."
Posted Sep 17 2012 - 06:20 AM
There's a lot more I could say about this story, but that was really the main thing I noticed: considering the last story I reviewed of yours was the almost cinematic LSO entry you submitted, and considering all the imagery that almost smothered it in a sense, this felt like a more bare bones approach to writing. Your story flowed well without it; while your character himself didn't feel sympathetic, his backstory sure made him feel believable, more real, as if you could see him on any of a thousand benches in any of a thousand parks.
One question, though: why the breakup? Why is he living on this desolate bench in the middle of nowhere? All we really got was one sentence on each, and it felt as though you could have done more with explaining how the main character's life got to this point, and it makes the story feel as though it exists in its own little niche in time, unable to be pinpointed and placed into any specific timeline. It can just fit...anywhere. For a story like this, a story that apparently has a very clear beginning and any number of plausible ends, it just feels incomplete.
Other than that, great story; not a very big review, I know, but the parameters your teacher set when it came to word limit didn't give you a lot to write, and it didn't give me a lot to critique. =P Good job, Rising. Good to see you returning to form.
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