Sunday, January 22, 2012

Story - A Hope for the Future

It has been a very busy weekend! I've had a lot of fun spending time with a great friend, spending time with my fiancée and her parents, playing with two great cats, and reading Wuthering Heights. Add in homework and Church and it makes for a full weekend.

Today I am going to share a short story I wrote in Creative Writing almost two years ago. We had to write a story that used three different narrators, and I've always been happy with how it turned out. It is 2,220 words long, and hopefully you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Feedback is certainly welcome!

On a side note, I'm hoping to begin writing something to enter into the Writers of the Future contest.


A Hope for the Future

            I miss my Anna. She loved me so much and I never knew how to express my love to her. What would she think if she could see me now? What would she say when she saw how far I have fallen? She always knew the right things to say. She could make this all better. No. She would not have even let me get here, had she not left me. She is in a far better place than I am now. Where she is there is no rusty door that creaks every time it is opened. There is no dimming light from a pair of low-burning torches. There is no pang of hunger gnawing at her stomach with each move she makes.
            My back aches so much from sleeping on this clump of straw. You would think these hosts could at least provide some decent provisions if they are going to place me in this room for a while. There is a broken sword over there, my blood dried onto one of the splintered shards. My foot still throbs from the scabbing cut, which gets inflamed each time the cold, damp air hits it. The roof is leaking, even though this room is far underground. I hope I don’t catch the plague. Or worse. That mangy rat over there probably has some kind of disease. It keeps poking its head out of the wall, its beady eyes looking for something.
            “Go away, rodent. There is no food for you here. Why don’t you go away? There is nothing for you in here.”
            The rat looks at me, peering into my soul. It scampers out of its gloomy abode, scurrying into the center of the room. It climbs over a moldy skull near the center. What great décor they have in this room. What is that rat doing? Is it trying to rise to the top of that anvil? SQUEAK! That dumb animal fell down. Why is it looking back at me again? There it goes, trying to climb up the anvil once more. I guess it must learn the hard way that life is full of pain, failures, and loss. Hold on, it made it up there to the mossy surface. To sit and watch me?
            “Why do you keep watching me? I have no food. Are you trying to tell me something? Wait. That gleam. I recognize that look. A—Anna? Anna!”

            It is so dark down here. I bet there is a minotaur or a hydra down here somewhere! This guy has such strong armor. I wish I had a sword like his! Oh, the door is so loud when it opens! I can’t stop laughing; that door is going to make this such a great room to stay in! We get our own torches in here too? Listen to that fire crackle as it burns! It just popped, too! I hope they don’t let those torches burn out. What is this old guy in here staring at? Oh! It’s a rat! I should give him a name!
            “Come here, Hercules!”
            “Who is Hercules?” the old man responds.
            “The rat, of course. Like you would be Hercules.”
            “That rat has a name, and it certainly isn’t Hercules.”
            “Let me guess! I love games like this! Is it named Squeaker?”
            “No, it’s—“
            “Oh that is such a nice name!”
            I move forward, calling out to Anna to tell her what great eyes she has and how pretty her fur is. The old man shivers and his eyes get red. I think he might be about to start crying, so I skip over to his bed of straw and tumble into the one next to him. Loose strands of straw fly into the air and I laugh, grabbing a handful of the straw. I roll over to throw it at the old man, but his expression gives me pause. His eyes haven’t left Anna, tears streaming down his cheeks.
            “It’ll be okay. I bet we’ll have all kinds of fun staying here,” I comfort him.
            “I don’t want to have fun,” he mumbles. “I just want my Anna back.”
            “She is right over there. Here, I’ll bring her to you.”
            “Not the rat. My daughter.”

            “Oh, I didn’t realize,” the boy answers.
            “It’s okay young one,” I reply in a somber tone as I fight to hold back another torrent of tears. “I miss her so much, ever since she left ten years ago. She was all I had left, ever since my wife died to give her life.”
            “I bet she is out there somewhere, thinking of you. She knows how proud you are of her and how much you still care.”
            “I can hardly believe my ears; such sagely advice coming from one so young. Is there hope left yet in Pandora’s Box after all? Long ago I believed that it had left the world, along with all the other forms of good, leaving behind evil to corrupt us all. The good in my own world left when my two women departed from me. Rachel blessed my life with her love, and then as her final loving act she gave me our Anna. I missed her so much, but I raised Anna as best as I could. But for ten years now I’ve simply gone through the motions of living without ever truly experiencing life. My world ended the day she left me.
            But now this child is consoling me, when it should be me who should be shielding him from the bitter fate that is undoubtedly awaiting him. Why else would he be here?
            “Come here, grandson. Sit on my lap and tell me about your family.”

            He calls me his grandson and wants to know more about me and my family. He looks so sad and lonely, as if he hasn’t had anyone for such a long time. Ten years seems like forever. I can’t wait to be ten! A few years from now and I will be! I think he needs a hug. He wants someone to talk to; I can sense it.
            “My momma left weeks ago and no one knows where she went.”
            “Poor child. What was she like?”
            “She was so strong and beautiful. There was never a guy good enough to take a place beside her. I never met my dad; she told me he was a very powerful man.”
            “You never knew your father? Just like my Anna never knew her mother.”
            “That is okay though, Grandpa. My mom was a good enough parent to be both. Just like I can tell that you were.”
            “Do you have any other brothers or sisters?”
            “Just me and my mom. That is all I have ever known. We’ve moved from place to place all the time, so I have never really had a home. My home was wherever we were, so long as we were together.”
            Tears fill the old man’s eyes and I reach up to brush them away. He has lived such a sad, lonely life the past ten years. He has forgotten how to live; how to experience joy. He has spent his life feeling lost without his family. I will be his family now. I will help him remember the joys of living; the experiences worth having. I will show him the happiness in all things!
            “Look at the light of the moon creeping through the cracks on the wall. It makes the moss seem to grow, like the stars in the sky.”
            “Yes, child. I can see it now!”
            “Look at the shadows dancing on the wall behind you. Look! I’ve made a lion! Rawr!”
            An uncomfortable sound escapes the old man’s lips, and it takes a moment for me to realize it was laughter. It has been so long since he last laughed that his body has forgotten how to laugh. It takes little time for him to remember; however, and soon he mimics my shadow lion. Our fierce animals wage war on the wall, laughter from us both echoing in the background.

            The chains rattle with each forced step. My limbs freeze in resistance but the repeated jabs in my lower back never fail to get me moving forward again. I am able to recognize the moldy limestone surrounding us as we descend deeper. I am almost back to my room. The unbearable stench of this escort will soon be removed from my presence. I can hardly wait to be free of their leering gazes. Lost in thought, my fierce defiance collapses momentarily and I begin to move under my own free will. One of the goons speaks, breaking my trance.
            “Looks like the wench remembered how to walk.”
            “Wonder if she knows any other tricks?”
            I choose not to dignify them with a response. Even if my lips could part to form the words, it would just provoke them into action. I’ve had worse done to me than these two slobs would want to do; I would just have to suffer through their two minutes of clumsy groping. I stop walking and once more a sharp pain shoots up my back. The comforting pain of resistance. The door to my room creaks open and rough, calloused hands fondle me briefly as one of the men shoves me through the doorway. I fall to the floor, unable to catch myself completely with my shackled hands.
            My first awareness is of the fact that I am no longer alone in my cell. There are unexpected cohabitants in my room, although I cannot see them yet. My eyes squint as I attempt to grow accustomed to the brightness of the room. The door slams shut and a key turns in the rusted lock. The cool air feels comforting on my skin. I exert a fraction of my diminishing strength to get up onto my knees. I take a quick scan of the room and, if I could have spoken, I would have screamed.

            The boy makes me feel thirty again. I can’t recall the last time I ever felt so happy. Not since Anna left, for sure. We laugh and tell stories and, as I am telling him about the time when Anna stole a fish, the door groans open. Two greasy men in uniforms force a young woman into the room. Her arms are chained together behind her back and her scant clothing is torn in so many places. Her face is bruised horribly and her jaw has been broken. Both eyes are swollen and her nose is jagged. Poor girl.
            She struggles to her knees and looks over in our direction. I cannot see her eyes, but for some reason I think I have seen her somewhere before. Probably just my imagination. Blood is crusted on her skin around most of the tears in her clothing. I have the urge to go and help her. The young lad shoves off my lap, tears in his eyes. He has such sympathy for such a young boy. He helps her to her feet and I remove the sleeve of my shirt, dipping it into a pool of water on the floor. I softly scrub, washing away the blood on her skin as she rests her head on the boy’s shoulder.

            She looks so different. She has aged years in the weeks since she has been gone. My mom, here, in this room with me? I cannot believe it is truly her! She seems so sad. So hurt. I love her so much. I can see she wants to tell me something. Why won’t she just tell me what she wants to say?

            Poor little Gareth! What is he doing here? He shouldn’t see me like this, but oh how his presence gives me renewed hope. A reminder that there is still something worth living for. If I give in now the future of our country is doomed to the tyrannical hands of the Emperor. I can’t be the one to let that happen. The life of my son, and the children of so many others, could be altered if I am weak. I will persevere.
            How quickly my own blood recognized me and came to my aid! Yet the other has not yet pieced things together completely. He senses, I can see that much in his eyes. It has been a long time since our paths last crossed. His mind is struggling to realize. Hold on—I sense a change. The torn cloth has dropped from his hand; tears of recognition fill his eyes. Yes! You know me! Say it and believe!
            “Anna? My daughter, Anna?”
            “Grandpa!” my Gareth cries out. We embrace together, the first time all three of us have come together. There is so much I need to tell them but my mouth won’t move. Tomorrow I face my execution. They will need to be strong, like I will be tomorrow. The Emperor will see that he can take away my life but, not even for a moment, can he rid us of what we believe in. May my death pave the way so that Gareth, and the children of countless others, can have a better tomorrow. The time for change has arrived.

No comments:

Post a Comment