Wednesday, 17 September 2014

'Mirrored' A piece of fiction inspired by a collection of photographs in The Rookie Yearbook.



Humble light fell through the vast windows, draping the room in soft kaleidoscopic patterns. The low drone of traffic on the streets 5 floors below coated the situation in a musky intimacy: heightened by the stoical silence settling amongst the dust on the pile of books barricading the door.

He fell onto the bed, not bothering to take his shoes off. Hidden under the faded traces of the city remained the significantly insignificant memory of the soles in their once pristine glory. They had now repeatedly traced the gum smothered roads of London hundreds of times: alighting in fleeting companionship with those who had stepped upon the very same spot before, each entwined by the stigma of silent abandonment.


The heavy web of silence was silenced itself by his voice, "Agnes". Throaty and smooth like marble: he emitted it slowly, layered under a flurry of syllables, a mix of unpolished emotion and unplanned curiosity. He looked towards me briefly, before glancing up at the poster-smothered ceiling. 
"What would you like?"

Standing by the foot of the bed, I glanced down at the floor, revelling in the comforting array of chaotic mess. The brash wooden floorboards were barely visible under empty vinyl cases, faded books opened onto pages decorated with hurried annotations, a photo album revealing the Polaroid of us both taken by an onlooker last year in The Tate Modern, empty plates, old clothes and half-empty glasses. 


I made my way over, treading carefully as not to disturb the careful exhibition of his life. I collapsed onto the bed, intently tracing his expression as he lay sprawled out next to me for clues as to what kind of answer he was searching for.

"Life."I said. The word rolled off my tongue, drawn out smoothly, filling my mouth steadily like the way in which a hot air balloon fills with hot gas. 

I stretched out, resting my head on my hands. I considered my answer."I know that I don't want more time. I want to use the time I currently have to cram every possible morsel of existing life I can into this small time slot I've been allocated." I paused, closing my eyes. "I want to banish procrastination in all forms and live: live for the small moments washed away in pointless activities: the smile that alights on a strangers face when they're reading a book at the train station, the teenagers happily waltzing down the street at night intoxicated with a rare gift of joy: anything that makes me smile, that makes me want to put down the homework I'm currently doing and pencil roll down hills blanketed by crinkled autumnal leaves. I want the childhood moment of jovial oblivion to awash my entire body and to be granted with the power of appreciation: to appreciate everything, all of the small moments, a little bit more. I want life."

The room collapsed back into a state of silence, tainted with an unfinished feel. He leant over me and pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights and a silver lighter from underneath his pillow, avoiding eye contact. His movements were somewhat fluidly stiff, as though he were controlled by puppet strings.

“God.” He held the cigarette between nimble, experienced fingers. “Agnes. What the hell am I meant to say? I meant if you wanted a drink or something. And-and then you spewed out a whole host of intricate words, woven into this wonderful profound speech.” He lit the cigarette. Alongside the cigarette, his fingers held a sheaf of practise as he lowered it between his full lips and inhaled. “You're seventeen. I'm seventeen. All people our age care about are crappy house parties and the best plans for a sixth form pranks.” He parted his lips, but any intended words left silently in a puff of smoke and he sat up, leaning back on one arm. “I see it in the way that I suppose most people don't: I see it in the way that you were born with this extraordinary unprecedented desire to swim against the tide and live like you have an unmarked bucket list with one day left to revel in the spark of beauty that only you-" He paused, making clear eye contact for the first time since my arrival. "-see encapsulated in the air of this built up concrete jungle.” He briefly closed his eyes. As he exhaled, curls of elegant smoke rose upwards. “You just get it. You simply get it. You don't care about the latest trends or anything materialistic or partially vain.“ He gestured vaguely in my direction with the cigarette, “You understand that it will get washed away in a new tide” He lay back down again. “So you swim against it. You actually want a change. You're not complacent like the rest of us are. I ask somewhat ambiguously if you want anything. You tell me life. It's so vague and perhaps even false because you have had the best of it already but you make it seem like it is the only possible answer." He inhaled and exhaled slowly, one last time. The smoke curled dramatically, invading my lungs with each breath. He sat up, and leant slightly out of the open window, stubbing the cigarette remains on the outer windowsill. After glancing up at the sky, now smeared with pink and red and orange; colours of passion and regret tumbling from heaven, he dropped it out onto the rhythmic sounds of the city below. 


I rolled onto my side, facing him. Closed off behind the smoke, his deep set eyes seemed mystified, perhaps down to the thick, owl-like glasses he wore. His mousey brown hair fell just above his jawline in a middle parting, giving him an edgy, unique aesthetic. I leant over and removed his glasses, folding them up and placing them on the bed next to me. 

"You see how everything is now blurred?"

An unidentifiable emotion fluttered delicately across his face. Bemusement? Confusion? "Truth be told, I can't actually see a
great deal." He laughed, a deep throaty laugh, emitted in a warm flurry from the back of his throat.

"Exactly." My voice was grave, completely juxtaposed to his. Mine was dull, serious, accepting. His was a beam of energy shone through a cloud of normality.

"What do you mean?" He said, drawing out the words with curiosity.

I looked up at him. He looked dazed, with his head tilted slightly to the right, creating the impression that things seemed to be at an odd angle. I continued. "I mean, exactly. When I even attempt to look at the world through a normal pair of binoculars: when I really focus and look at the minute details, its as though my-your, glasses have been removed. The world around me descends into a foggy chaotic jumble:-" I said, gesturing submissively. "-I make no sense of it at all. It's not that I ignore or even just avoid a modern day viewpoint: I physically cannot. I physically cannot confine myself to the point where labels are issued to everything. Creativity dies. Originality dies. I simply cannot let it."

I handed him back his glasses. He ran his fingers through his hair and placed them back on. Some of his hair had fallen onto the wrong side of his parting and so I flicked it over to the right side for him.  He looked up bemused, the world finally in focus once again. "And so what do you see instead?"

I fiddled with my collar, thinking. "People." I said. "Lots of subconsciously unhappy people lulled into the false illusion that they are truly happy-" I stopped briefly, catching my train of thought. "-because they adhere to the false fa├žade of materialism and vanity that society has somewhat gradually established."

"Jesus Agnes. That's deep. I dunno though, I guess it's true." He sat up, away from me. I saw him untie the laces of his shoes and saw them fall onto the floor. He turned to face me, still talking. "I suppose it is all down to society. Society gives tells you to 'Be yourself' so you are, and then it’s like 'No, not like that.' It’s killed us. Society. Nothing is ever good enough."

The light that cascaded through the windows had dulled into a rosy-pink haze, placing the entire room under a delicate filter. I could hear distant screams of laughter echoing from the children's play-park around the corner and the familiar tune of the ice cream van. In this room, so much had changed since it happened. The books lay piled up, disorganised. Draws were left half open. Forgotten glasses, half empty, lay strewn across the floor.

I considered everything. "I'm just so fed up of it all. I really am."

He looked at me silently. I closed my eyes, and told him the most important sequence of words to have ever graced my lips. "The truth is, you never get what you want. And that's the thing-we can only deflect reality for so long."




And then she walked out of the door, leaving me in a state of silent shock. Her fierce ginger hair cascaded over her bony frame, drenching her in a consuming orange wave. She looked fleetingly over her shoulder as the door swung shut behind her, her porcelain face, smothered with hundreds of dainty freckles, scrunching up tight in laughter.

I'm not sure if I imagined it. Or dreamt it. But I felt her pinkie finger brush my cheek as she played with my hair. I studied her fingerprints on my glasses. I felt the warm indent of her body on the blanket after she left. 
Her presence was the force of gravity: hushed early morning phone calls, the butterfly who couldn't see her own beauty. In those sparse minutes when she talked about life and its origins itself, I came to realise that it was not her. It was a memory of her. It was every word of hers ringing true in my head. The solar system seemed to align itself for her wish to come alive. She granted me life. Subconsciously, all I truly wanted was to live for both of us. She was the one who granted me the perspective and determination to see this wish through. 

And in that moment I just wanted to summon her once more and truly tell her how much I loved her. My words of wonderment meant nothing. I didn't want to question it anymore. The slamming of the door cemented every single nerve ending into the true belief that I was lucky enough to spend a few precious years with somebody so incredibly special, and that is something that not many achieve. I didn't want to think anymore. I just wanted to feel it. Sometimes all we really need is just to feel it.

But when she left, the door slamming shut behind her, the smell of the air before it rains intoxicated every particle in the room. And it rained. Water cascaded down my cheeks. Wails, insignificant in a small apartment in North London, vibrated around the walls. The books that I ripped were dumped in a bin when I left. The smashed glass of the mirror scattered the floor: glimmering with lost hope in the rose-tinted glare of the sun making it's graceful descent, dipping below the equator, casting shadows in its absence.

In those sparse few minutes, her hazel tinted eyes that once glittered with prosperity, drooped around the edges, an empty mirror of lost hope. They say if you smash a mirror you’re cast with seven years of bad luck. Her eyes were a mirror of desperation, shattered by life itself. I was simply too naive too realise.

We lost her on the 12th of February 2002. They found her floating in the bath, a smashed mirror clutched to her chest. The shard of glass used to slice her wrists, the porcelain paper of innocence, was found clutched tightly in her left hand. Rose-tinted blood swirled through the lukewarm water, creating a satiny cloud of curls like the billowing mud beneath treading swans. The paramedic caught sight of himself in a shard of the mirror. His family lost him 12 days letter. 

She visited me, or perhaps my memory fooled me, on the 24th of February, 2002. The same day that Mr James Abernathy, a twenty six year old paramedic of 3 months and 8 days, took is own life. Today it has been 10 years since she left this blue and green sphere. Today it is the 10th anniversary of her death. Today it is the 12th of February, 2012. The world is meant to end in December. That is fine by me. Because that's the thing, she told me herself: we can only deflect reality for so long.


THE END



***



This is a short fictional tale I created on a whim after paging through my copy of The Rookie Yearbook 2. I scanned in the two photos above from a collection labelled under 'JUST KIDS: Because summer belongs to us' by Allysa (P.316), which were the two initiates of inspiration. The remainder of the tale took off from there.


The reasoning behind the title is that the situation is entirely mirrored, perhaps to the extent of juxtaposition. Each individuals feelings towards one another in both love, compassion and regret are mirrored in both speech and actions. The feelings are both the same yet separated physically at the same time-exactly how your physical self and your mirrored self are when you look into a mirror. A further example of this within the text is the fact that the draws were 'half-open' and the glasses were referred to as 'half empty'. This re-affirms the ideas of two people mirroring each other, as people are often referred to as either a 'half glass full' or 'half glass empty' kind of person, usually when referring to either an optimistic or pessimistic mindset. The two glasses - either half empty or half full are essentially identical, yet completely different at the same time. The idea of half-open draws stems from the idea that he was physically open to Agnes' return, although the half-empty glass reinforces a pessimist attitude as he is both feeling emotionally empty and drained after her suicide.

The notion of mirroring is also employed to mirror the issues with society - something the paramedic was only able to see when confronted with directly. This originated from the idea that society places too much pressure on adolescents nowadays, causing a snowball effect. It's only small things at a time yet over time they all add up to something greater, alluding to the idea that each event is entwined. Her death therefore had a snowball effect - it caused the male characters' life to spiral (perhaps the reasoning for the illusion of her was because he possibly resorted to drugs-he may have taken hallucinogens and therefore saw her but that is up to you to decide)- and also led to the death of the paramedic. The two characters attempt to discuss this to no avail - whilst Agnes' views are very certain, his views are centred around his admiration of Agnes' character. This is potentially a subtle explanation for her suicide - it depicted everything that she was attempting to tell him. He was telling her how he admired her for ignoring vain and materialistic qualities, but he was the one admiring her and doing exactly the opposite of what he was praising her for. This suggests that even those who seemed to think they understood her, really didn't-an issue very common with the adolescent portion of society and adults in this day and age.

The term 'rose tinted' is used heavily throughout because of the well known phrase, 'looking back through rose tinted spectacles'. I employed this phrase frequently because the male character sees the memory of Agnes as a very positive one in his life. Reminiscing over her, he doesn't see her death as a burden or even a betrayal, despite their close bond. He is perhaps even slightly deluded, suggesting that her death caused him to find comfort in insanity, because it potentially dampened the pain.

In addition to this, anonymity is used on behalf of the male character to represent that fact that he could easily represent anybody who has suffered a loss. Many people who have suffered a loss undergo many side effects associated with grief, seen in intense longing and sometimes even suicidal thoughts themselves. Furthermore, death occurring often leads people to confront their own subconscious questions about mortality and human life itself, a theory further reflected in the conversation between the two characters.


*

This post was incredibly different from any post I've ever published. Literature has always played a huge role in my life and the development of my blog has only re-affirmed that. I'm not going to bore you with another few thousand words, apart from expressing my hope that you will be able to take something from the above. The entire post was inspired by my AS Literature and Language course as the coursework is to write a short piece of literature that is inspired by a piece of prose or drama. I put a somewhat quirky spin on this notion after reading through Rookie and as I have said above, after a few notes and bullet pointed ideas, the small puzzle pieces fitted together to form what I have called, 'Mirrored'. 


What did you think of the first fictional adventure on Lauryn's Notebook? Is it something that you would like to see in the future?







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