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 Post subject: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:04 pm 
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Rachael Blume stares at a city skyline, focusing on as many individual snowflakes as she can before they leave her vision. It's late December, or early January, and the air is more than cold enough for there to be snow, a sure sign that the coming months will be colder still. She breathes a few times, decides against trying to make smalltalk over the clouding of her breath, and speaks aloud for the first time in a quarter of an hour.

"I am a deeply flawed human being," she intones with an oddly gleeful confidence, "and I spend more time lamenting the strain I put on others than I do making any effort to improve myself."

Eager for a response, she turns, glaring expectantly, to the boy to her right, a friend most likely. He isn't there. There's a loud crash that hangs in the air in a way that seems impossibly long, and something about it lets Rachael know that he fell even though she doesn't look for him.

It's a dream, or a lie, or a memory, or all three. She can never decide which.

Outside of the confines of her head, the weather is roughly the same. She knows for certain that it's February, at the very least, but the skyline and the snow and the frosty clouded breathing is the same. The largest difference in this scene is in the time of day; her recollection is strongly one of sunset, and her present lingering on the balcony takes place just past 3 AM. It's too cloudy, or maybe just too polluted to see any stars, and quiet enough for the outskirts of such a large town to lend everything the atmosphere of a dream. As if to contradict that, the cold vinyl of the deck chair against her naked skin is sharp, and very real.

The cold doesn't ever get to her, but boredom does, so she heads inside, gets dressed, makes something to eat, and begins the week's fourth unsuccessful attempt at taking up smoking. Self destructive vices are an odd thing to seek out, but Rachael is deluded enough to find them romantic. She doesn't have school or a job, so she doesn't bother with getting to bed. She has no television, so she uses her record player to pass some time, losing a few hours to a dead relative's album collection.

Something about the unnatural quiet makes crying an easier prospect than sleeping, and so the remaining time until the sun rises is passed.

Rachael Blume is a deeply traditional coward.

She makes a phone call to her mother, who is quietly concerned to have an unemployed daughter at the age of twenty four, and confused as to how she keeps above water without working or accepting charity, but relieved to hear her voice every week or so. Rachael is aware that this is exactly enough to make her mother put away her doubts, enough for her to selfishly make the easiest assumption about the happiness of her family. She doesn't blame her for anything.

The call ends faster than the one the week before, and before very long, Rachael Blume is restlessly asleep.

She dreams about lies, or memories. She can never recall which.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

"All I ever wanted was weightlessness," she told him.

The two of them were in a small room, unremarkable in ever way. Two chairs, a rug, an overly lush potted plant in the corner, like an office with no desk. The air shimmered.

"Weightlessness?" The boy tipped back in his chair as he asked, either deeply invested or wholly uninterested.

"Yeah, weightlessness. As far back as I can remember, I've been gathering weight. It starts with growing up alone, but responsibilities, sadness, anything I end up carrying with me, a weight of anxiety, the weight of living," Rachel spoke quickly before breaking off, leaning forward as if to compensate for the new distance.

Very suddenly, he toppled back forward, and the space between them all at once seemed to be very little.

"So you want to be happy? Doesn't everyone?"

"No, I want weightlessness. Happiness is peripheral, extraneous, something unrelated. I just want to exist without weight." She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, not bothered by the closeness but quickly realizing how vulnerable she seemed. "When I was younger, I thought that without it, I could fly. That if I were rid of the weight in my gut, there would be nothing to hold me in place in the world, and I would end up flitting around however I pleased."

Someone laughed.

"You were silly when you were a girl, then. Plenty are."

Rachael lowered her head, her voice trickling down to a whisper. "You know very well I never had a girlhood." The potted plant rustled.

He ignored the remark. "So what, then? You've taken a common desire for happiness and replaced it with some abstraction from your childhood?" Either his chair had longer legs, or he was much taller, she couldn't seem to tell which. "You want to be special, an ironically commonplace sentiment."

Curling up in her seat, she gave up on speaking. The plant was spilling over now, slowly pooling leafily on the floor around it.

"Ah, this again."

More laughter.

"I suppose it'll keep coming, then? Until we've drowned."

Unsurprisingly, exactly that happened.

And unsurprisingly, Rachael woke up.

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Last edited by CheshireStray on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:59 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:23 pm 
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There are a couple spots where it feels there is a word or two missing... particularly the bit about "exhales clouds" seemed wrong.

This seems (if I am reading and understanding it right) like it could be an awkwardly honest unreliable narrator pasta, which I kinda like.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:32 pm 
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Ah, that was a last minute edit gone wrong. Changed the plurality to fix it up.

I think the way I write kind of leaves that weird wording feel around it in general, I spent way too long trying to describe winter foggy breath before just settling on "cloud" as a verb.

Definitely going for an entirely unreliable person here, although I doubt there's enough here to make it into any sort of pasta. Too verbose, not outright scary enough. Just a cold, lonely, delusional sort of person. Thanks for reading.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:04 am 
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I liked it, despite the fact that I'm not usually too keen on the non-creepy stuff.

It felt... I dunno

I guess it felt honest.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:51 am 
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It almost feels like an excerpt from something longer. That's not a bad thing. Just from this little bit, I can almost feel Rachel's despair, like it's a tangible thing. And it's that horrible depressing despair that saps the joy and life out of everything and leaves you too tired to try and help yourself. I don't know if saying I like this is quite right. Like doesn't seem to be the right word. I dunno, I guess, I appreciate this? Something like that.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:25 am 
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I think despair was less of what I was going for, and more of a really deep mediocrity, someone who never took off in life and is more content to juggle the lies of the present than do anything to push the boundaries of their world.

It is a pretty dismal piece, though, now that I read it with these reactions in mind. I sort of wanted to sidestep becoming another of the trillion pieces of vague ABLOO BLOO BLOO short fiction out there, the kind of thing people write when they get tired of overly emotional poetry and want to be slightly more lucid. A motif of iniquity, rather than outright depression, seemed more interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:12 pm 
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This did seem honest. Kind of beautiful actually, in one of those fantastically melancholy ways.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:08 am 
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bumping because i finally added a second part to this, it was always meant to have several parts, presumably more to come???

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Cowardice
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:35 am 
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What an odd dream. From what I understand about it, she's drowning in leaves?

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