Cassie

The following is a story I’ve written as proof to Mr. O that I can indeed write. Some things to look for in the passage below are: the imagery in certain descriptions and not in others, the syntax of a heated conversation or thought, and the very specific and loaded diction I tried to use. I hope you enjoy it, and be forewarned, there are some curse words and the topic of the passage itself is not very savory, but I hope that it will be read with an open mind. Thank you.

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She sank her elbows into the rise of sand behind her. The sun glared down as a watchful eye, judgmental and overbearing. Her skin stung as the harsh sunlight smacked against her sallow skin, pressing against and heavying the eyelids hidden behind her red brown sunglasses resting atop her crinkled nose. The boy stood, skipping rocks across the cresting waves of the endless jade sea. He turned and smiled down at her, then exchanged a flat rock from his left hand to his right and skimmed it on top of the water. The stone left small ripples where it kissed the surface and then strung out quickly before it dropped into the abyss below.

He’s perfect. Oh, he’s perfect. My little lion.

Another throw, then the boy walked over and sat down next to her, arms crossed over his knees. She smiled at him, running a hand over the rich bronzed skin of his arm and resting it on his shoulder. He turned to her, his chin nuzzled into his arm.

“You are beautiful.”

She grinned a wide white smile. “You mean that? Really?”

“I do.”

“No you don’t.”

“Honesty, I do.”

She laughed and pulled her hand away.

“I don’t love you for your opinion, Aslan.”

“But I love you, Miss Cassie.” She guffawed. This time he smiled and pulled his arms behind his head, lying back on the sandy towel.

Raising herself to sit, Cassie looked back out over the shimmering water. She gathered up some of the pebbly sand in her weathered hand and let it slip between her fingers. It fell on top of her foot. Most went running off the sides, all but that which clung to the normally invisible hairs protruding from her feet. The sand separated and now she was able to make out the blues and yellows and reds in the tiny pebbles. She stared for a moment, then quickly glanced over at Aslan, whose eyes were closed, and brushed the little rocks off into the sand.

“I’m going for a dip.” She stood and wiped the dust from her striped two-piece.

Cassie stood at the edge of the water, eyes narrowed as the seawater gathered into a bulk, then crashed down in a torrent of froth and scattered pebbles that tumbled towards her, straining for her toes and encircling her sandy feet. She breathed in sharply at the cold sensation on her dried out skin before marching into the surf. The tongues of water clambered up past her knees, the cool freshness of a saline solution nipping and licking its way higher.

The sea was the better lover, she realized.

It knew her, young and old. It never changed, its vast intimacy seeking every crevice or tucked away bulge or cranny she could hide from anyone else. The countless times she’d plunged into its depths gave license for that tidal god to know her all too well – her and every other bitch who’d slinked salaciously into its welcoming folds. Every dirty little secret was engulfed in that steady rhythm of up and down and up again, timeless and inevitable.

Cassie shuddered as the water slithered higher. There she waded and dipped her hands into the green. Glancing over at the boy, who still slay motionless on the shore, she let her eyes wander until they met a couple who were flirting with the cusp of the water.

He looks like Carl, only a little prettier. She smirked, remembering the man with whom she had sworn to be forever faithful and who was probably in a situation similar to her.

The bastard.

The man, whose belly seeped over the hem of his nylon swimwear, walked down into the murky waters. He buoyed while a girl that looked hardly half his age feigned apprehension at diving headlong into the sea. He motioned for her to join him and she refused shaking her head and giggling waiting for the old man to run up out of the water, hold her in a tight hug and drag her down with him, which he did. They splashed and made a ruckus that turned the heads of all the tight-bodied tanners that were lying near the shades of large, pasty parasols that littered the beach.

Cassie wrinkled the corners of her eyes and frowned at the pair. It seemed reasonable that old men sleeping with young women was disgusting, but swap it around and the young boy is counted lucky. Disgusted, she turned away and began the slow wade back to the beach. The rocks below her were rough and asserted their existence, and she begrudgingly relinquished the soothing cover of the sea. Still dripping, she made her way to Aslan and stood over him, blocking the sun.

“Let’s go get a drink.” He opened one eye and stared sleepily up at her.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I just need a drink.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, god.”

The boy stood up, then stooped down to pick up the towel upon which now was strewn wisps of sand. He draped the towel across his sinewy shoulders. Cassie nestled her arm in his and together they walked up to the bar that stood out against the green. Two or three others were scattered around the tables, sitting and sipping drinks of whatsoever clear liquids. She broke off from him and moved over to the counter, resting her tingling arms on the cool marble surface.

“Sex on the Beach and a gin tonic, please.” The boy came to her side and turned to look at her.

“There’s no sun now. Your eyes do hurt?”

“A bit,” she said, unsmiling.

He blew some air out of his nose and looked back at the bartender, where he exchanged a few quick words and a wry smile, whereupon the bartender chk’dand placed the two drinks side by side. She took her cocktail and rotated to face the blazing beach. It used to be with Carl that he would sit and watch her swim, and he would drink his drink slowly through a straw, his gut protruding and a haphazard smile slapped onto his face, where it had a habit of re-producing itself day in and day out.

He was nothing now, doing as much. He didn’t care where she was, about as much as she cared for his whereabouts. At least not after she found out about the girl. But she didn’t want to think about that now.

Now was Aslan and he was perfect. He was hidden away in a secret place. He was her holy of holies, whose name is wonderful, who she can always come back to, who she can confess sins innumerable to, who measures her insecurities with the span of his fingers, who fills her with fire, who touches her and cleanses her, who is majestic and wild and untamed and ferocious and timeless and beautiful and forever.

Yes he is.

And she is not.

Cassie closed her eyes, then spun and held the boy at the elbow. She took off her sunglasses and placed them, with her drink, on the counter next to him. “Take these for me. Wait here…” She paused, “I need to go upstairs.” He looked at her and wondered as she sauntered away up the concrete path that was rough against bare feet.

As she walked she wrapped the towel around her and stared at the see-through reflection in the elevator and looked straight ahead as she passed the cleaning lady in the hall and fished the keycard out of her top and sat down on the bed as her knees gave way. He clothes were neatly folded on the table by the TV and the mini-fridge. She hunched over and reached for the door of the fridge, peeling it open and withdrawing a small glass container with some clear liquid in it. Cassie found a glass, turned in over and poured the contents of the bottle into it. She watched the bubbles rise and converge on one another, bursting or forming together and still bursting. Setting it down on the table she walked into the bathroom and turned a nozzle so water came bursting out in a thunder and steam began to rise. She turned the other a little bit and felt the stream of water, notching closed the cap on the plug. She stripped down and eyed herself in the mirror. Old, was all she thought. Again and everywhere. Old skin, old arms, old belly, old hair, old eyes. She walked back into the bedroom and grabbed the glass off the counter, spilling a little down the side, which ran cold down over her leathery fingers. Placing it down next to the sink, she looked at herself once more. All of her accessories were stacked neatly up against the mirror. She grabbed for the bag and frantically pulled out a little container that rattled in her sweaty palms. She pressed hard and spun it 4 times until the top came off and she poured the little white pills into the glass. They began to fizz and form together as she held it up against the light. Cassie looked at the mirror, then at the glass, then at the mirror once more, before downing the drink and feeling the little clumps of pellets making their way down into her digestive tract. She smiled, and took a deep breath.

It won’t be long now…

She walked over to the tub and steadied herself with a hand against the porcelain wall. She dipped a toe in, laughed and jerked it out, before returning and slowly lowering her foot into the steamy water. The next foot, and then she carefully lowered the rest of her body down and landed with a splash. Cassie sank her elbows into the water and rested back on the cold porcelain.

He will come looking for me.

She smiled, and closed her eyes slowly as her breathing began to quicken and her heart began to race round and round and the tips of her fingers slowly started to lose their feeling and she tingled all over and she forced her eyes to stay closed and her legs began to spasm and she forced her eyes closed tighter until the spasms began to subside and her eyes fluttered open then closed back down again as she sank into the confines of the steamy water.

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DP Challenge: Fifty Word Story

On my seventh, mom presented a thread spool.

By my twelfth I drew behind a harp’s chords that pulled back sharp.

You “Hey”d and I, surprised, “Oh hey”d.

We smiled and swapped stories as I slowly tied my end of string atop the others about my finger, as did you.

 

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First time trying out something like this. At times I wished it was 51 words… 😛

Heres the link to the original challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/fifty/

Death to a Boy

If you’ve ever read or been told a synopsis of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chances are it began by stating that the text follows the life and times of a runaway young boy who goes through a number of circumstance that help develop him as a person.

SPOILER: this happens.

Unfortunately though, reading this book to hear just that story is like entering the Louvre to get out of the rain. While Twain’s masterpiece may seem droll to the reader who has never opened its pages, in truth, the novel of a young boy confides in the dutiful reader the relatable experiences that everyone, not just those running away from home by snatching an empty canoe and taking off down the Mississippi, has been through. When first introduced to young Huck, the reader is abruptly given the picture of an uneducated bumpkin whose foster mother is attempting to educate and bring into “civilization”. Even in the voice of his writing, Twain portrays Huck as one who employs slang all to regularly and whose maturity is nascent at best. Despite this, let it never be said that Huckleberry Finn fell short when it came to intellect. What he lacked in proper mannerisms he made up for and surpassed with a sharp mind, quick wit, and wild imagination.

Having grown tired of trying to live the civilized life, Huck abandons the prim and proper that the widow had forced him to adorn. One could even say the Huck Finn forsake the lie he’d been trying to live and reverted back to the only life he knew; on a boat, in the sun, and free from worldly cares. At one point or another, each has had the earnest longing to do just as Huck did and get away from it all. Realistically, everyone eventually gets fed up with dining halls and automobiles, desiring something so much simpler and yet so much more difficult to attain: honest living. In a sense – raw life. With Huck, his escape to this “raw life” drew from him raw emotions and honest interactions with those around him. Upon finding Jim, a runaway slave of a his foster mother, his innocence of character emerges and he decides to take him on as a companion.

And yet, this freedom from a forced reality presents Huck with some unique perspectives. Numerous times, Huck is forced to deal with death, if not in physical form then as an idea. In one instance, he fakes his own murder by slaughtering a pig and submerging its bloodied remains at the bottom of a river to cover his tracks.

“I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly to the table and hacked into his throat with the ax, and laid him down on the ground to bleed…  Well, next I took an old sack and put a lot of rocks in it – all I could drag – and I started it from the pig, and dragged it to the door and through the woods down to the river and dumped it in, and down it sunk, out of sight.” (Twain, 21-22)

It’s frightening to contemplate just how nonchalant Huck Finn in “blooding” an animal, using it as a stand in for his own corpse. In his youthful mindset, death has no real consequence or threat; there’s no danger for Huck in death. He has no comprehension on the toll this will take on those who know him, and hasn’t any idea as to the implications his “death” introduces.  In short, we see the actions, reactions, and consequences that occur when one sloughs off normality and the dictates of society. Huck Finn represents the child-like characteristics in us all: wonder, innocence, creativity, adventure, etc… In so doing, Twain produces a character like no other that offers up the youthful perspective in reacting to the realities we are either faced with, or create for ourselves to face.

Really?

What is real is all around us. It resides in the soft touch of light that separates the clouds from sky surrounding it, or in the muddled sounds of coffee cups clinking and low voices whispering, or even in the thoughts we think and the emotions we feel. The most important task every individual is faced with is discerning the universal truth from the truth he convinces himself to believe in. For one Willy Loman, he found his reality in the dream he dreamt: his American dream.
To Arthur Miller’s Willy, a man is measured against his success and his reputation. In other words, a salesman like himself is successful if at the end of his life, he is well liked and only has to make some calls to make a sale. While the character Miller depicts seems fairly far-fetched, his motivation is very similar to that which nearly every person has come across: am I well liked? In order to determine our lifestyle, we have to realize what’s important to us and what is real to us; oft times they are one and the same. As a Father, Willy found his success in the success of his lineage, and when that failed him, he withdrew from the world. As a salesman, Willy found his success in the reputation he earned, and when that failed him as well, he withdrew from everyone around him. In the end, what caused the death of this salesman was not the failure of his son or the failure of his reputation, but the failure he earned from ceasing to seek the truth, to seek what was real.
Like Willy, everyone comes to terms with the ultimate reality sooner or later. What matters is not that we were wrong, but that we move on and don’t let our failures tear us down.

Beneath the Shade

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“A Man Sitting Under a Group of Trees” Alfred Parsons, R. A. 1872

A lady crossed my path one day
As I sat alone beneath the saving shade.
The road she walked wound long forgotten,
Yet by myself I tread it fairly often.
She wore a veil of crimson hue;
Her necklace bold and her eyes deep blue.
A violent red forced her lips outright
Her gait was true as her corset tight.
I waved to her and she smiled my way
Then turned to pass away.

She is quiet, she is cold,

She is young, she is old.

Much to my surprise an alluring figure followed;
Yet now her stride begat much sorrow.
The veil she wore was black and hid
the fearful face that council never did.
Her black bodice was silken spun,
Blessed besides the fiery sun.
A small gasp she made at sighting me,
The old man who sat in the shade of the tree.
I dipped my hat and she stared my way
Then hastily passed away.

She is quiet, she is cold,

She is young, she is old.

By now it was time to return to work,
Yet down came the last, trampling o’er the dirt.
Her beauty struck this worker’s eye
As clear as lighting ‘gainst a summer’s sky.
Her flowing tresses held none to compare
With how soft she stepped, how true and fair.
Eyes of verdant green shone forth from within,
And still her walk was frail with sin.
I gazed at her as she danced to me now
And coolly kissed the skin atop my brow.
My heart was torn in two that day
As she silently slipped away.

She is quiet, she is cold

She is young, she is old.

Alone, not Lonely

Do you ever feel like the world is one big inside joke that everyone but you is in on?

As someone blessed with the ability to instantaneously halt any form of captivating communication upon entering a conversation, I can attest that this is an oft recurring, if not misleading idea. This idea is one that guides the thinker to reflect on the individuality he strives to attain. As a general rule, I believe that all people want to be different, unique from all others in a way that can ultimately distinguish and define them. What most people forget though, and that I also am sometimes guilty of turning a blind eye to, is that being different is fun, but being excluded is never fun. And just like being on the outside of an inside joke, feelings of envy and abandonment are never in want when we are neglected by those around us.

A step further; it doesn’t take a psychologist to see how an individual might take this independence and run with it. A simple thought of “they’re just not like me” or “I’m just a different person” only furthers the gap between a person and his peers. The danger of being singled out is not some major breaking point, but is a slowly fading change from independence to self- glorification. Such new attitudes affect every aspect of your life, as you consider those around as being beneath you, and therefore, no matter how nice a facade you display, your true thoughts and intentions reveal themselves in one form or another.

Mrs. Turpin, whose jovial laughter and unsettlingly judgmental attitude combine to give the reader an eerily familiar personality, subconsciously categorizes those in the waiting room with her, noting nuances indicative of potential faults and exploiting them. Manners dictate that she not address them publicly, but snidely allude to them. She counts herself better than the “white trash”, the “niggers”, or all the downright ugly human beings with whom she eagerly converses. In the case of Mrs. Turpin, Flannery O’Connor hits home by presenting not an over exaggeration of pompous character, but a wholly believable and frighteningly personal depiction of the subliminal degradation of others. The truth becomes evident to Mrs. Turpin when the ugly, pubescent girl, lashes out and calls her by what she truly is: “Her gaze locked with Mrs. Turpin’s. ‘Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog,’ she whispered.” (21) Unnerved and indignant, Mrs. Turpin eventually undergoes a massive change in her outlook on life and is counted among the worst when she later envisions heaven. Without digging too much into it, her pride caught up with her.

O’Connor knew her audience when she wrote the story; no, it wasn’t directed to the oppressed, or the evil, or the unlucky, but to you and me, the normal people with a normal tendency of degrading others to raise our self-esteem. While subtle, the truly scary message O’Connor relays is that all people are both capable and at times guilty of this seemingly small sin that in truth affects every part of a person’s life.

The startling truth is this: you can be different, but when you distinguish yourself by lowering those around you, your pride will inevitably catch up with you and thrust you at the feet of those you considered undeserving.

Honor Thy Father 2

Nowadays, unfortunately, respect is becoming a relative term. In America, a conversation topic that can start a fight or a spur a rally is the respect we do or do not give certain groups of people: discrimination, hate crimes, sexism. As observers we can openly condemn these acts of disrespect; they are degrading other humans, spurning societal norms, and disrespecting personal liberties. In essence, society chafes at the idea of disrespecting someone, defending their point of view with the idea that disrespecting someone strips them of some form of personal liberty.

But how about when that someone is a parent?

Speaking for my generation, we LOVE the idea of independence. We want to be free of responsibility and be rid of restriction. On the whole, we are trying the change the world around us to be a more accepting, progressing world. But when it comes to submission to our parents, we spit venom. When did growing up start to mean veering away from your parents? America loves the runaway, the romantic. But the honorable learner and humble son receives no praise.

At the heart of the issue lies a simple truth: Americans love the underdog who overcomes adversity. People in America love the rise from the ashes, not the gleam of tested steel. In The Pursuit of Happyness, a hymn is sung to the the protagonist who has fallen on hard times and is wallowing in rotten luck. While not saying much else, the repetition in the chorus send a clear message truly embodying the American spirit:

Lord don’t move that mountain.
Please don’t move that mountain.
Lord please don’t move that mountain.
Help me to overcome.

A star contrast with the United States, Central Asia culture dictates that respecting ones parents ranks among the most important things in life. In most villages and towns on the east side of Turkey and all throughout Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, and countries of that sort, the youngest child is always left with the duty of taking care of his parents’ and their property. This means no adventure, little freedom, and no breaking off from the parents. Still, they accept it, because if what must be done contradicts what they want to do, they know what to choose.

I’m not saying that America should model its morality or functionality on those central Asian countries, but we could learn a thing or two about learning to respect the parents who raised us. In any case, we will understand their pain when our generation starts to have children of their own, but for now all we have to fall back on are the thousands of years of harmonious households that have kept society civilized. I will not condemn the spirit that supports the weak and the unlikely, but in our haste to praise such feats of heroic victory, we do not reward the steadfastness of a hard fought, uncompromised moral conviction.