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July 28th, 2011 (8:11 AM). Edited September 13th, 2011 by Miz en Scène.
This was my entry for this year’s SWC, the prompt of which was ‘cast aside’. Special thanks to Astinus, Bay, and bobandbill for all their hardwork with the scoring, netting me 9th place out of the 21 entries. Also congrats to anon, Cutlerine, and Nemesis for placing in the top 3. I’m looking forward to reading your guys’ entries.
Anyway, this is the original story with some minor edits. I might rewrite the ending because I feel that, yeah, it was rushed and it didn’t really do the story justice, plus I’m not so happy with how I kind of lost the emotional impact of the final sentence. Regardless, here’s my experimental romantic horror story. Never written romance before so this is something new.
Had to bypass the censor for the sake of drama. Hope you guys don't mind too much.
The blinds opened a fraction, a tiny, minute fraction, just enough to let the faintest glimmers of light pass through to its shielded interior. Through the gap, a woman peered out into the harsh light of the outside world, a single, manic eye darting back and forth dangerously as she searched for an elusive something. Her strained eye with its red, pulsating veins shining unhealthily scanned her limited field of vision erratically, any semblance of order quickly proving non-existent. She hadn’t slept in days --she was too uneasy.
"Where is it? Where is it?” she thought to herself desperately. “Why isn’t it here yet!” Silent, angry, irrational tears dripped from her eyes and she gripped the blinds tightly. “It’s supposed to be here!”
Suddenly, as if in compliance with her frantic wishes, there it appeared. She blinked away the tears and leant in closer to the window. She had found it. Her eyes lingered upon the object, she went limp with overflowing emotion, and a desperate longing suffused in nostalgia. It was a man, and it had just arrived.
As usual, she waited for him at the street across her house, a tinge of rouge applied to her cheeks and the lightest traces of mascara accentuating her bright, blue eyes. Daintily, she gripped her purse in as lady-like a manner she could muster and anxiously peered off into the distance, awaiting his arrival. He was always late, give or take a few minutes, but she loved that about him. It was cute.
Out of the blue, she heard the gradual increase in the sound of a car, and she felt her stomach leap into her heart. Around the street corner came the taxi and in it, she could barely just make out the face and smooth, handsome features of the man, her man. Her heart pounded madly in her chest and for once she realised the added value of rouge. At least her blushing would not be too visible.
The taxi stopped and he stepped out of the car. She swallowed nervously, noting each and every one of his minute mannerisms and oddities, all of which she found strangely attractive. His smile, his posture, his oddly professional clothes, his hair, his body --everything seemed perfect. He was flawless. If there was one thing she loved about him, it was him, and everything he was. He was her world, and she would sacrifice everything if it meant just one extra minute with him every day.
The man smiled and her insides turned to butter. “Hello, my lovely Jennifer,” he said, extending an arm.
Excitement and despair welled up in her all at once, a cacophony of emotions vying for supremacy within the confines of her unstable mind. He was still as handsome as ever, and the past year or so did little to dull his exciting radiance. If anything, like fine wine, he had grown better with age. Beyond that, however, little could be done to mask the dejection she felt for his return. Almost every few weeks after he had left (abandoned!) her, he had returned to this very same spot across the street with a different woman, and sometimes even a man!
She could understand that such fierce good looks would warrant attention beyond her own keen eyes, but still, the very fact that her man was courting another besides her made her seethe with a deep, dark jealousy which clawed at her insides, a hideous beast wailing against the prison walls of her consciousness. The only solace she took from his frequent philandering was that each and every person he saw would eventually feel the very same dejection she had felt when he had cast her aside. This momentary happiness, however, would pass and would then be replaced by a return to that moment in time when she herself had been left. That feeling of utter helplessness. The pain.
She didn’t want to live with the pain.
Many a time had she found the naked blade of the razor hanging precariously over her thin, pale wrists, only to be pulled back to reality by the memory of his radiant smile. And for a moment, that smile would encompass the whole of her mind and she would recall the happiness she had once had and lost. The razor would be lowered and she held steadfastly to the promise of one day seeing that smile directed at her once more.
“Geoffrey!” squeaked Jennifer, slowly and nervously taking hold of his strong, firm grip. “It’s been too long –I’ve missed you so much. You cannot imagine.”
“Not as much as I’ve missed you, my sweet,” replied Geoffrey. “Shall we take our leave?”
“Oh let’s,” Jennifer said excitedly. She was buzzing with excitement, every inch of her body, every gesture radiating a stunning aura of bliss.
“The cafe as usual?” inquired Geoffrey.
“A splendid choice, my love.”
The two of them walked, not holding hands, but united in spirit by the thick, red string of fate. They were inseparable, the two of them. Jennifer smiled at him, and he smiled back at her. Butterflies erupted within her stomach as she viewed the slight, upward curve of his mouth revealing the tiniest flashes of gorgeous, pearly white teeth. Heaven came rushing downwards, scooping her up within soft, feathery clouds and depositing her within his strong arms.
She couldn’t restrain herself. “I love you,” she whispered, barely audible.
“I love you too, dear,” he whispered back playfully. He didn’t meet her eye, nor did he give any indication that he had heard her, but, nonetheless, his words spoke volumes and she felt a warm sensation spread through her body.
It was happening again! He was approaching another woman, this one staring quite fixedly at her wristwatch. Waiting for him, supposedly!
“Look up, you b*tch,” she hissed. “He’s standing there, waiting for you, so look up, damnit!”
And when that other woman finally did look up, the woman behind the blinds felt an overwhelming feeling of anger surge from within herself, the same beast of envy clawing its way up and out the confines of her soul. She couldn’t stand the feeling and slammed her palm on the wall, the brittle plaster cracking from the blunt force of the impact. Another woman! Another thief who had stolen him away from her! She was hideous, barely a match for her love of loves. How he could ever be attracted to the thief was beyond her, but there he was, currently within their own cosy little meeting, not unlike the ones that she used to have.
And now he was offering the thief his hand! Like he had done to her! It was the same with every single person he had met. Always the hand. She couldn’t stand having others feel the same strong grasp of that hand. That was her hand. It belonged to her. She wouldn’t stand for it.
Something snapped within her. The last vestiges of restraint were burned up by the uncontrollable, fiery wrath that sprung from the wells of jealousy deep within her blurry, conscious mind. She clawed at the wall, feeling her untreated nails gouging shallow scars into the plaster. “Geoffrey!” she screeched. “You cheat, you bastard, you beautiful bastard!” She screamed unintelligibly at the ceiling, cursing the heavens and fate for tearing apart as holy a union as theirs. Foul curses flew across the room, reverberating across the derelict interior of broken furniture and moth-eaten clothes.
She railed and ranted, curses and anger growing in intensity with every passing second, and then suddenly, from the corner of her eye, she caught a glint of cold steel from under a toppled bookcase.
“Because, as I was saying, this kind of deal isn’t easy to come by, you know. You’d be hard-pressed to find any service anywhere else with prices as cheap as ours.”
Geoffrey was talking about his job. Jennifer loved it when he talked about his job, even though she always tuned him out. There seemed to be something so incredibly masculine about a man with a job, even more so when he wore that suit and tie of his. She adored him in that suit and tie. And that voice! A sweet, rich baritone which floated delightfully into her ears, tickling her senses and leaving behind a splendid feeling of joy. She could listen to him for hours on end without actually registering a word of what he had said.
“Jennifer?” said Geoffrey abruptly, “Are you listening?”
Jennifer snapped out of her trance. He was addressing her. A slight thrill ran through her spine at such a trivial mention and she responded quickly, “Yes, my love. Always and always.”
The air around Geoffrey seemed to shimmer with light that had not been there before, and Jennifer, eyes wide and appreciative, found this only to accentuate his radiance. He spoke, “Oh my, where are my manners. You must be exhausted carrying that purse of yours.”
Jennifer blushed. She hadn’t been expecting this spontaneous chivalry, but that wasn’t to say that she didn’t like it. She was feeling a tad mischievous so she decided to play with him.
“Why don’t you take it,” she teased.
Geoffrey looked at her oddly; the shimmering light vanished. “I’m sorry?”
“Oh yes, Jeff, why don’t you just try and take it from me?”
As suddenly as it had left, the glistening atmosphere which surrounded Geoffrey returned, and he was back to his own playful self. “Give it here,” he said roughly, mischievously, and with a smile. Jennifer couldn’t help but swoon at this show of ferocity. He seemed to exude masculinity with every action. He was definitely her Geoffrey.
It was a kitchen knife, a boning knife to be precise. The blade had been dulled with age and was coated in layer of forgotten grease from a meal long ago. The woman picked it up carefully, still seething with pent up rage but with a greater degree of control than she had ever experienced in her life. Through the grime it gleamed and caught her face in its light, its reflection revealing a strained, reddish eye. For a moment, she barely recognised the foreign-looking reflection. It seemed too alien to be her. Surely hers were bright blue, a beautiful bright blue like Geoffrey’s were.
She peered more closely at the knife, passing a coarse hand over the accumulated dust and grime. The knife shone more brightly, restored to its former, stainless glory. She blinked and squinted in the dim light, struggling to make out her reflection. Had they turned red? She could only make out the slightest remnants of a blue iris through the acute conjunctival infection that shrouded most of her sclera in a shiny, crimson cloak.
Those were her eyes, and yet, at the same time, they weren’t. They couldn’t be.
She lowered the knife, and stood in the middle of her living room, breathing in the stale air deeply with her eyes closed. Without looking outside, she knew what would happen. Geoffrey would take his latest discovery to their favourite cafe. He would treat his prey to a coffee. He would chat her up for a bit. Then he would leave. He would see her a few more times after that and he would leave. The relationships, are far as the woman knew, were never sensual. She herself had never been to his home, and the cafe had been the only place that they would ever meet to talk.
But no more! She had waited a whole year for his return, watching painfully as he courted people other than her, his love spread diffusely over a dozen or so people. She had restrained herself from interfering, wishing love and fate to bring them back together naturally. The thin glass of the window was not the only block, it was also the mental barriers she had set up herself in anticipation for her romantic reunion with the only person she would ever look at twice.
The woman gripped the knife tightly in her hand, her gaunt, white knuckles shining through a pale layer of skin. Her breathing grew ragged, and her vision collapsed, replaced by a tunnel in which only one objective, one goal remained clear. The beast inside growled softly, tamed, but only by the promise that its appetite would soon be satisfied.
“Here’s your purse back, Miss Harrison,” said Geoffrey.
“Purse?” said a confused Jennifer.
“Your purse, Miss Harrison,” he repeated. “Thank you for the handkerchief, though I’m not sure why you’d ask me to get it myself.”
“I... Geoffrey?” said Jennifer. She was stunned. What had happened to Geoffrey? He was still as attractive as ever, but he seemed different all of a sudden. His radiance was somewhat dulled by this change in attitude, and the aura of confidence had dissipated without any notice.
“You look dazed,” he said worriedly. “It must be the heat. It is sweltering today. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes, yes, it must be,” she said quietly.
“Look, we’re almost at the cafe. We should get inside.”
She stepped out of the house with the knife held loosely in her hand, the warm sun of spring casting its harsh glare upon her waxy skin that hadn’t seen the light of day in ages. The light burned her --it rejected her unnatural presence, and she too felt intense displeasure at leaving her shelter, but something important needed to be done. She could no longer wait for him to reciprocate her feelings. She would no longer remain one of his plaything, cast aside deep in the bowels of his amorous memory banks. She would become his present and future, not just a blip in his past. It was fate.
Fiercely, she fought the searing discomfort of the sun and pushed forward. Fatigue gripped her body; she had not left the house or walked this far in so long, and the cafe seemed so far away. In her confinement, she realised her muscles had atrophied, but this time, something else was powering her movements. Where energy and chemicals had failed, pure spirit drove her on, pure love’s intent driving her to her goal, her destiny, her darling bastard.
Jennifer sat uncomfortably at the table, her hands placed nervously in her lap. She couldn’t bring herself to place them on the table due to how much she was sweating at the moment, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to allow Geoffrey to see her like this.
“Sweetie?” asked Geoffrey, “Don’t you want to order anything?”
Jennifer snapped to attention. He had called her sweetie. She looked up slowly and sure enough, there was Geoffrey, his shimmering aura of brilliance returning almost instantaneously without warning. “Geoffrey, my love,” she began.
Geoffrey was talking to the waiter. “Just an espresso for me, thanks." He turned to her. "Miss Harrison, today would be nice.”
Jennifer frowned and looked at Geoffrey. He stared back impatiently and cast a cursory glance at his own watch. She looked to the waiter, his hand hovering impatiently over his notepad. This was all so wrong. Why was Geoffrey acting so strangely?
“Madam...” said the waiter impatiently.
Jennifer had had enough of this nonsense. “What’s going on?” she demanded suddenly, her voice reaching an unnatural strain.
All voices in the cafe ceased as Jennifer stared wildly at the waiter, expecting him to answer her question.
People began to stare, some whispered amongst themselves. The waiter, eyes wide with surprise, struggled with words. “I’m sorry, madam,” he said after a pause. “It’s just I’m not sure...”
“What’s going on?” she demanded once more, her voice nearly cracking from her tone of voice.
“Calm down, Miss Harrison,” scolded Geoffrey. He turned to the waiter, “I’m sorry, I think the heat must be getting to her. Just a coffee for her then.”
“Right,” said the waiter nervously and left quickly.
“Jennifer, my darling, my angel, I need you to calm down,” soothed Geoffrey, placing his hand on the table.
Jennifer breathed in deeply, tears of frustration and confusion welling up at the corner of her eyes. “I just don’t know...” she sobbed. She extended her arm, accepting Geoffrey’s comforting grasp, his masculine grip feeling oh so right on her frail, little hand.
Geoffrey withdrew his hand quickly as though he were electrocuted. “Miss Harrison!” he said, shocked. “What has gotten into you?”
“I don’t know, Geoffrey, I don’t know.” Her tears fell freely and she buried her head in her hands, everything tuned out by her feelings of confusion.
Geoffrey watched this display of emotion uneasily. Slowly, he reached for his bag.
There he was, inside the cafe with some hideous b*tch who was obviously playing coy to draw him in. She gritted her teeth together in fury, the beast below shuddering against its chains of self-control and single-mindedness. The knife felt warm in her hand and she found that she was sweating.
With her mind locked on to that one objective, she entered the cafe, her sudden appearance heralded by the tinkling of electronic bells and the sudden silence which seemed to have fallen over the place like a blanket. The various patrons looked at the woman in the rags, her hair going every which way and where, with expressions of utmost astonishment.
Just as a waiter moved forward to show her out the door, she made the first move. “GEOFFREY!” she shouted wildly.
Geoffrey turned in his chair at the sudden mention of his name.
“YOU BASTARD. I’M HERE FOR YOU, MY LOVE!”
“I’m sorry, Miss Harrison. I didn’t realise you weren’t feeling well.” Geoffrey stood up and turned to leave. “Maybe another day?”
Jennifer gasped. “Geoffrey, no!” she breathed. She grabbed hold of his arm, her face a pathetic mess of desires and confusion. She wanted him, but she couldn’t understand why he didn’t want her. “Don’t leave me, please,” she whispered desperately, just clear enough for him to hear. She began to sob uncontrollably. Deep, wracking sobs which shook the core of her heart and extended to her arms which gripped Geoffrey tightly, unwilling to let him go.
She wanted to be by his side forever, to grow old with him, and all the while, see that smile replayed over and over again. That charmingly gorgeous smile. She needed it.
The whole cafe was staring now. Uncomfortably, Geoffrey returned to his seat, Jennifer still maintaining her grip on his arm. “Miss Harrison, are you feeling alright?” he asked, carefully picking her fingers off his coat.
“Geoffrey,” she whispered slowly, bringing her face up to meet his. Her eyes were red with tears and mascara ran freely from her cheeks, dripping onto the table below like black ink. “I love you.”
Geoffrey was stunned, rooted to his seat by the very force of the shock. He searched frantically through the databases of his mind for anyone he had met in the past who would do this, any irate ex-girlfriends, any over-enthusiastic encounter in a motel somewhere. He couldn’t put his finger on it.
The woman sitting across Geoffrey looked at him oddly. “Is that an ex of yours?” she asked.
“I don’t think so,” he said worriedly, face screwed up in concentration. “At least, I can’t remember dating anyone like that.”
“One night stand?” she offered helpfully.
“Not as far as I can tell. She knows my name.”
Jennifer, her eyes wild and face contorted in irrational anger, strode forward purposefully, the knife held menacingly in her strong grip. There he was with that b*tch. That thieving b*tch. That hideous thief who wasn’t even worthy of Geoffrey’s notice, let alone his love, however fickle. She would deal with her and reunite with Geoffrey, the twin strings of fate reuniting into a single strand once more.
She reached the table and looked down at the two, breathing heavily. She was exhausted and, if not for the power of her pure love, she would certainly have already collapsed from the fatigue. “Geoffrey,” she growled softly, and her heart melted. Butterflies erupted in her stomach and she recalled the sensation from the day of her final encounter. How nervous she was at expressing her love, how sure she was that their love was mutual, how confident she was of Geoffrey scooping her up in his strong arms and taking her away to get married.
“I honestly...” began Geoffrey tensely, “I’m not... Who are you?” he blurted out finally, his heart pounding nervously in his ribcage.
Jennifer’s eyes grew wide and the full extent of her shining, red, sclera was visible, a demonic representation of her soul which burnt with a fiery hatred and a deep, dark envy. The beast erupted from within, surrounded by a fierce aura of love’s hatred.
With the full force of the beast behind her, she slammed the knife deep into the plastic table.
Geoffrey was too surprised to continue removing Jennifer’s fingers. The sudden revelation had surprised him far worse than her breakdown earlier. He wasn’t even prepared for such an event, and he sure as hell wasn’t expecting this today.
“Please don’t leave me,” she cried softly, her face returned to staring miserably at the floor. Jennifer wept openly, without fear of shame, only wishing for one thing in the whole world at that time. Geoffrey.
Painfully aware of the myriad of faces that were beginning to turn to his way, Geoffrey composed himself and took a deep breath. “Miss Harrison,” he began carefully. “I’m not sure what to say.”
Jennifer stifled a sob, her breath caught in her throat. “Jennifer.”
“Call me Jennifer.”
Geoffrey took another breath. “Jennifer then.”
“Yes, my love?” she said, her face still turned away, her fingers still wound tightly around his arm.
“I’m at a loss for words. This is all so sudden.”
“But you love me!” she shouted at him, revealing for the first time that day, the faintest traces of her deep obsession.
“I don’t know, Jennifer. I sincerely don’t know what to say.”
“Just say you love me!” demanded Jennifer loudly, tears and mascara falling freely now. “Say it like you mean. Say it because you’ve always loved me, the same way I’ve always loved you!”
“But I don’t love you.”
A person screamed. Others followed suit and a cascade of patrons rushed out of the cafe chaotically, leaving behind half-drunken coffees and assorted pastries, intent only on escaping the slowly unfolding chaos of Jennifer’s confrontation. Geoffrey and the woman sitting opposite sat rooted to their seats in fear, neither having the courage to take action.
“Jennifer Harrison,” said Geoffrey in a sudden flash of realisation. His eyes widened in surprise as he recalled the events of the previous year vividly, now having a name to put to the woman’s face. “You’re Jennifer Harrison,” he repeated, not in fear but in bewilderment.
Jennifer seemed to soften under the mention of her name. The beast purred and she involuntarily loosened her grip on the knife by a fraction. “Oh, Geoffrey,” she said happily, “You still love me!”
The other woman eyed the knife with caution. “I...” she swallowed nervously, “I can see you two are... well. I should leave.”
“YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE, YOU UGLY WH*RE!” shouted Jennifer. Using an intense reserve of strength buried deep within her, she pulled the knife out of the table and immediately brought it down upon the other woman.
The other woman screamed and reflexively kicked the floor while holding out her arms. She fell on her back and the knife missed her by an inch, managing only to shear of a single lock of hair. She scrabbled away, whimpering pitifully to herself, but only managed to go so far before Jennifer brandished the knife in her direction, daring her wordlessly to leave.
“Miss Gilligan!” said Geoffrey in shock. He jerked forward in his seat, rushing to help her, but he was stopped by Jennifer’s hand flying to meet him square in the ribs.
“Oof,” he coughed while staggering backwards, clutching his chest from the force of the impact.
“Please don’t, Geoffrey,” said Jennifer with an air of artificial kindness. “She doesn’t love you the way I love you. It’s not meant to be.”
“Miss Harrison, please,” he gasped, struggling for air. “You don’t need to do this. We can settle this misunderstanding like adults!”
“Misunderstanding,” she screeched. “Is this all our love is to you? A misunderstanding? Some kind of cosmic mistake?” She placed a palm on her chest, looked into his eyes, and said passionately, her voice cracking from emotion, “Our love was real, Geoffrey. When I looked into your eyes, I could see heaven. When I was with you, the world could go to hell. Please tell me you feel the same way, Geoffrey. I really, truly need only you.”
“It’s alright, Jennifer, Miss Harrison,” said Geoffrey apologetically. “It’s nothing to be ashamed about. We all make wrong assumptions sometimes. I don’t feel the same way, and I’m sorry. I truly am.”
“But... I love you,” she insisted, her previous mask of confusion and sadness replaced by an altogether more frightening countenance of shock and denial. “You must love me too. You have to. All those things you said...”
“What things, Miss Harrison? A misunderstanding, that’s all this is.” He patted her hand softly and she loosened her grip, eyes still wide from denial.
“These past few weeks...” she whispered quietly. “You mean so much to me. Everything you’ve done... Please tell me that this wasn’t just a lie.”
“You’re imagining things, Miss Harrison,” said Geoffrey carefully. “Just put the knife down and we can talk. Put the knife down.” He lowered his hands slowly in a gesture of submission, encouraging her to do the same.
“You’re lying!” she spat. “Our love was real. You’re the one imagining things!”
“Okay,” he soothed, “but put the knife down first. I just want to talk.”
“No!” she shouted and waved the knife in his direction. “You cheat, bastard, Geoffrey. I’m not just one of your wh*res like that b*tch over there. I’m not like the women you’ve cast aside before after you’re done with them. I’m the real deal. I love you. You love me too. Can’t you feel our hearts beating together in unison? We belong together. We need each other.”
“Okay, I love you,” said Geoffrey, fearfully. He retreated backwards slowly, taking calculated steps away from Jennifer and towards what he hoped was the safety of the counter.
“SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!” she screeched, dashing forward and slamming the butt of the knife upon his elbow joint.
A cracking sound ensued and Geoffrey gasped in agonizing pain and gripped his broken arm. “I love you, I love you,” he repeated hollowly, desperately.
“It is a lie, Miss Harrison, a misunderstanding,” said Geoffrey. “You’ve been deceiving yourself, but that’s okay. Acceptance is the first step to recovery.”
Jennifer struggled as words came sluggishly to her mouth. “I don’t need to recover,” she murmured, bringing her eyes to meet his once more. “It’s not a lie. I haven’t been deceived. You’re in denial.”
Geoffrey allowed himself a slight smile. Instead of the usual butterflies, Jennifer oddly felt nothing from that one. It was a foolish, condescending smile, albeit a gorgeous one, but still. It felt like he was mocking her. He was truly in denial if he was that blind to their love. She would prove it to him. “You love me,” she said, and leant over the table.
***“But you don’t mean it!” she hissed wildly.
“I do! I’m not lying to you, I love you, so please, for the love of God, put down the knife!”
“You love me, but you don’t remember,” she said, fixing her reddish gaze frighteningly upon him.
“I remember. I honestly love you!”
“You don’t remember.” And without saying anything else, without allowing him any time to react, Jeniffer leant forward, her eyes closed, and grabbed Geoffrey in her arms, planting a passionate kiss upon his lips.
Geoffrey was stunned, but Jennifer kept him close, her lips refusing to part from her prize, her Geoffrey, her love. She poured her soul into that one kiss, all her hopes and dreams condensed into that one sensual moment in which she and Geoffrey were united physically by the thinnest of connections, the thinnest strands of fate which had finally become one after the countless aeons spent drifting in isolation.
But something felt wrong, and the strands parted, rejecting each other, incompatible by very design.
Geoffrey found himself too fearful to talk. He felt the kiss empty, hollow and without spirit. An amorous action born of primal lust and a need for a carnal companion, nothing more. No pure love. Nothing. Just that one cold, icy kiss which chillingly felt like the kiss of death.
Jennifer released him. “My lovely darling bastard,” she crooned. “I love you, and you love me, you see. We were meant to be. You cannot leave me so easily.”
“I love you,” whispered Jennifer, her eyes shining brightly with fresh tears, the taste of Geoffrey’s lips still fresh upon her own.
Geoffrey slumped back into his seat with an expression of shock. “What is wrong with you!” he shouted after a while. Without waiting for a reply, he got up, took his briefcase and stormed out of the cafe, leaving a sad and bewildered Jennifer in her dainty, white summer dress to weep all on her lonesome.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” said Geoffrey fearfully. “I just... can’t.”
Unrestrained fury burst forth from within Jennifer and she kicked him to the floor violently, the beast within roaring its satisfaction. She raised the knife to the sky. “YES. YOU. CAN!” She brought the knife down in a split second, but, at the last possible second, she noticed a glint of gold, and she felt an involuntary tear form at the corner of her eye.
Geoffrey screwed his eyes shut, expecting the sharp, stabbing pain of the blade which, oddly, never came. Gradually, ever so slowly, he opened his eyes a fraction and saw the horrific sight of Jennifer keeled over on the floor, blood beginning to pool around her shuddering, emaciated body. A red stain began to spread from her heart. Parts of the yellow dress mingled with the crimson blood and turned a momentary, horrible, sickly orange before being saturated completely by the darker colour.
Jennifer coughed out blood and Geoffrey crawled forward on all fours cautiously. She was crying, sobbing to herself, her eyes closed as the tears fell and created thick, viscous ripples in the blood pool.
“Jennifer?” asked Geoffrey cautiously.
In response, Jennifer simply collapsed, her body falling forward and driving the knife deeper into her chest. All the while, all through the pain, she continued weeping. “Geoffrey,” she sobbed, “Geoffrey... you bastard.”
Her lips closed for the last time and the tears stopped falling.
The ambulance flashed its red and blue lights silently and indiscriminately as a single person was loaded into a stretcher. Official reports would tell of a suicide and an autopsy would reveal malnutrition and bodily neglect to be a contributing cause, but Geoffrey himself knew the truth of what had transpired.
He watched from the pavement sadly as the EMTs shut the door and went about their job without the slightest traces of respect for the dead, blithely unaware of the emotional and physical pain Jennifer must have suffered.
“Was she a friend of yours?” asked Miss Gilligan bluntly, standing next to Geoffrey.
Geoffrey didn’t even register her sudden arrival and shook his head solemnly. “I barely knew her.”
“It sounded like you two were past lovers or something.”
“I just sell car insurance, Miss Gilligan. There’s nothing more to it than that.”
Miss Gilligan looked at him sadly. “Are you sure? You seem quite lonely.”
Geoffrey sighed to himself. “No,” he said sadly, eyeing the shining, golden band upon his ring finger, “I’m not.”
July 28th, 2011 (9:23 AM). Edited July 28th, 2011 by Cutlerine.
Break his heart, Estella. Break his heart...
I thought I'd drop by and read your story, since naming anything after the erstwhile owner of Satis House is enough to pique my interest, and also because you were kind enough to read one of my own stories once. I have to admit that it's definitely confusing. That's good, though; I like the way the various chunks of narrative are kept short and jumbled up, creating a sense of the fractured thought processes that power your crazy protagonist.
One thing that did give me cause for concern was the ultra-high concentration of adjectives and adverbs in some of the sentences, as here:
However, I suppose that they could be intended to reflect the protagonist's state of mind, made deliberately clunky to hint at discord within her head. I don't know. In fact, I've confused myself and have completely forgotten what else I was going to say.
Anyway, the main point was that I liked the story for the most part.
As Colombo would say, one more thing. I just noticed this:
Anyway, that's enough from me. Despite my criticisms, it's a good story and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I also accept your congratulations regally, with a barely perceptible nod of the head. Like a very, very wise sort of king. Or a rather annoying sort of king; I can't decide. And after rambling for a while, I offer my commiserations that you did not place higher, despite writing an excellent story. The competition must indeed have been fierce.
The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World * The Rocket Case * The Rocket Revival
Neither Here Nor There * The Beastman * Coriolanus Rowland's Guide to Pokémon Husbandry
Robin Goodfellow's Christmas Carol * Snow * Stranger Than Fiction
My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon * A Smell of Petroleum Pervades Throughout
For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
July 28th, 2011 (4:04 PM).
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August 15th, 2011 (5:37 PM).
(Better late than never...)
My word, you deserve some congratulations on writing one of the most ambitious and distinct entries of the year. Aside from the fact that you're not using Pokemon as a crutch, the way you had the parallel threads match so well was very impressive. The kiss(es) scene(s) in particular was a masterful touch; a seamless display of multiple perspectives and moods. I don't often see complicated narrative structures that are this well crafted in FF&W.
Maybe a little too well crafted, actually.
I hate to say this, but on my first read-through I got totally lost. You see, I had been under the impression that the second perspective was that of the woman who was meeting Geoffrey while The Crazy Woman was watching. It didn't occur to me that these two were the same person at different points in time until well into the restaurant scene, so I spent most of the time trying to reconcile contradictory details before just moving on in confusion. This may just be me, but I didn't get too much out of the story before I caught on and started over. Once I did catch on I really liked it, especially the way Jennifer mis-perceived Geoffrey's words. That was a great way of showing us her madness as opposed to just telling us about it.
I do have to agree with Cutlerine, though, that the concentration of adjectives and adverbs (especially adverbs) could get a little overboard at times, but it's not too serious. Also, sentence structure could get a little awkward, particularly with dangling participles. On the whole, though, and considering the time limit involved, this read pretty smoothly, and the language was anything but too dry.
It's a shame you didn't place higher, as your entry sticks out from the crowd in many good ways. Thanks for your generous congrats, and I offer you some of my own for this fine story. Here's hoping you really kick tail next year!
August 16th, 2011 (7:19 PM).
*Shrug* A hotfix, I suppose, would just be to tell people to read it twice to really get it, but that's all that it is. A hotfix. On the other hand, it doesn't seem worth doing a rewrite... haha.
Seriously, I always seem to busy this time of year for some reason or the other. Moving house this, internet maintenance that. Damn.
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