The second semester of my first year at Rice started this week. One of the things I’m most excited about is the writing class on short stories I will be taking. This reminded me of my first (and only) short story I wrote a couple years ago and I thought I would post this as the “before.” This was written for my 1st Master’s recital at CIM to be a companion to the Janacek Sonata for Violin and Piano. It is my attempt at a Russian short story. There are four chapters to go with each of the four movements. I only have a YouTube of the performance, not an audio recording so… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn6aSFfNsLo Credit and thanks to my dad for shooting the video, my amazing pianist- incomparable Pi-Ju Chiang and my pageturner, the extremely versatile Dorothy Ro. (Olympics Leapfrogging Champion 1999)
“ougghghggghh how could you!! How could you do this to me, after ALL that I do for you!” Her anger ripped from the depths of her bowels and she wailed, spitting and hissing at him. “I hate you! Why can’t you love me? Please please won’t you LOVE ME.”
The chandelier shook with every entitled step she took while he tried with empty gestures to persuade her to stop prowling, calm down. “didn’t we have good times?” she interrupted wistfully, wringing her hands together. “but you always have to RUIN US.” she clutched at his arm, pleading now…”don’t you love me? Don’t you? Can‘t we please move to the country? Away from them?” NOUOUGHGH. Her whole body quaked as she sobbed and pushed him away. Tomas protested, trying feebly to arrange his arms around her. NOUUGHGH!!! She was livid now, her lips flapping unintelligibly, bone white finger pointing at him. The decibel of her wails were filling the empty home, shaking the horrified chandelier, their pathetic situation being magnified in all the watchful crystal of their unused tableware as she launched again into her tirade. Her body giving way she was hunched on all floors crawling at an incredible speed. With renewed urgency Tomas tried to catch her, to stop what he was sure would be madness. And suddenly, turning to grasp blindly for him, her eyes misted over breathlessly “ohhh, but when things were good weren’t they just wonderful” warmth returning for a moment to her face.
He nodded sadly, regretfully.
Her eyes flashed, her grip, hardened talons leaving a mark. She seethed through her teeth “but you ruin us, you hate me.” her guttural growling stopped, face slackened, grip failing and her eyes were blank. “don’t you love me? Do you?”
In a fit of impossible strength and agility she overturned the tables and chairs as she rushed out of the room.
And full of proud disdain, she left him there, left him on his knees, mouth open at her madness. And a faint smile could be seen creeping into the corner of her mouth as she left knowing she had been triumphant.
Things were going well in their country home now, their daily lives routine and effortless. Of course, there were those insidious moments where the resentment and venom in their sides shuddered to the surface, sharpened unexpectedly and caused a malice and edge in their otherwise idyllic setting. But her gaze which at times turned hostile searching the blank helpless face in the mirror would soften and blur with tears. And she would relent to remembering
I remember those times, when we would tremble awake, content in this quiet grandeur. Our waking as sweet and confused as our slumber, the world fading to just you, just me. Time was speeding up or suspending, we were unsure..we were unsure about so much. Slowly shaking our heads at each other, disbelieving, marveling and trusting this…this thing that had happened between us, what made us both completely powerful and completely helpless.
And their daily lives were tender and dedicated to serving each other. Always, some small problem would arise causing sweet anguish and sadness but only ,it seemed, so there could be comforting holding reassuring I love you I love you I love you.
Until one day those little what-ifs flapped in the periphery of the mind, coupled with furtive glances and then that shocking terrible dismay, what a shame. small mouth gaping open at a party, and now a reckoning! And I’m dissolving here on the floor my body crumpled, face arranging and disarranging, a cubist nightmare, and everyone looking past their beaks at me can see the disgrace. I don’t understand please please don’t be cruel.. I’m helpless to understand, what does this mean? and your silence, your looking away, and then I understood
burn!!!!!!! ohhhh Burn burn it buuuuurrrrns. Jagged breaths, rasping grasping at the tablecloth at my beautiful dress don’t fall, defiant, shaking my head spitting I don’t believe you. oh! Collapse at your feet, please, I’m begging please please love me? you can still choose me. No! no!!!! ohhhhhhh and she could feel in her blood some dormant primitive creature relentlessly building infernally until at last, she screamed.
The scream faded in her mind as she returned from her remembering. And now she was despondent in their empty new home again, their empty marriage again. A shell of what they used to be, empty casing of who she used to be.
But there were mornings and days when they were surprised to find their quiet grandeur again, and to find it broader and richer. To find there are unexpected rewards of a love which has passed through disillusionment.
If you listen close to the fine glassware yet unpacked in their new home, you can still hear that scream resounding and echoing around and around trapped, like the strange music of ice cubes dropped in water, crackling sinking tinkling like small fissures in a marriage, a heart.
The whole outdoors was a percolating beehive of dreadful anticipating. As the train numbingly rumbled away she began her determined steps, unwavering in her decisions and righteousness. The wind and rain came down at her in torrents, slashing at her dress, tearing after her heels. Still, with a steely gaze fixed straight ahead she arrived. Her hands white and clenched, hair slick and dripping daggers of murderous intent. Facing the dark oak door, she raised her right fist, illumined by sharp knives of lightning and pounded three times.
There she was, in a long dressing gown, pooling around her skinny ankles like a dark red substance. Her blank eyes nonchalant and expectant. Nausea swept through me in waves. My throat mangled, I tried to cry or speak, but only strange sounds escaped, half-moans seemingly repressed by her hard demeanor. “Let me guess”, she began in her cold musical voice.. “You’ve come to beg for some kind of agreement? But how pitiful you are!” She laughed softly, derisively. Her smile abruptly wasted away from her face, she tapped her long elegant fingers against her temples. “Oh but this won’t do!” She pouted grotesquely, “I’m terribly sorry, but what could you have to offer to someone like me?” And now something within me was happening. Listening, I could hear strange bubbles in my blood engorging, filling slowly with solidity. My arm hairs were standing on end and I remembered again that things would be okay. That I would make them okay.
And now the indoors was buzzing with a strange green glow. The two women began their game of running around in the room, one so shocked by the audacity, indelicacy of the other, yelping aloud in surprise as she grappled on the floor. The other chasing her with a curved dagger, around and around, ripping at her dressing gown, (what was blood? What was silk?) biting at her heels until finally she collapsed on the other and her white fist clenched over her with the dagger, (illumined by lightning), let fall three sharp stabs.
She awoke with mild confusion, everything around her blurred and unfamiliar. Suddenly, accusations ricocheted in her head, ending in suspense. She unsteadily got to her feet and looked around at her strange enchanted setting. The accusations continued to interrupt her thoughts, causing uneasiness and throbbing head pain. Her gaze fell to a picture of Tomas on the dresser and her eyes softened; he looked so happy and handsome! But with fascination, she realized something was wrong; this was not a place or picture she recognized. Uncertain, she looked around the room for hints of where she might be, everything lavishly beautiful and strangely innocent. The assaults in her mind continued, halting her steps and causing her to buckle uncontrollably. And slowly… shudderingly, horror and despair were dawning on her. Could it be? What are these feelings? The truth, past and present were fitting together in their disjointed awkward way until she knew! She KNEW! She had done it she had killed!! The accusations towered now and throttled through her head, shocking her whole body while she looked helplessly at the sheath in the other room.
But I HAD TO! I HAD TO DIDN’T I? FOR US, for me…, I WAS PROTECTING US, oh no, no! more than that, I was SAVING US. I HAD TO.
Exhausted and tense with doubt, drained of any physical energy she sank to her knees. But yes, she thought, hands clasped to her heart…it had to be done; a wave of sickly righteousness rose in her heart only to recede in a final disillusionment.
She quietly wandered away from the room, returning to her country home. She could have lived happily ever after but for the crippling and unexpected accusations continuing to echo in her mind; a general sense of unease and fear haunting her every hour.