As part of my ‘Impossible list’ and summer challenges, I have started writing more. Needless to say that I enjoy writing, but writing in different styles scares me. Not scares me like someone jumping out of a cupboard after watching Carrie. I am more scared because it means that I am, in a sense, more vulnerable to criticism because I’m not used to this style.
In keeping with this theme, I have a short story about fear. The other day I was researching different styles of writing and this one follows the small detail concept. You centre the story around one item, may it be an emotion or a physical being. This isn’t about getting from point A to B, it’s about exploring a single dimension of A. From this, a springboard effect is created because if you wish to extend the story you can in so many ways.
Okay, so here is my first go at this kind of writing which is pretty far from my comfort zone. Enjoy.
The urge to dial the numbers that could unlock her happiness consumed her; enticed her. Just a stone’s throw away was the potential for everything she ever wanted- peace, love, freedom. Instead it was her own demons that cast away the light, burdened her with invisible shackles and sent her straight to the abyss.
It was John Steinbeck who wrote “maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other”. This quote, which resided in Amelia’s favourite copy of ‘Of Mice and Men’, made sense to her. The ideal that people were, in some way, the same. They were connected through the ability to fear, or be feared. The idea of this rang in her ears, never let her rest, and chained itself to her very being. This quote was to be the undoing of her character, but also her revival. It was to be more than a quote mindlessly read in an English class, to be robotically taken in to then be churned out by the institutionalisation of the education system. It would, in some ways, be the key to her freedom, but only if Amelia were to be fearless.
Amelia ran her delicate hands through her hair. The hair that she had inherited from her mother. It was a deep brown, darker than the richest oak. It fell casually around her shoulders, embracing the imperfections of her skin. Her slim figure was parallel to those of her looks, subtle and understated. Yet, she held a certain beauty. Only someone could understand this if they had experienced the world. She was so young, yet her face, her eyes, told a different story. But none of this mattered to Amelia. All she wanted was to be noticed, to not have to spend the minutes of her waking in this tempest of loneliness. She stood up from her desk chair and glided across her room, even her movements told a story; of a girl that wanted to be different. It was the book of ‘Of Mice and Men’ she picked up and surveyed. She turned over the page to read a few scribbled words and a number. As vaults are unlocked by codes, she could be unlocked by this number. This was the number given to her by a boy, James, in her class:
The light shone through he parted blinds, dancing across the blue tinted tables. Class had just started. Amelia walked in amidst the sea of students, clutching onto her notes. Just behind her was James, but he was running after Jessica, his girlfriend. The smile on his face was that similar to smile of a new born baby held in his mother’s arm. The innocence spread across his face shone light like the blinds did. It was only Amelia who noticed this, the subtle changes in his expression when he adorned Jessica with compliments, and the lack of from her. His hair fell neatly over his eyes that every so often had have to blow the blonde strands out of his way. Amelia sat down hastily, not wanting to appear as if she was staring. But this was too late, he’d caught her gaze and was not letting go. Getting the idea that Jessica was still annoyed at him from something that he probably did not even do a couple of days ago he gave up and slid over to Amelia’s desk. Without hesitation he said “Wow, you’re an ‘Of Mice and Men’ fan too? Most of my friends think it’s a waste of time, a book from a period not concerning us”. Amelia looked at him and said quietly
“Did they not live in 2008?” Surprisingly to her, he let out a laugh.
“Wow, the girl speaks. And she’s funny. Why have we never talked before, I swear we’ve been in the same class for around three years?” Amelia fluttered her eyelashes involuntarily and smiled inwardly.
“It’s been five. Maybe that’s because you’re so transfixed by your latest beauty?” She immediately regretted saying this, even though she has wanted to for half a decade.
“Ah yes! My undeniable attraction to the aesthetically pleasing. But if that is so, why have never exchanged words?” Before she could answer, he quickly put in “Hey! We’ve said, what, ten words and you’re already judging me”, her heart sank, “I like it”.
In this moment, however small to outside observers, she felt fearless. She felt dauntless. But that moment was whisked away as quickly as it came. “Jay, come and sit over here with me baby!” To this, James looked over his shoulder and adopted the previous look he gave his girlfriend, but to Amelia, it looked as if was less sincere.
“Of course, one sec’. I’ve always pipped you as a girl scared of everything, you don’t talk, you hide away in the shadows, why is that?” This question took Amelia by surprise, it felt to much, too personal for a first meeting. But because he made her feel so, well, alive, she looked at him in the eyes and whispered while the class was settling down: “maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other”. To this he looked taken aback and bowed his head.
It came to the end of class and Amelia had packed up her things and was ready to leave before she was stopped. The gentle touch of James’ hand was felt upon her shoulder. Her body shuddered, her breathing quickened, and she no longer felt fearless. James looked at her and said “Well that class was dull, but I was glad to have met you. If you ever want to go over the parallels of the current and past economic depressions, give this number a ring. I’ll be at the other end. Waiting”. And with that, he shone her a quick smile and clasped the hand of his, then, girlfriend.
It was that day that the character of Amelia had been released. Before then, she was merely a sketch, trying to colour herself in with books and quick exchanges with her parents. But now the time had come to not be scared of everyone, to not be frightened anymore. The time had come for Amelia to break the shackles that she burdened herself with. She picked up the weightless phone and stared at the keys. Her delicate fingers pressed each number in sequence, like she was following a melody. She looked over and held Steinbeck’s masterpiece up to her chest, as if to keep her heart from breaking out. The final number was dialled, all she had to do was press ‘call’. All she had to be was fearless.