Then I heard your voice, and I walked in your direction. How quiet was the world, how fast my heart was beating. How dead we were.
Objects are evocative; they hold stories. The writing challenge this week is to begin with an object.
It stood, alone, in the middle of the circle of stones, at first in darkness. As Siris got closer he thought he saw a faint glow. Was this a trap? He was very close now, another step or two and he could touch the weapon.
Clouds masked the moon, suddenly the world was very still. “In silence”, had said Isa, “remember me, be aware, be ready to fight.” He was, all his senses on alert. He was able to lift his gloved hand, but stopped.
He could hear the low humming, and knew at once it came from the stone that held the weapon. In slow motion he surveyed the scene: he was alone, with IT.
He took off his glove and seized the handle: at first the metal – if it was metal – felt cold, and heavy. Slowly, oh so slowly, he lifted the Blade. It was heavy, and he felt a slight vibration along his arm, in his hand.
The Blade was getting warmer and lighter. He felt its warmth now in his fingers, stiff with frost. He held the Blade high, weighing it, slashed the air around him with it: he could hear the impact against the cold molecules, as if a fine silk had been split with a razor.
Siris paused, looking at the Blade he held in front of him, now shining in the obscurity that wrapped everything. How terribly beautiful was the Blade! The fog was rising. And he heard them: the Titans were coming.
But he, Siris, was now holding the Infinity Blade. Suddenly the Blade was lighter, its handle fitting tight in his hand. As he slained the first Titan, with one blow, in a shower of dark light, his thoughts were to the Worker of Secrets, who had, eons ago, forged the Blade.
There are multiple ways of interacting with silence: purposefully leaving something unsaid, breaking the silence around a topic, or, quite simply, getting tongue-tied. For this week’s challenge, we want you to take the theme of silence and explore it in your own way.
The studio is empty, but then it is not: you are everywhere, in the books on the shelves, the records on the low table, near the sofa. You are on the keys of this keyboard, in the scent of you in the bathroom, in our bed, on my clothes. On my lips.
You are not far, you are here. Standing on the balcony, breathing in the icy air of Kreuzberg, there is no sound: snow covers the pavement, the streets. The city is silent, the pregnant pre-dawn silence, before the birds recognise the new day.
I come in, shut the door. I sense the little wave which travels from there, the corner of the desk where our secret lies, murmuring sweet and terrible truths: loving a ghost has its price, and being loved by her – by you – a higher price still.
How I love this city. How I love our silent place, full of you, full of us, overflowing with pleasures that have no names. And memories. I take your wooden face in my hands, its surface feels warm, like a skin. Those deep eyes seize me, as if to confirm your presence, but I know. I know it is your way of reassuring me, of telling me that I have already payed the price, of your love.
This is the start of a new day. Surrounded by you, I take the steps for what must follow: getting showered, getting dressed, making coffee, starting work. All the time, your eyes follow me, and so comes the inspiration: how not to tell the story, of a writer in love with his muse?
Photo: by Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Story inspired by Cheri’s picture, and an episode of Infinity Blade III.
Cautiously they move along the vaulted corridor, to their left the late sunlight breaking through the high inaccessible windows, to their right the ancient wall, in front of them the increasing darkness. An icy air is blowing towards them from the depths, at times punctuated with powdery red-hot ashes.
Patterns on the grey granite of the floor remain unreadable, perhaps the guiding marks of some ceremony. They know so little about the deathless: here is their kingdom, and there is no doubt they will resent the intrusion, the violation of their domain.
A piercing shriek resonates through the arches: Isa and Siris stop, silent, frozen in the crouching position, swords drawn. There is now no other sound than their breathing, nothing moves other than, slowly, the slight mist coming out of their lungs.
The air is now colder, as they resume their march, and get closer to the obscurity…
Just as they reach the last arch, still lit by the declining rays of the sun, they see an opening on the wall, away from the light. The bricks disappear, replaced by older stones: fearless, they chose to walk in that direction.
“There is still some light,” says Isa, “it must be coming from somewhere…”
The floor is now uneven, and to the geometry of the bricked arches has succeeded the irregular surfaces of an ancient tunnel. They realise that the floor is gradually edging down, a slow gradient which means they are leaving the upper structure of the castle to enter the subterranean world of the deathless.
Isa’s foot hits a light object on the floor: it’s a bone. Soon they walk through layers of bones of all sizes and evidently human. “Here we come”, says Siris, as they reach a circular space, with multiple corridors branching out of it. In its centre is a small platform, anchored on a metallic pole which rises through the ceiling. “We’ll have to wait,” says Isa, “that’s a lift, I expect one of them to come down just there, and others to appear from those corners.”
Siris smiles. Swords in hand, they wait, back to back, the way of the Samurais.
As the first Titan appears, they kiss – and holding their blades low, they wait for the first blow. Soon they are surrounded. Soon the old stones are covered with the dark blood of the slain Titans. Again and again the monsters try to separate them, and fail. More Titans are disgorged from the corridors, but as the space is too narrow, only a handful of them at a time can face the couple.
So it comes that Isa and Siris are surrounded by the bodies of the Titans. Their only way out is the lift. They edge their way toward it: they are now standing on it, keeping the nearest monsters at bay. Obediently the small platform rises up: through a narrow opening of the high ceiling they reach a vertical column. It leads to the Worker’s room. And there he is, flanked by Raidriar.
“Welcome to my humble dwelling”, he says with a snarl. Silently Isa and Siris take their positions: Isa will deal with Raidriar, and Siris with the Worker. If one of them fails, they will have to do the journey again through those empty corridors…
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. “
This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Leave your moccasins and bunny slippers at the door, and tell us a tale from a fully-immersed perspective that is not your own.
To say we know each other – in the modern and medieval sense, in the sense of belonging, of having all rights on one another – is a sweet understatement, for some years we have done just that: swap lives, you becoming me, and me you. Just a gift we have, you and me (and vice-versa.)
I cannot be sure of what you do when you are me (and when you tell the tale, I know that you use, as they say, poetic license…) but let’s say that being you is for me the source of infinite wonder. For long, years before meeting you and becoming your alter ego, I have wondered what it would be like to be someone like you: not just attractive, but someone who draws attention to herself, wherever she is, whatever she does. Someone who sends men dreaming back to their youth, or shivering like teenagers.
This is opposed to me: the average, normal (if overweight), grey human being, at least in appearance (I dress better since we are you and me). For, as you well know, in my case you have to peel off more than the clothes to discover the truth. But you? This object of glamour, this irresistible sex appeal, how could one handle this, days after days (I will omit the nights for now)?
Well, when we gave it a go, the very first time, all those years back, I was nervous. I am not used, or at least I was not then, to the slim body, those breasts, the looks on me, as soon as I was out of the house and on the sidewalk. Then this way of walking… The female walk is already something to behold, in most cases. But in yours, this reaches another level. How I understood then the way you dress, those shoes, those perfect panties, the long skirts, the elegance and at the same time the practical view of all of it. And I also understood why you enjoy being with me, out there, your silent yet lethal bruiser. The discrete man escorting the angel of sex.
So I learned the walk. I learned to wear those delicate silken things. What a change to the T-shirts and shorts that normally equip your mate! I learned to make up, the way you do, this thin and sophisticated veil of style just saying: I can afford this stuff, but I don’t need to over do it!
But walking, wearing those wonderful soft woman’s things, that is the simplest part of it. Being you, borrowing, as it were, your look and almost your mind, while still being me, is still a challenge. I walk into this bar, where we are supposed to meet, that is you and me, a little later. I sit at the bar, immediately attracting the attention of a dozen males. I think – being me despite the look – what are those zombies after? After five minutes one of them takes his courage in his hands and comes closer for a chat. I tell him to get off my sunshine. He’s rather surprised. Then I, rather, you, come in. We kiss. Ahhh! Being you, kissing me. I admire the bulk of this discrete husband of mine. So calm. So kinda normal!
I drive, me being you, driving this racer of ours, your car in fact. I have changed my shoes for your flat sneakers, wear a pair of your provocative shorts. Can I ever be used to possessing those thighs? Your hand, that is my hand, wanders along one knee. O my gosh! This feeling of being wanted by me, I mean you… And yes, I admit, that is the best part of it: being you being made love by you, in fact me. Maybe another time?
I just know, having walked those streets as you, but knowing that I soon will be me again, I know how lucky this guy is, really.
Imagination, or muse, she’s influential, and, very, very pretty. The more inaccessible the prettier: it is well known…
So, I know, the day she goes, the day she disappears from my life, will be the day I die. She will go and find another host, another malleable soul.
Today I am not ready: I want to live longer, and write, and keep admiring her, the long legs, the heavy breasts, the smile of a young goddess, the lips of Aphrodite…
You will tell me I’m a fool: just write her off in your novel, and you will be free, it is that simple: write and free yourself.
Melissa, Joan, Nina, Elsa: how could I forget you, my heroines, the ones I worship, in the midst of darkness…
When I face my Maker, I will say: I have lived happy, under her gaze, blame me if You wish, she is the one for me.
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It’s 2AM and your phone has just buzzed you awake, filling the room in white-blue LED light. You have a message. It’s a photo. No words, no explanation. Just a photo. Tell us all about it. And what happens next.
Yes I like the picture, I like the ring, your ring, where the ring is, and what is around it, close to it. And I am staying calm: you are, after all, some four thousand miles from me, and even making a start now, it will be a good twenty hours before I can get there, and touch your ring… So far away you are, my treasure, and your country is still a mystery for me – as you are. Its 2 in the morning here, so it’s five in the afternoon for you. I have just noticed, the pic is just now, a few minutes back. My mind is racing. Not for long, I know this cold determination. I’ll catch the next available flight. Here is my picture in the meantime…