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November 6, 2011
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(Contains: strong language)

I

There was something about my world that I found unbearable. Maybe it was my own self-consciousness, screaming out bitter cynicism over the narcissistic indifference of my co-peers, in their drive towards a ‘self-emulated’ sanctuary from harm. Maybe it is a schizophrenic mania that cannot fathom the neurotic psychology harking at the devious fiends which is guiding the listener towards the plight of despair. Or maybe it was a frenzied Pink inside me, who wanted to close myself deep within my glass house - forgetting about the world outside of me... to become a Stephen-wolf of sorts, to misquote Hermann Hesse.

But that doesn’t matter... Or should it? Perhaps fate has cried out for whiskey far too often, and has reared its head towards me and what I’m staring at. A grave stooped high and mighty over a cemented platform hardened by granite chips and a limestone finishing of sorts that presents it as a tomb open for worship, rather than slabs of stone arranged to remember the dead and their erasing from this world where I reside. I laugh to myself, thinking about the hypocrisy that I have just believed in. There’s a cigarette in my hand - and if you’re wondering, it’s a white tipper - half consumed while staring between the tombstone of my dearly beloved and the world around her.

The cemetery is a stark place, but only if you want to believe it as a stark and depressing place to reside in. It is not; It’s the most peaceful place you can ever walk in. There is more discipline here - considering the “passed” as a populace - than anywhere else, with the caretaker proves the role of a ‘divine arbitrator’ for the populace.  It is highly regular and yet... yet, nature is at its most untouched and unscathed here. The trees, titanic beings encompassing - with the outreaches of their branches - a great extent of their residence, providing a respite from the Sun’s glare; there’re the flowers growing on the body of the dead, their almost ethereal presence protraying a contrast here in these stark regions of our society - untouched natural form of such purity it grants a certain queer attraction to the melancholic surrealism of this place; the tombstones that are themselves stories of the persons they refer to - it’s almost sadistic, the sense of wanting to know more about the dead person, and why they wound up here, alone, without anyone here except the few lovers and affectionate family members to ask about our state in the underworld (if they can talk back that is); there’s no mail or any form of reciprocal response we must return - that’s the responsibility of my family now, sweethearts; I’m off to meet my maker, to put it more crudely.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not promoting death in any form. But nevertheless, I shouldn’t be so harsh about this anger that pours through me - it cannot be helped. And don’t lie - you’re feeling the same way as I am; that sense of guilt that pours through you as you look at the one person who you could have saved. . 

II

That’s what I was going through when we reached the hospital.

There was all the medical jargon, which I wasn’t paying any attention to; Things like “IV” and “shock”; since every part of me was more concerned with please let her be alright, please let her be fine in the end.

Pathetic, isn’t it? That is how unbearable loss is when it smacks you face-first. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing!!! There is the harsh laugh deep within the back of your head that simply cannot be removed; there’s a cry of what you presume is a nightingale beating itself on a parched and jarred wall the spike scratching through the skin and chopping through the skin without mercy and remorse, only it isn’t a nightingale but rather the part of you that was screaming all your time with your loved one She’s gone! She’s gone! Despair! Oh bloody carves of Cupid as he’s strangled by Hades, if either had any spunk on them?! What am I to do? What am I to do?! Help! IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?! IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?! IS THERE ANYBODY?! ANYBODY.... ANYBODY...ANY...

But the sorrow doesn’t end there... Then there’s the desperation inside of you... the endless fraught sorrow of that poor broken self within you.... that kid who can’t speak for himself because he doesn’t know what’s happening around him.... the dog who’s going to be struck down without it being aware of what will happen... That unbearable plight felt through the lens of the unwary victim forced into the arms of Pain disguised as her jealous sister Pleasure, as Pleasure - what twist of fate - dresses as Pain to torment the despaired prey.

Her torment is unbearable. As I waited for something to happen, I closed my eyes and saw the memories of our times together. Yes, torment can make you have such gay thoughts - better that than a complete breakdown of the self, the world collapsing like the water of a fall pouring down its contents endlessly without fail - and the ones I was having weren’t very pretty....

III

It’s a park, an old but well kept autumn park with its falling leaves, its browning gardens; its creaked golden colored arteries marked by countless dark colored benches for the walkers in their endless walks towards... either en end or a means to an end. That’s what I was going through when I passed through it, needed to hurry for something which is too remote for me to remember.  Perhaps it was a favor to a friend perhaps; was a completion of something to do with me...? Whatever, I was walking through the park. And passing through I sat down on a bench.

I guess I was tired, or I was disgruntled and was too tired to suppress it, or I was to angry to be tired, maybe I was disgruntled over my anger in being tired, perhaps I was talking out loud to myself while speaking out such curious streams of my consciousness, when she asked me, “You seem like the literary sort.” And presenting out her hand she said her name and asked mine.

I was laughing at that thought then. I was laughing at it, still, in the hospital in my state of mind. And I’m still laughing at it now. Am I a literary sort? Does this garble seem like the definite literary arts to you? Does this avant-garde seem to even resemble - remotely­­ ­­- the fabric of literary ventures that society comes to accept from its “creative geniuses”?! Granted one of my deepest influences was Hesse and even Heaney at times came out an interesting choice, but I barely resemble them. For that matter, Joyce and Henry Miller aren’t even in the same league as me - the former simply a titan amongst self-speak, to put it more rudely, the latter its crudest albeit notoriously brisk manipulator. Either way I don’t consider myself close to the spunk that my influences poured out and published in the process. But she was right about one thing - I was a struggling writer and my inability to tolerate praise of my own work from anyone else whatever the degree of genuineness  of the persons whom speak - or spit - it out, often made me laugh to myself as back then.

It didn’t matter between her and me. We looked out for each other, always and all ways. Need help in that story, love? Sure thing, you’ll get it sooner than a’ crisp cut of the crust crack quack counting on his cart o’ corps o’ county Canadians counted on for candy’ is said ten times two times fast. And she would laugh at the end of it; Restaurant? Sure thing, we’ll go to the April, O’Donnell, Felicia Talbot’s, Toy’s Tacos, Schmidt’s, which by the way, weren’t the walk in the park - in essence they made the Burj look like a candy store. Of course that was my opinion I never told her about it. I now think I should have. Or at least I think I should have. Maybe I did, I didn’t remember back then or now, because I found myself transported through the numerous memories of good times on a plane parallel to but transparent from view - like the movie-goer unnoticed by the persons around them but either way looking forward to the ending of the movie so that they can watch the next one that will be on a few moments later. Only in my case, I was the lonely movie-goer watching the movies of my life without the persons in them - the actors for whom it was meant to be seen. And watching them pass by, day by day, by day, through the glistening twilight that marked the end of time - theirs - and then smiling back its fascist disdain for our kind. It didn’t matter to me. It never did. But it mattered to her.

IV

"Love, you've been really sad lately. Is everything alright."

"Its fine, don't worry. Things that are meant to happen will happen, and cannot be changed"

"But don't you want to live and be happy..."

"Happiness is a delusion of a bunch of poor, pitiable fools who still hold onto a blind belief, that life will work out, even though its spitting at them outright."

She looked at me; I didn't notice the feelings she was portraying, because I went back to my work. She snatched my papers and started to rip them, fragments upon fragments pouring out like snowflakes on a cold winter night when everyone has a family except the poor Scrooge who forswore happiness...

"There's happiness in your books! Look at all the fucks it gives!"

"It does" I answered, softly, because I didn't want to shout at her. I held back, but she didn't want any of it. She grabbed me by the arm, and with a glare so pure of concern, and so full of unadulterated frustrations venting out, her eyes looked into mine.

“Why don’t you accept your life? You can write happy thoughts, but you’re always depressing. Your strength isn't always your melancholy - WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME ANYMORE?!”

“BECAUSE I CAN’T BEAR THOSE IDEAS - BECAUSE I AM INCAPABLE OF THINKING FOR OTHERS WHAT I CAN BETTER THINK FOR MYSELF, BECAUSE I WAS BORN A FREE SPIRIT YEARNING TO FLAP MY WINGS ONLY I’D DO IT MY WAY AND IN MY OWN TIME AND IN MY OWN MANNER?!

There was silence for a brief moment, as the anger sunk in. Then there was the first thing spoken, from her...

“Life doesn’t work that way. You have to go on with the persons alongside you. They’re your partners throughout. We look out for each other -the pack that keeps to together the society that they belong to.”

“The pack can move on; the wolves have better ways to live life; there are greater grounds to be covered but it can only be done alone; society can never understand them so they prevent them from being tread. They shun the bright and pure among themselves and cast them away as filth - mongrels for the taking.... what would they know of us...?”

Bringing out her hand she said “There’s so much they can know if only you approach them. If only you are willing to open up yourself to them. Behind every wolf that bites there are wolves who are genuinely concerned about their loved ones.”

I view her hand with scorn - the very hand that I once, would view with acceptance, warmly; knowing that behind it was the very fabric of the sanity that held me together... I slapped it, knowing that sanity was never there... life was a madhouse made of glass, a killing zone flooded with mercenaries up for grabs where they can when it can be done... There’s nothing that could come their way.

“Society is an empty frail old woman past her age living beyond her means and far more nauseous for the society to bear.”

Even with such a slur, she laughed. Maybe it was the repeat, maybe it was a spat, and maybe it was laughter of a ghost in the shell that was deep inside laughing; laughing at the unbearable fragility that grasped its existence....

“You truly are the literary sort.” And hugged me.

V

Of course in the hospital I was weeping at why I was apprehensive over her response. I covered my head then with my hands and finally wept. Weeping at the bloody mindedness that prompted me into rejecting her genuineness; weeping at my own inconsistency; weeping at the unbearable shit I’ve meted out on people over the years; weeping out at the fact that I was the ‘great big what’s it’ that Joyce was referring out; that everything that I had ever lived was a lie - A Glass House made from the same material which ironically, it was meant against. The glass lighted up the fabric that, satirically, kept it together while keeping it apart. Was life a killing joke? One big laugh for an audience I don’t know but I'm sure knows me? A light in the dark that curved in such a queer way, the light’s purpose did not matter more than the awkwardness one felt when it curved anyways? All this poured out knowing that the inevitable I had been feeling all the time I was there had happened. That I inevitably knew the sense of the obvious when I found myself hearing the very words which had repeated themselves a thousand times, bashing the walls of my house made fragile for the sole purpose to collapse, was painful but unsurprising. That I knew that she was going to die was a repetition of what I had been feeling earlier.

He led me inside, and amidst all that paraphernalia and concoctions there was the girl who had held onto me with so much conviction, its propensity could have made a priest weep. She smiled such genuineness that was in its sheer intent purer in form than I could fathom - even as a melancholic grasper of the saddening realities of life - how naïve I was in my beliefs about life’s cruelty.

I finally held her hand - a fast I had held ever since that argument, knowing that it would not make any difference but nevertheless was a grudge I could not bear to let pass - and tried smiling back. No crying needed, I got that out of my system before arriving. No point looking like a weakling in front of her - that’d only make things worse.

“You don’t need to smile. I understand what you feel”

“I suppose so. But that isn’t what’s important right now.”

“I know I’m dying. And so do you”

I wasn’t prepared to hear her say that... so I closed my eyes and tried pretending it was a bad dream. But it wasn’t going to work out that easily... I opened them and looked at her, weakly...

“Why are you feeling depressed? I’m alright.”

I nodded, but deep within the back of my mind I knew it was a sadistic sense of pity that drove her into saying it. I doubted that when I felt her hand tighten around mine. She breathed heavily, the difficulty of death’s ugly head rearing its way through her made it even more intrusive in finding a silent way out of this horror.

But she braved it out. And bringing me closer, closer... closer... she whispered in my ear, “You always have been a literary sort. Someone I could never understand but admire deeply. Like those glass houses meant to house dolls of tremendous value which, because of their tremendous value, deserve to be shown to the world... To be cherished and...” she stuttered these words out, but her breath was caught. She inhaled heavily but couldn’t manage to take in anything... I looked at her face, staring at the sky upwards frightened... She exhaled, keeping her eyes open with difficulty. They eventually closed... There was no response after that... A single straight horizontal line on the monitor indicated the inevitable, that the worst was over, that the end had come, that for the first time in my life I acutely understood my own writing as a farce... a shallow depression that grasped my emptiness without once acknowledging my own hand in this disengaging satire of foolhardiness.

VI

I extinguish the cigarette, and return to reality... I find myself staring at the grave of the person I had lost so many years ago. I cannot control myself as I wonder why I wasn’t there for her to begin with... Whether I was that very person that night when she breathed her last... whether I was nothing more than an aberration that was inconsistent and empty... a lie presented in the face of life when in reality death was hosting a party for people like me and I had walked into the wrong place... maybe that was the case... maybe it wasn’t.... but either way, it didn’t matter. I laughed, and so did Fate... we both stare at each other. He glared at me over what I was still doing here, the fact that I had a boat to catch and I was wasting time over something that had inevitably happened. Because the grave next to hers had the writing of someone who had known her very acutely... someone whose name was the same as mine, who was born on the same day as me and who had died around the same date as she did. On his tombstone was an arrow, pointing to the back where it was written:

"There was something about my world that I found unbearable. Maybe it was my own self-consciousness, screaming out bitter cynicism over the narcissistic indifference of my co-peers, in their drive towards a ‘self-emulated’ sanctuary from harm. Maybe it is a schizophrenic mania that cannot fathom the neurotic psychology harking at the devious fiends which is guiding the listener towards the plight of despair. Or maybe it was a frenzied Pink inside me, who wanted to close myself deep within my glass house - forgetting about the world outside of me... to become a Stephen-wolf of sorts, to misquote Hermann Hesse."

VII

And with it I knew that my time had now come. I should be going now. I walked away from the grave towards the gate, and wondered what excuse I could give to the boat-keeper who was going to lead me to The Other Side. I felt a hand grasp mine. I looked at it, and then I looked at the person. I smiled. I had my reason coming along with me. Both of us smiling walked out of the cemetery, with our bodies dissolving into oblivion, backs to the end, free from the world and the gloomy past.

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EDIT 18th January 2014: I made minor corrections in some of the sentences, and I expanded part IV. It still keeps the essence of the story, and overall I'm satisfied with it.

EDIT: On July 26th 2013, My work was featured HERE! - an article by InspireTheUninspired. :woohoo: I feel grateful. Cheers, and happy reading.

Revision March 22 2013: Added roman numerals and made changes in the text as per 3wyl's critique... much delayed critique response actually ^^;. At any rate, I hope that people like what I've written here. cheers.

I had been meaning to write some kinda short fiction for quite sometime now but as was the case I got fucked by opportunities all the time. FINALLY, its here.

Its something I'm considering of getting published so if you like it let me know. I'm curious over how much I've improved (relative to other stuff I've written)

by the way this is based off a poem I had originally written. here's the poem's link fav.me/d5k1p1o

heh, yeah so here's it. Happy reading :D
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:icondannymechanist:
*clap, clap, clap*

well shezzy ... I knew you could write some deep stuff but you've gone and outdone yourself...

*crack* ok critique time -and constant with my own personal ritualistic ways I shall write my interpretation-

to begin with I really liked how the refrain in the end matched the starting paragraph and I agree that it really ties it together in a way only to make it more powerful. The scene descriptions are ofcourse not as graphic as I would have made them -you've read mine- but excellent in the extent that you give the reader a fair idea of what's happening...

The purity and rawness of the emotion of it is truly what sets it apart...

as for what meaning I get from it is a true lover, in mournful yearn for his dying object of affection, decided to take that voyage with her ... finally joining her in the end.

truly this one is deservant of any and all praise it has or will receive.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
6 out of 6 deviants thought this was fair.

:iconlaeneris:
I honestly want to thank you for directing me to this story again. I planned to read it a while ago, but it disappeared into the background...
This piece grabbed me and it wouldn't let me go until I had read all of it (which, admittedly, was a lot). I read it 5 times and I'm sure there is still more that I haven't caught yet, but if I dwelled on that this critique would never be written.

The first line is striking. Perhaps it's the fact that it says my world and not 'the' world that caught my attention.
I felt as if this story took me on a journey to see and hear things I never would've imagined on my own. Sometimes the words kept on flying by like a train, so it made it hard for me to follow, although I'll partly blame that on my own lacking vocabulary. I was relieved to see that this piece contained less of the more difficult words, if I can call them that, that you use in your works.

There were a few sentences that could do with some punctuation, for example: And don’t lie you’re feeling the same way as I am (I'd suggest a semicolon).
Also, there are some sentences that I feel would do better if you split them into two, such as No point looking like a faggot in front of her that’d only make things worse. These are just suggestions, though.

The relationship between 'you' and the girl is beautiful in all its descriptions. Especially the dialogue. It actually hurt me to read about her passing, and the fact that she never finished her sentence.

I have to be honest and tell you that I had never seen that ending coming. It truly surprised me at the time of me first reading it, but looking back, it makes perfect sense. Would he happen to be getting on the boat to cross the Styx? It left me wondering who grabbed 'your' hand at the end. My interpretation would be that the protagonist committed suicide to be reunited with the girl, although I suppose you're not going to tell me whether that is true or not.

The fact that the cemetery is described as nice rather than depressing was refreshing to read about, because you usually read about them being dark, haunted or forsaken and whatnot. With your description I felt a sence of peacefulness. The fact that this consist of two stories woven into one made it more difficult to follow, but also added more depth to the story. Actually, I was blown away by all your descriptions. They're perfectly worded yet they remain very raw in what they're actually describing.

I felt as if there's a lof of pent-up anger flowing from the main character. Anger and disdain for others, maybe for 'society' and despair at the way things go. There was a sense of hopelessness coming from the MC, but in situations like those, I can imagine that's what most people will change into.

What puzzled me a bit is the part where there appears to be a fight between them. I thought the first lines were her speaking, but later, it's said that she said her first words. I think Then there was the first thing spoken, from her... could be changed into something that would suggest she was the first to speak after the silence, rather than remaining silent up to now.

Sometimes the change in tense threw me off a bit, such as 'I view her hand with scorn.' It would imply that he's viewing it right now. That seemed a bit off to me. But overall it wasn't bothersome and I wouldn't put effort into changing them as the story works just fine as is. :)

This piece quite honestly made me feel as if I understand nothing about the world, but I do understand this - these are words that will be understood by those who have gone through a similar thing and wondered about their meaning by those who haven't. I know for certain that this piece will haunt my memory for at least a bit longer.

I have nothing else to say about this. Thank you for writing this. :clap:
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
7 out of 7 deviants thought this was fair.

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:iconshehrozeameen:
shehrozeameen Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
thank you for your detailed comment which analyses both the good and bad qualities of this work. I appreciate the energy you put into writing this and I appreciate your perspective on my work.

And now onto the critique itself. What I'll write from here onwards is me doing my utmost to not be rude or demeaning in any way. I understand that you are better grounded in literary criticism as well as critique and I did my utmost to keeping that in mind while writing this response. I do sincerely apologize if I came off rude or mean or even downright narcissistic in this response. With that said, I'm hoping that we'll have healthy disagreements towards this prose.

The whole story is in essence, the narration of one very emotional protagonist who is cynical, full of regret, and could possibly considered a fanatical hermit and introvert. The key word is could possibly be . With that said, most of the approach in this prose was meant to be that way. The latter response you had ("ah, I see. Nothing in there to suggest it, but I guess it's possible") was the exact same one I had when writing this.

I didn't have anything in mind when I wrote Glass-house initially, other than "I have to write a short story, come hell or high water". So this work took form in itself. The character and his story was a purely stream-of-consciousness thing, in hindsight. I just posted it as is, and let it be for... what... two years...

I did check up what approach this comes into. So far as I know and have read, its first-person protagonist centric stream-of-consciousness. I prefer considering it as the "Method" medium of writing (referring to "method" used by "method" actors like Marlon Brando).

Prior to the form you see now, this work was in dire need of repair. Imagine this same work, without the Roman Numerals, with more grammar mistakes. with erratic tense shifts, and with sentences that were twice as lengthy and verbose, and a lot more disjunction. It wasn't an easy read for me - I could've sworn it was the main protagonist speaking and telling its story. So I didn't touch it for two years till such time that I guess I was ready to help this work out.

When I started making the corrections to this work, there were a few things I worked on and made explicit changes to:

1) I still wanted it to be vague. If I gave the locations, or the time, it honestly didn't keep this character's... "study"... intact. One thing which I found common among all dA members who read this work, was that they could actually feel like the protagonist. In that respect, you, Lethus1 , PuzzledHeartBox , Laeneris , and 3wyl among the ones who wrote long and detailed critique on this work, all did in essence point towards the protagonist as being the lever of this work. Since everyone did like this guy for portraying what a desperate writer or a person would sound like given the situation and dilemma described, I couldn't bring myself into adding that much needed "reality grounding". So I stuck with Roman Numerals in case anyone wanted to read this work portion by portion.

2) I added a whole precursor explanation in "IV", in fact I made subtler alterations to the whole story that would make that portion fit in naturally.

3) I didn't want to make any changes which would require me to alter the ending. If I made it realistic - adding details of the ailment the girl has, putting dates or locations, making it much more "readable" - I'd eventually be altering the ending. Its the way I am - I'd have to eventually change or alter the ending and hence the whole story would've been lost. :(

4) this is in addition to 1) : I didn't want it to feel like a movie in any way. The closest I could get so far as "movie" feel was concerned was when, mid-way while I was writing the original draft of this work, I wrote it while listening to "A Simple Mistake" by Anathema (the "We're Here Because We're Here" version). Prior to revising this work, I had read plenty of short stories here on dA, I had equipped myself with more reading material from outside dA, I had seen movies that were themed on melancholy, and I just worked on listening to more Anathema. Considering that this character is a thoroughly developed construct, albeit one with a consciousness that is alive within the confines of this story, it worked out for the better.

As an author of this work, I'm satisfied whenever I read the story, so I'm happy (as were the DLD crew when they gave it a DLD - the only changes I made were as you see here).

Again, I do thank you for reading it (twice nonetheless) and giving your thoughtful insight to the work. And, again, I genuinely apologize if I came off like a snob, or an elitist or a narcissist, or all three. I hold your opinion with regard and in case I ever write a new short story for dA readers, I'll be sure to keep your PoV in mind. Just so you know, I've saved your comment in one of my folders. If that helps :forgiveme: Cheers. and take care
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:iconshehrozeameen:
shehrozeameen Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I appreciate the time, the effort, and the diligence you've invested in this critique. But I do not intend on further altering these sentences. Mostly because whenever I tried to do so (even with punctuation marks) I didn't feel satisfied. So I let them be.

By the way, I did make as many changes as possible in Zarak, so I'm looking forward to your opinion on the new alterations on it.

With that said, thanks for the critique :) I'm glad you liked the story, the credence in the characters, and you were able to find something worthwhile in your reading of this work. Thought you should know, I've kept your comments saved in my comment folders and go back to them often, so I take your opinion about this work with great esteem. Truly.

Overall, I'm glad you read this work :hug:
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:iconlethus1:
Lethus1 Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2014  Student Writer
 But I do not intend on further altering these sentences.  

Hey man, your gig, your call. I just give an arbitrary opinion from time to time, no necessary obligation to do anything but ignore me ;) That's nice to hear, even if you decide you'd rather not act on them. It took me freaking *ages* to find Zarak last time, hence it took so long to comment on it. Would you mind linking it to me again?
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:iconshehrozeameen:
shehrozeameen Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:hug: thanks for the comment. Appreciate it.

This truly is my best prose to date. Period.
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:iconpaperback-astronaut:
Paperback-Astronaut Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Student Writer
Well, so far. Think up some more! They may be better.
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:iconshehrozeameen:
shehrozeameen Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
hopefully
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