An Almost Metaphorical Death and Rebirth
Nicole had just finished her shift at Ciao Mayers! Law Firm when she knew that today would be eventful in the worst way. She had been working at the firm for some 5 years and found it unbearable tedious work. Being a lawyer wasn’t her dream, but being an anthropologist would have to take a backseat to financial stability as Dawnwood was not forgiving in rewarding odd jobs. Dawnwood was an interesting and beautiful city, chalked full of buildings that scraped the sky, constantly changing and leading the way for innovation by taking down the old and setting up for the new! Though, after living there for twenty or so years, she felt that it would not be enjoyable to stay in Dawnwood for long, as it became quite clear that it lacked adventure. It was as if she had been stuck in a black box where the key was an especially tricky master’s degree in anthropology. Though, living in Dawnwood was far from unpleasant to live in. Everything was so homeostatic, like shaving the excess flour off the measuring cup and being left with a perfectly flat cup of flour. The pavement always shone bright so even when you were down, you could see a beautiful face. The people you saw then were the people you saw tomorrow and then the day after that. The sun would stay in the same place, mimicking your path as if to bring warmth to an unseen cold front. An unforseen cold front indeed.
Today, she left no different from her usual hike of left left right left forward forward left left right diagonal to her quaint apartment in downtown Dawnwood; she still smiled as people passed her and still let some cars pass her as she crossed. Yet, the constant pace heading towards the apartment’s rusted gate still felt equally nervous and normal. And revealing the chain of keys from her waist strap that opens the doors felt no more fearful that she should have. Nor did the seemingly endless flight of stairs that lead to the top of the brick building. Every other step wooden then carpeted, the walls shriveled over the years. But then she felt it; standing on the final unkempt wooden stair leading to a dusty, windowless hall. The unseen cold front. It was there for almost a millisecond before it slunk back into the depths of her mind; rendering her mind helpless to her mental thin slicing, sending shivers down her tight grey blazer. Though she paid no mind, she soon felt that it would have been wiser to have heeded its warning.
Slightly jared, she hurried down the carpeted halls to the end where she finally felt the chill reach her spine as she reached for the door. The door. The door. the door….why the door? Doors lead to paths, and paths lead to happiness but why does this door feel like an unspoken sorrow? Like something cold had touched the frame, and the frost burrowed into the fibers, entangling itself into the wood, and making something cold that was once warm. Fumbling with the chain at the beckoning of her anxiety, she unintentionally burst into the room as she realized it wasn’t locked to begin with. Then it hit her; the inescapable and bludgeoning void which she had already known yet never seen. There lay her husband, motionless and crumpled next to the fragments that felt real but also planted by her mind. Suddenly, she couldn’t even feel herself move as she ran to his side. Alive. Alive. alive. He was still alive…his heart beat. His heartbeat was all she could hear, filling the gap in my mouth and reverberating through the halls crowded with a dense fog of nothingness. It’s so loud, why can’t anyone else hear it? It’s everything and everywhere, how can they be ignorant to the sounds of destruction on the other side of the wall? It felt like everything, and yet she felt like she was an onlooker at her own pain. It felt like the pillars of bookshelves were blocking her voice so she threw them to the side, careful to avoid her unconscious husband. Then the door again. Swung open with a *thud*, to reveal the saviors of our collective pain. Thrown onto a hamper sullied by blood, sweat, and substances unknown, carried away into the fog, and left to myself; the world seemed smaller suddenly. Like the things we had suddenly multiplied in size, and now they were the giants and I was something meek beneath them. And everything still hurt: the floor burned my knees, the air crushed her lungs, the gravity hunched my back and hurled her tears into the frozen wood floor. The single window’s light illuminated a small square on the floor, meters away from where she sat. She grasped at the fragments and felt an all too real pain as they burst my hand into flames. And her darkness descended like a wooly blanket thrown over your head.
Dreams of a day long since passed filled her head; days on the farms of Dawnwood where she grew up with her loving mother and father. Days where the uneven wooden porch and polished home were all she ever knew. Days where grain fields were picture perfect and ready for a good trodding through. But the picture burns. As she runs through the fields, the wheat turns into a bitter darkness, surrounding her. She stops and watches the world burn around her, and when she stops, she feels something shifting underneath her and suddenly, she’s standing among a pit of snakes.
Then, she’s awake again. Startled awake by the crashing waves of reality and dream. She feels like she can’t think, she can’t see, she can’t hear, SHE CAN’T BREATHE! But she can, and she knows she can, but reality and dream and crashing against each other in a feeble attempt to keep herself together. Stumbling down the stairs, through the door, through the gate into reality, she is hit by the light. She thought it was bright a few hours ago, but now it feels like a suppressing beam of frustration. She can’t think. She begins clawing at the bustling crowds of people, begging them for help, gazing intently at them through her disheveled brown hair. But no one gives her the time of their day and they move on…It’s as if they were simulations that when they rounded the corner they suddenly stopped existing. She can’t remember anymore. She can’t remember if someone did help her. Or if someone had thrown a few coins her way and told her to get herself cleaned up. Or if someone stood and watched her without saying anything at all. And then, she’s lost. She runs. Who knows where, she certainly doesn’t. She just wants to run and escape the darkness, but the darkness has tainted everything she loved. Then she trips, and falls to the ground, forced to look up at the grey sky of deception that once was a light blue of innocence. Yet, in her mind, she feels a sudden flood of joy approaches her and then it hits her. It was less that it hit her, and now more that it was blocking out the beams of suppression. A young boy, maybe 16, blocks the sunlight, peering down at her, sympathy and empathy in his eyes. He asks if she’s ok and it surprises her and makes her a little happy inside, like getting the highest marks on the test you didn’t study for. She sits up, gently assisted by the stranger, and moves to a nearby bench behind a recently disassembled train station, silently followed by the young boy.
And then, it comes. The feelings that once felt fleeting and futile. Nicole’s sorrow, her husband’s pain, her feeling of helplessness, his frailness, their life from now; nothing returned to everything and that just felt like enough. She wailed the cry of a bird freed from their long prison; a warbled cry growing in magnitude and enough to convey herself. She wailed for herself, she wailed for her husband who would never be the same, she wailed for the home they built, she wailed for the future they wanted to make, and she wailed at the people who couldn’t care enough to care. She leaked her life to this ultimate stranger, who in turn gave her the comfort when she needed it. Consoling her mind, mending her body, being a human who would listen. His sympathy felt like talking to an empty room with empty bottles that collected her voice and stored them away. He let her stop, and gently introduced himself as Elton, a 15 year old studying at Dawnwood High, living in the cemetery untouched by change. She talked for hours to this Elton boy who had the most compassion out of everyone she had met today, finding herself looking into his black and comforting eyes through his wavy jet black hair that eased her slightly. The feeling of dread almost drained from her, like emptying a pool and watching the water drain onto the street; having it trickle down the curb and into the curiosity that are storm drains. And then…they talked. They talked about their lives, about their hobbies, about their quirkiness. She asked why he wears black clothing and a hat with no top, he laughs and responds in a deep yet simple way. He asks her why she likes anthropology, she grins and explains the beauty of history to him. They both ask about the other’s daily lives, and they both laugh at the other’s stories. Then, she excused herself, as the night crept out from the horizon to steal the sky’s color. She thanked Elton for showing infinite gratitude, and headed towards her home. And while walking, she felt something different, like the same but also new.
It had been several months since the burglary, and the perpetrator had been caught. She was a young woman from out of town running from some unseen evil. Though Nicole cared very little for the sad excuse of the woman as life had moved on without the sad little woman. By this time, Nicole had grown; she became much fiercer, much more protective, more cautious to say the very least. She no longer stopped for the cars as where did they need to be at this time of day? ‘They can wait’, she thinks to herself as she continues her trek to the apartment. Now, she fears nothing when walking up to the gate and unlocks it at a leisure pace, as if anyone got too close, they would find their eyes burning with regret…and tear gas. Now, the endless stairs lost their magic and returned to a six flight set of stairs. Now, the door is again filled with warmth and a lock that shimmers blue and glows an aura of protection surrounds her doorway. And she walks, without hesitation, to the door, unlocks it, and steps inside a home filled with hope, with a devoted husband just out of sight waiting for her.
Because people like to know about the “behind the scenes” process, add an “impressive” screenshot of your Audition Short Story Audio file and add a caption to explain what the image is about.
Soar: A Narrative Project
In this project, Cat Ciao, Brandon Choi, and myself collaborated to create a minute-plus animation. This follows a woman who becomes liberated from her abusive relationship with the help of her laundry. Below, you can see the storyboard created by Cat that details an overview of the story.