Author Topic: Clarity. Please critique!  (Read 1096 times)

Offline musicbaby01

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Clarity. Please critique!
« on: August 18, 2008, 12:17:09 AM »
My first fiction piece, and feedback is greatly appreciated! This is the preface & 1st chapter.

Thank you everyone!

REVISED 8/19/08

   At any given moment, somewhere in the world someone, or something, is dying. Some will pass without anyone caring… let alone noticing. A disappearance that leaves more clean air for the rest of the breathing. The butterfly effect that would never be felt.
   Then there are others that exit this world with excellent fanfare. Pictures and memorials plastered end to end of this world, only now reflected upon in a time of passing.
   If anyone cared to reflect on the person as a human being with flaws, vices, and addictions… that would be uncalled for, inappropriate, and insensitive. But isn’t that what being “human” is? Or do we erase those unfortunate memories (give them a ‘Get out of Hell Free’ card)? Do the dead remember before their passing, or do their memories begin with their new “existence” and they are left with a blank slate?
   According to Kyrie, our heroine, it is our duty to remind the living of their human tendencies and failures, in order to teach them who and what they will be when they do reach the end.
   Death only exists as a hiccup between human and being immortal. But like a bout of hiccups, is there a sure-fire way to cure being human?


Saccharine, rinse, repeat.
Sprinkle with softener,
And launder to taste.

   It was her turn to feel what it was like to feel wanted. Whether that was good or bad, would be up to interpretation. Wanted in the sense of comfort, stability, and warmth that envelopes you’re very being…. Thoroughly predictable. Though she never felt the sensation of being that breed of “wanted,” it didn’t appeal to her survival.
   Silence’s whispers of greatness swirled in, out, and through her ears, tickling her mind with an excitement of calming suspense. Knowing the next sound would be the death of said Silence, Kyrie wondered if he would be offended if she spoke at his funeral.
   Kyrie lived alone in a small brick building on the edge of a sweltering cold forest home. Passerbys would often take pictures of the lot as it crept closer to feeling condemned. Her humble dwelling had graced novelty calendars embracing rich “antique” scenery, and was photoshopped into nature wallpapers that middle-aged women serenely escaped to on their computer monitors. They wished they were here among the quiet trees where the cool breeze always flittered past, dancing and breathing life into their cheap $10 strip mall haircuts.
   Kyrie always loathed stereotypical women. How easy it must be to play a part most of your life. Expectations are low, overhead is minimal, and any sort of slip on character can be attributed to “having a bad hair day.”
   She grew tired of sitting in the patched sunlight and ventured out to the creek. Besides Silence, the sounds of clean air were her welcome company.
   Packing up a small red woven bag of paper, pen, sunglasses, and an apple, she ventured out the front door. She walked calmly and clearly, never raising her heartbeat, due west towards a clearing she escaped to as a child.
   The forest canopy provided the right amount of shelter, yet left her with a pleasant sense of vulnerability. Kyrie sighed to Silence, “I told you I would be back.”
   Most girls at some point in their life have kept a diary. In this rare moment, Kyrie was no different. Only she treated her writings as a manual to her existence, secretly hoping it would be found one day after she had long passed on.
   She wrote, “Today something feels different. I can’t quite pin point what it is, but I can taste it in the tension of the air. Something is very wrong.
I heard sirens for the first time in a very long time so close to the house. I normally wouldn’t be so paranoid, but that was just it… I didn’t mind to have them near. In fact, I wanted them to find me. But I don’t know why… it was a strange feeling. I don’t think I would ever be use to it, but I don’t think I would mind it either.
   I don’t know who or what they were looking for, but I know it wasn’t me. I’m not missing. Nor do I care who is missing.  Something caught my attention and I want to know what it was. I could have sworn I heard voices earlier, closer than the sirens, but I couldn’t make out any words. Perhaps I was imagining it all- the voices didn’t sound human, but they weren’t of any animal I’ve ever known to live around me.
   My plan is to keep up my guard. Maybe I am getting a little bout of cabin fever. It’s been too long since I had last played the game. What a guilty pleasure.
My muse will come along soon. When the time is right, I will make my moves.”
   The pen came to a sluggish halt. Peering at the parchment, Kyrie knew exactly what she must do next. With a loud crunch of a bite of apple, she sounded the game to begin.
   Gliding silently along the unseen path, she hurried to her solitary haven with high hopes and hungry steps. This was brilliant.
   She was almost to base when she spotted something haphazardly hidden among the piles of dead leaves: a lonely discarded royal blue shirt, complete with a through-and-through incision. Kyrie picked up the top to examine her luck. It was a very nice shirt, it matched her eyes. Shaking off the dirt and leaves, she stuffed it into her bag. She would deal with it when she got home.   
   She grew up in the house with her mother and father, and continued to stay though both of her parents passed on. There was no fanfare, no memorials, and no extravagant speeches on the inspiring legacies they left behind. 
   There was no rent to pay, no utilities, no luxuries (she did envy her mother’s ability to revolt against technological advances), and most important of all: no neighbors.
   Kyrie kept to herself most of her life (minus the interruption that was high school), and she developed a love/hate relationship with the idea of even venturing past the vast line of trees to the west that separated her from the great concrete jungle of society.
   She was the silent rebel that lived and breathed a world where some say unicorn and pixies existed. She would laugh a small breath of sound and flash a shy saccharine smile and secretly day dream of the pixies poisoning the fairy princess as the unicorn crossed the rainbow bridge to stampede and slaughter the silly little squirrels. Little did they know that unicorns were carnivorous.
   Kyrie crept through her doorway like a teenager sneaking in to her bedroom at hours all too late, bursting with curiosity. She set her questions aside and flipped the switch on her modest television: her only means to make sure the end of the earth wasn’t happening while she was secretly tucked away in her own world. The light of the screen illuminated the room: the world was still safe.
   Such a disappointment, where’s the excitement in that? Kyrie let her focus drift away what was on the TV to what was hanging out the corner of her bag. She set the new-found garment aside, and placed her stack of writings back in the usual spot under her mattress. Typical.
   A voice broke her concentration and pulled her attention to the picture of a teenager on the screen.
   She was wearing the blue shirt.
   “…have reported that the girl has been missing for over 48 hours, and was last seen in the Lake Washington area. If anyone has any information on her whereabouts, please call the city’s Silent Witness toll-free number...” The screen went to snow.
   This was perfect. Kyrie smiled a brilliant toothy grin, she already knew what she was going to do next. How much fun was it going to be…
Although she was seasoned with much more knowledge, experience, and understanding than a typical female of 23, she bore no evidence of stress or strain. It was easy for her. To play the part.
   Kyrie’s sense of clarity translated to all that could surround her. Her eyes housed the clearest of blues and her skin unclouded by pollution or sun. She prided the purity of her appearance to the purity of cleanliness: no one or nothing could blemish what she had created if she was always in charge.
   She had a way of blinking things into play with her patent sapphire eyes, and all would be right in her game. A match she played like chess; she mapped out her plans and conquered all until the board was barren with only her, the victor, to indulge in the spoils of the defeat, never wanting to taste the lucrative prize.
   To survive the wolves that prey on the weak, the talentless, the simple, that was the greatest exhilaration: to watch those around her crumble while she had a leisurely ride to the top. Alone.
   And on this seemingly perfect day when the sun peppered the forest’s canopy with flecks of gold, Kyrie’s life would flash in slow-motion; a hunter would surface to claim his rightful trophy. A worthy opponent with skills almost unmatched by any other, maybe even greater than Kyrie in all her glory. 
   A battle beyond measure. A battle never seen in our lifetime, only matched by the wars of the gods told in myth. Someone would not come out alive.
   Kyrie sat alone in the silent surroundings she called the four walls ‘home,’ feverishly repairing the shirt she found earlier that day. That someone must have left it aside or dropped it on a brisk summer’s hike, either way it was hers now.
   She threaded her needle with ease and began mending the newest addition to her clothing arsenal. As she passed the needle through the cloth again, her mind wondered on the person to whom the shirt had belonged. The size of a teenager, or someone petite, the same size as Kyrie.
   It smelled of berries and candy, the sort of fragrance a young girl would wear. A scent that only a girl in high school would think would entice her suitors.
With how strongly it smelled Kyrie could sense the girl was obviously trying to impress someone. Perhaps she was with them when she wore this shirt? Maybe there was a reason it was forgotten in a remote side of the woods. Maybe it did serve its purpose.
   Kyrie slipped on the finished top, and with a flip of her straight golden hair, she immersed herself into the idea that overwhelmed her. With a sigh she looked into the spotless full-length mirror and was disappointed with the thought of how easy it must be.
   She almost dismissed the whole scenario entirely until her silence was broken and her concentration replaced with an alarming sound.
The sounds of crackling footsteps surrounded her and burned into her ears: a visitor. Visitors were rare, few and far between, and never brought anything that could even be near to a good omen.
   Kyrie’s mind raced to the conclusion that maybe there was a reason the shirt was left behind, taken intentionally to leave a scent trail. She carefully peered out the window to size up her competition.
   Through the clearing she saw a boy, no older than 17, kicking leaves through the brush, obviously searching the ground for something of great importance, never letting his gaze break from the forest floor.
   Could he possibly be looking for the girl in the lost shirt? Kyrie was too selfish to ask. It was hers now. The scent had permeated into her skin.
   On until nightfall did the boy continue his search, combing every inch of ground, growing ever closer to Kyrie’s shelter. She grew tense with every step, knowing that he would eventually knock on her door and begin burning her with questions. It spoiled her sense of secluded paradise.
   Eventually, as she predicted, the boy traversed onto her doorstep and gave three barely audible taps, almost like Silence himself wanted in. Overcoming her sense of dread, she opened the door. Not saying a word, she stared lazily into his emerald-ringed pupils.
   “Sorry to bother you, but I’m looking for someone. Her name is Grace, she went missing on Tuesday. Have you seen her?” He said, passing a small wallet-sized picture into Kyrie’s reluctant hands. Obviously this was a school picture, an awful one at that.
   “No,” Kyrie breathed. She nudged the picture back into his grasp before his fingers ever left the edges.
   “Please, look again. Everyone is so worried, we have to find her,” he pleaded.
   Funny, it was almost as if he knew she was dead. Kyrie was sure if he pressed on he would gush about how everyone loves and misses her. About the great things she has done. About how she was such a good person.
   Kyrie wondered if the boy would ever divulge to her all the horrible malicious things the girl has done. She could only hope. She had some research to do.
   “Sorry. I can’t help you,” Kyrie said with a start. Coming back to reality was never easy for her.
   He held out his hand to stop the door from closing.
   “Please, then, can I come in? I’ve been searching for hours, I’m dying for some water,” He urged.
   “Don’t use that term so loosely,” she sighed almost silently. Unable to deny him of his thirst, she let him in.
    He chattered on about his missing girl, whom he later identified as Grace Alderidge. And just as Kyrie predicted, he spoke of her greatness.
   Never saying more than a word in response, Kyrie then opened up the floodgates, she had been bursting to know…
   “Tell me something horrible. You go on and on about her kindness, selflessness… Someone MUST have hated something about her,” Kyrie hissed.
   The boy almost dropped his glass of water in shock for the words that dripped like fire out of her mouth. This was going to be good.
   “What? That is terrible! A girl is missing, maybe dead, and all you care about is what bad things she done? Maybe you should take a long look at yourself if you are going to ask those questions. I should be going. I can see when I’m becoming a burden,” the boy said as he gathered his weathered backpack.
   “A burden…” Kyrie reflected. More like a gift. She hasn’t been able to be to outward in a long time, it felt good to get it out.
   With that, the boy disappeared into the trees. Kyrie sat in the dark candle light, focused her thoughts back on to the seemingly juvenile ideas she had entertained earlier. It would have to wait, there was something more important at hand.
   She thought back on to the boy, if she would seem him again. He seemed to be a good opponent when he wasn’t remorsefully sappy. The strong sense of need of overwhelming: she needed him in her plan. But why? There was no answer yet, but Kyrie knew he must be important to her most exciting role.
   The boy was vital into breathing life into Grace. More specifically, Kyrie’s upcoming Oscar-worthy portrayal of Grace. She needed some CPR to pull this off.
   She sunk into her metal-frame bed, tracing its outlines cool to the touch, curious to see what the morning would bring. Smiling with greed, she blew out the candles in hopes of seeing the boy again, and quickly drifted to sleep.
   Kyrie dreamed like never before about the boy, so intently set on haunting her. She never needed (or wanted) anyone in her life as long as she could remember. Why him? What drew her so close to him? Answers would come soon. Throwing rationally aside, her mind sank into her senses. The dream played like a cinematic gem: she would wake the next morning to the boy sitting at the foot of her bed.
   Streaming with charm, he would stare into her sleepy gaze with his inquisitive stare. He could breach the boundaries she secured about her thoughts, and he could read her mind. He knew of her desire to conquer and control. He played her game, too.
   He dove deeper, identifying with her need to survive. He was indeed a most worthy opponent. His intentions were different. Unlike Kyrie, he didn’t just want to play the game. He wanted to win it, and to win her. She was the prize too desirable to resist.
   He had what it took to change her like she changed herself. He could make her into exactly what he wanted, no matter what was at risk. Her character, her reputation, her life.
   He would use his cunning to prey on her flaws, vices, and addictions, to kill Silence for stealing her life. Possibly in the heat of the moment, he would kill her, too.
   No words were spoken. They sat frozen, peering into one another’s intentions. Understanding the motives with charming disdain.
   The tension grew and neither dared to move, never to risk the unspoken bond drawing them closer to each other’s thoughts. Kyrie remained careful and speechless.    Only then had she remembered she doesn’t know the boy’s name. He then sounded the only words in the dream, in response to the sudden unfamiliarity in the air, “My name is Toren. I know who you are.”
   Kyrie woke up suddenly in a shockingly unnerving awe, and as her eyes came into focus, she greeted the dark figure sitting deathly still at her feet.
   “Hello, Toren,” she panted.
   “Goodbye, Kyrie.”        
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 11:46:10 PM by musicbaby01 »

Offline BrigidMary

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Re: Clarity.
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2008, 08:31:58 AM »
I like a lot of this, but you lost me after a while in your opening. You're clearly a talented writer, but in my opinion you went on too long about Kyrie and who she is. When I skipped ahead to the dialogue, I found myself engaged once again, and I was able to go back through the lenthy passages. Now, I may not be the best critic, because I don't typically read a lot of literary fiction, and that's how this reads.
Brigid Kemmerer
Author of <b><i>Storm: The Elemental Series</i></b>, coming April 24, 2012 from K Teen (Kensington Books)

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Clarity. Please critique!
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2008, 02:14:53 PM »
Thanks for reading! You know, I felt the same, too. I cut a lot out and saved it for possible placement elsewhere in the story. I've posted the revision. Let me know if it reads any easier!

Thanks again :)