Constellations in my dashboard

General fiction short stories not related to Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror.

Moderator: Bmat

Post Reply
User avatar
Chaeronia
New User
New User
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:11 am
Location: England
Contact:

Constellations in my dashboard

Post by Chaeronia »

I cannot stop thinking about you.

(As I passed the neon lights of encompassing commerce and civilisation's industrial puissance that spread and infect more and more of our time; as I merged into the final vestiges devoid of dull, primary colours and one-word-sentence advertising slogans, replacing them with forlorn beauty that exists only to be devoured, like an innocent on death row; as I fled to somewhere that will merely die a slower, more painful death, I just could not stop thinking about you.)

I wish you were here, by my side, as I leave the (ever re)New(ing) World behind.

I am running to where I used to want to be but things never stop changing. I am retreating now, rather than escaping, and every mechanical mile I travel away from you feels like bitter, begrudging defeat. You are Back There with them, the winners, whom I used to hate but whom now, in equal measure of fear and liberation, I have tentatively learned to appreciate. You are such a big part of that.

I apologise for the pressure I am putting on you, and for my garbled sentiments.

I travel in steel, cocooned by glass and warmed by wires, as I dictate these disparate thoughts. My instant mood is moulded by insulated physics: soundwaves set to random-play that change the peripheries of me: happiness, desire, sobriety. Scheudenfreude, too, because you are with someone else. I cannot have you without wanting what you have now to crash asunder, and I make no apologies for that.

I feel the soundwaves push and pull my senses, senses born out of the mechanically inventive brains of marketing departments that twist and play with our emotional exposures like the instruments I hear now. I tap my feet and nod my head to the tune.

We are so easy to manipulate.

But I am not yet defeated and so neither are we. Another song comes on and I am inspired. (Yes, I see the paradox, but I never said I had the answers and so I choose to ignore it.) I decide that if there are peripheries then there is also a core, a core that remains unaffected by these passing chemical imbalances, by my instant, commercial surroundings of good, bad, inspirational and indifferent (or, rather, barely unaffected [never ever completely, thank *beep*, because what would we be if that was not the case?]). It takes a lot to shift that core, a gargantuan and sustained effort. Immediate experiences can flutter and prance around it, tickling, extracting some kind of transient meaning, but rarely changing it.

So how have you done it? How the *beep* have you done it?

I don't think it was a tidal wave of realisation. There were no blinding lights, no one-second-this, one-second-that moment. Of course I noticed you when they hired you (a job I nearly took myself: do you believe in fate? I hope not.) but it took time. You were no tidal wave (I'm sorry if that offends you. It shouldn't.); more an insistent stream scourging its path over ever-softening ground. I saw you every working day and I came to like you more every working day. I began to miss you when you weren't there, on holiday or off sick. I failed to remain stoical when colleagues told me you would not be in today or tomorrow or the next week or fortnight. One day, of course, it happened whereby it all turned into something more and whilst I cannot remember which it was I suspect you weren't there at the time.

And then his proposal came. At least it was his proposal, I thought later, like the petulant child I am, and it was this day that made me realise what you were, that made me realise I was already in love with you. If there was a tidal wave then this was it, but without the stream it would have meant nothing.

Yes yes yes, it's a cliché isn't it? The old adage: don't know what you've got till it's gone. I never did have you, of course, but in my optimism I felt that I might. Such optimism died because I believed in marriage and its sanctimony (truly I did, but things never stop changing) and so all bets were off. And he'd proposed on your anniversary. No box-set of the latest television sensation, as I remember you feared; no game for your own set of insulated wires. No plastic or steel or primary colours. Just a carbon-based rock, a question to challenge any core, and your answer:

'Yes. Of course I will.' And perhaps you smiled, that domino-effect smile, and asked, 'What took you so long?'

I dread to think how hard you *beep* each other that night.

I'd had other bad news that day, if you might remember (and there's a test: do you remember?), and my heart sank like the face of an ageing clown when you showed me your freshly adorned finger. The other news was primary but this... this was a body blow I hadn't seen coming, like a beaten boxer trudging back to his ring and getting a right hook from his own trainer.

I went home early that day, lost in embarrassing tears that fell for someone else but were tinged by you. I remember congratulating you as I walked from the office. I am not proud of that moment because of the reasons behind it, because on a day where cynicism should not have been part of me, it really was. I won't forgive myself for that.

...don't know 'till it's gone, and now it was. Is.

But I just cannot stop thinking about you so I am driving to these vestiges, these outposts that wait to be swallowed, places that are waving the white flag before their enemy is even in sight. Where I used to take refuge. No longer though, because you are part of me but you are not with me.

I pass the final neon light and watch it fade in my rear-view mirror. As soon as it disappears I begin to miss it. You and your champion world dissipates, and mine, the broken vanquished, waits for another one of its kind to wait with it. To wait for you.

In desperation I turn up the music and put my foot to the floor, losing myself in the blaring noise and thrilling in the acceleration. For a moment my periphery changes away from you, spurred on by the iPod and the 0-60 in 5.9. I enjoy it whilst it lasts but it is always marred, never wholly what I want it to be. I know the core is waiting to return.

I wish you were here.

The civilised, German engine purrs into life, the red dials warm and beautiful and cynical in the dead of night, like constellations in my dashboard.

I drive on.
Last edited by Chaeronia on Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:16 am, edited 4 times in total.
'There's a vampire, dad. It's trying to get me.'
'I know, son,' he said softly. 'I saw it.'
'You saw it?'
'Yeah. I broke its bloody neck. I won't have no vampires in my house.'

User avatar
Bmat
Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Posts: 5897
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 5:31 pm
Location: East coast US

Post by Bmat »

Effectively written, Chaeronia!

The only thing that confused me was the phrase something that I could never see coming before you. I couldn't decide whether this meant in front of or prior to knowing her.

The flow is excellent, the construction of the story works well, peaking at the point where the woman accepts the ring of another. The final "I wish you were here." It brought tears to my eyes in its description of the simple, deep emotion and loneliness of the speaker.

The speaker's agony is something that many must share at some time. The person who is loved turning their love towards another. You have painted the feelings well.

When I read the title, I wondered what you meant. Now I know, and it is a haunting narrative essay that I won't soon forget.

User avatar
Chaeronia
New User
New User
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:11 am
Location: England
Contact:

Post by Chaeronia »

Bmat,

Thank you, again, for commenting on my writing. Something I could never see before you, yes, that means he could not see him thinking in this way prior to knowing her. I agree, though, in that it's ambiguous (nothing wrong with that) and clunky (certainly something wrong with that). I think a slight edit is in order.

I'm very pleased you took something from it, and spotted various relevant points: the proposal being the crux, the final 'I wish you were here' (cliche, but simply true), and the title of the piece.

It is, as I'm sure is obvious, a biographical piece. A host of selfish thoughts kept going through my mind as I was driving down to stay with my family for the festive period. They live in rural France and it is somewhere I always look forward to visiting, but the sheen has been taken off it this year. I decided to add a slightly more social commentary on the encroaching 'westernisation' on these rural idylls because it seemed to fit in with the overall theme: surrender, impotence, the inability to find solace in something once that something has changed (the core).

But such is life and seeing as the milk was spilt long ago then there's little point in wallowing in a maudlin mind-set.

If only life was that easy, huh?

Thank you once more.

Chaeronia
'There's a vampire, dad. It's trying to get me.'
'I know, son,' he said softly. 'I saw it.'
'You saw it?'
'Yeah. I broke its bloody neck. I won't have no vampires in my house.'

User avatar
Ariel
Resident Author
Resident Author
Posts: 9530
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:05 pm
Location: Rhode Island,U.S.A

Post by Ariel »

Awww Chaeronia, life isn't easy, but there are wonderful surprises from time to time.

Post Reply