Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dashed Off

Another guest post. This time by the one and only Wystan E. I didn't know what to call this story so I took the subject heading of the email it was sent in. I think it refers to the way this story was written. I liked it, so I put it as the title.

Maybe I am lazy putting stories by others here, but since they are good, you shouldn't mind. And, besides, I am sure you have plenty of ideas how to deal with my laziness. Read and enjoy.

She was a dancer who never danced. A singer who never sang. A poetess who never spoke, or wrote.

By 'never,' I mean, 'anymore.'

She was a genius who now kept her thoughts to herself: Running commentaries on events; ideas for gadgets; advice for friends; stock tips; expressions of love, or hatred, all repressed, shut inside.

She laughed (when she laughed) as if she were stifling a sneeze. Half embarrassed, half annoyed with herself.

Living the Life Interior.

And suddenly, she became mine, all mine. You may wonder and guess how and why this came about – but you will wonder in vain, and guess wrong. Simply take my word that this treasure was suddenly mine to … to spend as I would. No, not to spend – to invest in…

She was predictably stubborn at first.


'I cannot.'

Well, I had seen her on stage, years ago, light and lithe. Dancing en pointe. So I placed her on point – you take my meaning, do you not? – and induced her to dance for me. On this occasion, with the same … incentive … she also sang.

Mind you, this was not ballet or opera – nor hip-hop or pop -- but her movements were graceful, her voice pure, real.

'I told you that you could dance,' I said. Her head was bowed, her hair tangled, her face wet with perspiration. 'Yes,' she replied. Her voice was a bit hoarse. 'Dance some more,' I commanded her, 'For yourself.' She shook her head 'no.' So she danced instead to my tune, sang to it.

The next day, more of the same. Her dance was more frantic, her song more urgent, more plaintive. I applauded, then spoke gently to her. 'You are exhausted, my dear.' (Indeed, she was gasping for breath, her face red, her body trembling.) 'But I require an encore. Freely given or …'

And this time, she nodded wearily (warily), 'yes.' She danced about the room for me, still naked, a bit stiffly, but she danced. A dance of captivity, of distress, of longing. But a dance…. Her song still had no words, none that I recognized, but it was tuneful. She stared at me as she sang. The song expressed anger, promised revenge. I was satisfied.

The third day she agreed to dance. She pirouetted, then sprang for the door. As if I would not have anticipated… So this time she danced on air, her legs kicking …

Later, she performed other dances. Some on her back, some on hands and knees. She intoned new songs, some wrung from her, some spontaneous, some from the heart, some from other places…

Words came harder from her. At first, she simply snapped the pencils in half. 'You are a bit old,' I observed, 'for such schoolgirl pranks.' She pouted prettily. 'But as you will play the schoolgirl, I will play the headmaster.' She knew the 'position.' Assumed it. Ten minutes later, I handed the pencil back to my chastened pupil.

So she wrote. Nonsense, doodles, runes. I was satisfied. Marks on paper…

The very next day, after sharpening her pencil, she sprung at me, wooden dagger in hand. I can’t say I was surprised, except by her speed and strength. But in the end I prevailed. Or rather, the shackles gave me an unfair advantage.

I did not punish this last attempt (for it was indeed the last). I expected her to test the bars of her cage, of her invisible fence. I wanted her to push the limits, to see cause and effect.

And as she sang, wrote, read, danced – felt – lived -- again, she changed. By now the doors were unlocked. I felt free to turn my back on her. I made no new demands. I did not need to. She was pursuing excellence again.

I told her, one fine Wednesday, that my task was complete, my job done.

'Not yet,' she said. She ran to the cabinet, and returned, bearing a whip, a rope, a wooden ruler, a candle. I nodded. 'No.' I placed them in her bag, the small one she’d brought with her. 'I’m not ready,' she insisted. 'I can’t… out there.'

I patted her on the cheek, turned and walked away. I felt the bag – and it was heavy – hit me in the back. She’d flung it at me. I turned and slid it back to her.

'Lock the door on your way out.'

Later, when I checked, she was gone. She’d locked the door, as I’d told her.

Still later, I found she’d taken the spare set of keys.

Once in a great while, I find things disturbed a bit, a chair moved, or a tabled neatened. Sometimes I find a new picture on the wall, a new poem on my desk.

Yesterday, I heard her voice. In a cab. On the radio

But I have not seen her since.


Dolores said...

This made me cry - this story is so beautiful and touches me. Ideas, commentaries, thoughts, poetry, music, running through her head but never shared any more - stifled. Too sad. Thank you Wystan - even when I lack confidence and am having difficulty expressing myself, I have to allow your words to swim and ferment in my head to do them justice ...

Paul said...

Wystan, if this was dashed of, I wonder what you would produce if you really thought about it.
This is real poetry, whether it would work or not doesn't really matter.
Do I know who inspired this, perhaps?
Suffice it to say I really enjoyed it, thank you.
Janice, nice one dear girl.
Love and warm hugs,

Lea said...

I really like this one too. I especially like the subtlety, the sentences suggesting details ^^

Manorlord said...

Janice -- many thanks for posting this piece. It was "dashed off" in the sense that it "wrote itself" -- tho not in any spooky sense.

Dolores -- evoking such a response is every writer's (well, this one's, in any event) dream. Be well.

Paul -- I appreciate the kind words. I also appreciate careful readers, like yourself. I can't say that any one person "inspired" it, however -- and yes, I know to whom you refer.

Lea -- Thank you, my dear. I agree that not everything needs to be spelled out. A careful reader's imagination is far more vivid than any words I could set to paper.

Wystan E.

Janice said...

I will not comment on your comments as the author of this piece already has done that. Just wanted to say thanks for popping by and reading and I am glad you liked the story.



Ollie said...

I fully agree with Paul, If this was dashed off...
This was a gentle and enigmatic piece, things said yet not said, explanations half hidden in the prose.

Thanks to you Wystan and to you Janice for letting us read it.

Mina said...

Ah, hello Wystan. It's been a while but still as lovely a 'voice' as ever. And, still helping the lovelies to their potential in your special way.