29th August 2018

AS 91475: Writing portfolio

It’s a bitter day in Kiev, Ukraine. His nose leaking mucus as the cold, dry air passes in and out of his lungs. Not as cold as Xavier remembered it once being, the intense heatwaves become more common as the planet is warmed through greenhouse gas emissions. Looking around reveals only darkness and destruction. A girl only about 10 years old, eyes bleary and body drained of its essence, slumped over the railing on the exterior of her home.. a shelter would be a more suited term. She seemed helpless, sick and her mannerism suggests she has given up on her battle, a battle many are consumed by. The will to live is nonexistent in these parts, the hooded vale of death had hung over the world for a long time, always threatening. Understandably so with the “Ukrainian Republican Party” in power. Xavier slowly approaches the girl, weary of the disease radiating from her in all directions. She looks up, confronting the unfamiliar boy opposite with what seemed like eyes from hell, blood excreted as tears. He asks her what the cause of her illness was, he’s replied with a cough, hacking continuously for a while before taking in a sharp gasp of breath. She’s mute, making a hand gesture to show her inability to talk. “STEP AWAY FROM THE GIRL!” a guttural voice exclaimed from the shadows. Xavier stops in his path and turns towards the voice. There was a person on the street corner. A man, with a certain demeanor about him, seemed to suck in all the surrounding light. He was like a chameleon, blending in with his surroundings. A gun hanging idly at his hip, with the surrounding street perfectly reflected by his mirrored sunglasses. “Step away from the girl” he repeats himself, this time with a lower pitch, delivering a higher intention. “She’s not sick, she’s destined to be that way.. and I’m going to have to ask you one last time to step away.” Xavier, apprehensive yet unafraid does as instructed. He’s heard many recounts of people vanishing in the town with little evidence of where they ended up, choosing to not push his luck. Without a word, the police officer vanishes back into the shadows.

By the time Xavier got home, night had enveloped the land into darkness. The shadows had been absorbed by nightfall, the murky grey sky now an ocean of blackness. Fallen leaves were scattered across the wooden steps leading up to his front door. To him, returning home was a gateway for the world’s troubles to evaporate. He swings open the door, greeted by his uncle. His uncle, now stuck in his negative mindset had found rest in a face filled with pressure, a raging sea of anxiety and anger, it had now become his only face to the world. Xavier re-tells his encounter from earlier that day, delivering it with determination. His uncle listens intently, eyes wide and mouth shut. “Where the f— is the good in this world, I can’t stand leaving this house to be confronted with illness and bias jurisdiction.” A silence filled the room, a kind of thick silence which would normally chill the omen his mind was carrying, but tonight it works as an aid to his recount. Seconds pass, before his uncle replies. A reply with no words but instead, his index finger points to the attic door. Xavier lit up with contained excitement, he’s never seen anyone go up there. “You’re saying I should go into the attic? Or are you just pointing at the ceiling?” His uncle chuckled, lifting the warmth in the room a few degrees. “Maybe I’m wrong, but you might find some junk up there fascinating”.

Xavier slowly made his way to the staircase, looking up at the attic hatch flooded his mind with thoughts as to what his uncle kept up there. As a kid he would dream for hours of what was inside, picturing diamonds and gold guarded by creatures hidden in the shadows. Several good heaves and the rusted latch gave in, bringing down the ladder. He peered in to see a graveyard of treasures, a place for them to quietly die amongst the cobwebs. The floor is more cinnamon where the varnish holds and paler where moisture had seeped into the cracks. Creeks echoed thru the quiet room as Xavier made his way over to a box on its side, resting against a corner window with thick panes, cautious of the low hanging beams. Worn edges split at the corners, covered in dust, the box seemed empty at a glance. He peered in to see a book, a hard case black exterior that read “The Western Medical Tradition, 2006”.  It smelled warm and dusty, much like the inside of the attic. The fragile old pages almost seemed like rice paper,  stained by the oil on his skin with the touch of his hand. He was fixated as if nothing in the world could prevent him from reading it. Each page took him closer to atonement and solace.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. As we discussed on Friday – the premise of this piece is excellent. The discipline now must be to concentrate on developing an atmosphere and introducing the characters and the plot complications in ways that naturally emerge from that moment.

    It’s very tempting when you’ve developed a sophisticated world for your piece to try to provide all that information to the reader in your short piece. This would be a mistake. Satisfy yourself that your fully realised world will fuel your writing, creating a coherence and vividness to the moment you describe that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

    I’d also be very pleased if you decided to write on and see if this does become a fully-fledged short story or even a novel, but this task is the first pages of the first chapter.

    Perhaps try to think a little more like a film-maker, where everything we learn has to be seen or heard (or smelled, tasted etc) actually in the scene. Select details to show us, but keep us curious, hungry to know more.

    Don’t forget the option of using language effects, made up words (neologisms) and the discourse of the characters to give key information – or even us a device like some form of public address.

  2. Alistair. Before I formally mark this, I would like to ensure you get the full time available in order that you can address the inconsistencies of accuracy and tone that are currently evident. Have a word with me about when this might be done.



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