What if?: Your Song

Monday, June 05, 2006

Your Song

Your Song

The last time I heard Smetana's Die Moldau, I was at the office, and we were fighting. Or perhaps 'fighting' is too strong a word for it. You were lashing out at me with every bit of hatred you have for every man in your life. Every man who has ever wronged you, every man back straight back to your father, every man who abandoned you. Every man around you is a target for you to sling your contempt at with well-chosen words. I was sitting trapped in your anger, trying not to shout imprecations at you, trying desperately not to start weeping like a child whose best friend has just hit them with a tiny, tight fist. Struck them over and over, trying to make something, somewhere, finally give. You didn't let yourself see the wounds you inflicted. Or did you? Did it give you pleasure to see me hurt?

You always were, and likely always will be a hater of men, won't you. You won't ever let it go, because you cannot let it go. No amount of prescribed medication will ever loosen the fingers of your grudges, each and every one clutched against your chest like a miser clutching at his gold. Deep underneath, no matter how much you say otherwise, you will never truly trust, never truly forgive men.

You hissed at me "You don't care." How I wanted to stride over to you and slap that look off your face and that expression out of your mouth. You don't know what I care about. You think you do, but you cannot know what I care about. You cannot fathom how deeply I care for you, even when you are striking out at me like a drowning swimmer. The older instructors always tell the trainee lifeguards that if the victim is fighting you, endangering your own life then the wise thing is to simply let go and let them drown. There are days, especially here of late, when you are flailing around and biting every helping hand. It is during those days that I wonder how long it would take you to drown if I were to stop trying to keep us both afloat, or would you simply go on flailing and trashing?

Days passed, we both stayed afloat, and I never heard "I'm sorry" come from your mouth, even though things got back to normal prety fast, as they always do. And like always, I swallowed down my anger and my vivid imagination and my hurts and I went on loving you, trying to help you when I can, and trying to stay out of your way when any help I could give you was not only not wanted but perhaps not needed.

I'll always be your papa, no matter how much you decide to hit me with your tiny, balled fists. And Smetana? He'll never sound the same, ever again.

_____________
I don't know if I'm real crazy about this one or not. It needed to be said, somewhere, so I took it and changed it into a story, of sorts. If you've noticed, it's sat here in the Drafts column for about two weeks now, and finally got completed, I feel a little poorly. If nothing else, it's honest and emotionally charged. Perhaps to the point of pathos, but this is your opportunity to tell me so.

5 Comments:

Blogger Giovanna said...

There is nothing wrong with pathos if done well. Your narrative voice here is strong.

My first thought reading it was there was almost too much metaphor. I actually thought it when I got to the line "striking out at me like a drowning swimmer." That must stay because of how you further weave the analogy in.

I guess it isn't as much using too much metaphor, it the repetition of "like a". Perhaps play with language and sentences to show what you mean without the word like or as. (Actually, that was an exercise we had for workshop once. I should post that here. Hee.)

Take this for example: "each and every one clutched against your chest like a miser clutching at his gold."

Could become: "each and every one clutched against your chest lest someone try to pry it away and steal them." Implies that she regards these grudges as valuable and holds them precious

This sentence I would break up. "I was sitting trapped in your anger, trying not to shout imprecations at you, trying desperately not to start weeping like a child whose best friend has just hit them with a tiny, tight fist. Struck them over and over, trying to make something, somewhere, finally give."

"I was sitting trapped in your anger, trying not to shout imprecations at you. I felt like a child whose best friend strikes them over and over, with tiny, tight fists, trying to make something finally give, but I held firm, and kept my tears to myself.

As for the ending, I confess I was left confused initially. It is drawn out to imply it is a lover's quarel, yet you say you will always be her "Papa". Is that to mean grandfather, as you referred to the father abandoning her? I think the reader needs a subtle lead in that direction, it will enhance the impact of the piece for the better.

Thank you for sharing it.

I'll try to get to Beach Tales soon; I read it, just need to form some comments.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Pater said...

From my experience, it is good to let emotionally charged pieces rest for a bit after completion. They tend to resonate too strongly with your personal emotions to be able to effectively edit. Like a bonsai in training, there are lots of little pieces that can trimmed from this to make it efficient and elegant. But I think -- again from my own experience, as I have written a similar piece -- that all of those pieces are very real feelings that you want to express and it is too hard to prune them now.

But, in an attempt to provide more specific criticism, here are a couple of ideas:

"You were lashing out at me with every bit of hatred you have for every man in your life. Every man who has ever wronged you, every man back straight back to your father, every man who abandoned you. Every man around you is a target for you to sling your contempt at with well-chosen words."

I think the second sentence is awkward. Perhaps "Every man who has wronged you. Every man, straight back to your father, who abandoned you." The last sentence is also awkward. The words 'sling' and 'contempt' are good but they don't fit together well the way you are trying to construct the sentence. 'Well-chosen words' is an important detail in explaining how the contempt is slung, but it should probably be replaced or dropped. Perhaps something like "You sling the scathing words of your contempt at every man around you."

The drowning swimmer section could probably be cleaned up a bit. It's a good analogy, it just doesn't read very smooth. It may just be a matter of punctuation though.

I would recommend breaking up the second to last paragraph into smaller sentences. "As they always do." could emphasize the situation. The last (second) sentence really should be divided. I understand why you have it as one, but it probably should be split.

Good work though, very powerful.

9:54 AM  
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