Thursday, October 28, 2010

If you have the time: short story share

Welcome to: If you have the time Fridays: short story share. All you need to do is link up to my blog in the comment section (sorry, I am still working on how to do a Linky system...)and then post your own short story or essay on your blog. I'm hoping that this will develop a community of people who read one another's work, comment on it (in kind, constructive ways) that both improve our writing/stories/essays AND get our work out there. Feel free to post the same story week after week so that we can enjoy the changes you make. And now, my story:



The Whole World Rested on the Point of his Finger

Florin closed the door behind him when he wasn’t quite out of the doorway- the door bumping the red backpack straddled across his shoulders. He paused for a moment, adjusting the weight in the bag, looked up and down the street, and headed to school.
His navy pants were held up by a zipper that wouldn’t zip and a piece of shoestring pulled tight, causing the waist of the too big pants to buckle around his too small body. A rainy day in a gray city, he skipped through puddles, the holes in his shoes capturing the water, wetting his socks, and sloshing him down the street. The shoes he wore he’d been so proud of. Bought at a second hand store, they’d once been some other boy’s Addidas soccer shoes.
The city was abuzz with early morning activity. Tall men topped with curly fur hats brushed by him while women in fur trimmed coats held the arms of their husbands, smug expressions of satisfaction lining their thin and aging lips. A biting wind stung Florin’s cheeks as people passed by as icily, and he pulled his knit hat down lower over his ears.
Thrown up against a granite sky, giant block apartments stood with their empty eyed windows staring blankly at him as he waited for the bus. A woman shook a rug out from the balcony above him and the dust of other’s lives rained on his shoulders. He hardly noticed, although the dust made him sneeze.
The 34 bus came swimming toward him like a whale heading south for the winter, stopped and squeezed open its door. Florin grabbed the rail and pulled squat legs over steps as jagged as a prize-fighter’s teeth. Before he reached the top step, the door closed, and the bus enveloped him into its body.
Florin faced a sea of faces and no one offered him a seat. So he stood and braced his legs as the bus rumbled away from the stop. The strong smell of garlic and onions wafted around him- vapors of lunches and dinners. The smell, however wrong, made his belly rumble and his full-lipped mouth swallowed away a lump of hunger.
The bus lunged to a stop and grownups stood around him to exit. Shoving him into another passenger, they pushed past Florin.
The door yawned shut and he mumbled to himself,”One more stop.”
The bus lurched forward, causing him to lose his balance and fall into the lap of an old woman.
“Careful!” she yelled, “Stupid boy.” With one hand, she pushed him off of her and made the sign of the cross with the other. “Don’t you look where you’re going?” she hissed.
Florin stumbled forward as the woman mumbled and carefully fixed her hat, “Why do they smell? You always know one is near by the smell.”
Having turned pink with shame, Florin shouldered himself forward and found a bar to hold onto, when the bus came to another lurching stop. Moving quickly through a thick forest of coats, he mumbled, “Scuze, pardon.” Hands pushed him through until he erupted from their grasp, whereupon he fell down the steps of the bus, through the yawning door, and into a half frozen puddle of water.
As the door shut, he heard someone say, “He needed a bath.” And then the roar of the bus echoed around him, leaving a trail of exhaust in which he could hide.
But the relief of being hidden, or at least just a shadow, was momentary before he heard the honking of an approaching car. Florin quickly stepped out of the puddle and onto a slippery curb while at the same moment being splashed by the same puddle he’d just fallen into as a white Dacia raced past, dousing an already wet child.
His too big pants, now mud spattered, were heavy with water and as he moved forward, they began to fall. A shoelace through belt loops made an inadequate belt.
Adjusting his backpack, he held up his pants with one hand, while continuing to push forward with the other. Fearing he’d be late for school and with only one more block to go, he began an awkward limp of a run. With one hand still on his pant and the other pushing open the door, he entered the building even while heaving a huge sigh of relief. In a moment of complete exhausted relief, the hand that held his pants in place lifted to re-shift his backpack, just as his pants slipped to his ankles. A few students were scattered in the almost empty halls of Scoala 24, and while Florin quickly realized his mistake, he wasn’t fast enough for the observant eyes of upper elementary aged students. Those who saw began to laugh and point, while exclaiming loudly so others would look. With a heave and a sigh, Florin reached down and pulled up his pants, trying to work with the wet knotted shoe-lace so that he could pull the pants tight around him again and squished his way to the classroom. Doamna would most certainly be unhappy with his tardiness, not to mention his appearance. Still, he pressed forward, finding the classroom door and entering, greeting his teacher who sat at her desk with the mandatory, “Buna ziua.”
Slopping his way to his seat in the back of the class, every eye watched him. A few giggled, but his head was down so he couldn’t see who.
He sat with a squish, water oozing out of his pants which then began to drip on the floor. His neighbor scooted away from him so that the gathering puddle around Florin would not over take him, too.
Drip, drip ran the water over the side of the bench. In the quiet of the classroom, the sound rocketed off chalkboard and window pane until Doamna teacher who sat at her desk, lowered her glasses to the tip of her nose and hollered, “Florin!”
He jumped in his seat, his legs not unbending quickly enough and he, knobby kneed, hit the bottom of his desk. The thunder of bone against wood shook books off the ledge and off the desk, hitting the ground with a slam.
And there he stood. All eyes, all heads, giving him obeisance he did not seek. A submission of mockery, of disgust and mistrust, lay at his feet along with the gathering puddle of water.
Silently the teacher stood, too. Glasses still lying low on her nose, anchored by a mole that hung there, she powerfully cleared her throat. Quickly, all obeisances were returned to her. Ripples of laughter ceased, pencils submitted to paper, and a litany of homework began.
Florin stood, facing his teacher. Their eyes met, but he didn’t look away. She stared hard, and he didn’t turn his gaze. A bead of water traced its way down his brown cheek and neck, and still he didn’t move, still he didn’t look lower his eyes in submission/humiliation.
“Florin,” she spoke, “You entered my classroom late, wet, and, it appears, unprepared. You’ve continued to disrupt the class with your clumsiness, wet appearance, and now, with your disrespect. I suggest you collect your things and return tomorrow with a more narrowed perspective given to your education.” And then, almost as an aside, she said, “And do something about that smell.”
Still, he didn’t move. Undeterred in his gaze, he watched his teacher sit and resume her work. He, though, was an oak where he stood. The clock ticked and he dripped. After some moments, the teacher raised her head and found him where she’d last seen him.
“Florin, I told you to gather your things and go.”
No movement. Not even a flicker of understanding ran across his face.
“Young man, if you do not move this instant, I will call security and they will escort you out of the building.”
Suddenly, a shudder ran down Florin’s arm, as it rose from his side, one finger extended. On the point of that finger a whole world rested. The air of that world filled his lungs, expanding them in his chest, growing his heart large and strong. The light of that world filled his eyes so he could see as if for the first time. The water of that world bathed him and its hands dressed him and its words filled him and its power raised his finger high until he exclaimed, “I am a gypsy!”

5 comments:

Brian Miller said...

this is a really cool idea...i have a few of these that i play...question...should we give each other crit or just encouragement...always like to clarify that up front...will pop back over in a few to see your response before i comment too much...i did enjoy your story.

as far as a linky goes... www.blenza.com provides a mr linky...it is a subscription you pay for and can use for the year...its not too much and you can use it as much as you want...

Melissa Campbell said...

This story shot straight to my heart and stayed there--I think I might be pondering the plight of the "gypsy's" for long today. I want to step into this classroom and give the child a hug, and a good breakfast and new shoes. I know of a man who ministers to the gypsy's of Romania. They are a passionate people, whom God's loves deeply. I felt His love in this piece.

I love your imagery and details...the last paragraph, and how you ended. I could read your words all day. Blessings here.

Melissa Campbell said...

I also like your idea of sharing stories and encouragement. I will check back with you soon.

emily wierenga said...

i would love to do this april... i often host a guest blogger on fridays, but when i'm not, i would like to participate. in the meantime, i'll keep enjoying your beautiful prose. well done, friend, as always. xo

April said...

Brian: Yes, it's meant to be a place, albeit safe, to offer both critique and encourgaement. So that writing and stories can improve...sort of a vulnerable spot, especially via the internet, but hopefully whomever joins this will be aware of that. So please, come back soon!
My sister also asked about kids stories, which I think might be sort of interesting...we'll see.
Thanks for the info about the linky. I'll check into it.

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