The things you say, you say to cut others deeply. You leave people with disfigured souls.
If she is capable of pure benevolence, she may actually forgive you some day; she might actually forget the words you said, when she is old, she may even forget your name. But she will never forget the way you made her feel.
It was awfully hot outside, and Tom, was dressed in a suit and tie. He was moving his feet fast to make it down the sidewalk and get to work on time. He almost tripped over his scuffling shoes, barely avoiding a fall, as many cars whisked past him on the street.
He saw the cross walk just ahead. Impatient to cross that street he took, long, quick strides to get there. But he just missed the signal. And the pedestrian walking sign now burned in red “Don’t Walk, Don’t Walk.” He stood there on the edge of the sidewalk seething; he was on the very edge, almost standing in the road.
Tom had just stopped smoking. When he noticed that he was unconsciously rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, he immediately stopped himself. He recalled earlier that day, when the therapist said he would do things like that when he went through the nicotine withdrawal. He would have twitchy fingers, anxiety, and even superstitious behavior if stressed.
A honking car speeding by within mere inches of him brought him out of his reverie, Tom edged back away from the street. Speeding cars were swooshing past him, obscuring his view of the pedestrian walk signal. He looked at his watch impatiently, His watch read3:00–lucky number.
Then a taxi whizzed past and blew the hot street’s contents up from the asphalt, and he grimaced at the grit thrown up into his face, covering him. It all smelled of hot tar. His forehead squeezed out drops of sweat that rolled down into his eyes, stinging them. He wiped his eyes, grimacing. And then he looked back up.
The cars kept swishing by but he got a glimpse of the crosswalk signal. “Don’t walk, Don’t Walk,” it glowed portentously through a speeding bus’ windows. Then he could not see the crosswalk light again for the cars passing.
He waited a long time to see the light again. When he did the pedestrian signal still flashed “Don’t Walk, Don’t Walk.” It seemed hours had passed since he looked at his watch. He looked at his wristwatch, 3:07 lucky number again.
Then he was quite angry as he realized that he had never pressed the pedestrian “walk” button on the crosswalk pole. His fingers twitched and in the heat, his nerves screamed in anxiety. He saw a broken compact mirror in the street. Bad luck—cannot cross here—No! this is the superstition the counselor talked about…I’m just hot and anxious—this is only nicotine withdrawal, superstition, twitchy fingers—and there is no such thing as bad luck.
He looked up and the crosswalk signal flashed, “Walk, Walk,” but Tom hesitated due to fear from the broken mirror, catch the next one, he thought. No…That is just superstition; it is the nicotine withdrawal nothing else. Walk now Tom, Go, Go, Go!
So he tried to make up lost time, and scurry across the street, but the crosswalk signal was already blinking red, “Don’t Walk, Don’t Walk.” Tom was standing in the middle of the busy street. The traffic light for the cars turned green. A car screeched to a murderous halt on hot tires. Then another car screeched to a halt, then another.
Tom touched the hood of one car; he was hot, and confused. From under the hood came a honk and Tom jumped. The cars with a green light could not move for Tom blocking them. They honked in a furious, disharmonious symphony. He finally came to his senses and scurried back towards from whence he came.
Damn it, never again, he vowed; it is the nicotine withdrawal and nothing else. Now you will probably be late for work at the bank at 3:20 p.m. He remembered the warning. “Tom if you are late just one more time,” the bank manager, had said, “I’ll have no choice but to let you go.”
Tom made it back to the side of the sidewalk from which he had started and he pressed the crosswalk button on the pole six times rapidly, anxiously. Sweat was now running off his brow and stinging his eyes again. He wiped his eyes so he could see. Sweat stuck to the starch of the neck of his dress shirt. He hated that. God, this is unbearably hot, and now, my damn job… I really wish I had just one god damned cigarette…”He looked up at the crosswalk sign. This was taking much too long,”
“Don’t walk,” “Don’t walk,” “Don’t walk,”… come on damn you, change to “Walk.” He had to make the next signal or it was his job. He anxiously looked down at his watch, and then his stomach sank in dread, his watch read “3:13,” bad luck, really bad luck. something ominous.
He looked up and the crosswalk signal flashed, “Walk, Walk” I do not know, maybe I should wait… I cannot go now—No stop it Tom! this is nothing but superstition again. Do not be a fool you have to get to work. “Walk now Tom, Go, Go, Go! Tom leaped into the street.
Instantly everything faded to dark. Suddenly something disconnected Tom’s brain from reality.
When Tom came back into conscious awareness, a dim light seemed to be falling around him. Where am I? Am I dead?
No, I am alive because I can feel my arms and legs moving. My mind works. I know who I am. I can think so I must exist.
Did a car hit me in the crosswalk? My arms and legs are fine.. But yes, that must be what happened, a car in the crosswalk hit me, but still I am alive. I am probably in a hospital bed right now, and unconscious. I will just have to wait in this place until my body awakens, then I shall reenter my body. Then there will be light all around me. Then I shall return to my body and be whole again.
Tom looked at his wristwatch. It was precisely midnight. A chill ran through him.
He found himself walking down an abandoned street of a vacant district. A dusty house of cards in the middle of nowhere made just for him. Why is this realm so dark? I can barely see. He did not know where he was, or where he was going. The shops unlit, the buildings sterile, everything smelled of yellowed paper, mildew and dust. He walked a long way in isolation. He checked his watch again; it was exactly midnight. That cannot be, it was midnight half an hour ago. I must wind my watch. Tom began to wind his wristwatch. Fully wound? How can my watch be fully wound? Something strange is happening here. I see no people. No dogs, not even sewer rats not even insects. This place is desolate. It is like being on the moon.
He instinctively knew that no one worked, or lived in this town because the streets were covered in a heavy dust and there were no track of cars or pedestrians in the dust. As he squinted, trying to see as he made his way down the alleys. He strained to see in the shadows. As he walked and the streets were so quiet, he could hear his own heart beating. Then through a cloud, a sick, pale moonlight shone down on a town he mistrusted. Smoke-like fog rose up from the ground in whorls and covered the streets. Tom looked at his watch again, exactly midnight. What is wrong with this watch? He shook his forearm and wrist vigorously. Then he looked carefully at his watch. The second hand is not moving and this watch stopped exactly at midnight.
A chill ran down Tom’s spine, he folded his arms over his chest. Tom noticed that he was soaked with sweat but cold.
He started walking along the vacant streets to keep his mind occupied. His shoes stepped in dust, which had the consistency of powder. It was as if Tom was walking on the moon. He looked behind him and saw the deep imprints from his footsteps. He kicked at the dust, curiously, and a cloud of powder filled the air. He coughed violently. He looked at his shoe; a layer of dust coated it. He tried to wipe his shoe clean by rubbing it on the back of the left leg of his slacks. He was irritated with himself. He was also beginning to be afraid because there seemed to be no life in this place.
Tom walked around the corner into an alley. Tom squinted in disbelief, as he was certain that he saw a person standing in the distance. Tom smiled and waved. The person waved back at him.
Tom ran, encumbered by the dust, towards the person. When he was close, he realized it was not a man. He saw it was a beautiful woman standing there. She was in a short dress standing in the shadows of the dark street. Tom thought; she is smiling at me and I feel greatly relieved and aroused… It is almost as if she has been waiting there for me to arrive.
Even in the pale moonlight, I could see her dress was bright red—and…her lips they were red as well.
As I walked to her in the night, her eyes were fluid in dark swirling colors, of red wine, Arabian coffee, and Indian ink.
“Your lips are stained crimson,” I said to her.
It must be from a drop of her pricked blood. She surely smeared the blood on her lips.
My curiosity aroused, I leaned in towards her and I said, “I imagine that you rubbed that foul crimson tint in between your thumb and forefinger and colored your lips with you finger didn’t you?”
She did not reply but smiled again in a most becoming way. She then licked her lips. Then she smiled at Tom. Her smile was amazingly seductive.
She wants me, and I want her passionately. I want to make love to her.
Then she spoke to Tom. She leaned into Tom’s body space and whispered, “I would adore it very much if I could kiss you. I only want my lips to touch your lips—so gently that it makes us both ache, our lips—like a butterfly’s wings gently closing, and scarcely touching,” then she exhaled into Tom’s face. Her breath smelt divine, like roses and lavender soap.
I must taste her lips so I will know if it is her blood.
As if she read his mind she cooed. “I want you to taste my lips. And when we pull our lips apart, I want to them to cling to one another, reluctant to part—like new lovers.” She smiled cunningly with those red lips against teeth so white that they shined, even in the pale moonlight.
And then Tom leaned in to kiss her. It was a long, deep, sensuous kiss. It is her blood on her lips; it tastes like a mild percentage of both salt, and copper. I liked that. But more importantly, how did she ever learn to kiss like that? Who taught her—that is the best kiss I have ever had. He smiled and pulled back away to look at her again.
That was when he saw it; he shivered in horror.
“What the hell is this—what did I just do? I did not kiss a beautiful woman I kissed a monster. As I look before me I do not see a beautiful woman in a red dress, I see a being with elephantine skin, large cracked lips, and thick mucus dripping off them.”
The monster wore a dark hooded shroud. When he put his hood back on, his face was no longer visible. He was a hood and cloak of darkness standing there facing Tom.
Before Tom could gasp in horror, Death had its cold bony handover his mouth. Death then exhaled a deep, foul, breath, emptying his lungs.
And before Tom could beg or say that one last prayer for forgiveness Death put its dry cracked lips on Tom’s mouth. Then Death sucked in from Tom’s body and snuffed the fluttering candle flame of existence, sucking his life out of his very soul. Death took Tom’s life into his foul lungs and walked off.
Tom had no more thoughts or cognizance. Tome left behind only a corpse lying in a hospital bed but was not aware of it. Tom was gone—forever.
It was a cold November day, and as I lay in bed awakening, I saw the newborn sun’s illumination flare up behind the layer of condensation on the bedroom windowpanes.
My ancestors had repainted those wooden, square borders that hold the glass, painting them again and again over the years. The wood had an accretion of paint layers, almost geological, and sedimentary, in sheets of white weather coatings. After many years, the layers of white paint flaked, and cracked into many fine lines and fissures.
The bedroom window I looked at was an old window, in an old house, a house of four generations, which in time became home.
The sun’s light, filtered by the fog on the window, shone diffusely into our bedroom as a gold, radiant mist. It filled the bedroom, as if gilded dust hung about everywhere in the air.
Turning my head on the pillow, I saw her sleeping next to me. The soft radiance revealed the graceful, contours of my wife’s face. Hers was a statuesque, symmetrical, bone structure, resulting in feminine loveliness.
The condensation on the windowpanes, attested to our warm life breaths, pulling in and out of sleeping lungs during the night. The layer of moisture clung to the glass as a memory. It held the traces of her whispers in bed, whispers which I had felt against the nape of my neck the night before. I vaguely recalled that softly spoken, “I love you,” fading away, as my conscious awareness sank, into the oblivion of sleep, as if I were slipping beneath the surface of quicksand.
Coming out of my recollection, I yawned. I rubbed my eyes, sat up, and leaned my bare back against the vertical bars, at the head of the antique brass bedframe.
Over many years, the dry country air discolored the brass bedframe’s slats, bars, and darkened the round brass knobs atop the bedposts. As a child, I loved to turn these brass knobs with my small hands, as the circular orbs squeaked and vibrated when rotated.
The antique bedframe now showed in gradations, a spectrum of tarnished brass in the colors from shiny to the darkest bronze.
Reaching back for more than a century and a half, that bed frame had been the marital bed of the previous three generations of my family. Each generation of my ancestors married, and as a couple, they slept each night in the brass bed, and they grew old together slumbering on their Sears and Roebuck feather mattresses.
In their golden years, I contemplated what their old minds dreamed about, and how each of them lived, acting out scenes, in the realm of their imaginings. I wondered if for a night, they were young once again. As I imagined them dreaming, I could picture white diamonds pulsing, scattered across the vast, black, velvet expanse of the heavens, hanging so high above the tin roof of this humble house.
I suddenly emerged from within the depths of my mind, and became again aware of myself sitting up in the Family Bed, leaning back against the cold brass bars of the headboard. Having laid my bare back against the brass bars for too long, I was deeply chilled. I shivered in the cold bite of the bedroom air, frigid inside the unheated house.
As I pulled the old patchwork quilt, that my grandmother had sewn by hand, from atop the bed, I pulled it gently, so as not to wake her. Yet I also pulled it all the way to me, so as to bundle it and wrap it about me. I removed the patchwork quilt, from the pile of the many others that warmed she and I during the cold nights of the winter.
I wrapped the warm cloth heirloom around my bare neck, my shoulders, and my back. Then I pulled it around in front of me, grasping both ends of the quilt in one hand, holding it at my neck.
I was careful not to wake her as I lowered my legs off the bed, and let my bare feet touch the cold wooden floor. I stood up to get the blood moving in my legs, and in seconds, the chill of the floor drained all of the heat from my feet. My feet throbbed, burning painfully with the coldness. I walked away from the bed quietly, and I headed in curiosity towards the window to look at the translucent condensation on the windowpanes.
At first glance, the moisture on the inside of the pane, looked just like frosted glass, but as I inspected the foggy film more closely, I saw that the condensation was actually thousands of microscopic beads of water, each clinging tenuously to the surface of the windowpane.
In wonder, I touched the layer of moisture. The glass was cold and it chilled my finger. The moisture of our exhaled breaths wet my finger as I swiped it across the glass. My finger made a clear streak in the condensation on the pane, and small drops of water ran down from its edges. I quickly exhaled on it, and the clear streak filled halfback with the fog of the moisture of my breath’s humidity.
I turned and looked back to the bed, and I saw my wife sleeping. I cherished her with my eyes. She was beautiful as her skin basked in the morning light. Her naked shoulder lay exposed above the blanket, supple, and ivory white. She was young and innocent, shapely and nubile. In awe of her, my breath hung heavy in my lungs, and for a moment, I could not breathe.
The night before, when we went to bed, her long, chestnut hair had lay splayed out, in voluptuous disarray, across her pillow. While nuzzling at the soft, white, nape of her neck, I had pressed my nose into the silky morass of her dark hair. I inhaled the fusion of many delicate, intermingling fragrances. I remembered the all-consuming, sensual nature of the smell of her hair.
Deeply woven into her reddish brown waves were traces of the farmland. Her long lustrous hair bore the earthen, musty smell of freshly turned over sod in the plowed fields. Also was the scent of that distinct breeze, which always arrives as a fragrant announcement, just moments before a summer rain shower in the country. This was a fragrant breeze that undeniably smells like safety and home. It is the smell of a blessing.
My nose detected numerous, feminine, anointing oils in her hair, and of her flesh; the oils were a musky fusion that composed her unique, primal smell. No other woman alive exuded the same fragrance. My body knew the smell of her instinctually. And when I smelled her scent, I knew she was my mate.
Her scent whispered to my sense of smell, beckoning my body unto hers. It was an intoxicating bidding of her pheromones in the innocent concupiscence of our love.
Her hair bore the scented memories from the previous evening. Woven deeply within her long silken curls, was the smell of perspiration from our naked, entwined, exhausted bodies. There was the brackish biting smell of the ocean’s waves, whitecaps that surged, swelling, and rushing inland towards the untouched volcanic rocks. The waves struck the black, jagged, pillars with a fury, throwing expansive white froth, in wide fan-like dispersals and a fine mist of briny droplets.
We made amatory thunder in the night, as our bodies lunged and hove in the brass bed, moving inside of each other. It seemed that the earth moved beneath us. And for one sacred moment, the boundaries that separated us dissolved, and our two souls fused, and we both inhaled, and sighed, in one shared breath of ecstasy.
As we slept, she was soft legs, which were warm against my hamstrings on a cold winter night. She had a perfect curve the neck, the graceful arc of a warm breast, the curving relief of a smooth hip, and a white delicate shoulder that I woke up to in the night, a bare shoulder that I loved to pull the hand-made patchwork quilt back over.
She was wide, sleepy, coffee brown eyes—eyes that compelled my deepest trust by never asking for it. Her eyes showed no sign of judgment nor embarrassment, of she nor I, nor our naked bodies. Her eyes showed only a loving acceptance, for my body, my strengths, my insecurities, and my foibles.
Hers were eyes that willingly unveiled the window into her soul and revealed everything about her to me, and in doing so belied absolutely nothing that I could not accept and love, and nothing that I could not forgive and forget.
Her dark eyes staring deeply into mine made me stronger, and somehow they made me more of a man. Her eyes loved me with their softness, and they humbled me with their profound tenderness. Her eyes brought me to my knees.
When I looked deep into her eyes, I saw her innocence, her virtue, and a deep love and gratitude for everything in her life. I revered these eyes, and looking into them made me want to be a better man.
At times when thunderclouds rained down angry and struck hard on our tin roof, her eyes looked into mine showing fright. When those eyes looked into mine, the worry melted away. I realized that I had soothed her, and she was no longer afraid. Then she wrapped one arm over my chest and the other underneath my neck and she pulled her body close into mine.
And when I understood what she felt emotionally, that she believed that I had the power to protect her, and give her succor, it melted away all my inhibitions. And I cried, and I was not ashamed. She whispered tender admiration into my ear; she kissed my neck in nurturing love, and laid her cheek on my chest, then she rapidly fell into a deep, safe, sleep.
Hers were the only eyes that I would walk to the end of the earth, simply to gaze into, as they told me that she truly loved me, and that she would stay with me for the rest of our lives.
They were the eyes that I wanted to grow old with over the years. And such eyes could never lose their resplendent love and acceptance with the passing of decades.
And I was not concerned about aging. Because I knew that when I was an old man, and looked into her eyes, I would always be young.
Source : How to Use the Power of the Printed Word, Doubleday
Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.
These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful — ? And on and on.
Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.
So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head. Continue reading