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As promised... - Wild Kingdom
"Nothing Is What It Seems..."
As promised...
Remember when I promised you all that I would torture you with my writing assignments from my short story class this term? Well, turns out I can't read very well and I'm a doofus and what I actually got was not a short story writing class, but instead a short story literature class. And for those of you who may not know, lit classes are basically where you sit around and read a bunch of stories (in this case short stories) and then you talk about them. Talk about their structure, talk about what the author meant when he said X and how that pertains to Y and how Z is a perfect example of that. At it's most basic, lit classes are mental masterbation. Which is definately NOT what I was expecting or what I wanted, but oh well.

But, we still did have one assignment that was actually creative (sorta) where we had to write a variation of one of the stories we'd read. Now, mind you, I disliked to hated every story we've read all term, so my imitation, I feel, is basic and pretty well a piece of crap. But it is what it is, and the instructor liked it, so I mustn't complain too highly.

If you would like to read the story I am imitating, it can be found here. I personally don't care much for it, and I found that the first time I read it, the ending didn't hold a lot of meaning for me so it didn't really make a lot of sense. And by that I mean that I understood what happened in the story, but not why, so the ending was disappointing for me. But if you read it a couple of times, it makes more sense (at least I found that it did).

So, without further ado, I will present my devise of infinite torture and imitation for your pleasure and/or pain (behind the cut, of course).


The View Opposite
By Jennifer Atkins

The mistress invariably shuddered when she looked out of her window. A pious man occupied the house across the street. Late in the evening, when she opened her door to her suitors, she could see the old man across the street peeking at her with a horrid scowl across his face. She knew that he was a religious man, a man who had chosen to give up all earthly possessions. She occasionally would see him herd the children into his house, glowering at her the whole time. She was certain that he then would proceed to lecture the children about how sinful was the life people like herself led and how his life was the way, the right way, to God. She had even heard from her nieces and nephews that the old man sometimes would bribe the children into prostrating themselves in front of his ratty old pictures of the gods that he had cut out of some old magazine discarded in the street. If they seemed sincere enough in their recitations of sacred verse, her nieces and nephews told her, then the old man would let them go with a piece of sugar candy. The mistress heard from her neighbors that the old man didn't even own a bed. Which wasn't terribly surprising but the mistress thought that it was possible the ascetic wasn't into that much self-torture. She was wrong.

Through carefully snuck glances and neighborhood rumors the mistress learned that the old man lived a terribly boring, monotonous life; up before the rooster, patting his body with a damp cloth at the well and calling it a bath, then meditation for hours. Later he'd cook barely enough food to keep a mouse alive, avoiding any food that might satisfy as well as nourish. Then to sleep at sundown, on the bare floor with a piece of wood for a pillow. She scoffed at such foolishness. The old man believed that through starvation and pain he'd reach enlightenment, but she knew that all he reached was bitter grumpiness.

Her own life was that of pleasure and luxury. She supped on the finest foods available, brought to her by her suitors. She slumbered upon a dozen pillows, each softer than the next. She took languid baths on a regular basis, scented with flowers and the finest soaps money could buy. The ascetic took perverse pleasure in his bodily pain, following without question a guru who had gained no more enlightenment than the student. What fools they were, their misery having lots of company, but in the end they would die miserable and as unenlightened as the jackass pulling a cart in the street. The mistress wouldn't die in such a way. She would die as she lived, in eternal comfort.

One afternoon, while waiting for her next suitor to show up, the mistress stepped outside to feel the sun upon her face. It was a lovely day, and she enjoyed the warmth on her skin and the lovely scent of flowers that the soft breeze brought to her from the market booths. Yes, it seemed even the gods enjoyed her sensuality and gave her these gifts to honor her. She breathed deeply and enjoyed the gifts for a moment with her eyes shut.

She heard something, so she opened her eyes and out of habit looked across to the old man's house. He was staring at her, of that she was sure, but it seemed he did not notice that she was looking back at him. She pretended not to notice him, but kept an eye on him to see what he was up to. She saw that his face was flushed and he seemed to be shaking slightly. She saw him cross and uncross his eyes several times and she had to stifle a giggle, lest she be found out. What a ridiculous creature, crossing one's eyes. She heard a hiss come from his direction and instantly in her mind's eye she saw a cross-eyed snake trying to talk it's prey into coming closer. She turned and walked back into the house quickly so that she would not be discovered laughing at him. She didn't want the neighbors to think she was spiteful.

That night, she found that she couldn't get the old man out of her mind. Even as she outwardly entertained her suitors, giving them the pleasure that they sought in her arms, in her bed, she found herself distracted by persistent questions that arose in her mind. What was it about this old man that made her dislike him so? Well, she knew most of the answer to that one. He looked down on her, obviously. He thought she was despicable and unworthy of the breath she drew. But he was certainly not the first person who thought this way about her. The others she had so easily brushed off, like so much dust upon her gown. Their opinions meant nothing to her, and she knew that the gods understood. Maybe she wasn't enlightened, but she also knew they weren't either or they wouldn't look down upon her. Enlightenment wasn't what she sought out anyway. She sought comfort. The end of misery through the partaking in pleasurable things. She could not, for the life of her, understand how people like that old hermit thought that they could end suffering by creating suffering in themselves. How could you end suffering if you're constantly hungry? How could you learn compassion for others with a perpetual kink in your neck because you laid on the floor with a piece of wood under your head? All she could imagine getting from that was splinters in her head, and she smiled at the thought of the ascetic trying to remove a splinter that he couldn't see at the back of his head.

While her companion thought that it was his wit that made her smile, she realized something about herself. She realized that in some ways, she was just as bad as the old man. He looked down upon her because she slept with men for money. And she looked down upon him for his righteous attitudes. She found herself pitying the old man, despite herself. After the last man had gone for the evening, as she was blowing out the candles, she made a decision as to what to do.

After only a few hours of sleep, she rose the next morning before dawn. She personally went to the kitchen and, without waking the cook, she gathered fruits and flowers and put them on a tray. Hoping to catch him before his "bath", she hurried to the door. Looking across the street, she saw the ascetic with a wicker box in his hand. She saw him close the door gently and pause, looking at his dwelling. He looked as though he might not return and she was glad she'd decided to make her move this morning. Quickly she crossed the street and called out to him. "Swamiji," she called. Stunned, he stood watching her approach. She placed the tray at his feet and whispered, "Please accept my offering. On this day I seek a holy man's blessing. You may not know it, but you have taught me much. Forgive me."


Final notes:

Any comments you feel you'd like to make, feel free. Please keep in mind, I am NOT presenting this as any great work of mine. I don't particularly like it and I feel my limitations in the assingment really hindered my creativity. However, please also remember that this is wholely MY work and as such, all rights are reserved. In other words, if you're gonna borrow, give credit, please.

With that said, I'll shut up now and let you comment as you will. Thank you for reading and/or listening.
3 comments or Leave a comment
paradoxicalsoul From: paradoxicalsoul Date: November 26th, 2003 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)
haha! see? I told you it was crap. ;)
luffbucket From: luffbucket Date: February 20th, 2004 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)


It was your best story, your most descriptive. And I sensed you had limitations, and though it might have stifled you in the way of storytelling, it actually concentrated your mind to the characters within it.
paradoxicalsoul From: paradoxicalsoul Date: February 20th, 2004 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)


thank you, you're very kind...
3 comments or Leave a comment