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General Fiction Short Stories
Orli and Eden
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Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:29 pm
Okay; this is a novel that I started in October, I kind of abandoned it, but I'm thinking of going back to it (maybe) the first two chapters are appallingly bad, well, actually, quite a lot of it is, I've improved a bit since then. So, do you think I should carry on?
Brief blurb(ish) thing
Set in the second world war. Eden and Orli Schwartz are Jews living in Germany. Orli is fourteen and Eden is eleven, but she's extremely sceptic, you'll realise after reading. It's kind of very mixed up and choppy. During this extract Eden's father (who's a lawyer) is trying to solve the case of the Cohen's. Then, a bit later on they move to England
I really, really liked this piece at the time it was written, mainly because I love the characters. So, I'm very, very scared about showing you this as it means a lot to me.
Rip it to shreds:
What I want to know:
Do you like the characters? Are they well developed... The usual.
The language - I need a lot of help here! People who have read some of my work know I have a huge problem with writing 'I be' and I really need help on that
the language used is perhaps a bit too formal for the time period but I don't really want to change it.
Overall opinions. Should I carry on with it?
Oh yeah! One more thing, the 'heart' scenario plays a very big part in this story, it's very important
I also need help from anyone who knows, what would Jews refer to themselves as? I just wrote
solely for Jewish people.
as I'm not sure what they would 'call' themselves, or so to speak, and I don't want this piece to be offensive in any way.
My Father - much to our surprise was back at work, much more concealed now. His company worked solely for Jewish people , before the war they had focused on Jews, but his desire for justice led him to allowing other religions into his office. His workplace was at the end of heisst street, a tall grey sandstone building, that seemed to my young eyes as though it went upwards forever. A rotting placard hung limply above the small windows:
Rechtsanwalt und Anwälte”
My father had been fighting-unsuccessfully- a particular case for many months now. The case of the Cohen’s, one of my former friends’ family. Ari, she was averagely built, long chestnut curls coiled around her sharp chin, hypnotic chocolate eyes were set in line with small elfish ears. She had an interesting sense of humour, rather trivial. She was a quiet girl, shy amongst strangers, flawlessly polite, with impeccable manners. Her father, Mr Caleb Cohen, was the local doctor, a stout man, strict both in conduct and manner. He was always dressed perfectly, down to the last smudge of polish upon his spotless hob-nailed boots. He indulged upon life’s pleasures without shame. He had never been one to put on any sort of façade, always preferring to see things the way they were - hence the way he spent money. His wife - Eli, was an elegant woman, pretty and charming in nature and appearance, she had a natural mothering instinct, and Ari was treated very well - almost spoiled in a way, not in the way Orli and myself were though, a more subtle way, my father’s approach to spoiling involved money, lots of it. Whereas Mr Cohen’s was a more poignant, emotional approach.
The Cohen’s had lived on an expensive estate. A large house, with many windows, overlooking luscious greenery. I had wandered imperturbably past it many times, pondering over exactly how many rooms the house contained, how many nooks and crannies, were stuffed into the mansion. The problem they now faced was to do with money, an ironic prospect within such a rich household. Mr Cohen had been overthrown, simply for being Jewish. His job had been given to a semi qualified German ’moron’, as quoted by Cohen himself. His house and possessions had been given away, for the best offer, Cohen and his family had been thrown onto the streets, all solely because of prejudice on the Germans’ behalf. His property now housed a different occupant. A German soldier and his family; Kurt Weiss, a tall, broad shouldered man, patriotic down to the very last detail, with ash blonde hair and liquid blue eyes. Not with many academic prospects. I often smiled to myself at that - the way no one is perfect, everyone has their flaws; myself no exception - perhaps even supplementary. I suppose I have always been a good comparison, a perspective, a way to realise that your worst fears are not frivolous, that they don’t really exist.
Upon the case of Mr Cohen my father had began to doubt his talents, his depression resulted in my family becoming quieter- a strange spectacle with regard to our usual talkative spirits. Resulting in Orli becoming monotonous, her usual emotional state had been dejected amongst the angst of my father’s ever changing moods. Her latest days were filled with dreary routines, her usual warm smile replaced with a grimace, her lime green eyes had lost their sparkle, now sadly placid. Despite our family’s depression the world went on, everyday the sun would rise, with a satisfying normality, the day ended and we were bathed in glints of moonlight, refracting Orli’s wearied eyes as I curled up in my small bed, with it’s scratchy covers and observed Orli. During the course of my observations I had discovered a change in Orli, she was different now, more thoughtful. I often caught her deep in thought, her eyes wrinkled in concentration, lost in dreams, pondering upon subjects that I did not care to think about. Philosophies. Her predictability had eased slightly, now that her soul seemed to be engaged in a subject that not only interested her, but captivated every piece of her to an extent that she was absent from the real world, her body was lifeless and still, a mere presence I didn’t contemplate over where her heart and soul really belonged, where they longed to be more than anything, I considered her behaviour simply a mark of who she was. A way to identify her from the rest. I knew that I was being typical of myself, I did not have a way to escape the realities of life, I didn’t have my own world to disappear to and unlike my sister I didn’t have a world to disappear into plainly because I had no desire to disappear, at least until the war. I wasn’t like Orli, I didn’t see point in disappearing, instead I concluded that life would be easier if I faced up to reality. If I lived in the real world, however harsh that world might be, and in doing so I inwardly accepted all shortcomings.
I cared not to delve into business that was not mine to delve into, however, it was obvious that the Cohen case had improved, my father now walked to work with a skip in his step, and a whistle as opposed to his usual despondent frown. A kiss was deposited upon my small cheeks every-day before he left eagerly for work. And so arrived the 12th of September. The day of the Cohen’s court case. My father was up at the crack of dawn, racing around the house frantically, he held small sheets of yellow tatty paper, which curled at the edges with hoariness. His writing was scrawled all over them. On a rare inattentive moment on my father’s behalf I caught a glimpse of them. Desperately inquisitive as to how the case was managing I attempted to read; the illegible hand writing refused to make it easy for me, and much to my annoyance I had to give up. At around nine Father left, running back only to plant the kisses he had forgotten earlier upon our heads. Upon my asking of how Father managed to go through all these cases without shedding a single tear he told me that when he left for work he left his heart in our hands, asking us to look after it for him until he returned.
My father returned from the Cohen case with remorse abstracting his face. He did not wish his heart to be returned that night, I was to keep it for him, until he wished to redeem it. The case had not gone well, not only was it not going my father’s way but there were people there - a certain type of people - people that sent controversy everywhere they went. Tall men, it seemed apparent to my father that they all dressed the same, in long coal black jackets that trailed down to their ankles, and shiny boots. However I knew this to be untrue, my father, ironically, went against his cleverness and did not administer to his usual inclinations of scrutinizing every detail about a single person, instead he seemed wary, reluctant to discover the truth surrounding these people. He began to eat, not even bothering to check what he was eating. After his meal he rose from the table and declared that he was going to bed. Slowly after me and Orli followed.
Orli was talking to me as usual, her normal sparkle returned at long last to her green eyes; she was talking of the Cohen’s, about Lizza Cohen, the late grandmother of Ari. Of late Orli had become particularly friendly with Ari Cohen, consoling her, sympathising with her. Lizza Cohen was an elderly woman, both in mind and physique. She was schizophrenic, living a life of solitude in a mental institution, for she did not live alone but she lived within herself. Unintentionally alone. Rumours fluttered around the town, conspiracies flew around the town that Caleb Cohen had disowned Lizza as soon as she had become ill, although the precise details were unclear. Orli was stating that she would rather die than be mentally ill, I had answered wryly that I wasn’t so sure. She hated the idea of not truly being herself, not being slightly tuned into reality, as much as her own little world mattered to her she had decided that staying slightly tuned into reality was important. I thought differently. Perhaps not really being yourself would be good, perhaps letting go of the real world would be a rewarding prospect, an interesting spectacle even to me. The irony of the situation made me laugh, Orli was the creative one, the one that loved to disappear, who’s soul remained vacant from the real world almost every minute of every day, where as I; I didn’t like my world, I was a realist, choosing reality over anything else and I was willing to totally let go of the world. I was left pondering over my incongruity as Orli put out the light and bid me a goodnight.
Father was gone by the time I had got up. It was a shame, I had forgotten to ask him if he wished his heart back! The sun had risen earlier than normal, ebbing away all traces of the previous darkness that had engulfed the whole country. Mother had awoken me at around six, to inform me that school had finished, at least until times were safer. I had asked her when times would be safer, and she had replied that she did not know. And so began my boredom. Orli would sit beside me and tell me stories all day long, but I grew uninterested, as I could not allow myself to disappear, I couldn’t understand her stories with the imagination she had told them with, and so I grew tedious. Orli preferred then to tell her stories to no one, but the scrawls of paper upon which she spent many hours staring at. The journal that I had given her for her 14th birthday had been well used, it was frayed at the edges, from being used so much. I contented myself by sitting talking to mother, about recent matters of interest whilst listening to the scratching of Orli’s pen scrawl across the pages of her exhausted journal.
Father arrived home later than usual, an abnormality amongst his usually perfect timing. He came jogging into the house breathing in ragged uneasy breaths. He looked at us first, as if for the first time ever, surveying every one of our faces one at a time, swallowing up every detail. He sat down, not saying a word and turned to me.
“I’ll have my heart back now”, I smiled brightly, him doing the same; mirroring my actions.
“You’ve won!?” , I asked intrusively.
“Not quite ,Eden.” “Almost.”
“The most curious situation came about today, Mr Cohen did not attend court. His own court case and he did not attend, how odd?”
The room was silent as it was enveloped in intrigue.
Orli came running up to father, the prospect of optimism upon her face. Her eyes flickered brilliantly in the dark room, sparks of fire reflected her deep orbs, shimmering wildly. She looked up at father, catching his attention, they exchanged a look of apprehension, which vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
Father had beamed up at me, and placed his hands upon my face:
“Eden, I want you to know that whatever happens, no matter what, I’ll always love you, and although I’ve accepted my heart, I never truly want it, I want you to have it. You, and Orli, and your Mother.”
“You look after mine and I’ll look after yours”, I replied truthfully.
I reached up and wiped his face as a tear began to gently roll down his cheek.
Much to my surprise I was sent to bed early that night, it had merely reached seven upon the old wooden clock, which rested against the mantelpiece, instinctively I had left the room, careful not to anger father. His recent evocative speeches had tired him. Upon my departure from the room I heard Father arguing, not of a pugnacious nature, but nevertheless arguing. I was inclined to inquire as to what they were arguing about, but thought it favourable on behalf of both parties- if I just stayed out. I stood loitering beside the door for some time, staring at the spiralling oak patterns, that glided up the doorway, eventually ebbing away into nothingness. There was a voice coming from inside- one that I did not recognize, a rather elderly man I guessed, by the sound of the muffled voice coming from within, interrupted regularly by fits of coughing. I wandered further through the hallway, contemplating over who the visitor was.
It was only when I passed the front room that I realized who the presumed speaker was. It was none but Mr Cohen himself. A crippled version of Mr Cohen. His hands were black, burnt to a crisp, charred to a cinder. His clothes were ragged and bloody. Holes formed almost every area of the thin material. The little that remained was drenched in blood. Crimson red stained his face, like war paint. He was breathing intermittently, irregularly. I could not stand to look at him one more minute. I closed my eyes tightly, willing them to stay shut forever.
“Bloody….” I couldn’t hear the conversation, I was somewhere else, for the first time ever I wished I was in Orli’s world, I wished I could be lost forever, and never found again. I slowly unlocked the blinding force of my eyes, that was shutting out the world. I couldn’t take it anymore. Mr Cohen was rich, more than rich, he was respected, whoever would dare do such a deed to one such as Mr Cohen must have been fearless to say the least, and gullible at best. A gasp escaped my mouth, not portraying half of the remorse that was engulfing my body. Mr Cohen turned to me, his eyesight obviously impaired.
“Who goes there?”, my father had pursued in Mr Cohen’s wonderings.
“Sss..sorry, Father.”, I replied careful to keep my tone normal as not to disturb Mr Cohen.
“Come here child…(cough)…I have not seen you in …(cough)…a long time”
I came closer to Mr Cohen, careful as not to suddenly lose my poise.
“I..bbbeg your pppardon ssirr, but whaaat exactly happened?”, my words were slurred and came out in raggedy syllables.
“Hmph… (cough) sir.” “Call… me by my (cough) name child”
“Sssorry Mr Cohen.”
“No child … (cough).”
“Caleb”, he said his own name as if for the first time, throwing the word around his mouth. It reminded me of the time that I had first embarrassed myself on that day in July. It seemed childish now, the embarrassement at having said ’lookerafterer’. This was the real world, the world that I had once told Orli was better than her world. I thoroughly doubted my theories now.
“Whaa.. (cough)… whaaat dignity do I have now?”, he asked sadly.
I did not know how to answer such a question, so I proceeded to sit on the floor beneath him as he recalled his story, letting the tears sail like gondolas down my cheeks.
It was none but the day before yesterday, that they had come; tall men, dressed in suits, all rather similar. They had passed Mr Cohen, on his way home from court, making a shrewd comment upon his court case, what a pointless man he was, for attempting to pose a threat to the ‘others’, as they had called them. He had questioned them upon their hypothesis, resulting in their anger at being talked to by ‘scum’. Caleb had ran, ran for miles, as fast as he could until he was a safe range from the men. He had dreaded returning to his family, in case by any chance these ‘people’, should be obliged to track down his family. By the time he had returned theories had ignited in his head of what these people had done to his family. Upon his arrival he had found his family safe and well. Perfectly serene, no change to their composure except perhaps, maybe, Mrs Cohen’s eyes had widened by half a millimetre, at the spectacle of how on earth her husband had become so roused over matters that she had no concern over. Momentarily anyway. That night he had gone to bed, yet not slept peacefully nor serenely. He had longed for apathy, not one moment did he spend perfectly tranquil. As night had finally passed, and daylight enveloped his bedroom he had got up and put his best suit on. Kissed his family, and said his goodbye’s. That evening he did not return, nor did he show up at court. Caleb claimed that after that morning he did not remember a thing, he could not recall what had happened or who was involved. All he was sure of was that his wearies were all directed at the men. No one had seen any of the men since the first day of court; they had simply disappeared.
Christmas arrived, and life had grown too arduous to survive. We were to leave the country. Forever. An air of childish innocence had passed over our household; at the idea of regaining our grip on reality. In the past months Orli had become even more distant; her soul completely vacant from the world. The Orli I had previously known had gone. She had simply vanished from the world. Her eyes were different now too; they were no longer set alight with every spark of excitement; they were darker now - more mysterious. She didn’t exist anymore. I knew deep down; somewhere lost amongst her newly angst ridden trait; she existed. Shying away inside of herself had driven her to sheer madness; somewhere inside her the illustrious Orli we all loved lived, waiting to be brought back up to the surface.
And so we were to escape. My cynistic nature doubted that life would become completely customary; we would be affected forever by the war. I contemplated upon that mere fact; the way such a few people had made so mamy lives living hells. A single person could ruin the world; one person, tearing the souls from so many - it wasn’t right; what gave one person the right to do so? My world was very much full of less riches now. Communism affected my family in every possible way - wrenching all goodness from our lives - taking our wearies and mingling them amongst even more troubles. My father’s’ wage had been cut; we lived upon meagre necessities.
The letter arrived on a Friday night. It was a cold night - the chilly October air bit viciously at my ankles. The letter was small - writing was scratched through the surface, a blotchy blue scrawl. The letter included a diminutive picture was included. A house was visible - not very easily recognized fault of the poor quality. It appeared rather old - rustic. An untidy message was scribbled underneath:
1929 Cable manor - England.
Lady Marice Earnshaw Longe.
A lady was standing beside the house, a prosperous looking women. She wore a long garment - a brown dress; and something draped around her neck. A ’shawl’ . I had never heard of such things. She seemed a rather distinguished women; not one devoid of dignity. Upon the ground sat a young boy. He was lying on the ground; his head perched upon his head, his long legs reaching high in the air above him. Something about him reminded me of Orli - the real Orli. Perhaps it was the way his eyes sparkled lustrously, or the air of devilish fun that surrounded him. The lady was glancing down at him, disapprovingly; a look of distaste upon her near perfect face. The boys name was added at the bottom. Written in even messier handwriting
Master Edward Longe.
The house was very large. ’Full of Grandeur, charm and character’; as quoted from Miss Catherine Longe - Lady Longe’s daughter. She was a stout woman - conventionally mannered. Of high social status - as suggested by her title ‘Lady’. Her mother had been of honorary descendants. Her great grandfather bringing in the family’s income; a wealthy ship merchant - successful to a point that his wealth had sealed the family’s fortune for generations to come. Mr Longe had married Miss Marice Shaw - not long after his marriage, however a terrible explicit scandal had broken out. His true manipulative figure was revealed - and he was charged with unorthodox heresy. His false so called Christianity was discovered to involve both murder and bigamy. And so on the seventh of January 1932 he had been convicted. Resulting in Mrs Longe spending the next twenty years of her life bringing up 5 children. Alone. The photo included her first two children. Catherine herself; and Edward- the boy. The names of the other 3 were printed at the bottom. Charlotte Longe, Hannah Marice Longe and Henrietta Longe. As I passed the letter to Orli I noticed something hard at the bottom. A small object. An air of suspense passed unexpectedly over the room; unintentionally I slipped the note into my pocket as I bid adieu to Father and Mother - myself and Orli went to bed.
It was near ten when I opened the object. Orli was asleep, her body gently rising as she breathed slow easy breaths. A muffled snore escaped her mouth as she turned over - evidently dreaming of an unpleasant scenario. The package was covered in ribbon. Red ribbon, a ribbon of such lustre that one could not help but being mesmerised upon seeing it. The ribbon was wrapped tightly around it - to a point that one got the impression that the individual who had deposited such an object did not intend for another soul to see it. I opened it and began to read:
By Marice Cable
Age 8 and ¾.
Monday 3rd July 1908.
Mother was not well today and I was not allowed to play with Teddy. He was very sad. All day he sat with a look of sadness on his face. His little plastic black eyes were all droopy and the way he looked at me it was as if he was saying please play with me Marice. Mother says I shood not talk to you like this. She says a yung lady shood be more For Mal, I do not no what For Mal means. I think it’s a person thow. I think she thinks I should be more helpful to Mal. Hens the reason its called For Mal. Hens is a funny wurd. Mrs Smith says that it meens sort of like becos of. She says that its sort of like saying I am wearing a neklace father bot it and I am going out with it on becos of the fact that he bot it for me. So she says you cood say.
I am wearing a neklace father bot it and I am going out for a meal with him hens the reason I’m wearing it.
I do not no its all very confusing. Charles stole my shool jotter today. He sed that my spelling wos atroshis. I wunder wot that meens. He also sed that I repeeted wurds Allot. Charles is my bruther. He is 12 and a haf. But father says he is klivililer than me. He ses that I am good at helping mother, and fixing teddys hair and playing with John. Johns my little bruther. Hes verry small and hes only 1 and a haf. I like to play with John. I do not no if he likes me playing with him becos hes only little and he duz not tok. I hav to go now becos mother wonts to see me befor I go to bed. I am going to ask her what For Mal means.
Bye bye diary.
One thing I was sure of was that this diary was not meant to be attached to the letter. Yet still it intrigued me. An insight as to Marice’s life. I felt like I was intruding- the letter was too personal, too intimate for anyone but Marice to read. I felt an obligation to return it to Marice and that I would. I placed the letter carefully under my bed; hiding it from the rest of the world. Suddenly a thought struck me. Marice had not written to father- it was in fact Catherine that had written to him, I could tell that father was still awake; light was licking it’s way from downstairs, small glints illuminating little parts of my bed. Evidently Orli was still asleep. And so I decided to find the letter for myself.
Father was downstairs, a glass of something strong in his hands. Sitting upon his seat I knew he would be in a state of sub consciousness, enough for me to collect the letter. I proposed to reach forward and grab the letter, unaware of father’s sudden awakening.
“Young lady, I intend to find out why you are awake at an hour such as this, so I suggest you turn around and come kneel on the ground by my feet while you explain”.
He caught me unaware and I withdrew my hand immediately. Knowing better than to question my fathers’ initiative I came and sat beside his knee. He smelt of sweet tobacco and beer.
“Now Eden, would you care to enlighten me upon your intention of exactly what you are doing, or would you prefer me to find out for myself?”, he didn’t ask the question as sternly as I had anticipated, nor manipulatively, mostly out of sheer curiosity.
“Nothing, Father”, I replied simply.
“Why are you up at this hour?”, he asked.
“Why, Father, I was simply just not tired. Orli was not awake so I was interested as to finding out more information about our new house. I merely came down to collect the letter - I was purely interested, I meant no insolence, you appeared asleep and I did not wish to disturb you. I am sorry father.”
“Eden, you have to understand that although cable manner may not be your idea of perfection it will save you. You will not face the discrimination and prejudice that no eleven year old deserves. You will not wake up merely to carry on for another day. You will live your life to the fullest. I am not going to let them destroy us. We will be free, do you understand that Eden?”
“Indeed I do father, I have no objection to such a life I merely wonder why we have to move, why do we have to be forced out of our country because of them?” I had become so used to the way people thought of ‘them’ that even I referred to them by such means.
“Ah Eden of course. You have such a free will, if nothing else will, I have no doubt that your attitude will carry you through this life! Do not think I have not considered that option. Oh! Many nights I have pondered over why we should have to move” he smiled at me gently, putting his hand on my chin and lifting my face up to look directly into his. His solid brown eyes had liquidised becoming a creamy chocolate colour as he added kindly:
“Eden never doubt that I care for here - for I have no such attachments to places, the plain fact of you and Orli and your mother is enough for me to immediately move. You do understand that don’t you Eden? I move only for you, you and Orli and your mother are my stars - my stars on a dark night. Shimmering, never faltering to delight and amuse. But most of all. Consistent. Not once have you let me down Eden, I fear not that you will ever. You couldn’t possibly fail me. My world revolves around you Eden. Without you, Orli and your mother I would crumble” a small chuckle added “I’d become delirious!”
I laughed as I gazed up at my father. He smiled back, every one of my features illuminating with every second that went back.
“I understand father, I understand how hard this must be for you, how very hard for you to make the decision between here or there. I understand father, how much it breaks your heart to imagine me, Orli or Mother in danger. I understand simply because I know how it feels, purely because I feel the same”. He stayed, his penetrating gaze fixed on me, swallowing me up desperately as if seeing me for the first time ever.
“Now child, Goodnight”
“I love you, Eden”
“I love you too, Father”.
I left the room, he retreated back into the depth of his seat, as I departed,
He laughed and suddenly said
“Eden, here”, the letter was thrown into my hands, and, unbalanced I stumbled back as if being hit by a depth charge instead of the small letter.
“Don’t stay up too late Eden”.
“I won’t, Father”, I replied I as I skipped happily upstairs.
My bedcovers had gone cold by the time I got back, and a draughty wind was blowing outside, but nothing was going to put me out of my high spirits. Not the twigs tapping wildly on the window nor the storm evidently brewing in the distance. The sky was sable black. A few stars twinkled. And as I looked at them I saw father wink at me, his star glittering ferociously as he reminisced over the good times - and looked towards the better times.
It was in fact near midnight when I eventually fell asleep - awakening the next morning to find Orli’s bed vacant. I padded gently downstairs, to find where she was. Palpably she was not downstairs, and so with the intention to find her I walked back upstairs. However in her place I found mother. Not in a good mood. She was muttering unintelligibly over matters that I found no interest in and bewildered, I asked her where Orli was.
“Orli?”, she asked infuriately.
“Perhaps you should ask your father. He has taken her to ‘Lien Roch’
(the local bookshop), for some absurd reason, he has taken to the idea of spending more money on his family”, she carried on wavering over the ‘strange things that sometimes filled that man’s mind’, as I went to get changed. Opening my drawer I found a messy piece of paper with scrawls of writing. Familiar writing, formed in large loops, arching above the other letters. I recognized it immediately from the many documents around the house . Fathers’.
Meet me at outside at mid-day. We are to go shopping! I intend to treat you and Orli today!
A small diagram concluded the note - obviously intended to be a face, although father’s logical approach made it appear more like a scientific hypothesis. And so I got ready as the clipping of father’s shoes and the sound of Orli’s voice advanced.
It was several hours later that I returned, armed with several new coats; one of which I adored. It was a long attire; from far away it looked perfect, flawless. Up close however it’s many blemishes were revealed. It was with comforting perspective that I looked upon that single fact. The matter of normality being caught up with ‘perfection’, the way that nothing was completely perfect. Along with my new coats I had purchased a new pair of shoes; little boots, housing enough fabric to keep my feet warm through the coming winter. Father had informed me that England was not as warm as Germany, in fact it was rather cold. Not that I minded, in fact I was pleased, the cold a solace. Perhaps a hallmark of my pessimistic nature. Although I preferred to think of it simply as a mark of my indifference.
Father’s optimism proved invaluable in restoring Orli’s happiness. And Orli returned. The real Orli! At long last. Father reminded us to be particularly careful as to not anger her. He believed that retreating inside herself was morally wrong.
Autumn was upon us - the leaves had browned and dried, and we were set to leave for England in three days. The fore-night of our journey arrived and as me and Orli lay, darkness licking the eternal flames of our souls to sleep; I could vaguely make out the shape of Orli’s head turning towards me:
“Eden; are you going to miss Germany, d’ya think?”, she had asked.
“Yes, I am, are you?”
“I don’t know Eden , you know some of the things that have happened here, I think it would rekindle too many thoughts that I have spent so long trying to bury.”
“I’m not going to miss here, Orli, I’m just going ta miss the essence of here. You know, the real here. Not now - I would go anywhere now; nothing in the world could keep me here.”
“Not even…not even if I stayed.”
This caused me to rise from my bed; sitting up straight and staring towards Orli’s dark figure.
“No, it’s nothing Eden”
“No, Orli, what did you mean?”
“It’s jus I can’t stand leavin’ them here Eden, knowing the hell that they could be going through.”
“No, Orli, don’t worry, they’ll be fine. Father says so ‘imself, and he always tells the truth, Orli”
Silence claimed its reward as the final traces of moonlight were partly eclipsed by a large cloud.
“Jus’ think, this time tomorrow we’ll be in England!”, I said trying to revive optisism. Orli laughed.
“D’ya know Eden you happen to be the most pessimistic person I know! Trying to say that - you should hear yourself!”
I laughed along with her - at least slightly amused by her speech.
It was late when we arrived in England - although not yet dark. From the depths of my tired eyes I could make out a building. Cable Manor. My home. It was grand to say the least. Huge gargoyle like sculptures stood aside the large horseshoe doorway. Windows were decorated with fancy metal twisted into all kinds of shapes. Fields surrounded the country house. As Orli and I gazed up at the house in incredulity father opened the door. We entered. The house was definitely not devoid of dignity:
“Well, beautiful, if not slightly ostentatious”, father laughed.
I laughed sardonically along with him. The house held a certain poise; it did not seem to regard father’s comment and incidentally proved him wrong. Rich polished woods of such browns that their lustre was somewhat impossible shone under the large chandeliers. The staircase was a most interesting prospect - spiralling around a middle point - hence it was named a ‘spiral staircase’. Father found that this was not the only staircase, another one stood solidly at the back of vast room.
I stared at the latter - they were above a small boarded up room that father referred to as a cupboard. A small scream escaped my mouth upon seeing her. She was a small lady. Dressed nevertheless in but the same clothes of the photo. The edges of her mouth were twisted upwards- into a somewhat strained smile, her hazel eyes did not smile with her. She petrified me, this woman- how she blended in so perfectly. She was very much part of the interior. She was out of tune with herself. Not only her eyes and mouth, but her whole body. Her shoulders were facing us, as if trying to come closer, her legs however, thought differently - they faced the door - evidently being of the intention to leave. But mostly this woman scared me because she was not real. She was real in a sense. She was real in the element of being. She existed. But her soul was long gone. Not one hint remained. She was dead - her soul had left her:
“Hello”, father said.
“Is this the Longe residence?”
“Yes. It is, who might you be? - travellers, snoopers, trespassers?
“We be worthy of higher treatment than this do we not? We are your new tenants.”
“Tenants. What tenants?”, the lady scoffed.
The lady - if she was worth that title stared at me. Her eyes observing me with distain - looking me up and down.
The lady walked by me - shoving her way through and in the process knocking me down. Father grabbed her by the arm.
“Excuse me. What do you think you are doing?”
The lady looked upon father as if he was filth, withdrew a dirty finger, pried his hand from her coat and left. Another woman entered. This one of similar looks, thankfully not of nature. The woman looked barely older than a child herself.
“Hello.”, father repeated, evidently in the opinion of giving this girl as fair a chance as the last.
“Oh! Hello! Has Hannah left yet?”
Judging by the tone, father replied "yes."
A look of sheer glee replaced her previously despondent gaze.
“Come this way please sir, ma’am, and the children too!
“Why thank you Miss … Miss”
“Jus’ plain ole Catherine’s fine.”
She led us past several rooms; of more lustre than some could dream of. She had crutches at either side of her body - brute like things - that made steady beats of clinking pass through the floor. Finally she lay down her crutch and rested her leg.
“’Ere we are”
“Sit down now. Not by thee fire n’w chile. ‘at is fathers seat.”
I moved slowly away from the hearth - slightly unnerved by Catherine’s strange accent.
“w’y ‘ello father!”
She was gazing at the vacant seat with a look of contentment.
“We ‘ave guests”
“She’s mad!”, Orli whispered, through a smile.
“She be of no moral values father says!”
“She,… she… she is untrue. They all be untrue - they don’t exist Eden. They don’t exist.”
Catherine was looking at me with a child like wonder upon her freckled face.
“Cup o’ tea?”
“No thank you”, Orli chimed in before I was able to speak.
“We are not thirsty. Will you show us to our rooms?”
“Your rooms”, she laughed. “Your rooms!”.
“Father; imagine that, they want to see their rooms!”, the woman was mad, delusional, Hysterical. Orli draped a protective arm around my shoulder.
“Yes. Our rooms.”, she replied adamantly, taking over father’s authoritarian roll momentarily.
“This is your house. Why need I show you to your rooms?”
“Our house?”, father asked, rather prurient.
“Yes. We want little to do with this house anymore. Do we Father?”
Orli pulled her arm ever tighter at the mention of ‘father’. Evidently, father did not exist.
“Well ma’am if this is our house now, I wish you adieu. Leave please.”
Father was glaring at Orli now.
“Please excuse my daughter madam. She is rather partial to her... belongings.” Orli scoffed quietly.
“I am sorry to inquire this, however my children are in need of a nights rest - would it be possible to talk later?”, father looked at Catherine curiously. The latter replied:
“What be t’ere to talk a’out? I shall be le’ving by ‘morrow”
“Orli. Eden. You may leave.”, at father’s prompting we left, unscathed; yet part of me was left behind, part of me lingered within the lady’s presence. Part of me understood what it was to be mad.
Orli and I chose a room overlooking the moors. With large alcoves cutting out the wall above the beds. A bookcase loomed high above the great doorway. The window was nearer my bed than Orli’s and from my bed I could see my solace. The moors. Throughout the next few weeks I began to roam the moors. Not only did they offer me the tranquillity I so desperately desired; they also gave me an escape. I grew emotionally attached to the moors in ways that could only be described as fate. The realms of my soul yearned to be here - to be where they belonged. In finding my solace I had found me. It was almost as if I’d been searching, searching for years. Nonchalant to my target - and by chance I had stumbled upon it. I Had found my soul. I was complete. Father grew irate of my constant yearning to be alone - he found the idea ‘preposterous’. He had ‘ always considered me the normal one - the one that like him - had no desire to disappear, simply liked reality as it was. He had always trusted me and looked upon me as normal, not a person to engage in child-like fantasies.’
I had told him that if my escape happened to be child like then so I was. It simply could not change - I was who I was and if he could not take it then so it must be. Father would have to understand the concept of such extremes as removing a soul from the world was purely by choice. Orli, however, could not have been happier. I was retreating to a world that she could partly understand. The sisterly bond between her and me had increased to a level that none could anticipate.
It was a dreary day following the day of our arrival. The despondent sky was devoid of a sun, and the bubbly white clouds which posed in many of the pictures indoors were nowhere to be seen. The sky was a bland grey, a placid colour of little interest to my eye. Catherine had left as promised before I had aroused from my sleep. The house held many a spectre to ponder over; but father had insisted that we start exploring outside first. Many days in England were worse than this one - and he wished us to familiarise ourselves with the houses’ surroundings. The house overlooked the moors - our bedroom being of prime spot in sight of them. The Longes had obviously left in a hurry, the out buildings being fully equipped with their belongings, the stables even still containing a single mare named Sandy. Sandy was a tall beast - with ashen brown fur and sallow yellow eyes. Her coat was rough, and not in good order. She had a fine temperament; allowing us to pet her gently, but her moods had a tendency to change rapidly. Her nostrils flared out wildly when she was angry. We had angered her but once - the very first morning when father had entered to feed her. He had stocked some new bales of hay in a stall beside hers and opened the door for her to enter. She had become most irate very suddenly. The edges of her hoofs clashing off of the stone floor - wrathful nays coming in uneasy rags from her mouth. Father had moved the bales into her own booth and she had happily retaliated to the depths of her home to eat the bales with gratitude. Upon finishing she walked forward to father , and leaned her vast head against his in an attempt to reconcile, and put father on better terms.
Sandy was allowed to roam freely around the grounds - preffering to stay safe inside however. As the autumn wind turned to winter gales. Orli had immediately fallen in love with the beautiful creature - and its bashful eyes. It had become a companion of hers in her walks around the grounds - she would ride upon Sandy’s back, galloping madly through the moors until she reached the level plains of soft heather. There she would sit with it and tell it of the wonderful stories inside her head. The thoughts and ideas amid the serenity of the isolated space - where she knew no one but her was likely to be. A place above which lay the subtle horizon in the distance, and the soft cawing of the numerous birds around her. A place where she was her, where she was under the influence of no one or nothing but her own free will; and that, that was where Orli belonged.
My place was different to Orli’s, I disliked the space - preferring to be confined to a small area, a place where I knew my thoughts would stay at bay and be under my control. A small apple orchard tree perhaps, or an old mill. My place was nearer the house, each frosty winter night I would look out the window - positioning my body towards my area; and leaving the world in a mood devoid of cynical doubts and somehow, the next morning I would arise to better spirits - perhaps it was my soul. Perhaps during the night my soul expanded so far that it drifted through my skin and ran away to where it was truly happy. Perhaps it was the promise that each day would be indifferent to the one before, a prospect that I found most pleasing one day and most distressing the next.
The weather was different in England, frost bit sadistically; not the same as Germany - more harsh; more unpredictable. The morning would begin with small fractions of sunlight and warmth; it would slowly deteriorate and the sky would lose it’s eminence. Picking up a small satchel I would gather my lock my thoughts inside it and carry the bag downstairs. Father would be at the table, ask where I was going and become desperately despondent. For he could not rouse me from my tranquillity. My newly acquired ardent nature was too defiant for him to defeat. My cynicism too deep for him to understand. I would withdraw from conversation while his woeful eyes would inspect me.
Father grasped my arm as I left the room:
“Yes Father.”, I turned to him as he withdrew his arm from mine.
“Never mind Eden; just, just don’t forget that I love you.”
“Of course Father, as do I.” I left the room surprised at his brusqueness. His lack of conversation; his usual abundance of words seemed renegade. It was not often if ever that father betrayed his principals. He was one of those rare souls that seemed to be built upon qualms of tenet.
Last edited by Lost_in_dreamland on Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
for what are we without words and stories?
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Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:45 am
Eden is 11? I know you said you don't want to change the dialogue, but you're going to have to; Eden simply speaks too well for an 11 year old. Take this for example:
“I understand father, I understand how hard this must be for you, how very hard for you to make the decision between here or there. I understand father, how much it breaks your heart to imagine me, Orli or Mother in danger. I understand simply because I know how it feels, purely because I feel the same”.
No 11 year old would say this, and besides, it's too hackneyed. The dialogue here is trying to go the heart-strings, but tries too hard. A simple, "I understand, father," would've worked better.
On character development, it's good, but obviously needs work. The entire piece reads too much like quick glances into their lives that it's hard to get a feel for any specific character. However, you did a good job with developing the father, and Orli comes off good as well. However, I never really got a feel for Eden; perhaps because she seemed to have a too impossible level of maturity for an 11 year old.
On your language and grammar, it's good overall. However, there are some examples of incorrect word usage. For instance, early on you say "imperturbably" to convey curiosity. However, "imperturbably" means calmly, or simple passivity. Then early on in chapter 4, you say "My cynistic nature" when you really mean "My cynical nature."
The exchange between Eden and Mr. Cohen didn't work out. For one, I didn't understand why Mr. Cohen was there, and for another, I didn't understand how he was actually still alive. If your hands are totally burnt, your body goes into shock for quite a long time and without immediate medical attention, you will die.
Often though, I found myself having trouble following the story as it seemed disjointed quite a lot. Yet, I do think you have something here, and I think what you should do is consider this a first draft and start over. Do some more research into the time period and read books like "Night" and "The Dairy of Anne Frank." In other words, I'm interested in what you have here, but it needs work.
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Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:56 pm
Thanks for the review Nate
Eden's maturity is really important to this novel because of something that happens later, so I'll maybe change her age instead of the way she speaks. Thanks for pointing that out
hehe sometimes I get ..... carried away
And I totally get what you mean about 'quick glances into their lives' that's because this is just little segments, there's more in the actual novel, but I figured that seeing as it still needs a load of editing, I'd just post some parts for just now.
Word usage - you have no idea
I have serious problems, people that have followed some of my previous works know that I have problems with writing
'I be' instead of 'I am' aargh, it's so annoying
Eden and Mr Cohen's conversation is one of the scenes that I dislike and one that is in dire need of a complete rewrite. I have no idea where he came from, how he got away or who took him. Basically; it's up to you to make your own interpretation
I'm so glad that Orli is well developed, I can work on Eden easily, seeing as she's the one writing it, but Orli was harder for me. She has a very important personality, that I really wanted to convey. I rewrote her about ten times, she had to be perfect, I don't know why, but something inside me ordered me to make her perfect.
To be honest, the two main characters are almost me.
I am nice and bubbly. Stuck in my own world, and refuse to face up to reality. I question and ponder everything. Orli is almost a fictionalisation of me, but not completely.
I am actually quite cynical. Although most definitely not a realist. The reason I chose Eden for my MC is because I knew she wouldn't go off into long, descriptive accounts. As much as I adore Orli, I knew this story had to be written through Eden.
So basically, Orli and Eden, are little fragments of me put together.
Thanks for the review, it rocked
for what are we without words and stories?
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Sun Dec 28, 2008 7:31 pm
Hey there! I will get to reviewing this as soon as possible.
By the way, I am trying to cut and paste this into Word so I can print it out and bring it with me, but when I try it comes out all cut off and over to one side. I think it might have something to do with the formatting, since nothing on YWS has ever done that before... Any ideas?
Need a critique?
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Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:12 pm
This is way too long to do a line by line.
With the amount of info-dumping in the beginning I started skimming it and didn't really stop. I was fine for the first paragraph, but you lost me come paragraph 2, and I was completely confused come paragraph 4. I have no idea who these people are, nor do I care. You have not shown me why I
care. Don't give every single detail about every single character. Mention a few key details and keep going with the story.
The "heart" thing is important? Never would have guessed the amount it's glazed over when you introduce it.
As I mentioned before, this is pretty much
telling. Besides a few places where we get a half-scene there is no showing at all. I'd like to see some of their daily lives, and the transition from joyful to bleak.
The accents. You really overdo those accents. Neigh on impossible to understand them when they speak.
The prose is rather overwritten. The language is stuff you'd expect in a nineteenth-century book, not a twenty-first-century one. Let alone the fact she's, what? eleven? If you don't want to change it, fine, just make it way less dry.
The Characters. What do I say about them? The way they are right now they are just about as exciting as cardboard. We don't see a single quirk, we're just told how they react normally and how they are now. Put some scenes in and show us what is going on!
All of this boils down to: Stop telling, start showing and don't put accents everywhere.
As for the idea, I was interested. But their aren't enough scenes in your current draft for me to stay interested. Flesh it out and talk to me then.
Hope I helped!
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo
Ink is blood. Paper is bandages. The wounded press books to their heart to know they're not alone.
Gravity was a mistake.
— Till Nowak
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