Young Writers Society


12+ Language Violence

Winter in B-City

by ZongzhengJinghang


"Winter in B-City, when it's time for the lips to chap, somebody's starting to feel sorrow. Remember the friends of the past, the day the north wind gusts in, and the birds have flown, far, far away, my feelings for you became endless delays..."

Walking down the street in a long trench coat, thick gloves, the scarf I knitted myself; I saw my breath hanging in the air. The white water vapours blended in with the white sky and white snow. Dragging my legs forward one at a time in clumsy winter pants and winter boots, I asked my classmate if he could still smell any alcohol in my breath. He said a little bit. 

That was from last night with my friend, where we had barbecue skewers while taking shots after shots of vodka. The two bottles I brought were empty by the end of it, and I had to carry my friend home before I plunged onto the pavement and returned home with a scratched face. 

I know I should stop drinking that much, but I have had two jugs of beer every day since quarantine. I can feel myself getting slower every time I take a sip, but I just can't help it. There's a hole deep down that nothing can fill, but a depressant can temporarily mask it. I would spend most of my free time being a barfly until I left B-City for G-Village.

Another traffic light until the school gate, I took a big gulp of the frigid air. The lights turned red, and I waited with my classmate. A truck turned around and ran over a person in front of our eyes. I can still remember that scene vividly.

The man was wearing long black pants and a long jacket. He was going fast. Time is money in the morning, and money is the only thing on people's minds when they go to work. Unfortunately for him, money was also on the truck driver's mind. We saw his leg get mangled underneath the wheels, his flesh ground up, pressed against the tarmac like a smeared burger patty. The bloodstains seeped through his black pants, where a huge hole was torn. He twisted and turned on the hard and icy ground. With every turn, he let out a more scorching anguished wail. I reached for my phone, called the ambulance, and walked on. The man rushed and rushed and ended up being rushed to the hospital.

"Ice-cold mornings, the sunlight froze on the street. Amidst the pedestrians, there's the girl that broke my heart. As I am hustling over the crowd, I can't seem to find your smile, so on the road, picturing our reunion."

I never used to eat lunch until recently. Once I did, I'd always come down to the cafeteria early, so I could beat the other 200 people battling for the five microwave usage rights to heat the food I cooked last night. But also partly because the girl I like whom I would never make a move on also did that. I say partly, but although 10% is partly, 90% is also partly. She would finish in 15 minutes before going back up to the school lab, either preparing for Biology or Chemistry class in a white lab coat or solving that jigsaw puzzle nobody's able to solve because some bastard took a piece away. Her lab coat flutters with the flow of her steps, and her eyes would glisten every time she held a test tube or an Erlenmeyer.

Back then, I played football during lunch. A guy I never liked would get into a heated argument with me and try to sock me. The argument was stupid to the extent that I forgot what we were even arguing about. Then, he wanted to grab me by my collar but did not come to school for a few weeks because I snapped his fingers. I didn't get into any trouble doing that.

"Winter in B-City, white as feathers, the season of snowflakes, it's hard to decline..."

I would never pay attention during afternoon classes and instead play Weiqi online. Sometimes I would wreck my opponent, sometimes I would destroy them halfway, but then blunder myself and get wrecked, and sometimes I just play so bad that I never had a chance from the beginning.

My teacher, whom I had since grade 6 would notice, and tell me if I'm not going to pay attention, at least face away from the back so when the principal comes and looks in, it will look as if he's doing a good job keeping class discipline. I would play Weiqi while sipping my jasmine tea until I graduated with a perfect grade in that subject.

Looking back on it, though, it's probably still better to pay some attention in class. My teacher deserved at least some respect for all the hard work he put in. And also I think I should have been a bit nicer to my favourite teacher, who happened to teach my favourite subject.

I remember once I was doing an organic chemistry experiment during lunch break. I wanted to extract caffeine from coffee. The procedure was theoretically quite simple, and I used some dichloromethane as an extracting agent. But then, when I tried to evaporate off the DCM, I accidentally overheated it, and it spontaneously combusted. I was the only one in the lab, so I quickly put out the flame, opened all the windows and turned on all the ventilators. The smell of phosgene, a product of DCM combustion, has a suffocating feeling and a hay-like odour that is still burned into my memory. The girl returned from lunch, and I warned her not to go into that lab since phosgene was used as a chemical weapon. She did still notice the hay-like smell in the hallway.

During the afternoon classes on that day, I started to feel dizzy and sick, nauseating even. I went to the hospital afterwards, and after some careful examinations and observations, I was finally allowed to return home. 

The following day I asked her if she had any symptoms, she answered no. I felt almost relieved, even though I inhaled most of it, and probably at higher risk of developing cancer.

"Winter of the longing, white as feathers, the past I'm losing, it's hard to decline. The night it is snowing is heaven for loners, in solitude on the street, avoiding the festive people, in the city lights far away, is there a person like me, looking out of their window, imagining the world of another."

The bells would ring, and I would rush out of the school gate. The blood patch at that intersection is still there and will not disappear until the next rain, a long time away. The cold north wind would mess up my hair as I walked towards the bus stop. Sometimes, if I had tea remaining or ran out of pocket money, I would sip my tea, but more often than not, I would buy a large can of beer with a small flask of spirit. The feeling of ice-cold beer on a cold winter day is still something I cannot describe with my command of language to this day.

The girl would walk over to the bus stop in a slightly, rather just barely oversized jacket and wearing a black newsboy cap and would sit next to me on the bench beneath a bare hawthorn tree. Her cheeks were red, probably just as red as my fingertips from holding the can of beer.

I always started the conversation by saying, good weather today, whether it's sunny, rainy, windy, or snowy. She would always agree. I would then ask if she wanted anything from the corner store that I planned on going to, she would say no, then I'd not go. I would ask how her day was. Sometimes she said her day was great. Sometimes she went on a rant. But anyway, we would continue this conversation on the bus, along with the growling engine noises, an empty tin, and a full flask of spirit.

"Winter in B-City, white as feathers, the season of snowflakes, it's hard to decline. Winter of the longing, white as feathers, the past I'm losing, it's hard to decline..."


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Thu Apr 14, 2022 3:40 am
PoetryMisfit wrote a review...



Hi ZongzhengJinghang.

First off, I noticed you joined YWS yesterday so welcome to our writing platform! I hope your experience on here is pleasant and insightful. With that being said let's dive into this review.
There was no clear specification on what the gender of your protagonist was but I sensed a male voice. I noticed you set a sad tone in the beginning by describing Winter through a negative lens (birds leaving, chapped lips, and sorrow). This sad tone remains consistent through the entire story, which I really enjoyed. Especially how you tied it into the protagonist's detached perspective and negative outlook on those around him. The format of the opening line reminds me of a song or a poem recited in a reminiscent way as the protagonist thinks back to Winter memories. In fact the entire story seemed a large reminiscence on the protagonists' experiences during a dark time in his life.
I also like how you incorporated lyrical fragments that continued to set the tone. They evoked within me some sad emotions about unrequited love and overall detachment. The protagonist seems to be drifting or drowning in alcohol and this was made evident to me through this line:
"There's a hole deep down that nothing can fill, but a depressant can temporarily mask it."
Perhaps the detached perspective is a result from the drinking which makes the whole experience that much more immersive into the mind of someone who is lost and numbed by excessive drinking. This made me wonder what caused the internal emptiness in the first place.

I have a few line edit suggestions meant to be constructive though you can take them as you will:
"Dragging my legs forward one at a time in clumsy winter pants and winter boots, I asked my classmate if he could still smell any alcohol in my breath, he said a little bit."
(I recommend that there be two sentences with the cut-off after "breath". That way the second sentence isolates his classmate's response and places that much more emphasis on the fact that he still smelled of alcohol).
"The two bottles I brought were empty by the end of it, and I had to carry my friend home before I plunged onto the pavement and returned home with a scratched face." (I feel like this fall implies more of a collision with with the ground than a plunge. Plunged is a strong description but not accurate to the action.)
"Another traffic light until the school gate, I took a big gulp of the winter air."
(I know these suggestions are very nitpicky but bear with me. I want to share my observations only so you can make your writing that much stronger. We already know it is winter, continuing to use that as a descriptive agent is superfluous. Try using a different word that offers a more specific description in regards to the weather i.e frigid or dry. You want your diction to work for you to create the most immersive visuals for your reader).
"Unfortunately for him, money was also on the truck driver's mind. We saw his leg get mangled underneath the wheels, his flesh ground up, pressed against the tarmac like a smeared burger patty "
(The descriptive use of "burger patty" here diminishes the severity of the situation almost as though the protagonist is making light of it, though it clearly traumatized him. Other than that, the description here is very provocative and immersive. I feel like I'm standing on the street watching it all happen).

You did a good job describing your protagonist's personality; implying his voice through his actions and thoughts. It allowed me to really get inside your character's head and see the the events of the story through his perspective more accurately.
"Her lab coat flutters with the flow of her steps, and her eyes would glisten every time she held a test tube or an Erlenmeyer."
(It's interesting how he notices the small details about the girl he likes. That's a great way to implicitly show his feelings for her).
There is an overall tone of resignation in the characters specifically the protagonist i.e walking away from the accident seemingly unfazed due to perhaps the numbness brought on by the alcohol; not getting in trouble for breaking the guy's fingers he fought with; not wanting to be around others; and the teacher caring more about his image than teaching his students. There is a beautiful contrast between that detached tone and the affection/awareness he feels towards the girl he likes. She is the light in the darkness, similar to how beautiful snowflakes are despite the cold.
I also noticed a theme of greed as it pertains to the driver running over the man in the street on his way to work with money on his mind. That seems to illustrate the lesson that greediness can blind you if you're not careful.
Overall I really enjoyed this story. It has a simple, fluid structure but there is so much depth
I uncovered in every detail and character. This is an amazing piece to debut on YWS and I hope to read more from you.

- Poetry Misfit






Thank you so much for this detailed review. I'm happy that you enjoyed this story.



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Wed Apr 13, 2022 11:09 am
PaigeFantasy wrote a review...



hi, this was…interesting! in it’s own, unique way. i actually quite like some of the descriptive texts, it gives a kinda cold like feeling, like i can just FEEL the weather. i like that!
the story confused me a bit though. i don’t know if i skipped over some parts but…just some parts really confused me and i would reread the texts before it and i would still be confused.
it is still interesting, though! good job.






Thanks a lot for the comment. Glad you thought it was interesting.



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Wed Apr 13, 2022 1:24 am
knowndisc wrote a review...



This is an interesting character study, with some unusual experiences delving into life, the writing style entirely fits the tone and the voice inside the writing, but I had some confusion about the content inside the writing.

As I read the story, there was a (somewhat) strong centered amount of direction and place. But I never really got to know more unique aspects of either character. Since the Narrator talks from an absurdist point of view, joking about a man's death by a truck, placing dead-pan humor for broken fingers, and so-on, so-on, yet there's no emotional change, no change in tone, just a consistent deadpan reaction to life, reflecting the character's current violent mood, making him feel one-sided and loose. So, I just found it lacking any excitement, nor any change or anything seeming extremely significant in what they did like people, even if it was their love, a man getting hit by a truck, or him turning into a depressive alcoholic. The character interactions between the main character and the girl seemed the same way too. Dialogue wouldn't make sense, but perhaps a reaction from the other character, instead of summarizing the actions would seem more interesting.

I also noticed how strange more and more of the situations became, and how insignificant some of them seemed, such as elaborating on a teacher who teaches a favorite subject, elaborating on not paying attention in school, and playing Weiqi instead seems unimportant because you never fully- explained who the character became afterward other than a barfly, with a friend... And elaborating on education to elaborate on a character's predicament seems dull, long, and boring, focusing on the theme seems more important anyway.

"
The bells would ring, and I would rush out of the school gate. The blood patch at that intersection is still there and will not disappear until the next rain, a long time away. The cold north wind would mess up my hair as I walked towards the bus stop. Sometimes, if I had tea remaining or ran out of pocket money, I would sip my tea, but more often than not, I would buy a large can of beer with a small flask of spirit. The feeling of ice-cold beer on a cold winter day is still something I cannot describe with my command of language to this day."

The passage of time seems very strange, unusual because the story is more focused on a logical timeframe, not the fact, with a bit of suspension of disbelief, that a blood patch from the future suddenly appears in the past.

Although there were some interesting, very nice parts in the story, I felt like they were played down by the story's flaccid tone, semi-boring characters, and downplaying of certain situations.

(I'm sorry if this review was a little bit harsh, this is just my opinion of your story, that's all.)






Thank you so much for the review. I will keep that in mind the next time I write.



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Tue Apr 12, 2022 6:42 pm
MissGangamash wrote a review...



Hello! Here to help you get this out of the Green Room.

'That was from yesterday night with my friend,' - so, last night? Yesterday night sounds clunky.

'before I plunged onto the pavement' - 'plunged' is an odd choice. When you think of plunged, you think dropping into something, like a liquid, not falling onto something solid.

'ice-cold and hard ground' - hard, icy ground?

'The man rushed and rushed and ended up being rushed to the hospital.' - I like this line.

Okaay finished!

This is a very odd piece full of a mixture of different events. I like how it read like a running stream of consciousness but I got a little lost with the change in tenses and the dialogue parts. It reads like it takes place in this world but the 'until I left B-City for G-Village' jarred me because it gives a dystopian vibe.

Overall, I like how everything reads very monotone, from the guy getting run over to the narrator having talking to the girl they like. It does read like someone who's lost a part of themselves - which links to the copious drinking.

I think with a little tweaking to make it flow better, and this could be a really amazing piece!

Hope this helps :D






Thank you very much for the comment! Glad you enjoyed it.




Only the suppressed word is dangerous.
— Ludwig Borne