Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week Nineteen: July 12th - July 18th

No show again this week guys. One of my best friends is home from the Navy, so I've spent most of my time hanging out with him and other friends. I do have 2 ideas written up for stories, so I'll try to do 2 this next week :]

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week Eighteen: July 5th - July 11th

I wasn't feeling very creative this week, so I went through and edited an old story of mine.

Whispered Wings of Soft-Spoken Words

It was a curious winter night, in the quiet suburbs of Illyana Falls. The silhouette of a man appears from down the road, untouched by my eye until recently. The soft click of his shoes would make any normal person think he was just a man on a brisk walk. I myself thought the same thing, until something caught my attention. As he walked under the glow of the streetlight, he froze. Not the kind of frozen you get from a sudden burst of cold wind or from being caught in the headlights, but a kind of frozen that made me think that this man knew he was going to stop there, he just hadn't realized there was here yet.
Pulling his coat lapels up against the chilly mid-winter wind, he looks around and slowly reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his wallet. His fingers appear to be wrapped around the edges of a folded piece of paper, yet peculiarly, his stern face quickly laments. As he unfolds it, I could now clearly see that it's a picture of a woman. The strange man lowers the picture to his side – slowly – so that he may steal one last glance at the falling memory and pulls out a cigarette.
As he quickly turns the end into a glowing ember I think to myself how ironic it is that the only warmth the man had against the cold would one day kill him. Taking short draws from the cigarette, the man closes his eyes and pulls the picture back up into my view. The cigarette falls into the snow and quickly dies. As I sit and ponder what the man is doing, he turns his head to the right and starts to rip the picture into halves.
Slowly, but surely a million pieces of the picture appear in his palm. It looked so human the way he slowly turned his head back and opened one eye before the other. A single tear beads down his face in a rapid pace, almost as if racing the realization of itself to the man. Suddenly, the man throws up his arms and lets the picture blow off into the gentle breeze. Softly spoken words flow out in the form of "Goodnight, my angel" and are carried by the wind, to forever be carried on in the form of a whisper, hoping one day someone will stop what their doing in their busy life and listen to his story.

After staring blankly towards the direction of the recently lost picture, the man's face contorts into that of a fallen man; bitter, yet sad. Walking away from the streetlight, a single tear runs down the man's face, almost as if racing the realization of itself to the man. "Time to shut up and carry on" he said quietly " Life goes on, things get better or you die". With a fake smile plastered to his face, the man proceeds back into the shadows, and never looks back. This mans name is I, for he is me, was me, and forever shall be me. I've been watching myself, and know what it is I am thinking, I am myself, no one, and someone all at one time. I am no where and everywhere. You can hear me, but can't understand me, although I speak perfect English. I am immortal, but there is a way to kill me. I am everyone of you, and I am no one of importance. I am change, and you must not resist me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week Seventeen: June 28th - July 4th

Star Catcher: A Tale of Average Proportions

“I sometimes raise my hand to the night sky, and drag my fingers through the lights, hoping to catch one and bring it to me. But the stars never move do they? Maybe they aren't so beautiful after all.”

My name is James Morrison Murphy. And before you ask, yes I was named after the late lead singer of The Doors. My parents grew up in an age where the popular burned away the necessary brain cells to remember all the good times they had. To try and be nice, you could say my parents lived a life larger than their brains could hold. I, however, call them burnouts who mentally peaked at 20.
My name is James Morrison Murphy, and unlike the Lizard King, I don't have much sex appeal. I am an average man, of average build, with an average face, and an average personality. For that, I do so solemnly apologize for telling you my name. I know a person with a name like mine sounds like the adventurous sort, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not. Things always have a way of changing though. Here is my story.

When I turned 24, I was a lighthearted fellow, fresh from college, and just beginning to taste the bitter flavor life has to offer. I had always wanted to write a novel, but the sad reality was that I was just too plain of a person. Taking the wrong way to work, or getting lost for a few minutes was an adventure to me, and gambling felt like a life or death decision. I decided to be a book publicist instead; working with books, but in a safe environment. It sometimes occurs to me that the only changes I've made in my life, are the results of my mistakes. Does everyone experience this? Is this some sort of life lesson we were all supposed to learn in elementary school?
Working for a book publishing company was my first mistake. When two people of explosive personalities collide, the result echoes through the ages. However, when an explosive personality turns on a candle flame, the result is only the absence of a small puddle of light. This is how I felt when I met my superiors at Castel Publishing. I didn't have a backbone to show, so they would push me as far as they wanted. They knew I wouldn't break, and knew that I wouldn't push back. It's a terrible thing, being so average.
My second mistake was meeting Sarah. Sarah was similar to me in many ways, much in the same way climbing a cliff is similar to falling off of one. Her father was the president of the company, and she took it upon herself to become my backbone. She loved me, for whatever reason, and I suppose I also loved her as well. Whatever it was, it helped me become better at my job and climb the corporate ladder. I was now in charge of the lower level of publishing; the make it or break it for hopeful authors. To paraphrase the brilliant physicist Robert Oppenheimer; I had become death, destroyer of worlds. At least in my own petty, watered down way.
My biggest mistake though, was actually Sarah's. Why would you put someone lacking imagination in a position to turn down ideas? A novel I turned down was instantly picked up elsewhere, and became a best seller. They even made a movie about it, with that pretty brunette from those big mobster movies a few years back. It managed grabbed a nomination at the Oscars. Because of this - and several other major errors - the company decided to let me go, but for whatever reason, Sarah told me she wanted to marry me anyway. The headache I got from trying to fathom this was the kind to keep me off my feet for days. You'd think ceilings were mirrors to some magical land of love and wonder, from how long I stared into it.
When I finally got up, I spent the day with Sarah. Perhaps the things we did had been done a thousand times by a thousand people, but for once, something average felt like something more to me. I held Sarah close to me, sitting in a hammock outside, staring up at the moon, and asked her what she wanted. With her eyes closed, and her head on my chest, she playfully told me “The stars James. Give me the stars.” She fell asleep on me there that night, but I didn't sleep for many hours yet. “The stars hmm?” I whispered to myself. Can I do that? Can someone like me do something like that?
I spent the next month of my life sleeping outside under the stars. Hands gliding through the dark clouds, jumping into infinite pits of complicated questions under that night sky. I told myself that I was done being average. I was going to grab something of the confusion out there, and make it solid. I was going to give Sarah a star, and that for once, I would be able to view life from above, looking down at past troubles, and laughing. My hands always seemed to fall short though.
On our year anniversary, we went out to eat at our favorite restaurant. I had never been a social person, and as such wasn't too great at hiding things. It was like being at work for her, since she sat there and read me like a book. Dinner was uneventful, and we went home, and laid down in my hammock. She asked me what was wrong, and I didn't know how to answer her.

“I couldn't get you that star.”
“I didn't think you could.”
“I'm so tired of being average.”
“I'm okay with it.”
“I'm sorry, but I'm not.”

Looking back, I realize that I lost much more than Sarah that night. However, like I said earlier, for all of you out there like me who never had the ability to look into the black curtain of life, and pull out basic truths as children usually do, I had also gained something. I picked up a typewriter sometime between then and now, and I started to write a novel. It was published by a decent company, and actually made me some good money. I didn't get any movie deals, and I didn't win any awards, I never got the girl, and I never found a way to capture the stars.
But you know what? When I wake up in the morning, and I look in the mirror, I can tell myself that I am not average. Of course I'm no Alexander the Great. I'm certainly not Nicolah Tesla, or Robert Oppenheimer. I haven't picked the world up on my shoulders, and set it down a little different. I am no ones messiah, but I did have an average looking person come up to me at a book signing, and you know what they told me? They told me that I gave them hope. She told me that I gave her hope. I had given someone else hope.
I, plain old James Morrison Murphy, the lying lizard king, the school yard Oppenheimer, the heart breaker, the failed starry night sky conqueror, and the man who never had a spine or a shadow, had taken someone up in my arms, and told them everything would be alright, and they believed me. I won't soar through the stars in the sky, looking down at my legacy, nor will I again be that candle, so easily put out. I'm stuck somewhere between the two, looking down at my past mistakes, and looking forward to the future ones.

My name is James Morrison Murphy. And before you ask, yes I was named after the late lead signer of The Doors, and yes, I am nothing like him. My name is James Morrison Murphy, and I am just myself, not average, not unique. Just James, and for once, I think I am truly okay with that, and I truly hope you can look back at your life -- mistakes included -- and be proud of yourself as well. Thank you.