[Other] An Empty Hallway: a (very) short story

The Fallen Phoenix 12-10-2005 02:09 PM
My first piece of creative writing in...some time, I think this brief story came out rather well. I cannot decide on the name of the story, however: aside from comments, I would love an opinion on which title better fits the story.

I have more or less decided to go with An Empty Hallway for the title of this story; I think it fits the story better than What I Want From You. Thanks to pen in particular for her opinion; it was a great help! Ultimately, however, the choice--as it should be--was indeed mine, and mine alone.

Just some background: it was inspired by an actual exchange I had with someone very recently, although the events are highly embellished.

Any questions, comments, or criticism would be greatly appreciated! Smile

An empty hallway.

I think that is what I will remember, years from now, when I look back at this moment. Certainly not the words that were said. No, not even the words that were left unsaid.

Just what was left behind.

An empty hallway, where wordless speech drifts aimlessly, from wall to silent wall.

The words themselves do not matter. Only the dark, bitter hallway itself. A hallway once faintly illuminated by the flickering candle of hope, a tongue that no longer dances.

It is difficult to dance in the silence, where music and lyrics are devoured by a starving void.

But that time has yet to come. The hallway is not yet empty, for I am still here. The words have yet to drift away, for they stubbornly cling to my mind. The candle has not died, for there is still a wick of hope left.

It is cold in this hallway nonetheless. But it is not cold enough to freeze the tears that slide down my cheek. I am sure that, if I turn around to look through the window that is behind me, I will still see a thin blanket of white powder cover the ground below. It is cold enough for that, at least. But it was not cold enough to keep the snowflakes falling, and they sadly melted away into rain.

So I emulate the heavens. Better than to emulate Hell.

But I do not want to turn around. I cannot. I can only stare ahead at the wall in front of me, the wall that would not, could not, answer me.

“What do you want from me?”

I wiped the tear from my cheek with the back of my hand as I struggled to push the memory away. It would only cause more tears, and every tear that falls interrupts the candle’s dance. A few more drops, and the tongue would disappear…

To the same nothingness its words flocked to, right when I needed them most.

- - -

I still know what led me to the hallway in the first place. I was sitting patiently on the couch, a few rooms away, my black book sitting on my lap. That should have been enough for me, right? My most cherished companion, my dearest friend. It would have been so simple, so easy, to just sit there all evening, letting my pen guide me to worlds I can scarcely imagine.

But it was not to be. Once a flame is lit, I cannot help but feed it. It hungers for sustenance only I can provide, and the dancing embers captivate me. They spark in me feelings that have long been repressed, feelings I once refused to acknowledge.

As with all things, however, the deeper it is buried, the larger it ultimately becomes. So did my feelings grow, nourished by my apathy. In the end, they became so large, so powerful, they began to consume my very soul.

What could I do, but submit to it? Love is something I think I have always longed for, and I had given up on my mind long ago. I knew my heart governed my body; that was something I never denied. Why, then, would I deny its longings? The plucking of my heartstrings produced music that was at once beautiful and terrifying, music that endlessly reverberated in my head.

So I did what I felt I had to do. I stood from the couch and abandoned my companion, leaving it alone, exposed. Just as I was about to expose my very soul.

I walked out of the room and followed her. I thought she would lead me to heaven: never would I have dreamed she would drag me to the hallway I now call Hell.

- - -

“What do you want from me?”

Those were the words I was rushing to, although I scarcely knew it then. My heart willed me forward, even as my mind screamed in protest. Though at the time, such screams were barely whispers: dense was the fog that clouded my mind, as the song went on playing, words blending in and out of my head.

Then, I saw her.

The music stopped at once.

Nothing can compare to her beauty, nothing! To hold her to the perfect blossom would be insulting; it is but a speck of dust on a mountain of gold. The oceans wail when I invoke her name, for her eyes are deeper than the seven seas, and no miracle could ever part them. To imagine such a thing would be to tarnish the perfect painting, to melt the perfect snowflake. Her voice causes the very muses themselves to blush, for it is the most gripping melody an ear could ever be blessed to hear. She is a blessing, but not from the heavens: the stars dim with envy at the sight of her, for she outshines the entirety of the Milky Way.

My voice, too, left me. How could it not? To be in the presence of such a beauty, the standard to which all else is measured: to tremble in her shadow is to tremble in the shadow of God himself.

”What do you want from me?”

A simple question evolved into a complex melody, and my mind was filled with song once more. The ember flickered violently, its dancing becoming more furious by the second. My heart swelled until I thought it would explode, or at least force through the prison of my body.

Details escape me, even now, not five minutes after God abandoned me; after she abandoned me. I remember that meaningless words floated between us, the prelude to a much greater symphony. A terrible symphony, but a great one nonetheless.

“What do you want from me?”

The harsh refrain.

“What do you want from me?”

I knew, of course. The answer was clear: I was never more certain of anything else in my life. Not of God, not of Love, not of Hope, not of Faith.

Not of my very own existence. All of it drifted to the background, merely supporting players to the more important lead.

“What do you want from me?”

The flame was everywhere; the tongue could not stop dancing. Words that were foreign to me leapt out of my throat and into the symphony, determined to share in the most beautiful music that would ever be heard. Something so wonderful, so heavenly, it had to last forever!

Didn’t it?

“What do you want from me?”

It stops. All of it. The flame freezes just as it twirls, ready to be caught in the waiting arms of a profound phrase. The melody disappears into silence, and the hallway—which, to this point, I had ignored completely—took on a life of its own. It hungered for substance not unlike my own flame, but its desire was a twisted one. It longed for hope, and love, and joy, determined to devour it all in a single, furious gulp.

“What do you want from me?” she finally asked, a few moments into the awkward silence.

‘You!’ I shouted from the silence of my mind. ‘Just you, and nothing more!’

A loving relationship; that is what I wanted. That is what she could give me. To hear her voice every day, at the moment I awake to the moment I drift to sleep. To stare into her eyes my every waking moment, to drown myself day after day, month after month, until the world grows old around us…

I said none of this, of course. I could not. The words were trapped in a place I could not reach, locked away in a cell. The doors would not be pried open. The key had already been devoured by the bitter hallway, the hallway that had already begun to smother my tongue.

I could only blink once, twice, then stare straight ahead: right at the silent wall that I knew would not, could not, answer me.

“What do you want from me?” she asked again, her voice betraying a hint of impatience.

I continued to stare at the wall, but I saw nothing. I folded my arms across my chest, but I felt nothing. My heart skipped in place and I breathed a little heavier, but I heard nothing.


That is what I said.

“Nothing,” I told her, still deliberately avoiding her gaze. I could not bear to look at her: I was afraid of what I might see, etched in her beautiful face; swimming in her beautiful eyes.

Or was I was afraid of what I might not see there?

I shook my head and smiled; an empty smile.

“I do not want anything from you,” I continued, but I knew the words were meaningless to me. I could not imagine what they meant to her, however; I dared not think of it.

“Nothing,” I repeated, one final time. “Nothing, at all.”

It snuck through a whisper, a voice that was not my own. It was foreign, as foreign as the hallway that had suddenly become darker and colder to me.

I felt a pearl of water form behind my eyelid as the silence descended upon us again. She said nothing more, and I said nothing more. I knew I could not say what it was I really wanted from her, not then. Possibly, not ever.

‘You. All I want from you is you.’

Two fingers reached for the candlestick and pinched the flame.

And then I was finally left in the darkness of a bitter hallway.

An empty hallway.
Generalissimo D 12-10-2005 02:28 PM
That was most beautiful. I love your description, and your writing style is simply orgasmic.

I've felt like that too. It moved me.

Thanks for posting this.
David Ryder 12-10-2005 02:54 PM
indeed most rockin. Good work.
pen1300 12-10-2005 05:54 PM
IT makes me want to write! It's inspiring! Beautiful!

I think I like the title "An Empty Hallway" for this more than the other title. My personal opinion.

Anyway, this is a very fine piece of work. I could feel it strike some sort of cord inside me and I love how you mentioned how you could not know what the words meant to her. Very human.

Nice work!

stryker 12-12-2005 03:27 PM
*gives Phoenix a hug*

Jeepers, I hope that piece was therapeutic. I did the same thing once, it sort of was.

Here's to the tears drying quickly. The sun still shines, as does the Son. Wink
Nine Kuze 12-12-2005 03:41 PM
Very masterful, Fallen Phoenix. The best poetic piece of work I've read in a while and I loved that one line:

"So I emulate the heavens. Better than to emulate Hell."

That's how you write, people. That's how you write.
The Fallen Phoenix 12-18-2005 02:12 PM
First, I would like to thank everyone for their very flattering comments thus far. I am very pleased to know that there are people who enjoy my writing style: I am sometimes more accustomed to hearing how much people dislike my writing style (yes, I am talking to you, Dude Love!).

In short, I usually receive mixed reviews when I show my writing at all (which is actually rather rare).

Originally posted by stryker
*gives Phoenix a hug*

Jeepers, I hope that piece was therapeutic. I did the same thing once, it sort of was.

Here's to the tears drying quickly. The sun still shines, as does the Son. Wink

To quote Joan Didion: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear."

So, yes, it was--in a way--therapeutic: I really felt the need to sort out my thoughts and feelings, and writing tends to be the best medium for doing so. Rather than just express these feelings and thoughts in my traditionally dry manner (namely, recording them in my journal), I was struck with the inspiration to craft the experience into a pseudo-story of sorts.

Again, I am very grateful to the positive comments that I have received thus far. I am still very open to comments and criticism of any kind, however: dimmer reactions to my literature are no less beneficial or appreciated than glowing remarks!
corrupt 12-18-2005 02:20 PM
Excellent, i wish i could write a story like that for my english projects...
Lost_Cyborg 12-22-2005 06:42 AM
OMG! *sob* beautiful!
BethMcBeth 12-22-2005 05:11 PM
Wow this is very deep. I love the details and the style in which you write in. Awesome job!

Dude Love 12-23-2005 01:14 AM
Hey, now that you all know FP a bit better, you try hanging around him on a daily basis! I do it whenever I'm too happy...

I kid, of course. He's not this depressing all the time. Tongue


While I was reading this story, I was talking to the bird about it (since I actually know the context behind it). So, he mostly knows how I actually feel about the subject matter.

Now, from a non-contextual point of view, I suppose the writing is technically beautiful. I would say it fits el bird-brain's personality well (I'll explain that in private).

I can't really fault him for the whole thing, anyway. I mean, I suppose this would have been soothing and what-not.

Really, anything I can see that wouldn't be praise would be more situational than about the story.