Writers Studio Group Sydney : Forum : GLASS


GLASS

1 Year Ago


       She is the invisible girl noone sees, but sees everything. She is like glass. Transparent. She stands in the pelting rain on a city street corner, among a great tide of people hurrying somewhere. Her gaze is fixed on a glass building across the road- luxury waterfront apartment living for the rich with marina views. Inside, people rise, wash, dress, eat- caught in their daily rituals, their mindless habits- like a fine fish tank of rich human specimens. In her pocket, she clutches a handwritten letter- already damp and smudged by the rain. It is Friday morning. She has been there every day for the past week, willing herself to walk through those glass doors and deliver this letter to a father she has never known.

       She slept on the marina park bench last night. When she took the overnight bus to find him, she wasn’t thinking, just feeling. Her phone was dead, she had enough money for a few nights at the hostel. That ran out yesterday. She didn’t realize she’d be there that long, that the courage would seep out of her. She’s been awake for hours now. She’s seen the dawn crack and felt the first drops of rain on her skin, woken by the mental clang of boats. Masts bumping in child like melody, chiming to her, mocking her. “Shout. Make yourself heard. Be seen!” She’s smelled the garbage trucks lift yesterday’s waste; she’s tasted the morning dew and wished upon a bird for strength. It never comes though. This is how she starts her day. With goosebumps.
         And then she sees Him- as he emerges on his glass balcony, reading the newspaper. His daily ritual. She wills him to lower his newspaper for a moment and look below…see her standing there in the rain, watching him. But then he would probably look straight through her- she is after all the invisible girl who noone ever sees. The rain begins to pour and she feels the courage seep out of her. Shame presses on her like heavy wet clothes, smothering and damp. If she ever had to describe shame it would be like this- a shapeless stooped figure in sopping clothes, standing in a puddle, drenched to the bone. Trembling.

          He joins the human flow. She follows behind. They are both carried along by the same wave of bodies, surrounded by a sea of umbrellas. She has been following him from his home to work, watching him weave through the streets with pace and purpose, eyes fixed ahead- longing for him to turn around and see her. Made bold by strangers, she brushes up right behind- so close she is only a breath away. She notices the coarse stitch of his tweed coat, the speckled grey bristles in the hair reaching down his neck. She imagines leaning in and catching the scent of his skin. She wonders if it would smell like hers.
            He stops at the traffic lights. Pressed close in the crowd, she looks down and observes his shoes- brown Oxfords. They could do with a polish, she thinks. She glimpses his profile in the red glow of the light. He doesn’t look happy, she tells herself. Maybe if he knew me things would be different. Her hand twitches in her pocket- like a trapped bird, still gripping the envelope.    
                                                                                                                                                    She scribbled the letter last night, surprised how easily the words poured out of her, soaking the pages with her most intimate thoughts: “I watch you every day. I’ve wanted to know you ever since I discovered a child should have two parents. I want you to see me.” She never had a photo, only a name. She would look in the mirror and seek his face in hers- she thought if she stared long enough, she might find him hiding behind her eyes, her freckles. Now, so close, she longs to linger before his face and drink in every feature, every wrinkle. Every pore. The light flashes green and he is gone.                                                                                                                                     It storms that night. Even the trees can’t protect her from the heavy drops that push through. She hates being wet. How her clothes cling to her skin revealing every limb, every secret. Through the heavy veil of rain, the warm lights from the apartment glimmer back in a blur- a light house. She longs for their safety like a ship at sea.
She climbs the stairs, counting under her breath…. three… four… five…and stops outside his front door. She notices the shoes first- all lined up outside. His brown Oxfords, a woman’s trainers, a girl’s ballet flats. A family that belongs together. The low soothing hum of a television inside. From inside the apartment, she catches the faint odour of sour milk. She slips the letter in his morning paper that sits quietly on the mat, waiting to be collected.
It’s been a sleepless passage to morning. The girl stands on the same corner waiting. It’s a Sunday and the streets are empty. Dark clouds roll above her head, promising more rain. She watches her father emerge on his balcony, newspaper in hand- glancing up at the sky. As he retreats inside, the letter falls to his feet. He bends to lift it. Her heart jumps into her throat as he opens it. Then suddenly- as if by magic- he awakens to his surroundings. And sees her.
She sits on the park bench, waiting. Her bird like hands flitter restlessly. With every passing minute her heart gets heavier, the grey clouds circling above. Saturating, ready to burst. She’s been there for hours and he still hasn’t come. She hears her small voice ask why… why he left them, why he never wanted to know her, why he chose to sleep and live and breathe without her. She finds this voice getting larger with each moment she listens, until it is so huge that it is shouting at her. Loud and clear. The skies break and it pours heavy fat drops.  Rain seeps into every crevice, every crack, finding a way in, beneath her clothes, under her skin…. It rains inside her – rising up her spine, fast filling her lungs… her throat, until she can’t breathe.

She knocks. When her father opens the door, she sees no reflection of herself in his eyes. He is dry and she is dripping, making a puddle on his floor. “Leave us alone”, he threatens. That scent of sour milk pervades… “You can’t come here.” A little girl appears behind, wide eyed and blinking. “Who are you?” she says. The words prod at something so raw inside her it hurts. She wonders if she has ever been able to answer this. He instinctively pulls his daughter to him, to protect her as if she was a threat. A crazy person. I am your daughter too, she thinks. I am her sister. But her voice is no longer loud and shouting. It has disappeared now- retreated back into its cave somewhere deep inside her, beyond reach. “Who is it?” calls a woman inside. She backs away…  back down the hallway, down the stairs and through the glass doors that have just been cleaned that day. Spotless. She glimpses her reflection, like a hologram. ”Noone” she imagines him saying… She is noone.
            The rain has stopped by the time he finds her on the park bench. They sit next to each other, looking out across the dark water and boats. Night is falling and minutes slip into the darkness like an eternity. He finally speaks. “She didn’t love me”.  His voice crumbles away like dust, with each word.  She can smell his skin now – the same sour milk from his apartment. Perhaps this is how regret smells. “She told me to leave. She never told me about you". She looks at his face in the failing light and drinks in the detail- his weary ease, his sallow cheeks, a faint scar above his eyebrow. She sees everything and everything sees her. “How is she anyway?” He turns to look at her. A breeze washes through and the boats bob on the water, their masts clanging their congratulations. “You are seen, you are finally seen!” She notices for the first time, her flighty hands are still- like birds in slumber. “She died last month. Cancer.” She watches each word fall and land, like pebbles. He chokes and sobs- suddenly, unexpectantly heartbroken. Shattered. He is made of glass, she thinks to herself- he is like me, like glass. And their hearts beat in sync.

Re: GLASS

1 Year Ago


HI all

Sorry about the formatting- this site isn't easy to copy and paste into....

Anyway- I have been working on the last story from our workshop- would be great to hear your thoughts. I am trying to figure out the structure still so any constructive feedback is fine.

What probably would be most helpful is letting me know areas you don't understand or would like more detail.

Look forward to reading all your work!

Lx


Re: GLASS

1 Year Ago


Liselle that's such a beautiful piece!! I especially love the beginning - the introduction of the glass/no one theme and then how it circles back at the end in connection with her father. And I love the build up of emotion where she starts by stumbling but it becomes yelling!

Sorry had such a busy week but will give it another read through and more thorough feedback!!

Re: GLASS

1 Year Ago


Don't worry about giving more feedback- just good to be accountable and writing again!
Let's just keep posting work and get into a rhythmn- we can always feedback more thoroughly when we all get to meet up.

Re: GLASS

1 Year Ago



Liselle this is such a beautiful piece of writing, I really enjoyed reading it and felt completely swept up in her emotion, you write so evocatively about how she is feeling. There are so many details and moments that I love - these are my favourites, they made me breathe in deeply (pretty much in awe of your poeticism!) and pulled me further into the story:
‘Inside, people rise, wash, dress, eat- caught in their daily rituals, their mindless habits- like a fine fish tank of rich human specimens.’
‘Masts bumping in child like melody, chiming to her, mocking her. “Shout. Make yourself heard. Be seen!”’
‘She’s smelled the garbage trucks lift yesterday’s waste; she’s tasted the morning dew and wished upon a bird for strength.’
‘If she ever had to describe shame it would be like this- a shapeless stooped figure in sopping clothes, standing in a puddle, drenched to the bone. Trembling.’
‘She notices the coarse stitch of his tweed coat, the speckled grey bristles in the hair reaching down his neck. She imagines leaning in and catching the scent of his skin. She wonders if it would smell like hers.’
‘She can smell his skin now – the same sour milk from his apartment. Perhaps this is how regret smells.’
I love the cut forward in time to the beginning of the very last paragraph when he finds her on the bench. I suppose if there is any constructive feedback to give it may be that you could have another moment before it gets to him finding her on the bench? To build that tension of us thinkings he has been totally rejected by him.. To delay this moment… I even wondered if it would be crazy to cut to his POV here for a beat? But that might be too strange. I don’t know, I actually really loved how it just cut to her finding him too so it’s just a thought. Well done! Can’t wait to read more xNic 

Re: GLASS

1 Year Ago


Thanks Nicole.
Really appreciate your feedback and suggestions. The ending section needs a lot of work-  but finding it fun to revisit old stories now that there is more time.
Great to have this writer's group- we missed you on zoom. I thought it would be nice to all get together once the lockdown is over.
I have signed up for the short stories June class too. Are you going to do it?