Tuesday, 25 March 2014

SHORT STORY: Death Of The Author (2013)

Hi all,
I've had a bit of a lazy week in regards to ideas and inspiration. Plus, I've had to do a lot of things for Uni, so this post just sort of fell off the radar. I was going to just go a week without posting something, but I came up with a better idea. Why not share with you one of the stories I've been writing? I wrote this piece last year as part of an assignment and was going to upload it, but just forget to, so now seemed like the perfect moment. I hope you like this piece. I think it's one of the best pieces of writing I've ever done and am really proud of it. I hope you enjoy it. Next week, this blog will (hopefully) return to normal. This is just a taster of my writing :)

Creative Piece: Death Of The Author
“The book has achieved in the most truthful way possible the reality, the secret of writing. Clarice Lispector was ill. She did not know she was going to die, but she knew it the moment she finished this book. One does not really know who wrote the book or who killed who.”
- Helen Cixous, Three Steps On The Ladder Of Writing (p.18)

I can’t stop writing. I wish I could, but I can’t. He’s there, watching me, waiting for me to stop. To drop the pen onto the desk, to finally give in to the exhaustion that threatens to overwhelm me, so he can end my life. Twisted bastard. I can see where he’s coming from. I know the pain he experiences. I feel the loss he feels, possibly even greater than he does. I was Eli’s lover, while my assassin was just his brother. And they weren’t even close. Eli told me often of how his family had tried to stop him seeing me. They would not have a gay son, especially one who was dating a well-known author, with our relationship splashed all over the trashy tabloids. It was a fear I too held. I didn’t want him hurt by disgusting, untrue rumours. That’s how my last relationship had ended. But then Eli had come up with the solution to our little problem. What if I were to use my column in the Daily Harrington to explain our relationship? I was naturally concerned that this would bring us even more publicity, but he insisted that as I would be the one writing, it was a neat way of short-skirting the paparazzi. I agreed to the idea and the Ryli chronicles were born. I think they liked that title, our names, Ryan and Eli, mixed together. The column started out slow before it became an overnight success. Readers couldn’t seem to get enough of our antics as a couple, as we tried to find our individuality in the face of the system. Eli’s acting career shot forward and he began to get some really good roles. My writing became even higher in demand, but the two of us ensured that we always had some time together. We both refused to work on Wednesdays and Sundays. Those were our days. I think the most popular arc, if you can call it that, of the Ryli chronicles regarded our collaboration in making a movie. A famous director had approached me with the desire to film my first novel, Mercyside. And what was even more exciting was that he wanted Eli for the lead role of Fayre Haven, the Butterfly Monarch. We agreed and the film began in earnest. I have never been happier in my life than when I was working on that project. However, the distance between the two of us grew stronger. After an argument, we left one another and refused to speak. I dealt with this in a Ryli column entitled Lover In Distance. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write, because I was heartbroken. Suddenly, our relationship was front page news. There was speculation that the film was going to be cancelled, meaning an expensive Hollywood failure. The day after Lover In Distance appeared, I was eating breakfast while reading the Daily Harrington. There, on the third page, was another column entitled Elan, Eli’s preferred couple name, with the subheading simply being I Miss You. I read it and was moved to tears. I got up to call him, but he was there waiting outside my door. We were never separated again and the film was a huge global success. However, what meant more to me was the fact that people came up to us on the street and thanked us for inspiring them to look past their differences. I swore that we would never be apart. Except, life had a different plan than that. Less than two years later, Eli was killed. A speeding car plowed into him. He died on the scene before I could even say goodbye. The thing was I felt it, an overwhelming sadness, at exactly the same time he passed on. After that, I didn’t know what to do with myself. The rumours began to circulate about whether Eli had been murdered and what the future of the column was. Friends were over almost every day, keeping watch on me, just in case I “did something stupid.” I must admit I thought about it. But then I remembered Eli. He wouldn’t have wanted me to do that. He would have wanted me to keep going forward. So I did. I continued the Ryli chronicles, but it wasn’t sad. I shared the memories I had of him, the times where we had been happiest. But then, one day, I ran out of memories. I had exhausted my supply. I couldn’t stop writing. I couldn’t admit that our time together had been fully defined, so I kept going. I made it up. I made up stories where we’d been arrested in Paris or been kicked out of Russia. I made us a worldly couple. I made him live on. But then, one day, there were no more ideas in my head. Nothing came to me. I finally realised that it was time to end the Ryli chronicles. I wrote a letter to my editor, explaining my decision, before I completed the penultimate column yesterday. And then this morning, Eli’s brother, Axel, had come to the door. He had read the column. He didn’t want it to end. I said that the time had come. He pulled a gun on me. Made me sit down and write. If I stopped for more than ten seconds, he would shoot me. I’ve been writing for hours now. I’m hungry, thirsty and exhausted. My hands are bleeding. I don’t want to write any more about Eli. It hurts. It hurts a lot. But I can understand where he’s coming from, I think. I’ll ask him to be certain, “Why are you doing this?” He speaks gruffly, I can’t tell the expression on his face, because that would require turning around. “Because Eli has to survive.” I find this strange. Eli’s dead. I tell him as much. He replies that I have kept him alive. I’m a bastard who is just cashing in on the memory of his brother. I explain to him that I’m not. I just didn’t want to let him go. He says that it was selfish. And maybe he’s right. Maybe I was selfish, keeping him alive, making up memories. Surely, I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself, I say. And our mother, he whispers. Of course, I’m such an idiot. For all those years, the only way that Eli’s family were aware of his life was through me, our column, the stories we told. They had to believe every word I wrote. Axel interrupts my thoughts. She kept them all, you know, all of the columns. Every day she cuts them out of the newspaper and glues them into a scrapbook, along with all the photos of you two out and about. She’s got a poster for every film Eli ever appeared in. They’re all in a room. She would never say it, but she was proud of him. Why didn’t she tell him that when he was still alive, I ask. Because of that same pride. She couldn’t bear to have a son who was dating you, but she couldn’t bear to lose him either. When she heard of his death, she was devastated. She never said so, but I think she felt guilty. But through your column, Eli was still alive in her mind. It’s all that’s kept her going. If you stop this column, then you’re killing her. If I don’t stop this column, I’m killing myself, I reply. Axel speaks angrily. Think about Eli. He’s still alive because of you! Everything must pass, I say. I have given everything to the Ryli chronicles, but now it’s time for them to stop. And so it is time for me. I place the pen down on the paper and begin speaking.

“I won’t write any more. I can’t go on lying to myself, to the public, to Eli.”
   “I’ll kill you.”
   “I don’t doubt it.”
   “Keep writing or you’re dead.”
   “Eli wouldn’t have wanted this.”
   “How do you know what Eli would have wanted?!”
   As Axel pulls the trigger, I close my eyes.

When I opened them, I was seated at the desk. What happened? I turned to face Axel. What I saw was something very different. Eli was standing there, holding the bullet between his thumb and index finger. He smiled as he walked over to me. He couldn’t speak, just grabbed a different colour pen and wrote.
   “Still writing, I see?”
   “Of course,” I wrote back.
   “Sorry about my brother. He didn’t mean it.”
   “To try and shoot me?”
   “No, to succeed.”
   “Oh,” I wrote back. “So, I’m dead.”
   Eli nodded, before trying to hug me. It was made awkward by the seat. He always did that. I stood up and held him, before he smiled and spoke for the first time.
   “Come on,” he said.
   “But what?”
   “Have I done enough?”
   “For what?”
   “To make sure we’re remembered.”
   “I don’t know. Only time will tell.”
   I smiled. “Yes, only time.” I rested my head on his shoulders and held his hand, before everything I knew faded away.

Axel dropped the gun. He hadn’t met to kill him. It wasn’t what was meant to happen. He was supposed to keep him alive. To make sure he kept writing, so he kept the legacy alive. But then an idea came to Axel.
   He walked over to the desk and grabbed the sheath of papers. Thankfully, there wasn’t that much blood on them. He picked up Eli’s blood-covered pen in his hands and began writing…


  1. Do you even paragraph?

    But seriously, this was amazing, James! I'm really glad I got to read this.

    (Should that be 'Ryan's blood-covered pen' at the end there?)

  2. Sooo much telling....
    Awesome concept though.