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Creative Writing Prompt Dec. 12th

December 18, 2011

The end of the road

The car came to a screeching halt in front of the entrance gate. Richard sat at the steering wheel and frowned, wondering whether to proceed.

“Are you sure this is the right place?”, Marilyn casually asked, looking down at her well-formed hands. “Yes, this is the entrance to the old estate”, replied Richard. The fog obscured their view and heightened their sense of uneasiness at the approach to the mansion. “Maybe we should just let it go, Richard, and come back another time.” Richard switched off the engine brusquely and got out of the car. He took a cigarette from a silver case and proceeded to light it with an air of diffiedence mingled with anticipation. He studied his surrounds as if trying to wrest some secret from them that would give him assurance and the confidence to confront the opposition  he would surely encounter at the house that lies within the confines of these walls. “What a strange place this is”, he muttered to himself, drawing the soothing cigarette smoke into his lungs.

He longed for a reprieve from all life’s frustrations. He had spent much of his early childhood on this lonesome stretch of land and it always seemed to him to be inhabited by strange forces, forces of nature and beyond. Now it seemed stranger to him still and he was suddenly overcome by feelings of longing to stay and explore the rugged country lanes and forest paths and trace the stony walls that held all this age-old beauty. Marilyn rolled down the window and looked at him curiously. He had become paler, thinner, and looked much older now. His energy and creative talent had subsided and he became increasingly furtive and introvert as the years went on. It looked like he was talking to himself, again. He would often mutter incomprehensible things to himself and be caught up in his musings. ‘What curious thoughts must roam his mind on such occasions’, thought she as she continued watching him.

Now he was gesticulating and walking from one end of the gate to the other, the cigarette in his crooked mouth, immersed in thought. Was he practicing a conversation in advance of the encounter with his family? Marilyn could never make up her mind what was going on in his head. At times he was placid and looked fixedly at a thing, then suddenly he jumped up like a frightened animal and would wander through the rooms of their house as if looking for something long ago lost.

He was dressed in a finely striped business suit and sported a new tie and polished shoes to look his best. His appearnace, though decent and conventional, at times reminded his affianced of criminals she had seen in a recent film. She had to laugh at herself for thinking that way about Richard, eventhough it was by no means too far from the truth. He had borrowed a lot of money from family and friends recently as his business had gone down the drain. He clung to an image of success, even if the real thing was not to be had. Business was never for him, she had told him that time and time again. Now he was about to ask for a loan, not having repaid the previous ones and being seen as a failure in his father’s eyes. She supported him throughout his turbulent years as an aspiring medical student and then throughout his life in business, and she knew he needed him and was glad to have her to lean on. But the relationship had been rocky from the start and she had often thought of leaving him; he kept enticing her to stay, somehow. She enjoyed his roguish innocence, his indecision and veiled dependency. His emotional turmoil and overbearing constrasted with her subtle but nuanced stoicism and ability to overcome negativity with a sizable portion of good humour. She was often mocked by him for not being affected by deep feelings of hurt and guilt as he was, but she knew it waas because of his diminished self-esteem that he said this.

It was becoming colder and gew darker by the minute as this scene unfolded. Marilyn wrapped her fine shawl around her slender neck and shoulders and busied herself with putting on more make-up. Richard was looking listlessly at her, amused at her vanity and knowing, as well, that it reflected his own. He swaggerd towards the bonnet of the car and pounded his fist on it vigorously. His companion was startled to attention and looked at him with concern and affection. “Oh do get out of this dreadful cold”, she spoke with conviction. He slouched back to the driver seat and said to her: “I cannot do it, it is just too much. I have thought about something. We could just leave, and not tell anyone where we are going, and start afresh. We are too free-spirited to be bogged down by this whole misadventure. Everyone makes mistakes, once in a while, people ought to understand that. It is not that we did this on purpose, we will start afresh and if possible, pay people back when we can, but it might take some time until then. I feel like the forest knows how I feel, it’s energy has come into me, I know that I, we, are meant to be free and roam the world, unchained and unconcerned. You know all about being unconcerned, I am sure of that. Do you not understand? I am a spirit being, a poet…” He couldn’t find any more words to convey his emotions but Marilyn saw clearly that his spirit was soaring up into the heights of elation when talking about this new desire of his. She envied him his unashamed self-abandon sometimes and could only wonder at his power to feel rapture and be tormented by it at the same time.

He bid farewell to the garden gates that lead into a sheltered, finite life, with an astute look and a stern salute, and procdeeded to start the engine again and reverse the car. Calm had settled on the travellers, but anticipation seems to  never have left them as they made their way home. The image of the gated enclosure was imprinted on both their minds as they sat contemplating a life of unfettered freedom and lost themselves in dreams of riches and splendour. Nature had overpowered them both and spoken to them in terms they felt they understood on a profound and personal level. Their spirits were entwined with that of the woods, where mysteries are kept hidden, in order that some wanderers may seek them.

  1. Aswin Jose permalink

    What an engaging story! I was drawn to the inner world of both the characters, and you create a special world for them here. Congrats!

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