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Monday, April 13, 2009

Story: Into the Rain by Fadzlishah Johanabas Rosli

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Story:Into the Rain by Fadzlishah Johanabas Rosli

Name: Fadzlishah Johanabas Rosli
Pen name: Fadzlishah Johanabas Rosli
Title of Story: Into the Rain
Genre: Romance, Fiction, General
Summary:What if when you finally figure out you should have held on, instead of letting go? May you already be too late?

*This short piece is just something to get my fingers moving. It may or may not be used for something big I have in progress.


Thunder rumbled overhead. Usually I would count the gap till lightning struck, but not this time. I was busy praying I wasn't too late.

I bounded up the narrow stairwell two steps at a time. I held on to the banister, fully aware of the filth and grime that were beginning to coat my palm with a thickening layer of slime. Not that I had much choice. Raindrops pelted at me like an endless wave of angry insects, limiting my vision and making my steps treacherous. I'd already lost count on the times I almost slipped. Above the din of the building storm, I could hear my heartbeat. I could even feel it in my fingertips.

Please. Don't let me be too late.

I lost track of how many floors I left behind me. My chest felt tight, my breaths came out ragged and hot, and my sides felt like someone was squeezing me hard, long nails burying deep. I was already panting, acrid-tasting raindrops making their way into my open mouth, but still I ran.

Wait for me.

I could barely make my way to the partially opened door when I reached the top landing. The small, dust-coated space was littered with broken and forgotten desks and chairs with missing legs, piled up looking like they would topple and bury me with the slightest sneeze. Even the rotting door leaned at a slight angle inward, its top hinge broken. I was never acrobatic, but determination helped me through the door. Into the rain. Lightning struck somewhere beyond my periphery vision, casting the sky with a sudden illumination before plunging me into near darkness again.

Please.

I'd been on this roof only once before, and even then it was one time too many. The big granite slabs were unsteady at some places. With piss-smelling hallways filled with maggot-laden garbage bags, I wouldn't expect the roof to be maintained with any more care and devotion. I promised myself then I would never come here again. Yet here I was, rubbing my eyes with my grime-free hand to clear the rain off my lashes.

Why must he pick this freaking place, of all places?

Shielding my eyes the best I could, I scanned my surroundings. People could play badminton and basketball up here, full court each, without getting into each other's way. If the footing wasn't this uneven, and if the edges weren't only secured with knee-high rusted railings. Other than a few other stairwell openings and the occasional vent pipes jutting out awkwardly, the roof was an open space. He was nowhere to be seen, and I was running out of time. Even without the blinding rain, twilight was fast approaching, and I wouldn't be able to see much anyway.

Where the hell is he?

I took out my phone, risking damaging it in this deluge. I had to try. I pressed the button 2 without even looking at the keypad, to speed-dial his number. I closed my eyes, and listened.

At first I thought I was imagining it. Then Damien Rice's song got louder there was no mistaking it. It came from the other stairwell. I flew toward the sound, praying hard I would find more than his mobile there.

I found him sitting against the wall, his arms hugging his drawn knees. He was looking down, chin resting between his knees. His eyes were partly hidden by his hair. He ignored the rain flowing from the plastered locks just as much as he ignored the clothes that clung onto his body. He was shivering, but I couldn't tell if it was from the cold. His mobile lay forgotten by his side, its screen glowing softly. The song stopped abruptly when I canceled the call.

My heart almost stopped.

"I told you not to use the song as your ringtone. What if I couldn't hear it?" Could he hear me above the chatter of my teeth?

He didn't look up. He didn't move one bit. His silence was loud.

"I was afraid you'd jump."

"I could have," he finally said, barely above a whisper. "I wanted to."

"Are you alright?" I took a step closer, my hands reaching out. I was shaking. But I did not feel the cold. He was here, in front of me. My heart reached out further than my tentative body could.

"I don't know if I could do this anymore, Rina." He looked up when he said my name. What I saw looking into his golden eyes, dark now without luster, broke my heart more than the words he told me when he left six days and three hours ago ever could. Where was the fire? Where was the life I loved to discover in those beautiful eyes? He bowed his head low and started rocking back and forth.

Where was the Adrian I had always known? Where was the anger, the confidence? Where was my Adrian?

"Everything I've done. Nothing. Gone." His shoulders sagged lower, boneless. Even his voice, his tone, was midnight.

I kneeled in front of him and reached for his face. I lifted his chin to face me. He did not resist. "Hey, I'm here, aren't I?"

He closed his eyes. "I don't have any strength left."

"Adrian," I whispered, each syllable of his name a song on my lips. I smoothed hair, dark with rain, from his eyes. "Let me in. If you refuse to see the light, let me in on the darkness. Let me be lost with you. Let me be your strength as you've been mine."

"You can't, Rina," he said. "Not after what I did to you."

"I love you, Adrian."

I hugged him close with all the strength I could muster. I would not let him go. Not this time. He was still at first, but then a miracle happened. He hugged me back.

The rain was heavier still, but I was far from cold. Adrian was a soul helplessly lost, and so was I. But we found each other again. If I was never sure of anything else in my life, this I knew to be true:

I love Adrian.

And he loves me back.

©Fadzlishah Johanabas Rosli 2009

4 comments:

  1. Heys Fadz!

    I apologize for taking this long to review. I remember when i uploaded your story, i was thinking "Wow, this is good work." And it did definitely occur to me then to leave a comprehensive review but i haven't had the time. I am so sorry.

    I really think you have a flair for writing. Your story flows really well and your description, such as when you described the building and its contents, it really painted the abandoned atmosphere. In addition to that were your overtones of dark and light inclusive of the wet rain that i could simply feel by reading the piece.

    However, reaching towards the end, i think i got a little lost because when Adrian refused 'to be one with Rina' (Is this the best way to describe it? =P), he said 'not after what i did to you' which i suppose as a reader, my first thought was 'What did he do to her?' Then, the conversation remained cryptic almost till the end. The part really wasn't that long, but it was the climax. I suppose that was why it stuck with me ^_^

    Would it be safe to assume: Rina and Adrian broke up because of an incident that happened. Consequently, Adrian was going to commit suicide but Rina found him before he could do such a thing? Seriously, i like your story the way it is. I believe being vague and cryptic actually creates mystery in a story and its great when you place a veil over the readers' eyes. So, my next suggestion actually sounds like the words of my writing teacher rather than reflecting my views.

    A suggestion to refine the blur aspects of the story is to establish the break up better with the readers, so that the narrator and the readers reach an understanding. I don't think you have to name the incident because if it's something deeply traumatic, by naming the action might cheapen it. Just expand a bit more on the status of their relationship and that will probably flesh the plot.

    I think that might be the only criticism i have. I like your style of writing and i found the story interesting and easy to read. I would love to see more work from you! Do you write multi-chaps? Just a curious question.

    Anyways, remember to preserve your sovereignty as a writer. If you don't believe my criticism to be apt, please, do ignore them. Thank you so much for listening.

    Hope to hear more from you soon!

    -Alin

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  2. Hehehe Alin, I really have to apologize for sending you a single possible scene from a novel-in-progress. It was Valentine's, and I was stuck in the Operating Theater between cases, so I stared at the computer thinking of a lovey-dovey piece to write. I tried thinking. I tried writing.

    Nada.

    So I started writing with Adrian and Rina in mind. They're the main protagonists. This particular scene fits towards the end of the story. And you're right. They broke up in previous chapters.

    Take a small piece of a puzzle from a whole picture, it's bound to be vague. And for that, again, I'm sorry.

    I have the whole plot in my head, but I love to compartmentalize individual scenes, and I write in no particular order. Just whatever strikes my fancy, or whatever song I'm playing that suddenly inspires me.

    So this piece was actually a warm-up, and an experiment. Please don't take it wrong though. I didn't simply submit something cikai. I was reading books on writing, and some of the books highlighted that writers usually concentrate on sight, and underplay other senses. In this particular piece, I tried to apply that new knowledge, seeing if it felt right. And it did; still does.

    Another part of the story is posted here: http://themalaysianpoeticchronicles.blogspot.com/2009/04/adrians-last-song.html

    which includes one of the songs I wrote (and sang) for the novel. I've planned to compose at least 3 songs. Then maybe I can come up with an accompanying soundtrack :).

    Hey. Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it. And please, feel free to comment and critique. I certainly won't turn down any help I can get.

    Years ago I used to submit my stories to The Phoenix Writer's Workshop. Among them is my pride and joy (at that time), Angel. (http://www.geocities.com/pheonixwrites2/a180802cg.html).

    Writers from all over the world exchanged views and comments, and it was a valuable learning experience. I thought the story was perfect; I was humbled by the productive criticism I received. Sadly, the site is now defunct.

    I'm hoping that this website will grow into something such as that workshop, where we can all trade stories and comments.

    Keep up the good work, guys!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is nice. But then again, I've always been partial to "captures" or "scenes" as I like to call them. Just a slice of moment in time, open ended and open to the reader's interpretation, never underestimating the intelligence of the reader.

    Once again, I felt there were too many adjectives in this, but they served its purpose and I didn't mind them as much. I could relate to Rina's desperation, the sense of time ticking away.

    Lovely :) Looking forward to reading more.

    PS: Do you ever write anything happy? hehe

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a continuation of my other reply :).

    Now this was written a few months back. Partly to show how my writing differed from back then. Partly to test out what I've learned from reading books on writing fiction, which I started buying early this year. Now I have a lot of them all over the house.

    And I didn't notice the evil adjectives! Thanks to you, I think I found 8 or more. And I was supposed to keep it at a minimum, if at all. Cringe!

    Anyway, this is a test piece, and not something I'd submit for printing publication. Don't get me wrong, guys. I didn't submit a second-rate piece to your site. I'm actually happy and proud of what I came up with. I get into that stormy moment whenever I re-read this, and I'm happy to know that readers get the same feeling as well. But those I do submit for competition, my friend/editor and I vetted the pieces for a full month. Can't remember how many drafts it took to straighten out the kinks.

    And speaking of endings, I'm sorry Amelia but I think this is my niche at storytelling. Almost all of my short stories (I think I have enough for an anthology) end with the couple apart. I love happy endings. But in life, we rarely get that. Call me jaded if you must. But what I love more is a hopeful ending. That the protagonist learns from his/her experience, and emerges stronger in spirit.

    But I abhor endings that hang, that do not resolve the story, but create more questions. I see that trend in published Malaysian short stories. It's like a fad here. A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the knots must be tied up. Vague endings that readers can make their own conclusions, whether the hero gets the heroine or not (an example) is fair game. Endings like DaVinci Code, that makes me question about the possibility of Jesus having a continuing bloodline, is great. I get to think about the book long after I've closed the final page. But endings that end in a question, as if the author is challenging the readers' intelligence of solving the asked problem, that I don't like. I'd buy a Secondary School History workbook if I wanted that.

    We storytellers have a sacred responsibility, from the moment a reader reads the first word, to guide that reader right to the end. Letting go of her hand while she hangs on the precipice is just foul play. The reader will lose trust in us. I bought anthologies by local authors, and stopped reading at the second or third story because of this.

    Oh. More 'captures' on my blogspace http://fadziruddin.blogspot.com/ under Tender Moments. Now those are mostly happy :).

    BTW. Guys, did you get the stories I submitted? Dragon Knight and one more I can't recall. (Amelia, those are also old(er) and full of writing boo-boos that I try (and sometimes fail) to avoid now.)

    Amelia, where can I read your writings?

    ReplyDelete