View Full Version : "I Only Want Magic"

December 21st, 2010, 01:53 AM
Melissa waited outside the station, bleakness floating in the air. These were the damp pavements where people slipped and fell into each other, forming complicated cobwebs of mutual attraction, manipulation, engineering lives together. These were the days to be alive, were they not? The inauspicious 5 o’clocks where the crowds would disperse home, dodging Happy Hours for dutiful hours spent playing the husband, the scholar, the fool. For most, these 5 o’clocks formed a regular pattern across their looming futures, where nothing could cause a rupture in the monotonous march to death except for a handful of days in the sun or a senile stint at retirement.

“Where was the magic?”, she wondered. She was teetering on the brink of adulthood after a youth spent with her head in the clouds (with cloudy, idealistic eyes blind to her long division sums). “Where was the stuff of dreams, of novels, of romantic teenage films?”. It seemed the adult way to prevent oneself from these delusions, so as to fortify oneself against failure. Life was what she saw before her: the unexceptional 9 to 5, the packed commuter train, the uncomfortable shirt collars, the repressed urge to laugh, to sing, to stare out at London’s glory in all its picturesque glory. No. A daily commuter would see the city centre as simply grey, rain-speckled and busy, hosting dark-coloured umbrellas and slippery pavements.

And yet, there was still such beauty around. Walking down the high street before, she had seen golden lights upon the horizon, forming a halo around the silhouetted buildings, which stood steadfast against the smoky dusk sky. The leaves glistened, reminiscent somehow of heavy wet tears that linger on one's lashes. The pavement looked almost glassy in places, flooded with lamplight. It was quite serene; the car-sounds and the chatter formed a backdrop rather than an obstructive noise, lulling her into a false sense of calm until a relentless car slashed through the road in front of her, like some vicious animal of nature making a sneak attack upon its prey.

Ah, the night air formed the promise of excited magic that she had been looking for, though the commuters did not seem to see it. A little danger lurked in the crooks and alleyways of Camden’s streets, whilst the hearty public houses whispered life, rich conversations fuelled by a steady stream of warm cider. Dusty theatres proffered a fantastical arm, to lead you to a fictional realm, a warm fiery escape to numb one’s sense of reality.

With a quickened pulse, she pondered over what tonight’s activity might be. Love’s glow had been quite forcibly extinguished quite long ago- the man she loved refused to play along anymore- but she was meeting a nice young man who might colour in his shadow for a few alcohol-tinged hours. Dave seemed to know what he wanted from life; a quality quite unattractive at a mere twenty-three years of age. She supposed that she must fit quite well with the overriding plan. And yes, certainly, she felt a tinge of guilt at, inevitably, causing a wrinkle in these meticulously-drawn-out plans (for she refused to enter a love affair until she stumbled into it by careful accident). Her guilt was minimal, however, for she personally subscribed to the belief that life should be conducted with just one hand on the proverbial reins. Surely he could not be late, she thought to herself, such meticulous planners never lag behind to soak up a little more of life before they leave the house. Right she was; he appeared from behind a stocky pillar, which he had, no doubt, been leaning against in a self-consciously nonchalant-looking pose for the past ten minutes. “I thought you would never turn up”, she protested, coyly, craving the subsequent affirmation that he had arrived long before her.

He was dressed for an occasion. Not this occasion, of course, for his shirt and tie clashed terribly with her casual attire. How vulgar indeed, to let one’s high expectations stain one’s external dress!
“Ahhhhh Melissa”, he said, with a mawkish smile; he would repeat her name, purposelessly, again and again throughout this evening, puppy-eyes sparkling with foolishness. These grating qualities undercut the serious, masculine formation apparent when his face hung naturally; he gave the appearance of continually hoisting up his eyebrows, his cheeks, the corners of his mouth so as to defy Nature’s expression with buoyant jolts of joy.

They proceeded along the high street beneath an untimely shower of rain, Dave’s unwelcome arm awkwardly bobbing on Melissa’s shoulder as they walked out of time with each other. Their eventual arrival at a rosy pub softened the light, accidental blows Dave had inflicted on her shoulder, and soon their several rounds of drinks leveled her drunkenness with his affections. The place, the people, the dignified sophistication teasing them, she relaxed into his jarring smile, having diluted the malice within her. The evening proceeded more smoothly, stolen kisses foreboding the bedroom’s promise. A brilliant and witty play blended crude reality with an artistic vision of brightness and colour, leaving her demobilized, numbed to the love that she still mourned (a fact that would not escape her mind once alcohol intensified her heart, a curse she feared would pervade through her veins, marking her skin with baboon shame). No, she would not let it stop her! She cursed him and proceeded with stubborn indiscretion. They proceeded home- to his home- together, feet soaked in flooded wells along the pavement, anything to escape the bare, sterile side-streets.

They did not even stop to turn on the bedroom lights, as they stumbled under the sheets, shoes and clothes flying sideways. An embrace, a fumble, a reluctance, a submission. Sleep descended upon them.

The morning sun, like peroxide bleach, stung her eyes and drained the colour out of last night’s memories. She rose from her shameful pillow. The high-street view from the window bared sullen-faced youths, exhausted mothers and stony street-workers. Blaring sirens and pneumatic drills formed a discord, echoing her frustration. The magic she had managed to draw from Camden’s streets had all been illusory, like a beguiling dream that inflicted pain for its unreality, upon waking. Dave snored heavily beside her, oblivious to her disgust. She suddenly longed for a steady 9 to 5 life; a dull framework to shield her from such pleasure-driven mistakes. A grey world, that at least did not pretend to promise colour. She needed a promise against such promises as she yearned for; the only thing that could end her search.

December 21st, 2010, 12:55 PM

I quite enjoyed this piece. At the beginning, to me, there was a bit of an over-kill, not much, but almost wanted it to start at the second para, but then the first para felt needed also. Still I felt something 'off' from the mood of the rest of the piece. A few very nice descriptions and lines here.

thanks for the read


December 21st, 2010, 01:10 PM
Thank you for your helpful comments! I have revised the first paragraph which, I agree, may have been a little dense.

December 21st, 2010, 01:22 PM
eeeek :( you rushed off and edited. remember I'm only one reader(one who is often dense with misunderstanding) and so my thoughts are in no way a reason for change.

December 21st, 2010, 01:34 PM
Hi Chez

Good characterisation. I enjoyed this, could relate to her feelings and mood. Wanting someone who you can't have, substituting them with someone anyone to fill the space he left inside. Alcohol helps.

I loved this phrase. It showed it so well

who might colour in his shadow for a few alcohol-tinged hours.

I also struggled a bit with the first paragraph and wondered about starting with her standing at the station then move on to the second paragraph, which in parts repeats the first - the 9 - 5, mad rush home on packed commuter trains.

Sometimes your sentences tend to be quite long which can make them hard to read.

This read a little oddly

[QUOTE]the man she loved no longer refused to play along- [/QUOTE

Mind you, there is no magic on Camden's streets (or I've never found it walking around there at night) :)

Thanks for the read.

December 21st, 2010, 06:29 PM
A beautiful piece of work, filled with little nuggets of pure gold, simple wordcraft that adds so much.

The word 'magic' in the title almost stopped my reading it. Happily that prejudice was overridden. You know how to capture real life and paint the truth with words.

December 22nd, 2010, 01:11 AM
Thank you so much for your kind words! The title is actually a quotation from Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire", but perhaps it has less impact out of context...

December 22nd, 2010, 01:20 AM
and shadows, I must admit that
the man she loved no longer refused to play along is in fact a typo...thanks so much for pointing it out, I will change it now, and possibly have a toy around with sentence length.

December 22nd, 2010, 03:38 AM
I felt like, sometimes, there was too much imagery. My brain wanted to just drift over those parts, rather than read them. Other bits had images, then something gritty and real. It made the extra sensory layer hit harder, but over an over again dilutes the feeling.

Hmm, I don't think I am explaining well. I hope this makes sense to someone.

December 22nd, 2010, 05:44 AM
To be blunt—I’m jealous. Your vocabulary is on a different league, then my own. However, I must point out (from my own perspective) that some things, I found confusing.

“These were the damp pavements where people slipped and fell into each other, forming complicated cobwebs of mutual attraction, manipulation, engineering lives together.”

A Example here, this “made sense” and I am guessing to what you are trying to say and maybe I am just too stupid to understand this, but this just didn’t flow correctly to me and I did not understand what you, the writer, were trying to explain to me, the stupid reader.

I liked the overall theme that you story was discussing, but it didn’t work for me because you didn’t add drama. You never introduced any conflicting moral positions. I loved the ending, but it wasn’t epic simply because you didn’t build it up.

An example:

Introducing the husband character, for example, and adding tension (based on an unbiased circumstance), not because there was no romance, but because he meet his old girlfriend who had become very successful? (A example)Then you could go into detail upon feelings of neglect, exc. And challenge social norms. Finally, that ending with the final K.O: Her looking at her wedding ring? “I wish I could go back, back to the days of innocence.” Exc, something emotional shattering.

Your vocabulary and grammar is far beyond my own, so I cannot comment.

What I liked: Your theme
Didn’t like: Confusing sentences (To me), Story wasn’t enough, at times, to me; things didn’t flow because so much time was spent on explaining certain aspects:

An example

She supposed that she must fit quite well with the overriding plan. And yes, certainly, she felt a tinge of guilt at, inevitably, causing a wrinkle in these meticulously-drawn-out plans (for she refused to enter a love affair until she stumbled into it by careful accident).

Overall, when I wasn’t looking up definitions, I enjoyed it, but I felt more potential.