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Our_Pneuma
December 7th, 2011, 05:04 AM
The Augmented Demise
Hallow sat at the kitchen table with a fresh cup of coffee and a stale cherry Pop-Tart. She stared anxiously at the wall clock and watched the second hand tic. Today made 342 days since the disappearance of Cody. Each day is a little easier to greet than the previous; but yet questions, concerns, and fear of the unknown still coved her mind, darkening it like a haunting silhouette.
Each morning around 9:45 Mrs. Fischer stopped by to visit Hallow. She would bring a peanut butter and orange blossom honey sandwich on wheat for herself, and a spicy mustard tuna salad sandwich on rye for Hallow. She met Mrs. Fischer four months before when visiting a local women's group. After a few small conversations, and a brief introduction to the group, Hallow became nervous and uncomfortable. She recognized those feelings and had no desire to feel them again.
A few weeks before the women’s group, Hallow attended a charity banquet where she joined a group, introduced herself, and began casually conversing. During one of the conversation, a lady shared that she arranged a surprise party for her son's upcoming birthday. Hallow looked at the cheerful lady with tear filled eyes. Hysterical, the words "Cody would have turned 9 last week." escaped her mouth. Embarrassed from her response, and no desire for sympathy, she left.
Hallow wanted to leave the group. She wanted to avoid any embarrassment, but she also didn’t want to be rude. She thought for a moment, which led to the remembrance of a classic getaway. The “where’s the bathroom?” escape. Hallow attempted to walk out, but a little old lady, with a kind smile and discerned eyes, gripped her hand like a like a vise. In a matter of seconds Hallow was back in with the group. On many different occasions it was difficult for Hallow to control her emotions. That night, when seated next to Mrs. Fischer, those undesired feelings were easily controlled. She wanted to feel that way all the time; she wanted self-control without the presence of Mrs. Fischer.

Two weeks passed. Hallow decided to join the women’s group for the second time and arrived early. Inside, Mrs. Fischer was making each of the ladies their favorite sandwich. Across the counter lay an array of different breads and condiments. The smell of a fresh deli greeted Hallow as she approached the kitchen door. "Keep it together" Hallow told herself before entering the kitchen. Mrs. Fischer stood at the counter, delicately spreading mayonnaise on a piece of pumpernickel. She noticed Hallow immediately.

"What's your favorite sandwich?" she asked Hallow.

"Tuna fish salad on rye with spicy mustard." Hallow answered.

Hallow looked down at the arrangement of sandwiches, amazed at how precise Mrs. Fischer divided each of them into quarters, and some into halves. She watched Mrs. Fischer prepare to make her sandwich. Patiently she arranged each item from left to right, in the order she planned to use them. Rye bread to her far left, to its right the spicy mustard followed by store bought tuna salad-- Hallow preferred homemade over store bought, but she liked the brand Mrs. Fischer used-- and a small red Dixie plate. While Mrs. Fischer made the sandwich, Hallow began to talk about Cody. She intended to tell Mrs. Fischer only what she rehearsed throughout the week, but quickly lost her thoughts as the pain of her son’s disappearance boiled from her stomach, escaping her mouth like a caged beast.

"He would have turned 9 this year!” Her ferocious tone startled Mrs. Fischer, but she still asked whom Hallow was talking about.

“Cody. He was taken from me while playing in the backyard…taken away forever! He always played in the back yard. I called for him but he didn’t answer, he always answered me. This time was different. Everything was different!” Her palms beaded with sweat and her bottom lip quivered.

Hallow stopped speaking. She took a deep breath, mustering what remained of her courage and told Mrs. Fischer more.

“Cody loved to play hide-and-seek. Most of the time I knew where he hid. He would always giggle before I could finish counting. This time there were no laughs. I looked everywhere, and everywhere he wasn’t. Nobody knew anything! A seven-day search was done with no evidence found, or leads. Nothing.”

Hallow’s back was against the refrigerator. She slid down its stainless door, to the floor. The battle was over. She sat still and listened for the deafening chants of her victors. There was silence. Mrs. Fischer reached down and lifted Hallow to her feet. She asked Hallow if she minded an occasional visit.
After many visits from Mrs. Fischer, Hallow’s refrigerator was crammed with spicy mustard tuna salad sandwiches. Hallow was irritated with Mrs. Fischer visits. Although she was irritated, Hallow sat at her kitchen table waiting for Mrs. Fischer to visit. There was something about her, some sort of familiarity that Hallow couldn't pinpoint. Mrs. Fischer’s last stopover was strange to Hallow. Unlike usual, she said something to Hallow that captured her attention.
The following morning, Hallow patiently sat at the kitchen table. She looked at the clock, which read 10:32AM—Mrs. Fischer was late. Hallow remembered she didn’t feel well the morning before. Hallow left the kitchen table and searched for something to occupy her. The day passed slowly. She worried about Mrs. Fischer and hoped to see her soon.

Hallow awoke happier than usual. She opened the refrigerator and grabbed one of the sandwiches Mrs. Fischer made her, pulling it from top of the stack. This assured her it was still moderately fresh. She sat at the kitchen table staring at the wall clock. The second hand raced the minute hand. She watched and laughed saying "Well that's not a fair race." It was still early and soon Mrs. Fischer would arrive. Moments later she heard a knock at the front door. Anxiously, she opened it. Standing at the door's threshold was Mrs. Fischer’s son, she had met him once before when visiting Mrs. Fischer at her home. His face was stubbed with course black hair and two large bags hung below each of his eyes, which carried the pain of a recent event.
He looked down, avoiding eye contact with Hallow and explained his mother’s absence. He told Hallow the news of his mother’s death the night before. Hallow was speechless. She couldn’t respond with a single emotion. She only looked at him, while he looked down. In his hand was a large yellow envelope bulging from each side. Before she could ask him what it was, he handed the envelope to her. He looked up and softly spoke to Hallow, telling her that his mother hadn’t loved another girl, as a daughter, since the loss of her own. Then, he left.

Hallow shut the door and walked to the kitchen table. She sat in the cold seat of Cody's favorite chair and opened the envelope. Inside was a letter from Mrs. Fischer and a neatly folded plastic bag. She removed the letter and sat the envelope on the kitchen table. A corner of the plastic bag hung outside the envelope.
Hallows eyes trailed each page of the letter. She sat it next to the yellow envelope and tugged the corner of the plastic bag. Slowly, it slid from captivity. She unfolded the corners, which revealed the top where two handles were tied in a knot. Hallow untied the bag, reluctantly peering inside. Intensely, her fingers tingled. Genteelly, she slid her hand in the bag. Inside was an article of clothing. Hallow pulled it from the bag; she recognized it immediately. It was Cody's favorite shirt. Its brilliant yellow was littered with red splotches, rigidly torn— robbed of its normal form. She pushed everything on the kitchen table aside and laid the shirt down.
Hallow’s heart thudded inside her chest. The tingling sensation she felt in her hands, invaded her entire body. The letter began to slide off the table’s edge. She grabbed it. Instead of setting it down, she read each line carefully while tears blanketed her cheeks. It made sense. Not just the letter, nor the bag, neither the envelope, but everything.
The ending was most difficult for Hallow to read. Apologies flooded the last paragraph. Within those sentences she felt pain other than her own. She attempted to remember the last time she hurt for another person, but quickly gave up. It had been too long to remember.

Hallow peeled her body from the kitchen floor, where she sat slouched against her chair until dusk. She stared over the table and imaged Mrs. Fischer sitting in the chair beside hers. Cody was nowhere.

trent13
December 16th, 2011, 06:30 PM
In general I liked the way it was written, but the ending I found dis-satisfactory. She just found out that her son was murdered (presumably by Mrs. Fischer, which is also presented as entirely out of keeping with Mrs. Fischer's character) and instead of rage or shock or despair, she instead feels feels pain on behalf of the woman who wrote the letter, and tries to remember when the last time she felt pain for another person. It seems disingenuous. I was with you (mostly) until that point.

Our_Pneuma
December 19th, 2011, 07:27 AM
Trent13, thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

In regards to your dis-satifation, I understand how this piece may have caused you to feel that way. I posted it as a stripped down revision of the original- sort of like the skeleton for the final revision. Because of its bareness, right now there are several vital parts missing, which has caused some wholes in the plot.

I will consider your perception of The Augmented Demise's ending as "disingenuous" and attempt to make it more... what's the word- sincere.

If you're interested, I will inform you when a revision is posted?

Thanks again,
O.P.

bazz cargo
January 11th, 2012, 10:17 PM
Hi O.P.
Sorry I took so long in getting round to reading this.
I liked it a lot. I was puzzled by the ending. Was Mrs Fischer's son in on the secret?

There are a few spag nits, nothing that spoils the story. It reads easily, nicely detailed, believable, but a stretch on the twist.

There is an old trick to spag checking, take a rule, or ruler (if you can afford a king) go line by line and work from the bottom up, it helps catch the errors your mind fills in.

If you want me to have a look at anything else, post a link at my profile.

Thanks for an enjoyable read.
Bazz

Dylan
January 11th, 2012, 11:33 PM
Hallow peeled her body from the kitchen floor, where she sat slouched against her chair until dusk. She stared over the table and imaged Mrs. Fischer sitting in the chair beside hers. Cody was nowhere.


Good story until those last 3 sentences. What mother would read a letter of somebody confessing to have brutally murdered her young son, and just sit in a corner "until dusk" and simply imagine Mrs. Fischer sitting in the chair beside her? No Police? No clinging hope that maybe her son is alive, now with this new evidence (even if the letter straight up says she killed him)?

"Nobody knew anything! A seven-day search was done with no evidence found, or leads. Nothing.”"

And now there's a confession letter and a bloody T-shirt that show up on her front door, and she just sits back and thinks?


Also, as a reader I am incredibly confused at this point. Does she live alone? Mrs. Fischer feels guilty and comes to visit the parent everyday? Why? Most child-murderers would not visit the parent everyday, and THEN leave them an obituary note "apologizing"

Also, as the previous poster pointed out, I guess Mrs. Fischer's son is in on it? Why would HE not tell anybody? At the very least he can now be investigated, and depending on what the letter said, prosecuted. Why give a letter condemning himself?

Good up until those last 3 sentences.