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MrTickle
August 27th, 2019, 04:14 PM
Hey guys, this is a little surrealist short story I wrote. Its abstract and can have a different meaning for everyone. Thank you for reading!




Burning Dreams



Waking up in the morning with my breathing calm as settled seas, the plants surrounding our bed just happy to be alive and thriving in the warm morning sun. The breeze tickling the leaves, with me stroking Lisa’s arm hoping it continues the dream she is in. Our bodies smelling of fresh water like the smell when it has just rained on a warm night. And the natural smooth oak wooden decking of our bedroom shining from the sunlight soothed my lungs. I could be in this room like this forever, just happy to be alive.


But a car horn outside bursts the membrane. My heart jumps and kicks me to my feet. I calm my shaking hand and wash it under warm water in the bathroom trying to force it back to the calm state I was just in with Lisa. She is still in her slumber. Sleeping with that silk white robe she bought last month. Her smooth skin and precious face still looked peaceful amongst the growing chaos outside. The car horn grew louder and I began to close the curtain but I could not keep my eyes away from the smoke puffing out the front of the car twenty floors below in the middle of the street. The smoke grew longer and wider like a vague smoke you would run from in a dream that you tried to escape from but every corner of your house only lead to another corner, another dead-end.


I saw Lisa was still asleep but wincing. I open her sleeping tablet tube to see if she had accidentally taken too many but no there was still eight left like yesterday. The smoke had begun to rise up to our window now like the clouds from the sky had fallen to the floor and were rising back up, I couldn’t see the streets below anymore. The smoke from the car had lined the city roads. I knew I couldn’t just wake up
Lisa by shaking her shoulders, and I couldn’t even lift her out of bed she now possessed an inhuman dead weight like a boulder. Not even the firemen or even four firemen would be able to lift her. It was like I needed to whisper to her something personal to lighten her body and wake her up, but in this instance I realised how little I knew about her. I remember when I met her it was a night one summer ago. She was smoking on a street corner just outside the bar I had just finished playing at. The first thing we talked about was our matching cigarette lighters, then onto the weather, onto what we hoped the future would look like. She only ever talked about current or future things, never about her past. When she moved in to my apartment, her suitcase was full of new clothes, nothing from her past. I always tried to ask her about where she grew up or if she had family at all, but she used to smile, breathe out heavily like she was clearing away unwanted memories and closed her eyes and nestle her head into my chest.


I left our apartment. In the hallway the residents were flooding out of their apartments, the smoke trickling in from vents above the windows. I knew there would be no fire engines when I reached the street. In this current climate, any kind of incident involving fire like a car crash just grew too out of hand for any emergency service to handle. This never ending heat wave sparking flames and smoke into wild fires out of control in any built up area. Gary (my neighbour), a Beethoven loving art snob stared down at the flames and smoke just as I had. He said, “the Silent North statue is burning, Frank.” I followed the line of his gaze and saw too, the burning statue of a homeless man with his hand in the air. The ‘Silent North’, they called it. It was built using cardboard and metal sheets. Built by homeless people over time.
When each homeless person found employment or was taken in by a hostel, they would use a part of their ‘street home’ to add to the statue. I said to my neighbour who was still staring, “It’s such a waste to see a statue that resembled hope and meaning in this city burn like this. It sort of felt like the beating heart of the city.”


My neighbour frowned and raised his eyebrow like that was a little pretentious of me, and replied, “Never heard anyone think of it like that before.”


“Why, what do you see it as?”


“I just liked the way it looked.”


For some reason I felt a cold detachment from his comment despite the fast growing heat of the apartment hallway. Not wanting anymore conversation, I shuffled off with the crowd of residents moving towards the fire exit, with the echoes of Gary’s words ringing through me.


*


On street level, the car was still on fire and the smoke cuddled the apartment block like it was a garden fountain, pouring from the bottom and growing up the building like rolling clouds of thunder. The building a cotton candy of heat.


I drove Lisa’s Cadillac to the desert where the heat was worse but at least there were no fires here. The desert was now where everyone buried their most prized possessions. Honestly, it was the safest place for them. No buildings or natural growth to catch fire to. There were little mole hills with stakes in them engraved with names of who it belongs to. It could be family jewels, family pictures, your favourite book or secret diary. But in mine Lisa’s case I didn’t know, but I needed to find some clue about her past that might be able to wake her.


I found her stake with her name on it 'Lisa Barrows' and forced my shovel into the ground where the outline to the hole was. But when I dug around the outline of Lisa’s buried possessions, the hole was shaped like there had been a body in it. But the man shaped hole was not filled with the man. It confirmed what I first thought when I saw the shape of the hole. She had buried her brother here. That was the one thing I knew about her past, that she had a dead brother as she often wrote cryptic poems about seeing him in dreams. But as of right now, her brother was gone. He had left his grave. I lay down in the hole and closed my eyes hoping I too would fall asleep and meet Lisa to tell her to wake up. But the sun was too bright and the dust being blown onto my face from the wind kept making me spit and blink.


As I watched the dust blow over my grave and through the air like a raid by the fallen planes of a forgotten war, waves of smoke replaced the flying dust. Thick slimy smoke blew from the left. I shot my head up and saw it was coming from my car. A small gap in the passenger side funnelled out smoke over the desert expanse. I approached the car and heard through the impossible smoke that filled it, some moaning, aching tune. I could here distant childlike giggling inside but it was distant and vague like an echo down a well. Maybe Lisa and her brother are in there. It was Lisa’s car after all. I’d imagine they spent many a time in this Cadillac on long summer nights as kids joking and talking, but ‘I’d imagine’ are the keywords there: imagine. I barely know anything about Lisa. She is one of those girls that lives with me, dances, and goes to watch me play at bars live, but she’s a little vacant in the history department. Maybe I’m too self obsessed to ask her anything, I mean I have tried in the past, but she only says, ‘my history can be summed up in one way’ I said ‘In what way’ and she shook her box of Zanex.


I don’t know what brought on her melancholic moods. Why she loved to sleep in her room all day surrounded by nature. She was so popular among everyone I had met. They always said how she looked really nice, and how she looked like a good fit for me. Thinking about that now it sounded like they were talking about a shirt that fit me not a real human being.


I open my car door and the air sucks out all the smoke blowing into my face and flying back over the desert. I drive home with that same song playing on the radio, but when I reached my apartments the fire was still going on. The same car was still on fire, the statue still on fire, but my apartment block resembled a dolls house that had had its front removed. Each rooms were exposed and could be seen from the streets. They were all empty like you’d expect. Evacuated expertly by emergency services, except they left one thing. A white silk robed body shone out a dove at night. It glowed, and a large crowd was assembling round it on the top floor. They surrounded its bed. They all looked overjoyed. Gary was there too. No doubt enjoying ‘the way it looked’. But I wanted more than them. I wanted to know about it. Not how pretty it looked.

DATo
August 28th, 2019, 12:28 PM
You're right, it really is pretty surrealistic and open to interpretation. The obvious conclusion I came to was that he was still asleep and dreaming. It is a pretty good description of a dream. I liked the weirdness of it which was a bit reminiscent of the movie Eraserhead.

Thanks for posting!

MrTickle
August 28th, 2019, 04:54 PM
You're right, it really is pretty surrealistic and open to interpretation. The obvious conclusion I came to was that he was still asleep and dreaming. It is a pretty good description of a dream. I liked the weirdness of it which was a bit reminiscent of the movie Eraserhead.

Thanks for posting!

Hey Thank you for the kind words DATo! The fact that you likened it to a David Lynch film is the highest praise I could recieve, for me haha. The reason I got into creativity was because of that man. Even though this story was not trying to be like his work. Thanks again :-)

Umree
August 31st, 2019, 10:46 PM
Thank you for sharing! I can definitely see the surrealist qualities in this piece. To me, it kind of hit the surrealist nail on the head in the sense that everything presented had an improbable, yet possible quality. The narrator's reaction to the spreading fires is unrealistic, but totally believable, for example. Overall, I enjoyed the imagery of the piece and I liked the use of active, "ing" verbs. I felt that the narrative was constantly flowing forward and I appreciate that. There was no stalling, no empty scenes of nothing happening. Everything was moving and felt very vibrant.

That being said, I think the piece can use some editing. I think some of the sentences can be trimmed and re-worded to improve flow. In addition, I think expanding the piece could definitely add to the richness of the narrative. There are a lot of scenes and characters. Lisa, Gary, the desert, the apartment, the statue built by the homeless --these are all things that can be elaborated on and expanded if you choose to do so. I felt like there were a lot of ideas working together that can be made more cohesive.

If you're interested in surreal text primarily, I recommend reading Ottessa Moshfegh's Homesick for Another Word. It is a collection of surreal and weird short stories that really inspired my own work. All of the stories explore the dark and strange elements of humanity. I think you would get a kick out of them.

MrTickle
September 3rd, 2019, 12:38 AM
Thank you for sharing! I can definitely see the surrealist qualities in this piece. To me, it kind of hit the surrealist nail on the head in the sense that everything presented had an improbable, yet possible quality. The narrator's reaction to the spreading fires is unrealistic, but totally believable, for example. Overall, I enjoyed the imagery of the piece and I liked the use of active, "ing" verbs. I felt that the narrative was constantly flowing forward and I appreciate that. There was no stalling, no empty scenes of nothing happening. Everything was moving and felt very vibrant.

That being said, I think the piece can use some editing. I think some of the sentences can be trimmed and re-worded to improve flow. In addition, I think expanding the piece could definitely add to the richness of the narrative. There are a lot of scenes and characters. Lisa, Gary, the desert, the apartment, the statue built by the homeless --these are all things that can be elaborated on and expanded if you choose to do so. I felt like there were a lot of ideas working together that can be made more cohesive.

If you're interested in surreal text primarily, I recommend reading Ottessa Moshfegh's Homesick for Another Word. It is a collection of surreal and weird short stories that really inspired my own work. All of the stories explore the dark and strange elements of humanity. I think you would get a kick out of them.

Thank you for the feedback Umree. I will clean the piece up a bit like you said but I don’t feel like expanding it too much.

I also like like the sound of that book you mentioned. I will definitely check it out. It weird because I usually don’t like reading surrealist fiction but I enjoy writing it as it seems to just come naturally to me, I don’t know why lol