The Dinner Party (Cosmic Reverberations)

8개월 전

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This story is my response to the fiction writing prompt I wrote six days ago. This story is also based on an extremely vivid dream I had last night. Recently, I put my back out yet again and the pain meds I've been on have addled my brain. I'm now weaning myself off them which is causing withdrawals and insane dreams. I started writing this story at 6am while it was still fresh in my mind and I've just finished the final draft now at 7pm. Parts of the story may seem slightly surreal, but I have edited and changed this massively from the dream to resemble a short story rather than a fevered expression of my drug addled subconscious.

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The Dinner Party

She looked around the apartment. The yucca towered in the corner where it had lived in their last place, all of the pictures were lined up on the brick cladding that served as a mantelpiece. Even the guitars were placed in their stands instead of strewn about as usual - everything was right with the world.

Everything has its place and all in its right place.

She sighed. Chaos was just around the corner. God she loved him but he would do anything at the drop of a hat. That man had no impulse control. It was always meant in the sweetest way, like the time he'd bought the whole bar a round in Acapulco when they were celebrating the book launch. The round had cost $500 and the rest of the evening was spent fending off coke dealers who thought this crazy gringo was a good mark for a big deal.

"What's with the deep and meaningfuls?"

She raised an eyebrow.

"The puffing and panting.Why the sigh Hun?"

"Oh nothing, just remembering our old place, everything here seems so new."

I smiled "Is everything in its right place yet?"

She nodded and leaped toward me pinning me to the couch. "Are you taking the piss out of me ya little fucker."

"Don't do a British accent Abi, you can't pull it off."

"Don't do awww Brewtish Awksnt Abi," she parroted as I wrestled her arms playfully and we melted into each other. We held a kiss for a long time, the world descending into warm softness.

"You're not the only one who is missing the old place." I felt the twinkle of a tear as I looked around the expansive space.

"Ever since The End Game went best seller my life has changed so much. I used to live in a eighteen by eighteen foot bedsit and now I... we own a loft apartment in Manhattan."

She blinked back her own welling tears, "Yeah, I remember that place, you better believe that I wasn't impressed with that shit hole."

"Why did you bother coming around then? A beautiful blonde american student, you could have had your pick."

"You were a god lay." She thought about the truth of why he'd hooked her with his quiet charm and relentless hopefulness and stubborn will to survive.

She wrapped me in a hug, "you were one in a million, is that what you want to hear."

Then pushed me away.

"Now you want to fill up our lovely echoing pretentious loft with a bunch of jabbering pretentious people and feed them locally sourced daikon and sashimi."

"Why not? The therapist said I need to get out of my comfort zone."

"Yeah, but those literary people," She sighed again, this time it lasted a full thirty seconds.

"Who would you invite?"

"I don't know, anyone else would be better."

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We walked down Broadway, past a huddle of homeless crouched in the stairwell of the basement trade entrance to a general store. One of them glanced up at me, eyes two olive pits in the glare from the snow.

That face was familiar, an echo from another time and place. Long matted hair framed a raggedy beard streaked with stains. I stopped frozen in place, the fog of memory rising like steam from the sewer grates.

Shit it was cold.

The moment of Déjà vu passed, fleeting yet profound. "What's the matter babe," Abi squeezed my arm bringing me out of the trance.

"I'm sure I know that man."

"How would you know him?"

"Liverpool, a long time ago."

She pulled me around the corner down a hundred and tenth and I pushed the door of my favorite deli open with my foot.

"Hey you crazy Brit, I told you someone will be coming the other way one day and you're gonna get your foot smashed."

Westside Market sold the best fish and more varieties of veg than you could imagine. This was what I love about this city. You can buy any produce you want. Back in the UK it was buy what the supermarkets sold or travel out to some farmers shop and pay ten times the price. All for the privilege of buying some baby beets, decent daikon or Black Garlic.

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The big Greek looked at me, arms upraised, "Why do you feel the need to kick my door open?"

"Lukas, why are you always breaking my balls."

"Jase, hey you lazy good for nothing, get out here and listen to this Limey trying to speak like he's from Lexington." Lukas' burly brother popped out from between the plastic doors of the chiller room.

"Hey you Limey maniac, I read your book."

"How did you find it?" I held my breath, always unable to brush off a harsh critic.

"How did I find it he asks." Jase looked at his brother like he'd been asked how he liked his eggs.

"I found it to be very..." he paused, scratching his chin and looking upwards. "I found it to be very... papery. Good for wiping your ass with."

The two brothers hooted with laughter as they stared at my falling face.

"Nah, nah, it was good. Fucking crazy though, you're fucked up Son. That character Silvio, the one who is still in love with his dead wife and sleeps with her ashes."

He shook his head as he disappeared back into the freezer room. "Fucked up Son," a shout drifted from the plumes of frost laden air.

"You after that good Yellowfin tuna again Row?"

Lukas slammed a huge portion out on the cutting board before I had time to answer.

"A pound please. How fresh is this? It has to be fresh Lukas."

"As fresh as you're gonna get in the city. I'm telling you I wouldn't lie to one of my best customers, it's my reputation."

He eyed me like a mafioso in a Scorsese flick.

"We get it from the market every morning, which is fresh off the boats. This tuna is twelve hours max from when it was caught. It's only you and the restaurants buy this high quality stuff, and the restaurants buy the rest up daily. Why do you make me tell you this every time you Limey bastard."

He slapped his forehead, staring at the sky pleadingly, "Why has god sent you all the way from that miserable rain soaked isle to curse me so."

Abi laughed as I placed the money in his now outstretched hand.

"Yeah, that ought to do it. See ya next time Limey."

"Wait. Give me four sandwiches, pastrami on rye with mustard, rocket and some pickles. Plenty of meat, don't stint."

He shrugged and shook his head at my choice of rocket, then threw the sandwiches together with the practiced ease of a master. Wrapped them and stacked them in a bag.

I handed over the extra dollars, "later Lukas."

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"What's with the sandwiches?"

"You'll see."

Windows formed fractal crystal patterns, ice capillaries flowing in the still air. Cabs screeched by, horns honking in the grey morning light as the commuter crowd barged and bustled their way past the couple.

Abi winked as they stubbornly held hands receiving glares from be suited business men and mobile phone text junkies.

"Hey, watch where you're going jack," Abi screamed at a passerby who shoulder barged his way between them. He glanced at her, stopped talking for a second on his hands free, grabbed the mic to muffle it and flipped the bird with his other hand.

His coffee was gripped between chin and chest. "Fuck off lady," he shouted back "make way for people who actually have a job."

I barged him back, upsetting the precarious balance of coffee, handset and the briefcase he'd gripped between ribs and elbow.

"Fuck off yourself dickhead." I calmly repeated in his face and then led a smug Abi around the corner back onto Broadway. She always liked it when I fought back, which wasn't often.

"Stay here Hun," I ducked down into the basement trade entrance and the group of homeless spun to confront me.

"What the fuck Rowan. Come on, we need to get back." Abi's shrill voice echoed into the gloom and smell of piss and puke. I could hear real panic in her pleading.

The man with the olive pit eyes stared me down for a long moment as an emaciated woman reached into a heavy trench coat pocket.

"Rowan," his voice seemed to concertina into distances of past memory. Shared experience long forgotten or half buried by the machinations of the subconscious.

"Give me what you've got," the lithe woman pulled a switch blade from her pocket but the man grabbed her arm and swung it so that the knife rested against the woman's stomach.

"No," he breathed in a long whisper, "I know this man."

"I've got subs for you all." I dropped the bag and the crew inspected the contents warily. A one legged man unwrapped them and inspected the contents before handing them around to the crew of four, leaving one in the bag.

"What flavour," the woman said in a surly voice as she pocketed her blade.

"Pastrami on rye with mustard," my eyes never left Charley.

"Charley... what, how... did you get here." His eyes flashed anger.

"I mean in Manhattan." His gaze mellowed and he stared away at last, shuffling his feet.

"Heroin Rowan, that's ultimately how I ended up in the States. But I'm eight months clean of that shit and glad of it. Do you remember when I inherited all that money in 1998, blew it on weed, blow and blowies? Things just kind of escalated into a shit storm of chaos."

"You?" he looked back at me, sunken eyes bright with shared memories.

"I sold my book."

"Good on you mate. I always remember you writing poems, and once some lyrics for the music me and Dave produced. I didn't know you wrote stories as well. Those were good times. I always thought it was crazy the way you and Billy were smoking weed daily at the age of fifteen. Like two mini Cheech and Chongs."

"Yeah, and we used to hassle you to get it for us when the usual supply had run dry."

"Don't remind me. I risked my ass going out to score for a couple of underage kids. That was serious jail time I risked. What is the book called?"

I looked away sheepishly, "The End Game."

"Fucking hell man! I've seen that book in all the newsstands and in the window of that shop Rizzoli books near to Madison square park."

Abi tottered down the slick steps in those heels she loved. I noticed Charley catching a sneaky look at her ass, but why the hell should I begrudge him.

The rest of the group had tucked into their subs and were munching unceremoniously, mustard splashing left right and center.

"Aren't you going to introduce us?" Abi glared at me with that - you're off your rocker - look that she had perfected long ago.

"Charley, Abi. Abi, Charley." I nodded and gestured at each of them in turn.

"Pleased to meet you," Charley extended his hand, grey with years of sleeping rough.

Abi took his hand, shook it and gave him her best smile. I loved this girl so much. She didn't have an ounce of that judgmental crap in her that most people based their whole lives on.

"It's nice to meet you too Charley. You guys old friends then?" She gave me a kind of backwards nod to indicate that this display of my crazy impulsiveness needed winding down.

"Yep, we go way back. I used to sell him drugs," Charley grinned, his teeth were missing in the most fascinating checker board pattern.

"Yeah, I met him in university in Liverpool when he was - how do you guys say it - mad for it."

Charley laughed, choking on the cold air. "Yeah, mad for it. That's the one love."

Abi grasped Charley's hand warmly with both hands, shaking one final time before extracting them.

She nodded at me "Come on you, we've got to prepare for this dinner party."

As Abi walked slowly back up the stairwell I glanced back at her then at this man who I remembered being the best producer of early 90's Techno I’d ever met, "Why don't you come to dinner mate."

Abi halted at the top of the stairs.

The mad old coot with one leg choked on his sandwich.

"What are you talking about Rowan, are you mad or something?" I stepped back as Charley's fists bunched up.

"How am I going to sit around at a dinner party eating volovants and commenting on the wine selection. Look at me you dope." He swished his hands over thick trousers stained black around the pants area and the swathe of threadbare thick coats he wore to fight off the bitter cold.

I grinned at him holding up my hands to show I wanted no trouble, "we're not serving volovants and there's only one type of wine. You still like wine don't you Charley?"

He shook his head, my infectious smile spreading slowly across his pockmarked face. He gesticulated violently at his clothes again.

"Use our shower, take some of my clothes, you're welcome to them. Fuck, don't bother if you don't want too... you can eat at my table as you are Charley. There is no one I would rather have at my housewarming dinner party."

His eyes welled up and I looked away failing to blink back my tears.

"Seriously, come and join us. Life has a funny way of driving a stake through your heart and it's rarely anyone's fault really. It's just the way it is. Some get lucky breaks and others don't. It's life and it's fucking cruel."

I walked toward him and wrapped him in a hug.

He returned it wholeheartedly. I have to admit he stank like the men's latrine in a dive bar.

"I hope you have a fuck tone of soap mate." Charley laughed as he mounted the steps with me, and Abi just shook her head, smiled at Charley and nodded in exasperation.

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The water flowed in dark rivulets as he lathered shampoo into his scalp. It felt good. He could feel it all drain away.

Not just the dirt but the last six years of wandering from town to town, chasing new places to play the drug addict's game of manipulation and intimidation. Washing away that world of threats and debts, living for the quiet moments of death, those quiet moments where the needle or the pipe wiped it all away.

No more birth, growing up, making a marker of yourself based on expectations; parents, peers, teachers and friends. No memory of failing. No memory of falling in love, a part of you dying each time that feeling disappeared and above all, a window wiper to fear. That's what it was to be a drug addict, running from that fear, that truth, which every human must eventually face. There is nothing more to this life than a brief fleeting lucid dream.

He washed it all away.

It was like tattooing a story on the universe. To fear writing the story because the process of writing was painful, with every possibility that the story can only be written once, was a monumental waste of life.

This is what it is like to be a Heroin addict. He washed it all away.

Brown scum disappeared down the drain as he splashed half a bottle of their expensive shower gel over himself and the catharsis continued. Hot tears added salt to the cleansing suds as he wracked almost painful spasms in the heat of the water.

He washed it all away.

His mother’s death, the way his father left them cold outside the crematorium bleeding tears in the autumn sun. The piercing nothing of everything and everyone as dead leaves rained down as the procession of mourners escaped, duty done.

His brother’s sectioning after he bit the head off his son’s hamster. Billy was ruined in that deadly rancor of too much acid mixed with a family of fuck-ups and a bad case of mania.

He washed it all away. Finally, it washed away and the water ran clean.

He spent some time shaving using the dry razor. He spent some time washing the tear streaks from his face with cold water. He borrowed one of Abi’s hair bands and placed his hair in a ponytail before cutting it to a uniform length and dumping the remains in the toilet.

He threw on the clothes Row had let him pick out from the wardrobe and looked at himself in the mirror. He smiled. No matter what the rest of this crazy day might hold, he felt like his past had finally lost its power to mould him, and he flushed the toilet watching the last of it spiral away.

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“So what do you call this shit then.”

“Sashimi,” I grinned at Charley watching him discarded the slice of daikon and wolf down the tuna with a mountain of wasabi on top.

“Whoooeeee, delish. That’s a spicy combination. The tuna is real good Rowan Where did you get it?”

“Same place that I bought those subs, Westside Market deli, expensive but good.”

“Yeah and I bet you can’t match me with the wasabi,” he dashed back another, this time constructing a kind of spring roll with tuna and wasabi as the filling. He coughed and took a piece of the discarded daikon radish and a mouthful of water.

“Might have gone a little overboard with that one,” he winked.

“You’ve got me beat on the wasabi mate.”

Next to him a bespectacled editor of the New York review watched him in fascination. Like a raptor considering if a wolverine was fair game.

She leaned forward giving him a serous flash of her well-presented cleavage and asked, “why do people from England call each other mate?”

Charlie ogled what was on show for the briefest of moments replying, “it’s not the whole of England love, just Liverpool. I guess we’re like the Australians, we just want everyone to be our friends.”

“Fascinating, and do you think this is an English trait in general?”

“Nope, have you ever been to London love?”

“Yes, on many occasions to attend meetings for the review and spend leisure time. It’s a beautiful city.”

“Did you travel on the tube?”

“Occasionally why?” she sipped on her glass of Muscadet.

“Ever hear anyone call each other mate? Or even speak to each other for that matter?”

“No, I guess not. I never thought about it like that. People seemed friendly in general.”

“Everyone is friendly in London around the tourist areas, or in the decent hotels. The tube gives you a more nuanced vision of the English national character. Generally miserable downcast and belligerent, just like the weather.”

Charley grinned at her as he slurped his wine, “but not us Scousers, we’re friendly whatever the weather.”

I glanced across at Abi and caught her hiding a smile behind her hand. She was enjoying charley’s company as much as I was. The way he messed with the pretentious literary set was making her night.

It also warmed my heart to see Charley let himself go and be himself. This was the guy I remembered, funny a little crazy and uncompromising.

I stood up and finished my glass in a gulp, “I’ve had enough of all the formalities myself.""

I glanced at my friend David D, who I had met at some ridiculous party one night and done Molly with in one of the VIP booths. Little did I know at the time that this guy was a hundred grand a night DJ. We’d spent the rest of the night talking about old school techno, drum n bass and an unfashionable love of classical music. That night had been an epic combination of freaking out city brokers and negging wannabe super models.

“David has graciously agreed to play a set.”

Half of my guests whooped in excitement while the rest started the inevitable watch tapping, looking uncomfortable at the thumping music that started to undulate from the main loft room at the tap of a clicker David held in his hand.

“Time to party people, I’ve hit my magic wand,” he camped it up as I grabbed Charley by the arm and pulled him in close to speak to him as the music drowned everything out.

Abi grabbed me by the arm “Come dance with me.”

“Go on you fucking Div,” Charley shouted down my ear. “If I had a girlfriend like that I wouldn’t keep her waiting.”

“Yeah, Hun I’ll be one minute I promise,” I assured Abi before turning back to one of my oldest friends.

“Listen to this tune Charley… don’t you recognize it?”

His eyes focused outward, pupils looming large as if he’d taken something. Realization looming large in his hypothalamus as the familiar beats drummed a pattern in his soul. A gateway to a time before so much went wrong with the world.

Blazing Summer
fields aglow
in luminous flow,
brave generations
dancing love realization
chemical moments
bringing one nation.

“That’s our tune you beautiful fucker,” Charley grinned at me, eyes aglow with luminous flow. Alight with blazing summer’s light. “Only one of the biggest DJ’s in the world playing our fucking tune!”

“It is your tune mate, you did all the production, I just wrote some lyrics. He likes the tune as well Charley. Speak to him after his set… he likes the tune!”

Charley danced off into the crowd, arms waving shapes, flashing back to when we’d saluted the sunrise in those days of the brave new generation, dancing for one love nation.

I threw my arms up and followed him, dancing like it was 1999. I grabbed Abi and spun her around in ecstasy as she leaned into me and we kissed.

If only one moment in my friend’s life was changed it was enough. If by some lucky flip of a coin, I could be a part of breaking the stake that had impaled Charley’s spirit for so long, I’d die a a hap man.
py man.

The End

© Rowan Joyce, all rights reserved.

EDIT: I forgot to add this YouTube version of Underworld's Pearls Girl that completely exemplifies the style of music Charley used to make. Listen to it while reading the final section of this story!


All Credit to the Artist/Musicians

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I feel like I need to say a little more about this story, its inspiration and the characters featured. The character of Charley is very much based on a real person. They did make amazing techno music back in the late 90's, they did inherit a load of money and blow it all in about 2 years, they are homeless wandering the streets of Liverpool right now. A huge part of the dream that inspired this story is my subconscious relating themes of guilt and responsibility. Essentially, the Rowan in the story living in his loft apartment with a best selling novel is a representation of what my subconscious sees as my perfect life. The life I am yet to, perhaps never, to achieve.

The character of Charley is an expression of my empathetic soul being unable to come to terms with the cruelty of life. Is there something I can do about this? Is there a message to this dream? Yes, the message is clear, next time I see Charlie (not his real name) shuffling around town I'm going to stop him, try to talk to him, and try to help him. This story made me cry a few times in the writing, and I;m not ashamed to admit it. Especially the passage in the shower about washing away the influence of fear and its influence on addiction in life. The measure of us as human beings in this short life is how much we effect the people who are/were important to us in a positive manner.

Thanks for reading.

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Wow, wow, wow... so much is going on here. So many layers. Starting with the girlfriend and everything in its place, then the guy's POV. I had to back-pedal a few times due to POV switches but it all came together. That shower scene with the water running clear at last - like a baptism, a sacrament - that was powerful! I can see why it's one of your favorite scenes. The girlfriend, Abi, being fun, fun-loving, open-minded, and accepting, after my initial impression of her being an "everything in its place" type. The theme of redemption - conquering a heroin habit, selling a book, making it in Manhattan, and taking care of old friends who still haven't found their way out of addiction and "failure" - if that's a dream, may it come true by the millions. The emotions come through and the longing to "fix" the broken lives of others. "There but for the grace of God go I." You manage that tension in Rowan vs Charlie, the respect and compassion, when the fictional Rowan could be a pompous ^ss and wallow in his success but instead he remembers where he came from and who else got left behind. Bravo! I love the spirit of this and hope you do indeed find your real-life friends and a way to help them. Thank you for a message of hope in the midst of darkness.

Love the images too! Especially the first one. :)

Tried and failed to post this reply via Steempeak

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I had to back-pedal a few times due to POV switches but it all came together.

I'm glad, I edited this story 4 times to make sure that the POV switches were at least consistent and that the tense was right throughout. This is the type of stuff people don't realize when they read short stories lol

At first it was a mish mash of past and present tense... so I had to do a deep proofread to correct that and get it all present tense apart from any memory narrative scenes.

That shower scene with the water running clear at last - like a baptism, a sacrament - that was powerful! I can see why it's one of your favorite scenes.

Honestly Carol, it was my favorite to write and had me in floods of tears. I have faced addiction in my life, but nothing as extreme as Heroin. But I have known people, good freinds, who've become smackheads as we call them in the UK. They are ostracized and demonized, but what no one will face is the societal conventions that push people with that tendency toward addiction. True it is a choice, I would never suggest otherwise. People who choose it are often prone to depression, or they're weak in regards to impulse control, but they can also be some of the strongest people psychologically. Anyway, it made me cry because I recognized it was just a deeply suppressed memory from an experience I had over ten years ago when I decided I would stop taking certain substances every week to modify my life and perceptions. It was a buried memory that resurfaced through the writing, I didn't even remember that I did that until today re reading it.

The emotions come through and the longing to "fix" the broken lives of others. "There but for the grace of God go I." You manage that tension in Rowan vs Charlie, the respect and compassion, when the fictional Rowan could be a pompous ^ss and wallow in his success but instead he remembers where he came from and who else got left behind.

It was my fondest hope that this came through. This story is a big 🖕 to the nietzschean 'will to power' crew, and the Machiavellian manipulators of this world (of which there are many on steem) that live their lives as a perpetual excuse for their behavior based on what some 15/16th century people said, or from books they've read influenced by such people. Some people believe that because the lessons of history show that strong survive/weak die, that this provides them with a god given right to be fckn asshats. I say they live in a perpetual selfish, self indulgent delusion, doing shity things as standard because they've read that it's the only way to 'success' in some book somewhere.

That is not evolution! Human's need to evolve in both thought and actions... and most importantly, in how they project on their children from one generation to the next. We've evolved physically as much as we're likely to do without another couple of tens of thousands of years at least. We need to evolve now in the realms of ideas. In the realms of how we act, and how we react to the things (like success) that societal convention would place us above others.

No one is above anyone else! This is society telling us it is so. Donald Trump proves this statement in a heart beat. Along with many other completely unsuitable people that we choose to elevate into positions of perceived importance.

🤣😂

but I digress and have gone somewhat supernova.

Thank you for your wonderful comment and review. You saw to the heart of the story, it was about redemption and both my disappointment in myself for not reaching out to the real Charley, and my determination to lift others up (without any reason for self indulgence or ego) if I ever achieve any measure of success.

Tried and failed to post this reply via Steempeak

You'll get there, keep trying and attack it like studying for a test. Read and try to understand one section of the tutorial each day and then after 7 days when you've read them all each day, come back to it and read all at once. This might help you see through the complexity easier.

Much love.

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Still not on Steempeak...
Your story stays with me, though!
Gotta say the POV switches did have me stop, back up, and re-read, so maybe I should have another look at that, or maybe a better reader/editor could see if it's smooth enough as is.
For raw power and tugging heart strings, though, it's clear as fire and ice. :)

Twitter keeps trying to lock me out, I suspect because Justin Sun is reporting everyone. But I managed to get back in and share this short story that took 13 hours to write and 3800 words long. This short story covers themes of addiction, friendship and how we categorize other human beings.

The plot shows how random acts of kindness can reverberate beyond their initial effects. #posh @ocd @ocdb

https://twitter.com/rowanj808/status/1239628447778918400?s=20

This is just beautiful. The nuances, the intimate subtleties, there is so much emotion, and it comes together to create a really moving story. The descriptions are so evocative, the speech and language, the conversation lightens this so well, it feels so very bittersweet. The causal mention of Row's therapist carries so much about the shadows we all have. I was really impressed with the way this story played out, one some level i thought it may end up with a twist a bit like that episode of Inside No 9 but I was very happily wrong. This is such a deep story, built atop sincerely complex emotions, that feels simple, real.

You transcend the good/bad of the prompt so wonderfully, showing what might be perceived as a bad habit is just as much a result of circumstances. The difference between Row and Charley is so faint, as though either could have walked the others path. This line really captures it

"Seriously, come and join us. Life has a funny way of driving a stake through your heart and it's rarely anyone's fault really. It's just the way it is. Some get lucky breaks and others don't. It's life and it's fucking cruel."

The shower scene is so very powerful, (lol not a sentence said and meant this way that often) and not just for all the emotion is hits with, but the normality of Charley, how the life he lives isn't one he lives by choice but through fear, and feeling like there is a lack of another option, is probably very true for a lot of people. It feels like it wasn't the life he wanted, but he had embraced it anyway, because it was better than the alternative. There is such a depth of personal/emotional redemption, washing away the hurt with the dirt, and letting it all go, its a really beautiful moment. I love the bit about watching it drain. It was very symbolic, but equally, captures how temporary that feeling of "okay" can be.

The song is such a good element, I felt like it really added to the fine line between the two main characters, how different things might've been had luck run the other way. Just as the bad habit isn't underlined as such, the good that Row brings to Charley (and in some measure that Charley brings to Row) isn't grand, or spectacular, it small, and human, and so powerful for that. It doesn't have to be a big thing.

The ending is just perfect, the difference that human connection makes, it really made me reflect on myself, thank you.

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Hi @letalis-laetitia

You transcend the good/bad of the prompt so wonderfully, showing what might be perceived as a bad habit is just as much a result of circumstances. The difference between Row and Charley is so faint, as though either could have walked the others path.

This also shows how a well written (and I do feel justified, though a little arrogant😉, in classifying my own story as such) can transcend the writer's intended meaning but create equally poignant realizations in the reader. You're completely right, Charley and Row could both have ended up in each other's position, with the lucky break. And I was cognizant of showing that Row understood this and tried to let Charley know this fact. Tried to let him know that he didn't see a homeless guy, but an old friend!

As I wrote, the bad habit for me was Row (lol Rowan me basically) habit to do crazy things sometimes, to have a lack of impulse control that can get him into trouble. Did this come across?

Or did you see Charley's Heroin addiction as the main bad habit that was subverted to something positive in the end?

I guess both could be true and both are meaningful.

The shower scene is so very powerful, (lol not a sentence said and meant this way that often) and not just for all the emotion is hits with, but the normality of Charley, how the life he lives isn't one he lives by choice but through fear, and feeling like there is a lack of another option, is probably very true for a lot of people. It feels like it wasn't the life he wanted, but he had embraced it anyway, because it was better than the alternative. There is such a depth of personal/emotional redemption, washing away the hurt with the dirt, and letting it all go, its a really beautiful moment.

I'm going to recycle something I said in my comment back to Carol here but with a few addendums. This was my favorite scene, and it actually had me in floods of tears writing it, and at the time I didn't know why.

I have faced addiction in my life, but nothing as extreme as Heroin. But I have known people, good friends, who've become smackheads, as we call them in Liverpool. They are ostracized and demonized, but what no one will face is the societal conventions that push people with that tendency toward addiction. True it is something of a choice, I would never suggest otherwise. When some people are at their lowest ebb they sometimes turn to hard drug addiction, as Charley talks about in his internal monologue. But as you point out it is a choice driven by fear, it is something felt at the time as the only option left to them, and I've felt like that once in my life, and I chose to deaden with drugs... but in a lesser way with habitual ecstasy and cocaine use, pretty much weekly.

Some people choose suicide. That is the other option when someone reaches that level of inability to escape the fear that has become entrenched in their lives on a deep psychological level.

There are a few ways to deaden yourself but the people who choose this deadening are often prone to depression, or they're weak in regards to impulse control, but they can also be some of the strongest people psychologically, especially if they get beyond their addiction. Anyway, it made me cry because I recognized it was just a deeply suppressed memory from an experience I had over ten years ago when I decided I would stop taking certain substances every week to modify my life and block out certain things. I was like Charley at one point, I deadened myself to the pressures of societal expectation:

Expectations; parents, peers, teachers and friends. No memory of failing. No memory of falling in love, a part of you dying each time that feeling disappeared and above all, a window wiper to fear. That's what it was to be a drug addict, running from that fear, that truth, which every human must eventually face. There is nothing more to this life than a brief fleeting lucid dream.

I feel like psychological fear is one of the worst malidies. It prevents you from living fully and it negates joy. Anyway, that shower scene was a memory buried deep that resurfaced through the writing, I didn't even remember that I had a similar washing away experience while taking a shower until today when I re read this story.

The ending is just perfect, the difference that human connection makes, it really made me reflect on myself, thank you.

I'm glad. I didn't know if it was too cheesy. I didn't know if it was just a little too Irvine Welsh trainspotting-esque but I wanted it to reflect the simple joy that can be found in just bringing someone back from the brink. Not for any feeling of superiority, just to see them in a moment of joy. To relive memories of joy and re-ignited friendship.

Thanks for reading and for your meaningful comment and review. It's honestly comments like this that keep me writing on steem 🙂

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As I wrote, the bad habit for me was Row (lol Rowan me basically) habit to do crazy things sometimes, to have a lack of impulse control that can get him into trouble. Did this come across?

Half the interesting part of this prompt is seeing what different people consider a bad habit. I picked up on his impulsiveness, but I'm used to that being seen as a more positive thing so didn't think of it as a bad habit. I took it to be Row's drug use that was the bad habit with good consequences. He used to do drugs with Charley and Billy, and given that he's hanging out with a top DJ probably hasn't entirely stopped.

Fucking crazy though, you're fucked up Son

I saw the took as part of the good consequence, by doing them, moving with the people who did, getting know them, it gave him the grounding to be able to write something "fucked up" but really good. Real life experience that helped him become a more relatable writer (so maybe not too far from his namesake there;) ) the rest being the person Row became, the bond he built with Charley, his former drug use and the life that came with that put him in a position where he wasn't looking down on others, but seeing them as people.

Some people choose suicide.

I'm not sure it's either or, in some way the drug use is a deliberate slow suicide, but as you say, they come from the same place. Someone very close to me used to be addicted to heroin, and although he managed to move beyond that, it still pushed him to claiming his own life years later. I don't like the term smackheads though, it's used in Manchester as well, just for it's dehumanizing feel.

Nope, not cheesy at all! It works really well :)

Thank you, glad you appreciated it, it's always a bit of a gamble with honest comments

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I don't like the term smackheads though, it's used in Manchester as well, just for it's dehumanizing feel.

Yes, you're right it is dehumanizing 😒

This was such a wonderful read Rowan, I could easily picture it all happening in my head. It was so real and raw, with the characters emotions expressed beautifully. This age old tale of rag to riches and how it can change us so much, I was so gad that Rowan never forgot who he was and that he was struggling with this new life of his. Being totally aware and still connected to his past.
The shower scene was beautiful, how healing water can be when we allow ourselves to acknowledge and own our emotions, seeing how they have created the foundations of who we are, yet knowing that we need to let them go, in order to grow.
Loved it my friend xxxxx

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Thanks @trucklife-family this story is so personal to me. There are aspects of both Row and Charley in me and my history. I wish it weren't so sometimes, and I certainly wish that I had Row's life, although maybe living in a luxury place in the wilderness instead.

The shower scene was beautiful, how healing water can be when we allow ourselves to acknowledge and own our emotions, seeing how they have created the foundations of who we are, yet knowing that we need to let them go, in order to grow.

It was my favorite scene to write and had me in floods of tears. I have faced addiction in my life, but nothing as extreme as Heroin. But I have known people, good friends, who've become heroin addicts. They are ostracized and demonized, but what no one will face is the societal conventions that push people with that tendency toward addiction. True it is a choice, I would never suggest otherwise. People who choose it are often prone to depression, or they're weak in regards to impulse control, but they can also be some of the strongest people psychologically, especially when they get over addiction. Anyway, it made me cry because I recognized it was just a deeply suppressed memory from an experience I had over ten years ago when I decided I would stop taking certain substances every week to modify my life and perceptions. That shower scene is just a buried memory that resurfaced through the writing, I didn't even remember that washing away and cathartic release of emotion until days after re reading this story.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story Aishlinn xxx

This is a very poignant story, @raj808. There's a lot going on and I had to lock on to keep following at times through first person/third person shifts, but you harness it all and bring it on home with the way the main character connects with Charley in the end. I love how you show two characters having taken different forks in the road - and how that diversion split them in terms of their life choices and how their lives panned out, but not the bond they share, which is unbreakable through everything. Abi is a great character too, and I really loved how she developed through the story. Nice work!!

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I had to lock on to keep following at times through first person/third person shifts, but you harness it all and bring it on home with the way the main character connects with Charley in the end.

Lol, you hit the nail on the head from an editors perspective here jayna. I actually spent the same amount of time editing this to try and make sure the POV issues, although evident, were a literary device and not just a mistake.

I needed it to jump from the different character's view point to really get accross what I wanted to express, but I'm aware it is something that is advised against even to first time novelists lol

I love how you show two characters having taken different forks in the road - and how that diversion split them in terms of their life choices and how their lives panned out, but not the bond they share, which is unbreakable through everything.

Thanks, this story is so personal to me. There are aspects of both Row and Charley in me and my history. I wish it weren't so sometimes, and I certainly wish that I had Row's life, although maybe living in a luxury place in the wilderness instead.

Abi... is my perfect woman ;-)

Excellent story! How easily they got back into their old friendship. I'll have to come back to comment more on this, but I loved it.

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Thank you. This story is so personal to me. There are aspects of both Row and Charley in me and my history. I wish it weren't so sometimes, and I certainly wish that I had Row's life.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know that it can be a big ask putting a 3500 word short story up on steem. But between editing the dialogue, sorting out the POV continuity and inserting some plot holes this one took over 10 hours to write lol

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It's not hard to read a long (ish) story when it's a good one. I do sometimes skip the ones that are that long, but I give them a bit of reading to see if they are worth it. This one was very much worth it.


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