DDOlympics Storytelling Part 2
Debate Rounds (3)
In this debate, both my opponent and myself will start and complete a story in each round. Essentially, we are writing flash-stories! Following Round 1, each of us will write 2 flash-stories with 8,000 characters each.
Please refrain from voting unless you are a judge for the DDO Storytelling Olympics! Both stories (so a total of four - 2 from each debater) should factor into the judges' decision.
This first round is for acceptance!
I wish my opponent the best of luck and greatly anticipate some exciting, engaging stories!
I accept this "debate." Thanks and good luck to you, EndarkendRationalist! Thanks also to the devoted DDOlympic fans and judges for reading!
(After discussing in PMs, my opponent and I have decided that judges should only cast votes in the argument and S&G categories. Thank you! To my opponent - this is 184 characters).
I hate overcrowded hospitals. Patients should have rooms to themselves, yet here I am, saddled with some stranger.
I have the misfortune of lying eternally on my back. They said I can't sit up for at least another few weeks. She, at least, gets to sit for an hour a day. The doctors said something about needing to drain fluids from her lungs.
Her bed sat next to the only window. If I was alone, I could see the free world. Now I'm forced to have it relayed to me. It's a humiliating experience, almost as bad as needing the nurses' help to urinate.
A dark, nearly opaque curtain divided the room. That struck me as odd for a hospital, but it didn't really matter. The woman and I got to know each other without the bias of appearances.
Her name was Laura. I learned that she married an ex-army man, that she worked as an art teacher but was an aspiring author, and that she loved listening to classical music. We never talked about how we got here. Like prison, it was an unwritten rule.
We discussed the outside. She had an unobstructed view for that one blissful hour while her lungs drained, and I demanded every detail. She complied happily. I lived for that hour, for the sheer beauty many people take for granted. That hour brightened my entire life. If only I could see it for myself.
We lived in this utopian hell for weeks. Time lost importance in the hospital. The past ceased to matter. Nobody visited us. There was no one left in my life. If Laura mourned her lack of visitors, she never showed it. Everything from the outside came in a one-hour time frame from a rectangular hole in the wall.
Laura said the window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. She described ducks and swans engaging in graceful ballads, as though moving to the piano music she loved. A careless piece of litter interrupted their song, transforming their sweet choreography into a maddening frenzy. Gradually, however, the procession returned to normal. It made me think of life. We all have those periods of chaos, that shiny trash that throws our beauty into disarray. Only sometimes life doesn't return to normal.
Lovers walked hand-in-hand, sometimes crossing the small bridge spanning the lake, other times lingering in the beautiful flowers blooming sporadically throughout the park. Laura laughed when she told me that it had looked as though a child had had too much fun with a coloring book.
She talked about children racing model boats on the lake to see which was faster. So innocent, so ignorant - children. But then those concepts are always wedded.
I asked her once about the children. Laura paused and then described the gorgeous skyline. It may have been distant and unreachable, but it was there. She could relay, in exquisite detail, the shapes of the cotton clouds drifting across the sky. Sometimes she lamented missing the sun rise and set, and though I agreed, I resented her. At least she could see the outside. I couldn't, and my jealousy burned as brightly as the golden sun she described. Why should Laura be the one to see the world? It wasn't fair!
I considered that idea for a long time. The hand life dealt me had sucked ever since I stepped out of childhood. Mom dead. Sickness. Father telling me it was my fault, that if I hadn't gone to college, we could have afforded treatments. Dropping out in my second year. Cold alley streets. There is a point, in winter, lying on the snowy alleyways, where the snow starts feeling like a blanket. My job as a waitress with a 'hands-on' manager. The discovery of alcohol under the counter. The blurry car drive. Now this.
The days passed and nothing changed. She still explained everything in that one divine hour, and though I loved it, I hated it. I hated her.
One night, as I studied the invisible ceiling, I heard coughing. It rose like an orchestra, a trumpeting horn, a brass wind wheezing its staccato symphony, the cough building to a crescendo under the conductor's wand. Laura fumbled about, searching for the button to call in the nurse.
I never moved. I could have pushed my button easily. One movement, and the nurses would swarm in like bees. My finger hovered over the button when another thought slunk across my mind. Why should I? The world never did anything for me. That was how it operated. Every woman for herself. For the first time in my life, I controlled something. And Laura - what did she know of suffering? She was married, she taught children, and she even had dreams! She was living; I was surviving. Not anymore. I wanted it all. The window and the dreams.
After a few moments, the coughing stopped.
The next morning, a nurse discovered Laura's body. Her reaction seemed coldly professional. But then, I suppose anyone working in a hospital becomes desensitized to death. She called an attendant to wheel the body away. A fresh pair of sheets and another ordinary day. Despite my shameful joy, I shivered.
As soon as I felt it appropriate, however, I launched my question.
"Can I be moved to the other side of the room - where Laura was?"
"Absolutely." The nurse smiled. Apparently she reserved her emotions for the living. She made the switch and ensured I was comfortable. I assured her I was, warring to focus on her.
"Okay, then," she said, smiling again. "If you need anything, just call." With that, she left, easing the door shut. Liberated, I began the rigorous process of propping myself up. I shifted an elbow to support my body. Oh, it hurt, but the pain encouraged me. Once I was up, I began the no-less painful process of turning my head. My neck battled me the whole way but at long last, I made it! Finally, finally, I would see heaven itself!
Eagerly, I looked toward the area where Laura described Eden and saw - a wall.
I called the nurse back in. Had I switched rooms? No, that was impossible. Laura lied to me! Why? Why would she do that?
"Laura," she told me, "loved to make other people feel better. That's why she became an art teacher. The poor girl didn't deserve this." Her words unlocked a vault within my chest.
"What do you mean?" The nurse said nothing. "Please," I begged. For once, the desperation didn't burn. I had to know.
"There was a crash," the nurse explained. "Police are still looking into the details, but they think one of the drivers was drunk. Laura's husband died and so did -" she stopped suddenly. The silence in the room seemed, impossibly, louder than it had last night.
"Who else died?"
"You'll have to excuse me," the nurse said, escaping the room. Left alone, I rewound my conversations with Laura. She had answered every question I asked her...save one. The one about children. Oh my God. I shatter into countless shards.
I destroyed her. Why? For a non-existent window? For hopes intangible as sunbeams? Was it because she made me happy? Is it happiness to love and hate simultaneously? If so, why did I destroy it? Because I've never known anything but darkness. I reacted, perhaps, in the only way I was capable of doing. And I destroyed a light I never thought could have existed. I killed a dream. I don't deserve to have any.
The world truly was not a fair place. If it were, Laura and her family would still be here, and I would have died in the crash. At least then the flames might have cleansed me somehow. But it's only now, when my body is as filthy and fragmented as my soul, that I feel my heartbeat. It's only now, when I am beyond salvation, that I feel each teardrop burn with acidic guilt, feel a yearning beyond the reach of dictionaries. It is only now, when I am the most broken, that I wonder if I have a chance of becoming whole again. I know I'm unworthy of Laura's forgiveness, and what really tears me apart, more than anything else, is the knowledge that she would forgive me anyway.
There once was a girl who learned to fight.
There once was a girl who learned to kite.
There once was a girl who learned to spite.
There once was was a girl who learned to rhyme.
There once were three men in a room, huddled, desperately looking for a clever introduction. Their employer suggested that the storyboard begin with some kind of "meta-narrative," and the rhyming girl story was their best idea so far.
On reading of the employers, the teenager caught the irony of his own reading of the meta narrative in his friends "Meta" blog. She thought it was quite clever, but necessarily felt sympathetic for the fictional employees who seemed trapped by the narrative they sought to form.
Dave thought little of very low opinion of blogs, and an even lower opinion of teenagers. "There's no way she'd write that" he grumbled.
Al Asad sighed. This book was too confusing.
Devon chuckled knowingly and closed the book.
Patrick didn't get it. He closed the book.
But Rainia did, and she also recognized her ironic place in the story as she closed the book.
Patrik saw his name, but thought little of it, except that he wished someone would spell it his way.
Ester liked the fast-pace writing style, but was confused because it was on the radio, not a book, so the irony was diminished.
Roberto felt the novelty wearing off. He understood it. The author was beating a dead horse by the end, in his opinion.
The second judge smirked near the end. He wondered whether it would be more ironic to write a love or hate for the tale.
Juanita looked up, as if an invisible author were controlling her every move.
The graduate student looked back at Juanita, the character in her Second Life digital story, as if in answer. She thought the moment was quite picturesque.
Janet expected a more abrupt and less satisfying.
Bob wondered by authors ended their stories with an asterisk, but thought little of it. The story had a satisfyingly unsatisfactory ending. It was too perfect.
Mr. Marshall giggled. He found the story amusing throughout. But at the same time, he felt hungry. He though of who of his friends he should recommend "Meta" to. George might like that sort of thing.
Ok now that's freaky, George thought.
Marie knew where this was going. Obviously, the asterisks would increase for each time the meta story shifted. The end had four asterisks, which meant the reader, she, was part of the narrative. Clever. But she wondered about the "George" incident. It would only really be an effective literary tool if she herself had been named "George." Perhaps the story was meant to appeal to a very small audience. Maybe it had some meaning. She tried not to brush it off as some "artistic thing." She'd worked too hard in literature classes for that sort of laziness. Maybe the author was trying to convey something about the nature of coincidence?
Because her name was not Marie, the boy was satisfied.
But the girl was not.
Mary Ann was concerned about why the asterisks didn't appear earlier in the story.
Robby didn't care one iota about the story or it's artistic content. He wished the author would stop jerking off to their own ego and end the story already.
Ralph was disheartened to learn that the phrase "jerk off" was in the narrative. He'd wanted to show it to his kids.
Littlefeather didn't believe in sheltering her children from phrases like "jerk off." But she didn't think it was worth showing her kids the book anyway.
Ugh, I'm tired of writing the author thought.
And that's were it ends? So predictable, she thought.
Of course, Bob answered the fictional character. It could end at any time. Just what was the author dragging their feet for?
Just wear was the author going with those asterisks? That was a dumb idea. We all know it was going to end with asterisks--the story even said so from the beginning.
Are the asterisks even still increasing by one? Peter thought. He had long since stopped counting.
It's an odd sort of feeling in itself, knowing you are going to be part of a story, Robin mused. It's like watching all of your previous lives, and a little of your future.
Lee didn't believe in bologna like previous lives. This was stupid.
Susana didn't like the way that Lee was portrayed as a close-minded stereotypical conservative. It just seemed to make them look like the bad guys.
Ming know the author, so thought nothing of it.
Am I the last one? Daniel thought. If I am a character, does it end with me?
Am I the last one? Jane thought. I suppose that means I am.
Am I the last one, "Dr. Foxy" thought. I guess so. Or I could write more.
It's like it's winding down, the critic thought. I love it.
"The long goodbye," Lucy whispered, and thought of her mom.
That was kind of sad, kind of satisfying, Jaqueen concluded.
How many endings are there? Someone shouted.
I am the last one. The first and the last. I.
The last two didn't have names. Is the ending opening up, allowing me to enter myself? Are they becoming closer to me? Are they me?
I'm the last one, Peter said to John. John had no idea what Peter was talking about.
I am the last one, God said.
Jared thought the ending was sacrilegious. Where do I fit in?
How to Escape
Matthew kicks the chair out from beneath him and falls. But only for a second.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew updates his Facebook status to read: free!
BEFORE THAT, the stars in the night sky gleam like a casino, indifferent to the events on earth. Matthew sits beneath this tapestry and slowly raises his glass to his lips. It is his second time drinking.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew disconnects the Skype call. The timer reads 28:31, of which at least 25 minutes had been his parents screaming at him.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew steels his resolve and turns on his laptop.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew tries calling Alex but receives only the voicemail.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew receives a B on his Science in the Cold War exam.
BEFORE THAT, Alex dumps Matthew, using a few clichéd apologies. It's not you; it's me. It's just not working out. Keep shining.
BEFORE THAT, the captain kicks Matthew off the soccer team. Try theatre, he sneers.
BEFORE THAT, Alex climbs gracefully out of the bed and plants a kiss on the sleeping Matthew's cheek before quietly departing.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew enters the Starbucks nervously. The air outside has already begun to cool in the wake of the smoldering sun, the final ember in the fireplace. Matthew spots Alex sitting at one of the tables. He places an order and sits across from Alex. Hey, Alex smiles. Matthew smiles back.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew attends his first class at Harvard University. Having overslept, he is twenty minutes late.
BEFORE THAT, a boy sits next to Matthew at orientation. Hi, he says. I'm Alex.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew's parents say tearful goodbyes. His mother plants a kiss on his cheek. His father says, make us proud, son.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew studies the landscape whizzing past the window. The cyan-tinted guard rails reveal more and more rust and less and less cyan as they go on, but the rails remain in place. Matthew looks above and beyond them, to the amorphous clouds lazily drifting through the endless sky. It would be easy, he thinks, to get drunk on sky.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew sits with his girlfriend Alice at their favorite restaurant. She reaches across the tablecloth and tearfully grips his hand. You'll be someone this town can be proud of, she informs him. Matthew smiles. I'm just going to miss you so much, she sobs. We'll stay together, right? Promise? Matthew squeezes her hand and assures her that yes, they'll stay together. When the check comes, Matthew pays.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew's parents parade him before his relatives as though he were Aunt Tiffy's Chihuahua mix that had won that bronze medal back in January. We always knew he'd get in, says his mom. Whenever his relatives ask what he would become, his parents laugh and answer in unison. A lawyer, says his mom. A doctor, says his dad. They look at each other and laugh again.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew stands before his fellow high school graduates. He looks down at the speech smoothed out on the podium. He clear his throat, feeling hot in the constricting robes. He wishes he could take them off. He presents the same speech every Hollywood movie does. We're off to bigger, better, and brighter futures, he promises his fellow students. But we shall forever carry with us the memories we made here. Our experiences here provide us the tools with which we can construct our futures. Later, he joins them in throwing his cap in the air. It's a social custom, after all.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew opens his Harvard acceptance letter.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew sits in a comfortable yellow chair. It is the only one in the room without armrests. The interviewer sits opposite him and gazes at him through horn-rimmed spectacles. Why should you be in Harvard, asks the interviewer in his most snobbish voice, which sounds like a British accent being stuffed into a blender. Matthew recites his answer flawlessly. Community service. Dedication. Leadership. Perfect grades. The interviewer ticks down to his next question. Who is your favorite author? Matthew answers William Faulkner because of his depiction of Southern attenuation in the Reconstruction-era South. The interviewer nods and scribbles a note.
BEFORE THAT, Alice lies next to Matthew. He can feel her warmth, the touch of her body against his. Her parents are out for the evening, but something compels the two teens to silence. The minutes drag by. Finally, Alice asks if anything will happen. Matthew says no.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew sits in a lumpy office chair. His guidance counselor sits opposite him and gazes at him across the desk. On her desk is a picture of her cat, Tickles, a small collection of rainbow-colored hi-liters, a copy of Matthew's transcript, a computer, and an award dated eight years back to 1977. Where do you want to apply? Matthew rattles off the names he knows he should say. Harvard. Princeton. Yale. The counselor nods encouragingly. You're going to make something of yourself, she says.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew brings home another report card filled with A's, including the highest marks in AP Organic Chemistry and the only perfect score on the test in Multivariable Calculus. I still think you should drop that drama class, says his father. Matthew just nods.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew, clad in a rich black suit, arrives at the recital hall for the charity concert. He sits before the decently sized crowd to play Chopin and Beethoven in order to raise money for educational programs for autistic children. When he finishes, the crowd leaps up, roaring for an encore. Matthew bows and obliges. That's what the crowd wants, after all.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew scores the final goal for his soccer team, catapulting them to their tenth consecutive victory. It is the first time they reached double-digit wins in over thirty years. Matthew's teammates hoist him onto their shoulders and run around the field in celebration. Their jubilation proves infectious; even Matthew manages a smile.
BEFORE THAT, September rolls across the town, turning the leaves into fiery clothes for the trees. Matthew's parents prepare him for his first day of senior year. His mother snaps his picture with a Kodak camera. His father dusts off the front of his shirt. Visit the career center, he reminds Matthew. Apply to the best schools and get the best grades. You can start building that resume for a job, too.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew scrubs furiously at the liquid staining his carpet. The vacuum sits nearby, filled with bits of broken glass. The car starts outside, and his father drives off into the night.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew's father walks into the bedroom just as Matthew lifts the bottle to his lips. It is his first time drinking.
BEFORE THAT, Matthew is the kid everyone knows, the kid everyone wants to be.
BEFORE THAT, it is a nice sunny day.
kbub forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by SeventhProfessor 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con didn't use apostrophes in several areas where they were necessary, such as "teenagers". In my opinion, Pro's stories were just all around better, and it seemed like Con tried too hard to waste characters uselessly in both rounds.
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