Monday, 9 November 2009

Breaking Point

This week's sentence was take from Dickens' 'A Tale Of Two Cities'.

The sentence was:
"Through the rusted bars, tastes, rather than glimpses, were caught of the jumbled neighbourhood; and nothing within range, nearer or lower than the summits of the two-great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise on it of healthy life or wholesome aspirations."

Breaking Point

A short stroll from the Cathedral, beneath the spreading chestnuts that line the ornate façade of the Hotel Dieu brings you, dear reader, to the forbidding iron gates of the Paris police headquarters, behind the bars of which you might find, on this particular day, two pathetic figures pitifully weeping and hunched over as if attempting to escape the weight of the world bearing down on them.
Through the rusted bars, tastes, rather than glimpses, were caught of the jumbled neighbourhood; and nothing within range, nearer or lower than the summits of the two-great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise on it of healthy life or wholesome aspirations.
Far above our forlorn pair the sun shone in a clear blue sky but their eyes were blinded by an inner reek and fog that sucked all colour and warmth from their surroundings and all joy from their hearts, leaving their very souls blackened and desecrated.
Day after dreadful day, their unrelenting ordeal had ground them unmercifully well beyond the breaking point of any sane man until now, bereft of hope they waited grimly for death's release.
Their torturer smiled with sickening self-satisfaction eliciting another wail of grief from the first of his helpless victims.
"God, make it stop!"
His companion slowly shook his bowed head.
"God? God has abandoned us, my old friend."
He paused and winced in pain.
"No God would ever allow such tortures to exist outside Hell, and I regret to say that I believe we are still in the land of the living."
"Barely, though. And not for much longer if this goes on."
"The thought that God could allow such foulness within sight of His house beggars belief. But perhaps if we were to renounce our belief in God we could renounce Hell as well and so escape."
"And what then? Oblivion?"
His companion paused and sighed heavily; tears coursed down his haggard face.
"Oblivion. Blesséd oblivion. How I yearn for its embrace. Anything to stop this unspeakable torment."
He leaned against the old stone wall, deriving scant comfort from its cold, hard surface.
Squinting across at his friend he attempted a last desperate smile, though it seemed to the other that he saw only the rictus grin of a long-dead corpse.
"We could always kill ourselves."
"Hmm. Tempting; though I know that I, for one, no longer have the strength. Perhaps we could kill one another?"
"Or kill HIM!"
A dry chuckle escaped their throats.
"Ah, but if we kill him another will only take his place. Face it, my old friend, this torture will continue until we are dead and - if there is indeed such a cruel thing as God - for all eternity."

But perhaps there is a God, for at that very moment the busker put down his guitar and an ecstatic rush of colour, light, life and hope returned to the two policemen at the gate.

"If he comes back again tomorrow I'm gonna throw that fucker in the Seine."


The busker was just behind the middle of the three people on the right of the photo.
Believe me when I say he was just as bad as the two policemen described him.
What a pity that those folk who have to work in the square and have such a beautiful sight to look at are forced to suffer such appalling noise.

15 comments:

Dear Prudence said...

I have missed our little club. Wonderful as always and what amazing detail in that picture. The effort and craftsmanship is indescribable.

Scout said...

Wonderful twist to the story. It's amazing what gathers in front of Notre Dame.

dive said...

Prudence: Glad to have you back, though I do feel awful for what you put poor Cicely through.

Robyn: Yup. This busker had set up specifically to annoy the queue waiting to get in, so we came back another day.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Oh ho I needed that smile! Such inspiration you gathered from your trip, Dive!

If I a get a second to do anything more than type a hasty sentence, I shall re-join "the circle of the write."

dive said...

It was a trippy trip, Katherine.

I can't wait for your next story. Tomorrow's sentence should give a bit more scope than this one.

Todd said...

Man, getting back into the groove again is rough on everyone! Nice story dive, nice twists!!!

dive said...

Todd: I'm finding it kinda hard to do a story as short as 500 words that DOESN'T have a silly twist at the end. I keep feeling like they need a punchline of some sort.
Maybe when I'm better at writing I'll be able to kick that habit, but for now, what the hey?

Todd said...

Don't you dare! Your story endings rock.

dive said...

You are too kind, Todd, but it gets to the stage when a surprise ending is no surprise any more and I am looking (in vain so far) for a way of writing a 500 Words story that is a piece unto itself rather than a 490 word wind-up to a punchline.

We shall see …
No luck with next week's; yet another twist in the tail.
Hey ho.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

A character sketch is always nice.

dive said...

Ah, but I have no character.

Vanda said...

Awesome!

dive said...

Thank you, Vanda. The story wrote itself. The busker was in front of the Cathedral and he was truly awful and there, at the other end of the square stood a pair of guards at the gates of the police headquarters. I merely joined the two together.

Vanda said...

I also learned a new word thanks to you. 'Busker' is far more economic than street musician.

dive said...

You don't have 'busker' over there? How strange. Another one for the Transatlantic Dictionary.