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Symphony's Requiem Chapter 10
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 471
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:00 pm    Post subject: Symphony's Requiem Chapter 10  

Chapter 10

Warning. This story contains strong language, scenes of violence and other matter that may be offensive. For mature readers only.

Without coming to any real reason he might need it he put the Taser in his back pocket anyways. Then caught up with Symphony at the walkway and locked everything behind him.

They meandered their way west, passing through his neighborhood with its old and dirty buildings and potholed streets. It was funny to Leif how you could tell what kind of neighborhood you lived in by the condition of its streets. You knew that the more potholes, cracks, littered sidewalks and choked gutters it had the less well off the people who lived there were. Most of the time they spent walking was in a silent enjoyment of each other’s company, only broken by the occasional bumping of shoulders as their strides and the street width demanded. They were reaching the western edge of his neighborhood when they heard a strained voice yelling from the alley. To Leif this was no great distraction, there was always some dispossessed person, hanging out in the backstreets, too high or too drunk or too crazy to realize that they shared the world with everyone else. Leif absently thought that not too long ago he was as close to part of their number as anyone could be, he couldn't count how many times he had woken up drunk in an alley or under the awning of a building.

But Symphony stopped in her tracks and turned her head to see who was making the racket, Leif stopped also following her gaze. When her eyes locked on the woman, pushing a grocery cart filled to the top with odds and ends, but mostly various types of clothes, Symphony's smile grew to gargantuan proportions, she ran down the alley waving her hand back and forth like she was chasing a train with a loved one on it. Leif followed her at a more sedate pace, when he got closer he saw that the woman with the cart had layer upon layer of dirty, hard used clothes. The outermost layer was a thick leather jacket that still had the hairs of the cow on it, it showed bald spots and the original color of the hair could no longer be determined from the years of hard living the woman had put it through. The woman stopped her cart and half ran and half wobbled toward Symphony, when Symphony caught up to her she bent on one knee so that when she hugged the woman the side of her face was pressed against her chest. Leif saw the woman close her eyes in pure relief and joy. The woman's face was wrinkled and the color of unvarnished Alder wood, from all the years she had spent exposed to the elements. Symphony stood up, put her hands on each of the old woman’s shoulders and then kissed her on each cheek. Leif had been staying a respectable distance from the pair of them, in case he was intruding, but Symphony waved him over. As he crossed most of the distance, Symphony stood to the old woman’s side.

“Lee, this is Penny.”

Leif smiled politely and put out his hand.

“Penelope, this is Leif.”

As they shook hands they both looked at Symphony in a little confusion at the difference in names. Symphony smiled even wider, which didn't seem physically possible. She rolled her eyes up and to the left in frustration at our confusion, amused with herself.

“You see, you both already have something in common.”

She looked to Penny first and put her index finger lightly on Leif’s chest.

“His name is Leif, but I call him Lee, which he hates.”

Then she turned her almost copper brown eyes to me and moved the finger to Penny’s chest.

“Her name if Penny, but I call her Penelope, which she hates.”

Both Leif and Penny nodded their heads in unison, then unexpectedly both of them said the same sentence in reply in stereo also.

“I don’t mind it so much anymore.”

Penny and Leif looked at each other and then all three of them laughed and with the introductions over they broke off the handshake. Penny turned her attention of Symphony, staring at her like she was trying to figure out a math equation.

“Damnedest thing says I, here I was just walking down the street looking for some goods and a thinking about you 'chile. Next thing, here you go walking round the corner, bold and beautiful like lightning.”

Leif understood what Penny meant completely, even if her speech was hard to understand through the thick, unidentifiable accent. Symphony had a habit of showing up or being where you were heading, especially if you needed her and even more so in times when you didn't know you needed her.

“You are looking good Penelope; I haven’t seen your eyes sparkle like this before.”

Penny smiled at the compliment.

“Is amazin’ how much a little money and a lot of food can do for the soul. Sometimes a person forgets what it means to be a person when they ain't got nothing but the cold ground to welcome them each morning.”

There was something in the way Symphony was looking at her that he could tell that her words had affected her on a profound level.

“I’m just glad I could help Penelope.”

Penny shook her head, in her eyes tears threatened to spill down her face.

“More and more do I know that what you did save my life Syph' 'chile. That little kindness you turn me, was like the music that woke me up to life again. I didn't hear so good at first, but time went by and my head lost a few of those bricks that made it so hard, it got louder and louder. So loud that I could only do one of two things, wake up and dance or turn it off and rest my head in the grave dirt.”

Symphony smiled down gently at her, and took the sleeve of her shirt and dabbed at the corners of Penny’s eyes.

“I’m just glad that it all worked out.”

Penny looked up at her.

“It done more than that, but 'nough is enough, I done already take too much of your time with your fine looking gentleman.”

Symphony was about to protest, but Penny just held up her hand.

“You and your man go on now, I been on these streets for years now so I rightly expect to be here tomorrow and the next. You go on now 'chile.”

Penny gave her one last hug and turned back to her cart. Symphony just watched her slow gait, when Penny reached it she waved at them then turned and slowly pushed her way down the alley. Leif stared at Symphony and on her face he swore that he saw admiration. She turned and walked out back to the street, her thoughts and her gaze was far away.

“So what did you do that helped her out so much?”

“Nothing much really.”

He knew that she wasn't being modest; he could hear it in her voice and see it in the set of her eyes that she really didn't believe that she had done anything so spectacular that would have made Penny so thankful.

“Well, according to Penny you did.”

Now that Leif had said her name, it didn't sound right; it didn't even seem to fit right in his mouth. Penelope seemed like the only name that really fit her.

“I just gave her a little company and some words of comfort and advice. The rest she did on her own, she is a lot stronger and tougher than she thought she was… all I did was remind her.”

They continued their trek toward the west toward the a sky that had been steadily turning from blue to dark orange and bright pink.

“Tell me about her.”

Symphony continued to walk and to Leif it looked like she was deeply considering what she could tell him and what she considered privileged information that was only to be shared by the two of them. Leif’s already growing estimation of her had increased at least twice fold with just that one observation.

“Penelope comes from a large family and each one has closed themselves off to her one by one as the years went by. They chose to disown her rather than see that what they considered her disability was actually a great gift. Just when she thought she couldn't bear it she met her late husband and they had eight years of a far from perfect but good marriage.”

Symphony’s pace slowed and Leif matched her.

“They had three children, when Ismed, the youngest was seven, her husband was to watch him. Her husband had the kind of job that made him pull a lot of swing shifts and back to back to add to that, so he fell asleep on the couch. Little Ismed... well it doesn't matter the how, what matters is that Ismed died that day.”

Leif could see that even in the recounting of a story that was told to her by Penelope, that it struck her deep and hard.

“Her husband blamed himself and on the year anniversary of Ismed’s death, he took his own life. Penelope did her best to hang on and keep her family together, but in the end she had to give up her children as well as her home. From there she struggled to keep in contact and get to a place in her life where she could get them back, but the years kept going by and life kept getting harder. In the end her children turned their backs on her too and it was then that she found herself alone and abandoned.”

As hard has Leif tried it was hard to see past the image of Penny as a homeless person who just happened to be hard on her luck. He tried to imagine what she would have looked like, in a home, with a husband and children but his mind kept coming back to the image of how she looked now.

“Life got dark for her, she fell deeper and deeper in to believing that her gift was something to be scorned and something that was wrong with her. She convinced herself of it for so long that it became true and that’s when I found her.”

“She’s had it hard.”

A part of him sympathized but he wondered if there was a point in her life where she could have made different choices.

Symphony stopped and looked straight at him.

“Yes she has, but don’t you think for one minute that she is clutching to those things as excuses.”

Leif was startled by the sudden change in tone of her voice.

“I didn't mean…”

Symphony shook her head.

“You might fool yourself but you can’t fool me Lee, you think that she could have done something, could have changed something. Well your right, she could have, but she doesn't blame where she is now on all those bad things. She knows, knows that she put herself there; she knows that in a way it was how she could punish herself. Her loss, her grief, her abandonment… were all ways to kill off the little piece in her that demanded that she was worthy of more.”

Leif tried to think of something to put things back the way they were but he was afraid that somehow he crossed a line that he didn't know was there. Possibly sensing his distress, she put her hands on his shoulders.

“Lee, I know that you came as close to dying on the inside as anyone can come because of your loss. I don’t want you to think that I’m belittling that in any way, and I don’t want you to go backwards because of what I’m about to tell you – but it’s important that you hear it.”

He could see the deep sincerity and concern with what she was about to tell him in her eyes. He readied himself as best as he could, like a man getting ready to hear the prognosis of an ailment that he knew he was dying from.

“You love deeply, you care deeply and because of that you grieve deeply, that is not a fault. But you also have chosen not to live deeply, your passions make you vibrant but without them you think you have nothing more to you. You’re losses were horrendous and horrible and no one should have to go through them – but everywhere around you people do and though they never heal completely, they do live on.”

Leif knew all of this and he couldn't understand where she was going, and as much as he wanted to listen, that part old anger was building again. She didn't know what it was like for him, no one did, and no one could understand just how close he was to Stephen and Kelly. They were like his arms, his lungs – they were like chambers in his heart and with them gone how could he ever be whole again. He was about to tell her this but she stared at him and for a moment her eyes flashed green from the reflection of the sun off of a passing car that hit her eyes. Suddenly he knew that she was going about to tell him something that was the absolute truth.

“Lee, you have to understand, no matter how much you are hurting there are others that are hurting too. You don’t have a monopoly on grief Lee and like Penelope you can chose what you do with that pain. Let it consume you, shatter you and break you making everything that Stephen and Kelly loved about you a lie – or – live again.”

She let go of his shoulders then and stood back a moment, Leif stood there in the middle of the sidewalk with the hard truth echoing in his ears. A part of him didn't want to let it go, that selfish part of him that scourged the courage of having to pick up and just go on living again from him. He understood that she wasn't asking him to forget them, or shut away the pain, she was asking him to have the courage to face life again without the people who kept him sane in an insane world.

And what could be harder than having to face a hard world when it was empty of the people you loved the most? What could be harder than living with the loss and getting up in the morning and trying to find a reason to be truly alive again? Out of the periphery of his vision he saw her speaking to a taxi cab driver through the passenger side window; he was so preoccupied with having to try to come to an answer or decision or understanding with the new realization that he didn't see her hail the cab. Symphony came back over to him and wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight. Leif breathed in deeply, trying to keep her scent with him, she whispered softly in his ear and he thought her voice sounded like an orchestra of solace.

“Take you time with it Lee, go home and see. It’s not something that can be answered, for some people it takes a lifetime to come to that kind of decision. But you have to come to a decision, never forget that they love you.”

Leif was suddenly numb, numb down to his bones. Tired and numb and wanted nothing more than the comfort of his bed and his empty apartment where life decisions didn't weigh at him and threaten to tear him apart. He got into the cab and let the driver take him home.

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

He could not stop his hands from shaking, no matter how tightly he held them together. He could not stop them no matter how many times he pushed down on them. He has in his car, trying to will his hands to stop shaking. After driving around for hours, Ignacio realized that he was getting nowhere, trying to find the apartment complex with the vague clues of the sketch alone. So he pulled over, took out his pencils and a small scrap of paper and let himself – what could he call it – be taken over. The sun was high in the midday sky when he had started, now according to his stereo, it was 6:32 at night.

It was one thing to believe in a greater meaning in the obscure and hidden images that he had drawn, it was quite another to try to piece together their meaning. Ignacio knew it had something to do with the falling woman and the woman tied to the chair, those pictures were the clearest of all. But even the directness in those two images led him to more questions. Were the falling woman and the woman in the chair the same person? Was she in danger? How could he find her?

So now he sat in his car, trying to summon the courage to go outside of its thin metal shield and begin actively looking. Ignacio didn’t even know what he would do if he was dead certain that he found the apartment complex, what would he do? It wasn’t as if he could peer into each window and hope that he would catch a glimpse of someone tied up to a chair in the middle of the living room. Even more ridiculous than that, should the windows be shuttered like any half sane kidnapper would have done what then? Was he just going to knock on each door asking anyone who would answer if they were currently kidnapping anyone?

Ignacio would have gone to the police, but they probably would have just taken him into custody for his own safety, fearing that he was just another person who had lost his mind. And when they found the hidden katana, that was not even his rightful property, hidden underneath his long, black London Fog trench coat, they would throw him in prison. Ignacio hit his steering wheel in frustration, with this whole insane idea that he had and mostly with himself. He had no idea why he was driving around in his car all across town, armed with a sword and no real idea of what he would do with it. He had decided that enough was enough and it was time to go home and get back to his normal, logical, boring and sane life.

The image of the falling woman, with her eyes closed and the smile on her lips flashed across his mind again. Ignacio took a deep sigh and got out of the car, he looked at the complex he had parked in front of, so far it was the closest one he had found.

Ignacio looked down at the small sketch of the "Falling Woman's" face, “Five doors at the least, ten if you’re feeling brave.” His voice a mere whisper to himself.

What’s the worst that could happen, he thought to himself, as he went up to the first door.

Okay guys, sorry no poll. There were several reasons why I almost didn't post this. Activity level on the sight would be one of them. Secondly, the scene with Leif and Symphony was on the verge of be completely edited out, in all honesty I still don't know how I feel about it. And so on and so on and so on. Anyways, I'm beginning to think that maybe I should move this to Linear Lane, as I haven't had a poll. But at the very least, I kind of clumped together pieces of all the comments for Ignacio into one suggestion and tried to apply that.

F.Y.I. this chapter was more about trying to write again, and actually post something, so though I look forward to any and all comments, edits, or suggestions. This chapter will not have a real poll. It this is an issue to anyone, let me know and I'll figure out where to move this "SG". I hope that at the very least, some one will enjoy reading it.

A very difficult chapter for me to do, I tried. My apologies.
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Tikanni Corazon

Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 1286
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:32 am    Post subject:  

Awesomeness! A new Symphony chapter!

I'm going to be reading through this either tonight or tomorrow, Emperor, so my comment/crit will arrive asap! So glad to see that you're writing this again! It's one of my favs! :)
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 471
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:18 pm    Post subject:  

awww. thank you Tikky!
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Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:07 pm    Post subject:  

This chapter reinforced the first thread of the story. It circled back to the original theme of Leif as the fallen protagonist, and Symphony, his would-be saviour. It's almost as if the paranormal stuff about her origins and the origins of her pursuers have been forgotten, and we are looking at her again as just a normal girl, giving a boost to people down on their luck.

For me, this chapter symbolised hope, in both scenes. In the first, it's another step forward in Leif's recovery. He's strong enough now to take some harsh truths, for her to lay down the foundations for him to begin to get up again on his own two feet. In the second scene it is hope of a different kind - hope for Ignatio trying to understand what the hell is going on, and hope for us, the readers, to find another jigsaw piece to help join together the various plots.

I liked the way you used the names Penny/Penelope and Lee/Leif as a metaphor for their having similar relationships with Symphony, and how you forshadowed what they had in common by having Leif assume she was one of the crazies who's number he wasn't so far away from joining.

It was interesting how on the outside, Penny doesn't look any different, she is now changed on the inside. Penny's dialogue came across very well, I could 'hear' her accent perfectly.

For critique, nothing major really jumped out at me, although I would query why Leif would find it 'funny' that you could tell what kind of a neighbourhood it was by the state of its streets - to me that's pretty normal. On a technical note, there were a couple of there/their and your/you're errors.

Otherwise this was a good, solid returning chapter, with a good, strong message.

It's great to see Symphony's Requiem on the move again.
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 471
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:00 pm    Post subject:  

Crunchyfrog wrote: This chapter reinforced the first thread of the story... It's almost as if the paranormal stuff about her origins and the origins of her pursuers have been forgotten, and we are looking at her again as just a normal girl...

I would query why Leif would find it 'funny' that you could tell what kind of a neighbourhood it was by the state of its streets . On a technical note, there were a couple of there/their and your/you're errors.

I can't tell you how much your post meant to me Crunchy. I can't speak for all writers, but I know that for me, I can only hope for a few things. One, for someone to get what I'm trying to do on some level. Two, for honest critiques with no hidden agendas. And three, for a little encouragement. -- Whether you meant it or not you gave me all three. I will re-look at the whole "bad neighborhood" thing. Also I will try to find those there/their/your/you're stuff.

Crunchyfrog wrote: It was interesting how on the outside, Penny doesn't look any different, she is now changed on the inside. Penny's dialogue came across very well, I could 'hear' her accent perfectly.

Indeed and awesome.
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