The Literary Corner: ”And the Skies Wept that Day…” by Hedwig Silver (ex. 1)


Writing exercise 1

Write a fragment describing the exact emotions when you (or your character) learned of a happy or calamitous event in your life (or your character’s); now try to condense that fragment into a single searing sentence.

 

And the Skies Wept that Day…

            Nothing – not my waking up late, not the spilling of my morning coffee, not my poking my eyeball with the mascara wand, not my forgetting to lock the front door and to charge my phone – could announce the inconceivable events that would unfold that very same day. It was another overcast morning, like the previous three, and the weather reporter had pointed out that umbrellas would be “a must”; “what’s new about that, in this city?”, I thought to myself as I opened the car’s door and chucked all my belongings on the backseat. I was furious with my forgetfulness and spent the entire drive scolding Mr. White – yes, it even had a name – and wishing all bad things happen to him. One of my close childhood friends, Clare, had once asked me why I had come up with such a funny name for such a thing – mind you, Mr. White reminded her of our old Chemistry teacher bearing the same name, who would break in a profuse sweat and burst into a nervous stutter whenever a girl asked a question in class – for which I invented the following explanation: “Clare, dearest, each time I feel I have forgotten something, my mind goes as blank as a paper. If that weren’t enough, I get so distraught and angry with myself that everything around me turns a pristine white, as if caught in a snow-storm in the middle of nowhere”. “Oh Sam, you were always the creative one of the pair. No wonder you write for a living.”

            It had already started raining by the time I hit the first traffic jam, but time was on my side; I could still afford stopping at my favourite café, Olivier’s, where they had the most interesting combinations of filling and icing in a cupcake the inhabitants of the city had ever known, where Olivier, the owner, would greet each customer in his thick German-accented English – contrary to popular misconception, he had never even seen France, let alone lived there – and a fat smile, and who’d prepare me the most comforting and surprisingly balanced and fragrant varieties of tea I’ve ever tasted. I was convinced his hands wove magic and that he must be the last living relative of some long-forgotten German wizard. He made my days brighter and I helped coax his children into going early to sleep by writing bedtime stories for them.

            It took at least fifteen minutes more than usual to reach Olivier’s, since it wasn’t showering anymore, but an apocalyptic downpour. Rivulets were determinedly making their ways along the sidewalks, as if answering the call of some invisible, yet magnetic, force. Soon enough, just as I was getting out of my car, someone bumped into me because it was impossible to find your path to your destination without hitting an obstacle – it was raining cats and dogs.

            I entered the café, bottom half of my body drenched in the cool summer drops, waved “good morning” to Olivier and the rest of the staff and dragged myself to my designated table, the one I sat at the day I had first visited the café, which, coincidentally, was also the day I had started working in the sky-high glass building across the street – The Book Shed, it was called. I got hired as an editor at the publishing house after my boss, Margaret Summers, read my review of one of the books they published – The Mind Game. I hated every word of it and made it quite clear in my article, even writing a list of recommendations for the writer. What a day it had been… Not much different from this one, dare I say, gloomy, but remarkable nonetheless.

            My rose blossoms and coconut with a hint of peppermint tea was piping hot and its sweet and soft perfume invaded my nostrils so unexpectedly that it made me gasp for fresh air. Speaking of roses and coconut, Geraldine, my aunt’s daughter, had asked for the details of a talented florist I had met years ago, at one of our publishing house’s events. My cousin was a wonderful painter herself and was getting married to her college sweetheart – James, an accomplished paintings restoration expert based in a village near the metropolis – at the end of the week. She had mentioned a coconut-flavoured cake, which I wanted to talk to Olivier about, when I heard the clatter of tableware. It was loud enough to compel me to take my eyes off my phone and raise my head. My attention was immediately drawn to the small flat-screen television, hanging above the counter: the “BREAKING NEWS” title was flashing vexingly and images of flooded areas of the city started parading before our eyes in a rapid succession; then, it wasn’t the city alone, but all surroundings: rivers had taken over villages and fields alike, people got isolated, in a watery embrace, on rooftops and in higher buildings, chaos wreaking havoc as victims multiplied within minutes. It was the worst rain in centuries and the element of surprise was the real culprit – its veil of panic enveloped authorities, feeding on fear and despair like a famished parasite.

            The rain had no intention of stopping and it kept falling as if it had a personal strife with every living creature. I had no idea weather can be so ruthless. I was about to phone Geraldine to tell her I had yet to speak to Olivier about the cake when a flight number caught my eye on the news; letters the size of insects were running to one side of the screen with the speed of ants frantically trying to save their lives. I didn’t manage to get the first part of the news, but I could clearly make out the end which said, “… no survivors of flight BA 179 from Birmingham to London have been found. Search and rescue teams have reached the crash site and are doing their best. More details in a later bulletin.” It had said BA 179… No, it must be my memory playing tricks… it cannot be the same… I quickly took out my phone and rummaged through tens of e-mails until I finally found it; and there it was, black on white:

            “Hey sweety,

            we’re arriving tomorrow morning with BA 179; no need to pick us up; we’ll manage.

            Do your best at work. See you later.

            Kisses,

            Jane

            It was as if the entire sky had burst open and all its water had drenched every hidden corner of my soul, my very spirit drowning frantically in this relentless sea shouting at the top of its lungs: “People say you can feel your twin…”

 

Bucharest, December 2019

Hedwig Silver

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mimi Apostol
    Jan 23, 2020 @ 09:40:37

    very nice!

    Reply

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