Monday, February 3, 2014

Hybrid Narrative: Nox and Time Travel

      I didn't know him, but I could see fragments of him floating towards me across the pond, like sonic echoes bouncing off the night sky and the water, singing my brother's travels in hazy moments. Other than a morose sense of nostalgia, my brother was a stranger to me—I knew as little as he could manage. His mind was a box without a key, and he would not give me access. What I did know was the pain buried deep within his consciousness, like the smoldering embers of a star. They pulsated in every moment of his past I watched unfold on the sea. I saw him with the spunky blonde. They pulsated in every curt sentence uttered on the phone. I heard his emptiness.
      His death came to tell me what happened far before the phone ever rang. The radio crackled with electrical disturbance; the apple pie's aroma faded away. The sea looked lifeless and moon was new. I looked out at the past and I saw that the pulsing was weak and obscured. Time ceased and I cannot recall how much time I spent in the window, watching the images of his past play out for me. I never knew my brother in the present—the pictures were always events he'd already experienced, and I could never reach out to help him.
      Sometimes I wondered if he looked out across the pond and saw what I'd achieved. Was I an echo of our past, our mother, that he could not face? Did he ignore the light of my past that came to him at night on the water? Or did he brave looking into the night to see my accomplishments as I looked out to watch his follies? I watched him die, and I couldn't reach out to save him. Blondie couldn't save him, and he couldn't survive without her.
      I heard my brother's voice in my own in the conversation I had with his widow. There was a distinct aversion, a curt edge that lacked willingness to face the present. In ways the past was easier to deal with—there was no need for reaction or participation. I could just watch the translucent movies of my brother's life play every night and at least know he was out there. But now the movies ceased, and as I look out, there's an empty past filled with silence.
      The stars wordlessly share their history, but it was not meant for me. My brother's pasts were meant for me. There's a thought that stabs at my heart: were those moments of his life sent to me on purpose? Was he trying to reach out to me, to find me in a way that he couldn't face? Left with nothing to face but my own position in life, I'm left dealing with internal arguments about whether I could have done anything. I try to convince myself he was nothing more than a stranger despite my nostalgia, but he would have never contacted me if that were the case.
      I saw his death come slowly across the sea to tell me goodbye.

Author's Note:

      In a Hybrid Narrative class I'm taking for Spring 2014, my class was given an experimental prompt that put me way out of my comfort zone as a writer of Young Adult Fantasy novels and short stories. The prompt was to find a favorite quote from a book called Nox by Carson and to find an interesting fact about the universe. Here's the quote: "When my brother died (unexpectedly) his widow couldn't find a phone number for me among his papers until two weeks later. While I swept my porch and bought apples and sat by the window in the evening with the radio on, his death came wandering slowly towards me across the sea." Here's the fact: "When you look into the night sky, you are looking back in time. The stars we see in the night sky are very far away from us, so far the star light we see has taken a long time to travel across space to reach our eyes. This means whenever we look out into the night and gaze at stars we are actually experiencing how they looked in the past." So... I'm not sure if I did the assignment justice because the piece of writing seems too foreign to have come from my own brain, but there you go. You decide.

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