MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “obsession”

The de-stressing office objects

claire-sheldon

©Claire Sheldon

She had left it on his desk, next to a cup of pens and the small stuffed penguin he had won for her at the fair. It was a plastic cup overfilled with paperclips, which he found was useless. Simply a few would suffice, he kept telling her.

But she wouldn’t throw any away.

When she became too stressed or entered her over-thinking period, she would pour them out of the cup and lay them on the table, playing around with shapes and forms. It would de-stress her and time would pass, distracting her and calming her down. Simple. Vital.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

An act outside the circus

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/images/attachement/jpg/site1/20090120/00221917dec40adf8adc01.jpgYou could feel the tension with every tic of the second hand on the clock. It was almost seven in the morning and the sun was already up for almost an hour now. So were a few hundred customers ready to leap like hungry jaguars into the store.

It was the annual big clearance sale. One like no other. Because prices were literally slashed to half-price or even less. Everything was a bargain. As long as you were lucky enough to find anything before anyone else snatched it.

Almost everyone was prepared. They had done their research well in advance, noting down what they were after and on what aisle or corner the desired products were located. This was no time to stroll, see and decide. You either knew and decisively went for it, or you got trampled over. Sometimes – well, most times – you got trampled over either way.

As soon as the clock struck seven, it sounded as if church bells were singing hallelujah. The store employees neared the locked doors, and you could almost see the fear reflected in their eyes. It was not an easy job having to open gates to an ecstatic mob that was determined to not let anyone or anything stand in their way. It was certain that they had no way of escaping the crowd once the doors were opened. The only thing they could do was stand petrified right there on the spot, hoping that as few injuries as possible would be incurred upon them.

It was like a stampede.

And soon, all the orderly placed items had been flung around, displaced, ravaged out of their packaging, some even damaged already, now laying ripped or broken on the floor. Labels and tags were torn from their original products and if you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for, there was no way you would find it.

Security guards marched like wardens up and down the aisles, trying in vain to restore order in what had clearly become a jungle. “Lady, please don’t take the products out of their packaging or try them on”. The phrase was repeated like a pre-recorded message. But just like such ads, it was completely ignored. “Lady, what did I just say? Who am I saying these things too anyway?” The security guards felt like teachers in a kindergarten of rowdy children, their despair echoed in the sound of their exasperated sighs. “I’m almost done,” the lady in question barked back. Done with what exactly, no one knew. But she continued to do precisely that which the security guard had grown tired of voicing.

The store employees who had gone to open the doors, were now finally freed, and most were still standing. They turned around and saw a circus. The store had in the blink of an eye transformed into a huge ring, where in the absence of a ringmaster, all animals had broken loose and were frantically trying to defuse the tension that had accumulated for hours inside of them. Items were being thrown around, with some shoppers acrobatically leaping and sliding across other persons to grab hold of them. People were pushing, shoving, pinching, beating, hair-pulling, even bruising each other, simply to get closer to their listed items. Insanity had taken over and blinded these buyers, who like in a trance could see nothing beyond their golden target. The frenzy was intensified by shrieks, cries and insults being tossed around just as easily and loudly as the items that accompanied them.

It took five hours for the performance to wear out. Some shoppers remained there for the entire time. Others had retrieved their treasure and left. But those few who had persisted right until closing time guarded their loot and searched for more, like lions wanting to relieve an insatiable hunger.

The employee who went to lock the door after the final customer left had a ripped sleeve dangling on his left side. His shirt was torn under his right pocket and he had lost two buttons.

“We’re not paid enough for this,” he sighed as he turned the key, glad that this circus act was over.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Circus

Don’t forget to fly

bird_cage_flying-400x250For five years, it had lived in this round copper-like column circular enclosure. It was born in the very nest it still sleeps in, though now it has been slightly renovated according to its own needs. But it knew nothing other than this.

This was its home. Its refuge. Its safety net. What was out there was a mystery and it had already reconciled with the thought that it would never find out.

Until that one day.

That day when the sun was shining and its bright golden rays illuminated its enclosure. There it sat, soaking in as much Vitamin D as it could, when suddenly something whizzed past it. It was a momentary flicker of light but enough to make it open its eyes and realise there was someone out there.

It was another bird.

And it was… flying?!

The bird came close, used its beak to pull off the small nail that kept the enclosure opening shut, dropped a white paper inside and flew away.

This one remained gazing wide-eyed in amazement, confused at what had just happened.

Taking hold of the paper, it slowly unrolled it and read:

“Don’t forget to fly”.

Could this be the opportunity it was always longing for? To find out what is out there? Beyond the safety of a familiar enclosure? Beyond what is already known? But what if what was out there was better left unknown? What if it got hurt? What if…

It got dizzy from all the thoughts swerving inside its mind. It was trying to understand, to balance the positive “what ifs” with the negative ones. This was its chance to go out and explore the world. But it had to act fast before someone realized the gateway was open and it became shut again.

In a very short time, it became obsessed with something it had never tasted. What would it feel like being free? Flying in the clean air? Outside? Being just a small part of a vast universe?

It finally decided that it would never know unless it tried. And it was always better to have tried and failed, rather to have never even made the attempt and simply left wondering.

So, the little bird used its small beak and opened the cage door wide. It took a leap and began to frantically flap its wings. Once it gained height and realized that it didn’t take as much effort to maintain momentum, the adrenaline rush that filled its veins made it feel like the happiest it had been for five years. Just look at all the wonders that are out here. But we are all too shut inside our own safe enclosures to be able to fully comprehend and marvel at them…

“If you’re not scared then you’re not taking a chance. If you’re not taking a chance then what the hell are you doing anyway?” – How I met your mother

An intricate loop

lost ringShe suffered from being too organized. If that ever was a sickness, she was the number one patient. Victoria was obsessed with having everything in order. She felt it was the only way she could control whatever life threw at her. That is why she succumbed to a panic attack when she realized that afternoon that she had lost it.

The ring Danny gave her.

She never took it off her finger, unless she was washing clothes by hand. Then she would place it on the little shelf under the mirror on top of the marble wash-basin and she would stare at it, daydreaming, as she scrubbed the delicate clothes clean. Once she had hung the clothes to dry, she would return, soften her hands by rubbing on cream, and replace the silver ring to its rightful place on her finger.

But today, something went wrong. She realized the ring was missing from her finger when she reached for a piece of cake during afternoon coffee with her friend Emily who had come over to share some gossip. What ensued could only be described as havoc, as an anxious Victoria stormed the bathroom and then paced nervously around every room of the house, re-tracing every step she had made – and which she remembered – in order to find the lost jewel. Emily could do little to console her friend.

It’s hard being a perfectionist. You can never take anything lightly. And never let anything go. Not even when Danny said the ring could be replaced. But for Victoria it would never be the same.

——————–

It was a beautiful afternoon in the park and Vincent had taken Buster out for a walk. The golden retriever basked in the sun for a few minutes, then sprung to its feet and called for a game of Frisbee. Vincent loved this game as his dog always made the most unaccepted leaps, catching the Frisbee in his mouth, no matter how far it went. So he always tried to throw it as far as possible; for him this was also a very good way to make new acquaintances. And Buster was on his own so adorable.

The Frisbee was heading for the lake when Buster made a leap worthy of professional jumpers, and caught it with his teeth glistening in the sunlight as he fell in the waters with a grand splash, cooling everyone who happened to be around the scene. Vincent ran to apologise to the surprised onlookers, when he saw something small glistening at the edge of the pond.

It was a silver ring.

He picked it up and read the inside engraving “I will love you forever, Danny”.

Someone must be very concerned this is lost, he thought. But on the other hand, what if it was intentionally thrown away? What if this was a love story gone all bad? Sometimes love doesn’t always head in the direction the heart wants, he pondered, as Buster joyfully bounced to his side requesting another round of Frisbee.

——————–

She had done this for ages. It was a profession carried on for generations, for as long as she could remember. Her mother had taught her how, and she was in turn trained by her mother and so forth. They roamed the country practicing it and she had learned to read people better than she read the cards before her.

People came to her seeking a glimpse into their future. They wanted to feel the illusion of being able to control what would arrive. The majority never really believed the fortune-teller and they all thought that she was just taking their money in exchange for a few positive words that had no reasonable basis. Yet they still went. People are like that. Silly and gullible.

Yet they are also longing and hopeful. And this is what the fortune-teller relied on.

She only remembered the cases that most strongly made an impression on her. And there was this one couple she could never forget. Not even five years later. She had felt their aura since before they had entered her tent at the local fair. The young woman had convinced the man to go see her. She had said it would be fun. They were newly-weds and you could tell by the sparkle in their eyes, by how they gazed into each other so lovingly, by how in love they appeared.

The first thing the fortune-teller noticed when they sat before her was the silver ring on the girl’s finger. There was something about it. It had brought them so much love and happiness, but for some reason it would also bring them so much pain and suffering.

She pretended to look into the crystal ball and began to tell them that they would have a long and happy life together. The couple smiled and squeezed each other’s hand. But the fortune-teller was not telling the truth. It was one of those rare instances that she looked into the ball in her hands and felt a déjà vu. She felt her vision become misty and could almost see what the couple’s future would be – it was cloudy and grey, shadows had creeped over their rays of sunshine, and it was all caused by a small circle, a loop, a ring.

Hold on to each other, but not too tight, or else you will lose one another forever,” she said as the couple walked out of the tent. The girl looked at the fortune-teller as she turned to leave. She said nothing, although her smile had faded.

The fortune-teller looked back into her crystal ball and saw a reflection of her own dark complexion staring back. Fate was never something anyone could ever foresee. Or control.

Also part of Daily Prompt: Weaving the Threads

This title has been hoarded too

Hoarding1Roger decided it was time he attended an H.A. meeting when he reached the point when he could not even find his bed anymore. He was one of the lucky few who had a home in one of the biggest trees in the forest so the situation he was now in was more than just “a pickle”.

He had heard about Hoarders Anonymous (H.A.) from his Aunt Sara who in turn had heard it from a cousin of a friend of someone else and it just got too complicated for him after that to follow the timeline of who found out about it first. The point was, however, that they existed and they promised to help.

Roger was a compulsive hoarder, but not a severely obsessed one. He could restrain himself, something that could not be said about some of the other participants of H.A. One of them had even gathered all the teaspoons that were set out with the coffee and tea that was offered during the meeting. And when wooden sticks were brought out to replace the vanished spoons, he even gathered those too!

Roger began hoarding as a baby squirrel. He was born in a drought and his family was always afraid they would never have enough acorns to survive the winter. So he too was infiltrated with the mentality that more is never enough: it was better to have the option of having something, than not having it at all in the first place. Having grown up this way, he couldn’t help himself now. He, like many other of his H.A. ‘co-sufferers’, assigned too much value to all of his possessions, seeing things in them that other people didn’t, and thus making it difficult for him to get rid of them. He believed that things may prove useful in the future or they simply reminded him of something, some moment or some person and thus he became emotionally attached. So, slowly, Roger’s nest began accumulating stuff of all sorts. He was very organized so he did manage to keep his home quite tidy. You couldn’t even tell he was hoarding so many things. Until that week when he became too busy, too tired and too lazy to arrange things. So they just kept piling up. And piling up. And covering furniture. To the extent that one day he couldn’t even find his bed, and that is when he decided radical action was necessary.

At H.A. all participants struggled with their hoarding obsessions. They knew it was unhealthy and very often costly in many ways other than money. But at this point it was something out of their control. Listening to the other participants speak, Roger knew he was better off.

One of them stated that she couldn’t sleep at all, not only because she couldn’t find the bed, or the bedroom for that matter, because everything was covered under heaps of stuff, but because whenever she closed her eyes she saw nightmares that she was stranded in the fourth circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno. This was the one reserved for the “hoarders and the wasters”, where hoarders spend their lives acquiring wealth and material possessions—represented as giant boulders—and are forever doomed to push the crushing weight of the rocks against the opposing force of wasters. She thus had panic attacks added to her list of obsessive-compulsive traits. Another of the H.A. participants said that he became a hoarder when he found out that his idol, Andy Warhol, was also a hoarder and that his four-story Upper East Side town house was so jammed with items that the only rooms with paths through them were the kitchen and the bedroom. In fact, when Warhol died, in 1987, he left behind 610 cardboard boxes that he called time capsules and this fan wanted to live up to that.

Roger was now certain he was not the nutter anymore. When it was his turn to speak, he got up and said “I’m a hoarder and I know it”. They all gasped at his certainty and self-confidence. Roger had something these others didn’t. Self-restraint. He knew what he had to do. He just had to decide what was truly worth keeping and what was not. And if that didn’t work, he would just find another tree bark he could use as a storage room!

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done!

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