Hoping and Waiting

He’s come for me now in the summer, when the lake isn’t a vast frozen field, when children laugh and play in the sun and people sit on rocking chairs overlooking the waters, a hand-rolled cigarette hanging from their lips and a carafe of wine beside them.

A Pariah wearing an unadorned alabaster mask has been walking our streets. The mask is a sign of his knowledge and status; it hides the scars I gave him, which are a sign of his accomplishments. I haven’t seen him and his scars in so many years, but now my hopes are fulfilled: he’s come for me. Maybe I’ll see them again.

There’s talk that the Pariah will consume our village in conflagration, heat and dust. But my brother is not extravagant, has always been controlled. I remember his focus and drive, like that of a stalking cat. The village, I think, is safe.

I wait for him here on the pier, under the sun, while my husband is on the waters with our daughter and the nets. It’s my third day of waiting, but the Pariah hasn’t come for me yet.

I hope he comes while my family is away. They shouldn’t have to live with the disappointment of discovering my past.

What will I say to Gabriel when he finds me? Maybe I’ll tell him that I’m sorry. I am sorry, but what does that change? I hope he’ll talk to me in English, talk to me of New York and London and home, all so far away now. Of our old dreams. I hope he’s anger is a cool anger and that he’ll be merciful and quick.

I hope.

I hope.

I hope.

And wait.

11 thoughts on “Hoping and Waiting”

  1. Ooh, this is fascinating – one of those glimpsed moments that suggests backstory and history in a minimalist, resonant sort of way. (Shut up, Stv.) I very much like the air of fatalism, the unspoken guilt, the acceptance, the hints of human damage, even while I’m fascinated by the concept of the Pariah and his powers. I also loved the contrast between the speculative elements (alabaster mask, fiery powers) and the mundane detail – cigarettes, carafe of wine, New York. Intriguing and suggestive. Thank you, I’m still enjoying chewing on this one.

    You have, alas, a typo with “I hope he’s anger is a cool anger”, should be “his anger”? I’m also not entirely convinced that the repetition of “I hope” is necessary or effective.

    1. Wow, that’s one magnificent typo :$

      I’m glad you’re enjoying this: I’ve been meaning to write something like it for a while, and Parfles last piece finally nudged me into doing it.

      1. Oh, dear, this is all my fault then? 😉

        I found this one fascinating but very obscure. I will try and tell you what I think is happening, Rudy-style:

        This is a story about a woman who has once lived in [big cities/Western world/the reality we know] but is now in some sort of exile [far from civilisation/in another reality]. She lives in a small village by the shores of a lake, and has a rural existence that is very different from her [mystical/ritualistic] past. Now someone – her brother, a Pariah, a highly feared/respected/mysterious figure – has come to the village, to find her, she hopes. The Pariah is there but she has not seen him, others have, he is dangerous and the implication is that the Hero used to be equally dangerous (she gave him his scars). She is expecting him to [kill her/show her his scars/something else?]. She waits for him but he does not come.

        I am slightly on the uncomfortable side of confused with this one – I kept feeling that I would like to know just a smidgeon more to be able to put some of it in place. But, given my last piece, I have no right to demand clarity!

        I have some additional comments:

        *”people sit on rocking chairs overlooking the waters, a hand-rolled cigarette hanging from their lips and a carafe of wine beside them” – I had a problem with the singular cigarette and carafe here. I would have preferred “people sit on rocking chairs overlooking the waters, hand-rolled cigarettes hanging from their lips and carafes of wine beside them”

        *Until the mention of husband, I felt the main character was male, so there was a jolt at that point

        *not sure of the link to the theme

        However, the imagery of the Pariah is intense and scary and full of hidden myth, and it works really well. I would like to read a longer version that gives me just that little extra context!

        1. I think that you’ve pretty much understood the story as it’s been explained :) The main link to the theme is that the brother can destroy the village in flames, which may not be the strongest link in the world, but it’s there!

          As to the singular: you’re possibly right! I often use “their” in the singular and it’s confusing matters in the sentence. Bah. On the plus side, it doesn’t parse wrong to me when I read it.

          Thanks for the positive comments :)

  2. I really enjoyed this. I liked how you had to fill in all the past information. I like stories that hints at things and you have to make up your your ideas or listen carefully and figure them out.

  3. Very intriguing. I loved the contrast between elements of older societies (masks, magic and mysticism) and modernity. Also thought an arch-typical story (siblings with old conflict are meeting again with possible tragic consequences) worked well in the rather odd setting.

    I loved your description of the summer days and the unspecified but really creepy idea that the brother is around somewhere near but hasn’t quite shown himself.

    I think the ‘barely told’ style worked well here – I was confused and curious in a good way.

    Not too keen on the end for several reasons. ‘Gabriel’ is only mentioned here and seems distracting; she seems lonely and nostalgic and hoping for reconciliation – yet revenge seems the only outcome she considers; the whole tone of the ‘I hope…’ bits seems at odds with the patient waiting in a beautiful place for one’s (expected/deserved) doom.

    Ending aside I thought it worked really well overall – intriguing and interesting.

  4. I enjoyed this a lot. It is full of secret meaning (like the alabaster mask). I love that the narrator alludes to her very different past with Gabriel without describing it much – I like the way this is told through the scars.

    The setting is beautiful, but made me wonder where she was. They don’t speak english here and live in a village, which made it feel African. But there is a frozen lake, which is colder and people drink wine in carafes which doesn’t feel like a village in Africa. It led to some interesting musings, not an unpleasant thing :-)

    I really like the emotional tone of the narrator, her stillness and acceptance are lovely and feel a little buddist, which is beautifully contrasted with her association with the Pariah.

    It is a great teaser, I find myself waiting with her for the Pariah to arrive :-)

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