Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Project

So, with introductions done, time for the first piece in an ongoing project that will feature on this blog. While looking around the web, I've stumbled across this series of writing exercises, aimed at improving one's technique, range of writing and just generally experimenting with writing in new and different ways.

The first exercise focuses on Synaesthesia,  rarely-seen technique that uses adjectives attributed to one sense to describe another. Many people will describe pain as sounds or smells in colour, and Synaesthesia focuses on this in writing, which often adds a more personal and 'real' touch to a piece.

So, without further ado, here is my response to the first exercise:

The Final Lights: An exercise in Synethesia.

Everything was loud. Every sound bit deep into his ears, and stayed there, clinging with bitter intensity. He could not shake off the subdued ringing, nor clear the distorted and searing stabs of light that attacked again and again. A wall of white noise hit him again, and for a second, he managed to focus on the face it came from. No words for him. Just painful, burning noise.

He felt the earth tremble as a sudden darkness moved past and shook him, and as it passed, the screaming lights recommenced their assault. He raised a hand to block them off, hoping to crawl back into the quieter shadows, but it was no good; the change was just as jarring as the constant flashes, and the blue pain at the back of his eyes had yet to subside.


She watched him shy away from the window as the lorry shuddered its way past, and felt a stab of pity. So long he had been like this, a pale ghost of a vibrant life. He coughed a wracking cough, and with it came a salty brown odour, like decaying bread. She resisted the urge to recoil from the pungent smell.

It pained her to see him like this, a hunched, choking and faded shell of a man. So long it had been now, since it began. The sudden fall from the height of life to the long, slow deterioration that had made him this; a sickly, watery remnant of who she remembered him to be. A single tear snaked its way down her face.

He was dying, she knew that. It had been three months since they had known for sure, and ever since then the days had seemed ever greyer. Every sunrise had taken on a sour note like the last bars of a sullen lament, and it set each day with the weight of a thousand year’s pain. Each of his rattling breaths pierced at her heart like the slow point of a needle sewing the tapestry of her own dying moments on the fabric of time. 

She reached down and lifted the white china cup to his greying lips and tilted it gently, taking care not to let the tea spill. He sipped weakly, drawing in only a tiny amount of the liquid, and a moment later, coughed again.


The pain was unbearable this time, burning and freezing, screaming in silence, dark and light. Waves of blue pain throbbed behind his eyes as orange-white agony burned them away. With every movement came a creaking, sombre ache, a note played an octave lower than was right. The dissonant crashes rose to a crescendo of colour and the world fell apart.

He had no idea how long this went on, a minute, a year, a lifetime; all were only quantifiers for the anguish. And then, all at once, it stopped. The light was no longer blinding, the sound no longer stabbing, and the hot-cold shudders of movement fell still. The stormy blue pain faded to reveal a calm and clear sky. Seeing again for the first time the face he loved, her eyes singing him into the calm, he knew. He knew it was over, the age of torture.

And with that sudden knowing there came a sweeter, softer light, calling him away with the songs he had been unknowingly waiting for all his life. He stood without moving, and walked, slowly, into this new place, leaving behind the body that had endured so much pain. He stepped into the song and became a part of it, a voice among thousands calling home the lost.


She watched his face change, from the wordless and soundless scream to the tranquil, bright peace, and she knew. She knew it was over, the age of worry. She took his hand but there was no warmth, no sense of life, only stillness. He was at peace now, and as the last rays of sunlight sung him away, her own heart joined the song, a lament and a prayer and an echo of younger days.

And as the last notes faded, it was over. For her too, it was over.

Author's notes: With this piece, the aim was simple. Use the technique Synaesthesia to create a really personal and human feel in such an emotional scene. When I first heard about the technique, I was instantly reminded of the sensations one gets when experiencing a migraine, when lights, sounds and the slightest of movements are confused and painful. As such, that was what I based the opening on, and it grew from there. I may have overdone the use of the technique, but in a way that was the aim of the exercise. Of course, if I were writing this piece for another purpose, I would use it more sparingly and with other techniques mixed in more thoroughly. 

I hope to have done a good job of handling the subject matter in a delicate and respectful manner and attached the emotion it deserves. In this piece, I also tried to highlight the idea of death as a release; the man is released from his long suffering while his wife is freed from the constant worry and fear for him. 

The piece is not intended to be at all religious in theme, and perhaps spiritual is a more fitting term. It is not entirely mundane, to say the least, but I attempted to make the final scenes focus more on the freedom and release than any idea of an afterlife. 

As always, any comments, criticism or observations are more than welcome. I have the next piece on Deja Vu almost ready to post; it will be up in the next couple of hours. 

Thanks for reading. 

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