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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hear (07/08/10)

TITLE: Voices in the Dark
By Kimberly Russell


As I step into the chill of the dim theatre, my body sags into a relaxed slouch. For once I had made a good choice.

"You just don't think before you act. When will you ever learn to make decisions based on careful consideration instead of emotion?"

This afternoon's adventure is part of my attempt to stretch and expand my world. It has been a work in progress and taking in a movie alone is another milestone. The quest? To "find myself." The implication? That I am somehow "misplaced". At least that is the opinion held by the general public that surrounds me. Most of them are reputable sources but also don't hesitate to share their disdain for the person I am. Their comments often arrow straight into my heart.

"Don't take everything so personal. You're too sensitive."

My life and how I choose to live seems to be the topic of many conversations. And advice is never ending. So many words fly from every direction; I end up at an impasse unable to decide what is best for me. My mind becomes confused, murky with the clutter from others. They may think I'm lost but the reality is that I just don't have a clue. If indeed I need to 'find myself', it's because I've gone missing in the opinions of others.

"That was a stupid waste of money. You really need to learn about financial responsibility."

I settle into the squishy stadium seat with a sigh, intent on an enjoyable respite from the world. Diet soda and fluffy tub of popcorn in place, I shovel and slurp like a naughty child. I had told no one my plans for today, unwilling to risk any disapproval. My secret sojourn could be misconstrued as escape or waste of time. As salt dances over my tongue, I determine to enjoy every minute.

"You wore THAT to work? A few extra pounds can make any outfit unflattering..."

Commercials blare across the screen and give way to credits that scroll at a dizzy pace.
The movie begins and as the plight of the main character unfolds, my eyes fixate with spellbound fascination.

The storyline is simple but the dynamics leap off the screen as the woman grows from an insecure child into a codependency riddled adult. Her desperate attempts to win the approval of those around her are complicated by the enormity of such an impossible task.

"It's all in your head. They never said that-you must have imagined it."

Soon the struggle swallows her and she becomes lost in a sea of despair as the pain of their words twist like a knife until even the most innocent comments torture relentlessly.

She ends up in a crumpled heap on the floor of her apartment, hope elusive, with suicide the only viable option.

"Snap out of it. Depression is a choice. Just stop it."

My raspy breath echoes during a quiet moment and I struggle to maintain composure. It appears someone has stalked me. I feel naked and exposed as my life flickers on a screen larger than my house. Was that a snicker at my expense? I am in agony.

The movie begins to wind down as the woman rides off into the sunset with a man that has saved her from herself. Hate to tell them but it doesn't work that way.

"Maybe if you had been a better wife, he wouldn't have left you..."

The movie is over and brilliant light fills the quiet auditorium. Along with it, rays of sunshine begin to seep into my heart.

Yes, the lady in the movie was a lot like me: I have a tendency to gravitate toward codependent relationships. I've handed myself off to others in an effort to win approval. Most of all, my self worth is often based on what others think instead of trusting what is best for me. And believing the black words spoken into me. But today, the light has been turned on and I will no longer bow to the whims of those around me.

I haul myself out of the velvety chair and gather up the trash scattered about. At the exit, I smile as the soda cup and popcorn tub clunk to their final resting place in the trashcan. Along with the voices in the dark.

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This article has been read 609 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mona Purvis07/18/10
Wow! This is so deep and haunting. It takes excellent writing to pull this off and you did. Totally out-of-the-box on the topic and yet, very on topic.
Love this very much. It makes me think.

Carol Slider 07/18/10
A very original take on the topic! In her place, I think I would have gone to see an entirely different sort of movie... but that's just me. You portrayed her journey of realization very well. Good job!
Chely Roach07/18/10
A heartbreaking chronicle of depression...very moving. I stumbled a little at the line, "They didn't say that-you imagined it." At first I read that as all one line. I also had to re-read the portion that was going back and forth between the MC and the character in the movie. Since they were both 3rd person "she"s, it stilted the flow a little. Easy fixes. I really liked the end message of this, and the last line was a great "gulp" moment. Good job!
Lollie Hofer07/19/10
Deeply moving, it packs a powerful emotional wallop. Strong story-telling.
Lollie Hofer07/19/10
P.S. I forgot to add this...I like the line "I've gone missing in the opinions of others." It expresses precisely what her crisis was.
AnneRene' Capp07/19/10
Touching the inner most core of our emotions takes talent of which you most definitely have and did. I believe every reader can identify with something in this. I could envision this as part of a movie
Beth LaBuff 07/20/10
I loved your symbolism with the soda cup and the popcorn rub being dropped in the trash. You story is haunting.
Maria Egilsson07/21/10
Intriguing piece Kathryn. That "inner critic" we all have speaking inside our head against the backdrop of the movie playing. It worked well. Unique take on the topic.
Edmond Ng 07/21/10
Being ourselves and dispelling what others think of us are not as easy as we hope. Thank God we have Him to guide us to be the person He wants us to be.

You've conveyed the state of the MC's mind very well and brought to your readers the self doubt and the mood. Nice ending to your story to leave the soda cup, popcorn tub clunk and the depressive state of mind to their final resting place—in the trashcan.