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Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Glimpse, A Glance, A Gaze: Part 1 of 3

*Apologies for delay in updating. Time flies. But I can't. Tired. :P

Foreword

This short trilogy is based on 3 sections, each taking on 1 of the 3 words from its title. Each section is inspired by a quote randomly chosen based on the presence of the keyword in its content. There is no plot, and the story goes wherever it wishes. :)

Acknowledgments

My special thanks to Deric for the selection of the 3 random quotes and for being a supporter of these unpolished writings.


Part I: Glimpses

"Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen."
- Anaxagoras

Mr Stiffellatrundle stared blankly into the mirror before him. He grinned half-heartedly, and watched silently as his reflection greeted him with a similar expression. Next, he raised both his arms midway, and stretched his legs apart from each other. He watched the copycat movements in front of him once more, while allowing his thoughts to race in a million directions or more.

Mr Stiffellatrundle was seriously bored. His face twisted into a grimace, and he lowered his arms. Tapping both his feet in turn, he shook his head vigorously and squinted his eyes shut for a good few minutes.

In his mind, he saw himself. But he saw differently. There was colour, there was cheer and there was vitality.

He opened his eyes reluctantly, once he could hold them shut no longer. And saw instead the pallid reality.

“Eww,” he muttered to himself, and walked off, utterly displeased with himself.

* * *

Miss Daintygracearnest tapped the pencil in her right hand lightly against the surface of the table. Before her, a huge newspaper spread – the classified ads. Among the many, she’d circled a choice few. Her eyebrows hunched together, a frown was slowly making its way onto her forehead. She needed to decide. And soon.

The telephone rang and she looked up from her insoluble task. Standing up abruptly, she stood and flitted across the hallway to lift the receiver. She picked it up on the third ring.

“Why good morning, Mr Perkyenergy! Yes... I’m still working on it... By tomorrow? Isn’t that a bit soon? Oh... hmm... Well, I’ll let you know by evening if I’ve managed to pick out a suitable candidate. Yes yes, of course. Bye.”

Miss Daintygracearnest hung up, and returned to her spread of newspapers on the table. As she sat down in her seat once more, one particular advertisement seemed to suddenly catch her eye. She leaned in to have a closer look and squinted at the text, trying to focus on what it said.

MAN, 101 YEARS OF AGE
SEEKS EMPLOYMENT
WORKS WELL WITH HANDS
SKILLED IN SCULPTURING – WOOD AND WAX

‘Nothing very unusual,’ she thought to herself. But somehow, for some unknown reason, she felt drawn to this ad compared to the rest she’d been poring over for the last few hours.

The name... somehow sounded familiar...

She picked up her pencil and drew a rectangle around that ad slowly. Then, she got up, picked up her coat and keys, and walked briskly out the front door and into the quiet streets outside.

* * *

*Note: This poem was originally written in 2 separate paragraphs, placed side by side on a page. However, due to formatting issues on this blog, I have published it with bolded letters to distinguish one paragraph from the other. These 2 sections/paragraphs of the poem may be read separately, independent of each other, or together. Take your pick ;)

What is beauty How grace beckons
An unrivalled complexion Drenched in compassion
Bathed in sunkissed shades Soaked by harsh rains of reality
Or intelligence cloaked in modesty And simplicity unrestrained
Does it diminish with each appearance Multiplying in joy
Does it manifest in greater fullness Shrinking and expanding
With each word spoken In a heartbeat
And the thoughts floated Embracing change
High on balloons Diving the depths of oceans
Up up and away Look out down below
Into vast grey skies Sunsets and sunrises
Illuminating darkness Blind wary eyes
Where there is no indecision Opportunities beckon
Does beauty linger Grace finds a friend
Or easily drain In the plains
From one to another A perfect harmony

* * *

They were heaving boxes. And in the boxes were things.
They stood in a row. The boxes were sealed. And in it were good things.
They passed the boxes one by one, and one to another.
The boxes were stacked in rows.
Each box, a surprise.
Each surprise, waiting for someone to be surprised by.

“Wait! I’ve lost count!”

The entire row of crew that had been passing boxes down the line came to an abrupt halt in operations. Pausing, they looked at each other, and at the boxes in their hands.

These were sturdy brown boxes.
Boxes without holes.
They were heavy, too.

They silently waited.
Counting the seconds.
Musing over the boxes.
Staring at one another.

Curiousity arose, the common plague.
They wondered about the boxes.

Each of the sealed, sturdy boxes needed to be counted.
Because every person counted, and the boxes needed to be enough.

The one who yelled for a temporary halt earlier was now saying,
“Okay, continue!”

So one by one,

The people. The boxes.
The people moving the boxes.
The boxes sitting quietly in their stacks.
Counting. Piling. Moving.

Moments away to a surprise.
Good things, to seal a fate.

* * *

Miss Daintygracearnest rapped impatiently at the door before her.

Was anybody home at all?

She had been standing there for a good few minutes before what was beginning to seem more and more to her like an empty house. She dug the piece of newspaper with the ad on it out from her bag again, and inspected the address for the second time. She was pretty sure this was right – this was exactly where the Mr Stiffellatrundle supposedly lived.

“Hello... Mr Stiffella... err... Stifella – “ She hastily referred to the ad again, unable to recall how to properly pronounce the name. “Mr Stiffellatrundle? Are you there?”

All of a sudden, the sound of faint footsteps. Growing louder and louder. Then, a twist of the doorknob, and before long, there stood a man right before her.

She blinked in surprise. She had almost thought no one would answer the door at all.

“Yes?” Was the gruffy reply that greeted her.

“Mr Stiffellatrundle?” She asked tentatively.

“Mmph,” he nodded as he responded in a low, quiet voice.

She gave him a cursory glance from head to toe. She was not repulsed, neither was she impressed. He was ordinary. But there was something she didn’t see but knew immediately somehow. He had something there. Between the tiny glimmer in the eyes, the protruding belly and the calloused hands. And the big smelly feet.

Somewhere, in there.
Something.

And she had an offer to make.

She opened her mouth to speak, and began.

* * *

“That’s one thousand three hundred and fifty seven boxes we have here, Mr Perkyenergy. I’ve counted them once, and then twice and then checked it thrice. And you’ll be pleased to know that they’re fresh out of the factory. Quality assured,” the man in the bright orange uniform rattled away his words chirpily, and extended a clipboard towards Mr Perkyenergy.

“Sign here?”

“Yes sir.”

“Mm hmm.” Mr Perkyenergy scribbled away his messy, almost illegible signature. “And what if the goods aren’t as effective for the reason we bought them, as per agreement? Do we get any compensation, or refund?”

“We assure you, Mr Perkyenergy, you will not regret this shipment. Start distributing the boxes to any worthy recipients of your choosing, and you’ll soon see.”

“Ah. Well. Here you go, anyway.”

The clipboard changed hands and was back in the possession of the superbly confident delivery guy. He flashed Mr Perkyenergy the most curious of smiles. It was neither warm, nor was it cold. By no means sinister, but yet there was a knowing look behind it all.

Mr Perkyenergy shook hands for the final time with the man. Then, the delivery truck, with all its orange workmen, were soon gone.

Hand on hips and deep in thought, Mr Perkyenergy had a big task before him now.

Those boxes.
Miracle?
Blessing?
That was what the manufacturers promised.
He’d need to see it to believe it.

* * *

Mr Stiffellatrundle was shaking his head, indicating a response that most would correctly interpret as a “no”.

Miss Daintygracearnest was not easily fazed. She dug in her heels, and repeated her words. Still kindly, and ever so gently.

“Mr Stiffellatrundle, we’re not asking much. All you need to do is just follow me right now, and I’ll take you to our Distribution Centre. You’ll just need to pick out one box from there, and take it with you and open it, and do with it as you please. It won’t take up much of your time, but we hope it’ll prove to be life changing and worth the effort.”

“And... wait a minute... I get paid for doing this?”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it being paid, but I’d say you’d be richly rewarded.”

“Hmm.”

“So, what’ll it be? Do we have a deal?”

“What happens after I open the box?”

“Well, that’s entirely up to you.”

“Hmm.”

Miss Daintygracearnest cast hopeful eyes at him and held her breath, waiting for that favourable reply.

“Well...” he paused, thinking it over as he ran fingers of one hand up and down his chin, “I guess... why not?”

She heaved a sigh of relief at his words, and then said, “Okay, shall we head there now, then?”

Mr Stiffellatrundle nodded, and stepped out of the doorframe to stand just next to Miss Daintygracearnest, closing and locking the front door behind him.

“Yes, let’s.”

She smiled gratefully, and led the way in front of him, pulling out her mobile phone from her bag as they went.

“Hello, Mr Perkyenergy? Yes, I have a Mr Stiffellatrundle with me. Yes, in fact, I’m heading over right now.”

* * *

Mr Perkyenergy eyed Mr Stiffellatrundle critically.

“And why did you say you chose him again? I thought you mentioned you had some criteria about fit, able bodied individuals of a youthful age that have high ambitions of life, blah blah... ” He waved his hand and frowned disdainfully at Miss Daintygracearnest as he spoke.

Mr Stiffellatrundle’s posture slumped at the hearing of those words. He caught the undertones, and he knew what was meant by them. He hung his head slightly, and began to have the growing feeling of sheepishness, for no particularly good reason.

“Well...” began Miss Daintygracearnest, who had noticed Mr Stiffellatrundle’s reaction and felt somewhat guilty for having brought him into this rather condescending situation, “we can’t just be selecting candidates based on a standard profile all the time. Besides, if we’d just struck him out of our consideration solely based on his description or our perceptions of who he is, then we might be becoming rather shortsighted, wouldn’t we? You heard his story, don’t you think he fits the bill? And now with us having met him, wouldn’t you think there’s something here worth taking a chance on?”

Mr Perkyenergy was rather surprised at Miss Daintygracearnest’s defense. She rarely spoke up much, so he figured that - whatever her reasons were – she somehow believed she had chosen the right person for their pilot run. He studied Mr Stiffellatrundle again – the clothes, the demeanour, the earnestness. He nodded slowly as he tried to digest what she had just said.

“Okay, well, I trust your judgment, Miss Daintygracearnest. And I’m so sorry, Mr Stiffellatrundle, I hope none of what we just talked about offends you. It’s just that we have limited boxes available for this first time, and we wanted to be sure it’s distributed to the appropriate persons.”

“Don't worry, Mr Perkyenergy, I completely understand. But may I ask something?”

“Yes?” Both Miss Daintygracearnest and Mr Perkyenergy said in unison.

“This isn’t exactly a job offer as I was hoping for, is it?”

Read this next: Part II: A Glance

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