The Passionate Singing Of Sorrow

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Start your story with somebody taking a photo.... view prompt


Drama Fiction Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

It was always the same. Everyday, for the last ten years he could not stop his daily ritual. He stood on his balcony and captured his world in a flicker of light. One snap, and a second of the world became immortalized, an image for the ages.

When at night he gazed over the city that twinkled with scattered lights, he breathed the fresh air into his lungs , and felt it rubbing his skin under the languid gentleness of the veiled sky. His warm breath swarming out of his lazy mouth, and flying with the smell of cigarettes to be snuffed by the void of space. 

In so many ways he felt alienated from the very people his eyes saw every night, unable to break out of the cocoon he built around himself. How he wished he could just go down to some group of strangers and start a conversation! How happy that would make him! But his heart was the desert in which he was lost. 

Even though the nightmares subsided as he grew older, he was never really able to let go of the evil that stained him. When awake, full of frustration from seeing the world spin, he conjured up an image of that man, and spoke to him as if it were yesterday.

One night, he was sitting on his balcony smoking a cigarette. He sipped dark coffee, feeling it scalding his throat. He noticed that the pine tree before the bank had been cut down. It was with dread that he realized how old that tree was. He sat recalling when it was still growing, a momentum of strength, lengthening with the flow of youth. That was himself, as he drank the waters of time, now waiting for the inevitable cut down. 

In these settings at night, he thought deeply about time. What is the time? And since his knowledge of science was pretty limited, he would draw his ideas from observations that themselves had been drawn from the wasted time of infinite pondering. 

In many ways, he believed in the subjectivity of time. He believed that time on his own is a nameless process without a goal. A monotonous movement towards nothingness. It started from nothing, heading towards nothing. Time only exists if the condition of awareness is present. Time, in so many ways, is only acknowledged because, for the human mind, it moves from something to something, from point to point, from birth to death. But for the universe, an omnipresent dormant consciousness, time is without value, it reaches no goal, it moves towards what was before it, folds of worthless actions.

But the problem was that time ended a long time ago. So what was once a movement from something to another, became without a path, without a direction, spilling over the void of his life without a goal. That was when he and the universe felt close. Heading towards nothing in particular, but heading forward anyway.

When he woke up the next morning, he brushed his teeth, brewed some coffee, cooked some eggs and bacon, and set up the table on the balcony. The leaden sky broken with immense patches of thick clouds. A chill filled he air, and the light of the sun shone about the city that glistened in the cold under the warm rays of the sun. The leaves of some trees in front of him swayed to the wind, their rustling movement with the sound of feet passing by deep snow. 

In that balcony he dwelled, as the days fell into each other, whirling into a vortex of time. Anchored by his fears, he witnessed the sweeping winds of fall blow the dry leaves upon the pavements of his city. He watched the rain and the snow of winter fall and then glitter when the sun of spring came with its longed-for warmth. And he saw that the spring gave its warmth to the inferno of the summer, seething the blacktop of the city, as the sun glared in the evenings. 

In the same chair he occupied for about ten years since leaving his parent's home, he sat thinking of his life. 

What life could I have, when life itself had escaped me years ago? What do I have but yearning, a feeling that wishes not to be fulfilled? A latent dread was sown in me with vile hands, and now my heart is caged in its twisting solid branches!

When the mail came, it was a letter from his brother.

"Our uncle has died. Please attend the funeral." 

For a few seconds, he felt like standing up, and laughing out loud, to look people down in the eyes, and show the madness, which was his true self, to the world. He could see life trembling with laughter. The absurdity never ceases! Funeral! "Hell, I should go and piss on his corpse!" he yelled.

Instead, he went inside, packed his clothes, and headed to the funeral to piss on his uncle's corpse.

He reserved a seat on the train that would depart at 4:00 pm and sat waiting for its arrival. 

The station was partially filled. He sat thinking of how home would feel after all these years. A sense of apprehension clung to his thoughts. Though his life back then was not all memories of pain and morbid events, the morbid seemed to take over the rest, plaguing the small spark of joy with a chilling specter of torment.

He watched the plains sweeten under the setting sun. The trees rushed by, sinking back into the landscape of the past. As he advanced further to his home, and as the sun buried itself under the earth, he felt that the falling darkness fitted the approach to his destination. To see the coldness billowing over the trees that were bending in the warmth of the sun earlier, had a sameness to feeling his soul wilting as it drove homeward, where all his deformities had formed.

When he descended the train, the moon was his shepherd, leading him home, reminding him of his unchanging nature.

 His momma hugged him, and he greeted his father with the aloofness that at the core of it, a warm love grew. His only brother was in their childhood room. Their faces, the intricate intimacy of their features, their eyes and lips, their skin and noses, had shown time, transparent to the slow trickling of the sand, yet in that room, he was reminded once again of the innocence of their years that they spent there. 

 The desk that he drew on for many years waited for him in the corner of his part of the room, the turquoise color of the walls, although faded slightly, had poured into him the awareness of what he was robbed of. His drawer still contained the clothes he wore as a little man, the smell of it filling his nostrils as he pushed one of his shirts against his face.

The burial would be held the following afternoon.

In the morning he woke up a bit late. Splinters of a dream he had still held him to the timelessness of sleep. The same way dreams seem to defy the workings of time and its laws, he felt in his sleep, with a very deep sensation, as to render it believable, that he was murdering his uncle. Maybe, on any other day, he would've shaken the feeling off as just the manifestation of his hatred upon the only reality he can mold. But there was something real to that dream. He splashed the cold water against his face and the dream receded into the depth of his mind, exploding with a flowing river of distant dread.

His mother was alone in the kitchen. She made him breakfast and he sat with her talking mostly about his life. He had it on his lips to just confess that the man that lost his life yesterday, is the same who robbed him of his, but his wretchedness had sealed his mouth.

For all the nights he spent here, it seemed to him that everything, including his parents, is looking at him through some time-slit. He could not make his senses focus on the present state of things, without drifting off to associate them with how they showed themselves in his memories. It was as if his mind refuses the dull streaming of time, erasing all the seconds that passed upon the house when he was gone. Why change, when you're much sweeter in my mind?

When the time of the burial came, he did not attend.

He looked from his room's window at the slow motion of the procession, as if reluctant to throw the devil into a pit. He found himself crying as the world rolled away from him. Why shall I suffer, when he's the one who wronged me? Why can he just go?

It was clear to him that the notion of justice as natural law is an illusion, but when grief tears at the strings of your heart, you shan't care for the reasonable nor the logical, you'd always find yourself reaching for the supernatural, pleading for a miracle. 

He was carried away to be buried when his victim died years ago as a child. 

The experience of life, as it came to him watered down by his worries, would flow into his senses, with its sounds and pictures, with its tastes and touches, but to only be felt by the tip of his soul, blurred by the angst of being. 

When he sat by the window crying, he felt relieved, however slightly, that he smiled through his tears. He lighted a cigarette and sat, staring with dry empty eyes at the moving of the clouds. 

On the fifth night, he and his brother went to a coffee shop on the shore of Machaw's beach. 

He drank tea and looked at the rippling water crawling on the sand just to be defeated back into the sea. The waving motion of the water glazed over with the pouring silver of the moon. The darkness in the distance seemed to take on the sea's motion, showing itself bending in the freezing blows of the northern wind. The night lay cloudless before him. Nothing to gaze at, but the unfathomable endlessness of our universe. "There is a comforting feeling in knowing the insignificance of one's woes." he thought.

 He looked at his brother, and between him and the tepid love that he felt for him, butterflies of sorrow fluttered their wings, making his love dissipate into light winds of distant sympathy. How can he not confide in his brother, the closest man to his heart, what is troubling his heart? Though he was not aware of it, there was a fear in him to pull his brother into the meshes of his life, to make his suffering a disease that contaminates the people he loves. And due to that fear, he was alone in facing his struggle for survival. 

"How's Mishka?" he asked his brother

"She's fine. She's been asking me about you a lot. Why don't you come by sometime, huh?"


"Well, what? I know you have no job. You've dropped out of college for seemingly nothing. You rely on our father's allowances, yet you barely show yourself. You've been like this almost your whole life. You barely made it out of high school. You haven't married, you got no friends, what's up with all these? You know I love you little brother, but you are not little anymore, not to the world at least. You're thirty-five. The time is passing you by."

"You don't know how painfully I'm aware of that." 

"Well, do something about it. Please, if I can do anything to help you, I would. God knows I can't forgive myself if I don't try and help you. So what do you think little brother?"

"I will come by one day and ask for your help, but for now, why not just enjoy the world as it is?"

"One day? You know how many times you've said that?"

"I know, and you know what? That's how it is with me. You know how I wish for my death! I'm done with this life. I don't want to worry you again big brother, nor do I want to come to your house to foul it the same way I fouled my life. I wonder if death is not my answer. I never chose to be alive, but now that I am, it seems that I have a choice. I can keep on living, or just die. And they are all my choice, in the realm of the very limited possibilities open to me. Why should I keep on going, when only misery seems to brace me?"

His big brother's eyes glowed with tears "Don't you ever say that again! I love you! Father loves you! Mama loves you! Our dead uncle loved you for god's sake! Don't you say such rotten things ever again!"

Lightning had struck his heart. "Our dead uncle loved me? He raped me!" he wanted to scream, but the scream was defeated back into his soul the same way that rippled water was defeated back into the sea.

Tomorrow he got back to his apartment. The day after it, he drowned himself. "I'm too dead to be alive," he thought, and then the drapes of darkness fell upon him. Leaving to the world nothing but its own images. A lover's obsession with the unrequited love of being.

His departure of the world was not the last, nor the first, nor does it bear any sign of uniqueness, but it is for the people who loved him a dagger to their bleeding hearts. And how many hearts had bled! 

The sour taste of the apples that fall from the trees of suicide still lingers on big brother's tongue as he witnesses the burial of his little brother. In that pale blue face, where the sea had distorted the dignified image of life, the innocent features of his friend as a child reached for him through years of memories, making his grief unbearable, that he pushed his way out of the crowd, barely able to stay up. "I'll always miss you," he whispered to the wind.


April 29, 2022 15:42

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Rachel Smith
18:25 Jun 01, 2022

I'm sitting here speechless. This was stunning, poetic, thoughtful and the character's internal agony illustrates the subject matter perfectly. Deidra already pointed out the grammar things, so I won't bore you with that. She does it better than me anyway lol Sorry it took me a while to get round to reading this one. I'm constantly playing catch up with my reading. Write another story!


15:43 Jun 02, 2022

You don't have to apologize. I really am thankful you read my work, and that's like the greatest compliment you can give a writer. Thank you so much for sparing me your time.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Felice Noelle
01:11 May 08, 2022

Ismail: This was so gracefully poetic that I was finished reading it too soon and needed to go back for a reread. Such deep, philosophical questioning. I was hoping against hope for a positive resolution. My daughter spends most of her days as an attorney for DCF dealing with the effects of the different abuses, so I could really relate to your storyline. Any type of abuse is an assault on the human spirit. And what is perpetrated against one innocent should motivate the rest of us to action. Thanks for this provocative, yet sensitive...


01:41 May 08, 2022

Noelle, it's always an honour to be praised by a fellow reedsy user. So glad you liked it. You must be proud of your daughter. And yes, I believe that if someone of us is assaulted, we should all try and react, to not let assaults against humanity slip. It's our duties as people to try and help in these kinds of situations in any way possible. Thank you so much for reading. Cheers!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Chris Morris
06:43 May 07, 2022

Some really brilliant writing here. This story just flowed from line to line with great prose and made me really feel every word. Just watch out for some slight inconsistencies in using past/present tense, and also how you present a character's thoughts, as this was done slightly differently in the second half of your story. The thing about time really interests me. What IS time? I read a brilliant book that I really recommend, it's part of a series called graphic guides (and as it happens, it was sitting right next to me as I read your ...


01:34 May 08, 2022

I gotta thank you two times now. Thank you so much for reading, it's certainly means a lot when someone else reads their work. I'm so happy you enjoyed it. And thank you again for the book recommendation. You don't how I appreciate people who recommend books. "Angels of the intellectual world" as I like to call them. Thank you so much for the comment. Ps: sorry for taking a long time to respond.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rochelle Miller
15:09 May 06, 2022

Ismail - This story struck many chords with me as I felt I was walking beside the main character and his experiences and deep heartache. Don't stop writing and telling these stories. I believe it is because of stories like this that victims are given a voice and know that they're not alone. Your poetic words are the artist for those who feel like broken pieces, and those pieces together make a beautiful mosaic. Your story has inpired me to dig deeper into these subjects and be more vulnerable in my own writing. I look forward to readi...


01:29 May 08, 2022

Rochelle it means a lot to me that you read it, and I appreciate you taking the time and commenting. I think there is a kind of responsibility on us, you and me, people who can write in general, and even artists from different fields, to try to make the unheard understood, to make them visible and relatable to other people. To spread empathy amongst our people. Thank you again, you made my day! Ps: sorry I took a long time to respond


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
15:46 Apr 29, 2022

What I learned about myself through writing: 1- There's nothing that scares the living shit out of me the way 'time' does. 2- Most of the time I'm living inside my head. And please, if you have any constructive criticism or any tips that would help me whatsoever let me know. Thank you.


Deidra Lovegren
14:32 May 01, 2022

Heartbreaking. In the US, 1 out of 6 young boys are abused. I don't think this topic gets enough awareness of how it can affect someone's self-worth throughout their whole life. You have a poet's touch, a conduit to very deep, very real feelings. I love to read your writings -- and I emailed you some suggestions. The main points being: 1. Keep the entire piece in past or present tense. Pick one. 2. Italicize internal dialogue; use quotation marks just for dialogue or what is said aloud. The heart and soul of the story is very real and ten...


15:16 May 02, 2022

You don't know how much it is ignored here actually. How taboo it is considered, and how it diminishes one's worth. It's sad for a lot of people who lives with this terrible memory in their hearts. And it's even worse by how little we give attention to mental illness. And about the suicide part of the story, god! That's a whole other subject with its own set of problems. Just imagine that most elder people in my country when someone takes his own life, the first thing they think of is that he would eventually go to hell. Not what to do to r...


Deidra Lovegren
17:01 May 02, 2022

You have so much depth and wisdom. THAT would be a great story -- the fear of the afterlife and how it keeps us from this one.


18:36 May 02, 2022

You're a genius! That's actually a really good concept to build a story on. I will see what I can do with it. Thank you for the suggestion.


Show 0 replies
18:40 May 02, 2022

And Eid Mubarak. Bless you.


Deidra Lovegren
20:02 May 02, 2022

Eid Mubarak, to you and your family. And I'm not a genius. I just pointed out what you said :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
16:17 May 15, 2022

This was so perfect I don't know how to describe it without saying exactly what everyone else sad so... Great job!! It was beautiful and there needs to be more awareness out there. Loved it!! mine? "Dear Txunamy" and/or "Getting to know you." Thank you!


Show 0 replies