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Recast a Scene – Misty Rain

June 29th, 2005

(An Odyssey Journal)

The misty rain collected on the hemlock boughs, and clung like frost or ashes to the moss that covered the stones and the trunks of the trees. In the lee of the ridge, Ann huddled in her brother Evan’s cloak, her back to a shaggy gray birch. The raindrops beaded on the hood and shoulders, then slowly seeped into the wool.

Evan stood on a stone at the crest of the ridge, squinting into the rain, frozen in the hurried act of salvaging the last dry clothes that remained to them. His pack lay open at his feet, collecting dampness.

The tolling of a bell hung in the air, the sound distorted by the thickness of the mist so that it seemed if he only leapt towards it and threw out his arms he could catch it before he fell.
“Did you hear that?” he asked.

“No.”

“The bell!” he shouted. “Didn’t you hear it?”

Ann shook her head, not looking at him.

“It’s the train!” He ripped at the drawstring of his pack, pulling it closed. He slung it onto his shoulders with a heave that almost sent him toppling from the ridge. Then he leapt the two steps down to his sister’s side, and fumbled for her hand. “Come on!” he urged. “We can catch it!”

His voice would carry through the fog, just as the sound of the bell had carried. The thing that hunted them would hear, even from miles away. It would follow. But Evan didn’t care anymore. He needed to feel hope.

Ann struggled to her feet, her head bowed. One long lock of dark hair spilled out below the folds of the cloak, damp and clinging to itself in the rain, the spiral bough of a mountain tree gnarled and aged beyond its time.

“There isn’t any train,” came the words from invisible lips. He could hear them trembling.

Her hand was cold–but so was Evan’s. He spun away from her, and pulled her stumbling after him along the trail.

#

The misty rain collected on the hemlock boughs, and clung like frost or ashes to the moss that covered the stones and the trunks of the trees. In the lee of the ridge, Ann huddled in her brother Evan’s cloak, her back to a shaggy gray birch. The raindrops beaded on the hood and shoulders, then slowly seeped into the wool.

Evan stood somewhere behind her, doing something she couldn’t and didn’t care to see–something awful, false and self-deluding. Something hopeful.

The tolling of a bell hung in the air, the sound distorted by the thickness of the mist so that if she wanted, she could pretend it didn’t exist.

“Did you hear that?” Evan asked, his voice high and unsteady.

“No,” she answered.

“The bell!” Evan shouted. “Didn’t you hear it?”

She fixed her gaze on the dark, blurry line of moisture spreading through the edges of the hood. It was only inches from her eyes. They hurt with the effort, but she still could feel the hurt inside. Ann shook her head. She clung to her knees and tried harder.

Evan didn’t see, or hear, or care. “It’s the train!” he screamed instead. “Come on! We can catch it!”

She felt the heat of his body behind her, even through the cold and rain. A fevered heat, she thought. His burning hand fumbled for hers. It closed too tight, and pulled her up. She was too tired to resist.

She glimpsed his face in spite of herself. The scars stood out white. His eyes were red–the only things in this world with any color. The thing that hunted him was there, like a rainstorm trapped in an hourglass.

“There isn’t any train,” she said, through lips that trembled with cold.

His eyes burned; he turned away without a word.

Evan dragged her over the crest of the ridge, and down the steep, slick trail. She could barely lift her legs. She stumbled, striking old bruises against new stones. She would have begged, but she hadn’t the breath.

#

What’s the difference, shifting from Evan to Ann? Well, we get the opposite end of their contrast: despair instead of hope. Ann knows what’s wrong with Evan. Evan only thinks he knows what’s wrong with Ann. So we lose that particular aspect of the mystery that is pretty much the only thing that keeps this story going. But actually her perspective on it is pretty interesting too. She gets to look in Evan’s eyes, which by virtue of what’s happening to them are far more expressive then hers. She’s retreating into herself as far as she can go; he’s going insane. And the mystery of what will happen to them, as well as that of what has happened to them, of course is still intact. So actually I think I might enjoy rewriting this whole story from her perspective.

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