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 Over the Hills and Far Away [Martin]

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Isidor Isayev

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PostSubject: Over the Hills and Far Away [Martin]   Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:00 pm



Isidor did not want to go 'home' This much he at least knew, even if very little else made sense to him now. He knew that this place was massive, and frightening, and full of so many hundreds of people he'd never met. But he knew that whatever it was, it was better than the dirty and cramped ward of the hospital in Novosibirsk. His first few days had been spent mostly in his room, which as yet was unoccupied by anyone else. He hated the cramped conditions of his old hospital, but conversely, the silent seclusion of his room was unsettling. He'd never had a room to himself before. In fact, he'd never even had a bed to himself before the boys home. Now he had both, and the bed was soft, with two crisp, clean pillows for his head. Yes. Yes, it had to be better, and he was in England now! That very England he'd read about in books time and time again. he had watched the city pass, beyond the glass of the taxi that took he and his chaperone from the airport to the facility, and he'd been unable to tear his silent, excited eyes from the passing faces and buildings. It was enough excitement to cleanse the absolute terror of the air plane from him at least, and it seemed that ordeal had been all but forgotten by the time he'd arrived here. In this new facility that was cleaner and brighter than just about anything he'd ever seen in his life.

He had not yet ventured outside. Baby steps. He was too anxious, too terrified of meeting anyone and having them ask questions about him. After all, he was the new boy. If this was like the hospital, everyone would want to know why he was there, and he'd learned his lesson by now not to answer them. Perhaps he might concoct some sort of fantastical tale far better than the dark and dreary story that was his life. The story that made people look at him as if he was less than dirt. The story that made people tell him he was bad, he was filthy and wrong and so many other things. The story he had never known was wrong. They told him he should feel bad for the things he had done, for laying with his siblings, for fathering a child he had never met with one of them. But he simply hadn't known, and if he was honest, he still didn't truly feel bad for it. He hadn't felt bad at the time so he couldn't understand now why he should. Shouldn't ignorance be an excuse? Shouldn't they have released him from hospital, not sent him for 'treatments' that made him cry and left painful bruises wrought from brutish hands jabbing at him? Parts of him missed that home life. He missed the familiarity of his own family, and the cramped quarters of the old, leaning house. He did not miss the temper of his Grandfather, or the strained and sometimes hateful relations he held with his mother or younger siblings. But it was hard not to be homesick. That place had been all he had known, and his family had been his only companions. Now he felt as if he was adrift. Maybe he didn't deserve to belong anywhere to to anyone by other people's standards, but he was lonely. He didn't keep friends much, and certainly no relationships. People who knew him and knew what he had done tended to steer clear of him if he was anything other than a silent opponent in a card game. And he shunned them too. He convinced himself that he didn't need them either. He really felt no solid connections to anyone, and maybe he never had. People were simply other patients, some of whom he played games with, others he avoided. He was a young man of very few words, which left a broody and mysterious aloofness about him. It kept most people at bay, away from him. Most.

Some days into his stay, Isidor could take the emptiness of his room no longer. Though he stayed away from the gardens for now, figuring that people would be gathered there, he took the evening to wander the halls of the facility, trying for all the world to be invisible. he had read about theatre, and he had added it to his list of things that he'd wanted to one day experience. So when he came upon the Auditorium, he wasn't certain what to make of it for a few moments until his eyes roved down the rows and rows of seats to what was unmistakably a stage. Dark, steely blue in colour, they widened just ever so, painting his otherwise inanimate face with a brief splash of emotion. Awe, perhaps, astonishment, excitement. The expression disappeared quickly and cautiously when he realised he was not alone, and he moved quickly and quietly to take a seat in one of the shadowy aisles of seats before he might be noticed. There was someone else here, down and moving about the stage. Isidor's attentions followed the person -whom he could not distinguish between male or female yet- around the great expanse of polished hardwood. He almost felt dirty, naughty watching this stranger without them knowing, but he couldn't yet tear his gaze away. The stage, the seats, everything about this place and the other person in it seemed to hold his attention steadfastly. It wasn't the gardens, with their view of the Thames, or the cafeteria with its strange and overly colourful arrays of foods, but there was an enchantment in that room all the same, and after some long time of remaining way at the back, Isidor crept out of his seat as silently as he could. He wanted a closer look, his brow tired from squinting, and so his picked his way along carefully, continuing to try and be invisible.

The sneaky, shadowy ruse may well have worked in his favour had not his wandering hands disturbed a upturned seat of one of the theatre chairs. The springs that held the seat part up against the back of the chair must have been defective, for the seat toppled forward from its propped up position, and clattered against the beam that held it level with the ground. Isidor froze instantly, his muscles all tensing, and his eyes shot back to the person on the stage to see if they had noticed? How could they not notice. The sound seemed raucous in the otherwise silence of the auditorium. It echoed back from the custom built ceilings made for carrying sound. Should he apologise for spying perhaps? Should he apologise for being there? He lingered, stuck, half way down the aisle to the stage, and stared back with a blank, startled expression, not finding the words in English that he might use to excuse himself so he could run away. His hand slowly retracted from the back of the seat and joined his other, in front of him, clenched together.
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Martin Spencer

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PostSubject: Re: Over the Hills and Far Away [Martin]   Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:07 am

Even after a few days had passed, Martin could still hardly believe he was in London. He hadn't really expected that his application would be accepted, it was just something to fill out in the feeble hope that he'd get picked up and swept half a world away. He'd done it to humor his advisor and, to some extent, himself. It had been a long time since he'd thought, really thought, about what he wanted to do with his life. College had been the natural course of things. That hadn't been a tough decision to make. It had been expected of him, and he couldn't imagine what else he would do besides. He had never been away from home for an extended period of time, so he didn't know how to be independent. As much as he hated to admit it, he had come to rely on the security of his wealthy upbringing, in which everything was provided for him. He didn't need to worry about shelter, food, clothes. He had never stopped to think about what he would do if he had to rely on himself. It wasn't something he was proud of. He would have liked to pack up his things and move to Hollywood if he'd known how, but naturally he didn't know the first thing about striking out on his own. So when he'd been given the application, he had suddenly seen a way out of Florida, out of his mother's home. It wasn't so bad when he was away at school, sharing a dorm with another boy, but it had only given him a little taste of freedom, of the way life could be outside of the gated community he'd grown up in. Perhaps London wouldn't be all that different, but it was still enticing, exotic in the sense that the photographs he'd seen made it seem wonderful, magical. Then again, anyplace that wasn't home was someplace he wanted to be.

If he didn't get accepted he'd return to college in the fall. It would be easy. He wouldn't have to think about what to do with his life for another three years. In a way, he almost hoped they turned him down. The thought of moving away was as terrifying as it was thrilling. What would it be like to start over? How would it change his outlook, affect his work? Would it be better or worse? What if he got there and his creativity dried up? What if London didn't agree with him? What if he turned out to be a massive disappointment to Brideston and himself? It was a lot of pressure to live up to. The facility only accepted the best of the best, and he wasn't sure he was that good. He knew he was good, but only because other people had told him so. He couldn't look at himself or his work objectively, not in the same way an audience could. When he got off stage or finished a piece of writing, he either thought it was the best thing he'd ever done or hated it vehemently, put it through the imaginary shredder in his mind to forget all about it before his sick sense of failure drove him crazy. He had never actually shredded anything he'd ever written, but the waste basket in his room had seen many balled up sheets of paper over the years, paper covered from front to back in frantic chicken scratch, ink-stained and torn in the places where the nib of his pen had crossed out the same terrible line over and over again, ripping clean through the page. Sometimes the offending words weren't that bad. Sometimes they could be salvaged, and that was when he put them away in a folder for safe-keeping, to come back to later, when he wasn't so angry with himself for not getting it right the first time.

Martin was a strange boy, his passions utterly consuming him, and perhaps it was that very passion that caught Brideston's attention, prompting them to claim him as their own. When he got the news that he'd been accepted, he didn't know how to take it at first. Many reactions came to mind: he could laugh, cry, fall to his knees, clap his hands, jump for joy, scream at the top of his lungs. All he found he could do, though, was stare blankly at the piece of paper, held between trembling fingertips that were nearly as white. After a time, the fingers of the opposite hand found their way to his lips, tears springing to his eyes, pricking at the corners. It happened slowly, because Martin wasn't used to feeling his own emotions; he was usually pretending to be someone else, so he didn't have to. When asked for an opinion on something - his own opinion, as those who knew him well were quick to clarify - it often took him awhile to answer. He had to find himself behind the jumble of characters clamoring for attention at the forefront of his brain. They all wanted a turn, wanted to be acknowledged and recognized and taken for a spin like the cars on a lot, buffed and shining to perfection in the glare of late afternoon sunlight, each one offering a different ride experience. He was so addicted to the thrill of being behind a different wheel that he found it hard to return to the battered old beater of his own mind. It was nothing new, nothing special or exciting. It was covered in coffee stains and smelled of stale cigarette smoke and the sweat of a thousand sleepless nights spent hunched over a tattered notebook.

Eventually, Martin had gotten over the initial shock, and now he was here, in London, a bit lost and confused but excited all the same. The first few days had been a whirlwind, so busy he'd barely had time to catch his breath. Everything was new and fresh and utterly exhausting, but it was a blessing of sorts, because the energy he expended taking it all in meant he didn't have any left over with which to worry or fret over his possible shortcomings. Once things had finally started to settle down, Martin began to venture out of his room. Now that he knew the surrounding corridors, he wanted to familiarize himself with the rest of the campus and find the spots where he might work best in his free time. The one place he especially wanted to locate was the auditorium. After consulting a map, he discovered that it was on the same floor as the classrooms he'd been attending since his arrival. It was good to know that it was so close by, and it came as a much-needed relief to think that he could slip in any time he wanted and take comfort in the reflection of hot stage lights on dark, polished wood, the heavy curtains pulled off to the sides, the low, inlaid lights that ran up the middle of the aisles and the vast ceiling that arched overhead like a benevolent night sky. He loved the way his voice echoed around the hall when it was empty and silent, loved the way the rows upon rows of cushioned chairs seemed to watch him, like rapt spectators waiting crouched and breathless for more. If you'd seen one auditorium, you'd seen them all. Some were more gilded than others, but they were all more or less the same.

Once he'd climbed onto the stage, he paced it for a few moments, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides as he thought of a passage to recite. Of course! It was simple, an obvious choice. This was only a warm-up, a sign of things yet to come, but it had to be appropriate. Martin returned to the middle of the stage, pausing, eyes fixing on a spot halfway up the wall at the back of the auditorium when he began to speak, to effortlessly play his part:

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts--"


Before he could finish, a loud clatter arose from one of the rows. The flow of Martin's monologue, borrowed from Shakespeare's As You Like It, was instantly cut off, and, startled, he blinked at the sound, squinting out over the rows as he tried to locate its source. Eventually, his eyes fell upon the dark from frozen in the middle of the aisle, and the boy standing there - whose face he could just barely make out - looked as surprised as he was, as if he had no idea how he had gotten there. Martin hadn't heard him slip in, but then perhaps he had been there first, and he simply hadn't noticed in his blind rush to get to the stage. It took him a moment to fully return to himself, but when he did, he cleared his throat and smiled, crouching low to the stage, balancing on the balls of his feet as he beckoned the boy forward. "Come here, let me see you. You're all in shadow right now, it's kind of creepy. You startled me, you know. How long have you been out there? I didn't know anyone else was here."
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