Guest Post: Etienne

Hi my loves,

I’m Etienne, from Etiennes Journal. You might remember me from Bex’s third instalment of her Why Do You Blog? series. (Link here!)

In that series, I told you that I am an aspiring writer. So, whilst your lovely Bex is away, I have decided to take this wonderful opportunity to show you some of my writing.

I wrote this story a few months ago, for a competition I entered. I had to chose between the titles: ‘The Swing of the Pendulum’ or, ‘New Dresses.’ I had ideas for both, but my idea of ‘The Swing of the Pendulum’ outshone my other one.

I do hope you like it! Please tell me what you think! And, if you like what you read, you can stop by my blog any time. It’s always open. 😉

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The Swing of the Pendulum
Tick. Tick. Tick.
My grandparents live in the Californian countryside, in Santa Paula. It’s a small town. Everyone knows everyone. My grandma collected antiques when I was a kid. One, of which, included The Grandfather Clock, in the corner of their crowded living room. My grandmother has a thing for clocks. She loves them.
When I was little, I was shipped off there every Christmas, whilst my mother and her boyfriend of-the-time spent a romantic weekend together in a spa somewhere. Mooching off of grandma and grandpa, I suppose. Anyway, when I was small, dressed in my knit sweaters and with my hair gelled back; I would sit in front of the good old clock for hours on end.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
That’s the sound it made, you see. I was so awestruck by the blasted, ticking thing. The clock was massive. Well, I was tiny, but still. It was tall, and made of solid rosewood. It had ivory carvings decorating the sides. The face of the clock was carved of an iridescent marble of some sort. The pendulum was showcased behind a glass screen, swooping relentlessly. Gold in colour, and as shiny as new pennies, I would watch diligently as I tried to see my reflection in the circular end. I never did.
I did see one face in it, though. That was the face of the Man in the moon. The same face I am staring at now, as I am writing this. It was my favourite childhood tale. Every night, regardless of my whereabouts, I would stare up at the nights sky, at the moon, and in to that man’s face. If I stared long enough, I could see him smile.
Then man in the moon was my friend when Edan would leave for the night. Him and I would sit and watch the swinging clock for hours. Edan was my only friend when I was younger. My mother would yell at me when I brought him up. She thought I was cuckoo. But I don’t think I was. Edan was a cool guy. He would say and do things that I would never dream of doing. He would do stuff when people’s backs were turned, to make me laugh. No one else seemed to find it funny, though.
I talk to Edan sometimes; he sees me every once and a while. He tells me that mom will come back soon. I doubt it. He’s always been the positive one. He’s sitting with me now. He’s also sitting with Dane.
Dane is the person I wish I could be. He became my friend when I was fifteen. One day, I was looking in the mirror, examining my changing, pubescent body, and he just walked in to the bathroom. The bathroom in my grandparents’ house is covered in sepia-tone photographs. Grandma mainly had up photos of old clock faces, or their sparkling pendulums. She’s weird with her clocks. Sometimes, I could hear the sounds of their swinging as I stood in the bathroom.
So, in walked Dane, the good-looking bad-boy. His chin is always perfectly smooth, and close-shaved, and he never has a spot. His smile isn’t crooked, and he is streamlined. He tells me it’s because he’s a swimmer. I can’t swim.
And I’m Aden. I’m eighteen, from San Francisco. For a while I’ve lived in this place the people around me call SFI. I don’t know why they call it that. When I am in my room, Dane and Edan come and sit against the walls and talk to me. They tell me how much they hate this place.
Just an hour ago, I was in my room there. Dane and Edan were going off about how they don’t like the women who come in and give me my vitamin injections everyday, as it makes them feel weak. I don’t understand this. But I think that they must be feeling weak-at-the-knees, or something. I know what it’s like to feel squeamish. Every night they tell me to leave. They tell me to get away from that place. I like it there, it’s home.
Mom’s not there, though. I haven’t seen her in a while. She doesn’t live with me. And I don’t know my father. She said that they split up before I was born. She always said that it was because Dad’s head wasn’t screwed on properly. I’ve always found this a rather illogical excuse, but I never questioned it. Instead, Edan would lift his head off of his shoulders in mockery. No matter how much I tried, I was never able to separate my neck from my body. I ended up with terrible cuts and scratches around my neck from it. Mom always went crazy when she saw them, but she was always a little off with me.
Dane was able to get me out. He knew this picking lock routine; well, that’s what he told me. All he did was stand by the wall of the door, and then told me to open it. It was unlocked.
And now we’re here, at my favourite place in the world, hearing the traffic go by. I’ve always admired the Golden Gate Bridge, ever since I was a kid. Whenever we would drive on it, to get to grandma and grandpas, I would always see it bend and contort, and it felt like a magic, red rollercoaster ride. The suspended sides of the bridge bent in to the tracks, and the big pillar in the middle became my carriage. Mom would yell at me when I screamed in delight at the whooshing ride.
Dane’s just taken his shoes off. He’s lined them neatly and precisely next to him. When I asked him why, he said: “because I wanted to, asshole.” Whatever. He’s standing up straight, looking out on to the watery expanse. The wind’s blowing at him, but his hair is still perfectly in place, unlike mine, the curly mane.
Edan is up now, too. He has placed his shoes exactly next to Dane’s. We’re all wearing the same shoes, really. We always almost wear the same thing a lot of the time, the three of us, in different colours, though. Dane always looks better than Edan and I, no matter what. Dane’s shoes are a dark grey, Edan’s a light, and mine are a worn-out black. Edan’s pulled his sweater off now, in exact time with Dane. But they didn’t bother to fold them up or anything. They just let it fall off of the bridge, and in to the water. There was only one plop though.
They’re looking at me now. Their faces are expressionless. Even though they’re looking at me, they’re speaking in hushed tones to each other. They often do that. Whenever I ask them what they’re talking about, they don’t answer most of the time. If I’m not looking, and they are speaking, it’s like I am listening to a tape recorder, or something, and I can’t shut it off. Dane and Edan are massive talkers.
The moon’s full tonight. I can see the face of the Man in the moon. In his face I can kind of see my own. And, in that, I can see my reflection in the pendulum of the big grandfather clock. I’ve always imagined what it would be like to be so small, that the force of a swooping pendulum could throw you off course for the rest of your life. To be so small that the force would –
* * *
The mysterious boy with curly brown hair put down his pen abruptly.
His worn, white hospital dress was folded beside him. The shoes he stole were placed neatly a few paces away from his feet. He seemed to be looking up at something; something that wasn’t there. He took the paper, and slotted it in between the thin railings behind him.
He had written journals since he was little, that writing was a compulsion to him, almost a need. He wrote journals to record what he’d heard, what he’d seen, and what he felt during the day. Like a normal kid’s diary, one supposes. Well, one could suppose that.
The boy brought himself to his feet. He had climbed over the fencing. He had tiptoed around the wires, and networked down the railings to find a side to place himself. He was exposed from the waistline up, his knitted jumper floating around in the Pacific somewhere close by. The boy looked out at the scene in front of him: the navy sky, dirtied by clouds of smoky black; the water, reflecting the full moon as a puddle of yellow amidst the black ripples; the San Francisco skyline, darted with thousands of people so blissfully unaware of his presence.
As a child, Aden was imaginative. He would sit in front of a grandfather clock for hours on end, muffling to himself in an array hushed, deep tones. His eyes would follow the pendulum so accurately; he would never miss a swing. He threw himself around the house, to try and master the force of that pendulum; what it would be like to feel a force greater than him.
Aden’s head darted from his left to his right. His mouth was open, panting. His eyes were wide, excited.
Aden suffers from a violent form of hallucinogenic schizophrenia. He hears and sees things to such a dramatic extent, that he does not know about his mother’s hourly visits to him. He does not know that the ‘Dane’ and, ‘Edan’, characters that he speaks about at the San Francisco Institute, where he resides, are just figments of his imagination. Anagrams aren’t too hard for the muddled brain to conjure up.

Suddenly, Aden’s head stopped flickering from left to right, and he stared straight ahead again. His arms were erect and motionless at his sides. His face was expressionless. And, all of a sudden, with a concavely arched back, and pointed toes, he flung himself off of the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge. His back was at such a circular angle, that it looked uncannily like he had been hit with a giant pendulum.
What Aden had just written was a suicide note, and he didn’t even know it. Almost 3,000 people commit suicide, around the world, every day. One in ten schizophrenic people die due to suicide. Aden is just another statistic.
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I hope you liked it!

Lots of love,

Etienne.

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