Former Thoughts – A Short Story

So, I’ve decided I’m going to post a little story I wrote a few days ago–I’ll just say this: my strength is in poetry, not short stories. But I’m choosing to post these publicly because I hope to gain some constructive criticism. This one is called Former Thoughts – I think it’s more of a fantasy genre.  I hope you enjoy reading!


Former Thoughts

            I used to think the Neighbors were kind. I had trusted them since I was little. But apparently, they have a grudge once you’ve changed.

Their gate was hidden in the cobbled wall near my home. Their words always echoed in my mind—“Mind your manners.”

I knocked three times. “Please.” I said. My memories flashed back to when I was seven, a time that seemed an eternity in the past.

“Pretty please, open the gate?” I’d ask. I would say it once for every knock I would pound noisily against the wall.

Now, I watched as the wall of rock dispersed to reveal a tangle of vines that seemed to hang in the air. I walked through them slowly, as I always did. The Neighbors always said the vines could get angry if you bothered them too much.

Now in front of me was the green door with the red knocker. It was a griffin, they’d remind me every time I forgot, when my mind was still young. I took hold of it, knocking twice.

“Is it Talia?” the voice inside asked.

“My name is only a restriction to what I have potential to be.” I replied sharply. I heard Grandmother’s broken laugh behind the thin door, and she let me in. I had to duck my head so I wouldn’t hit it on the top of the door frame.

“You’ve grown, Talia.” she said as she closed the door. Her eyes, one blind and one fully functional, stared right at me.

I sighed. “I’m eighteen. Of course I’ve grown—I’m not five anymore.”

Grandmother set her lips in a straight line. “Grandfather and Brother have missed you.”

“I haven’t had the time to visit.” I sighed. “College is coming, remember? I’m not staying here forever, you know.”

She reached out one arm to grab onto mine. With experience, I had learned the old woman had a tougher grip than it seemed. She used to act as a guardian for me when I was young.

“Know that your name will never define you.”

            “You told me yesterday, Grandmother.”

            “I know. But you can never forget that.”

“You can’t leave, Talia.” she said. “You’re one of us. You don’t belong out there, in that harsh world.”

“Well, in this society, it’s kind of a requirement.” I said.

Grandmother released my arm. She slowly inched her way towards one of the chairs sitting by a fireplace. “Touch your hair.”

“Pardon?”

“Please, do as I say.” she said.

I touched my hair.

“What color is it?” Grandmother asked.

I knew her vision was bad, but she wasn’t color blind, that was for sure. “It’s blonde, Grandmother.”

“A sickly, pale blonde.” she said slowly. “Almost white.”

“No, it’s not—“

I stopped, stretching my hand out that was holding strands of my hair. They were white, almost transparent. I didn’t scream; I only made my arm go limp, releasing my hair simultaneously.

“Change it back.” I said sternly. Grandmother always played tricks on me when she was annoyed. Levitating a chair to surprise me, making the lights flicker. But she never did anything like this.

The old woman raised her shoulders slowly, and then let them fall. “I can’t.” she confessed.

“What do you mean, you can’t? Your magic is strong enough, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is.” she said. Grandmother chuckled. But this one was different from the others—this one had emotion behind it. And it wasn’t pleasant.

“So change it back.“

“No, I can’t. Because you’re staying here.”

I shook my head. She wasn’t going this far to punish me, was she? “I apologize, Grandmother, but I’ll be leaving now.” I turned around. Blocking my way to the door was Grandfather.

His head was tipped slightly to one side. “Where do you think you’re going, Talia?” he asked silently.

“Home.”

“But this is your home. We’re your home.” he said. He was always the one who tried to reach out to me sympathetically—Grandmother was the one who didn’t care what you felt. “Now, go say hello to Brother.”

I grunted, but still made my way to the little window that was in one of the walls. It revealed another room, the one where Brother always stayed. For once, he was actually there.

“Hello, Brother.” I said. I saw his lips moving soundlessly. I knew he could hear me, but I could never hear him.

The first of few conversations I had with him was when I was nine. He looked to be older than me, maybe by four years. Apparently, he’d been there even when I first met Grandmother two years before. He just preferred to stay hidden, away from the window.

“Why do you always like to hide, Brother?”

            He used a little notepad—“I’m an introvert.”

            “Oh. I don’t like people either. But I like you.”

            “Thanks.”

            Now he sat in front of me, not using the notepad I saw in his hands. His eyes were blank, just as they always were.

But his lips moved in one fluid motion—he was trying to say something without the notepad. It seemed like they would just open and close, and I couldn’t find out what he was saying.

“Brother.” Grandfather said. “Use the notepad if you want to say something.”

He didn’t acknowledge Grandfather at all. He just kept looking at me, trying to speak even though he knew I wouldn’t hear him.

“I can’t hear you.” I sighed. I turned away, now meeting Grandmother’s gaze by the fireplace. “I’m leaving. That’s all the time I have today.”

She only stared at me. After the longest pause, she said, “The older they become, the more disrespectful they are. Isn’t that right, Grandfather?”

He nodded.

“And we’ve tried to keep you as innocent and kind as possible, but we couldn’t. And it’s made us upset.” Grandmother said.

“I’m not that rude.” I muttered. “At least, I’m much nicer than the rest of the world is. And—“

“It’s all thanks to us.” Grandmother said, interrupting me. And all of a sudden, I realized that this wasn’t the Grandmother I knew. Grandmother never interrupted.

 

The little girl walked into the house with Grandmother’s hand guiding her. “It smells even prettier today.” she said. Grandmother only smiled.

She was looking around the room, smiling at every detail. Her eyes shimmered. But then, she noticed the window, where Brother was sitting. Her whole expression changed—from awe t hesitant curiousity.

She ran up to him, getting her face so close it was almost touching the window. “Hello.” she said. Brother nodded.

Grandmother was coming up to her, and put a hand on her back. “This is Brother. He likes to keep hidden, so you haven’t seen him.”

The girl’s smile returned. “Oh, I see. Hi, Brother!” she yelled, waving enthusiastically.

He whispered something.

The girl tipped her head, confused. “Grandmother, I can’t hear him!” she exclaimed, pouting.

“He should be using the notepad.” Grandmother said. “Come now, Brother, please.” Now, Grandmother’s eyes flashed with some sort of remembering. “And while we’re at it. There’s someone else you should meet, child.” And she gestured to me. “Kirsten, that is Sister. Say hello, both of you.”

I walked up to the window. I picked up my notepad and scribbled “Hello” on it. I pressed it to the glass.

Kirsten smiled. “Hello, Sister!” she said, smiling. Her face was innocence all in itself—no wonder Grandmother chose her.

I didn’t reply. Brother put a hand on my shoulder.

“We’re warning this one sooner.” he said.

And I nodded.