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The Picture

But though they are gone, the night is full of them; robbed of colour, blank of windows, they exit more ponderously, give out what the frank daylight fails to transmit- the trouble and suspense of things conglomerated there in the darkness.
- Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway


Elie found an old picture of her mother while taking a stroll in a wood.

The art of wandering is mainly to seek for the astonishment of winding up in an unknown destination. To wander in a familiar place, on the other hand, is to contrive yourself a complexity with which it foretells a even more astonishing outcome. Elie took a stroll in a wood of the vicinity, an upset girl searching aimlessly for merriment.

Some writers come across their rebellious phase in their early developments. Others' extend to the day of their death, to whose scatter-brained relatives' dedication of a rather deadpan elegy might even induce some hollering rage from under the soil. Elie had a rather awful Christmas so she compensated it by a desultory walk in the wood- that sounds fairly practical for sure. But then her usual doggedness was obvious. Instead of resorting her angst to some excusable assails at wild lives, she coaxed the nature to spawn surprises. For the nature, with the sight of those trembling weeds manifested their apparent shock, it was the bittersweet tantalization before their final moment.

It is beyond moral discipline when one pries into the other's private affair so persistently that the action almost mirrors that of a mouse snooping for its bolthole. It better be satisfied once it settles fuzzily in its hideout, or with its perseverance the wall will soon be collapsed. A good story is made veritably good with its proper distance to the readers. The stimulus of mystery incites the readers' inquiring-eyes into where it is parasitized. It also sets tingles to the writer's pen which at times probes ruthlessly into that poor victim. All of you idiots spear the heart of the story and devour it greedily nonetheless thus it was some elixir!

There goes without saying the story's reluctance to unfold some personal subtleties of Elie's mother, her time with Elie, her maternal relationship with Elie, her role in Elie's family, her personality, the cause of her death, her death. It can only be revealed that the funeral was held not far from Elie's house. A small gathering of about thirty, consisted mostly of their extended family. The whole ceremony went as swiftly and serenely as that very day- no wind blew, no birds sang, nor any tears shed. Only the irregular throbs of Elie's heart was audible, and the sound was only privileged to her ears.

Scenes switched forward to the present day and Elie stood holding her mother's picture in the middle of a well-familiar wood. Tentatively Elie stood twisted the picture in her sweated palms. The earth, a roaring silence. It is believed that some people are so discreet that even their subsequent reactions or emotions require considerable time to deliberate about. Elie was no prude but she was neither the one who would easily compromise to abrupt overflow of sentiments. To save her from such an awkward quandary in which she could feel all invisible eyes fixating at her, how she wished the picture would turn into a mere block of ice, and melted unaware.

If the theory of the readers constantly being dismissed as outsiders is intenably sound, then it can also apply to the relationship between Elie and the picture. Although the picture cast her mother as its heroine, it gave no lights of welcoming when first picked up by Elie. It creaked with complaints in Elie's hands, and even if it was being laid gently, its demanding address to the wind made them suspected of a dangerous liaison.

Elie found it hard to muster up her courage just to take a look at the picture, although through glances an outline of the story behind was roughly made. Her mother was presumably in her early twenties. Beautiful as a flora, effortlessly won many hearts of men in town but powerless to challenge her parents' authority. Most probably her mother was made to sit in front of the cameraman, the only man in her life that really delved into her mind. Killed her and cooped her up in a frame peremptorily, with a single click.

But how strangely the picture dominated the presence of Elie, and rippled her emotions into tumbles. The power of the practically-lifeless, the immobile- like currents under some tumultuous waves. Elie still stood there, wooden-eyed, indecisive of her next step. For most spectators, this scene has almost got on their tethers end and the possibility of the ending to be inexplicably parodied is what they dread the most. Elie heard their worries, their indignation, but the residue of her astonishment had yet known to simmer down. Instead, it made Elie to turn her head and browse everything around her offhandedly. Trees, red dirt, sprouts, trees, weeds, barks, trees, trees, weeds...

Some said the boundary between fascination and boredom is never too difficult to tread over. It is the sweetness on your tongue which vanishes in a pace prevails that of you lingering on the flavour. It was partly with the aforesaid and partly with the pardonable fact that the sky was darkened. Elie decided to leave the wood, but first she must divest herself of this bundle. This picture, which mingled with her palm-sweats, had already entangled into a scruffy paper ball. The mixed feeling of both reluctant to throw away the picture and desperate to rid herself of it truly pestered Elie. How those two feelings from opposite poles could bring out the exact, heart-wrenching effect?

Not a second late. Elie eventually threw the picture away, but most unfortunately for the readers the story has yet to stop here. Like every crime story with the culprit trying to narrow-escape the red-handed scene, their groping for exit incurs some tugging-back. With every angle and every inch of the deformed picture trying anxiously to grasp Elie's hands, she shook it off in such a violence as if the picture was some fatal virus. The picture laid, at first tumbled somewhat but gained no further speed, back to its usual place. The crease of the picture encroached onto her mother's mouth. There with Elie's appalling eyes she saw her mother finally cracked into a smile. A smile that could live automatically on the face without any companies or embodiments of the other features. A smile that seemed more into the observer than the picture itself.


Elie took a big gulp of the soup and it stuck in her throat like a bundle. She vowed she would never venture into the wood again.

Elie vowed that she would never venture into the wood again.


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