Broken Dreams [SHORT STORY, WRITTEN IN MULTIPLE POVs]

This is a short story I wrote in multiple perspectives, a writing tactic I don’t exercise often. However, the Daily Prompt gave me a brilliant excuse to write outside my comfort zone, and here I am, equipped with a laptop, cup of tea and a keyboard. 😀

The line-breaks indicate a change of perspective. Hope you enjoy it!

Andrea approaches the man with a bright, forced smile, showing more teeth than emotion. “May I please have your order?”

The chandelier bounces light off her blank page, one she dreads to fill, as it’s an abundance of more work over a preexisting mountain. As if college exams aren’t difficult enough without a part-time job, she is forced to adopt three –all for supporting an older, unemployed excuse of a brother.

When the old man doesn’t reply, his fingers interlaced and eyes sinking into the marble dining table, Andrea’s feet begin tapping. With forced patience, she repeats, “Sir, would you like to order something?”

The man looks up, his eyes a glassy brown. A voice that sounds distant, he says, “Yes, please. I would like two servings of the meatball pasta, please.”

Instantly, her tapping stops. The unnatural smile, one without a tinge of warmth, reappears. “Right away, sir.”

“Two servings of meatball pasta, sir,” the waitress says, placing two platters filled with food on the table. Her name-tag reads “Andrea.” It’s a popular name, of course, but seeing it in print is unsettling.

The elderly man stares at her smile, brighter than the restaurants’ charismatic chandeliers, and excessive happiness for him to comprehend. It seems that, despite his own life collapsing into inrepairable ruins, the world moves on without a glitch. Could a smile that genuine appear on his own face?

He watches Andrea glide back to the kitchen, as if completely forgetting his presence. Tomorrow, she won’t remember who she served, but happiness felt twirling from juxtapose tables would linger. It’s the moon in a world full of darkness, a single candle in an electric shutdown; the kind of warm sensation that’s miles away from his own shattered heart.

“Edgar, you may call me Isabelle for today,” his wife had once said, in this exact restaurant. Back then, the place merely opened, and contrasted to the current immense popularity. Besides the cook and the waitress, they were the only customers. “I need to perceive the world through her eyes.”

They sat one summers’ evening, a plate of meatball pasta filling both their plates, and discussed their next upcoming film.

“But in order to be the best Isabelle Smith possible, I need to begin eating like her,” she says. “How does she eat?”

“She doesn’t,” he replied, grinning. “She is a workaholic with no spare time, let alone to consume food.”

“But she gets admitted to hospital for it, and then…” Her voice trailed off, and the exasperation in her loud sigh said more than words. “Do you really think we’ll make it big? Are we just dreaming, Edgar?”

“No, We are not dreaming. You just wait.”

“If you say so,” she said with a reluctant smile, touching her pasta for the first time. 

The pasta on the other side of the table remains untouched.

Johnathan’s own life was determined the minute he was born; run an accounting office and become his father’s successor. No choice or voice, just an unsaid contract determined from the minute of his birth. But a glance at Edgar, free and lively, persuaded him to create dreams and fulfil them. Inspired, Johnathan dropped out of high school last year, shocking all his family members, and began dreaming.

It started as a dream and ended in a busy, happy place. A restaurant of his own. He was no longer attached to the shackles constricting him to the accounting office. Edgar must’ve recognised this great accomplishment as well, because when he entered through the double-doors, the first thing he said was, “Congratulations for coming so far.”

A plate of pasta lies untouched on Edgar’s table. He begins walking out the door and towards his own home. This is the very least I can do, thinks Johnathan, as he balances the plate of pasta on his hand and, as elegantly as possible, races towards the slow-paced elderly man.

“Take this home to Andrea,” he said.

Edgar’s lips tremble. “I would if I could.”

This should’ve been a sign to back away, notice the edge in Edgar’s voice, but Johnathan persists. “Did you have a fight? If so, pasta should–”

“Pasta can’t fix anything. While I selfishly chased my own dreams, I didn’t notice her getting sicker. I just kept going. But now I’ve done it. She’s gone. I don’t want to be a renowned director anymore. I just want her back.”

Johnathan always imagined a grown man crying to be pathetic. But witnessing it in real life felt painful, like a needle piercing his skin at different angles. And, despite having a reputation for always talking, not a single word could comfort Edgar in his most fragile state.

Then again, maybe that’s the downfall of words; their capacity is limited, broken, and fail when needed most.

Thank you for reading this short story. I tried my best to show the different perspectives, and how what one person offers/thinks is different to what another perceives. It definitely was a challenge, and I have a newfound admiration for those who write multiple perspectives with ease. It took a lot of energy to write this piece (almost 3x the time) than if I’d written a short story in a singular perspective.

If you are curious, here was the original prompt I used, with a little alteration:

A waitress welcomes an elderly regular as he takes his seat at the counter in the diner. The man just got word his wife is dying of cancer. The cook watches through the order window.

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4 thoughts on “Broken Dreams [SHORT STORY, WRITTEN IN MULTIPLE POVs]

  1. Pingback: More Interaction | TMStarnes2013

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