Shades Of Gray

The world can’t truly be captured in the photographic lens of black and white. It is a false pretense to assume that every spark of humanity is forged from the purity of wings the color of the whitest dove, anymore than the fictious truth that we glide on wings as black as the raven’s.

The rope that bound my hands burned with intense passion. The more I consoled the pressure of the restraints the more bound my delicate skin become. I could feel the scarlet blooms of my blood blossoming beneath the pressure of the taunt rope and race down the ivory landscape of my treasured hands.

My ankles were bound in the same unholy fashion. As I twisted the branches of my body, the strength in my muscles grew as barren as leaves in the victim of the winds.

My head swam. My right temple pounded with the velocity of church bells on a Sunday Morning, and although I was aware of the pain, there was neither relief nor narcotic strong enough to dull the fibers of my aching soul. My heart was as heavy as the unfamiliar cement walls that encased me as their prize captor. My arms were stiff and tense, and what once was the color of the sweetest ivory was now decorated with bruises the color of fresh grapes from the vine.

My vision blurred in the silver tinsel of my oncoming tears. The fold-out cot which supported the frame of my body was the color of worn leather and stained with the grapefruit color of my blood.

“Claire, come on, now. Don’t pass out. Put your shoulder to the wheel, Claire. Don’t go limp on me now. Stay with me.”

The voice echoed across the platform of the abandoned room like the howl of midnight specter in a urethral midnight veil. It was haunting in its promise and oncoming intent.

The shadow was slender. Neither sun nor light penetrated this phantom as it approached me in a surreal waltz. My heart hammered in the bowels of my chest, a prisoner of my own innate terror.

The silver tinsel of tears fell like the fallen rain on the pavements of my cheeks, allowing me to gain the precision of focus on the shadow which seemingly guided on ghosted feet.

“Come on Claire. I expected better.”

I felt the torment of my assailant’s fingers run through the strands of my hair, twisting them with pleasure like ivory on the metal of a gate.

“You had no clue, did you sweetheart? No. Don’t answer me, how could you? She would have never told you. How could she? You see, to her, you were nothing short of perfection. An ethereal angel in the flesh. My God, how could she even notice what I was doing, when I was the one waiting in the balconies of your wings?”

I recognized the voice, before I adjusted to the familiar map of her face.

“Mom was always naive.”

As my sister, Cemeren, released my chestnut hair from the thorns of her weeded hands, I exhaled through parched lips in the cool air of my cement casket.

“Come on, if Mommy, dear, sweet, Mother couldn’t have seen it, at least you should. I mean, Hell, you’re the damn Doctor! You got the fuckin’ brains in the family, what kind of shit have you got for an excuse?”

“Cemeren, please…”

“We’re different people, Claire. You see this was how it was suppose to go. While you practiced piano, I dated drugs. While you studied, I played with the antimony of the neighboring boys. While you saved lives, I took them. For every action sweetheart, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I’m the yen to your yang.”

I sobbed. My sister was going to kill me.

“Cemeren, please…stop…I love you…I want to help you…”

“You can’t fix a broken doll, baby, and I’m cracked. There has always been something wrong. Claire, why could you save everyone else, but you couldn’t save me. I am your family. I’m your blood.”

My throat burned and I couldn’t speak. I was a drought of no answers.

Then, I saw the silencer. Like the blossom of a rose, the red dot bloomed on the garden of my skin.
“I’m dark, Claire. I’m so lost. I’ll never feel the warm grace of light like you did. Even for a second, did you think about sharing the spotlight with the one person who loved you the most…I loved you, Claire!”
“Cemeren, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know…I should…”
Cemeren exhaled.
“No you don’t, Claire! This present darkness is the one thing I have left, and even though you didn’t share a spade of your precious spotlight, I’m allowing you a glimmer of my darkened blade.”

Cemeren moved the cold steel of the barrel against the swamp of sweat dampening my skin.

“Why don’t we expose that light inside you for all the world to see? Come on Claire; take a spin on my silver bullet.”

In the millisecond of movement, the barrel of the gun was nestled snuggly beneath the patch of skin in the opening of my thighs.
“It’s time to show the world how bright you really shine. Claire saved everyone. Her record is as immaculate as her smile, but she couldn’t save me. You’ll be my victim forever.”

In that same moment, Cameron swallowed the cold steel of the barrel of the gun and pulled the trigger.

My black and white world was the color of scarlet as my sister splashed ribbons of her blood all around me.

I watched as stale smoke rose from the ashes of her lips and her face, now vacant of all its features, as still as the deafening silence which cradled me in its arms like a faithful lover.

I knew this stranger all my life.

The world can’t truly be captured in the photographic lens of black and white. It is a false pretense to assume that every spark of humanity is forged from the purity of wings the color of the whitest dove, anymore than the fictious truth that we glide on wings as black as the raven’s.

Now in the isolated tint of cold brick, I see neither through the corrective lens of black and white.

I close my eyes and pray for shades of gray.

Currently unavailable for purchase

Two sisters share different points of view.
copyright 2009 by John Braxton Sparks

Twisted Tournoi 05


  • bluewhite
    bluewhiteabout 5 years ago

    Powerful. Intense. Spellbinding. The difference between the brilliant writer and gray one. I am suspecting after reading this, I will be reading your novel one page a day! More probably, I will start and not put it down until all is read—not to eat, not to sleep, only to do the necessary. Got to place that order today.

  • bluewhite-
    Thank you for your kind words. This was a different perspective from which I usually write, and in the sense, very experimental for me. So, I’m very glad you liked and enjoyed it. Thank you so much for your support and It means alot to me knowing that you liked it.

    – John Braxton Sparks

  • deb cole
    deb coleabout 5 years ago

    Wonderful metaphors in this story! I like how you began and ended it with the “photographic lens of black and white”. Great twist!

  • John Braxton  Sparks
    John Braxton ...about 5 years ago

    Thanks Deb-

    I’m glad you liked the story. I was experimenting with a new perspective in this writing,(a female perspective) so it means alot that you enjoyed it! Thank you!

  • Mark Bateman
    Mark Batemanabout 5 years ago

    Ok John – I’m going to risk being honest here. I think you are a great writer – and look forward to seeing more, so that’s that out of the way. The imagery and storyline is great. Spellbinding as someone said above. However, and this may well be just my style, but I wonder if you are trying too hard?? I mean this in context to too much descriptions or metaphors. Bluewhite and deb cole clearly thought this was brilliant – and I’m not saying it’s not – so as I say, it may just be my preferences..

    Finally – the line “Then, I saw the silencer. Like the blossom of a rose, the red dot bloomed on the garden of my skin.” makes me think she was actually shot without realising it. Is that the case? Did they both end up dying and that was the double twist?

  • Mark-
    Hey, thanks for the great feedback. No, not at all. Have you ever shot a gun that had a silencer not it? You see one of my favorite pastimes is hunting, and when you aim a gun with a silencer, the LED beam lines it up and it makes a red dot on the target in which you want to shoot. It kind of looks, in truth, like a little red rose, or a small red dot. So, in the story, Cemeren aimed it at her skin, she had no intensions of killing her sister, she wanted her sister to live with the pain of always remembering how Cemeren died, thus, making her a truly sad victim. I think I said this in another post, I was experimenting with perspective, it was one of my first stories written in a female persona, (not easy for a man to do) and I always appreciate honesty. I have almost two novels on my belt, so please feel free to pour it on, it makes me a better writer. I also have to agree that this isn’t one of my best pieces, I feel personally, I prefer “Sweet The Virgin” as one of my best pieces on here, and this was truly “experimental in my writing”. I truly appreciate your honesty and always welcome constructive feedback. I share your opinoin as far as saying this isn’t my strongest writing. It was merely me flirting and trying new metaphors, and completely experimental, and as always, I appreicate your critque.

    – John Braxton Sparks

  • Mark Bateman
    Mark Batemanabout 5 years ago

    Ah… a laser scope! Ok – get it now. I got the rest too. As I wrote, I look forward to more, and if I haven’t already seen Sweet The Virgin (I think I have?) then I will scoot over and read it. :)

  • Alison Pearce
    Alison Pearceabout 5 years ago

    Playing catch up here John! Skimmed through and really like what I “see”. Shall come back and read more thoroughly when the madhouse (that would be my place!) settles back down

  • Glad you like it Alison. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much for the support, and I’m going to start cleaning my “madhouse” today. :)

    – John Braxton Sparks

  • Zolton
    Zoltonabout 5 years ago

    Very gripping. I didn’t expect the twist. I like this line… I knew this stranger all my life. I think that says a lot.

  • Thanks Zolton-
    It was a new direction from what I’m used to writing. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks!

    – John Braxton Sparks

  • Solar Zorra
    Solar Zorraabout 5 years ago

    How did I miss this? Incredible once again, leaving me with shivers. Yet another perfectly polished gem. :) Solar

  • Thank you, Solar. I’m gad you liked it. There is no greater compliment for a man when a woman tells him you left her with shivers… :) Thanks!

    – John Braxton Sparks

  • Jim Hall
    Jim Hallabout 5 years ago

    Great depth of feeling. However, like Mark, I thought she’d been shot by her sister. all things became clear in the end, so all is forgiven, I’ll call it poetic license. Good one. Caged passion. JH

  • Jim-
    Thank you. As far as poetic license goes, isn’t the purpose of having one to be mis-leading a little bit… :) I’m truly glad you enjoyed the story and as always thank you for your support.

    – John Braxton Sparks

  • Micky McGuinness
    Micky McGuinnessabout 5 years ago

    Hi John
    as much as I liked the story I your found heavy usage of metaphor a little offputting.
    I know that you like to use them in your writing, and probably feel that it is integral to your style, however IMHO it was one too many eggs for this particular pudding.

  • Micky-
    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read the story and I am glad that you enjoyed it. It was a little heavy, in reflection, and I new turn in my writing. Thank you for your reflective and I’m glad you liked the story.

    – John Braxton Sparks

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