Saturday, April 24, 2010

Body Language Blogfest

Thank you Harley over at Labotomy of a Writer, for hosting this Body Language Blogfest. Here were her rules: The scene cannot have any dialgoue at all whatsoever. There must be a conversation or some sort going on in the scene, obviously, but the characters must use body language! (Telepathy and sign language don't count!)

This was really hard, and therefore a great challenge. I think I pulled it off, maybe? What do you think the conversation is in this piece?
Image found Here
The Stairway
I paused on a stairway made of white marble with walls rising to chest height. Massive and unending, it stretched upward with a gentle incline curving to the left. I strained to see the top, but it remained hidden among the clouds. My legs quivered as I leaned against the right wall. A stolen glance behind showed how far I had climbed. The base of the stairs lay miles below me. I prayed whatever magic held the stairway in place would not give out. A wave of dizziness washed over me and I closed my eyes. My heart weighing me down. How could I find him among all these people?

I opened my eyes once more and continued looking at each face as the crowd moved up and down the stairs. Hundreds, thousands of people.  Where were they going? I shook my head. It didn't matter; I knew where I headed. I lifted my leg and stepped up one more level; then another, and another. Each step lifted me higher into the eerie silence. I shivered with the unnaturalness of it all. This many people should be deafening, but I did not hear even the swish of clothing. Short, tall, men, women, happy, sad--they all stepped up or down without a sound.

Where was he? Hours passed. I trudged upward, my shoulders drooping, arms hanging limply by my side, until I saw him.

He walked down the stairs on the far left, about ten steps above me. Our eyes locked onto each other the moment I recognized him. Soft brown eyes, dark hair and a smile that melted my heart. My energy returned and I rushed to the middle of the stairs and waited at the dividing rail in the middle. He didn't walk faster, and my racing heart stuttered. He never took his eyes off me, but only moved a step or two closer to the middle. Would he stop?

Eyes pleading, my hand reached for him in spite of my decision to let him pass. They trembled, and when he looked at them his eyes narrowed and his eyebrows rose up. Gravity pulled my hand back to my side. I swallowed and waited. He reached the level where I stood, and it looked as if inertia would carry him away from me.

My mouth fell open, and I leaned toward him, both arms reaching for him once again. I felt tears welling up and blinked them away. He stopped. His eyes looked deep into mine and he shook his head. Only then did he look away. I felt his sigh, but did not hear it as my heart shattered. My breathing grew sporadic and I grasped the railing, knuckles turning white.

I tried once more to speak, but no sound came out. Slowly, he raised his eyes to mine and stepped close enough to rest his palm on the side of my face. I leaned into the warmth, the flicker of hope flaring up. His eyes softened, but he shook his head again. He pulled his hand away, turned and walked down the stairs. He didn’t hurry, but he never looked back.

22 comments:

  1. What an excellent exercise!! You did a wonderful job with it.

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  2. I think you nailed it. Words were not even necessary- you could feel what they were communicating... Well done.

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  3. I'm with F on this one, you nailed it!!! I loved it and what a great blogfest to do!

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  4. What the...strange.
    Kinda confused with walls vs railings. Makes me want to know where the stairs go, why she's on it, etc.
    Not exactly sure what the narrator wants here.
    But nice non-use of dialog, a lot was said without being spoken!

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  5. Oh definitely hard to write without dialogue, especially in a scene like this. The longing in her was so evident, so vibrant and alive. But how sad that he turned away and wouldn't even look back. Heartbreaking. Nicely done.

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  6. This is really quite heartbreaking! I think you did a great job with the body language. It seems like a very bittersweet goodbye for him, and an agony for her. I'm curious as to where the staircase goes, and where people are going when they travel up vs. down.

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  7. Nice dream-like sequence that was actually intensified and heightened due to the total lack of dailogue. You really did well with this, Charity. You make me envious with your obvious talent.

    Come check out my body language entry and tell me what you think.

    Have a great weekend, Roland

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  8. Wow. This is an excellent use of body language. I can feel what the main character does and understand the reactions to the un-vocal conversation that occurs. It seems the scene would have been tarnished if dialogue had been used even. Great job!

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  9. This sounds like a great exercise that I'm going to have to try.

    You did a great job! The only bit where I was thrown off my stride reading was when you said his eyes narrowed but his eyebrows rose. I tried doing those things at the same time and it's not possible. *giggle*

    Jai

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  10. Thank you everyone!

    Iapetus999, you made me laugh.

    Everyone, thank you so much for your comments. I'm glad the emotion came through.

    Amalia, I'm glad there is some mystery.

    Dawn, I loved your comment. :)

    Roland, I'm planning to read everyone's tonight. Just finished a 1/2 marathon and need a nap first. :)

    Jai, after your comment I tried it too. LOL, should have tried it first cause I can't do it either.

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  11. I loved the silence, not even the swish of clothing. And her yearning sent my heart pounding. He was sorry, but he left her anyway. Aaaah, nicely done.

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  12. Wow, what a roller coaster of emotions! I could definitely feel her disappointment. Great job!

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  13. That was truly heartbreaking! And not a word spoken. You did an excellent job!

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  14. Love this! It would make a great short story, I think.

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  15. I really felt the ache in her heart and in her limbs both. And the way she moved faster towards him, and he slowed, that said volumes of what was to come.

    Excellent use of anticipation. Smoothe pacing too.

    Pat yourself on the back; you did a good job.

    ..........dhole

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  16. "He didn't hurry, but he never looked back."

    I really liked that line! :) You did a good job with this 'fest--thanks for sharing!

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  17. I sense this is not an excerpt, but a piece written specifically for the BLBF, correct?

    Well-written. Good structure. I nearly started skimming (I do that sometimes ;), but then, right in the first paragraph, BOOM, the story question: "How could I find him among all these people?"

    Now I gotta slow down and read, dammit. So I made some coffee and sat down and read your Stairway.

    I liked it. I get it. I sure hope going down doesn't mean what I think it means for the guy (rebirth, I hope).

    It got a little touchy-feely at the end, so I know your muses were cluttering you up with purple-prose, but you did a great job resisting that urge to over-tell, over-show, over-exaggerate, and added just the right amount of prose to demonstrate the scene, without sitting on my chest and cramming it down my throat one dry page at a time.

    I bet you snipped some good text there at the end, didn't you.

    Veddy nice.

    - Eric

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  18. Huh, I thought I commented but it hasn't shown up ...? Huh, well I really liked it :~D as you might know and I forget what else I said but, well done!

    Happy Sunday!

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  19. Excellent! You really nailed this challenge! I really loved it!

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  20. Thank you so much! I really was scared about this one, and all the comments really are boosting my self esteem. Maybe I should try showing things more often!

    Eric, you are right. I wrote this just for the challenge, and it was a great exercise. I'm glad I caught your attention and pulled you in. :) I'm not sending him to the hot place if that is what you were wondering. He is simply choosing a different direction. And you guessed right about the ending. I kept wondering how to end it and if I had shown enough for the conversation to come through. I would add and then take stuff out. Hopefully I found the right balance.

    Harley, thanks again for this great challenge. It was tough, so I worked a little harder. The comments make me think the extra thought and work was well worth it.

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  21. I thought the tension created was quite nice. We were left wondering if he was going to say something. But I agree with one of the people above that I was not quite sure what was happening--were they on a stairway to heaven and the people were dead so he didn't "see her" or were they relly in a crowded place like a subway, etc. I am a little confused on why he didn't say anything, again wondered if one of them were dead,etc. But it was a good use of words to create tension and mystery.--Hubby

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  22. I quite like the last line of this. The last four paragraphs, actually, are wonderfully tense. Nicely done, good lady!

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