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A matter of time 时间问题, a story by me自娱自乐 [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-1-15 09:03:37 |Display all floors
A matter of time

By Asherah Duan

When Clytia opened her eyes, it was dim. She wasn’t very sure where she was. While she rubbed her eyes, a low, restrained voice came to her ears.

There was only one lighted candle with a pale flame in the middle of a table - that was the only source of light.

Someone was telling a story: ”there was a couple that were always having arguments. One day they started arguing again - but the husband killed his wife accidently and buried her body on the garden. A few days after that, he found it strange that their child never asked him why he never saw his mother any more? He was so curious that he asked the child what the reason was.  How do you think the kid replied?”

An excited look showed on each of the young faces under the guttering candle light - they deeply want to know the conclusion. The teller remained silent, and just smirked.

Just as he was about to continue, an erratic voice brought by the chilled wind rang out: ”the kid answered “daddy, it’s weird - why, lately, is mum always behind you?”

As her voice faded, in the darkness a pale face appeared above the teller's head. A drop of red stained the pale lips of the emotionless, pallid face - the mark as vivid as fresh blood. Above, cold, inanimate eyes stared out.

A deathly silence clutched at single throat for a moment, and was then broken by piercing shrieks. The result was a scene of chaos - even in the half-lit room the shadows and noise told of chairs being knocked over and glasses broken in the pandemonium...until the light was turned on.

At that moment, time and the expressions on the newly-visible astonished faces was frozen. The instigator of the chaos was standing by the door with a poker face, and just said quietly: ”I shall go now - have fun guys.” before slipping out.

Later that night, Clytia closed her eyes in her seat on the bus to home. Outside of the windows, she knew there were brilliant neon lights tearing passing by - this is London. An extravagant beautiful, bustling modern metropolis - but is not her home. She felt there a biting coldness always smothers London - cold enough to freeze her blood. She sighed and dropped the smile that was plastered on her face. She didn’t understand what made her lose control and leave the group with such cold words since she is usually so calm and collected.

She had thought that she had already got used to those so-called friends and so-called events like the one today. This despite the fact that the latest idea - hiring a karaoke room to tell ghost story - was totally silly and a waste of time and money. Her friends were just spoiled kids with rich parents who have endless money.  She was not a part of their circle - how could she be?

Clytia got off the bus, and walked home slowly. The street was unusually quiet, and the only noise was her high heeled shoes tapping on the ground, making a crisp sound. The autumn had arrived, and everywhere and everything is covered by the characteristic bleakness of the season. When Clytia looked at that scene her heart was full of confusion: she was a fallen leaf in the darkness as well, without knowing where to go or where she was rotten.

All the lives on the earth pass in this manner. It’s just a matter of time. She wondered if this fact was as dreadful as it sounded - an even more terrifying truth is that she didn’t gave a damn if she was falling to nowhere at all.

Gradually the window of her kitchen came into view. It was glowing with a heartwarming light, and Clytia couldn't suppress the beam of joy that came to her lips. She opened the door, took off her coat, and indulged herself in the wonderful calming aroma of freshly made food.

The door of the kitchen opened and Lila poked her head out. “Here you are!”, she said cheerfully, “I just finished cooking, would you like to have some?”

“Sure” Clytia replied with a smile.

“How was school today?”

“Not bad” Clytia replied, still smiling.

“You know what, I’ve got 82% for my marketing essay! It’s a quite low A but still an A - it seems like only two people in our class that got an A!”

“Well done" Clytia replied, but her smile slipped as her guts seemed to twist.

“I am quite happy with it so I am planning to go to the Lake District with my boyfriend for a couple of days. We can set off when the first day of your holiday begins, would you like to join us?”, Lila asked.

“I see…”

“Come on, I heard the view was brilliant there, there are even snow on the peak!” Lila continued persuasively.

“….I still have revision to do.”

“Well, you can do that when you came back. I am sure it would be fine to have a break for just a few days. You know that I’ve got essays to hand in after Christmas as well!”

There was a sudden burst of pain in Clytia's stomach - the pain seemed to spread out to her brain via her spinal cord, and she was gripped by a nausea followed by a tearing pain.

“Sorry, I've got a headache..” Clytia murmured, “I would like to have a nap now”. She ran upstairs quickly and locked the door, without daring to look back to Lila's face. Suddenly a very strong anxiety flooded her, with every single pore on her back seemingly shocked by a tiny current - she even thought she could hear the pulsing buzz of electrical current.

Alarmed by something - though she knew not what - Clytia jerked her head to look at the window. The only sight that greeted her eyes was that of stark silhouetted trees standing against the yellow light, black shadows of crossed branches dancing as wantonly as the thread of fate.

Every single piece of the fallen leaves outside looked to her like an eye - they regarded her coldly.

All the leaves were of a fierce green color.

“It will be fine”, Clytia reassured herself, “it's just a matter of time”.

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Post time 2009-1-15 09:04:30 |Display all floors

Maggie noticed that Clytia was behaving unusually. Clytia kept looking back as if she was looking for someone she knew. Maggie couldn’t help but give voice to her concern: “Clytia, are you alright? I am getting worried!”.

Clytia was still looking at the crowd face by face and answered without paying attention: “oh, yeah”. Unfamiliar faces, as lifeless as pieces of a puzzle, had been put together randomly by a cold hand to form the view in which she searched so eagerly.

This occasion was already the third time today that Clytia has stopped in the middle of Oxford Street, caught up in staring at the tide of heads. Her search had been prompted, as on both other occasions; by her back tensing up without visible reason. A curious coldness had slid along her spinal cord, triggering a shiver. She had known instinctively that someone was behind her and had always been there.

This was by no means the first day on which she had got that uncanny feeling; attacks like that having been occurring for a while. However, every time she had turned around to look for her presumed observer Clytia saw nothing.

But this time was different - she could have sworn that she just met the eyes of the stalker at that moment. An astonishingly green eye, containing a fierce fire.

“No worry, I just thought I saw an old friend of mine.” Clytia finally told Maggie.

Maggie said no more on the subject and Clytia held her arm as if nothing had happened. As she turned back to her procession down the street, she felt the cold eyesight bite on her back as a maggot will bite onto flesh. Clytia shook her head with an extremely uncomfortable disgust and set her head forward.

The stalker had been following her for a while - since a time even Clytia was not sure about. The feeling of being watched had gotten even sharper when Clytia was walking back home, alone.

On one such occasion, Clytia was walking back down that same old road - beside a park, sheltered by dim yellow street lamps.  Several couples were talking loudly passing by, while some kids were skating or playing with skateboards. Busy traffic speeded up and down the street due to the traffic lights on the cross-roads. All in all, the scene was too normal for her to pay attention to. This was part of the boring routine of every day.

That all changed when she saw a man. He was right there - tall, leaning against the street lamp, his legs crossed in a relaxed way as if he is waiting for someone. You could see that kind of guy everywhere around London, but this one was distinctive in that he wore a shiny black PVC coat and narrow, pointed leather boots that gleam with a well-maintained polish.

Upon her eyes meeting this sight, Clytia's throat was too tight to speak. She licked her lips, which seemed to be newly dry and salty; the only thing she could hear was a drum pounding heavily inside her head.

Initially, she couldn’t help walking faster towards that man, but eventually she managed to slow herself. Five meters away from where he stood, a cash machine was built into the wall - Clytia strolled to it and inserted her card, taking the opportunity to size him up quickly.

He had shoulder length black hair.

He was really skinny. Clytia knew that it would hurt when he places his pointed, body jaw over her shoulder. His bare skin was as pale as wax, but Clytia knew that it was as smooth as silk, an opinion she held as strongly as if she had already stroked it a thousand times.

He was bowed slightly and was smoking, hiding his glamorous green eyes by well manicured finger sporting black nail polish.

At the moment, the cash machine beeped loudly, making Clytia jump. She busied herself with entering her PIN, still keeping her eyes on that man, but seeing only a cigarette light flashing in the cold winter night. The cash machine made a noise, drawing her attention and gaze once again. She wasn't planning on withdrawing any cash, but for the sake of prolonging her time by this man she went ahead and pressed the appropriate button.

At this point, the strangest thing happened.
On the deep blue screen, a line built of body white letters appeared: “feed me with blood”.
In the next moment, Clytia saw a huge drop of blood dripping from her hand, which was entirely covered by viscous blood! The blood drop ducked into a gap in the keyboard of the ATM as lithely as a snake and disappeared in a second.

“God!” she exclaimed. Her eyes were wide open, and she could not help but stand back, staggering and almost losing her footing to tumble to the group. That man noticed her weird movement and looked at her, just meeting her eyes so their gazes locked.

His eyes were black and cat-like.
He is not Darren!
Darren’s eyes were as green as the last drop of Chartreuse, and whoever gazed into his eyes became fascinated.

“Are you okay?” that man asked, smiling and walking to her.

“That…” Clytia hid her hand in her coat, and averted her eyes so they rested on the cash machine.

He followed her gaze and smiled in a flirtatious manner: “Miss, its asking you how much cash you would like to withdraw.” Clytia focused and, the illusion shattered, saw that he spoke the truth. Drawing her hand from her pocket, she furthermore saw that there was no sign of a blood stain there. That man didn’t speak,just looked at her quietly with a significant smile. Clytia knew the meaning behind that smile.

He opened up: “I am going to clubbing with friends, would you like….”

Before he finished, Clytia grasped her card from the machine and ran away without looking back. The gaze of a pair of cold eyes digging into her back with every step, but she doesn’t care anymore. She just wondered why Darren didn’t come to her anymore! Was he really serious when he said he wanted to be with that woman? Is he really going to get married to her?


"I am sorry Clytia. It’s not because you are not as good as her, it’s simply because you are not the right one for me."


We are always offer the chance of destroying ourselves to our lovers. Darren, you used that chance to destroy my whole life and now you are claiming you are not mine…how dare you?


I told you, it's just a matter of time.


Maybe that was his decision after all - not to see her anymore. Thinking of that, the coldness of winter swallowed the last bit of warmth left inside her heart. She opened the door of her home and was welcomed by the endless darkness within.

Standing beyond that door is like standing beyond the grave. No one is home. Clytia remembered that Lila went to the Lake District a few days ago - enjoying her sweet holiday with her dearest boyfriend.

Clytia was left alone.

She stood in the cold corridor, leaning against the wall in the dark - she didn't turn on the light. Damned London was so cold that the chill of the wall invaded her deepest depths, transforming itself to her soul.

Clytia had failed her exams last year, so now she was doing her second year again. She had been trying to like her new, ignorant, friends from the second year. However, she couldn't help remembering that there was someone who said nothing but always warmed her up with his arms - his shoulder used to be her second home. He always tolerated her tricks and failings with mildness, and comforted her by a warming kiss. Where did he go?

Is there a gentle long-haired girl sleeping beside him? Just like she did?
Is his heart, which used to belong to her, substituting her for another girl little by little?
Is it true that the tears she shed inside of his heart will never reflect her shadow anymore?

“Yes, yes.” Her mind answered her questions, “it will be fine - you will get it over, it's just a matter of time.”

From the bottom of her heart, she disagreed. Nothing would go back to normal again.

Clytia slid slowly down the wall in despair. As she glanced at the door she saw a field of light green peeking out from it's edge, and with renewed energy she unhesitatingly got to her feet and opened the door.

The sight that greeted her was that of a slim girl in a skirt of a green and the freshest touch of chartreuse - the colour reminded Clytia of the eyes of Darren. The girl looked at Clytia awkwardly: the traces of astonishment and discomposure in her moist sky-blue eyes hadn’t yet vanished.

With the first sight of her, Clytia knew that she must have seen those eyes before - they were unforgettable.

“How can I help?” Clytia softly inquired.

The woman’s face went back to normal in the next second and she smiled back and answered in a girly voice: “I’m Darren’s fiancée, Audrey.”

Now Clytia knew the reason why this woman is so familiar to her. Darren wore a blue crystal pendant and that crystal looks exact like part of Audrey's eyes.

“Darren’s gone missing. I am wondering if you know anything helpful.” Audrey continued.

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Post time 2009-1-15 09:04:53 |Display all floors


That news struck Clytia like a bolt from the blue. Her legs could barely hold her up. Her face went pale, the lips sealed in a thin line, and her chest went as flat as if she were not breathing. Clytia tried to sit down, but her unsteady legs were too stiff to bend and she began to fall. Fortunately, Audrey reached out and caught her and then, lifting up Clytia's frail body, carried her all the way upstairs to her room by a route half-remembered from a previous visit with Darren.

Audrey turned on the light. Posters of Darren were pasted on every single piece of the wall, including some half-naked or naked images. Audrey couldn’t help but be astonished, even though she knew the history between those two. Indeed, Clytia took those photos of Darren and made them popular in the London Vampire Connection group she frequented.

Clytia sat on the sofa where Audrey had put her, as quiet as a doll. She looked even sadder and more shocked than Audrey had when she learned Darren had gone missing. Audrey didn’t know what to say - it was awkward and embarrassing for her to face Clytia, but she had had to come, for Darren's sake.

No one spoke until Clytia broke the freezing silence: “I am sorry for my misbehavior. It’s cold outside - would you like a cup of tea? Please tell me what has happened, I haven’t seen him for…”

She couldn’t continue. Instead she stood up, started boiling some water and laid out her tea pot and cup.

“That’s okay, don’t bother. ” Audrey replied. She felt sorry for that little girl; she was so young, and so small. Audrey could tell the girl knew no more than she did of Darren's disappearance, and felt no less grief. It had not been her place to break the poor girl’s heart again with talk of disappearance when Clytia's heart had already been broken by Darren because of his engagement to Audrey. She resolved to leave her alone, as she would like other to do for her in that situation. She patted Clytia’s shoulder gently and said: “I shall go now. Sorry for my disturbance.”

She walked out of Clytia's room, quietly making her way out. As she walked through the house again, she realised that Clytia was the only tenant that lived in the house. “It must be hard for her to live in a huge house like this alone.” she thought.

As she passed a closed door she saw a thin layer of dust over the handle, as if it hasn’t been used for few months - she guessed that it must have been untouched for maybe half a year. With the little bit of light emanating from Clytia’s room behind her, she could read the name on the door: “Lila”.

She had heard about Lila from Darren. She was the best friend of Clytia, but unfortunately she had died in an operation a few months ago. Clytia must have loved her very much to keep her room untouched.

Audrey walked down the stairs, dust flying towards her through the light, filling her breath. The whole house was quiet, and it fed on the noise of her footfall greedily, muffling it. She felt even sorrier for Clytia - how can she stand this loneliness? She was sure it would drive her mad if she was in Clytia's place.

Suddenly she stepped on something that almost made her lose her footing and tumble down the stairs. The stairs were long and narrow - they might have been able to kill her if she did so. She complained under her breath and reached down to pick it up. The object was a sky blue aquamarine, sparking and bright. An ugly crack despoiled the middle of it like a bloody scar wound.

With a shock of recognition, she realised that no one knew this object better than her - this was part of the pendant which she made by herself and was hung on Darren’s neck by her fingers. She knew that Darren never took it off.

Her eyes wide open, she looked back up the stairs and saw the coldest face she ever seen in this world, and began to utter what will her last scream.

Black fire rose in Clytia’s fierce eye and she grinned with the hatred that was her whole life's strength, saying simply “Yes, I killed him”. Clytia lifted up her arms and pushed with all her might against Audrey's body.

Audrey didn't stand a chance. She fell down the stairs with a number of sickening cracks, finally coming to rest of on the ground with huge thud.

Clytia walked down the stairs slowly, sighing: “I was going to put poison in your tea - it is less painful that way…”

The crooked flesh at the foot of the stairs remained silent, as did Darren.

Clytia buried Audrey’s body in her back garden. When the job was complete, she lay down beside Darren’s old bed feeling exhausted. Fear and emptiness flooded into her and she drowned herself in the memory of that chartreuse-tinged green light.  

A familiar cold chill caused her back to tense. She knew that from now on there will be one more pair of eyes watching her behind her back, as clear as aquamarine.

"But who cares?", she thought, "I own you now, forever".

It was just a matter of time.



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Post time 2009-1-15 13:16:58 |Display all floors
horrible mini-novel  

Yes,very wonderful story,and  very vivid description about the character'motions and inner mind movements.You really do a good job in this. big applauding for you.

Why  this story ends so quickly? I feel the story seems a little beginning like mighty  tide,but goes like falling snow,hehe;hope can read more your novels here and I do learn a lot from your articles.

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Post time 2009-1-15 22:44:05 |Display all floors
Originally posted by xunhuan_2002 at 2009-1-15 13:16
horrible mini-novel  

Yes,very wonderful story,and  very vivid description about the character'motions and inner mind movements.You really do a good job in this. big applauding for y ...

I am glad that u like it.
its a christmas essay that i wrote for my writting course, they asked for 3000 words for it.
secondly, sudden ending strikes ur mind and so its more impressive, isnot it?

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