After the Change - Finish the Story #24steemCreated with Sketch.

in finishthestory •  5 months ago

The Town That Changed


The first part of the story is provided by @calluna, whose contest #tellastorytome I would like to participate for a while, but I apologize to her for not having had time and courage yet:

Change blew in on the air that morning, whispering through a sleeping town. An eerie quiet rested along the main road, early commuters not yet disturbing the grey dawn. A wisp of waning moon, brushed pink with the gentle glow of the coming sun, hung low in the ombre sky.

A subtle shift rocked the heavy foliage of scattered trees, rippling between the houses. The cool silence of night still clung to the shadows. A lone ginger cat stalked between the sentinels of bins guarding the curbs. It paused, hair bristling along it’s back as it sensed a disturbance rushing past.

A lone mournful howl echoed in the streets, erupting into a sorrowful symphony as others took up the canine call.

Not a single harsh bark interrupted the lament that awoke the town that morning.

Back doors opened onto gardens, not quite the same. Concerned residents in an array of dressing gowns, coats and slippers, padded outside to find the same, inexplicable sight.

Theo hadn’t been home in months. He had told his mum he was getting clean. It was a lie. He hadn’t been clean in years.

The dark country road snaked before him, a twisting river of retreating night. She had insisted he came home for the wedding. Theo couldn’t stand her boyfriend, but his mum had half chewed his ear off over it, and he couldn’t deny, he owed her this.

He swore under his breath. The rising itch was dancing across his skin. The hard edge cutting inside him. He needed another hit. He had been driving since 1am, he loaded up before he set off, but the ragged scraping of the comedown was consuming.

He glanced at the road, he hadn’t passed another car in hours, and he knew these twisting roads.

One hand on the wheel, he fumbled through the bag on the passenger seat. He couldn’t face that c*nt sober, Aunt Hazel would help.

His skin flushed with the intense bliss coursing through his veins as he approached the sleeping streets.

Dawn was pushing towards the horizon, her soft pink glow catching the clipped moon.

Theo was speeding when he got to the town. He heard the hair-raising call of neighbourhood dogs, raising their cry as one.

Then he saw it. The change. He couldn’t look away. He didn’t see the tree.

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After The Change

(This is my ending of the story. It’s 522 words long, perhaps I should have pruned it a little more, but I like it as it is)

Six long months had passed since the change.

At first, Theo had almost forgotten, absorbed by much more urgent matters, but now that he was slowly coming out of that ordeal and returning to occupy a place in the world, although completely different from the one he occupied before, all the signs of the change were exhibited before his eyes as goods on display in the stalls of a market, and could no longer be ignored.

The quiet, winding country lane, for example, looking so innocuous with its tacking curves, could now become a sticky quagmire that clung to the wheels and slowed them to a halt, sunk in the furrows dug by their own propulsive force. Or, the dead leaves soaked in rain could become an unstable expanse, slippery like liquid soap, with the trees that had left them fall mocking silently his efforts of balance.

That’s, assuming he had managed to reach the plateau of the sidewalk, guarded by the sentinel bins. The curbs had become insurmountable cliffs, and he was forced to wander to find some rare gap, however steep and risky, if he wanted to go down or up.

The backdoors of the peaceful houses, open with rural confidence on drowsy gardens, crossed by globetrotting cats during the moonlight, faithfully defended by noisier than dangerous dogs during the day, were now forbidden for him. Even when they had not been hoisted on top of dizzying mountains of steps, they would still have been too narrow, like needle eyes in front of which he was the cumbersome camel.

At least, now he was clean, he reflected along the way, which seemed to stretch more and more like in a dream. He had to do it. When he had been suspended in the limbo between day and eternal night, his sufferings were such that the withdrawal crisis had passed almost undercover, and for a long time he had not had the opportunity to decide what was injected into his veins, nor when. Heck! He could not even piss and shit by himself!

After the change, he had to slam other substances, some of which, ironically, were respectable relatives of the old Auntie Hazel, but if he dared to mix them with her or with alcohol, his new, fragile life would be destined to a quick and stupid end. Having already been close to it once had made him gain awareness and prudence.

The new Theo passed by the Tree of Change, the Big Bang from which everything started. The black wounds on the trunk were still visible, where his car had crumpled like an empty beer can. He smiled at the battered plant, fate companion. Both had barely come out of it, but alive.

Trudging on the wheelchair, he passed the tree and pushed the wheels with his arms. His mother's house was near, in the old world, but still far away, in the new. She and his new stepfather had been very close to him throughout the hospitalization and rehabilitation, and they still helped him without reproaching his stormy past.

This was another novelty that the change had brought.

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This is my entry for the week #24 of the awesome contest held by @f3nix: Finish the Story, and earn Steem Basic Income Shares. This week, I played dirty and I completely moved the storytelling plan to another point of view. I hope you like it.
Click the banner below for more informations:

Main photo by me

Thank you for reading!

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I love the direction you went with this! It's an interesting perspective and you led into the reveal really well.


Polar opposite of my story and one that is filled with hope and optimism that when we hit rock bottom the only way is up with the love and support of family.

Great story.


Yes, in the end it's optimistic, but the price to pay was high

That's an interesting twist @marcoriccardi. I like the fact that I'm not sure how much is objective reality and how much is due to his altered mental state. The Big Bang. Everything changed. Nice metaphor. All in all, glad you didn't make it shorter. Sometimes you just can't do that.
Don't you wonder, sometimes, where the ideas for the stories come from and why we have the compulsion to express them the way we do?


Thank you! Usually I'm not shy of cutting parts of what I write, but sometimes, as in this case, I feel that every sentence is functional to the things I want to communicate 😉

A really inspiring end, skilfully written and well unravelled. I like the the change turned out only to be for him, and the emphasis on how much of a change it really was for him prompts plenty of considerations. The Tree of Change, how meaning has shifted, beautifully done!


Thank you! I felt like this was the natural consequence of your last lines, and this reflects also my personal opinion about changes: every real change comes from inside the observer 😉


Wise words..

Both had barely come out of it, but alive.
My God I love that line and what it symbolizes! Beautiful!

Thank you very much! I wasn't even sure if that line was grammarly correct 😂


Heh, I’ve never been great at grammar. :D Regardless, I love the concept of he and the tree surviving and recovering together, both scarred but still hanging in there.

Despite the change involved suffering, your story has given me a sense of peace. Well done my friend!