The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 2)

The Red Scarf (Part 2) [Part 1] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

By J. A. Weymouth

A strange smell woke Fanny to a cold room.  Dawn’s gentle glow seeped through naked windows lighting the room as she sat up.  Dazed, she stretched wiping the sleep out of her eyes and taking in her surroundings.  The smell reminded her of floor polish when she recognised it.  The air was laden with fumes of a new coat.

Fanny Fahrner, seventeen years old – found it strange when she remembered.  The world became so much bigger and stranger as the memories tip-toed back inside, cautiously, unsure on whether they should return or to run away screaming.  When they did, she was sure she should be dead.  Not alive and well rested.

Fanny was in the same room though, exactly from when she was murdered.  Here she was, sitting in the same clothes, in the exact spot and feeling normal; without aches or pains sensing that her reality was more like a dream.

There was no sign of the wicked man who had chased her into the room either.  Nowhere to be found.  Her memories of the night before etched in, uncertain of what order they belonged in but the dread of that night, the fright of the chase and the utter helplessness of it all appeared to her like a terrible nightmare.  One that was beginning to fade.  The details blurred. What had happened?  She wondered.

Fanny was busy in her thoughts when she noticed the wall length mirror reflecting light into her eyes.  Her hand naturally came up to protect her gaze when she noticed something strange about her hand.  She turned her hand over and once again; not a hint of dirt speckled her skin.

Something else she noticed strange about the room that it was completely bare but the lone mirror, staring out in the corner of the room, not directly in front of her but shyly placed away.  No furniture lay, or painting hung.

Another important detail itched at her with an unnerving feeling.  The derelict room she had supposedly fallen into showed no trace of dust or dirt either.  It was like new.  The floorboards were polished and the wall a clean pepper green.

The only thing dirtied was the lone mirror and yet, here it stood proudly towering over her but alone in a furnitureless room; its arrogant frame shining in the light.  It was all too strange.

The rest of the room was naked, no dust or cracked paint or broken floorboards and the collapsed ceiling had been repaired.  Nothing but the lone mirror and the despondent girl was left in this room.

Fanny stood and went to the window to let in some fresh air when a worried sensation distracted her.  It was her scarf, pulling, tightening around her neck.  She felt the scarf needed to be loosened.  Fiddling with it she coiled her fingers around her neck, and pulled.  The scarf came free, though the feeling of something tight and uncomfortable still lingered, not chocking but enough to unsettle her.

Standing up, uncomfortable, the girl moved towards the mirror to see what was wrong.  As she came closer, although the dust on the mirror obscured her reflection, an oncoming sense of unease dawned to something new.  She moved faster, almost frantic as she swiped the dust away in a desperate stroke and saw the horror then.  An unkind feeling and knowing took shape in her mind.  It was the same “awareness” one felt in a nightmare.  But this was no dream – and her sense of panic would not disappear once she woke up.

It became all too real as last night’s events, the rest of what had happened – what she forgot, what she denied – came back to her.  The murder.  Hers.  How the man had strangled – had twisted and played with her – using the broken pieces of a mirror.  She had seen the pieces rip at her when he laughed.

It was this mirror, standing, staring – mocking her because it was this mirror that had killed her.   She had seen her reflection, strange, obscure – alien – as the man had taken her, the night she had died – its jagged edge cutting into her when he had finished.  Tearing.  The mirror had looked into her soul.

Death was her reflection as she screamed out at the girl with the bloodied neck, raw and open.  The laughing gash didn’t stop the scream.

Once, a long time ago, there stood an abandoned mansion resting on top of a hill, its proud grounds had decorated the land on the outskirts of a kind town, now fallen into shame and dust after war had eaten its pretty sites. 

In it lived a room, broken and collapsed.  The roof had fallen inside this part of the house and shattered a once beautiful mirror, long forgotten by its owners.  The mirror, in pieces, despaired in regret for being left behind.  In its loneliness it witnessed a horror and became a part of something again.  Piece by piece it grew strong as it captured the soul that screamed a scream that can only be heard in children’s nightmares.  The mirror kept a secret in the abandoned room. 

~~~

War – Poetry

War

By J. A. Weymouth

 

Weighed down by glass columns,

Their repetitious hand gestures,

And made up backstabbing

All were for trouble and war.

 

Simple changes from thought of mountains,

Awful skyless horizons – hindered.

The metal ark reaches and dips itself

Into horrid carcasses.

 

Made by a scattering, a calamity

Amongst solemn promise-breakers

They join – hands together,

To the ready. And fire off into an unknown

December.

 

Dirt and blood will be described in poems.

 

Members.  They shake.  Healthy and wicked.

A fountain of blood is too obvious.

So, the path will devour – watchless and

strangeless/skyless.

 

A titter of a wave in their millions

drowning the folks with a tremor.

Ribbon red over white faces – no vermillion.

John would kill his brother.

 

Something alone to be gone,

A shiver in the cave – a whimper.

Why should we shape a man to none?

Figuring with numbers and with no breather?

No scars.  No humiliation.

 

Repeat.

The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 1)

The Red Scarf [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

By J. A. Weymouth

It was a cool night.  Stone buildings were somewhat eerie in the dull street lights as shadows danced along the sombre walls.

The town’s narrow alley ways slowly diminished as sinister figures ran towards an open field.  A man with white twisted hair seemed somewhat feline in the shadows, as the girl running in front of him, attempted to escape his sight.  Her red scarf teased the man as it dangled in front of him, just out of his grasp.  The cat was chasing the mouse.

He was desperate to catch her scarf, for then he could pull her to the ground, and then have her, the man thought as the scarlet material flapped mockingly in front of him.

The girl’s breath felt short, and her legs struggled to maintain the race.  She could hear his raspy breath as he fought to catch up to her.

Several ominous faces looked down at her passively as the she ran by their windows.  She noticed them, and could not hate them.  The town’s red warning sirens had sung.  People were too scared to leave their loved ones and too afraid to risk their skins.  Shouts could be heard in the background, explosions; dull and distant.  An air raid was imminent.  Whispers and prayers could be heard in the dark.  War posters caught against the wind.

All emotion turned to terror, terror by the thought that evil was chasing her and by the horrifying realisation that nobody would try to save her.  Her only sanctuary was the lone semi-derelict mansion that stood clear just beyond the town’s edge, pass the stony walls.  Two dangers chased her, the bombings and the evil man behind her.  She was vulnerable from both.

A light shone through a window in the raggedy mansion.  It was a beacon of hope.  It was also a dead end.  She ignored the thought as she ran for her life.

Pain shot through the man’s side. A stitch pulled his chest.  Age was against him but his longing for young things and the thrill of the chase was as fresh as the day he first started his game of cat and mouse.  His hunger and neediness helped him draw his hand closer to the red scarf only to curl his fingers over a loose thread. He missed.  The girl had taken a sharp turn into a deserted mansion making him lose his chance of catching her then.

Up the stairs they ran and towards the door.  A light shone through its cracks.  If someone was in there, he might lose his chance to play with his young toy to save himself and flee.  If not, it would be the perfect mouse trap.   The cat licked his lips.

The girl screamed as she felt the man draw closer, her heart pounding in her ears.  Adrenaline pushed her forward, faster, dulling her senses and making the world seem slow.  She grasped the door handle and forced herself through while she heard a triumphant and despicable laugh from behind.  The world was still slow but she soon felt something pulling at her throat.  The man had caught her scarf and the thing was chocking her as it slowly unwound.

Seemingly innocent, a broken floorboard tripped the girl as her scarf loosened and came free.  And just as the adrenaline subsided, the world caught up to her.  She fell to the ground in pain.  The room went dark as she heard a horrid noise.  The man was triumphant, he had caught his prey.  And then she forgot.

~~~

Graphic Novels – a passionate visual in the literacy world.

Why visual literacy needs to be taught MORE! Okay, so I wrote this when I was still at Uni doing my Dip ed. but I have been meaning to do something like this for a long… LONG time.

I love graphic novels and I am so passionate about them. They really need to be taught more in schools and I feel that students (and teachers) can get a lot from them in learning.  This is one of the reasons I have started this blog, to share these passions and hopefully, other people feel the same and get something from this.

So, here I am sharing this paper that I presented a while ago (but still very relevant) and I think it has a lot to say.  I have included a list of some recommendations not just for teaching, but for reading as well. These graphic novels/manga/comics in general are a great source of literature. I have read some of the most amazing stories in manga/graphic format!

I will also do reviews for the graphic novels/manga/comics I have recommended in good time.  So here we go… enjoy ~

Graphic Novels

For a generation that has been brought up with television, video games and the internet graphic novels provides for young readers an engaging form of medium that offer complex stories and challenging ideas as a visual rather than written literacy.  Graphic novels are popular among young readers because of such visual emphasis in their lives.  The appeal of the graphic novel is that it has the same flexibility as the comic book.  Graphic novels can be used to tell phenomenally complex stories in a simple way.  The reader reads the text and analyse images to interpret the story.

What are Graphic Novels?

Graphics novels are book-length, high-quality comic books that introduce children and adults to a wide range of literacy fiction and non-fiction subjects.  Graphic novels stand alone as complete works, as opposed to comic books, which are usually short serials.  While many people believe graphic novels to be dark “superhero stories” full of sex and violence, written for adults, graphic novels however are written for all age groups – from elementary aged children to adults.  Graphic novels can also include works of non-fiction.  Graphic novels are not a genre; however they are a format that covers many genres making them appeal to a wide range of readers.

The Japanese published graphic novels (or comics) are highly popular with young people around the world. This type of graphic novel is called manga.  Manga can also be associated with the art form, and does not necessarily have to be published in Japan.  Many western writers have published work in manga form.  Manga is known for its highly stylised and intricate artwork and, unlike American comics that concentrate on superhero fantasy adventures, manga spans a wide range of topics.

Visual Literacy

Essentially, the “comic book” format of a graphic novel is called sequential art.  This definition makes graphic novels a combination of text, panels, and images, which requires the reader to read text and analyse images to interpret the story.  The relationship between text and image means graphic novels are not as simple as they may seem, instead graphic novels can be quite challenging to read.  Because of the interplay of text and images, graphic novel readers have learned to interpret body language, expressions and symbolic meanings of certain images and postures, metaphors and similes.  This interaction of visual and text give greater meaning then either one would on its own and can challenge the reader to engage with a text in a slightly different way.

Graphic Novels as classroom text

Teachers and parents may feel discouraged by using graphic novels as text reading.  This is because graphic novels may seem to be a “dumbing-down” of literacy.  This couldn’t be more wrong.  Graphic novels have enormous potential use in the classroom.  Why is this?  Fundamentally, graphic novels can be used as a bridge for wider reading.  They enable the struggling reader, motivate the reluctant one, and challenge the high level learner.   Graphic novels benefit all students, regardless of their reading skill or level of engagement.  Graphic novels provide images to compliment the text and help with students’ understanding of what they read.  This does not mean that the graphic novel should replace classroom classics instead they could be used alongside these classics.

Recommended Graphic Novels

For classroom use

Macbeth; Illustrated by Hoshine, Ken; No Fear Shakespeare; Spark Publishing; 2008

Hamlet; Illustrated by Babra, Neil; No Fear Shakespeare; Spark Publishing; 2008

Maus; Spiegelman, Art; Penguin Books; Genre: History

A story about the holocaust where the Jewish people are mice and the Nazis cats.

Ethel and Earnest; Brigg, Raymond; Pantheon Books; Genre: Real-life

A graphic memoir of the author/artist’s parents from their marriage in 1930 to their deaths within a few months of each other in 1971.

V for Vendetta; Moore, Alan; Lloyd, David; Vertigo; Genre: superhero, action

A terrifying portrait of totalitarianism and resistance

The Tale of One Bad Rat; Talbot, Bryan; Titan Books; Genre: real-life

The beautiful and dramatic story of a talented teenage girl struggling to regain self-worth and freedom from an abusive childhood.

When the Wind Blows; Briggs, Raymond; Penguin Books; Genre: Science Fiction

A heartbreaking story about a nuclear attack on Britain from the viewpoint of a retired couple, Jim and Hilda Bloggs.

Interactive Graphic Novels

Killer; the Interactive graphic novel based off Long Feu’s “The Killer”; Schiedon, Fons; Submarine Channel; retrieved 13/10/09

http://www.submarinechannel.com/content/killer/

Nawlz; interactive story-telling; SUTU; Phosphor Studios; retrieved 13/10/09

http://www.nawlz.com/

Manga

Naruto; Kishimoto, Masashi; Shounen Jump; Genre: Action, comedy, drama, adventure

A story based around a ninja world, staring Naruto Uzumaki, a hyperactive young boy with a demon sealed in his belly.

Recommended for 13+

Fruits Basket; Natsuki, Takaya; Genre: Supernatural, comedy, drama

Tohru Honda, an orphaned girl stumbles into the lives of an odd family.

Recommended for 13+

References

Frey, Nancy; Fisher, Douglas; Teaching Visual Literacy; Corwin Press; London; 2008: pp27-47

McCloud, Scott; Understanding Comics; Harper Perennial; Kitchen Sink Press; 1993; pp24-25

Bylsma, Wolfgang; Graphic Novels in the Classroom: an Overview; Oz Comics; Retrieved 14/10/09

http://www.ozcomics.com/Reading-Comics/Graphic-Novels-in-Schools/graphicnovelsintheclassroom.html

Snowball, Clare; Graphic Novels; Alia; Retrieved 12/10/09

http://www.alia.org.au/~csnow/research/index.html

V For Vendetta graphic image: johnny saturn.com; Scott Story, 2009, Powered  WordPress with ComicPress. Website http://johnnysaturn.com/2009/04/12/v-for-vendetta-movie-or-graphic-novel/; 18th of September, 2011

The power of “The Word” and how to take responsibility.

Words.  They are so powerful.  So much so that we have to take responsibility for them whether they’re written or spoken or text makes no difference.  If we don’t use certain words carefully, we may find ourselves hurt or… we might hurt others.

But what words do we have to be careful with?

As a member of the Y gen and as an English teacher I have to consider both sides of using “The Word”. The good words and bad words. It’s just a matter of how to understand which are the good words and which are bad words, but I think to really understand this concept, one has to really consider both sides morally… my generation – the Y gen who takes the view of bad words on a different slope to its previous generations the x gen and especially, the baby boomers and therefore are more likely to use “bad language” freely without concern for others.  So, even though it’s more socially acceptable, does that make it ok to say it?

Even though I may say it myself, and around friends in particular, there is a reason why bad language isn’t accepted at school.  Why? Because it’s wrong.  But will there be a day when it isn’t?

According to my other side, as an English teacher, for someone who teaches the English language, I consider that someone who has a good vocabulary is someone who avoids using the F word because generally the F word is a word used because the person cannot think of an effective enough verb/adjective/noun to use instead.  But my Y gen counterpart would simply say… is there really another word as effective as Fuck?

So this is where it gets tricky. Is Fuck a bad word? Or is it how it’s used? My English teacher counterpart would agree that the words, if used at all, should be used in a witty sort of way or for “lack of a better word”.

The Y Gen me would really just think that bad language can be used with friends. But, important where and when you use them.

But it’s important to consider both sides.  Is using bad language in public places where there are children or grandparents acceptable? Or is it really… kind of terrible of you?  We do have to consider others feelings.  But we can’t consider everyone’s feelings.  Because one way or another, you’re going to offend someone… but most of the time, these days, people don’t give a fuck.

People tend to generally see the use of  words as black and white.  Or is it really a matter of seeing this as a “grey” concept – by mixing the two. Can bad language be good language? And why are certain words acceptable these days, whereas only a few decades ago if I said “Fuck” out loud I would get myself into a bit of a pickle.

How far can we take bad language?