Image created in Canva by me utilizing its free bckgrnd and image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
The Ink Well is engaged this month in the Fast and Furious Festival. That means a month of fun, excitement, and learning. Day 4 of the Festival deals with Story Arc. I'm excited to learn from a different perspective how to make my story more precise with 4 simple steps.
If you'd like to join in this festival, then check it out for Day 4 here.
Day 4 Prompt - Story Arc
Choose one item from each section: A, B, C and D (you can select them or write them on slips of paper and randomly select one item from each pile).
Now you are equipped with everything you need to develop your story: a main character (the protagonist from A) with a problem (from B), a secondary character (possibly an antagonist from C) and the seemingly insurmountable obstacle (from D) to overcoming or coming to terms with the problem.
In your story, show us how you get from the beginning to the end, how the main character is thinking about or dealing with the problem, the other character and the obstacle, including the resolution to the story's conflict.
Feel free to try more than one - or write a second post another day!. Source of directions taken from The Ink Well Fast and Furious Festival - Day 4 Post.
When I was seven years old, I came to be alone. I don't remember all the details of how I got that way. I believe it had something to do with a strange sickness that caused a lot of the elderly people to die. What was left were the wales of the old and the cries of the young who had survived in this place near the city we call Dhaka.
I sat in the corner of the makeshift tent the day they came and placed thin blankets on my mom and dad, then them took away. I don't know what happened to my sister. I could no longer live there.
I was now alone and left to fend for myself. I was just a small boy. I didn't possess shirt or shoes. And I didn't know I was labeled a "street child".
But my name is Benjai, and I survived by learning how to use my sad eyes to solicit sympathy to help people. I eventually learned a craft and worked hard. The only thing of value they had to pay me for my efforts was a small amount to kept the hunger a day ahead. I try not to remember those times.
That was long ago. I am now old, being the age of sixty one. I would still be working had it not been for the accident. That's why my sister appeared after many years and took me to live in her tiny house for a while.
As the taxi pulled up to the curve, I couldn't remember visiting this part of town. At least there were buildings on this narrow street. The one I was going to live in at least had walls. It was better than the open space of the streets.
"Welcome Benjai. I'm happy you chose to come live with us." The countenance on the boarding house owner's face didn't match the words that came from his mouth as he opened the taxi door and helped me from the car. The driver collected his fee and left.
Once inside, he steadied me enough to get us up the stairs to the second floor where I would live in the first room on the right. Several small buckets set in different areas of the room collected water I could use to clean myself. The smell and feel were musty and dirty. The walls were bare with holes.
"The only rule I have is not to open the window." With that, the owner left me to become acquainted with my new home and new roommate, Gajinder.
The second floor. Five small rooms close together constituted this place they call a boarding house. From my room mate, I discovered that twelve residents lived in this building. Some slept two or three to a room that was clearly meant for one person.
I wasn't happy, and it wasn't my choice. I had to go along with my sister's circumstances. Her oldest son, Nabhan, was the only one earning a small wage.
Gajinder rarely spoke. I had quiet time all the time. This gave me time to reflect on what brought me here and how I could possibly leave. The four meals a week should've been enough.
Thirty days later, the room looked smaller than the first day.
"Don't you dare open that! You know the rules!" In a flash Gajinder darted over to the window. I had no interest in the outside; only to alleviate the smell in the room.
Curious as to why this strict rule, I brushed his hand away and managed to open it half way before immediately shutting it. Now I fully understood why the rule. The stench from two miles away was stifling. It was worse than the smell of our room. Why didn't I notice it in the taxi the day I arrived? I thought.
"What the hell is that smell?" I immediately closed the window.
"You see those birds circling at the end of the street? Well that's where they take you if no one comes to get you and you happen to die here. I didn't tell you that, understand?" He turned and walked away.
"Why do you stay here then?"
Gajinder spoke quietly now. "I have nowhere else to go except back on the streets. I help with the other residents and keep the rooms decent enough to attract more residents. I receive no wage."
My heart sank. I had to get a message to my nephew. I vowed to leave one way or the other. If only my legs could carry me farther than half way down the stairs.
That night sleep wouldn't come as I lay thinking over my life. I tossed on the small bed. Near morning I must have dozed off as I could feel my mom's arms and hear her singing softly as she fed me a few bites.
The next morning I woke. My heart was heavy. Tears welled up. I swiped at my eyes before they threatened to spill. I was an old man. I should not be acting like this, I thought. At least here I could conquer the nights by closing my eyes, placing my hands over my ears, and wishing my mother would appear while shutting out the visions and sounds for a while from my childhood of the other children' pleas from passersby.
The next day, I received a visit from the owner who stood in the doorway.
"Your family is late with the rent for this month."
"I understand," were my only words as I looked at him with disgust, then sat on the edge of my bed. I thought about how he paid close attention to the date and time the fee for each resident was due. The actual human beings in his care deserved no less than that level of attention.
He left. When Gajinder returned, I pleaded and he agreed to help me leave this place and return to my family.
That night I lay in bed with my eyes wide. My arms touched the sides of the walls as the room closed in around me. I nodded several times, eventually falling asleep. The low sound began as a single peck. Seconds later, another joined in; then another. Soon the flock of birds was bashing against the window.
"They're coming for me," I screamed as Gajinder shook me violently.
He left the room. Two hours later, he returned with a note. My nephew was coming for a visit in two days. I fell back onto the bed with a smile on my face for the first time since I arrived. I wanted to leave before sanity left me.
The loud knock at the door startled me as I thought surely the owner was back; this time to force me out on the streets. However, it was my nephew, Nabhan, standing in the doorway.
Our visit was pleasant. He told me about his new job. Still only receiving the minimum wage, he was happy with it.
"Can I leave with you now, Nabhan?" My bag is already packed."
"I just paid the past due rent, uncle. And I'm trying to save up for a motorbike. I'll have to talk it over with the family. If they agree, then I'll return at the end of the month before the next rent fee is due."
But I didn't want it paid up, I wanted to go with him now.
By the time he left, I'd calmed down enough to agree not to cause any problems. Nabhan was a noble young man. I didn't doubt his word when given.
This time I took my chair to the window. I'd obey the rules and not open it. I'd soon be leaving this place. It would become part of my past. Of that, I had a good feeling. For the first time, I wanted to see how the outside looked so I'd remember this particular leg of my journey.
Image by gerals from Pixabay
As I watched Nabhan walk in the middle of the street with his head down, I thought about the youth of today. The way they dress with the hoodie jackets, shorts, and flip flops. And the devices they carried with them. He said it was a mobile phone. I noticed he pulled the phone from his jacket.
I silently bid him a safe return home. You can't be too careful in this part of town. The block where the boarding house was situated looked deserted. A few abandoned houses with worn-out lanterns hung from dilapidated and boarded-up buildings.
The area looked abandoned. Thin, tall trees; one with long branches extended outwards over the empty street.
Cafes lined the next block. I squinted hard to distinguish just what was going on. Motorbikes lined the parking areas on both sides of street. There seemed to be activity as one man was riding his motorbike away from the area. Another one just sat on his.
It had been raining for the past several days. The sky was dark and overcast. The rain continued, but not as heavy. I didn't see that Nabhan had an umbrella; however, his hoodie jacket would protect him.
For the first time I saw the large birds of death circling low overhead about two miles away.
"Not this time," I said to myself out loud with a daring laugh.
I turned, walked back towards the bed, and fell into a peaceful rest.
I approached this Day 4 assignment by completing the story from Day 2 in which I had only jotted down notes. Doing that helped me to fill the details once I satisfied the four requirements provided in developing my story.