Saturday, 22 September 2012

Tragedy - a short story


“A tragedy”, they say. Then again, a lot of things seem to be called “tragedies” these days. People pretend the word means something important, something heart-wrenchingly sad, when in actual fact it was nothing but a vaguely interesting event in their mundane, mortal lives. They don’t know what a tragedy really is. They know the stories, they watch the curtain fall, then they dust off their hands and walk away feeling thoroughly righteous, knowing that such a thing will never happen to them.

They see the dead lying in the ripples on the surface, but never what waits in the deep for the survivors.

Remember Benvolio? He was never terribly auspicious, was he – only the proverbial third musketeer, trailing along in the wake of his two friends as they wrought the special brand of havoc that can only be wrought by boys who think themselves men. Of course, it’s the other two that people weep for. Poor Mercutio, spitted for his loyalty and dying with a laugh on his lips, and dear Romeo, dear romantic Romeo, lying eternally in the arms of the woman he never truly got a chance to love.

At least they died quickly.

What they don’t tell you is that Benvolio never reconciled himself to the deaths.  Every day, week after week, year after year, he’d sit by their graves for hours on end, talking to them. He repeated every joke they ever told one another, relived every drink- and daring-fuelled misadventure. He even drank himself stupid in the graveyard on their birthdays, and ran home screaming in the dark. If you listened, you could hear their names amidst his tears.

He didn’t so much die as fade away, like ashes in the wind. 

Remember Horatio? Yes, that strange friend of Prince Hamlet’s, the one who was never there when you expected him to be. The one who stood about and looked shocked as half the court died on each other’s swords, remarked upon only in the mad ravings of a dying prince. The sight of all that death burned itself so deep into his mind that it was impossible to gauge out. 

He tried, though.

It seems that fate wasn't in the mood to indulge, for the knife didn’t go deep enough, and only succeeded in taking his eyes. Or maybe he tried too hard. The madness wasn’t long in settling itself where his eyes used to be.

He died screaming.

I could go on. 

I could tell you about how newly-crowned King Malcolm burned a thousand of his subjects on pyres of green wood on charges of witchcraft. 

I could tell you how Don Pedro hung himself, three months after he watched his treacherous brother swing from the very same tree. 

I could tell you how Sebastian wept when he discovered that the pirate Antonio, his many-time champion and saviour, had been executed on Duke Orsino’s orders the very day after the duke’s wedding to Sebastian’s own sister. 

I could tell you how pale Cassio turns at the mention of Cyprus, how he posts guards at every door and lies awake in the night, haunted by whispers and visions of handkerchiefs.

And I can tell you exactly why you'll believe me. Things are not always what they seem . . . and who knows it better than I?

I’m Iago. 

Honest.

22 comments:

  1. That was really... tragic (I know. Very profound.) I've never read any Shakespeare. From the way you paint it, I think I'd sit there bawling my eyes out. Sniff. Tragedies are just so... tragic. :)

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    1. Hehe, you ought to read it - it's literally my favourite stuff on earth. As in, ever.

      They are really sad when you consider the how and the why they happened - I don't often cry, but I do just sit there with a cold feeling in my chest and feel sorry and sad and want to hug people . . . or strangle Shakespeare.

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  2. You sit here, copying the Bard. This thing is almost Shakespearean fanfiction without the iambic pentameter. I'd say that's pretty tragic in itself; if you're going to copy Shakespeare, you've got to have the pentameter.

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    1. Eh, I probably should have done. I defend myself by saying that the character I've borrowed from his works for a persona wouldn't set much store by rules . . . and I did write it as part of an exercies for school itself, which we had half an hour for, and I later touched up.

      Nevertheless . . . your comment has given me an idea.

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    2. No... not poetry... NOOOOOOOoooooooo!

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    3. Ahahahaha, perhaps it's just as well this wasn't written in iambic pentameter then! And to be fair Shakespeare DID use prose sometimes - mostly when lower-ranking characters were muttering to themselves or their friends.

      See? I have spared you much ;)

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    4. Indeed you have. I love the idea of iambic pentameter, but it takes me such a long time to read. It doesn't flow for me.

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    5. That's slightly ironic - Shakespeare used iambic pentameter because it best mirrors the natural pattern of human speech! Or, at least, he thought it did. I find it does, mostly, though admittedly the run-on sentences in his verse speeches can get a little confusing at times. Curse you, Hamlet! xD

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    6. Poetry... can't understand why someone would be stupid enough to write a novel in it. Or a play. But I shouldn't let people hear me calling the Bard stupid...

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    7. Eh, it was what people did in the Shakespearean period. They was strange peeps *shrugs*

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  3. Beautiful prose! I have a Shakespeare idea bubbling around in le old brainpan, involving the Midsummer Night's Dream lot. Cause, let's be honest, Demetrius was always going to be an arse to Helena wasn't he? No matter the amount of flower juice...

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    1. Eyyyup. Revolting character, that Demetrius. Needs a good kicking and sorting out . . . which I doubt adoring Helena would give him.

      I'm very glad you liked it! I certainly enjoyed writing it :P

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  4. Sheesh, AND I had creepy music playing while I read it. Sniff. I want to say something profound, but I'm very naive about Shakespeare. The words go backwards for me. Maybe I should read the books upsidedown? Anyway, despite my ignorance on the subject, I liked reading it. Made me think of all the messed up secondary characters authors leave to spiral out of control in their own dark little worlds.

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    1. Hehehe, that's what I was going for. I was thinking about it while reading Macbeth the other night (as you do) and I thought . . . I bet Iago would know. He knows EVERYTHING.

      As for reading Shakespeare, no fear if you dont' find it easy. I just have a weird talent for being able to read complicatd archaic words xD

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  5. Somehow it does not surprise me in the lest that you spoke from Iago's point of view. But very intriguing...

    *Looks over at a few of her own secondary characters* Sharaon's nodding her approval and would like to converse with Iago at some point in time.... *eyeroll*

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    1. Oh dear gods, no. Don't let ANYONE near Iago. Seriously, his character is based on Satan. Absolutely foul . . . and I love him to bits, because he's SO MUCH FUN. And he says exactly what everyone else is thinking xD

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  6. Horatio/Hamlet = OTP.
    OTP FOREVER. FORGET OPHELIA. (Actually, don't. I feel sorry for her. I'd like to give her a hug and kick Laertes in the balls for her.) BUT SERIOUSLY. HORATIO/HAMLET.

    So that was a mature and meaningful reaction to your tragic post.

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    1. Haha, I don't mind. I actually thought of you and your ship while I was writing this and thought "I have to put this in . . . just for her amusement" ;)

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    2. ALL OF THE HAMLATIO FEELS.
      I've christened it that. Because.

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    3. Aheheheehehehe, I'm glad.

      Also, to your first comment . . . is it wrong that I kinda liked Laertes? I don't really blame him all that much for what happened. He's a hot-headed dimwit, but he's hardly got the brain to be malicious, has he?

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    4. Well, no, I don't HATE Laertes, I just hate how he behaves to Ophelia. He's so hypocritical.

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    5. He is - no doubt of that. Bit of a plonker all round, really.

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