A Parallel Hour

U6th IB pupil Victor De Thuin Gaviao’s original short story mirrors ‘The story of an Hour’ (1894) by Kate Chopin. It offers a parallel scene, in which Mr Mallard has just been relocated to a different place of work. The story follows his return home, in which he takes a delayed train and a short walk, followed by his ongoing depression, accentuated by the particularly bad day he is having. On the way, he remembers his wife, which symbolises a small beacon of hope for the day as his mind is lustful and material. However, these thoughts are shortly brought back to reality when his depression continues and develops even further. The death of his wife shocks him, and makes him realise the cause of his depression: his modular, every day routine which has no real immaterial benefit.

The Story of a Parallel Hour

Mr Mallard was frustrated. His transfer to a different firm had shaken him. His rhythm was displaced, signalled by the unsettled fidgeting of his hand in his tweed trouser pocket. His knuckles grew white on his gripsack handle as thoughts of his misfortune throughout the day surfaced. The sudden relocation of workplace, the misplacement of his cuff-link, and now, the delay of his train.

He sat on the cold station seat, his eyes trailing precarious drops of water as they meandered from their perches in the roof-tiles, diving into scattered puddles on the ground. His dull, solemn face remained unchanged until the only shred of hope for the day strolled into his mind: returning to his sleeping marionette, who unconsciously awaited her handsome hero.

His lips curled gently into a disconcerting smile, parallel to the growth of his surprisingly inappropriate thoughts. These incongruous feelings spread throughout his mind, blood rushing to the north and south of his body, until… his emotions ceased, abruptly interrupted by the loud clanging of a train bell.

His return home was prolonged, and strangely enough he felt a slight tension the whole way. A shadow had loomed over him, and he felt strangely out of place, disconnected. A sensation of death. This perception only fuelled his irritation towards the irrelevant, over-paid workers who delayed his train. His indignation escalated, and in congruence, so did his lust. As he sat in a cushioned, expertly tailored, first class seat, he looked up. Was stress and constant fatigue worth it? For a menial, slightly more comfortable trip home. To a home where even his relationship dwindled on a string, as his ability to love grew weaker and weaker. These ideas trailed him, and his depression only grew.

Belatedly, he arrived at his station; his home was a short walk away. Again, thoughts of his depression trailed him. His lust had dissipated early, and his mind was far from those ideas. His eyes shifted to a fluttering bird, shuffling to its nest. There was no metaphorical ideal to be had in this vision; as he himself knew, returning to a bustling, friendly home was impossible. Yet, a familiar, oak-wood door with a familiar brass handle stood before him. Red bricks, elegantly decorated windows and a couple of hedges made up the typical London house in which he lived. His face sagging to a frown, he reached into his blazer pocket.

A jingling of keys and an accustomed creaking of a door signalled his return. He closed his eyes and unbuttoned his shirt, his body moving autonomously to the everyday rhythm he was so used to. As he got to the crescendo of his orchestra (the removal of his jacket) he was taken aback by a piercing scream. His head violently turned to the stairway, and an unexpected scene was dramatically unveiled. His friend Richards, whose expression was of both shock and confusion, stood frozen, and behind him, a delicate figure collapsed to the ground.

Realisation flowed through Mr Mallard as he began to understand who had collapsed, and suddenly, he was greeted with an epiphany. The entirety of his dull life, the doldrums of his every day routine, it was all materialized into a physical metaphor: a repetitive song which kills all joy.

Victor De Thuin Gaviao, U6th IB pupil

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