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The last time she bled, she swore to never open her heart again. Never again to the impurities of those that wished to defile her, contaminate the childlike innocence of a young, star-studded soul.

But Adaline’s greatest strength brought on her downfall: her unfailing belief in the goodness of the world, her unbridled faith that every soul was brought into this universe for nothing short of making miracles. She never reconsidered the repercussions of her naiveté, not until she stood at the edge of a cliff, with the pieces of what was left of her in her small, quivering hands.

The very first time they had cut her, she had bled Moonlight. Silver pools of shimmering diamonds oozed out the gaping holes in her chest and pooled at her feet, mixing in with her thick tears. She had never known pain before, a stranger to the ways of the world. That day, Adaline fell. That day, she learned of mortality of the spirit.

The second time, they did not break her, not completely, not yet. But it was enough for her self-sewn stitches to come undone, as did she by the words they stabbed her with. They weaponized the truth, a thing of beauty, and wielded it as a weapon, slashing her across the throat and leering at the voice that gushed out. Her words were no longer hers, her thoughts reduced to whispers no one ever heard or cared to acknowledge.

Viridian seeped out from the tender wounds of her heart; a reflection of the lush green Earth she had learned to love, a mirror of the bright blue skies that had once been Home. The second time, Adaline learned of the immortality of her scars, of pain.

The third was her last. She saw it coming, all the telltale signs of caution. There could be no greater danger than the deceptive toxicity of a poisoned love – the way it did not transform but attempted to convert her. The way it did not accept but reform her. The way it gave her nothing that love should but broke in her everything that it possibly could.

The Blood was thick and clotted as it flowed like rivers down her body, painting her red with the transgressions of generations passed. She did flinch at the rusty, metallic taste of it on her muted mouth. It tasted of their modern devices. The final time, Adaline did not feel the transience of her being. She simply did not feel.

Her trembling hands held the last of her: her jugular throbbed, less certainly with each passing second; her heart reduced to nothing but scattered remnants of gray, rusted cogs and screws; her soul, dissipating.

With every step she took closer to the edge of Never, the trembling grew still. An unsettling calm washed over her as she peered down, the voids in her eyes consuming the oceanic abyss beneath her.

And when her palms overturned, tipping the individualistic ingredients of her unique creation into the nothingness below, Adaline was no more.

The trail of bloodstained footprints was the last the skies saw of her as they weeped, droplets of a harsh rain washing away the grief of another of their children lost to this world. The red disappeared and with it, so did she, as she ventured into the faceless, plastic masses of the empty vessels that walked the Earth.

Alive, but not living.

/Adaline/: the noble one

Beatrice Reviews “Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates

“Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates

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In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model American couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank’s job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is now about to crumble. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves. 

It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity

What. A. Novel.

Revolutionary Road had been on my to-read list for the longest time but I had repeatedly put it off, hearing from friends and acquaintances that the subject matter was ‘dreary and depressing’. Not that I have anything against heart-wrenching novels but in my mind, the prospect of reading about a failing marriage for a couple who deluded themselves into chasing the grand illusion of the ‘American Dream’ could wait.

And if you’re putting it off too: stop. Wait no longer. Grab your copy of Richard Yates’ brilliant masterpiece and devour it. Afterward, watch the feature movie starring none other than the marvellous Leonardo DiCaprio and captivating Kate Winslet. That’s what I did and boy, was that an emotional ride.

You’re painfully alive in a drugged and dying culture.

April and Frank Wheeler are the textbook definition of that adventurous, explorative couple that blindly believe they are better than the rest of the world; a world confined to a dull existence that goes hand in hand with conformity in suburban America. Or at least, they try to be.

Yates’ does a fine job of examining the 1950s as a time driven by conformity in exchange for the promise of economic and social security. The writing is, no doubt, wonderful. I found myself turning the page as each line connected effortlessly to the next, painting vivid pictures in my head as if I, too, were in the same race for meaning and beauty out of life as the characters are.

However, that’s where the satirical elements come in. I couldn’t help but laugh and snort derisively through April and Frank’s (multiple) heated arguments. They say communication is key in a relationship and I couldn’t agree more but the two, as much as they talk (with Frank doing the majority of the talking) fail to grasp each other’s feelings. Communication is dead if there is no attempt made to truly understand and relate to what the other is going through or trying to express. And that’s where Frank and April fall short, amidst several other things.

The two entertain a shared illusion of superiority, characterised by their arrogance in running after the ‘American Dream’ while belittling those around them. However, they refuse to confront their own shortcomings and this is where the real tragedy lies – not in being trapped to a dull routine-based life but in their inability to face their own demons, instead choosing to find excuses for their dissatisfaction in other things.

Although I heavily disliked the characters themselves, I couldn’t help but amaze over the beautiful way in which they are etched out throughout the novel by Yates. Frank Wheeler, to put it into today’s colorful lingo, is full of bullshit. I do not wish to dwell too much into the details of his persona, nor the (slightly) favorable character development once the ghosts of his past are revealed, but Frank is poison to April as much as she is to him.

Here are two lonely souls that strive so hard to be this ‘perfect couple’ that the neighborhood views them as, but beyond the facade of their effortless partnership lies the wistfulness of having rushed and projected the promise of happiness and perfection onto the wrong person. Yates illustrates the dangers of romanticizing irrational dreams into theatrical possibilities, in place of accepting one’s limitations in a society driven by conformity.

The character spotlight extends beyond Frank and April Wheeler, with one particular favorite being John Givings. John’s character represents exactly what Frank and April strive to be but tragically fail at. He is a symbol of rebellion against the routine and conventional societal values of the 1950s. Described and no doubt viewed by the two as a “nut case” for having been wheeled off to an insane asylum, he’s probably the one person in the novel that calls things out for what they are and sees through the troubled couple.

Now you’ve said it. The hopeless emptiness. Hell, plenty of people are on to the emptiness part; out where I used to work, on the Coast, that’s all we ever talked about. We’d sit around talking about emptiness all night. Nobody ever said ‘hopeless,’ though; that’s where we’d chicken out. Because maybe it does take a certain amount of guts to see the emptiness, but it takes a whole hell of a lot more to see the hopelessness. And I guess when you do see the hopelessness, that’s when there’s nothing to do but take off. 

The novel is a must-read. There’s something for everyone to take away. We might not be living in 1950s America but there is truthto this story. Yates covers various important themes such as feminism (in specific, through the lack of choice and April’s need for liberation), the cost of freedom and the tragedy of unrealized dreams in a world where they were considered foolish. Yates shows us the bitter truth of mediocrity and the startling reality that may unfold in one’s search for perfection: a prison of one’s own making.