I was thrilled that one of the stories I read and chose to go into the finals, “Sleeping With Alcohol” by Donna Steiner, ended up a prize winner. It is an emotionally devastating look at what alcohol abuse does to a relationship.
In addition to the honor of being asked to read for the contest, it was interesting to be on the other side of the fence; looking at other writer’s work and going through the process of deciding if it met the criteria to go to the next level. Two of the stories I chose didn’t make the winner’s list, but I felt so strongly about them, I really wanted to have the chance to share them with my blogging audience. One of them, “Love Lessons”, by Laura Shumaker was previously featured in a post from September.
The other, “The Glass Curtain” by Ana Nieto, I would like to feature tonight. I also did a little mini-interview with her so that you can get a feel for the writer behind this deeply felt story.
WA: How long have you been writing, and what were some of your early inspirations?
AN: I started writing verses and small poems when I was 8. I sort of left writing for a long time, picked it up, and left it again. So I have had my stages. It was not until 3 years ago , when I left home for Germany, that I truly came back to it. Some of my very early inspirations were Marco Polo, Tom Sawyer, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and King Arthur’s Knights. I loved stories about travelling and adventure!
WA: The Glass Curtain is very intense. Was there something specific you went through that triggered the writing of this story?
AN: I was in Berlin, sitting in front of the famous Victory Column. I was physically tired fo all of the sightseeing, and emotionally overwhelmed by all the beauty and meaning behind the city’s monuments. I was inspired the modern glass buildings, especially the imposing Main Train Station. I was feeling a little troubled because I had one month left in Germany after being there one year. I got inspired by all the glass buildings; their beauty, their transparency. It really made me reflect and see a beauty beyond the simple reflections it made. I felt alone, desperate and anxious. I needed to make a decision between staying in Germany and going back. I was scared to make the wrong choice, but I had a fire inside me, something telling me I needed to go after my dreams.
WA: What’s coming up in the near-writing future for you?
AN: I will continue to write on my blog (anayosten.com), and hopefully find some time between homework to get some short stories and poems written. I want to get more involved in the writing sphere through contests and getting in touch with other writers like Wren. I would like to eventually write a novel, but I don’t think I have the time and focus quite yet, as college life keeps me pretty busy.
Thank you Ana, and here is her wonderful story, “The Glass Curtain”:
“The Glass Curtain”
In the midst of this room there are people. In the midst of these people, I stand. This room is very peculiar, for in the middle stands a wall. One that seems quite familiar…
It is not just any wall. It is a thin one, made of glass. I stand only a few centimeters apart from it, my face toward it, and my back against the people. The biggest problem is that this curtain is the one thing separating me from what I want the most. It is like a precious crystal box, keeping me from the treasure inside. Although I stand before it, I fail to see, even as clear as it should be, what hides underneath this transparent world. This beautiful wall is deceiving, because as frail as it appears to be, it represents the most intimidating resistance.
The people in the room stare through the reflection of the mirroring glass. I look into their eyes, one person at a time. These eyes, these reflections, are making me crazy. I am so distracted by them that I do not allow myself to look beyond the obstruction. I cannot look beyond this wall that is mirroring everything behind me. I am stuck in this reflection. The reflection captures my very own loved ones, the people who have changed my life, who have always been there, who will always be there. A haunting reflection of my past.
I have never felt so frightened. What I may find behind the glass does not scare me so much. I know that, whatever it is, will be what I have always desired. What scares me the most is what I will not find when I stop looking at the reflection. The thought of not seeing these faces petrifies me. I know in my heart it will be the cost of being able to see through the glass. Perhaps I only need to move a few steps. Maybe all it takes is a slight change of position. This way the light will allow me to see a different perspective: one where I can clearly see what lies inside my treasure box. But I don’t even dare to take that first step. My greatest fear is that by looking away from the reflection, I will stop seeing the people closest to me, who support me. It is terrifying not to know how long I will not see them. What if I cannot find the angle that will reflect their faces again?
I press my hands against the glass. I can almost feel it. It is waiting for me behind there… My future… The story can be one of three versions. Maybe I would never break down this wall. The years would go by, and I would still be standing here, idle. However, the reflection would remain there with me. Always as a comfort, as a companion. Perhaps through the years I would have been able to look beyond. By then it would have been too late. My strength drained by time and the opportunity long gone. My hands would become too weak to tear this glass curtain apart. Then I would only stare, my face pressed against the glass, not even gazing at the faces anymore. Rather, at what I could have had, which I caged inside that box of mine. This paper-thin transparency would always stand between us, and I would never reach what had always been so close in my life. Even though it stands in the same room, shone upon by the same light that caused the reflection.
The second possibility is slightly more merciful; maybe in the end I would have never been able to peek inside. I would remain ignorant, but I would not impose the cruelty to my heart of knowing what I could have had and I was not brave enough to claim. Perhaps it will be better this way. Happy are the ignorant… and the dumb… they say…
I hope neither of those two will happen.
The third possibility –and in some opinions, the best choice, may be the hardest one. It may also be the most painful, because it implies not only daring to look beyond the mirror, but breaking the glass wall. Those glass cuts could be painful. They could cut deep, and take a long time to heal. Once I looked through, the faces would disappear. Loneliness would take their place. However, I would open the treasure. I would reach my goal. I would accomplish that, which seemed impossible. After breaching the wall, I would finally know what mysteries were held captive on the other side of the room.
Would I be happy? Once I see, once I am through? Would I lose my old and dear treasure of portraits forever? I would just need to constantly tell myself that even when I do not see the people behind me they will always be standing in the same room with me.
How long will I stand in front of this wall? Will I keep my hands pressed on this cold surface? Hopefully, someday not so far away from now, I will find the courage to look beyond, knowing I will not have to look back to those faces. So I will be able, on my own, to open this frail, but imposing, crystal treasure.