MayShortReads11: The Belief Artist
“You’re a con. None of these things work.”
said Shayla shaking the tiny glass bell with the silver heart for a clapper. It was pretty but Shayla wouldn’t admit that. She settled for holding it with the tips of her manicured fingers.
“That’s not true. I don’t lie.”
Deerun replied, unfazed.
“Don’t put on that benevolent holy being act with me. I know you think it’ll sell more of these…things…”
Shayla gestured to the tray of coins and medallions
“…but it irritates me.”
Her leather briefcase bumped the table and the coins clattered to the floor in a rain of metallic sound and plinking glass.
She stared at Deerun, horrified but his expression didn’t change. Taking her briefcase from her, he set it down carefully behind the counter. And they began picking up the pieces.
“It’s not an act but you’re not going to believe that, are you? Why do you have a problem with what I do?”
“Justify selling junk to people in the name of good luck.”
Shayla glared at Deerun as he set the try back upright. He took his time arranging all the objects just right before he turned.
“I don’t need to.”
he said finally.
Shayla wanted to throw something at him. He was so infuriatingly calm!
“…to you, I will. Faith gives people the means to deal with their lives. Everybody needs some reference point in their minds. Something that binds them to the idea that world is not a series of random events over which they have no control. And having tangible tokens, pretty trinkets if you will, reminds them.”
“You’re still toying with people’s beliefs.”
“I’m fulfilling a need for it. There is a difference. How am I any different from your clients who sell food products? You have a problem with the term ‘good luck’ but that’s just the name of my shop. None of the objects in the store claim to bring good luck.”
“You don’t exactly discourage people from thinking they do, do you?”
said Shayla sinking into the armchair by the window and safely away breakable objects.
“I let people persist in their stories. It comforts them, entertains them, makes them feel better. How am I different from a movie maker?”
Shayla chewed her lip, trying to think of a comeback. Then Deerun’s long hair and flowing shirt caught her attention.
“So you admit you’re nothing more than a cheap entertainer? That it’s all an act?”
Deerun smile took a few seconds to materialize and Shayla knew she had hit the chink.
“I’m not going to argue with me if you insist on denigrating me. Beliefs are stories. This is no more or no less an act than any author, artist or movie maker. And there is nothing cheap about entertainment.”
“That’s true. Today’s movie tickets plus popcorn and snacks have set me back for all of the weekend.”
Shayla replied as she breezed out to the entrance.
Deerun chuckled. He knew that was her way of apologizing. He checked the jewelery cases, shut the display cabinets and walked out to lock the store. Shayla was already hailing a cab. As they got in, he handed her a little red velvet pouch.
The little glass bell charm lay in the palm of Shayla’s hand.
“You wanted it.”
“No, but…heh, me? I never..”
“Be quiet. Just keep it. Wear it, carry it around or toss it into your drawer if you want.”
said Deerun and he shut the cab door.
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll break it?”
“No. I believe you’ll take care of it.”
On their next date, as Shayla opened her front door, a light caught Deerun’s eye briefly. He chose not to comment on the glass bell dangling from her key ring.
Very lovely story, the dialogue was very evocative, and the whole idea of storyteller in several media as auteur is very convincing. Plus, sucker for that tinge of romance.
I’m not usually a big fan of long discourses, but I think this one works well enough.
@febinmathew: Good to know! I liked your story on the same prompt better, though! 🙂
My pleasure. You think so? That’s really kind of you to say. Did you ever check out the other story I had written?
@febinmathew: The other one? Link please?
It was just a story I wrote before we did the exercise. You can find it here.
Take a stroll through the rest of the blog too, if it catches your fancy.
That’s the link up there.
@deenu rajput: Thank you. Care to read the rest and tell me your thoughts? They’re all under MayShortReads
i liked the story ..well enough….shayla comes across as shallow as compared to deerun…which is a pity…i presume that shayla has placed the charm at a location where dheerun could see it once he enters her house…? there is a strong romantic feel that hits u late…nice work
@ravishankar: Shayla may not be shallow. But she is a minor character in the story, turning up only to showcase Deerun. There are layers in her beliefs and Deerun realizes that she needs to believe in something without being reminded of it. And yes, the whiff of romance was intentional. Glad you liked it!
This has a nice little plot, which I have to admit to having skim read the first time I read it. The ‘explanations’ are a bit clunky, and you could have done the dialogue smoother. But the rationale is solid, and the plot is in the right direction. He ‘conversion’ could have been less contrived. Linked perhaps with her breaking goods. Or perhaps something particularly poetic that the boy said. Philosophy should be better hidden within the folds of dialogue, and shouldn’t smell through so directly. But that’s just an opinion.
@Ronaan Roy: Accepted in full. I wasn’t very happy with the dialogue or even character creation myself. This came from a prompt so I focussed on plot instead of the above two, which are generally better for me.