Prompt Response: Character DevelopmentMature

This is a response to http://www.protagonize.com/exercise/creative-writing-prompts/133153

Describe a building from the point of view of a man who just lost his only son in war. Do it without mentioning death, war, his son, or himself.Describe that same building at the same time of day and weather conditions, from the point of view of a man who has just discovered he's going to be a fatherThe same rules apply however, don't mention birth, or babies.

Note: I found this really difficult, but I suppose that means that I am developing myself. I managed not to mention most things, except the characters mentioning themselves, where I sadly failed, but I decided not to take out those bits.

The building is St Paul's Cathedral, London.

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The bells tolled the hour morbidly as a fifty three year old man traipsed up the broad flight of steps. The light reflecting from the white marble outside was hurting his eyes. The saints and apostles provoked him from above. How meaningless was their plea. He stepped through the smaller door cut in the immense, heavy wooden doors.

It was cold inside. The air smelt stale, he could feel centuries of pain and heartbreak in this place where generations had mourned. The floor, in chequered black and white marble tiles stretched out smoothly before him, only to be interrupted by incongruous columns, as pale as corpses, and scattering of ugly chairs that didn’t fit in with the rest of the building.

He glared up at the gaudy stained glass windows and garish ceiling artwork. Jesus mournfully stared back at him. High up between the gothic arches he saw images of the crucifixion, of women weeping, of human suffering. What was the point of this futile existence when it was so full of pain? He was filled with anger and disillusionment.

They had come here many years ago as a young family. Just as his father had brought him and his grandfather had brought his father as a boy, all those years ago. But here the journey ended. He was the last of his line. This fact still shocked him; it somehow refused to sink in.

He made his way downstairs to the crypt, he felt better down here, in the relative dark of the electric lighting, away from all that unnecessary splendour. All that grandeur stood for was the historical buying power of the church, showing off its wealth and strength. All the finance to create this building had been obtained under false promises, collecting money to supposedly save souls.

He stood observing the tomb of an ancient King, marble hands clasped around his warrior’s sword, pallid death mask betraying lost hope. The memory of this King’s reign had long decayed, but he felt less alone. The two men, one dead and one alive, were united in their defeat.

On his way out he passed a younger man. He was well dressed and scented; the wistful look on his face was simultaneously full of life and excitement. The older man sighed. He knew what lay ahead for this young man. He wanted to reach out and tell him to prepare himself for sorrow.

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The bells rang jubilantly as a thirty two year old man strode up the steps, two at a time. The colossal pillars of the Grecian style entrance soared high above him, as if they stretched halfway to heaven.  He felt insignificant and humble next to this grandiose construction, honoured to be entering this architectural masterpiece, one of the most astounding buildings in the world.

He grinned up at the saints on their pedestals, glistening in the rare sunshine. He marvelled at the detail of the angels and cherubs, the ornate fruits and flowers that decorated the building. He imagined the accomplished stonemasons working all those years ago, and how contented they must have been with the results of their toil.  They had left an inspirational legacy for future generations; they had strived so that the whole world might reap the seeds they had sown.  And now here he stood, not the boy he once was, but a man and on the cusp of his own future, his own legacy.

On stepping through the doorway he inclined his head and gasped in awe of the sheer scale of the interior. Ethereal pillars stretched up to golden blooms which were fashioned into sweeping domes and arches high above his head.  The ceiling was so intricate that it was impossible to absorb. He tenderly drifted down the airy aisle, flanked by white marble statues that seemed to knowingly watch him on his pilgrimage, until he stood beneath the almighty dome of the Cathedral. Colours danced above him, it was like the beauty of a star-ridden midnight sky was combined with all the colour of the most spectacular sunset ever known. The archangels and disciples looked down from their splendour with triumphant approval. Jesus stood resplendent, newly resurrected. The artists here had truly captured the essence of life. He had never seen anything so magnificent. He could feel centuries of hope and elation in this place where generations had come together to celebrate.

He prayed for hope, for the future, for life, and he was grateful. He felt nervous excitement growing in the pit of his stomach. Next time he visited he wouldn’t be alone. He couldn’t wait for that day.

The End

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