Drama General

Ayn

March 29, 2019
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Ayn

by Thedude3445

 


1919. Russia. The snow is cold, but the darkness is colder.

The “searchers” are in pursuit. A young woman sprints through the winter night, her boot sloshing on every step. She is wanted for questioning by the Communist government, at least that’s what the warrants will say. But she, just like everyone else in this world, knows exactly what it actually means.

A boat for America is just up ahead. She drops her lantern, leaving its glow to flicker behind her. She can’t reveal the secret location of the ship to the searchers, for if she does, their entire operation would be at risk.

She hears dogs barking in the distance. Even though her chest pains and her ears are frozen, she continued running as quickly as her body would let her. This young woman has to escape, she has to.

Finally, just around the bend, she sees the small river whose mouth leads to the ocean. She sees the small boat, no bigger than the smallest of tugboats, with six people already jam-packed in there. She made it.

“You, girl, what is your name?” the captain asks her.

“Ayn. Ayn Rand,” she says, panting.

The captain checks his list, and then nods. “Climb aboard.”

Ayn made it to the boat. She is safe from the searchers.

A new life awaits her. In America. The land of the free, the home of the brave, and just across that shining sea.

***

It is dazzling, even the thousandth time Ayn sees it. Looking at that display of massive skyscrapers, buildings stretching up into the heavens, each filled with thousands upon thousands of people, is an utter delight.

Only a truly magnificent world could hold such wonderful displays of progress, of power, of the beauty of an artist, working his magic into designs that would be on this Earth long after he passed into the ether.

It is the fourth year that Ayn Rand has lived in New York City, after her perilous expulsion from her homeland, and the journey out of war-torn Europe. America is different than the Old World; it has space, it has new ideas, it has opportunity.

She has established herself as a copywriter for a small advertising agency, writing the descriptions, requests, and practically anything else asked of her by the dozens of companies that employ her. Her English is far from proficient, but she makes up for it with her tenacity.

Out in this new world of hers, eating a sandwich as she walks down the streets of Manhattan, she wonders how such a world could even exist. Is it the magic of the ether, flowing through all beings, propelling such a universe of the future into existence? No. Indoor plumbing seems like something only a wizard could accomplish, but Ayn knows better.

It is the struggle of humanity.

Each individual human possesses all the knowledge of all his ancestors, wrapped up inside each particle of his being. If tapped, each human could reach their full potential. And that is what these great men are doing every day, even among all the rabble who are content to live their existences in mediocrity.

They are like the mythical titan Atlas, holding up the world with their power and preventing it from falling into chaos and disarray, like another wave of death like the one that took her parents’ life during the war.

At this moment, Ayn wonders: will she become determined to tap into the full potential within herself and become the best she can be? Will she become one of these great men, holding up the world on her shoulders?

The thought intimidates her. For the moment, she merely wants to finish her sandwich and then return to work to write a newspaper ad.

And then... she bumps into a man. She drops her papers all over the ground, and rushes to pick them up before the wind carries them off.

The man turns around and hurries to helps her. His hair is slicked back, dark blonde, and his face is pale like quartz. He looks unfriendly, but he is indeed helping her. “I am so sorry about this,” he says to her.

“No, it was my fault,” she says. “Thank you.”

“Then maybe I can accept your gratitude by inviting you to a lovely dinner this evening at my friend’s restaurant,” he says, extending his hand, covered in a black leather glove, and waiting for her to shake it.

“I would be honored, Mister...”

“It’s John,” he said. “John Galt.”

***

The nightlife in this modern New York is a strange experience. One night and a dinner, and Ayn is already in the bed of this mysterious John Galt. She is naked and she gazes out the window of the thirty-fifth-floor, overlooking the whole of Manhattan.

Tonight is not her first time experiencing the wonders of sex, but this is the first time that she has realized how little it means to her. Back in her homeland, in Mother Russia, this would be unthinkable.

A world without access to pleasures of love and human contact is not one Ayn wants to live in, though. This modern world is exactly what she wants in her life. From this moment on, she realizes that her homeland is no longer her home; New York is.

This man, next to her asleep in this too-large bed in this too-large apartment, was so kind to her, and yet seems to have been preoccupied with only one thing; her body. Did he actually care to help her with the intention of being kind, or was the end result all he desired?

John Galt... who is he? If Ayn could use some magical powers, contacting the ether and commanding it to probe this man’s mind, what would she find? What kind of person is he? What are his hopes, his dreams, the moments that stick in his brain he can no longer place?

While she is immensely curious, she decides it is not meant for her to know. It is his life to live, not hers, and there is no point in her trying to invade his privacy for the sake of knowledge.

It is better to simply lie here, wake up in the morning as the nightlife disappears and the cars begin rushing through the streets again, and return to work without a word. It will be for the best.

Will John Galt be angry? Is he one of these future great men, destined to hold up the world? Is Ayn making a big mistake by abandoning him so? She does not know. And she does not care.

Unless that wasn’t what she wanted at all.

You begin to realize that this story of Ayn Rand is not true, and that I have been making the story up entirely, based on a complete lack of knowledge of the woman known as Ayn Rand. I have never once read The Fountainhead, nor do I understand what Objectivism actually is.

Ayn doesn’t seem to care, though.

“I don’t,” she says to me.

***

Ayn happens upon Times Square, which, not yet the center for American capitalism that it will become, is still a busy sight in the middle of this day. Cars and carriages and people make for an endless expanse of bodies.

She’s just a copywriter, and just one human of millions in a city so large her ancestors could not have dreamed it in their sleep. What was there for her to accomplish beyond the life she had already made, except for to become a great person, bringing her life into the life of all? And most of all, what point in living her life was there if she wasn’t the woman she was supposed to be? Even if she had no idea what that was.

Even if that wasn’t what she wanted.

Ayn attempts to call a taxi cab over to her. She fails to make it to the front of the street and get anyone’s attention, and wonders if it’s better this way, if she is better off walking back home. I agree, though my propensity towards saving money by skimping on convenience is not a factor shared by all.

You may wonder why I write a story about Ayn Rand if I know nothing about her, and I cannot answer. It was as if I heard her calling out, running through the Siberian darkness all those years ago, hoping someone would save her.

And save her I did.

I don’t know what her philosophies are, and I don’t know if she did anything particularly nasty to anyone else. I don’t know if she ever met L Ron Hubbard, or if she died wondering what her life was all about. All I know is that this Ayn Rand is safe, living in New York in 1923.

She gives up on finding a taxi and begins to walk back towards the intersection. She looks at me in the eyes, her dull green eyes meeting mine, and nods slowly. “Thank you for saving me,” she says. “But I have decided I don’t want to become like one of those great men. I don’t want a life that can be dramatized into a film, or written about in an encyclopedia decades in the future. I just want to live my life the way I make it.”

And that is exactly what she will do. I let go of Ayn’s hand and she begins to wander off, walking back home through the bustling sidewalks of Times Square. She’s cut loose from history. Free to do what she pleases without the burden of what comes next.

Just before she disappears from the crowd and out of my sight, she turns once more in my direction and repeats, “Thank you.”

She is gone.

 


Author Bio: Thedude3445 is a writer based on the internet, known mostly for Homestuck fan fiction. Unfortunately.


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Unique read--want to understand Ayn more
naricorn rated this work:

April 4, 2019, 5:15 a.m.

Overally, I liked this piece! Here are some notes I took, and I hope you'll find some suggestions helpful.

*Wanted more urgency, more fear in the first section. Ayn's running but I'm not scared for her at all. Why's she wanted for questioning? Could we get any more hints? Does it have to start right before she reaches salvation? We could follow her struggle a little longer, which would be a better comparison to the "wonders" of America in the following section. There's also a tense inconsistency in "she continued running," as everything else is in present tense.

*You could give some more thought to your word choice to make sure that each adjective, for example, is specific and means something. "Wonderful" and "magnificent" don't say much--you do refer to the skyscrapers so I know you're talking about how tall and humongous they are, but these adjectives are fluffy.

*Love how you intersperse Ayn's pontification with thoughts about finishing her sandwich. Adds some comic relief.

*John Galt's introduction seems a bit convenient. I don't know if that's what you were going for. Is the whole thing supposed to have a magical, suspend-your-disbelief kind of feel? Because it's hard for me to imagine someone inviting a stranger to dinner after she drops her papers and they have the briefest exchange of small talk. I mean, probably he's trying to pick her up, but what about him makes her accept? More on Ayn's thoughts here.

*Does sex mean a lot in Russia? Why?

*Your paragraph on Ayn saying she wants the modern world doesn't do too much for me because it's mainly you just telling us what Ayn wants and me not really seeing her reasoning why. Why does she want New York over love and human contact? I don't think it's established.

*The twist definitely caught me off guard and piqued my interest. Not entirely sure how I feel about it yet, but it's different. (Okay, coming back to this, I've decided I do like it, but then I don't get why you chose Ayn in particular. Why did she call out to you? I know the narrator says he/she can't answer why, but I don't buy that. I feel like there's always a reason why. Otherwise it could be any character substituted in, which you *could* say is the point, but that just feels like a copout to me.)

*I'm also not familiar with Ayn (am I not your audience?) but I don't understand what makes her assert that everyone has the potential to become a great person.

Pacing Originality Passive Character Character Motivation Diction

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Thedude3445:

Thank you for your very helpful comments! I'm not familiar with Ayn Rand either so a lot of the story is too murky even when the story is kinda supposed to be that way, but as your comment alluded to, I think ramping up the kind of magical realism feeling, especially with John Galt or whatever his name was, would have been a good way to give more charge to the story.

Goes a direction I didn't expect at all!
nenatia rated this work:

April 5, 2019, 12:41 a.m.

Hi there! I'm going to start off by saying that this story's writing style isn't my personal cup of tea (I've just never been a fan of writing leaning towards purple prose. Like saying "the wonders of sex" when you could just say "sex"...yeah), but I realize that's a style you're using on purpose, so just keep in mind this bias of mine.
So. That being said, I've gotta say my favorite line of this piece was "the snow is cold, but the darkness is colder." It's great! I said "nice" really softly to myself when I read it and then my cat ran over thinking I was going to give him food, which happens anytime I talk. You don't need to know this. Moving on.
Some grammar nitpicks (low hanging fruit, I know, but so so important for making a story legitimate!):
-this sentence sounds like a run-on: "She is wanted for questioning by the Communist government, at least that’s what the warrants will say." Put a period instead of comma.
-watch out for tense switches (ex. "she continued running")
-Saying "this young woman" takes the reader out of the scene. It's told through her POV, but I can't imagine anyone referring to themselves like that. Just say "she."
-"six people already jam-packed in there" the tone changes here. The language before was pretty formal and serious, this suddenly switches to casual. Maybe reword to something like "crammed to the brim." The number of people doesn't even matter, does it?

Now that those little grammar things are out of the way, onto the story itself! Your writing? Solid. Strong diction, good sentence structure, fair voice. I can tell this isn't your first story (I'm trying to push past my innate desire to flinch whenever an author uses something like "the struggle of humanity" because again, this is probably a me problem). But I do need more STORY. I need more background, more insight into Ayn Rand's character and life! More lead-up into her epic thoughts on "the struggle of humanity"! How does she realize her homeland is no longer Russia, but America? More showing and less telling would solve this. Scenes that gradually (or quickly, if that's realistic) show Ayn coming to these conclusions would bring this story to life. It'd ground me (the reader) into the story so much more!
-Regarding the introduction of the 2nd and 1st person POV--pretty abrupt! I loved that you added that element because it added more unique and engaging elements, but I think the transition could have been more natural, even if you wanted to surprise the reader. I had to re-read that part to make sure I read it correctly.
I really do love this concept of bringing the writer in as a character in the story. Didn't expect this to happen here and am glad it did! But it's lacking in snippets that show more of Ayn's conflict-- I'm hungry for more scenes of Ayn's listlessness, her desire to be "saved" (though how exactly did the writer save her?), and her eventual realization that she doesn't want to be dramatized like other people. Also, since you brought the writer in as a character, you should answer why you're interested in saving Ayn Rand in the first place, especially since you emphasize not knowing anything about her (which I think is a nice emphasis and don't think you should change! Because honestly, same here. I too don't know anything about Ayn Rand, but now I'm very interested in finding out why the writer wants to save her and thinks he/she will be able to through writing).

Overall, unique concept with a lot of potential that needs more background and buildup! Also the writing is a tad too flowery for me.
(Last minute thought I had just now: Have you tried changing this story to past tense? I feel like past tense might work better.)

Point of View Voice Show Don't Tell

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Thedude3445:

Thank you for your comments; they are very insightful. If I were to ever revisit this piece, I think it'd still be in present tense because of the format of the latter half, but I think the story would need to be a bit longer with more concrete scene happenings, because it's all a bit vague right now.

Ayn Know Better
cereed27 rated this work:

April 12, 2019, 3:08 p.m.

A fictional retelling of a highly polarizing figure is either called fawning propaganda, revisionist, or simply naive. So while the writing may be competent enough to discard the latter, I find the content to distracting to focus on its quality.

Plot Character Motivation

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Thedude3445:

Hahahaha what? The story may not be very good but it certainly isn't propaganda. I legitimately have no idea how you could read this and think that. It is revisionist though, I'll give you that.