That sounds a glorious adventure doesn’t it? In some ways I suppose it is, but perhaps not in the way you might imagine.
I’m going to share with you all the latest piece of fiction I have written. No, it’s not associated with my current WIP (there will likely be a rant post on that in the coming weeks knowing me!) it’s completely seperate and different.
I will be submitting this piece to my teacher as my first piece of assessment next week (as is – but any comments or suggestions are welcome!)
I don’t want to give you any indication of what this tale is about so I’ll just drop you right in there.
A world of fragile things
The tick of the clock sounds like a gong in my ears; the buzz of the air conditioning whines into the suffocating silence. I straighten my deep almost blackened blue skirt; the woollen material scrapes loudly against my dry palms. I can feel the weight of the wool, resting against the bare expanse of my thighs, it presses, urgently against me. Perspiration seeps through the thin, sticky silk of my blouse; the sweetly pungent scent invades my nostrils.
The shiny black of my patent leather shoes glints weakly in the limp light of the room. I see a cloaked shape grow into existence in the oily reflection and glance up, underneath the thick fan of lashes, noticing the clumps of inky mascara clinging between them. The shape is not in front of me. The room is empty.
I raise my eyes to the lazy fan spinning as it hangs from the roof; it pushes the cloying air around the room with large, wide blades – cutting through the still, present silence. The deep shadows, deepen still as the sunlight attempts to shine through the grimy window, the lank brown curtains drip down its side like drops of dried blood.
My eyes catch on a movement in the mirror across the room. The fan blades cut into my vision, I force my eyes closed, I wipe at them with my hands, feeling wetness come away on my skin. My heart beats slowly, the suffocating silence eating into my soul.
I open my eyes again and look into the mirror. A bruised purple bed is visible, a once young woman, turned old, sits upon the cover, her deep blue, almost black skirt and inky shoes are stark against the paleness of her skin and the endless depths of her molten eyes engulf me. I fall into them and swim around in the desolate place there.
A soft rapping on the shadowy door to the room breaks into my thoughts and I tear my gaze from the mirror to the widening maw of the doorframe. Sooty tendrils of a cloak creep into the room, lit from behind by a deep crimson glow. The hand enveloped in the cloak is old and weathered white bone, my heart skips a beat. I scrunch my eyes closed and shake my head.
“Are you ready?” the softened voice limps across the room, shattering the silence and startles me from my private panic.
Opening my eyes I notice the dark cloak and weathered hand is instead, pale smooth skin wrapped in the navy sleeve of a dress suit. Dark tresses of curly hair frame a pale, ashen face that is the resting place of a pair of deep, questioning green eyes. The menacing red glow, changes to a soft dappled sunlight as the door shifts open wider and the dark cell I am in welcomes the warmth.
As he steps across the threshold, I turn away, looking again into the mirror and the haunting eyes of the aged woman sitting upon the bed. Silently, like the room was before, the salty residue of grief splashes down her face. The raw emotion on display streaks her cheeks and leaves angry red trails in its wake. The room engulfs her, the darkness waging war upon the sunlight.
Dust motes swirl as he walks across the room and passes in front of the mirror. He crouches in front of me, blocking my view of the woman on the bed. I try to avert my eyes, not wanting to explore the depths of his familiar green eyes. His hands rest upon my bare knees and the gentle swirl of his thumb running across my skin draws me back to him. No. I shake my head stiffly.
“The car is waiting for us,” he murmurs, the touch of his warm hands brings momentary heat to my frosty skin.
I nod silently, feeling empty and void of warmth. I notice then, the wetness splash against the thick fabric of my skirt and disappear into it: the short-lived life of a tear no match for that of a human.
He stands, his hand taking mine to lead me across the darkened space I call a bedroom. Rising from the bed, I notice the old woman in the mirror stand too, her mask of sorrow and grief vivid against the shadowed room. Her haunting, molten eyes plead with me to understand, beg me to see what I am looking at in the mirror.
Her step echoes mine, her silk blouse balloons behind her as she walks too, the soft click of our shoes match as I am led from the enveloping darkness and into the light of the hallway. I follow him from the room, leaving behind the aged lady, feeling the sun-dappled light of the hallway filter to my heart and I shed more tears. I long for the familiar darkness of my room and the woman in the mirror.
“We will follow behind the hearse to the cemetery. Everything will run smoothly,” he promises, the jarring creak of the floorboards beneath his feet mirroring the break in my heart.
I pull against his hand, turning to look back at the door to my safe haven, the deep darkness calling to me, urging me to enter its fold again.
“We have to say goodbye,” his voice breaks. “It’s time to lay him to rest, Mum.”
I pull again on his hand and refuse to look into the same green eyes that his father possessed. Silent tears leak from my eyes and blaze moist trails down my blouse as I close my eyes and turn to my son. With his warm arms wrapped around me and my head resting upon his shoulder, I break the silence.
“I can’t say goodbye to him,” I sob. “I just can’t believe he left me alone.”
So, what do you think? What emotion springs to mind when you read this? What do you think happened? Did your mind take you on a journey somewhere other than where the story went before you’d finished?
I had one thing in my mind when I wrote it…
I’ve blogged about it here numerous times (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), I’ve tried to convey what I was feeling when I lost my grandfather late last year and also what it felt while the initial, guttural, all-encompassing blackness of the loss was looming over me. I don’t know if I was successful, but it helped me to understand my feelings and for that I’m very grateful. It may not have allowed me to overcome it any quicker, or to better understand how I am to move on with my life without him in it, but it has allowed me to explore the emotion – at least internally – and partially in writing too.
Since then it has subsided for the most part, but I still deal with grief on a daily basis. I’m not going to delve into a massive post on grief though. Instead, I’m going to ask you to share with me your thoughts on this piece.
What did it make you feel?