Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Short Story - Still

Short story I wrote a couple of years ago.

It was a sweltering afternoon, the kind of day when the earth seems to drift closer to the sun, enveloping the country in a heat wave. She lay on the cool tiled floor of the kitchen, clad only in a thin, stretched underwear and sports bra set that had seen the inside of the washer one too many times. A rivulet of sweat dripped down her face and clung to the tiny follicles on her upper lip, as the heat covered her body unrelentlessly, like a fleece blanket, suffocating her in its folds. The stillness of the air was broken only by the whir of the window fan that occasionally spat out a column of stale air that danced mischievously across her sweat-stained skin, taunting her with its promise of relief.

She remembered the last time the earth had grown angry and hot. She was eleven, the year her normality and stability was ripped away, leaving her broken and unsettled. She had run out of the house into the inferno, to escape the voices in her head. All afternoon, she lay in the welcoming shade of the maple tree, the drone of the grasshoppers’ audible in the distance, gazing at the patches of sunlight visible through her eyelids. In her mind she was a thousand miles away, basking in the cool waters of a sea, free from all thoughts. The folds of her dress billowed around her legs, and she heard the stillness, the utter vacuum of the sea. The ripples of the sea caressed her skin, leaving her cleansed and purified. She exulted in the weightlessness, and the knowledge that if she let go, the water would catch her, suspend her forever in its hushed embrace.

She opened her eyes, and the crack on the ceiling faded into sight. She breathed in deeply, conscious of the fact that a weight had dissolved off her chest. A cacophony of voices sounded above her, seemingly at a great distance away. A low pitched purr mixed reassuringly with a shrill desperation. She turned her head away from the noise and noted with interests small details about the kitchen that had escaped her until this moment. For the first time, she slammed the door shut on the voices, locking them away from her thoughts. The ever increasing din in her head had subsided, leaving her to gaze on common place items with child like wonder. There was a jagged edge cut savagely out of the cabinet, a piece of tile pulled away from the others, and a clear orange bottle lying just beyond her fingers, its hard contents spilling out, the child-proof cap forever broken. She noted with surprise that that was her pale, limp hand being clutched as trembling fingers tried to beat out a rhythm on her wrist. She pulled her arm away and rose up. She wavered between the doorways for a moment, before stepping into the lulling surf. A sigh passed her lips as she once more closed her eyes, letting the water wash over her in a welcoming wave of open arms.

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