Thursday, November 03, 2005

Footsteps, Part 1 (Fiction)

       Melissa detested the ceiling.
       The tiles--trimmed, orderly, rough like volcanic rock swallowing sound. When she wasn't paying attention, when she forgot to stop herself, she counted them. She began at the lower left where her eyes stretched to reach.
       First course: thirteen tiles complete, one cut to a sliver.
       Second course: thirteen tiles complete, one cut to a sliver.
       Third course. Fourth course.
       Eleven tiles complete, two cut around the cabinets. And on. And on, on, on, on.
       Melissa slept, yet the square patterns skimmed in her brain. She wanted them to stop. She wriggled as they crashed into her skull like frozen rain and shattered. The shards tinkled on the floor, then melted away.
       A nurse slipped in during the hush of the graveyard shift. Sterile wrap crinkled as she prepared. First, a tiny bottle clinked on the counter top, then a needle glittered in the green light. It sank into Melissa's arm. She didn't flinch. She didn't wake. The respirator pumped and bubbled. Melissa's chest rose and sank.
       The nurse patted Melissa's hand. The fingers were stiffening, beginning to curl. The nurse frowned. She worked the arm a bit. Rotating. Flexing. Relaxing. Flexing. Dissatisfied, the nurse shook her head. Only delaying the inevitable. Such a sin. Melissa was only nineteen years old.
       The nurse released the wrist, and the arm sank back into place. She moved on to the next room.

       When Melissa snapped awake to the hiss of the respirator, she expected to see her hands flailing, like in the dream, but there was only the ceiling. And the squares. And the pattern. Melissa felt herself encased in lead. But then, she remembered. The metal framework hovering at the top of her vision clamped her spine in place, and every fiber of her body below the neck, below the scar where medicine failed, slept on.

On to Part 2

short story


Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Wow, Jason, gripping and sad at the same time. =)

Anonymous said...

Kelly, thanks! This scene and character just popped into my head out of nowhere. I'm kind of conflicted though. The rest of the story is going to be technically difficult to write, I think. (Why do I do this to myself? Ughh.) I'm just not sure it's compelling. Does it make you want more, or does it just feel like a self-contained vignette?

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

I think you're doing great! At this point the reader is given a taste of the story. You've already succeeded in making us feel for her, which is awesome. I think if the next installment would involve upping the stakes, you would make it even more compelling. =)

Just my two cents! (which you can ignore freely!)

anne said...

Oh I want to know more. But be warned, I don't want to cry, and it's already a close call.

Kara Alison said...

Hmmmm, does this call for a flashback?

anne frasier said...

very nice, jason. great opening!

Jeff said...

Good beginning :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys! I'm getting the impression I should continue the story. ;) No flashbacks, though, Kara. We're taking Melissa forward as she is.

Oh Anne...I can't promise anything. Please don't cry, though. It'll make me feel bad. (Hope everything's okay with you. I've been hearing about the mayhem in Paris on the news).

Kelly, thanks for jumping right in when I needed help! (And I never, never ignore comments. They're too valuable.)

Bernita said...

This is a damned near perfect beginning.
It suceeds as a vignette, but it also propels curiosity.