Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Entry #13

The Other Side
by J. Scott Ellis


Bobby couldn’t move or feel, lying cheek down in a pool of gravel and blood. The air from his lungs expelled with a ragged wheeze, bubbling from his submerged nostril. Through dimming unblinking eyes, he beheld the moon’s burgundy reflection upon the bloody surface atrophying like a dying torch.

He woke later and sat up; surprised he was able to move at all. Tentatively at first, Bobby curled his toes and clenched his fists, then took a hungry pull of the brisk evening air. It reeked of burnt rubber and gas fumes.

The hood of the family car gripped a tree trunk like a sword hilt. Brilliant shards of glass were strewn about. The rumpled, wasted windshield lay to the side with a bloody hole through the middle.

He barely recognized his father behind the wheel of the car, his smashed face a ferocious crimson mask of open-eyed death. His mother stirred in the passenger seat and wiped blood from her eyes.

“Bobby,” she screamed.

“I’m ok momma,” he said. But she didn’t seem to hear him as she struggled with her seat belt. She scrambled over the dash onto the remains of the hood and dropped to the ground running.

She was hysterical as she rushed through his open arms, to a crumpled body splayed in a puddle of blood. Cradling the boy in her arms, rocking back and forth, she sobbed, “Mommy will make it all better now.”

41 comments:

Bonnie Cehovet said...

Gripping! Slightly loses focus at the very end, but good movement until then.

Joni said...

I like the POV. As a mother it strikes a particularly heart-rending chord with me. Good job.

anne frasier said...

fantastic description. tight. well-paced. very nice. :)

Jaye Wells said...

Ooh, a twist. Very nice, Scott!

robert rohloff said...

his smashed face a ferocious crimson mask of open-eyed death. Great line. Great story.

Bernita said...

Unexpected results from not wearing a seat belt...

Jim said...

Through dimming unblinking eyes, he beheld the moon’s burgundy reflection upon the bloody surface atrophy like a dying torch.

This line took me out of the story for a moment. The tenses of beheld and atrophy seemed to be having a bit of a disagreement. Enjoyed the story as a whole, though. Bit of a Sixth Sense feel to it.

Scott said...

Bonnie - I'm not sure where it loses focus, but I'll be interested in more detail.

Joni - Yeah, I'm a parent myself. This would be my nightmare come true.

Anne - Thanks

Jaye - I thought it may have been to obvious. Glad you saw it that way.

Robert - I wasn't sure about that one. Glad you liked it.

Bernita - The only one wearing a seat belt survived...

Jim - Yeah, you got me there. I labored on that and have the same feeling. Is it too late to change it? I told my wife last night that I had two awkward phrases: that and the last line.

Kathleen said...

Scott - I would have used "atrophying" in Jim's problem line. And being a firm proponent of seat belt that was my first thought, "why wasn't he wearing a seat belt?

Jer said...

Loved your story. Sad and gripping.

Scott said...

Kat - Thanks, I passed an email to Jason if he will allow that edit.

Jer - Appreciate the love.

Jim said...

Scott, I'm sure Jason will allow the fix. I know I made a correction back in the first competition and Jason was very agreeable to that.

jason evans said...

The correction has been made. :)

aleah said...

Jason,

I liked this a lot. Puts you in the moment. I would have ended it with "Mommy will make it all better now," though. Intense.

aleah said...

Ooops, sorry for referring to you as Jason! Haven't had my coffee yet. ;-)

Scott said...

Jim - And so he did. I appreciate the critical feedback by the way.

Jason - Thanks!

Aleah - Funny, I thought about doing just that. No worries. There are worse things than being mistaken for Jason.

Scott said...

Aleah - The more I think about it, the more I hate that line. I asked Jason to take it out. Thanks. That takes care of the two things I hated about this piece.

jason evans said...

Since it is a removal of words only, I'll allow it. However, in the interest of my ability to keep up with the contest, I won't allow general revisions after posting. Thanks!

Scott said...

Thanks Jason. I felt like a bit of a heel asking you, but my relief is large nonetheless.

mr. schprock said...

Nice writing and awesome twist at the end! I feel like I can see dead people!

Beth said...

I'll ditto the Schprockster above me. (that sounds tawdry)

fringes said...

Poor Bobby. What a terrible car accident. Cool use of a dead narrator.

anna said...

Excellent pace..
Enjoyed!
One little nit picky thing
I think that mom would have been
sure her kid was strapped in,

Scott said...

Mr. Schprock - It's nice that I can bestow such powers upon you.

Beth - Now now, be good you.

Fringes - I'm looking forward to your piece! Glad you enjoyed mine.

Anna - Britney Spears was my inspiration for this piece. I don't blame you for that little nit pick.

k lawson gilbert said...

So sad. I thought your pacing was good.

Anonymous said...

`he beheld the moon’s burgundy reflection upon the bloody surface `atrophying` - this word spoils the whole rounded, etheric picture of the moon - it is too sharp, breaks the picture that you have in your mind.
I love the fact that he shot through the windscreen and survived,
`wasted windshield lay to the side with a bloody hole through the middle` I can see Bobby in this story, playing with his seatbelt, his dad turns around and tells him off, `Keep your seat belt on!! How many more times do I have to tell ya!!` then, BAM!! The car hits the tree and then silent chaos.
It would be riveting if you could have drawn out the end and had the mother, literally dragging herself out of the car, falling off of the hood and crawling, crawling like a broken snake, to her son. The crawl would agonise the reader ... just like the slow agony in the beginning.
Very good story. Loved it. Short and sweet.

fringes said...

I've had my kid unhook his seatbelt for Some Crazy Reason while I'm going 70 on the freeway. It happens. With a 250-word limit, there's not a lot of time to explain why Bobby wasn't wearing one. But you certainly can use it as one of the "mysteries of life" plot hooks. As long as other questions are answered, the reader can't claim complete confusion.

Scott said...

K Lawson - Thanks

Anon - The word atrophying was chosen very carefully. It has the connotation of death, but also describes the slow degeneration of its brightness in his eyes his life slips away. It's supposed to break the picture in your mind. I appreciate the critical feedback. In fact, I love all your ideas for expanding this piece. Especially the agonizing crawl she makes to her son. You wouldn't be a screen writer by any chance, would you?

Fringes - My wife would sooner pull over on the Autobahn than let the kids be out of their seatbelts. My dad had us ride in the back of a flatbed pickup down the freeway. It's a whole new world now though. There was a certain freedom we enjoyed in the old days. Living was more dangerous, and a whole lot more fun.

Writing Blind said...

I know, I know, I'm late to comment but I have to say, I love the imagery in this one. And that last line is absolutely perfect as far as I'm concerned. You just get better and better with every word you write.

Lisa said...

Terrific descriptions that bring the scene to life! Horrifying experience for any parent to endure. Gut-wrenching.

Bhaswati said...

Ghastly and vivid. You placed me right there at the accident site, Scott. Great play of words to build up pace and tension.

littlepuddle said...

Scott, I haven"t been able to keep up as I would have liked, but the original last line was awkward for me and I am happy to see the change.

Really great atmosphere and emotion here. (I was moved by the mother's grief). I like what you have done.

Flood said...

Scott, somehow I signed in as little puddle (gah!). The above comment is from me.

Scott said...

Rebecca - Thanks for all that. The last line was originally something else that didn't work at all. I can't believe I submitted it that way.

Lisa - Thank you. I can't imagine anything worse--almost.

Bhaswati - I'm glad you think so. Thanks.

Little Puddle/Flood, whoever you are -
Well, you know how I feel about it. Deep sixed.

Linda Fort-Bolton said...

I think this story has good pacing and style. You drew out our emotions and that is what a short story is all about.
The thing that we all like about this contest is that there are beginners (like me) trying to learn from our mistakes and there are professionals willing to critique.

Bofire said...

I am enjoying reading the blogs as well as the stories. I'm getting a little behind on the comments.
You have a good handle on your writing.

Nicholas Abbot said...

Nicely done!

Scott said...

Linda - I'm glad you took what I said constructively, but as you can see, others didn't have the same hang up as I did. Oh, and I'm not officially a pro yet, but thanks for the implication.

Bofire - I really liked that comment. Thanks.

Nicholas - Nice of you to say. Thanks.

The Wandering Author said...

I particularly liked the imagery of: "the hood of the family car gripped a tree trunk like a sword hilt".

Jada's Gigi said...

Good stuff, Scott!

jason evans said...

The part with the mother running out to the boy really grabbed me. That was described perfectly.