Monday, January 11, 2010

Entry #136

The Fourth Floor
by Peggy McFarland


The Fairview visitor's lot was empty. Guilt stabbed Sue. Her vehicle rarely filled a parking space.

She unbuckled Lexi, reminding herself that sick daughter took precedence over sick mother. The phone call spurred today's visit. Damn the babysitter.

"Amber thinks silly," Lexi said.

Sue flinched. It wasn't the first time Lexi read her mind. MRI's never revealed "anomalies" to explain her daughter's headaches or unsettling statements.

Lexi squinted at a crow spiraling above overhanging branches. "He's waiting for Doreen, not Grandma."

The crow flew to the nursing home's roof. "There she is!" Lexi smiled.

###

Lexi's pained gaze flitted from harried nurses to a covered stretcher wheeling past. She rubbed her pale forehead. Sue rushed them into the elevator, damning Amber.

Lexi relaxed once they stepped onto the fourth floor. "It's quiet here. And no colors!"

Sue checked room numbers, wondered if institutional gray soothed her daughter.

The other bed was empty. Sue thought of the crow.

"Mom, I'm here," Sue said. The monitor beeped.

"Grandma doesn't think ANYTHING! And she has no colors."

Lexi approached the bed. "When I look at you mommy, your thought words go in my head. 'Damn Amber, Lexi don't get sick today,' and your mixed-up colors make me dizzy." Lexi climbed onto the bed.

"Get down!" Sue hissed. Lexi cuddled next to her grandmother.

"In here, no rainbow colors or dirt colors or blood colors swishing. No mean thoughts to hurt my head."

Lexi sighed and closed her eyes. "I hear me."

31 comments:

Michael Solender said...

Out of the mouths of babes.. clever and crafty Peggy!

Bernita said...

Ah, Amber is the baby sitter!
I like the way the child describes her mind-reading images.

Leah said...

Very, very interesting.

Merry Monteleone said...

I love the idea, and the way you captured Lexi's voice.

The only thing I had trouble with was keeping all of the names mentioned straight - I'm still not quite sure who Doreen is, but I'm thinking it was someone who recently passed.

Aniket said...

Ditto to Merry. I had to re-read to truly enjoy it due to the names. But you were spot on with Lexi's voice and her dealing with her ability. Liked it a lot.

austere said...

Ouch.
Wow.

The gift and the headaches. Opposite forces, and always a price.

Stunning.

Paul D. Brazill said...

very clever and very well written.

Craig said...

Intriguing.

K. Soles said...

Interesting take. Well done.

kashers said...

Loved the edgy, mysterious feel to this piece. Not sure who Doreen is though. Being a relatively old fashioned name, I thought it might be Grandma as she would call herself, thereby showing Lexi having a 'super awareness' as to who the crow would be calling.

I sense this is one of those stories that will keep coming back to me.

Tessa said...

Fascinating tale, very well told. Loved the clever build up of anticipation towards the outcome.

laughingwolf said...

nicely done, peg...

Deb S said...

I was a little slow on figuring out who was who. Loved the aura concept though.

Laurel said...

I love this. I also liked the double meaning about the dementia ward having no color. I can't imagine the cacophony of hearing the thoughts of others.

Poor Lexi.

Four Dinners said...

Very intriguing and well written. Read it several times to suss who was who. Don't care. Loved it!

lena said...

It was confusing at first but then after rereading it I figured it out. Very cleverly done.

pjd said...

Lexi's statements uncover an old soul, a tired soul. I love that even though grandma is "gone," she can still provide comfort and exactly what he granddaughter needs. This is marvellous.

Carrie said...

Speaking in colors. Splendid write.

ThomG said...

I like how you've used the child to explain things. I did have some trouble sorting through the names, but no much.

catvibe said...

Interesting concept, I like it a lot. Can't really add more than what the others have said, but great job here.

CJT said...

I had to read it twice, but the second time the names made sense to me and left me wondering if you might write more. I love the idea and its creepy yet satisfying all on its own.

Christian Bell said...

Intriguing work that's got a lot going on in such few words. The use of colors is quite exquisite. I find Lexi both cute and creepy. The overall work here is well done and quite original!

Kartik said...

Very fascinating and disturbing at the same time

quin browne said...

and you thought eloise was eerie? a great creepy character...and a smashingly great last line.

Sarah Laurenson said...

What an interesting take. Love this idea. I think Lexi's 'voice' is a bit off in that sometimes she sounds young and sometimes old. Could be a side effect of her gift.

Love that the mentally absent grandmother gives her comfort and a space in which to hear herself.

This could be very cool worked into a larger piece.

James R. Tomlinson said...

This is a gem, a keeper. Love the originality. Very well told story.

raine said...

Agree with Sarah--would be intriguing as a longer piece.
Interesting concept, well done.

Aimee Laine said...

What a great read! I can see her trying to help and needing the help herself, her grandmother proving it unintentionally. Wonderfully done!

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

The interplay between the mom and daughter - nicely authentic; the play on colors and the lack thereof - I toyed with using a color-colorless-theme but couldn't pull it off. Well done.

Something I Might Tweak

The backs and forths confused me a bit - perhaps it was the names, I'm not sure

Rabid Fox said...

I had a bit of trouble following this in the first passage, but I clued in soon enough. Overall, a very entertaining snippet of this girl's life.

Chris Eldin said...

The names confused me too, at first. But I reread then enjoyed it much more. Love your voice in this one!