Sunday, July 17, 2011

Entry #59

Gravida
by Ellis Bergstresser


"Don’t touch me!"

Shrill, accented words stilled the babble of late-morning trolley passengers, drawing eyes to the altercation.

I turned from the window where wisps of steam rose from storm-soaked cobblestones, ascending towards the emergent sun like snakes charmed from their nest. A girl - surely too young to bear - backed her swollen belly from a matron’s reach. Offended, the woman snatched her hand back, as though it were a gift, rejected. "Meh! No manners! Ouisay!"

The girl flinched under the slur, did not concede. Her words became formal: "Grandmother. Please. Don’t touch. Demont."

Demont. The venom of fear coursed my blood.

In her ignorance unimpressed, the matron turned, arms crossed over a wasted bosom. "As though I could sully you." She spat the epithet again: sibilant, low.

The girl flushed, looked away, perhaps believing herself armored by the affront she’d given. She did not see the matron’s hand snake out, seeking to strike. To win.

I rose as the old woman fell, convulsing, swathed in an aura of fire.

The trolly ground to a halt amid sparks and the screams of brakes and passengers. I used the inertia, propelled myself up and forward as others were thrown to the floor.

Shoving the matron’s corpse aside, I looked to the girl. The spark within her glowed red and yellow, brilliant with fresh energy.

Even knowing it was - momentarily - sated, I could not bring myself to touch her. I could only whisper: "Ailshalla. My sister. We must go."

23 comments:

Aerin said...

I...I'm speechless. And that doesn't happen often. The word choices are varied and precise, the structure is tight, the pacing is solid and fast, and the characterization of the narrator is even developed.

Okay, I'm not quite speechless. But what I want to say is:

"Damn,I wish I'd written this."

Joni said...

Wow. This is a real standout. Beautiful. I want to read more.

j a zobair said...

I also want to keep reading. I want to know who is speaking. I want to know where they are going. I want to know everything.

Aimee Laine said...

Hmmmm.... so what IS it inside there? The birth of evil to be? :)

SzélsőFa said...

i too, would like to see the rest of the story. it's kind of frightening, kind of compelling. i can't decide whether the pregnant girl and the narrator are positive characters or not... it kind of leaves me confused :))

Ellis said...

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you like it.

I'd also like to know where this is going and the nature of what the girl is gestating -- at the moment, though, the whole shebang stands at the 249 words I've got there.

The photo made me think of those peculiar people who feel that all pregnant bellies are common property available for any stranger to touch (the little red nubbin under the hand was so popped-out belly-button-esque). It was fun to think of a dire consequence for that transgression.

fairyhedgehog said...

I agree. Everyone always thinks a pregnant belly belongs to the world. Well it doesn't!

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

I agree...I want to know what's in there too... or maybe she's just tired of being touched?

Dottie :)

Clara said...

Really well written, bravo!

Aidan Fritz said...

Awesome! I love the blending of cultures here and the blend of the fantastic with the everyday train. This has some fun phrases, my favorite: I turned from the window where wisps of steam rose from storm-soaked cobblestones, ascending towards the emergent sun like snakes charmed from their nest.

Old Kitty said...

Excellent story!! I loved the pace - quick, exciting and fervid! Thank you for sharing, take care x

jrthumbprints said...

I've always paid special attention to the authenticity of the narrator. You've done an unbelievable job (as in "fantastic") with the narration. Very vivid, very real, very very dark. I, too, want more.

Ellis Bergstresser said...

Thank you very much, everyone.

@Aidan - it's good to hear that you liked that part. I struggled with whether I should include it because it's 10% of the word limit. It is hard, sometimes, to know if it is worth putting in a bit that long when it just goes to ambiance and not plot. Difficult (but fun) to balance everything within 250 words.

bluesugarpoet said...

I'm right there with you, Ellis - there should be consequences for touching a pregnant belly without being invited to do so. :) Love the concept! ~Jana

Jade L Blackwater said...

I'm with Aerin and JR - well narrated and characters with presence.

Mikki said...

You've painted such a dark, structured world, and you've pulled me in from the first word. Excellent job.

Thank you for sharing!

Apple Ardent Scott said...

This is an epic tale -in its entirety, nothing lacking- in such a short amount of space, I'm glad to have stopped by to read this. Great! Well done!

Richard Levangie said...

For one of the first times in recorded history, I agree with Aerin.

Ellis—this story was fabulous!

Drew said...

I loved everything about this and can't get it out of my mind! Great work!

rocky wing said...

i love how you sculpted the grandma. "wasted bosom" especially. i can hear and feel that reverberating "spat." thank you for this.

Aniket said...

@Richard: I shall bear witness! :)

I've never and now shall never touch (not that I ever had an urge to) a pregnant women's belly. Unless it belongs to my wife, of course.

And as on every occasion in recorded history, I completely agree with what Aerin said. Tight writing indeed.

JaneyV said...

Ellis - even though I didn't understand some of the words the story itself was so strong that I barely noticed. This is very well done.

jason evans said...

Excellent story with very skillful execution. Very impressive! A high scorer.

A contender. Congrats on Forties Club!