Monday, July 18, 2011

Entry #65

After
by Chris Allinotte


Grace jerked awake, gasping for air. In her dream, she'd been trapped in a burning house and acrid smoke had choked off her breath.

She started coughing. Coughing became retching. The air in the living room was a stinking red miasma, swirling along the floor in unwholesome eddies. It smelled of metal, and something else – something familiar.

Cupping a hand to her mouth, Grace took a tiny sip of air. Again her body rejected the vapour as useless. Her chest began to throb. It was like being under water with no view to the surface. The fog was oppressively humid, but she was shivering.

The ceiling track lights had become hectic yellow beacons in the mist. Grace stood up on the sofa, following their glow. The cloud was a little thinner away from the floor.

She inhaled again, coughed again. Still no good. Her lungs were a throbbing blue agony. Grey and purple sparks danced before her eyes. Up ahead, the living room door swam into view. With lurching, desperate steps, Grace charged for the blackness.

She stumbled through the door and the mist was gone. With a single, painful whoop, Grace filled her lungs. The swampy, fetid air tasted awful, and wonderful.

When she looked back into the room, through its curtain of red, the air escaped her in rush.

Memories flooded in to take its place: Alan, accusations, tears,
screaming, and finally, the shotgun.


After one final moment, Grace turned, and stepped gratefully into the welcoming dark.

34 comments:

Michael Solender said...

well there ya go..one way out for sure. Nicely done Chris.

csonberglarson said...

I like this! Great writing. Love the descriptive language.

Jodi MacArthur said...

I had never read "finding the door" like this before. The experience from her pov is quite wretched. Your writing has this lithe flexible feel to it and I'm never sure which way you are going to go. Unpredictable and entertaining.

Aimee Laine said...

So, after and she's free. :) Will she think it still a dream? Or will reality sink in? :)

Chris Allinotte said...

@Michael - thanks, she found her way - maybe

@csonberglarson - glad you enjoyed!

@jodi - shucks. You say the nicest things.

@aimee - I enjoy playing with perceptions. Sometimes it works. Other times, not so much.

Scribblers Inc said...

Ah! A very interesting take! Loved the use of language here...would have to come back and make another pit stop for sure! :)

wishes
Mithun.
#72

Col Bury said...

Poignant take with cool imagery. You paint a colourful picture, Chris. Great job.

Regards,
Col

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Okay....so I just want to know who pulled the trigger...Grace or Alan? Was she escaping life or the crime?

Pondering....

Dottie :)

Aidan Fritz said...

Chris, this superbly captures the horror of her transition, after these images the simple ending feels like such a relief. I like the opening with the playfulness with which it addresses the dream.

Chris Allinotte said...

@ Scribblers - thanks - I could only say "red fog" so much...

@ Col - thanks mate! Colourful picture LOL.

@ Dottie - that would be telling.

@ Aidan - great to see you here. Thanks for the note!

Joni said...

Wow, wonderful imagery and spot-on descriptions. you laid the scene out very well. Great piece.

phatichar said...

Awesome imagery there, Chris. I could virtually feel the suffocation she went through.

Truely awesome. Keep 'em coming, gonna visit your page and bookmark it.

fairyhedgehog said...

This was so vivid and then so very unexpected at the end.

Erratic Thoughts said...

I liked your smart use of colors...you nailed it :)

Chris Allinotte said...

@ Joni - thanks, this one kept wanting to run away from the 250 cap!

@ Phatichar - thank you. I had a breathless moment or two myself getting this down!

@ Fairyhedgehog - (great name) glad I managed to surprise!

@ Erratic thoughts - you're the first to pick up on the colours - it was a deliberate, but late touch that only occurred late in the edits.

Jay R. Thurston said...

Wonderful description and pace, the reader instantly pulls for Grace to escape. Great work Chris!

jrthumbprints said...

Interesting take on the pic ... your flash is saturated in "dreamy" colors that move the story along wonderfully.

Brigid said...

Great pace and lovely touch using colour throughout.

bluesugarpoet said...

Grace incarnate - she found grace in the conflagration! Loved the suspense of this piece! ~Jana A.

Linda Ryan-Harper said...

Grace hosts her own Burning Man. Right now in this heat wave, I can relate to the same relief you depict Grace as having, except I'm coming in and she's going out—and, of course, there's that little business about Alan, recriminations and fire power.

Old Kitty said...

I was wondering where the story was going and then WHAM - the killer line about the shotgun!! Wonderful read, thank you! Take care
x

Apple Ardent Scott said...

Great way to lead the reader- keep me guessing, but give me enough to need to know what's next. Nice story!

Precie said...

So visceral. I feel her struggle, her nightmare in my lungs. Nicely done.

Chris Allinotte said...

@ Jay - thanks - glad you connected with Grace!

@ JR - the colours fit better than anything else I tried - glad it worked!

@ Brigid - thank you!

@ bluesugarpoet - "grace in the conflagration" ... there's my alternate title right there

@ Linda - I like your take on it - the painful burning away of a life to be ultimately free of it

@ Old Kitty - glad I "gotcha"

@ Apple Ardent Scott - thank you - this one took awhile to get it how I wanted it.

@ Precie - this story was all about the visceral

Richard Levangie said...

Chris: I like how you keep us guessing, how it's open-ended. A fine entry.

Mikki said...

Brilliant description. Thank you for sharing!

pegjet said...

Original description of crossing over. I really liked this.

Drew said...

Great story. I really liked the descriptive imagery.

JaneyV said...

I don't know who shot who but it doesn't really matter. You description of the confusion and panic of the aftermath was mesmerizing. Nice one Chris.

Erin Cole said...

Such visceral, haunting, and vivid writing, Chris. The ending is perfect - Grace had to die, and you made the harsh reality of her choice actually gorgeous.

Jade L Blackwater said...

so much emotion in so small a space! I like how much we can learn about Grace's fate and free will in this final, crucial moment.

Chris Allinotte said...

Richard - thanks - I wanted an ending, not a finale. :)

Mikki - thanks!

pegjet - scary as it seems - what if it isn't as dreamy and easy as Hollywood would have us believe?

Drew - thank you!

Janey - the answer to that was written... it's in words numbered 201-225.

Erin - I like your read of this, thank you for checking it out!

Jade - thank you - I saw that picture and it was emotion and sensation, more than narrative that was driving the pen this time.

Peter Dudley said...

Took me two reads to see it as an out-of-body experience. I love the "finally, the shotgun" line as the turning point in perception. This one made my throat dry. Good writing.

jason evans said...

You parsed out the very intense experience of getting out really well. Strong descriptions and good pacing.

Congrats on Forties Club!