Tuesday, October 23, 2012

VV/TWC: "Slash"

[I decided to go double dutch this week. This story, "Slash", is submitted to Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge for the word "distancing", as well as my triplicate obsessed friends at the Trifecta Writing Challenge, for the word "sinister".]

Elisa worked her pocketknife into the black rubber right under the "G". She had to push, leaning with all her weight, but eventually the blade made its way forward. She heard a hiss of escaping air into the cold night. The music from the party pounded the air. Elisa started to sweat. He had been distancing himself, nothing sinister so far, just somehow managing to not be home when she called, or not at the store when she dropped by. Elisa wasn't going to have that, and she smiled as his Corvette began to cant forward on the ruined tire.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

SPE: "Somebody Save Me"

{For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Talia gave me this prompt: "I want you to save me." I gave dailyshorts this prompt: " 'Guitar is the best form of self expression I know. Everything else, and I'm just sort of tripping around, trying to figure my way through life.' -Slash."}[This is called "Somebody Save Me"]

When she woke up, she drew her knees up towards her chest. The hospital gown was nearly translucent, revealing her bare flesh in places. It was taking her a while to focus, but after a few seconds, she saw that the curtain was pulled and it was just me, sitting there next to her bed beside the open window where the December sun struggled to show itself. Snow was just beginning to melt on the hospital roof, and every so often there would be a single, sad drop that flashed by. She relaxed, letting out a deep breath. Whatever else had passed between us, we had seen enough of each other's bodies to kill any thoughts of modesty.

Her knees had made little mountains of the bed sheet, which shrunk as she straightened her legs. She had IV lines in both arms. Occasionally, something whirred, clicked or beeped. Her pulse made a wavy, even line on a video screen above our heads.

"Hi," she said, her voice cracked and squeaky. She reached for a plastic cup of water on the bedside table. I stood up and helped her with it. She drank gently from the lip.

"Hi," she said again, her voice sounding softer and more natural.

"Hi," I said. Her hair was matted with sleep, and I could smell her sweat.

"Thanks for coming," she said.

"Of course. Not a problem."

"Nobody wanted to let you in. I had to tell the nurses that I wanted to see you." I heard a car turning out of the hospital drive onto the highway, tires spinning on some slush.

"Well, thank you. As long as you wanted to see me, I wanted to be here."

"My Mom kind of blames you. For what happened."

"I understand," I said. Her mother had been cold, but polite, on the phone when she gave me the news. "I probably would, if I were her."

"I told her it wasn't totally that. It was everything. I mean, that was part of it, but...you know."

"Yeah," I said. She had taken half a bottle of her mother's sleeping pills just over a week ago, and she had only been conscious for the last 2 days. We had been engaged up until Thanksgiving, when she gave me the ring back in a wine fuelled haze.

"I was making you crazy."

"Well," I said, swallowing. "No more than anyone else."

She chuckled, a soft little sound. "Come on. I was driving you nuts."

"Don't forget," I said, forcing a smile. "I was halfway there."

"True," she said. "I'm really sorry, Steven."

"I know."

"If I could undo it, you know I would." A nurse laughed as she walked away down the hall.

"I know."

"It's like...it's like...I don't even know why I do it. It's like there's this monster, and when it gets off the leash, it takes over. You were the only person who could talk to me when I was like that. The only one. When it's in control, I do stupid things. Awful things."

"I know," I said. It seemed like the only thing I could say.

"Dr. Sheffield says she's going to help me tame it. That it's going to take some work, but she will teach me ways to control it."

"That's great news," I said.

"I'm scared," she said. "What if I can't?"

"I'm sure you can," I said. "You can beat this. You're plenty tough enough."

"I wanted Jacob to save me. Then I wanted you to save me. Now I want the doctors and the pills to save me."

"You're worth saving," I said.

"I wish I believed that," she said. "I want you to save me, though. Still. Even though I know you can't. I know I have to save me. That's what they say. I have to do this for me."

"You will. Eventually, you'll want to save you. And the doctors will teach you how."

I reached out my hand. Her hand was resting on the mattress. I slid my fingertips underneath hers. The number that displayed her pulse increased slightly.

"Do you think, maybe, once I'm better...," she said.

"I'm not sure. Let's focus on healing for right now."

"Do you still have the ring?," she said. Her pulse climbed again.

"Yes," I said. It was still in the box I bought it in, underneath my clean socks.

"Do you still love me? Even after what I did?"

"Of course," I said. I did, too. Despite all the madness, I clung to her like a refugee.

"Then maybe we can start over?"

"Sure," I said. "You'll have to ask me out this time, though."

She laughed softly, then coughed once. "Deal."

Someone cleared her throat outside the curtain. She pulled it back slightly. It was the head nurse, a red faced Irish woman. "You have to go, son. Bath time."

"But he's already seen...," she began.

"Tssh!," the nurse hissed. "I've already broken the rules letting him in. He can come back during proper visiting hours. 2-4 tomorrow."

"I'll be back," I said. "Goodnight, Marlena."

"Goodnight, Steven," she said.

I walked down the hall, listening to the sounds, snatches of conversation about sex and death, work and money and fear. All around me, babies were being born, and people were slipping off into nothingness. I thought about tiny, perfect Marlena, all her rages and fits and reckless decisions, and tried to imagine a world without her. My own heart gave a nasty thump under my breastbone. When you can't live without someone, I guess you have to live with them.