Monday, March 14, 2011

96: Near Death

Instructions: Write a fragment of fiction from a character who thinks she is dead, but is not dead. Don't dwell on the wounds or the sudden illness that might make this person mistake life for death. Imagine what someone would think under these circumstances. Would her life flash before her eyes? Or would she focus on - even obsess over - the fact that she had not fed her dogs before she left the apartment? 750 words

This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. At all. Not at all. There should have been trumpets, sirens, howling wolves and wailing women. Not a lawnmower. Not a dog yapping (my god, couldn’t it have even been barking?) yapping in the background. The soft breeze. The warm blue sky. Puffy clouds. All wrong.

She didn’t have the chance to send out the email, the email she had just written to the guy she had been dating for a few weeks (what the hell was his name?), the one asking him if he wanted (“I had the time off, thought you might be interested..”) in a weekend getaway to a film festival. Maybe they could stay over? They had sex, sure, but it was never romantic. Never candles and soft music, or music at all. He had a tendency to strip off her clothes like a 4 year old on his birthday, ripping. She wanted to be carefully untaped, so the wrapping could be used again. Carefully untaped and then folded up. A film festival and a bed and breakfast seemed like the perfect opportunity to gift herself.

Now? Too late. Dead. Tripped (over what? A sandal? Goggles? A floatie?), head hit on the cement around the pool, too woozy to stand, and the sun beaming down at her.

She could feel the blood pool around her, sticky, salty, lots and lots of it. Just like she imagined it would be like in the movies, the movie blood that she saw when she watched the gory camp with Richard, her ex, this is how she imagined it would taste like. She wished she could tell him, call him and tell him, “Richard! I was right! You were wrong, it’s not sweet, it’s salty and thick! HA!” Tell him that much, at least, how right she was. The other things she was right about? Yeah, why the hell not, tell him about those too, how she was right that it could have worked, he could have learned to love her, he could have learned to love the city, the life they had made for themselves. He was wrong. She was right.

But now she was dead. It was too late.

Shit, why hadn’t she sent that email? Now it was going to look like she ignored him, that she hadn’t liked him enough (Jesus Christ, what was his name??) to get back in touch. It had been a few days, she had been busy. Work. Work was overwhelming her. The project needed three people, at least, and it was only her working on it. Times were tough, sure, cuts and layoffs, she was lucky to even have a job. But still. She needed to set boundaries, otherwise they would expect her to keep doing the work of three people solo forever, never rehire the help she needed. She had finally finished it last night, clocked overtime (what, 65 hours that week?) and stayed up until 2am, but thumb drived it and stuck it in her boss’s mail slot before leaving the office and driving home.

It was the wine. She never should have had that wine when she got home. It made her way too hungover this morning, she was dehydrated already when she had it, and now look what happened? Came out into the morning, the glorious morning, calling in sick because she deserved it damnit and wrote the email and then looked out at the pool calling her name and decided to go out, naked, in the buff, to her pool at her house, the house that she worked hard to buy, the one Richard always felt out of place in (intimidated by her, that’s what her mom said, he couldn’t stand that she was the breadwinner). So she slipped off her bathrobe and left it in the chair by the computer and never hit “Send” and got a glass of water and her sunglasses and then she tripped.

And was naked. Shit, she was naked. shit shit shit. This was all wrong. Completely wrong. And her shades were still there, on top of her head, all she was wearing was a pair of Ray Bans. She would be found naked, God knows how many days later, by her pool, baked in the sun and the lovely breeze and the puffy clouds.

The project was completed, she deserved to celebrate. She decided to drink the red, even though she preferred white, even though she hated red, because it was the bottle Richard had been saving, and had forgotten to bring with him when he left. She never called to tell him he left it. The lovely red, the cabernet, the one he was saving for a special occasion. He never said what the occasion may be. The special one. The one so special that it required saving for. Obviously not a proposal. Obviously not that.


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