Posts tagged ‘Short Story’

Roaming Re-write

Yes, I know I have posted this before. I have rewritten large portions of the text and now feel like it has greatly improved. If you enjoyed the first one, please don’t waste your time reading it again (unless of course you want to!)

The shadows were stirring in Roger’s heart- relentless, penetrating shadows. Too many shadows. Too many corners. The night was warm, and the shadows drunkenly poured into every crevice of the room. Sleep would not embrace him tonight.

The farm was usually peaceful. Situated along the town’s main road, their home was within easy access to the city but removed enough to allow Roger and his elderly mother to bask in the silence of the country. The town was miniscule, consisting of only a few well-to-do families and their glittering farms. The town folk were generally uninterested in the lives of Roger and his mother. This is how he preferred it- remaining unnoticed. As Roger left his front step to investigate a strange clatter of movement, he sighed, allowing the subtle breeze to sweep across his body.

The unkept and barren land was far from beautiful. Grass had not grown for years. A small cluster of Jacaranda trees stood on the flat land near the home. They rustled pouring dancing purple blossoms on the red stained ground.

Under the tallest Jacaranda tree, Roger could make out a wispy shadow floating in the distance. As he approached, the silhouette of a young woman huddling under a blanket became clear. She had just settled between two young weeds peeking from under the ground and leaned her head back against the tree. The wet moonlight illuminated her fierce features. “Do you mind?” she sighed. Roger didn’t. He invited her inside, although she declined. She said she desired to soak the summer night air. Quietly nodding, Roger left her. In the morning, the woman was gone.

Roger went along his usual Saturday schedule the next day. After eating breakfast with his mother, he drove her to the tea luncheon at the church and waited for her to finish her cross stitch while taking a nap in the front seat of the car. He walked her from the church across the street to the salon where his mother would sit for two hours and allow someone to cut and style her hair. Sitting outside the salon were two clucking women with tall floral hats and today Roger decided to sit next to them.

While the stench of their perfume nauseated Roger, he carefully listened to their whispers.

The fattest one whispered the loudest, “Her name is Meredith. My little Jimmy decided to, heaven help him, talk to her yesterday.”

“Oh, Lordie!” replied the thinner woman. “I heard she has all sorts of things she sells outside that there car- things from the Indies. She’s probably possessed by the devil.”

“After I went to church yesterday, I told her I didn’t want to see her demon-self again. If only Jesus knew the abominable acts that were being held outside of his church! He’d come back right now and turn her tables over!”

Rodger’s eyes settle on the same wispy figure that slept on his farm. She was pulling a table out of her rusty car. Her car was battered and littered with a plethora of old greying bumper stickers.

“Jimmy told me she is from the South. Apparently, she had broken down in town and is raising the funds to get a lift to the west. If you ask me, she should step her demonic self into that church and…” Roger hardly caught the last bit of the sentence before her once again nodded into unconsciousness.

He was awoken by his mother who slapped him on the chest with her walking stick. “Take me home. These people in here don’t know what they are doing. If I wanted to look like a clown I would have told them to make me look like a clown!”

Roger sauntered with his mother stooped over his elbow- the sleep weighing heavily on his drooping eyelids. As he inhaled deeply, spiced and playful incense- Blue, green, red, brown dancing across the table across the road and melted away the sluggishness. Roger altered his course and crossed in front of the woman’s table. The smoke swirled in the breeze, casting insignificant shadows on her face.

“Hey handsome. Like what you see?” Her whispers floated thinly through the air. Roger’s mother reached out with her cane and slapped it against the flimsy table. Food and incense danced across the table and fell to the ground. Meredith had to duck to avoid another blow and Roger’s mother began a hysterical outrage at the missed target. Roger carefully took him to his car and locked her inside.

“… My mother….I am… I am terribly sorry… Are you alright?” Roger stammered viciously and this flustered him. English seemed to escape his tongue and these words were, at best, merely grotesque noises of sympathy.

“Tell you what,” A flicker in her mischievous eyes, “Give me a lift to the nearest supermarket and say 3 Hail Mary’s next Mass for me and maybe I’ll forgive you.” A smile bounced where the forced frown had been. Roger introduced himself and agreed, allowing Meredith to climb into the centre seat between his mother and himself.

They took his mother to his home where the nurse would attend to her. Roger drove while Meredith stared out the window and chattered meaningless nothings to those on the opposite side of the glass. “Rodg,” she sighed, “Can your mother eat peas? I’d like to make her dinner tonight. Can I do that?” She continued her chatter not pausing to hear the answer, yammering on about peas and asparagus soup and the health benefits of such a diet.

Once in the market, Roger rushed directly to the frozen food aisle not wanting to allow Meredith to forget her generous offer. He didn’t know why he wanted Meredith to stay for dinner, but he did. He turned from the icy shelf to face her, “For that soup you told me about, do you want frozen peas or fresh?”

She had her eyes closed. Standing still, she allowed a low, guttural moan escape from deep within her throat, “Quiet. Hear that?” The supermarket was bustling with activity. To the left of Roger stood a wrinkly old lady hunching over a frosty bag of frozen brussel sprouts. She whispered crazily to the bag before hugging them closely to her sagging chest and hobbling towards the exit. To the right of him screamed a young girl with blonde drooping pigtails tied in pink ribbons. The girl yelled, face up-stretched, until her young mother hauled her off towards the sweets. And Roger stood there, back against the open freezer, a raised eyebrow and pursed lips, completely dumbfounded.

“The song, listen to the song,” Her emerald eyes flashed open, tantalizing him with her impatience. Her arms encircled his captivated neck and she pressed her body against his. She seemed perfectly cognisant of her own beauty. Fighting to keep breathing, Roger was hypnotized as she began swaying her hips rhythmically to the melody on the supermarket radio. Her long flowing skirt swished around her knees as she found the seductive rhythm of her dance. Eventually his arms stiffly found their way around her, but by then, Meredith had already released her tantric hold on his neck. The mesmerizing bracelets clanked together around her outstretched wrist. Low and sultry, her voice began to seductively play with notes, lacing them together into her own majestic tapestry.

The chill from the open freezer reached out and caressed Roger’s rigid spine sending currents of thrill to his fingertips. She grabbed him forcefully and held him to her body. He didn’t pull away. They struggled in avoiding both the pyramid of canned soup and the fellow shoppers as they staggered. Collision upon collision with the glass cages echoed through the aisle.

Roger’s eyes forgot time and self-consciousness fighting to see both where he put his feet and where his partner put her body. In the end it was a futile effort. The eccentric and passionate tango collapsed into a muddled heap on the floor. Meredith erupted into an unrestrained guffaw while those around stood idiotically.

“That was fun!” she squealed, picking herself up off the floor and assisting Roger to his feet. “You enjoyed that.” It wasn’t meant as an observation, nor was it meant as a comment. She stated it as if she spoke another language and knew no one else would recognise the sounds as words. Roger was stunned and off Meredith swished, pushing by the crowd of gawking onlookers, “I’ll fetch the bread.”

When the trolley was bursting they headed for the till. The teller slid item by item across the scanner and Meredith inched her arm edge by edge across the tense muscles on Roger’s neck. His throat rumbled at her suggestive gesture and she dropped her arm.

She had raced him to the car. She won. Her auburn hair glittered; her carefree beauty enchanting even the setting sun himself. Roger really had no option but to let her win. As they sped on the highway, the day seemed just that much more glorious- more surreal. The wind pounded through the window and they screamed over the song on the radio, singing raucously along to the crashing guitar riff.

Raking through her bag, Meredith giggled. She removed a fat tube of rolled leaves and lit it. Breathing in deeply and passing the roll to Roger, she allowed herself to separate into a thousand different fragments and float around the car. She chanted her memorizing words into his aching ear, caressed his tingling shoulder, and pressed her breathtaking lips to his temple in encouragement.

“I’ve never felt so alive than in this moment.” He had never meant something with such depth before. At that exact moment in time, Roger decided he was more than in love with Meredith. Somehow his emotions felt deeper than the lust for the innate sexuality of the woman. It went deeper than that intoxication he felt being around her. Somehow, the way she lived life hypnotized him. If love could be boiled down to its very soul, and its essence could be extracted, then Roger was in that kind of love with Meredith’s life and her love of that life.

“You remind me of my sister. She died a long time ago. And you, somehow, someway encapsulate all that I adored in her.” And at the mention of Claire, Roger embraced his own fragmentation from reality.

“My sister died when she was sixteen. I was eighteen and should have watched after her. Claire really knew how to live. She really knew how to taste the colours in the day. No, she travelled outside colour. She was too vibrant for colour to contain. It seems like so long ago. I can hardly remember the details.

“Claire had giggled about some Guy and his Party and had threatened to sneak out alone and sleep over. Responsibility neglected me, as I too snuck out with her. I had spotted this girl as soon as I arrived. She was so beautiful. While we chatted someone spiked Claire’s drink. I didn’t notice. I didn’t see Claire down drink after drink, nor did I witness as she plunged the lethal dose of cocaine into her arm. I … wasn’t there as she writhed on the floor. I should have been there. I should have stopped her.

“At Claire’s funeral, I closed the casket. And as the lid clanked closed, I buried my own life within myself. I had to. There was no other way that I could… live.

“It seemed like even the Jacarandas died. Their blossoms were blooming grey. Each breath I took was heavy laden. It had passed a moment and was thus catalysing death.” Roger didn’t turn in time to see the tears gliding across Meredith’s cheekbones. He continued, “What became of my life since that moment is merely a waste of my own encroaching passing. It’s a fucking a wasting of my own mortality. My mother has become my troublesome and needy baggage. She will constantly guilt me into doing her bidding and saying my penance- every day- I killed my sister. My beautiful sister.

“You,” He faced Meredith briefly then allowed his eyes to drift back onto the road. “are just like her. You have the same gypsy presence and everything. Being around you… It’s the spirit of my sister. I can almost hear the shackles dropping from my restrained joy.” And he stopped as suddenly as he started. They lingered in the silence. Overwhelmed, Meredith leaned over to kiss him lightly on the cheek.

Urban design grew sparser as they drove. Single farms began sprinkling their dreaminess across the landscape. The roads were very quiet as it was already past dark and the roads were so poorly lit. The full moon glistened under the thick dark clouds and it began raining.

The torrent fell in thick, heavy drops and quickly flooded the windscreen. Even at full speed, the mechanized arms failed to disperse enough water to encourage sight. Since the roads were quiet, Roger didn’t pull over.

“I’m going to push through this one. No sense pulling over and waiting it out if we are so close to home.” Roger stated it more to convince himself than Meredith. She was starry-eyed, ridiculously silent and didn’t seem the least bit bothered. Yellow globs of light peeked through the blanket of wetness over the car. Not knowing exactly which lane their car was travelling, Roger pulled the wheel slightly to the left, hoping to avoid the approaching vehicle.

Meredith saw it first. She screamed. Her piercing, echoing rattles disorientated Roger. The car spun ferociously, swirling the two until dizziness obstructed their senses. Colours churned nonsense as Roger gripped the steering wheel fighting to control the car- thrusting left, thrusting right- And one thrust to many whirled the car off the road.

The swollen lake was just metres from the highway. Trees were sparse and every hope of stopping before the icy water was abandoned as each and every tree zoomed by them in a ferocious glory. Roger quickly unlatched his seatbelt. Within a single moment the car was sucked into the depths of the lake.

The water was freezing and sucked the breath right from their groaning bodies. Urgency and panic clutched Meredith. Her body was still constricted by her seatbelt. Fighting, kicking. Her hair swirled around her bulging eyes. Adrenaline had swollen a vein on her pulsating forehead; arms and legs flung about attempting combat with the immensity of the water. She paused. Her eyes, haunting, rose. Roger was watching her as if reality was less rigid than believable. Bubbled words fled her mouth as she pleaded…

And Roger floated there, suspended in his own inadequacy, staring. Her face stirred inside him. He saw his sister lying in the bathroom swimming in her own vomit. He saw her eyes, open and empty. Expression reincarnate. He reached out- arms driving through the water towards Claire. Towards Meredith.

Roger could save her. He saw her belt, merely jammed under the shifted arm rest. But he didn’t. He pressed his face against her lips and sucked on her warmth for a moment before cutting passed her and climbing to the surface. Breath burned his tongue and his gasping choked his agonising throat. He pressed himself out of the lake, rain pelting his blue body, and looked back. The car was just visible under the surface of the water.

While he swam out the open window past her, Meredith knew he would not come back for her. Not everyone can be the hero. She surrendered to the swallowing pressure and the water casually embraced her. One of her bracelets slid off her limp hand and rose to the surface. And it floated there, watching Roger walk away.


October 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm 2 comments