Thursday, 8 August 2013

She had seventeen missed calls

Writer’s Block

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

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She had seventeen missed calls and ten new voicemails. She didn’t bother listening to any of them, they would all be from her mother. She could guess the contents. They would have started with the usual Friday night dinner invitation. and then a demand to know why she didn’t show up to dinner, followed by a follow up of where was she? Why hadn’t she called back? Until after a few calls, maybe an are you okay? Or a where have you been? But she doubted it. Her mother was over bearing but not particularly caring. It was the inconvenience to her that usually concerned her the most. Maybe the gravy got ruined waiting for her daughter to arrive.
So, knowing her mother, it would have taken a little longer than a week to reach the stage of caring.
What the hell was she going to say?
She could not possibly come up with a rational lie. She wasn’t that good at lying normally.
I didn’t get the calls because I wasn’t actually in this world.
If she told her mother the truth, she would accuse her of lying anyway. Not because she routinely lied to her mother, but because the truth was so odd. For some reason, she thought that the only person who might understand would be her father. He didn’t ever say much. The family joke was that he didn’t get a word in edgeways against her mother, but he was a good listener. He had to be.
She brought dessert as an apology. Her mother sniffed derisively at the box. A bought dessert was not as good as homemade in her book. She made a garbled apology, blamed the phone company - she never got the messages, she lied.
Her grandmother looked frailer than ever. Her hearing aid made an annoying buzzing sound until they convinced her to turn it off. She couldn’t hear it and refused to believe it was making the noise. She seemed happier without it; lost in a world of her own. The older she got the more easily she fell into the distant past seen with crystal clarity when yesterday was a meaningless blur.
Her mother went to serve the bought dessert.
Her father studied her.
She leaned closer to him.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“No.” A glance at grandma to confirm her continued absence.
“Wasn’t the phone company, eh?”
“No... I met something.”
He frowned. “Not someone?”
“No... definitely not.”
“Nearly ready,” her mother called. She was making custard to cover the rude offering.
Her father looked oddly guilty.
“You know,” she whisper accused.
“I do.” He touched her face. “I know. I often wondered if it would transfer to you.”
“What would?”
“The attraction.”
“How do you mean?”
“The... spark? That is what they called it?”
She closed her eyes in relief. “Yes.” She sighed. “I knew you would understand.”
“Oh, I remember the spark,” said Grandma. She looked dreamy.
“Y-you do?”
She just smiled and refused to say any more.
“I was gone for what seemed like weeks,” she told her father.
“It would. Time is different.”
She picked nervously at her napkin.
“This is goodbye,” he father guessed.
She didn’t get to answer him as her mother bustled back carrying a jug of steaming custard. She patted her father’s hand. They ate the dessert. She didn’t get a chance to speak to him again; he fell asleep in the recliner. She kissed him on the forehead before she headed home. It would have looked odd for her to wake him up to say goodnight. It was just another Friday night dinner.
She sat in the car for some time after she pulled up in the drive. When she got out, she shut the door more confidently than she felt. She glanced at the house but didn’t go in. There was nothing in there for her. She stepped carefully around the side of the house, and walked towards the forest that edged the back yard.
She stood, her hands held nervously together. She breathed deeply, inhaling the scent of the night; of the dark.
A shadow moved. It peeled itself away from the tree and stepped just as carefully towards her. It did not walk on human feet.
As it got closer to her the shadow coalesced into the figure of a man.
She breathed him in. He smelt like the air after a thunderstorm to her. Ozone. That was what he smelt like; dangerous and addictive. Rich and pungent.
“Did you say goodbye?” he asked.
“Not really.”
“But I will go with you,” she added.
He smiled. She saw sharp teeth and a gleam of red eyes. The glamour hid most things, but she heard the rustle of wings.
She held her hand out to him and he took it. She felt his reptilian scales.
He stepped backwards and she held his hand and went with him.
The fairies in the bottom of the garden were not always tiny and bright. Just as many were clawed creatures with sharp teeth and wings made of leather.
© AM Gray 2013

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