Friday, August 10, 2012

Red Writing Hood: "Rising"

It's been a long time since I've done a Red Writing Hood prompt. I've been pulled in so many directions over the last five months, I've had trouble keeping up with where I'm going.

This week's prompt was to take inspiration from the Phoenix - the fire bird of mythology. So that's what I did.

I'm not entirely sure I like it, but I've been wanting to get back in the groove of responding to prompts, so here we are.

It’s raining when the men come for Aurora’s roommate.

Her roommate hadn’t been in the hospital long. A few days. Maybe a week. Long enough to attend a couple of the group sessions run by the doctor, where she would always look at the doctor with the same unwavering golden stare when asked to share her thoughts and say, quite simply: “I am not insane. And I want to go home.”

Aurora jumps as thunder crashes and lightning highlights the paleness of her roommate’s skin, the blue smudge – like bruises – beneath her eyes, the fiery tip of feathers revealed by the gaping and rising of the too big hospital shirt, curving over her naked shoulders, her fragile ribcage

She’d shown Aurora the tattoo once – a red and gold phoenix that stretched across the canvas of her back – and just from the way her roommate spoke of it, Aurora knew it was no ordinary tattoo.

Just as now she knows her roommate isn’t dead – though the orderlies grumble about overdoses and inmates “tonguing” pills – but sleeping.

They carry her roommate away. Aurora watches through the window when they reach the grounds, slip-slide through the muck until they reach the hospital morgue.

Throughout the day, Aurora keeps watch. Slipping back to her room between meals and between her sessions – the nurses make notes about her behavior in their charts and surely her doctor we’ll want to speak to her about it later.

It’s only after evening medications have been forced down her throat – the night nurse always watches as she swallows and then checks underneath her tongue – after the lights go out and Aurora has slipped, drowsy and unsteady on her feet, to the window that it happens.

The rain on the window makes the world even fuzzier, but the morgue is outlined stark white against the grey night. Aurora stares it. Doesn’t look away. Doesn’t blink.

At first, she thinks the sparks may be her imagination, the pills playing tricks on her. But then there are two and four and six and then far too many to count, rising up from the morgue like 4th of July fireworks and pretty soon the whole building is ablaze and it reminds her of Grammy’s barn that she’d set alight last year.

And there, coming down the little stone path, is Aurora’s roommate, naked and pale and gleaming. The rain that’s been falling harder all day seems to arc around her, turning to steam that rises in curling tendrils as it nears the bright, flaming wings that emerge from her back.

What I was listening while I wrote this: 


L. M. Leffew said...

I like that the roommate didn't have a name. I also like that Aurora believes she isn't crazy and doesn't belong there. There's so many directions this tale could go. Nicely done and welcome back!

L. M. Leffew said...

Hi, I am stopping by from I am not a mommy blog and glad I did.  Love this story and wonder what will happen next.  You're a good writer.

L. M. Leffew said...

There is a great deal to love about this. I loved the name choice, fitting. I loved that there was never a question for me as the whether she was crazy or not, I spent the piece looking forward to finding out what she would lok like upon transformation. I thought that the piece had the wonderful drowsy quality of a summer afternoon rain shower, or I suppose anti psychotic drugs.

Nicely done.

L. M. Leffew said...

Like, like, like! Although so many of our attempts at the prompts cry out for expansion, I think this one is complete. I like how you made me stop at the wingtips protruding, and think, Wait, real wings? Oh, no, tattoo. Oh, no, real wings! :)

L. M. Leffew said...

I agree.  I think this is a piece that stands well on its own.  Of course, I want to know more about what's going on, but I think that's the beauty of short stories.  As a reader I can take it in any direction I want at that point.  Very well done!

L. M. Leffew said...

This is a unique twist.  You place an ancient myth squarely in the middle of modern times.  I liked the setting and the rawness of the piece.  Excellent work, glad you got back into the groove.

L. M. Leffew said...

I did the same double, then triple take as Kathleen about the wings. The building of mystery around the roommate was very effective, especially using Aurora's point of view. Nicely done.

L. M. Leffew said...

Thank you. And thanks for the follows. :)

L. M. Leffew said...

Thanks, Shelton! Good to be back. 

L. M. Leffew said...

So glad you enjoyed. :) Thanks for dropping by. 

L. M. Leffew said...

Thanks so much. Now, if I can just stay in my groove.... :)

L. M. Leffew said...

the addition of the information that Aurora burned down her grammy's barn last year is interesting.  Kind of proof that Aurora probably does belong in the hospital, and makes it questionable as to whether her roommate was reborn in flames as Aurora is seeing it

L. M. Leffew said...

There's a lot to love here, but it's the kind of awkward detached voice of the narrator that I love best. Aurora feels real to me, a damaged and awestruck witness to something miraculous.

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