It’s been a while, but this week, I’m jumping ahead to next week’s fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig. The challenge is to pick one of ten opening lines and run with it for one to two thousand words. So, I’m running. On your mark, get set, go!
A year ago, this would have been an unthinkable act.
A year ago, I was safer. Drowning in a sea of emotion, oh yes, but I’d managed to grab a lifeline.
A year ago, I didn’t know him.
It started with a text message, really. Not to me, no, but to my sister. She was always on her phone, but never answered when I called. Guess that’s what happens when you’re the eldest of three. No one seems to answer my calls, though I hear the echoing dial tones in my sleep. She snuck a look at the text and shoved her phone in her pocket. I wish I’d been there to ask what was wrong.
Another text message followed the first, her phone angrily chirping at her. My sister read each message, biting her lip before swiping the lock on her phone to reply. Each message was a little more flustered. A little more frantic. A little angrier.
I felt that anger when I read through them, one message hitting me like a tidal wave, the reply slowly building in heat. That was when they exploded in all caps, rapid fire sentences flinging emotions. They made me sick.
Now the anger lives in my bones, boiling just under my skin. Some hours, I think others can see it burning through, peeling away my skin and consuming me. Some hours, it feeds the anger in them too.
A year ago, we would’ve been fine, my sister and I.
But that text message spiraled into a phone call. Here’s where the all-caps language comes in.
“Everyone feels, especially if you can’t see it! Why aren’t you listening to me?!”
“How dare you dismiss her because you think the shit she’s been through hasn’t affected her! How dare you dismiss the things she feels in her heart!”
I AM SO ANGRY MY HEART IS TOO FAST SOMEONE HELP UGH GOD WHY CAN’T HE UNDERSTAND THE WORLD’S GOING TO SHAKE WITH MY ANGER
THE WORLD IS GOING TO BURN
That was when the anger in my bones woke up, deeper than Aslan’s roar and mightier than a mountain range. It shouted with my voice, pleaded with it, tried to burn away those logical fallacies to let me speak for a minute.
But that’s when the lies speak and oh god, the anger’s growing. I let it. Hate sparks up in my heart, but I shove that down for later. My bullshit sensors are setting off the alarms, flying red flags, and loading the cannons.
IT’S TIME TO LISTEN TO MY INSTINCTS. Listen with my heart. PROTECT MY FAMILY.
It’s time to paint the town scarlet.
Silence. Silence on the other end, not even a breath coming through as the lies try to take shape, try to cover up what I’ve already seen. The fallacies flow in abundance; Logic has up and fled, Emotion eagerly taking its spot. For a while, we are racecars zooming around the same smoking track, endlessly circling.
A year ago, my world wasn’t flame.
A year ago, I’d have never imagined my emotions could get this big.
The cannon fire has ceased, but anger still flushes through my veins, saturating my bones. I mutter a lame excuse, voice sore but still razor-sharp, and hang up. It would be more satisfying if I could snap the phone shut. I settle for stabbing the “end call” button.
So it’s done then. We’re done. And my sister is in the room over, her phone far, far out of reach. The red haze remains, crashing in waves over my head. I don’t bother trying to swim; for once, it feels good to lose myself in something primal. Something out of my control.
My lifeline cuts through the haze and I’m no longer drowning in the reddest sea.
But he will be.
It’s no longer anger pumping through my veins. This solidifies into revenge, a thousand glittering black diamonds coating me in armor. The red will stand out for a mile.
The revenge flakes away bit by bit, leaving ash on the floor. Beneath it is a soaking, slate-gray emotion.
Pity. It’s sniveling, wrung out like a wet dishcloth. It creeps into my bones, uncomfortably neutral in temperature. Pity is only a light pressure, soothing away the sore spots in my armor. It limps along through my veins, flecked with jet-edged revenge and the tiniest fires ready to roar up at a moment’s notice.
Weary, I toss my phone away, cracking open my laptop. Homework is the answer. Homework and oh gods, was that essay due? It’s nearly too easy to funnel my anger into my keyboard, pounding out words and citing sources instead of locking myself in my mind. The emotion ocean stays behind a door, sometimes leaking under but I mop it up. Order is the answer for now.
Don’t go to bed angry, the sun reminds me. You’ll get nightmares, like usual. It dims the flames lingering in my bones until I am left in darkness. Cool, sweet darkness.
The cycle repeats in the morning. One new-formed memory creeps into my blood, igniting the angry sparks one by one. The revenge is swallowed and all I feel, all I see, is scarlet.
A year ago, I was ice.
Whew. *collapses on bed* This one was a bit harder to write, especially since this past week has been SO emotionally charged. It’s exhausting to rehash it on the page. The main point of this Friday Fiction was simply to evoke feeling inside, not to make much sense plot-wise. I wanted to play around with writing style/formatting a bit, hence the all-caps. I know Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin makes use of different formatting choices as well and it really fit the book.