Since I haven’t particularly been in the ‘blogging mood’ this week (I blame the weather), I’m not feeling inspired enough to give you words of wondrous writing wisdom or whatnot. Though I am, apparently, an advocate of alliteration.
Anyway. Rather than attempt to wax poetic when the inspiration is clearly not there, I thought I’d give you something else… how about a story?
I wrote the short story below (flash, really) for storypraxis last month, based on the prompt ‘mist’. It was chosen for the bi-weekly ‘best of storypraxis’ online magazine, so if you want to read it in its original context, go here.
Read on, enjoy.
by Faith Boughan
Marjorie knew the Mist would come for her eventually. What had her mother always said? “It comes for us all, in the end.” In the final throes of the disease that ravaged her body and mind, Marjorie’s mother vanished, the authorities chalking it up to a senile senior citizen having wandered off and met The End one way or another. Marjorie knew better. She’d been taken, and that’s all there was to it.
Tonight, Marjorie walked along the shoreline of the Bay of Fundy. Alone. What had she come for, anyway? She kicked a piece of driftwood that stood in her path, and watched it tumble across the sand, toward the waves.
She pulled her arms around herself and shivered. Her third husband, dead only six months prior. Her fourth child, lost to the violent temper of her second husband. Her job – god, how she’d hated that job anyway – gone, torn away by ‘concerned co-workers’ who’d reported her moments of weakness in the bathroom stall to the Upper Echelon of Management. And she, too broken to fight, simply packed up her desk and left.
So why here? Why now? She could try to convince herself it was for memory’s sake, a measure of comfort in feeling close to her long-gone family. But she’d be lying.
A tiny blonde girl ran down the beach, feet squishing in the mud where the tide rested only minutes before, splashing into the waves and squealing with an abandon that belonged solely to little girls in nature. Marjorie allowed herself a moment of happiness, remembering her own little girl before. But only a moment.
And in that moment, the Mist came. She felt it before she saw it, its tendrils reaching out to her, beckoning. Pleading. Begging.
It’s time, the Mist said, You’re ready now.
Marjorie stared into the Mist, and the Mist stared back. She shuddered, her hand outstretched and plunging into the Mist before she’d processed what she’d done. The Mist smiled and curled around her wrist, weaving between her fingers, caressing her deepest hurts.
She couldn’t look away. The face of her third husband stared back, full of longing.
No more pain, Marjorie.
The image was replaced by the faces of her children. Her four beautiful children, taken before their time.
No more sadness.
Her first husband, John, gazed back at her now. John, who she’d pushed away. She’d been too young to know what it meant to love, but he’d known. Oh, how he’d known.
Let it slip away, Marjorie.
And there was her mother, eyes vacant but whole.
Marjorie took a step forward and stopped. The Mist wanted her, called to her, offered comfort and release from an existence that wasn’t an existence at all. But was this it? Was there nothing more? Had it come to this?
On the beach, a lifetime away, Marjorie heard the shrieks of the blonde girl as she splashed in the waves of the ocean. The girl’s mother, laughing, and the cries of the birds overhead. So much promise. So much unlived life.
“No pain?” she whispered into the Mist. “An escape from my allotted portion of misery?”
It’s too much for one person to bear, the Mist whispered back, You don’t deserve this. Let go.
She almost stepped forward. Almost. Giggles of a tiny girl stayed her feet.
“What about hope?”
There is none. You, of all people, know this.
Marjorie sighed, and took a step back. “But that’s where we find it the most, don’t we?” She turned to look at the girl and her mother. The woman embraced her child, and the girl’s smile lit up the twilight hour as if it were crafted from the sun. “That’s what keeps us going.”
Without thinking, she drew her hand from the Mist.
The Mist screamed, clawed at her, shouted obscenities in a language so ancient that none could understand. And Marjorie, with the first spark of hope she’d known in a very long time, knew her mother had been wrong.
In the end, everyone has a choice.
If you’re still here, thanks for reading. Have a great (& productive!) weekend, drive safe out there if you’re in the areas still getting hit by snow! (Well, drive safely no matter where you are, please. But that should go without saying.)