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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quickening *

Most mornings Elaine awoke in dismay. Expecting cloud cover, she was perpetually confounded by the blue patch of sky shining beyond her window. Accordingly, her despondence required some justification. She should already be watering and fussing over the plotted plants. She could be halfway through a twenty-minute mile. She might have polished off a chapter of a highly-acclaimed novel.
On this overcast Wednesday morning, there was inexplicable joy. Elaine mistrusted the illusion of renewal, the phantom of well being that was invading her. She knew it wasn’t real, but felt it necessary to do some spot checks just the same. A glance through her window confirmed impending rain. A gentle roll of her head to the right yielded the customary crackle at her neck but, unaccountably, not a hint of stiffness. A trail of euphoria burned its way down her spine, shooting bursts of warmth through her abdomen.
(She cast an eye to the left, entertaining the possibility of an unremembered bedfellow. Alas, there was just familiar emptiness beside her.)
With a brisk swing of her legs off the bed, she propelled her torso into a sitting position. She waited in vain for the dizzying rush this act of returning to an upright state lately provoked. When none came, she began to let down her guard, to ignore the chimerical nature of her physicality.
She imagined, but did not try, skipping down the hall to her bathroom. She admired the shining tiles, smiled at the dazzling chrome that sparkled under exquisite lighting. Giving herself over to the illusion of youthful vigor, Elaine stretched wide her arms and rose on her tiptoes, filling her lungs with a deep, purposeful breath. This caused her to cough. The coughing made her left ankle twist horribly inward, allowing her knee to give way, then her hip. As she crumbled to the floor, her left temple met the impeccably white porcelain edge of the tub, and so consciousness, with all its devilish tricks, ended that day for Elaine.


333 words for  including PHANTOM (noun) 3 : a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal .

* While I was away at the #METM13 annual conference in Poblet, my virtual friend Steph let me know this story had placed third for week 101: "Third place this week is KymmInBarcelona. Her story Quickening is a well-written tale of that old Lothario called Happiness, which can disappear at any moment." Many more stories with phantom things can be found: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2013/10/trifextra-week-ninety-one.html

40 comments:

  1. Poor Elaine. Things were just going inexplicably too well!

    I can relate to this so much. I get nervous when I feel too positive-a natural defense mechanism, perhaps to prevent ending up face down on the floor;)

    This was a wonderfully quirky take on the prompt, Kymm, and I adored it:)

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    1. Glad you got the quirky, Valerie, that's what I was going for.
      I was kinda giving myself a warning - I'm a natural born cynic, but I can take it too far.
      Thanks for being such a sweetheart!

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  2. Marvelous, kymm. One day my mother said to my sister, Do you ever get the feeling things are going too well? She was 57 years old and dead within the week. True story. So for me, this is real and true. Though, honestly, I would not have thought to write it myself. I love the way you operate, my friend. Wonderful work.

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    1. Oh, wow, Steph, what a blow! Though I am a firm believer in us having pretty good ideas about what goes on with us, when something really is wrong. I remember your poem - crumpled at the door. {()}
      Thank you for the marvelous, and the love, Steph! I love the way you get me.

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  3. This is beautifully done - I especially love this aside: (She cast an eye to the left, entertaining the possibility of an unremembered bedfellow. Alas, there was just familiar emptiness beside her.)

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    1. Thanks for the love, Kelly! I wavered so with that whole parenthesis - take it out, put it back, take it out. So glad you mentioned it.

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  4. I did gain the freshman ten and struggled for years to get it off. Walking - miles and miles of walking - has definitely helped. I feel a certain satisfaction when I get holes in my walking shoes.

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    1. Haha. I'm a jock, so walking does absolutely nothing, yet lately I have neither the time nor the inclination for anything more energetic. Freshman ten? Continuing Ed twenty!

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  5. Whoop! Anything can happen anytime. A moment of happiness may be a sign of an impending disaster.
    Well crafted... and I liked how you crafted the joyous feel in the character and then transformed it completely towards the end.
    -HA

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    1. Well, you know, from the get go, she knew that happiness was up to no good.
      So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks, HA!

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  6. Well, consciousness is overrated, I'd say! We often don't trust inexplicable happiness, do we? There's something sneaky about it!

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    1. OMG consciousness is SO overrated! Inexplicable happiness is totally untrustworthy. Gloom and apathy, they never fail.
      Cheers, Tina!

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  7. Oh no, I was so happy for Elaine - till the end! You did a marvelous job pulling us into her euphoria. It made the drop at the end that much more painful. Oh - and I LOVED the parenthetical observation about the absence of a bedfellow. :) Great job!

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    1. Well at least you were happy for her, Christine, cause she certainly wasn't!
      Thank you for your kind works, and for the love!

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  8. Had to chuckle at her distrust of the presence of happiness and the check for a bedfellow. I was happy for her...then it went horribly downhill. Geez, some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed :)

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    1. Now, see, you have just hit upon my most cherished theory. So often I believe it doesn't pay to get up in the morning! lol
      Glad you had a chuckle, anyway, Janna!

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  9. When you think things have finally done well life bites you in the ass! Good one!

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    1. Life bites you in the ass anyway.
      Thank you, Joe!

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  10. I think the next time I wake up and feel that good, I'm going to hide under the covers!

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    1. I highly recommend that course of action, Bud.
      Thanks for the visit!

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  11. Ah man everything was going so well! Bummer.

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    1. S'all relative, ainit!
      Thanks for popping in, Draug!

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  12. I guess she went out with a bang.

    I know you shouldn't joke but I could not resist.

    I liked the foreshadowing and the character feeling the impending doom. I've always liked eating something bitter and something sweet at Passover Seder. Life has bitter and sweet parts.

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    1. Haha - and why not joke?
      So glad you enjoyed it, Ann. Thank you!

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  13. Chimerical is my new favorite word.

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  14. Oh no!Elaine should have trusted her gut feelings-poor,poor thing!At times I too get that feeling of unaccounted for exhilaration and am afraid that soon a deep depression may dog my days-sigh!Thankfully(& hopefully), for those days to become a reality are still at least a decade away,lol!A wonderful write touching upon the uncertain certainties of life,dear Kymm-loved it:-)

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    1. What. All she did was stretch. lol
      Thanks for your lovely comments, Atreyee, and for the love!

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  15. Kymm, that was so well written. I especially loved the parenthetical - a subconscious tip-off to her, and us!

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    1. Glad you liked it. Thanks for the love, Joanne!

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  16. Oh, snap! I love the details in this. Love how you used phantom. Too many great lines to list my favorites, but this one made me smile:

    (She cast an eye to the left, entertaining the possibility of an unremembered bedfellow. Alas, there was just familiar emptiness beside her.)

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    1. Happy to make you smile. Thanks for all the love, Ivy!

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  17. As I remember my dad this week, he died 17 years ago when he was 52 and I remember my mom telling me he was dancing the day before, dancing and laughing and so happy that it was as if he was enjoying every moment he had left.

    The older I get, the more I get suspicious when things are going too well. A shoe must always drop for most of us, this piece was an incredible reminder of that. Your words were incredible.

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    1. I'm glad you can think of how happy he was.
      I think being suspicious is just a sign of maturity... Thank you so much, Kir!

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  18. A well-deserved third place in the Trifecta One Hundred challenge this week! Congrats!

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  19. This was fantastic, kymm! I'm sorry it took me so long to get over to visit. When I'm at my happiest, the thought does do a little creeping in (why am I so happy? is it going to last? what's the hitch?) Great writing!

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    1. So glad you liked it. There's always a hitch...
      Thank you so much, Gina!

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  20. This was great, Kymm. Very well deserved win :) I loved the phrase - familiar emptiness, just too good.

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    1. I'm glad you think so. Thanks for the love, TIZ!

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