aqua fortis

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Flickr Fiction: Changeling

I don't know why I was in that part of town. I mean, I know how I got there, but why I was wandering around...I could have called a taxi, should have. But it's too late now.

The snow keeps falling on my bare arms, speckling them with tiny melted water droplets; little freezing spots that chill me to the bone. I keep walking, even though it was walking that got me into this...mess. This—I don't want to think about it.

Jeff asked me to go to the party, and like a stupid jilted girlfriend who hadn't quite made it out of denial yet, I said I'd go, even though I'd never heard of these friends of his before, or their club, the Sliver. All I could think about was seeing him again, making him realize that he missed me and had made a mistake.

But I was the one who made a mistake. And I'm paying for it now. The snow changed to rain, surprisingly warm but falling thickly now, in sheets. My thin sleeveless shirt is soaked in moments. I can't see in front of me, so I reach out, even though I'm afraid of what I might touch.

When I got to the club, I waited in the line of giggling, shrieking, tarted-up underage college girls and scornfully silent, black-lipsticked androgynous goths for forty-five minutes, adjusting my silver-beaded spaghetti straps so they were artfully haphazard, touching up my makeup in a tiny hand mirror. I finally made it to the door, flashed my ID at the bouncer, and slipped into the dark interior, thronged with sweaty, shouting bodies. I looked around. There was a painfully loud industrial band at the opposite end of the warehouse-like space, with the requisite mosh pit swirling at the base of the stage.

Spotting Jeff at the bar--of course--I picked my way through the crowd, trying to touch people as little as possible, recoiling when I felt someone's sweat land on me from the nearby dance floor. I brushed it off my forearm and wiped my hand on my ripped jeans.

Of course, now I wish I hadn't worn those jeans, holes torn in deliberate patterns, held together with a web of safety pins. The wind, cold again, cuts right through every hole, and the swirling brown leaves stick to my still-wet skin and start to disintegrate into crumbly pieces. I can see skeletal trees around me, and find myself imagining how nice it would be to see, for instance, the warm glow of that Narnia lamppost, or even the guttering streetlight of the dank neighborhood I somehow left behind.

When I got to Jeff, I'm sure you can guess what I saw. I should have known, too, but I'd fooled myself into thinking otherwise. He and his new flavor of the month didn't even see me, they were so busy sticking their tongues down each other's throats. I turned and fled. I'm not even sure how I got outside, how I made it through the crowd that had gotten thicker even than before, dancing elbows narrowly missing my rib cage and booted or spike-heeled feet stomping dangerously near my thin canvas Chuck Taylors.

But somehow I made it out. I walked faster, and then I was trotting, past humped mounds of blankets where derelicts slept. Tears streamed down my face. I had no idea where I was going, just as long as it was far away from him. I passed a shadowed doorway, and was almost past when I felt my wrist grabbed in an iron grip, yanking me to a stop. The hand was almost painfully slender, the forearms moon-pale and crisscrossed with faint blue traceries of veins. I felt bile in the back of my throat. I didn't want to look too closely, didn't want to encourage this drug-addicted nut job or desperate prostitute or whatever she was to hurt me.

"You can have my money," I said. "I don't care." At that moment, I didn't. The tears were still drying on my stinging cheeks. "I just want to be…God. Anywhere but here," I finished, pathetically. I made a halfhearted attempt to free my arm, but it was like pulling against a manacle.

"Then I'll give you what you want," the figure said, in a hoarse, dry voice. And suddenly she, or it, had released me, and I stumbled forward, and here I was. Instead of looming brick and concrete walls, vague dark tree-shapes. Instead of an unusually balmy spring night, by turns wind, snow, rain, leaves, choking humidity. I keep moving, hoping I'll stumble back into reality, out of this—whatever this is. Whoever the figure was, I don't know what they did to me. They did manage to steal my bracelet, the cheesy ID bracelet I've had ever since I can remember, the kind that's supposed to be impossible to remove. I feel strangely bare without it, even though it's worthless.

I keep moving, half-walking, half-running. I don't know what else to do.


This week's piece was inspired by the Blue Nile by Flickr user I'm interested in exploring this one further and seeing where it goes...though I really have no idea what comes next, as usual. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, Valsha, and Mari.


Valsha said...

That is so intriguing - I really, really like the way one sentence has completely altered her reality. Loads of questions left at the end, but in a good way so the piece feels like it could be finished or continue equally easily.

DaviMack said...

You write aloneness so well, so well.

We're truly there, in her head, experiencing her trauma ... and there's nobody else in the world. She's insulated, by the snow, from the snow, from the music, from the people. She's cat-like, detests bodily contact and wetness, and she's desperate enough to do anything.

Yet she's denied the chance.

She wants death / transformation, yet is granted life in another place ... and is not grateful for that, because she didn't get to make the decision, or at least she can lie to herself and say that she didn't, and truly the question never even occurs to her, she lies to herself so quickly and so well.

She is so much herself, alone, that she is unaffected by the outside world.





TadMack said...

The Sliver... is such an evocative name for a club. As always, loved the descriptions of those around her, from the tarts to the death-wenches. And I, too, think this one bears more examination!!! The ideas are starting to stack up with you!

Donal said...

Vampires! You can't beat a good vampire yarn. Good opener.