Sunday December 11th, 2011

The exercise:

Two weeks shy of Christmas, your prompt is: the boggart.

After having to get up at 5 yesterday I had a big sleep in this morning, and the pace never really picked up for the remainder of the day. I'm hopeful all that rest will help finish off this cold.

Looking forward to having Kat back home tomorrow.


I almost didn't answer the phone when I saw Grandpa's name on the caller id, but my sense of duty managed to reign victorious over my hopes to spend the morning reading the paper. I set the sports section aside and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?" I could have just greeted him straight off, but that invariably led to him wondering how I knew it was him that was calling, which always ended up with me succumbing to his accusations that I'm part warlock. Best just to skip all that, really.

"Jim, it's Grandpa. I've got some trouble at the house and I need you to come up here and help me take care of it."

'Up here' was a bad ten hour drive away. Nothing short of him threatening to kill himself would get me off my recliner and out of my bathrobe.

"What's the problem?" Trying and, I thought, succeeding at sounding like I actually cared.

"I've got a boggart infestation. Little buggers are everywhere and I can't seem to catch them. You know I don't move so well these days, with my hips the way they are."

"Yes, Grandpa, I know." He'd had a fall a few years back that put his hips in a bad way. He'd been telling everybody about it ever since.

"So when shall I expect you?"

"How do you know there are boggarts in your place?"

"They keep hiding my keys! Never where I left 'em." He sounded genuinely aggrieved.

"You're probably just getting forgetful. Nothing to worry about, it happens to everyone when they get older. Heck, I'm starting to -"

"You don't believe me."

"Come on, Grandpa. I need a little more proof than your keys going missing."

"Fine. Stay on the line. I'll see if I can trick one of them into speaking with you."

I almost laughed, but I held it in. I spent the next five minutes shaking my head at my empty living room, and towards the end I started to consider hanging up. He'd probably forgotten all about me, just like his silly keys.

But that was when a new voice came down the line.


Greg said...

Poor Grandpa! Things could only be worse if Henri was his grandson.... I like the tone of this piece, it's conversational and chatty, and then gets just a little bit chilling towards the end when the new voice comes on the line.
Is this going over to Protagonize then? It seems long enough to start a story with :)

The boggart
"Do you think we'll do boggarts?" Nicky asked as she walked with Jermander, her best friend, across the Mini-quad at Gorillamumps.
"What?" Jermander looked shocked, which was quite an achievement for a vampire with a Nu-Wave dress sense from the eighties. His quiff quivered slightly.
"Do you think we'll do boggarts?" Nicky was used to repeating herself, not being quite bright enough to recognise the bewilderment her odder statements and questions caused people.
"I'm pretty sure you'll have to ask the boggart if you can do him," said Jermander, a look of distaste on his face. "And you're an undine, Nicky. Water and Earth creatures don't mix that well together."
"But they do boggarts in my book, in their Defence against the Dark Arts lectures!" Nicky looked like she was going to cry, which for a creature made of water was always a fairly dramatic event.
"Oh Gods, oh gods." Jermander stopped walking, and some of the Young Mummies went past, shouting insults and profanities at the Zombie Kids on the other side of the Mini-Quad. Gorillamumps took all kinds of children in to teach them. "Nicky, this isn't your Harry Plotless books, and we don't do Defence Against the Dark Arts. Most of us are the Dark Arts according to that author, so what would we possibly be learning? Boggarts aren't monsters, they're people too. Or possibly we're monsters too, I've not quite worked that one out yet. But if you go around asking if you can do boggarts...." He tailed off, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Oh." Nicky looked crestfalled. "I'd been practising the spell to defeat them too."
"Ridiculous," muttered Jermander, setting off to class again and leaving her behind.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, it did get a little long. I'll think about bringing it over, especially if I can decide where I want to go with it :P

Gorillamumps is a fantastic name :D

Fun little scene. Love to hear more from those two.

Inez said...

If I hold my breath long enough . . .

I could think myself into existence. My skin could turn solid enough to be seen by mortal eyes. Ruddy like the warts of a sea cucumber. I sometimes crouch on the table while he eats. If I look closely I can see it sitting on the back of his tongue, teasing me through ivory bars. It threatens to jump out at any moment. Flopping into his cornflakes and flapping about like a dying fish.

I’ve tried everything.

I slap. I punch. I kick. Pummel and plunder. Explode and Rumble. I bounce off the walls. I stomp on his head. I sit on his shoulders and cover his eyes. I plead. I shout. I scream. I scream so violently that I shed skin.

All he feels is a butterfly kiss.

If I hold my breath long enough I can make things disappear. Keys. Baubles. Phone numbers. Tickets. Socks. Breath mints. And sometimes even sanity. He spits the “F*#k!” word out like venom. But the thing I want so terribly holds on. It sits tight by his tonsils making him gag.

Sometimes his own words trip over it. Sta. Sta. Stammering his way through a sentence. Stut. Stut. Stuttering through a story. Too many words caught in his mouth. Lolling and rolling all over each other. An orgy of syllables: A broken man’s song.

At night I slither into his dreams and crawl out through his nostrils. He stops breathing long enough for my skin to turn solid. I place my hands over his mouth. Cold and damp like the breath of winter.

And then he rolls over.

I sit and wait.

If I hold my breath long enough . . . .

SAY MY NAME!!!!!!!!!

Marc said...

Inez - fantastically creepy. Wonderful job with the alternate point of view :)