Monday November 23rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: roses.

Looks like I've got company again tonight. He doesn't seem particularly sick during the day, other than being more tired (and cranky) than usual. So I'm hoping this will pass fairly quickly.

Found time to chop and haul wood this morning. Which is good, because it is currently snowing pretty hard out there.

Max will be so pleased when he wakes up tomorrow and looks out the window.


Miranda closed the door behind her as she entered her hotel room and paused to regain her composure in the soothing darkness. The first three breaths were shallow and ragged. The two that followed were more controlled but still too rapid. It was three or four breaths later that she remembered to breathe in through her nostrils and out through her mouth.

Which was when she finally noticed the smell.

She pawed the wall to her right until she finally found the light switch. The sudden brightness hurt her eyes and reduced her vision down to a pained squint. Swearing softly she edged her way further into the room she'd called home for the last five nights.

"Hello?" she called out as the smell grew stronger.

There was no answer. Nor should there have been. The only people who had entered that space since her arrival had been Miranda herself and the cleaning staff. As far as she knew.

"Is anyone in here?" she tried again. "Because if so I'm pretty sure you're in the wrong room..."

The narrow hallway opened into the living area and Miranda pulled up short. On the coffee table someone had placed a black ceramic vase filled with white and red roses. Even from fifteen feet away she could tell that they had been heavily perfumed.

"Ugh," she muttered. That was before she saw the envelope leaning against the vase. The words that followed that discovery were... quite definitely unladylike.

Miranda didn't need to see the handwriting to know who was responsible for this "gift". The keynote speaker had not left her alone since the conference had begun. She was a happily married woman but no rebuffs were working, no discouragement so much as acknowledged. This, however, this was going too far. Stronger measures were obviously required.

Steeling herself for the task ahead, she turned on a heel to go find him. As it happened, she didn't have to go very far.

He was standing right behind her.


Greg said...

Max will be pleased, as would I were I there to see the snow! And I'd be delighted to assist your wood-cutting effort by sitting down with a hot cup of coffee and pointing out bits you've missed and how you're swinging the axe wrong and that the chunks of wood are the wrong size for burning well and the wrong shape for... you've got that look on your face again Marc. Put the axe down now. Please :)
Ah well, I really like the way you introduce the roses with their smell being apparent first and the tension immediate in the breathing through the mouth. The whole thing comes together gradually and delicately until we reach the final line and the revelation that things might just be going to get worse. The pacing is excellent and the little details (the vase, the handwriting) really bring the scene to life. Great work.
Of course, I'm going to spoil it now by continuing it :-P

"I spoke to the reception desk," he said. His teeth were white and even and his smile was wolfish. Miranda noticed, almost absently, that his chin was perfectly smooth, no sign of five-o'clock shadow. Like a robot. "I explained that I was your husband and they were delighted to let me have a key."
"But you're not –"
"Not even a man?" He took a step forward and Miranda realised that he – or was it an it now? – was blocking the corridor and her escape. She took a step back and let her gaze wander over the room, looking for a weapon. "That's true, I'm a woman. But the software industry is so male-dominated that they don't like women coming up and telling them how to do their jobs. My name, fortunately, is one of those that can be male or female, so I just dress the way they're expecting." She laughed. "And lower my voice a little. I started off with a voice coach, but for long trips I use hormone supplements these days."
"But your clothes –" Miranda felt deeply irritated when the woman, Ashley, cut her off again before she could finish her sentence.
"Tailoring." She undid the buttons on her suit jacket and let it fall open revealing a hint of curves. "And the fact that many software developers are overweight, so they tend to assume they're manboobs. It's the desk-job that makes it easy to gain weight, I think."
"What do you want with me?" Miranda was pleased that she'd finally got the sentence out. She took another step backwards; the ceramic vase was now in reach and looked heavy enough that it might not even break when she hit Ashley with it. The perfume from the roses was ridiculously strong though and she was starting to feel light-headed from breathing it in all the time.
"To recruit you," said Ashley. She gestured to the flowers. "Aren't they nice? They're perfumed with chloroform, by the way, so I'd be careful trying to pick the vase up. You might easily drop it and hurt yourself."
"You're threatening me?" Miranda's tongue felt thick all of sudden, and she wondered if there was really chloroform in the perfume. She didn't see how that could be true, so maybe this was all suggestion. "How do you recruit someone with threats?"
"Work for me or I'll arrange to have your mother killed?" Ashley shrugged. "Seems easy enough. Why don't you sit down and here me out?"
Miranda sat down, her legs just folding beneath her and landing her on the floor with a thump. Now she was certain that the perfume wasn't chloroform, just an hypnotic gas. She held her breath, hoping that it was so strong because it needed to be continuously inhaled to work.
"Good girl. Now, let me tell you what I want with you."

morganna said...

Red, white, pink, and
So many colors to
Express your

Marc said...

Greg - oh, I'm sure you'd be more than willing to help with the chopping, once I explained how things work... :D

Thank you for the kind words on mine, and thanks even more for continuing it! Very dramatic, as I'd have expected, but not at all in the manner I would have figured. Great work :)

Morganna - ah, I love that final line. 'Sentiments.' You could easily have gone with something that would have required a longer finale but you handled things perfectly in just one word. Lovely work :)