Sunday January 3rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the breakdown.

We left Max with Kat's parents this morning while we drove up to Penticton to do some shopping. Happy to report I found some snow pants in a secondhand shop. Oh, and we also got a bunch of groceries and I finally replaced my broken phone case.

No success on the wall map front, but I think I've found one online that will do the job. I'd like it even more if it was slightly bigger, so I'll take a little more time to poke around the internet to see if I can find something closer to my ideal before placing the order.

Terribly behind on the blog, as usual, but I'm trying to get 2016's yearlong prompt sorted out. Expect something middle of the month if I can get my act together.


This old body is falling apart on me. There are aches where there should be no aches. Pains in places I've never felt anything before. Shaking has replaced steady, weakness has overpowered strength.

It is... infuriating.

I want to scream until I lose my voice. But my throat is so tender that I wouldn't even get to full volume before a coughing fit would knock me to the floor.

I want to throw something, anything through the nearest window. But I can't find anything I could lift, much less heave far enough to break glass.

When did this happen? It seems like only yesterday that... never mind. I hate that phrase. I hear it too often as it is around here; there's no need for me to start in on it as well.

There's got to be a way to get this body back in working order. Tip-top shape and all that. Some medication, maybe. The more cutting edge the better.

Do you know I almost cut myself in the kitchen this morning? I just wanted a slice of toast with the right amount of peanut butter on it. The damned nurse had barely put a smudge on there! So I grabbed a knife - who knew it was a steak knife? - and had a go. Almost cut my danged finger off!

Ain't right, that. A man should be able to do that sort of thing for himself. Makes me feel like a child.

Anyway. What was I talking about again? Oh, right. Right.

So, like I was saying, my mattress needs replacing. The springs are so busted up on that thing... a man could lose an eye just rolling over in his sleep! I remember when I was a child myself, way back in...


Greg said...

I like the priority of your shopping list: snow pants, groceries, phone case. I can see it must be very important not to let you go shopping when you're hungry :) Good luck with the wall map, for all I'm saddened that my suggestions have not been taken. And mid-month is about right for the start of a year-long prompt, so I think we'll all manage to wait that long!
There's a subtlety of confusion about your story today that I think you've intended, and done very well with. I find myself reaching the end and still not being entirely sure what the narrator is talking about, though I've got some pretty strong suspicions... and I think the problem is that the narrator doesn't exactly know what they're talking about either. Probably because of that mattress... is that going at the top of your next shopping list? ;-)

The breakdown
"Mother!" The voice was almost a shriek, dopplering away. There was the sound of a door slamming, and then momentary silence. Then the sound of a door opening and heavy, measured footsteps. Somewhere further off another door slammed, and "Mother!" shrieked through the air again like a orphaned banshee waking from a nightmare.
Lady Agatha set her teacup down on her saucer and cast an eye over the breakfast table. The chipolatas had cooled quite a lot now, so she picked a handful up and distributed them amongst her dogs, one for each. The dogs, chihuahuas, clustered around her, nudging each other and attempting to steal food from each other, but Lady Agatha was firm and ensured that each dog got exactly one. As the dogs clustered closer, seeking to find if there were any more sausages to be had they suddenly stopped, separated and growled in unison. Lady Agatha turned her head and looked at the door to the dining room.
"Mother!" The door opened and a middle-aged woman in a torn nightdress and fluffy slippers hurled herself into the room. She slammed the door behind her, and fumbled with the lock until the key turned and she'd checked, by tugging on the handle, that it was properly closed and locked. "Mother, call him off! There has not been a zombie apocalypse!"
The dogs were growling continuously, a low throb of noise that made hairs stand up on the backs of necks. None of them moved, but they conveyed a sense of real danger anyway.
"Dear," said Lady Agatha selecting toast from the self-heating toast-rack. "It was on the radio this morning. There has been a breakdown in the surrounding villages. I am sure that law and order is gone completely; the police are probably ram-raiding the electronics boutiques and the emailers are undoubtedly stealing each others spreadsheets and other uncouth things. It's certainly the precursor to the dead rising from the graves and demanding the vote."
"A bus broke down. With school-children on it. That's all."
"Are you sure dear?" Lady Agatha looked sad as she spread butter on her toast.
"Oh. That's a shame, the doggies were looking forward to lunch."

morganna said...

Gone flat, jerking
The car over the road
Pull to the side -- what shall I do?
Put on the flashers, get out the jack. Now?
Hmm. Now what? I know. Call roadside
Assistance. Hello?
Yes, my tire's
Gone flat.

Anonymous said...

Tori was still sitting in the chair by the fire, one of Cris’s blankets wrapped around her. The fraying fabric had slid down past her shoulders in the time since I placed it around her. Like everything else, she did not seem to notice her shoulders were once again bare.

“Go ahead.” Neci’s hands were pushing me forward. “We have tried everything.

Even got the healers involved. Nothing. She will not talk to any of us.”
In what world was I the last hope for anything? Seeing me, the son of the first life she had ever taken, might actually send her into complete madness.

I took a step towards her. “Tori?”

It was the first time I had spoken to her since the incident with my father and Cris in the field. Even though her wellbeing had been the only substantial thought in my confused mind, saying her name aloud after all that had happened was strange. I used to long for an opportunity to say her name. Now, I was worried that if she did turn to look at me, she might not look at me the same way ever again.

“Tori, it’s me, Vitus. I wish you would eat something.”

Her breath hitched. The first reaction any of us had seen to words. I heard Neci gasp behind me and did not linger to feel her hands push me forward again.

“Ossin caught more rabbit, just for you. Neci cooked it just the way you like, with the outside a bit crispy but mostly lightly cooked. She even rubbed some of Hipek’s spices onto the skin before setting it aflame.”

I was rambling, I knew, but with each word I said, Tori showed another sign of life. By the time I had finished my entire recount of the dinner preparations, everyone in the room had ceased to even breathe.

Tori had turned to look towards me. Her eyes stared through me, into the past she could not escape, but at least she was no longer staring straight into the dancing flames in Hipek’s hearth.

“V-v-vitus?” she whispered.

I took a knee beside her. “I am here, my sweet.”

I held out a hand for her. She slowly withdrew one of hers from Cris’s blanket and set it within mine.

“I’m sorry.” Tears were beginning to bubble up in her green eyes. “I’m so

Then, when everyone thought I had broken through the barrier, she let out an ear-shattering wail and dropped her head in her hands, weeping as if every soul’s sorrow was hers to bear.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks. I actually set out wanting the breakdown to be strictly physical. Obviously that changed before I reached the end :)

Haha, that is a bit of a leap there. The fact that Lady Agatha makes it seem like a totally reasonable mistake makes her all the more terrifying to me...

Morganna - ah, I do enjoy your poetic forms. This one works very well, as they generally do. I really like the return to 'gone flat'.

Ivy - that's a really great, atmospheric piece. I enjoyed all the details and emotions you brought into it.