misshepeshu: (Default)
[personal profile] misshepeshu
(Another writing exercise, this time for my fiction class. The point of the exercise is to use all five of these words in a two-page story: quarter, straw, forever, empty, downtown. I had a blast writing it, and here I am, subjecting you to it via the Intertubes!)

When Edna opened her bedroom closet that night to find it packed to the brim with straw again, she sat down on the foot of the bed and wondered what her life had come to. Maybe she did need to call some kind of psychic or medium after all. Or a farmer to come empty the closet. Surely a cow or goat or alpaca somewhere would appreciate the forage.

* * * *

It first happened two weeks ago, on Wednesday night. The closet had been perfectly normal that morning. She had grabbed a dress she hadn’t worn in forever—the green knit one with the oversized gold buttons at the throat—and her black pumps from the shoe rack tucked into the right corner, and a pair of wool tights for good measure because the air finally had a nip to it after several unseasonably warm October weeks. But when she came home that night and opened the door to put her shoes back in place, she was greeted with the sight of her closet filled, from floor to ceiling, with straw, the strands so precisely packed that not a stem had escaped.

The police were at every bit as baffled as she was. There were no signs of intrusion—no tell-tale abrasions to indicate a picked lock and no signs that the windows had been forced. Scaling the sheer concrete walls to her fourteenth-floor window would have been quite the feat, anyway. Edna had called in sick the next day and spent the whole day cleaning out the closet, grabbing handfuls of the dry, prickly stuff. It had taken forever. She filled twelve garbage bags, washed four loads of laundry and replaced her vacuum bag twice.

Why would anybody do such a thing, she wondered. The only plausible explanation she could think of was college kids out to play a prank, but why her? And how had they gotten the straw into her closet without making a mess? If she had learned anything from that experience, it was that straw and straw dust would fly away and stick to absolutely everything when given half a chance. She found stray sticks of straw in her underwear drawer and in bedside crevices for days and days afterward.

Her best friend, Jean, was convinced it was evil sprits. “It’s an ectoplasmic manifestation,” she whispered across the remains of their Friday night dinner at Bellagio’s.

“That straw felt real enough, Jeannie. Didn’t feel in the least bit ectoplasmic to me,” said Edna, sipping her red wine.

Jean waved her hand. “Oh, yes, of course that’s real. I’m just saying that the spirits,” and here she lowered her voice again, “the spirits had brought the straw up into the closet. Maybe your closet’s a gateway, and they’re trying to tell you something. That’s it! I bet it’s message. A call from beyond.”

“Jeannie. Honestly.” Edna didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“I’m just saying, dearie, that maybe your apartment or that closet needs a good cleansing, or somebody to talk to the spirits, find out what they want. I know somebody, if you need help. He’s right downtown, less than a quarter mile away from your subway stop. What can it hurt?”

“It can hurt my wallet.”

Jean shot her a hurt look. “Isn’t peace of mind worth any price? And if the spirits are doing that to your closet, don’t you think even worse things could happen? Maybe,” and again, Jean dropped her voice to a dramatic undertone, “maybe this is just beginning. What if they start filling your rooms? Or even your whole apartment? What if it’s not straw next time, but, I don’t know, thumbtacks, or, or, cockroaches, or spiders?”

Edna laughed, even as the nape of her neck prickled. “I don’t think some kind of crackpot waving crystals around or sprinkling holy water or telling my closet that the spirit of Christ compels thee is going to do anything,” she said. And that had been that.

Except it hadn’t. Every morning and every night, when Edna had to open her closet, she winced internally, expecting to find it filled with straw again. At night, in her dreams, a torrent of straw swept her out and away, carrying her body with greater and greater speed no matter how hard she tried to swim against the current, until she gave up and sank down into the sharp, susurrous darkness, her lungs filling with pale yellow dust and prickly tendrils.

* * * *

It was a relief, in a way, to see the straw back again. Edna felt like she now understood how a death row inmate would feel when finally seated and strapped into the electric chair. She had dreaded it, had braced herself for it happening again, but here it was at last, and it wasn’t so bad, really. She stood up from the bed, walked over and reached out to touch the straw with a shaking fingertip, rubbed the stuff around to hear it rustle. She pulled out a tentative handful. She didn’t even bother to grab a bag to put it into, just dropped it onto the floor. The clump lay by her feet, looking like a very small, very tired dog. She reached out and grabbed another handful. Pulled. Dropped. A bigger dog. Two hands now: pull. Drop. Pull. Drop. The crackle and rustle formed a rhythm, until she imagined that the straw was whispering to her the story of her life.

Date: 2010-11-19 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashfae.livejournal.com
Oh I want more! More more more!!! Pretty please?

Date: 2010-11-20 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tornadogrrrl.livejournal.com
Thanks for sharing.


misshepeshu: (Default)

December 2013

1 234567
2223242526 2728

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 06:48 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios