Tag Archives: short story

Say Good Bye To Childhood

A year and a half ago, on August 3rd 2012, I was inspired by a photo prompt a fellow-Wordsmither, Gerry Wilson, had suggested. I sat down and wrote the first two sentences of a short story. The story was in my head. I planned to write it over the coming weekend and even commented on Gerry’s blog with a promise that my next comment will contain the link.

Some time later, the photo was still on my desktop, giving me hard time for a promise unkept. The worst part is that the story was still in my head, but I didn’t find the time to sit down again. I deleted the picture, but thank goodness I kept the initial sentences on file.

Here is the story. Not exactly the one that was in my head, but pretty much so.

“Jumping Into Swimming Pool” by Ian Kahn Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Jumping Into Swimming Pool” by Ian Kahn
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*This is a story without a title*

Here is Gerry Wilson’s original post. It is really awesome that I managed to find it, as well as recover the picture again.

 

***
From left to right on this picture are Peter, Susan, Bobby, my cousin Rebecca and me, Quentin. My sister Alex took the photo from across the pool. That was the first day of the happiest summer I’ve ever had. Later on, I would remember it over so many a tearful nights, that it would hurt me in the throat to even pronounce the names. Especially the name of the one who is not on it.

That is Susan’s parents’ pool we are standing at, on the picture. We took the picture in July, the morning after Susan’s 15th birthday. After that we would go and play there every day. Early in the morning I would crawl out of my bed and run to the terrace of my step-mother’s luxury house, to see that Peter is already standing on the edge of the pool.
“Hey, Pete,” I would shout out. “Wait for me. Don’t jump in!”

Then, without looking to see if he would do as asked, I darted downstairs, past my smiling step-mom whose understanding brown eyes always followed me with a playful flicker, and across our freshly-mown lawn.

I rarely had the time for the official passage to Susan’s, but usually used the wicket gate our fathers had made in the wall, out of good neighborly manners. Our fathers were friends, indeed. I think they had gone together at University, if not even something more. One morning, I passed through the gate and reached the pool, only to see Pete and Susan making out at the near pool bank. First, I heard Susan’s giggle and hurried whispers, then I saw them. Seeing me, both pushed away from each other and looked different directions. I didn’t care what they did, but I was thankful they tried at least to keep some decency and not make us all uncomfortable in their presence.

Pete snapped, “Where’s Alex?”
“God, Alex,” I would slap my face. I had forgotten her again. Alex was my half-sister. She was my father’s daughter from his marriage to my step-mom: a cutie, 4 years old, and very gentle. She was often ill, her lungs had some difficulties. I don’t know what was wrong with her then. The only thing our parents told me was I had to take good care of her and not molest her in any way. I liked the kid, so I didn’t mind looking after her whenever I could. Sometimes I forgot she existed, though.

When Peter asked his sleek question, intending to send me away so he could steal a couple of more kisses and squeezes from Susan, I ran back to our house. Alex was waiting for me on the steps in front, smiling. Her mom was right behind her, holding a towel. Rebecca had already left for her parents’ villa somewhere on the coast. Alex was my responsibility now.

I stopped insecurely. My step-mom had seen me, as usual, when I passed through the kitchen, but had said nothing. Why hadn’t she made me stop and wait for Alex? She had only looked at me in her peculiar way.

“Alex,” I said, “are you ready? Let’s go swim.” I stooped and pinched her on the cheek. She beamed, “Let’s, Quentin. Let’s.”
Turning to her mom, she waved, “Bye, mommy.”
Her mom let a vixen-like smile and silked out, “I’ll be dreaming of you, honey.”

I felt great discomfort. It was as if this was meant for me. I looked at her, but she was smiling innocently like a Madonna, tenderly patting her daughter’s shoulder. Maybe I was wrong. Alex took my hand and we went to Susan’s. Bobby was already in the water, inflating a rubber toy for Alex. I didn’t see Peter, but Susan was sitting in a chair under a parasol. Her sunglasses covered her eyes, so I didn’t know if she saw us. Alex tore her hand from mine and, screaming with joy, jumped in the swimming pool. Bobby met her with a welcoming hurray and hurried to reach her. Alex couldn’t swim at all, no one had taught her, but she managed quite well while in the water. Bobby was holding on to the toy and pushed it forward for Alex to grab on to it. She did and, screaming even more, struggled to climb on it. Finally, she tried to jump over Bobby. They liked each other very much. He stood still so that she wouldn’t tip and helped her stand on his shoulders. I was looking at them, and didn’t notice Susan had disappeared.

When I finally got in the water, I took a look around the swimming pool and noticed that we were alone in the entire yard. “Maybe those two are upstairs in a bedroom,” I thought disgusted and curious at the same time. I tried to imagine what they could possibly do in a room with a bed, and I remembered the films showing a man and a woman alone, but I wasn’t sure exactly how this was done. I wasn’t that curious either. OK, I was, but only to a certain degree, and then, I preferred playing in the pool.

Then we heard the scream. And another scream. Alex froze, her eyes fixated on an upstairs window. Next thing, she gasped and dropped from Bobby’s shoulders in the pool. She breathed in trying to speak, swallowed some water and choked. Bobby held her tight and made a stroke toward the edge of the pool. I was right after them. We took Alex out and Bobby patted her on the back slightly. Alex was not OK. She continued to cough, her thin shoulders jerked up and down, and she could not breathe. I stared at her, and exchanged panicked looks with Bobby, who continued patting her. We had to try to make her breathe freely, but we didn’t know how. We laid her down on the tiles. It just got worse. So, we decided to turn her to her side. Seconds passed by and Alex didn’t recover. Her small body was turning stiff, her face got blue.

We completely forgot about Pete and Susan. The house on the other side of the swimming pool did not exist. The swimming pool was not there. Bobby and I stopped breathing, stared at Alex, and we were holding her hands. Alex was not breathing either.

Then we heard Susan.
“Help! Help me! Bobby! Quentin! Help!”

I looked at Bobby and nodded. He darted toward the house. I stayed with Alex and trembled. Alex was dying or maybe dead. I didn’t know how to tell the difference. I was so cold and so afraid, that I didn’t dare to think. I remember now that hot tears rolled down my cheeks and shocked me. I wanted to wake up and see that all was a stupid and horrible dream, but I knew it wasn’t, so I cried in my helpless 15 years. I just slumped on the tiles beside Alex’s cooling small body, still holding her thin white hand, while my elbow was hooked under her head, now hanging loose and heavy. I wept, not caring who will see me or how I looked. I broke down and my shoulders shook until numb. My face paralyzed distorted and my thoughts were illogical, they felt like frightened deer scurrying through a forest scared by each leaf shadow and every moving shrub.

I didn’t know how much time had passed. When I finally looked up, I saw Bobby walking slowly and mechanically, like a zombie. He came out of the house and stopped, unsure where to go. For a moment I thought he would walk straight into the pool, but he checked himself and only then he noticed us. He ran to Alex, and squatted next to us, but didn’t touch her. Only then I saw his hand was cut and bleeding.

“What happened?” we both asked the other one. Looking at each other’s eyes, we knew that we were lost.

Our childhood was over.

© 2014, mariya koleva

6WS

A very short thingie: six-word-saturday (although it’s way past Sat. today)

Noises above the ceiling – no sleep

Posted at the Show My Face regular Six-Word-Saturday round of Sept. 01

Diamonds below the Agulhas Negras

Diamonds Below the Agulhas Negras, published in Snake-Oil Cure, 29th October 2012. Click HERE

Itatiaia from Agulhas Negras

Link to image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/6839255540/in/photostream/

***

“Not much more now,” he said. “You’ve got to believe me.”

She looked up to see his figure standing erect against the frantic blue of the sky. “How can you be sure?” or “You’ve been saying that for hours.” she wanted to yell, or at least whine. No voice, though. Just a throatful of husks she could not swallow, a mouthful of gritting teeth and her eyes filled with tears. Tears like diamonds. Tears getting quickly dry.

“Brian, please,” she managed to whisper. He didn’t hear, but stopped to wait for her. She was thankful and mad at the same time. Her powerlessness made her furious, though it was nobody’s fault that they had lost their way repeatedly that day. At the same time she felt grateful for the brief pause. Seeing him there, she knew she was not capable of another step. She wanted to reach him and then stop again, but her feet wouldn’t move. Amanda just sat and then lay down in exhaustion. Brian hopped down back to her and squatted. He was so fresh and full of energy, that she hated him even more.

“I promise this will be the last hill we climb. I had nearly reached the peak when you called me. After that peak the path walks only downwards. It does.” Brian looked her in the eyes. She said nothing. Her strength sufficed for panting only, she couldn’t even look around or make grimaces.

“OK, take a rest.” Brian said.

Amanda didn’t move. She didn’t care about him, or herself, or this place, or what he had to say. She wanted to stay like this forever. Or, at least until she felt better. It was very hot. The whole day had been steamy even at such height. The open spaces didn’t help much. The sun was merciless blessing them with its light. Brian reached out, pulled her white kerchief from around her neck and started fanning it above her. Oh, Amanda loved that. She felt she could breathe better and more easily. She felt more air came to her. Her eyes closed, she dreamt of Coke – black, fizzy Coke, not too cold, but not warm either, just the right temperature. Yes, a Coke would get her to her feet. A Coke could be available at the shelter they were headed, she thought.

Amanda stood up, took her kerchief from Brian and started towards the peak. She was not sure if the peak they were headed to was the Agulhas Negras, but it was some high place, for sure. Besides, it was seen to the right from the plane of Itatiaia. They must be on the Itatiaia plane below the peak, so according to the map those heights over there had to be the Agulhas Negras. Oh, how much she hoped that! And how little reason was there in her frantic reasoning. Once up there, they could take a look around the area and get some better orientation. A couple of steps up, she stopped again. Her boots were killing her. They were so hard, endlessly pressing on her toes. The sole felt like wood. Or worse. If anything could be worse. No, she couldn’t do it. Even with the image of the craved Coke in her mind, and before her closing eyes, Amanda was too tired and weak to continue. She put her hands on her knees and leaned to the front to rest a bit. Looking at Brian who was not aware of that, Amanda saw the crawling signs of concern on his face. She froze. If Brian was concerned, she really must be a mess.

It was nearly 4pm. It would get dark soon. Here, there was not twilight. Darkness falls as fast and as thick as you can imagine. Amanda felt she needed to brace up her powers and get going. Yet, she couldn’t. She said, “Brian, why don’t you go to the peak by yourself? From there you will see what’s on the other side and make something out. Perhaps you will conjure something up.” Brian looked at her, sighed and nodded, “OK. I’ll leave my backpack up there and then come back and carry yours. I guess the sleeping bag is too heavy on you.” Amanda felt embarrassed as she knew Brian carried a sleeping bag, too, in addition to a tent with all its poles and tackles. She had no strength to feel sympathy or regret things, though. She relished the rest she was allowed, lay down again and closed her eyes. This time she knew it will be for longer. After all, they could always set up their tent and spend the night out. The breeze was that of paradise caressing her sweaty face.

When Amanda opened her eyes again, there was silence and nothing moved. It was blissful. She could prop herself up on her elbows and looked around nonchalantly to see where Brian was. At first she couldn’t make his figure out against the grey rock of the slope. Then she noticed the brown backpack slowly crawling up. “Shall I shout out to him?” she thought, but decided she wouldn’t. “I’m still too week.” was her reasoning. “He is alright, why should I bother him with shouts?” She closed her eyes again. Her whole inner self relaxed and she fell asleep.

All of a sudden, she thought she could hear Brian. She opened her eyes and still in the mist of dozing, she searched for his figure against the rocky slope. It took her some time to notice him. It seemed he was in trouble. He made a jerking movement and then moved somewhere to a lower level. She heard a shriek and could see him no more. 

***

Mary Agnes thought, “Now, this is a marvelous view. Denis, please, hop on to the equipment sack and bring me my camera. I simply must shoot this place.” Denis hurried to a large sack that was on the ground where the rest of the crew were resting and started rummaging inside. In a while, he yelled, “Mam, I don’t find it. Are you sure it’s here?” Mary Agnes frowned a bit, and walked to the sack herself. Denis was still making a mess of the contents.

“Please, Denis, stop doing that. That way we can never find our stuff.” Denis looked up with a sincere face, “Sorry, mam.” She smiled broadly, “Did you check the side pockets of the sack, too?”

Denis bit his lips, “No.” He opened one and there it was. Mary Agnes took the camera and went back to the cliff edge. “I’ll miss the good light.” She prepared the camera very carefully in order to get the best possible shot and then took the picture. She was wondering whether to take a couple more, just in case this one didn’t develop that well. Her film supplies were very scanty, as were all the supplies in this expedition, yet she tried to do the best possible job with them. She decided to take just one more shot and walked a couple of feet to the right, where she had a better view of the slope itself. She was getting ready to take the picture, when Denis said right next to her, “Look, there is somebody down there.” Mary Agnes strained her eyes a bit and looked in the direction he pointed to. She saw a figure that was sprawled some distance down the slope. Denis yelled, “Hello, down there! How are you?” As there was no answer, Denis called towards the others of their group. “Hey, Jim, Bob, come over here. There is somebody down the hill. They look unwell.” 

***

When Amanda opened her eyes again, she was in a small dark room. She was in a bed, and could smell the somewhat stale and moist whiff of the sheets as she jerked them to the side. She was relieved to see that she was in one piece and there was no feeling of pain. Amanda sat up in the bed and found it very easy. She felt strong enough to take that backpack again, put on those hard and pressing shoes and head to the peak. To whatever peak. She only needed to locate Brian.

Mary Agnes entered the room to see Amanda looking for her clothes. Amanda shone with mirth. Mary Agnes’ face was dark with the tidings she brought.

“Hello, dear. Sit down, please.” When Amanda was seated in the bed, Mary Agnes continued, “My name is Mary Agnes Chase and I’m an assistant botanist for the US Department of Agriculture. We are here doing some field work…”

***

They had found Brian lying a couple of hundred meters from the path. It appeared he had taken a bad step and fell from the path. When they found him, his leg was broken and he was dead. In his right hand Denis found a small object which Brian was holding very tight. Probably that was why he couldn’t reach out to hold to something on his way down, everybody thought. They gave it to Amanda together with all Denis’ belongings. The small object was wrapped in a piece of paper. She opened the paper. In it was a beautiful diamond ring. An engagement ring Brian was no doubt planning to give her that same night. A shiny token of their love he held to with his last breath. Tears like diamonds rolled down her cheeks.

 

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Written for the Snake Oil Cure magazine

 

Satin Saturdays, BANG-BANG!

Shooting Saturday

Sitting there in the sun, she felt her mind was void. At last! Spring has come, and the chestnuts along the boulevard had bloomed white and tippy like candles. Tiny white and yellow daisy-likes spotted the green wetness of the grass. The weather was still cool with spring freshness and tender with sunlight.

She looked at the large thermometer on top of the adjacent building. She had to wait till the clock gave way to the temperature. 23. Closing her eyes, she remembered the nights she had stared at the same bleak building top and seen the devastating -9 glowing nefarious red.

She had always wanted to spend time like this. So, whenever she managed, that was bliss.

“Oh, good life, ha?” screeched an unpleasant voice near her. “How are you doing, baby? Hardly working or working hard? Which one is it this time?”

She looked up at the newcomer and forced a wry smile.

“You know I don’t like you when you smile like that.”

She dared say nothing. This conversation used to have its unfolding. “Like what?”, she would ask. “Like you are mocking me.” he would say with a fierce grin. He hit her several times as an ending of this very conversation. One of the times she spent a week in hospital and a month not able to work properly. Of course, he made her. Only, it hurt too much. That was how this conversation was never led again.

“Are you visually-impaired or what?” he said maliciously.

“Why?” her voice trembled at the vision of the coming tornado.

“Can’t you see the gentleman over there?” he pushed her hard in the gentleman’s direction.

“You said I could be off today. It’s Saturday.” she mumbled unconfidently.

“I said, did I?” he screeched again. “Well, you’d better focus on what I do, than on what I say. For I say a lot of things, you know.”

She didn’t move.

 “Com’on”, he urged her.

Sitting there in the sun, she felt her mind go blank. “BANG!” the shot echoed across the sleepy afternoon neighbourhood.

She could go back to her satin dreams again.

 

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Beautiful Zombie flash

Beauty Queen

“By God, it’s so hot.” Sheila thought and tried to stretch her arms, yawning. Before she knew anything, she noticed the utter darkness. “Am I in a cellar?” she murmured. She couldn’t see her arms did not stretch. With a grunt, Sheila tried to stand up. Failed. The darkness was as thick as always. She wanted to rub the numbness off her feet. Failing again, Sheila suddenly realized she didn’t feel numb. She didn’t feel. “If only there was light,” she was getting annoyed. Was she even moving her limbs? Were there even limbs for her to move? What was that ineffective place?

Only last night, it seemed to her, Sheila was the new Beauty Queen. She remembered she drank champagne off the glass of that masked boy – mask way too scary, yet he was a charmer.

“So, how do zombie beauties live?” Sheila blinked in confusion and irritation.

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Submitted to Writerlious blog to a prompt: Beautiful Zombies.