FlashFic: The Bubble

She never wore much make-up before him. Now she had to layer it on to hide how much he loved her from the rest of the world.

Putting the last of the powder on, Lauren went still. She hardly recognized herself anymore. Tears gathered, shining in her dull gray eyes. She fearfully reached for tissues, blinking the tears away. Make-up would smear. There wasn’t time to start over. He’d be back soon.

She never thought taking a few theater classes in college would save her life. Between the make-up effects course and the voice training, she built a bubble of shelter. No one penetrated it. No one came close enough. No one but Mark. The better she built it, the less he invaded. If she stayed pretty and sounded calm, he smiled. He called her “baby.” If she stayed pretty and sounded calm, he told her to make martinis. He fell asleep without calling her “whore.”

Lauren turned her face slowly, watching the mirror. The light was bright. It would show if she didn’t hide them. She added a dusting of shade over the swell of her left cheek. He didn’t like to see her hurting, he said. Cover it up. She covered it. Now she was pretty.

The mask covered gentle features with harsh lines and shading. The calm voice covered soft whimpers with a veil. Both fragile, they needed constant attention to survive. For her to survive.

When he was gone, she took off the mask. She breathed away the calm voice. She stepped out of the bubble. There was safety. It wouldn’t last. She huddled in it, trembling in a corner of the couch. She lived for this moment. This moment meant she lived.

Lauren scurried from room to room, erasing indications of life. No trace of her presence remained when he returned. The mask was on. Her voice was calm. The bubble was built. A meal waited for him, fresh and hot. She made no sound when he hugged her cracked rib. She did not wince when he kissed her swollen cheek. She smiled nicely when he told her to make martinis.

She did not move. She waited as he slept in his chair. Tonight, he called her “baby.” She waited until he snored. The meal must be erased without waking him. Silently, she removed the proof.

Lauren put the vodka back in the bar. Unwelcome relief flooded her. It quivered in her core. She saw it in the shaking of her hands. She felt it in the wavering of her legs. Sobs gathered around her pounding heart. Bitterness surged. Fear’s thin voice urged her away from emotion. This was not the moment.

Anger strengthened her legs. It focused her thoughts. It carried her into the chill of the garage. Silent rage fueled her return with the can. Fury moved her hands and thoughts in stealthy purpose, filling the bottle and closing the can. Abruptly the rage was gone. False calm rebuilt the bubble. She put the vodka away again. She erased anger’s evidence. The swerve from routine lasted moments.

Emotionless habit prepared for his morning. It put her to bed, uneasy and alone. It disappeared reluctantly as sleep claimed her. In its shadow she dared to hope. She hoped he called her “baby” tomorrow night. Anticipation drew her dreams that night.

This piece was inspired by the first lines, which were posted as a #storystarters entry by @Selorian (Clifford Fryman).

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

About these ads

Tagged: , , , , ,

26 thoughts on “FlashFic: The Bubble

  1. Jamie D. January 13, 2010 at 2:22 am Reply

    Very poignant, Jess. Sad & stirring.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 13, 2010 at 7:29 am Reply

      Thanks, Jamie. Can’t tell you how I appreciate the encouraging review.

      Take good care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Erica January 13, 2010 at 6:22 am Reply

    Wow. That was great. It was descriptive and moving. You’re word choice was spot on. Beautifully done :o)

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 13, 2010 at 7:30 am Reply

      It’s wonderful to see that in your review, Erica. Thanks so much. Word choice was essential to me for this one for her voice. I’m glad to know I hit the note correctly.

      Take good care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. Branli January 13, 2010 at 6:35 am Reply

    WOW, Virtual Sis.
    This is VERY powerful and wonderfully written.
    I love how you started things off. It took me a few lines to figure out what was going on. That was awesome. Once I saw the situation it was breath-taking.
    Good job!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 13, 2010 at 7:38 am Reply

      You’re a doll, sweets. Thank you. I wanted her voice to be distant from herself as well as others, so her vision was narrow and subtle. Your encouragement and support mean a bunch.

      Take care and [hugs],
      Jess

      Like

  4. Deanna Schrayer January 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm Reply

    Wow Jess, you have packed a Big Punch in here! Fantastic beginning that made me want to read on and find out what happens to her. “She lived for this moment. This moment meant she lived.” – so much emotion in such a short space. Such a sad story but one that needs to be told, and you’ve told it fabulously!

    I hope you’ll post a story for this week’s #fridayflash!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm Reply

      Thanks so much for your comment, Deanna, and for your tweet about the story. Very encouraging. They make me want to give it another go.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. lacorbeau January 13, 2010 at 8:13 pm Reply

    Jess this is a wonderful piece of work. Thank you for sharing this with us. Some much with so little words. Kudos!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm Reply

      Hey, thanks. I’m really encouraged by the feedback on this story. Flash is more challenging than it looks.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Skycycler January 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm Reply

    An intense desperate read. It’s terrifying that people live this way – you’ve rendered the experience with sensitivity. Very effective, very affecting.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 14, 2010 at 1:44 am Reply

      Thank you, your feedback is important to me. It tells me I did her justice. She could be anyone silently existing without options. Too many do. I appreciate your coming by and taking the time to comment.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. David G Shrock January 14, 2010 at 12:00 am Reply

    Nice job. Yes, flash is a challenge especially for writers accustomed to long stories. I’ve learned much in recent months. I still do my best work with longer stories, but flash is great exercise. Be nice to see your work posted on Fridays for #fridayflash.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 14, 2010 at 1:36 am Reply

      Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to comment, David. I tend to be wordy. Even my short stories push the edge of acceptable limits. Flash can help me create tighter manuscripts. Thank you for the invitation to #FridayFlash.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. mazzz_in_Leeds January 17, 2010 at 11:15 am Reply

    I liked all the hiding-related bits: hiding the evidence of dirty dishes, hiding the hurting, hiding herself…

    Welcome to the FridayFlash madhouse!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2010 at 5:28 am Reply

      Thanks for noticing that and for your comment about it. I appreciate the welcome. Hope I can contribute regularly.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  9. Anne January 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm Reply

    That was a touching and frightening story. It is so beautifully written from the girl’s point of view. The tension of anticipation and fear “bubbling” up from underneath is palpable.

    I’m so glad you are joining FridayFlash. I have only been doing it for a few weeks, it is a lot of work, but it really helps me.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2010 at 5:29 am Reply

      So glad her desperation came through. Thank you for your comment and your welcome to FridayFlash. It’s such a challenge. I hope I’m up to it.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  10. CJ January 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm Reply

    I think you’ve captured the trapped animal feel of abused women very well. The constantly being careful.. so tragic. Well done!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 22, 2010 at 12:36 am Reply

      That’s a good way to put it, the “trapped animal feel.” It’s a hard life, being always on point and never good enough. Thanks for your comment.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  11. Al Bruno III January 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm Reply

    That was great.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2010 at 5:29 am Reply

      Thanks, Al. Really appreciate the feedback.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  12. J. M. Strother January 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm Reply

    Wow, that was poignant. The writing is very good – vivid and intense. The story is very sad and all too real. It puts me in the mood to go home and listen to The Dixie Chicks’, Goodbye Earl.

    Welcome to #fridayflash.
    ~jon

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. “Goodbye Earl” is a wonderful song. I wish I thought of listening to it as I wrote. Thanks for the welcome, it’s going to be a real challenge.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  13. Chris Chartrand January 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm Reply

    What a great piece. The distance and detachment she developed in her bubble really came through. I look forward to reading more of your work. Welcome to #fridayflash.
    ~chris

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 22, 2010 at 12:34 am Reply

      Thanks, Chris. Flash is quite a challenge. I hope I’m up to the task. I appreciate the feedback and the welcome.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,791 other followers

%d bloggers like this: