FlashFic: New Life

It’s a brand new day, Beth thought. New life, new day, new city. Anonymous again. She reminded herself often since her move to Alexandria. It seemed especially necessary in the mornings. “New life, new day, new city,” she whispered as she drank her coffee, the spring day soaking her in sunshine.

She lucked into a job straight away. It was perfect. Medical billing wasn’t her dream, but she could work at home. She’d never grow rich, but money wasn’t her goal.

She couldn’t hermit away completely, though. For one thing, billing didn’t pay enough to get groceries delivered. Markets open all night saved her. Tonight’s trip would be brief, just a few basic things. Beth slipped on gloves after writing a shopping list.

As she approached the produce section, the scent of oranges snagged her. Beth tugged off a glove and rolled the fruit against her palm. Sweetness and a slight tang filled her senses, bursting into bright colors that shivered up her arm to nestle into her belly. She heard the pebbly skin like a brook over stones washed smooth.

The piercing cry crashed jagged lightning across her eyes. Beth caught herself, common sense fighting instinct. “No,” she shook her head. “Quiet, anonymous.” Tugging the glove on, she forced herself toward the bakery.

Seconds later, she stopped abruptly, biting her lip. The quiver in her heart was unmistakable. Something was very wrong. As the crying soared into shrill screams, Beth gritted her teeth. There really was no choice. Resolutions disappeared. She raced through the aisles, homing in on the child.

The mother was young and nearly as upset as her baby. Beth yanked off her gloves and shoved them in a pocket. She made shushing noises to both as their fear painted her world in reds and jarring yellows, a metallic taste filling her mouth.

“What’s this handsome devil’s name?” Beth kept her tone light. Danger radiated from the child in crashing notes, blinding colors. She took a deep breath, pulling on the thrumming tones of calm.

Eyes shining, his mother stammered, “Jared. I’m Peggy. An ear infection, maybe? He was fussy all day, but now he’s so hot.”

Beth nodded, reaching a bare hand to Peggy’s with a gentle squeeze. The woman’s spiky scent soothed a bit. “May I help, Peggy?” The woman nodded, her colors bubbling over with gratitude. Beth stroked the baby’s head, murmuring hushing words. She felt the green light sizzle up through her body. It ruffled between her palm and Jared’s head. His shrieks settled back into fussy crying as he wriggled in Peggy’s arms.

“Babies get sudden fevers sometimes, Peggy. Scary to parents, of course. It’s still important to get him checked. Maybe some baby Tylenol and a trip to the ER?” She spoke gently, stroking Jared until the black bubble in his belly turned to gray and glowing orange of fever paled. Peggy nodded, her scent and colorsong smoothing. “I’ll give you a ride if you like,” Beth offered.

“Yes, please. I don’t know how to thank you,” Peggy whispered.

“No need. Sometimes it just helps to have a hand.”

The hospital wasn’t far. Beth waited with them, waving when they were called back.  Tugging her gloves on, she closed her eyes. Frissons of satisfaction sang in her heart. Little Jared would get to surgery before his appendix burst.

Such an innocent thing, helping a baby. No one the wiser.

But that’s how it began in the last new city.

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

As usual, this was inspired by a #storystarters. For a change, it’s one I wrote several months ago.

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22 thoughts on “FlashFic: New Life

  1. flyingscribbler September 11, 2010 at 5:01 am Reply

    Oh, I ilke this a lot Jessica. Firstly, it is so well written: the way you gradually release information about her gift, how she feels colours, with the orange and the woman. I started off thinking she was OCD, so finding out she has this gift was a great surprise. I really like the way you suggest how she has been victimised/stigmatised before. It is Salem-esque and all the more powerful for it. As soon as I have a moment I will have a look at your other postings: time well spent i’m sure. I’m new to #fridayflash. What fun!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:50 am Reply

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a nice comment. I’m glad I hit the right notes for Beth’s story to be told. I hope you enjoy some of the other stories, too. Welcome to #FridayFlash!

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Marisa Birns September 11, 2010 at 7:06 am Reply

    “…crashing notes, blinding colors.” Oh, my goodness, what a talent to possess – a blessing and a curse.

    Wonderfully written.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:51 am Reply

      I agree, Marisa, a blessing and a curse. Getting into her head was a great exercise. Thanks, I appreciate your feedback.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. Deanna Schrayer September 11, 2010 at 7:19 am Reply

    “She heard the pebbly skin like a brook over stones washed smooth.” There is such a soothingness in that line Jess. I love the concept, and you exuded this brilliantly. Just gorgeous.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:53 am Reply

      Deanna, I think that was my favorite line, too. She was a delight to write. Thanks so much, your support is always a joy.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. TEC4 September 11, 2010 at 7:42 am Reply

    Everyone seems to think that having an Esper ability would be so great, but I think the cost would be very high and you portray that beautifully in this story. Nice work!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:55 am Reply

      Thanks! I agree with you, it would have to be handled carefully or it could cause havoc.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. johannaharness September 11, 2010 at 7:49 am Reply

    Beautiful lines and a rich concept. I would love to see more of this character.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:56 am Reply

      Johanna, your feedback is so appreciated, thank you. Beth welcomed me into her head and gave glimpses of her backstory. I may have to take her up on the implied invitation.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Lisa Potts September 11, 2010 at 9:11 am Reply

    Nice job, Jessica. Very intriguing. Definitely leaves the reader wanting to know more.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:57 am Reply

      Thank you, Lisa. I really appreciate your taking the time to leave such a nice comment.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. Jason Black September 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm Reply

    Interesting. As paranormal premises go, it’s got some novelty to it. Nice job portraying the opposing pulls of anonymity (=safety) and using her gifts (=duty).

    One thing that jarred me, though: she offers the mom and baby a ride to the hospital. This implies that they’re going to go in her car, not the mom’s car. You’ve made a point about her living alone, anonymous, which implies that _her car doesn’t have a carseat_. So, unless both she and Peggy are totally irresponsible, there’s no way they should go in her car. She could offer to go along with Peggy in Peggy’s car. That would work. But still being in the young children in carseats years in my own family, that just glared out at me as implausible.

    I definitely liked the ending, though. Nice hook, nice backstory hints.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 2:02 am Reply

      Thanks for your comment. It’s funny, I sort of did the Hokey-Pokey with the carseat thing. I put it in, I took it out, I put it in and tried to shake it all about, etc. It seemed to bog the pacing, so I decided to leave the whole arranging of the trip between market and hospital to the reader’s view. I wondered if I’d get tagged on it, though, and sure enough – you caught me out. Thanks for reminding me that details can’t always be left up to the reader to infer.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. Eric J. Krause September 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Excellent story. You did an excellent job of building the story forward. Great details throughout.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 2:04 am Reply

      Thanks a bunch, Eric. I wanted it to be gently revealed, more by implication than explanation. I do appreciate your comment.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  9. Crystal September 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm Reply

    Fantastic story.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 2:04 am Reply

      Thanks, Crystal. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  10. brainhaze September 13, 2010 at 7:42 am Reply

    heavily detailed and colourful descriptions of this great gift she has. Nice piece – well done

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen September 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm Reply

      Thanks so much. I’m happy you liked it and let me know.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  11. ganymeder September 14, 2010 at 11:10 pm Reply

    This was wonderful! Welcome to #Friday Flash.

    Like

  12. ganymeder September 15, 2010 at 9:38 am Reply

    I thought this was wonderfully done.

    Like

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