FlashFic: Life Is Precious

One, two, three. How many would it take? I worried there weren’t enough to do the job. Should I look it up on the net? No, do it. Do it now, I told myself firmly. Gathering the little blue tablets, I took a deep breath. One, two, three, more. I swallowed each with Diet Pepsi. One nearly came out my nose when I giggled. Hardly a need for diet anymore.

Would it be too clichéd if I played music while I waited for… whatever I was waiting for? I barked a laugh. Who cares? I got my iPod from my desk while I could still walk straight. Sitting on my bed, I plugged the buds into my ears and cranked up some Norah Jones. Bluesy finish. Seemed appropriate.

My eyelids were heavy by the third song. Like, really heavy. They closed all by themselves and I lay down. My last reserves of energy tried to panic. Too late, kiddo. It’s what you wanted anyway. Right? Time to leave. I drifted into the dusk of evening filling the room, my bedside lamp the only light.

The bedroom abruptly became cold. I felt my breath rush out, chilled. Sensing more than seeing the presence, I feared Grandma found me too soon. None of her powdery perfume, though. Fear clenched my heart. With effort and adrenaline, I slit my eyes.

The vague outline of a boy about my age sat on the bed next to me. I could see through him to my bookcase. He was dark smoke. My breath was white frost. “Patricia,” I heard his low voice in my mind. “Poor, dear Patricia. So wronged by love and life at 16.” His fingers traced a cold line along my jaw. “Poor Patricia, leaving the world behind.”

My instincts screamed. Move, get away, this is bad! My body would not obey. The Valium had my limbs weighed down. A scream died as a gurgle in my throat, unsounded. I felt goosebumps on my skin from the frigid air in the room. My breaths reminded me of being outside in winter. I lay helpless, feeling the heat of a tear trail over my cooling skin.

He leaned closer. Darkness began to close in on me. Was this the darkness I’d wanted? No, he was too close. I pushed the darkness to the edge of my sight. He frowned, something I sensed rather than saw. His smoky apparition bent toward me, his mouth hovering over mine. “Life is precious, Patricia.” With a finger, he twirled the frost of my breath around and caught it. I felt weaker as he pressed it to his chest.

He became more visible. I could see his smile shining. Fear sliced through me. I was shocked when my hand moved. I went perfectly still. Defiance began to roar within me.

And yet I was still his to take. He proved it by leaning in and gathering my chilled breath, taking it to his chest. The lines defining him became stronger. No doubt he did as well. Despite the pervasive weakness, I feebly spat at him when he leaned in again.

He reeled back in shock. “What did you do? Patricia, this is not right. These were to be your last breaths. It only works that way.”

Angered, rebelling, I managed to raise my arm. I smacked him on his barely-there cheek. “Go!” I managed to mutter. He jumped off my bed. He was too solid to just disappear. As he headed for the door, I imagined taking the trail of my breaths back. Somehow, that silly thought made me feel stronger.

I lay back, my body still beyond easy use. I darted my gaze throughout the darkened room. First thing I was going to do when I could get up was turn on all the lights in the house. Grandma would fuss about the bill, but I needed to banish shadows.

I guess I didn’t take enough Valium. Thank goodness. What a weird hallucination, though. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was real. Pretty silly. I turned the lights on.

© 2011 JC Rosen

Inspired by a #storystarters as usual. Check them out if you haven’t already. A fresh batch awaits.

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22 thoughts on “FlashFic: Life Is Precious

  1. Graeme Donaldson June 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm Reply

    Beautiful! Chilling, tense and perfectly laid out. The way you manage to make believable and memorable characters in only a few lines is a skill even Stephen King still needs to learn.
    Only non-believable bit is Norah Jones…. I mean really…

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 7:58 am Reply

      How nice of you, thank you. To be compared favorably to Stephen King made my day… month!

      The Norah Jones choice was simple: that’s what Pandora was playing at the time. You’re right in that it wasn’t appropriate for her, Graeme. She should have been listening to Synoiz.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  2. Jen Brubacher June 24, 2011 at 6:13 am Reply

    Oooh. I think she got off pretty light, here. It’s funny what we think we know when we’re 16… and how easily we can be convinced otherwise!

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:01 am Reply

      You nailed it, Jen. We think we know the whole world at 16. Nothing like a spirit drawn to death to wake a girl up to the possibility there’s more to life. Thanks, Jen.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  3. mazzz in leeds June 24, 2011 at 6:18 am Reply

    Nothing like a little supernatural experience to make you think, Um, maybe I’m not *quite* ready to go yet…
    Thanks for the creepy tale!

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:03 am Reply

      Exactly right. It opened her to the option of fighting for her life. I’m so glad you found it creepy! Thanks so much.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  4. marc nash June 24, 2011 at 6:53 am Reply

    Excellent tale darkly told.

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:04 am Reply

      High praise. Thank you, Marc. I do appreciate it.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  5. Johanna Harness June 24, 2011 at 8:03 am Reply

    So well done, Jess. Chilling!

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:05 am Reply

      Yay, “chilling.” I love when the response is something like that. Thanks a bunch, Johanna.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  6. FARfetched June 24, 2011 at 10:18 am Reply

    A wonderful chiller with a happy ending. Patricia learned a valuable lesson here, I think, and it wasn’t “take four next time.”

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:06 am Reply

      Ha, I think you’re right. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t take anything more than an aspirin for the rest of her life. And may it be a long life at that. Thank you, I’m glad for your comment.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  7. adampb June 24, 2011 at 10:20 am Reply

    So dark and creepy. Wonderful read.
    Adam B @revhappiness

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:08 am Reply

      It’s funny, I didn’t start it with the idea of dark and creepy, but they were there by the time the first draft was done. I grinned and went with it. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Adam.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  8. Anne Michaud June 24, 2011 at 10:21 am Reply

    Close escape from a (sexy) reaper…very well paced and rising tension, well done:)

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 25, 2011 at 8:11 am Reply

      Thanks, Anne. I’m glad she got away, even if she doesn’t believe it was real. I appreciate your note about pacing and tension very much.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  9. Anthony June 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Very cool take on dying/not dying. Had to read it twice just to make sure I got it right 🙂

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 26, 2011 at 6:56 am Reply

      That entity was a slippery character, to be sure. Thanks for the comment, Anthony.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  10. Aidan Fritz June 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm Reply

    I like the subtle ending. I choose to believe her strength and choice conquered the pull of the drugs.

    Like

    • JC Rosen June 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm Reply

      I like to leave my story endings somewhat open so the reader can fill in the blanks if desired. That said, I am a great believer in the power of the human spirit. I like your take on it, Aidan. Thanks.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  11. flyingscribbler July 1, 2011 at 8:48 am Reply

    I’ve heard that some people use Norah Jones Instead of valium. With far greater success. I did enjoy her brief dance with death though.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 1, 2011 at 10:36 am Reply

      Love it, too funny! Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it despite my choice of music.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

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