FlashFic: Lost in Isolation

Lost in Isolation, flash fiction by JC Rosen

Photo by Meneer Zjeroen

As the panic rolled away, Sally wondered why she was frightened. She shrugged. It didn’t really matter. The sun was warm on her face and shade wasn’t far away. The small orchard of peach trees lay just around the path. It was a friendly orchard with generous trees. They whispered sweetness. Sally knew how to get there without slipping off the path into the Hotbeds of Desolation. The trick was to skip past them, gaze averted.

Settling in under the big tree in the third row, Sally took in the happy breeze and the fragrance of peaches. She closed her eyes just to see the sunlight filter through her eyelids, fluttering redness where it peeked between leaves. So good, this place, this moment. With a deep breath full of the strength they gave her, she got up and dusted off her backside. Time to see what other treasures this place held.

Skipping down the path, she heard voices ahead. They lay beyond a hedge. She listened a moment to the clipped, chirpy conversation. It was enough to make her skip away. Surely that was someone else’s tea party.

Unsure which path to take, Sally looked back the way she came. If she listened closely, she could hear the orchard whispering. She could go back whenever she wanted. She noticed the sides of the path to the right were dry, cracked clay and sand. No more Hotbeds. She tried walking instead of skipping. It worked – no moaning or tears waiting to drag her into the muck. As she savored the journey, sun warming her long hair, she hugged herself.

In the space of a step, the sun disappeared. She looked up for it, but the walls of the canyon blocked it. When she looked back, she no longer saw the hedge. She no longer heard the orchard’s whisper. The Very Bad Voice hissed along the canyon, the Beast trying to find her. She hugged herself more tightly and searched for a place to hide. A crevice, a boulder, some place to hide. Some place to be cornered.

The Very Bad Voice rasped its way toward her. Its fetid breath colored the air with mottled crimson and black, the Beast following in its wake. She opened her mouth to cry for help, but a screech came out, high pitched and wordless. The Beast reached out a claw and touched her cheek. She was able to shake her head away, but she could only hug herself, no matter how much she struggled. The Very Bad Voice muttered soothing lies as the Beast sharpened its claw. She tried to squirm away. She wanted to run for the hedge, turn toward the orchard. She’d skip if she had to, only let her free! Paralyzed with fear, she felt the Beast stab her with its sharp claw. Her thigh stung while the Very Bad Voice came close with its lies.

As the panic rolled away, Sally wondered why she was frightened. She shrugged. It didn’t really matter.

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15 thoughts on “FlashFic: Lost in Isolation

  1. MarcNash (@21stCscribe) December 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm Reply

    love that great last line!

    Like

    • JC Rosen December 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm Reply

      Thanks, Marc. It means a lot to me.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  2. Johanna Harness December 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm Reply

    This is a great story, Jess. The tone at beginning and end are mesmerizing and I love the unreliable narrator. I can come up with so many versions of her reality. Great symbols throughout too. This all works for me.

    Like

    • JC Rosen December 8, 2012 at 5:17 am Reply

      I’m relieved it all came together well.Thank you, Johanna. You were a big influence in the process of writing this story. I couldn’t grab hold of it to save me. Clustering showed me the way into her world.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  3. Larry Kollar December 9, 2012 at 10:45 am Reply

    Wow, I’m left wondering if this is a metaphor, especially given the last few paragraphs and the loop back to the beginning. Nicely done!

    Like

    • JC Rosen December 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, Larry. Your comment made me smile. It’s lovely to know the piece works on different levels for different people. While I have my image of what happened, I deliberately made it somewhat surreal.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  4. Tim VanSant (@TimVanSant) December 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm Reply

    Nice one. This felt like a descent into madness.

    Like

    • JC Rosen December 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm Reply

      Fantastic, Tim. It’s what I was thinking when I wrote it, though it can be interpreted differently. Thanks very much for your kind comment.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  5. Icy Sedgwick December 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm Reply

    This feels very eerie, in a way. It’s both surreal and ultimately real. Very good.

    Like

    • JC Rosen December 11, 2012 at 6:45 am Reply

      Thanks, Icy. I had to go to an interesting place to write it. I’m not sure what it says about me that slipping into that place wasn’t difficult. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  6. John Ross Barnes December 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm Reply

    But, wait! What was … Um, c’c’c’-Creepy. And more, of course, you never stop at creepy. I suspect Just creepy would be way too simple, not…inventive enough, in your case.

    Your writing reminds me of something Gypsy Rose Lee, the Queen of Burlesque is credited as saying: “Always leave them begging for more.”

    Oh,

    Like

    • John Ross Barnes December 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm Reply

      oh, c’Mon, pretty please…

      Like

      • JC Rosen December 11, 2012 at 6:47 am

        That’s what every writer hopes to evoke in a reader. Thank you, John! So nice to wake up and find your comments. Delving into her mind was both difficult and fun. It’s great to know it worked for you.

        Take care,
        JC

        Like

  7. Deanna Schrayer March 8, 2013 at 9:26 am Reply

    Jess, I can easily imagine you typing that last letter then sitting back and letting the shiver wash through you. This is absolutely outstanding!

    Like

    • JC Rosen March 8, 2013 at 11:49 am Reply

      You nailed it, Deanna. Sometimes a story plops down whole in front of the writer, but this one unveiled itself slowly. It made me keep up with it as it gained speed. I was too far in to look up until it was done. The break before editing was welcome. I do like how it turned out, though. Thanks!

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

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