This week’s words for CAKE.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write-In were:
storm warning :: performance :: insomnia :: turn :: stop
I didn’t use the words themselves, but instead let the images they created in my mind lead the direction of my story. This one comes with a warning to anyone who has suffered from serious illness or who has been bereaved through serious illness.
It had started with a strange feeling in her jaw, just at the top of her neck. It was a soft, tender spot, not really sore to the touch but almost, like it was testing the water and seeing how far it could go. She’d lie awake at night, sleep teasing her from around the next corner, never letting herself believe it was such a tiny thing, barely there at all, which kept her eyes from closing.
At work, the students noticed a new and greater emphasis on colour. She began to wear more purple and red, and everything sparkled; when it was remarked upon, she loved it. Her lipstick shade had stayed the same since 1973, but now she went out of her way to buy tube after tube of gaudiness, and she had a generous hand. She started focusing their classes on Surrealism, Fauvism, Pop Art – all bright, all vibrant, all fleeting.
‘You look great!’ they’d tell her, meaning every word. ‘Who’s your new man?’ She’d just purse her lips and raise her eyebrows, and sashay away with a panache she’d never felt in her youth.
But her new man came to her in the night, sitting by her bedside with a twinkling eye.
‘Are you ready yet?’ he’d ask.
‘Not yet,’ she’d answer. ‘One more day.’ He’d leave her with a smile, but she knew he’d be there when she needed him.
When it became obvious, the laughing eyes around her turned horrified.
‘Why didn’t you say anything?’ ‘Why didn’t you see a doctor?’ ‘Are you crazy?’
She tried to tell them she had no regrets, but they took that as further proof of her incapability. She pleaded for peace and quiet, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They started to insist that she get help, and did not listen when she told them of her happiness.
So she took her lipsticks and her Gombrich and she walked into the whirlwind. Her new man followed shortly after. With a smile on her face and her best dress on, she finally took his hand.
Wonderful story. There is a gentle tenderness in the descriptions of how she saw things with a new perspective, despite her illness. A bittersweet ending; she died at peace. Well done!
Thanks, Tessa – I’m glad to know you thought so. 🙂
Very tender. What a way to go. A great little read.
Thank you, Patrick! What a way to go, indeed. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had such peace.
This is great. Sweet and sad at the same time. The last two sentences are very powerful: I love the idea of someone so in control of their own ending in that way.
Thanks so much, Emily. I’m glad to feel I got the balance right between the sweet and the sad. Thanks a lot for taking the time to leave this comment. 🙂
Lovely story of a woman choosing her own way. The smile and twinkling eyes of her ‘new man’ is a comforting thought. Very sweet story.
Thanks, Elaine. That’s exactly what I was going for. 🙂
“- all fleeting” might be my favourite part :3 the prompts disappeared in the light of the story, well done !
Thank you! Yes, I liked that line, too. 🙂 Normally I use the prompt words, but it just felt natural this week to use the images, rather than the concrete words. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Love it! I like how she strides out at the end ‘her new man following’ that says it all. Great image. The opening is very good too. I like how subtle it is. (Thanks for info on the mental health comp. thinking of having a go.)
Thanks, Elaine. Am really glad you liked my story – but ten times gladder (is that a word?) that you’re thinking of entering ‘Walking on Thin Ice’. Go for it, and good luck!
Thanks for the luck. I’ll need it, especially when you are in the mix! Good luck to you too!